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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.


Soft and spherical: Researchers study dynamics of drop impact

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:28:09 EDT

For the most part, fluid dynamics researchers have focused efforts to understand the details of impacting drops on flat rigid surfaces; the effect of curved, convex or compliant surfaces on the dynamics of impacting drops is still relatively unknown. This is despite its extreme relevance to modern-day applications, such as 3-D ink-jet printing and the delivery of pesticides on leaves.

Relativistic self-focusing gives mid-IR driven electrons a boost

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:27:33 EDT

Conventional particle accelerators can range from large room-sized devices to facilities multiple kilometers across. One of the ways that scientists have looked to reduce the size and expense of future accelerators is by developing laser -driven plasma acceleration. Such accelerators, however, are growing in size and complexity in order to maintain relevance for one of their applications—high energy physics. However, there are many applications that can use a lower energy and higher repetition rate accelerated beam. For the first time, scientists have observed the production of relativistic electrons driven by low-energy, ultrashort mid-infrared laser pulses. A research team at the University of Maryland, USA, with support from the Technical University of Vienna, Austria, will present their group's findings at Frontiers in Optics + Laser Science APS/DLS (FIO + LS), held 17-21 September 2017 in Washington, DC.

Now you can levitate liquids and insects at home

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:26:58 EDT

Levitation techniques are no longer confined to the laboratory thanks to University of Bristol engineers who have developed an easier way for suspending matter in mid-air by developing a 3D-printed acoustic levitator.

New thruster design increases efficiency for future spaceflight

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 11:00:07 EDT

Hall thrusters (HTs) are used in earth-orbiting satellites, and also show promise to propel robotic spacecraft long distances, such as from Earth to Mars. The propellant in a HT, usually xenon, is accelerated by an electric field which strips electrons from neutral xenon atoms, creating a plasma. Plasma ejected from the exhaust end of the thruster can deliver great speeds, typically around 70,000 mph.

Video: Dark matter hunt with LUX-ZEPLIN

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 10:40:04 EDT

Researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory are on a quest to solve one of physics' biggest mysteries: What exactly is dark matter – the invisible substance that accounts for 85 percent of all the matter in the universe but can't be seen even with our most advanced scientific instruments?

Machine learning tackles quantum error correction

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 10:00:02 EDT

(—Physicists have applied the ability of machine learning algorithms to learn from experience to one of the biggest challenges currently facing quantum computing: quantum error correction, which is used to design noise-tolerant quantum computing protocols. In a new study, they have demonstrated that a type of neural network called a Boltzmann machine can be trained to model the errors in a quantum computing protocol and then devise and implement the best method for correcting the errors.

Simulation demonstrates how exposure to plasma makes carbon nanotubes grow

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 09:55:34 EDT

At the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL), research performed with collaborators from Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Computational Science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook has shown how plasma causes exceptionally strong, microscopic structures known as carbon nanotubes to grow. Such tubes, measured in billionths of a meter, are found in everything from electrodes to dental implants and have many advantageous properties. In principle, they have a tensile strength, or resistance to breaking when stretched, 100 times greater than that of a same-sized length of steel wire.

Pure optical detection of spikes for the ultimate brain machine interface

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 09:20:02 EDT

(—Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) are basically gimmicks. The reason you don't hear so much about them these days is because, in the fullness of time, significant tangible benefit to a user has flat out failed to materialize. Simply stated, neither prickly microelectrode arrays, harrowing optogenetic reworks to our physiology, nor tattooing our brains with toxic fluorescents won't ever give us what we need. On the other hand, if you can watch native spikes bubble unmolested through axon tracts from afar, sans any of the aforementioned hazards, you might be onto something.

'Organismic learning' mimics some aspects of human thought

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 07:01:01 EDT

A new computing technology called "organismoids" mimics some aspects of human thought by learning how to forget unimportant memories while retaining more vital ones.

ATLAS observes direct evidence of light-by-light scattering

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 06:54:17 EDT

Physicists from the ATLAS experiment at CERN have found the first direct evidence of high energy light-by-light scattering, a very rare process in which two photons – particles of light – interact and change direction. The result, published today in Nature Physics, confirms one of the oldest predictions of quantum electrodynamics (QED).

X-ray imaging with a significantly enhanced resolution

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 05:19:27 EDT

Physicists from Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) and Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY, Hamburg) have developed a method to improve the quality of X-ray images over conventional methods. The technique, incoherent diffractive imaging (IDI), could image individual atoms in nanocrystals or molecules faster and with a much higher resolution.

Researchers achieve major improvement for lensless computational microscopy

Tue, 15 Aug 2017 05:19:19 EDT

Scientists from ITMO University and Tampere University of Technology have improved computational imaging of optical signals in lensless microscopes. By employing special algorithms, they increased the resolution of obtained images without any changes in the technical characteristics of microscopes.

Trophic coherence explains why networks have few feedback loops and high stability

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 13:00:02 EDT

(—Complexity – defined as having emergent properties or traits that are not a function of, and are therefore difficult or inherently impossible to predict from, the discrete components comprising the system – is a characteristic of complex systems at a wide range of scales (such as genes, neurons and other cells, brains, computers, language, and both natural and sociopolitical ecosystems) that comprise interconnected elements capable of self-modification via feedback loops. At the same time, there are networks (biological and otherwise) that have far fewer of these loops than might be expected – but while these low feedback loop networks are known to be display high stability, the mechanism for feedback suppression (which imparts that stability) has remained unidentified. Recently, however, scientists at University of Warwick and Imperial College London have shown that the level of feedback in complex systems is a function of trophic coherence – a property that reveals the distribution of nodes into high- and low-feedback network levels.

The critical point in breaking the glass problem

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 11:33:03 EDT

Famously described as 'the deepest problem in solid state physics' by Nobel Laureate, Philip Andersen, the glass transition, by which a liquid transforms into a solid without freezing, is shedding its mystique.

Exotic quantum states made from light

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 11:00:13 EDT

Light particles (photons) occur as tiny, indivisible portions. Many thousands of these light portions can be merged to form a single super-photon if they are sufficiently concentrated and cooled. The individual particles merge with each other, making them indistinguishable. Researchers call this a photonic Bose-Einstein condensate. It has long been known that normal atoms form such condensates. Prof. Martin Weitz from the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Bonn attracted attention among experts in 2010 when he produced a Bose-Einstein condensate from photons for the first time.

A microscope within a microscope

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 10:10:02 EDT

No single microscope can image all aspects of a sample at the same time and so the use of two or more imaging methods to study a sample - correlative imaging - is common-place.

Freeform optical device packs more punch in a smaller package

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 07:10:22 EDT

In a recent paper in Light: Science & Applications, University of Rochester researchers Jannick Rolland and Jacob Reimers describe an optical device with potential applications ranging from improved satellite and diagnostic imagery to more precisely matching the paint color on a living room wall.

New research initiative turns laser focus on high-energy-density physics

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 07:10:21 EDT

Atoms behave much differently when squeezed to pressures more than a million—or even a billion—times the atmospheric pressure on Earth. Understanding how atoms react under such high-pressure conditions can lead to the creation of new materials and give scientists valuable insights into the make-up of stars and planets, as well as the universe itself.

Hologram technology could lead to improved diagnoses of chronic diseases in remote areas

Mon, 14 Aug 2017 04:22:22 EDT

A new system developed by UCLA researchers could make it easier and less expensive to diagnose chronic diseases, particularly in remote areas without expensive lab equipment.

New SQUID-based detector opens up new fields of study with new level of sensitivity

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 14:45:13 EDT

Investigators at the University of Colorado, Boulder and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a new sensor array-based instrument that offers ultra-low noise detection of small amounts of energy for a number of applications. The new device allows for the collection of data from many more detectors than was previously possible. The advance, reported in this week's issue of Applied Physics Letters, is expected to allow applications in fields as diverse as nuclear materials accounting, astrophysics and X-ray spectrometry.

Space-based experiment will tackle the mysteries of cosmic rays

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 14:41:11 EDT

On August 14, 2017, a groundbreaking University of Maryland-designed cosmic ray detector will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the SpaceX-12 Commercial Resupply Service mission. The instrument, named ISS Cosmic Ray Energetics and Mass (ISS-CREAM), is roughly the size of a refrigerator and will remain installed on the ISS's Japanese Experiment Module for at least three years. The massive amounts of data ISS-CREAM will collect could reveal new details about the origin and diversity of cosmic rays.

Massive particles test standard quantum theory

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 14:00:06 EDT

In quantum mechanics particles can behave as waves and take many paths through an experiment. It requires only combinations of pairs of paths, rather than three or more, to determine the probability for a particle to arrive somewhere. Researchers at the universities of Vienna and Tel Aviv have addressed this question for the first time explicitly using the wave interference of large molecules behind various combinations of single, double, and triple slits.

A smoother ride over troubled waters

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 11:13:40 EDT

Boating through choppy waters can be an exciting but physically exhausting experience. Now researchers at Utah State University's Splash Lab are taking steps toward the design of an inflatable speedboat that absorbs wave energy and provides a smoother ride for passengers.

A new tool for multilayer networks

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 09:40:01 EDT

Sophisticated network analysis means finding relationships that often aren't easy to see. A network may have many layers—corresponding to different types of relationships in a social network, for example—but traditional approaches to analysis are limited. They tend to flatten networks into single layers, or treat layers independently of the others.

Blind quantum computing for everyone

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 09:30:03 EDT

(—For the first time, physicists have demonstrated that clients who possess only classical computers—and no quantum devices—can outsource computing tasks to quantum servers that perform blind quantum computing. "Blind" means the quantum servers do not have full information about the tasks they are computing, which ensures that the clients' computing tasks are kept secure. Until now, all blind quantum computing demonstrations have required that clients have their own quantum devices in order to delegate tasks for blind quantum computing.

New devices to control X-rays are less expensive, faster to make

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 09:29:38 EDT

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a less expensive and more efficient way of controlling x-ray beams used to study the intricate details of batteries, solar cells, proteins and all manner of materials. The new beam-shaping devices, invented by Brookhaven mechanical engineer Sushil Sharma, can be made from a single piece of copper, which dramatically reduces the time and complexity of their construction – and their cost. It's no wonder that x-ray light sources around the world, including Brookhaven Lab's National Synchrotron Light Source II (NSLS-II), are beginning to choose the new designs over their more complex and expensive predecessors.

Shock front probed by protons

Fri, 11 Aug 2017 09:04:13 EDT

A shock front is usually considered as a simple discontinuity in density or pressure. Yet in strongly shocked gases, the atoms are ionized into electrons and ions. The large difference in the electron pressure across the shock front can generate a strong electric field.

Researchers develop innovative way to understand nature of an entire tiny particle

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:50:18 EDT

New research from the University of New Hampshire has led to the development of a novel technique to determine the surface area and volume of small particles, the size of a grain of sand or smaller. Due to their tiny size, irregular shape and limited viewing angle, commonly used microscopic imaging techniques cannot always capture the whole object's shape often leaving out valuable information that can be important in numerous areas of science, engineering and medicine.

Surprise discovery in the search for energy efficient information storage

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 11:04:08 EDT

Today almost all information stored on hard disc drives or cloud servers is recorded in magnetic media, because it is non-volatile (i.e. it retains the information when power is switched off) and cheap. For portable devices such as mobile phones and tablets, other forms of non-magnetic memory are used because the technology based on magnetism is impractical and is not energy efficient. In an age of mass data storage and portable devices which collect and process information, the search is on to find smaller, faster, cheaper and more energy efficient ways, of both processing and storing increasing amounts of data.

Engineers find better way to detect nanoparticles

Thu, 10 Aug 2017 10:08:34 EDT

It's long been thought that two's company and three's a crowd. But electrical and systems engineers at Washington University in St. Louis and their collaborators have shown that the addition of a third nanoscatterer, complementing two "tuning" nanoscatterers, to a photonics resonator makes for a fascinating physics party.