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When mediated by superconductivity, light pushes matter million times more

April 28, 2015 10:24 am | by University of Jyväskylä | News | Comments

When a mirror reflects light, it experiences a slight push. This radiation pressure can be increased considerably with the help of a small superconducting island. The finding paves a way for the studies of mechanical oscillations at the level of a single photon, the quantum of light.

Molybdenum disulfide encapsulated between layers of boron nitride. Courtesy of Gwan-Hyoung Lee/Yonsei University

Two-dimensional semiconductor comes clean

April 27, 2015 2:39 pm | by Holly Evarts, Columbia University | News | Comments

In 2013 James Hone, Wang Fong-Jen Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Columbia Engineering, and colleagues at Columbia demonstrated that they could dramatically improve the performance of graphene—highly conducting two-dimensional (2-D) carbon—by encapsulating it in boron nitride (BN), an insulating material with a similar layered structure.

Negative electronic compressibility: More is less in novel material

April 27, 2015 2:19 pm | by Boston College | News | Comments

Add water to a half-filled cup and the water level rises. This everyday experience reflects a positive material property of the water-cup system. But what if adding more water lowers the water level by deforming the cup? This would mean a negative compressibility. Now, a quantum version of this phenomenon, called negative electronic compressibility (NEC), has been discovered.

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Juejun Hu and colleagues developed a way to embed very thin glass photonic devices such as flexible microdisk resonators and waveguides in alternating layers of soft and stiff polymers. Their flexible plastic device sustained being bent thousands of times

Bendable glass devices

April 27, 2015 12:43 pm | by Denis Paiste, MIT | News | Comments

A special class of glass materials known as chalcogenide glasses holds promise for speeding integration of photonic and electronic devices with functions as diverse as data transfer and chemical sensing. Juejun "JJ" Hu, the Merton C. Flemings Assistant Professor in Materials Science and Engineering, is finding new ways to deploy these glasses with surprising flexibility.

Melting material in preparation for producing a new type of magnet

Ames Laboratory scientists create cheaper magnetic material for cars, wind turbines

April 27, 2015 12:21 pm | by Ames Laboratory | News | Comments

Karl A. Gschneidner and fellow scientists at Ames Laboratory have created a new magnetic alloy that is an alternative to traditional rare-earth permanent magnets. The new alloy—a potential replacement for high-performance permanent magnets found in automobile engines and wind turbines—eliminates the use of one of the scarcest and costliest rare earth elements, dysprosium, and instead uses cerium, the most abundant rare earth.

Daniel Wilson Ph.D. researcher with UAV and drogue

Sky-high refuelling for UAVs

April 24, 2015 11:13 am | by Univ. of Sydney | News | Comments

A Univ. of Sydney researcher has designed and successfully tested a method for autonomously docking drones for refueling or recharging, in mid-air. He used a combination of precise measurements from an infrared camera, with GPS and inertial sensors to allow the sky-high docking to occur.

The ‘gate sensor’ is so accurate that it can detect the charge of a single electron in less than one microsecond.

Ultra-sensitive sensor detects individual electrons

April 24, 2015 10:25 am | by SINC | News | Comments

A Spanish-led team of European researchers at the Univ. of Cambridge has created an electronic device so accurate that it can detect the charge of a single electron in less than one microsecond. It has been dubbed the "gate sensor" and could be applied in quantum computers of the future to read information stored in the charge or spin of a single electron.

A tetrahedron is a polyhedron composed of four triangular faces, three of which meet at each corner or vertex. It has six edges and four vertices.

Revolutionary discovery leads to invention of new "building blocks"

April 24, 2015 10:16 am | by Univ. of Akron | News | Comments

Macromolecular science will have to add a new giant molecule to its lexicon thanks to new and cutting-edge polymer research at The Univ. of Akron (UA). The research team led by Stephen Z.D. Cheng, professor at UA’s college of polymer science and polymer engineering, invented a new thinking pathway in the design and synthesis of macromolecules—the backbone of modern polymers—by creating an original class of giant tetrahedra.

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Heat makes electrons’ spin in magnetic superconductors

April 24, 2015 9:53 am | by Academy of Finland | News | Comments

Physicists have shown how heat can be exploited for controlling magnetic properties of matter. The finding helps in the development of more efficient mass memories. The result was published in Physical Review Letters. The international research group behind the breakthrough included Finnish researchers from the University of Jyväskylä and Aalto Univ.

Method takes quantum sensing to a new level

April 24, 2015 8:09 am | by Ron Walli, Oak Ridge National Laboratory | News | Comments

Thermal imaging, microscopy and ultra-trace sensing could take a quantum leap with a technique developed by researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Their work overcomes fundamental limitations of detection derived from the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, which states that the position and momentum of a particle cannot be measured with absolute precision.

A silver lining

April 24, 2015 7:43 am | by Julie Cohen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara | News | Comments

The silver used by Beth Gwinn’s research group at the Univ. of California, Santa Barbara, has value far beyond its worth as a commodity, even though it’s used in very small amounts. The group works with the precious metal to create nanoscale silver clusters with unique fluorescent properties. These properties are important for a variety of sensing applications including biomedical imaging.

A new wrinkle for cell culture

April 23, 2015 9:53 am | by Kevin Stacey, Brown Univ. | News | Comments

Using a technique that introduces tiny wrinkles into sheets of graphene, researchers from Brown Univ. have developed new textured surfaces for culturing cells in the lab that better mimic the complex surroundings in which cells grow in the body.

Soy: It’s good for eating, baking and cleaning up crude oil spills

April 23, 2015 9:11 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

If you've studied ingredient labels on food packaging, you've probably noticed that soy lecithin is in a lot of products, ranging from buttery spreads to chocolate cake. Scientists have now found a potential new role for this all-purpose substance: dispersing crude oil spills. Their study, which could lead to a less toxic way to clean up these environmental messes, appears in ACS Sustainable Chemistry & Engineering.

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From metal to insulator and back again

April 23, 2015 8:45 am | by Carnegie Institution | News | Comments

New work from the Carnegie Institution’s Russell Hemley and Ivan Naumov hones in on the physics underlying the recently discovered fact that some metals stop being metallic under pressure. Metals are compounds that are capable of conducting the flow of electrons that make up an electric current.

Scientists use nanoscale building blocks and DNA “glue” to shape 3-D superlattices

April 23, 2015 8:17 am | by Karen McNulty Walsh, Brookhaven National Laboratory | News | Comments

Taking child's play with building blocks to a whole new level, the nanometer scale, scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory have constructed 3-D "superlattice" multicomponent nanoparticle arrays where the arrangement of particles is driven by the shape of the tiny building blocks. The method uses linker molecules made of complementary strands of DNA to overcome the blocks' tendency to pack together.

3D-printed aerogels improve energy storage

April 23, 2015 8:03 am | by Anne M. Stark, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory | News | Comments

A new type of graphene aerogel will make for better energy storage, sensors, nanoelectronics, catalysis and separations. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have made graphene aerogel microlattices with an engineered architecture via a 3D printing technique known as direct ink writing.

Nanoparticle drug reverses Parkinson’s-like symptoms in rats

April 22, 2015 11:26 am | by American Chemical Society | News | Comments

As baby boomers age, the number of people diagnosed with Parkinson's disease is expected to increase. Patients who develop this disease usually start experiencing symptoms around age 60 or older. Currently, there's no cure, but scientists are reporting a novel approach that reversed Parkinson's-like symptoms in rats. Their results, published in ACS Nano, could one day lead to a new therapy for human patients.

Electron spin brings order to high entropy alloys

April 22, 2015 10:01 am | by Matt Shipman, News Services, North Carolina State Univ. | News | Comments

Researchers from North Carolina State Univ. have discovered that electron spin brings a previously unknown degree of order to the high entropy alloy nickel iron chromium cobalt (NiFeCrCo), and may play a role in giving the alloy its desirable properties.

Expanding the reach of metallic glass

April 22, 2015 9:53 am | by Jim Shelton, Yale Univ. | News | Comments

Metallic glass, a class of materials that offers both pliability and strength, is poised for a friendly takeover of the chemical landscape. Yale Univ. engineers have found a unique method for designing metallic glass nanostructures across a wide range of chemicals. The process will enable the fabrication of an array of new materials, with applications for everything from fuel cells to biological implants.

“Holey” graphene for energy storage

April 22, 2015 8:32 am | by Liezel Labios, Univ. of California, San Diego | News | Comments

Engineers at the Univ. of California, San Diego have discovered a method to increase the amount of electric charge that can be stored in graphene. The research may provide a better understanding of how to improve the energy storage ability of capacitors for potential applications in cars, wind turbines and solar power.

Phonons, arise!

April 22, 2015 8:16 am | by Neal Singer, Sandia National Laboratories | News | Comments

Modern research has found no simple, inexpensive way to alter a material’s thermal conductivity at room temperature. That lack of control has made it hard to create new classes of devices that use phonons, rather than electrons or photons, to harvest energy or transmit information. Phonons have proved hard to harness.

Engineered softwood could transform pulp, paper and biofuel industries

April 22, 2015 7:44 am | by Krista Eastman, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison | News | Comments

Scientists have demonstrated the potential for softwoods to process more easily into pulp and paper if engineered to incorporate a key feature of hardwoods. The finding could improve the economics of the pulp, paper and biofuels industries and reduce those industries' environmental impact.

Invisible inks could help foil counterfeiters of all kinds

April 22, 2015 7:33 am | by Megan Fellman, Northwestern Univ. | News | Comments

Real or counterfeit? Northwestern Univ. scientists have invented sophisticated fluorescent inks that one day could be used as multicolored barcodes for consumers to authenticate products that are often counterfeited. Snap a photo with your smartphone, and it will tell you if the item is real and worth your money.

Nanophotonics with ultracold atoms for simulating quantum many-body systems

April 21, 2015 10:46 am | by Max Planck Society | News | Comments

Ultracold atoms in the so-called optical lattices, which are generated by crosswise superposition of laser beams, have proven to be one of the most promising tools for simulating and understanding the behavior of many-body systems. However, the implementation in free space has some limitations such as the distance between the atoms (around 400 nm) and the short range of the interactions.

Electron trapping harnessed to make light sensors

April 21, 2015 10:34 am | by Mark Esser, NIST | News | Comments

Traps. Whether you’re squaring off against the Empire or trying to wring electricity out of sunlight, they’re almost never a good thing. But sometimes you can turn that trap to your advantage. A team from the Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln, working with researchers at NIST, has shown that electron-trapping defects that are typically problematic in solar cells can be an asset when engineering sensitive light detectors.

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