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Physics News - Physics News, Material Sciences, Science News, Physics provides the latest news on physics, materials, nanotech, science and technology. Updated Daily.


Imaging technique unlocks the secrets of 17th century artists

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 09:22:26 EST

The secrets of 17th century artists can now be revealed, thanks to 21st century signal processing. Using modern high-speed scanners and the advanced signal processing techniques, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are peering through layers of pigment to see how painters prepared their canvasses, applied undercoats, and built up layer upon layer of paint to produce their masterpieces.

'Brazil nut effect' helps explain how rivers resist erosion, team finds

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 08:58:45 EST

Pop the top off a can of mixed nuts and, chances are, Brazil nuts will be at the top. This phenomenon, of large particles tending to rise to the top of mixtures while small particles tend to sink down, is popularly known as the "Brazil nut effect" and more technically as granular segregation.

How disposable diapers can improve measurements of tumor growth

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 08:06:41 EST

Catching cancer early can make all the difference for successful treatment. A common screening practice measures tumor growth with X-ray computed tomography (CT), which takes a series of cross-section images of the body.

Topological insulators—one glimpse is enough

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 07:56:12 EST

The Nobel Prize for physics in 2016 was awarded for the theory of topological matter. Topological insulators are new materials with special electronic properties and are of great fundamental and applications-oriented interest. Nevertheless, physicists have wrestled with a ten-year-old puzzle in which the results from the two best methods to probe their electronic states disagree. Researchers from Amsterdam, including two FOM-funded PhD candidates, with collaborators in France, Switzerland and Germany now know exactly why.

Novel hybrid material may inspire highly efficient next-gen displays

Tue, 21 Nov 2017 07:00:45 EST

Researchers at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) have created a novel hybrid of graphene and quantum dots, a breakthrough that may inspire highly efficient and controllable next-generation displays and LEDs.

UCLA engineers use deep learning to reconstruct holograms and improve optical microscopy

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 16:50:02 EST

A form of machine learning called deep learning is one of the key technologies behind recent advances in applications like real-time speech recognition and automated image and video labeling.

Physicists design $100 handheld muon detector

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 15:41:15 EST

At any given moment, the Earth's atmosphere is showered with high-energy cosmic rays that have been blasted from supernovae and other astrophysical phenomena far beyond the Solar System. When cosmic rays collide with the Earth's atmosphere, they decay into muons—charged particles that are slightly heavier than an electron.

A curious quirk brings organic diode lasers one step closer

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 11:52:43 EST

Since their invention in 1962, semiconductor diode lasers have revolutionized communications and made possible information storage and retrieval in CDs, DVDs and Blu-ray devices. These diode lasers use inorganic semiconductors grown in elaborate high vacuum systems. Now, a team of researchers from Penn State and Princeton University have taken a big step toward creating a diode laser from a hybrid organic-inorganic material that can be deposited from solution on a laboratory benchtop.

Physicists unify quantum coherence with nonclassicality of light

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:30:02 EST

(—Physicists have demonstrated that two independently developed concepts—quantum coherence and the nonclassicality of light—both arise from the same underlying resources. The ability to explain seemingly distinct phenomena within a single framework has long been a fulfilling aspiration in physics, and here it may also have potential applications for quantum information technologies.

Reusing waste energy with 2-D electron gas

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:20:01 EST

More than 60 percent of the energy produced by fossil fuels is lost as heat. Thermoelectric energy conversion has attracted much attention as a way to convert waste heat from power plants, factories and cars into electricity. However, currently available technologies need improvement to become viable on industrial scales.

Spin current from heat—new material increases efficiency

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:19:27 EST

Electronic devices such as computers generate heat that mostly goes to waste. Physicists at Bielefeld University have found a way to use this energy: They apply the heat to generate magnetic signals known as 'spin currents." In future, these signals could replace some of the electrical current in electronic components. In a new study, the physicists tested which materials can generate this spin current most effectively from heat. The research was carried out in cooperation with colleagues from the University of Greifswald, Gießen University, and the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research in Dresden. Their findings are being published today (20.11.2017) in the research journal Nature Communications.

Physics forecasts for fracking and fuels

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 09:10:02 EST

Society's demand for energy relies mainly on oil and gas, which are finite resources. Future technologies could reduce the consumption of energy, but until then, existing resources must be carefully managed. Director of the Ali I. Al-Naimi Petroleum Engineering Research Center at KAUST Tadeusz Patzek is using physics to tackle this challenge by modeling the production of gas from fracking.

Scientists make first observations of how a meteor-like shock turns silica into glass

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 08:58:51 EST

Studies at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory have made the first real-time observations of how silica –  an abundant material in the Earth's crust – easily transforms into a dense glass when hit with a massive shock wave like one generated from a meteor impact.

Separate experiments show no evidence of violation of Lorentz invariance

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 08:50:03 EST

(—Two teams of researchers working independently of one another have conducted experiments designed to test Lorentz invariance; both report no violations. One of the teams used decades of data from lunar lasing experiments, the other data from experiments conducted over several years using superconducting gravimeters. Both teams have published papers in the journal Physical Review Letters describing their work and their findings.

Glass microparticles enhance solar cells efficiency

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:27:30 EST

Scientists from ITMO University have suggested a new solar cell coating that combines features of an electrode and those of a light-trapping structure. The coating enabled researchers to cut down on reflected light and avoid solar cell overheating, thus increasing its overall efficiency by 20 percent. Moreover, the suggested method may be attractive for industrial applications due to its relatively low cost and simplicity. The results of the research were published in Optics Letters.

'Explosive' hot oil droplets from cooking may lead to air pollution risks

Mon, 20 Nov 2017 06:01:03 EST

Cooking in a frying pan with oil can quickly become dangerous if "explosive" hot oil droplets jump out of the pan, leading to painful burns. But these droplets may be doing something even more damaging: contributing to indoor air pollution.

Carefully crafted light pulses control neuron activity

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 12:37:56 EST

Specially tailored, ultrafast pulses of light can trigger neurons to fire and could one day help patients with light-sensitive circadian or mood problems, according to a new study in mice at the University of Illinois.

Strain-free epitaxy of germanium film on mica

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 11:21:34 EST

Germanium, an elemental semiconductor, was the material of choice in the early history of electronic devices, before it was largely replaced by silicon. But due to its high charge carrier mobility—higher than silicon by threefold—the semiconductor is making a comeback.

Researchers reveal jamming in cellular motor protein traffic

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 09:17:01 EST

To keep a cell alive, molecular motor proteins constantly transport building blocks and waste across the cell, along its biopolymer network. Because of the high density of these proteins, jamming effects are believed to affect this transport, just like traffic jams affect street traffic. However, not much is known about such crowding effects in cellular traffic. Researchers in the groups of Erwin Peterman and Peter Schall at the LaserLaB (VU) and the Institute of Physics (UvA) have now found a way to directly visualize and measure these jamming effects in cellular traffic. Their results, which have been published in Physical Review X this week, yield new insight into motor interactions in the crowded molecular motor transport. This project is receiving funding from NWO's Complexity programme.

Researchers tunnel to a new light source

Fri, 17 Nov 2017 06:50:10 EST

With concerns over moving to a clean energy platform worldwide with electric vehicles and renewables, wasted energy is a factor as important as the amount of green energy produced. Thus, solid-state lighting based upon light-emitting diodes (LEDs) is touted as a solution. However, LEDs struggle to deliver high brightness for the shorter-wavelength end of lighting needs. And emitted short wavelengths facilitate white light through known phosphor downconverters.

New imaging technique peers inside living cells

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:19:44 EST

To undergo high-resolution imaging, cells often must be sliced and diced, dehydrated, painted with toxic stains, or embedded in resin. For cells, the result is certain death.

Scientists invent technique to map energy and momentum of electrons beneath a material's surface

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 14:00:17 EST

For the first time, physicists have developed a technique that can peer deep beneath the surface of a material to identify the energies and momenta of electrons there.

Nano-'hashtags' could be the key to generating the highly sought Majorana quasiparticle

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:49:46 EST

UC Santa Barbara scientists are on the cusp of a major advance in topological quantum computing.

The stacked color sensor

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:12:38 EST

Red-sensitive, blue-sensitive and green-sensitive color sensors stacked on top of each other instead of being lined up in a mosaic pattern – this principle could allow image sensors with unprecedented resolution and sensitivity to light to be created. However, so far, the reality hasn't quite met expectations. Researchers from Empa and ETH Zurich have now developed a sensor prototype that absorbs light almost optimally – and is also cheap to produce.

NIST's next-generation atomic clocks may support official timekeeping

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 13:07:44 EST

For more than a decade, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has been unveiling experimental next-generation atomic clocks. These clocks, based on ytterbium, strontium, aluminum, and mercury atoms, among others, have set records for precision and stability.

Researcher sketches a path toward quantum computing

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 09:28:30 EST

As new devices move quantum computing closer to practical use, the journal Nature recently asked Princeton computer scientist Margaret Martonosi and two colleagues to assess the state of software needed to exploit this powerful computational approach.

Spinning cylinders to recreate nature's patterns

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 09:20:15 EST

Some of nature's most exquisite patterns; leaves around a plant's stem, scales on a pine cone, and the tail of some viruses, consist of small objects decorating a cylindrical chassis with a specific pattern. Nature's preferred method of building is through self-assembly, the process in which individual components autonomously and spontaneously organize into ordered structures. Taking inspiration from nature, scientists at the Center for Soft and Living Matter, within the Institute for Basic Science (IBS, South Korea), found the conditions necessary for dynamically building large structures from small objects within spun cylinders. While nature offers us beautiful examples of patterns, such as strands of DNA, recreating the same tubular structures in the laboratory has been difficult, especially if two or more kinds of particles are used together.

Porpoises found to shift forehead tissue to fine-tune sonar signals

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:50:01 EST

(—A team of researchers in China has solved the mystery of how porpoises are able to locate tiny prey using sonar with wavelengths that seem too large to be of much use in such applications. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Applied, the group explains studying the sonar signal-generating parts of porpoise anatomy and what they found by doing so.

Low-energy X-rays surprisingly effective at killing bacterial spores, offering improved sterilization techniques

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:49:40 EST

Low-energy X-rays are able to sterilize materials, offering a potentially cheap and effective alternative to current techniques, A*STAR researchers have shown.

Magnetic skyrmions found to hold the potential of storing electronic data

Thu, 16 Nov 2017 08:39:22 EST

(—A team of researchers with members from the U.S., Germany and China has found that magnetic skyrmions could one day be used as a means of storing electronic data. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the researchers describe creating a structure capable of generating skyrmions that can be reversed with a magnet while retaining its form as the magnet is withdrawn.