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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.


A traffic cop for the cell surface: Researchers illuminate a basic biological process

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 12:55:37 EST

On the surfaces of our trillions of cells is a complex crowd of molecules moving around, talking to each other, occasionally segregating themselves, and triggering basic functions ranging from pain sensation to insulin release.

Smart multi-layered magnetic material acts as an electric switch

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 11:16:45 EST

The nanometric-size islands of magnetic metal sporadically spread between vacuum gaps display unique conductive properties under a magnetic field. In a recent study published in EPJ Plus, Anatoliy Chornous from Sumy State University in Ukraine and colleagues found that the vacuum gaps impede the direct magnetic alignment between the adjacent islands—which depends on the external magnetic field—while allowing electron tunneling between them. Such externally controlled conducting behaviour opens the door for applications in electronics with magnetic field sensors—which are used to read data on hard disk drives—biosensors and microelectromechanical systems (MEMS), as well as in spintronics with magnetic devices used to increase memory density.

Miniature particle accelerator saves on contrast agents

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:30:54 EST

The most prevalent method for obtaining images of clogged coronary vessels is coronary angiography. For some patients, however, the contrast agents used in this process can cause health problems. A team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has now demonstrated that the required quantity of these substances can be significantly reduced if monoenergetic X-rays from a miniature particle accelerator are used.

How donut-shaped fusion plasmas managed to decrease adverse turbulence

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 10:30:30 EST

Fusion research has been dominated by the search for a suitable way of ensuring confinement as part of the research into using fusion to generate energy. In a recent paper published in EPJ H, Fritz Wagner from the Max Planck Institute for Plasma Physics in Germany, gives a historical perspective outlining how our gradual understanding of improved confinement regimes for what are referred to as toroidal fusion plasmas—confined in a donut shape using strong magnetic fields— have developed since the 1980s. He explains the extent to which physicists' understanding of the mechanisms governing turbulent transport in such high-temperature plasmas has been critical in improving the advances towards harvesting fusion energy.

Chiral superconductivity experimentally demonstrated for the first time

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:30:01 EST

(—Scientists have found that a superconducting current flows in only one direction through a chiral nanotube, marking the first observation of the effects of chirality on superconductivity. Until now, superconductivity has only been demonstrated in achiral materials, in which the current flows in both directions equally.

Mystery of the dark solitons

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 09:00:01 EST

When your heart beats, blood courses through your arteries in waves of pressure. These pressure waves manifest as your pulse, a regular rhythm unperturbed by the complex internal structure of the body. Scientists call such robust waves solitons, and in many ways they behave more like discrete particles than waves. Soliton theory may aid in the understanding of tsunamis, which—unlike other water waves—can sustain themselves over vast oceanic distances.

The accuracy of the flowmeter calibration factor

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:50:01 EST

Last year, upwards of 25 trillion cubic feet of natural gas were delivered to customers in the United States, and when it changed hands, nearly every cubic foot was measured using gas flowmeters. The accuracy of those meters has enormous commercial importance, and NIST has a long-standing research program to improve flowmeter calibration. The scope of that program has now literally expanded in the form of a newly arrived test bed known informally as the Big Blue Ball.

Proposed method to cause an atom to emit the same light as another atom

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:40:01 EST

(—A team of researchers at Princeton University has found a way to cause any atom to mimic the light emissions of any other atom. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the team reveals how they uncovered this trick and suggest some applications that might benefit from its use.

Destabilized solitons perform a disappearing act

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:29:58 EST

When your heart beats, blood courses through your veins in waves of pressure. These pressure waves manifest as your pulse, a regular rhythm unperturbed by the complex internal structure of the body. Scientists call such robust waves solitons, and in many ways they behave more like discrete particles than waves. Soliton theory may aid in the understanding of tsunamis, which—unlike other water waves—can sustain themselves over vast oceanic distances.

Students test prototype of a magnetic cloak

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 08:24:02 EST

In December, five students from Stony Brook University in New York and their research professor, Nils Feege, loaded a prototype of a magnetic cloak into an SUV and set off for the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Argonne National Laboratory, nearly 900 miles away.

Device generates UV spectrum laser pulses at record-breaking efficiency

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 07:40:01 EST

A group of researchers from the Faculty of Physics at the University of Warsaw has just published the a report on their development of a miniature tripler device for generating femtosecond laser pulses in the UV spectrum. The device has three times higher efficiency than previously used setups, and fits on a finger tip, thanks to a unique software package developed in Warsaw during the design stage.

Sound-shaping metamaterial invented

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 06:06:10 EST

A super-material that bends, shapes and focuses sound waves that pass through it has been invented by scientists.

The ancient art of kirigami is inspiring a new class of materials

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 15:51:32 EST

Origami-inspired materials use folds in materials to embed powerful functionality. However, all that folding can be pretty labor intensive. Now, researchers at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) are drawing material inspiration from another ancient Japanese paper craft—kirigami.

Researchers use holography to improve nanophotonic circuits

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 10:35:59 EST

Nanophotonic circuits, tiny chips which filter and steer light, suffer from small random variations which degrade the transmission of light. Researchers have now found a way to compensate those variations, which may lead to energy savings in datacenters and computer equipment. The researchers from Utrecht University (Debye Institute), University of Twente (MESA+ Institute for Nanotechnology) and Thales Research & Technology France published their results in the leading optical journal Optics Express on 21 February.

Crumpled Mylar found to hold memory of how long it was crumpled

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:30:01 EST

(—A small team of researchers at Harvard University has found that crumpled sheets of Mylar hold a memory of how long they were crumpled. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the group describes experiments they conducted in their lab with Mylar and tubes affixed with pressure measuring devices and what they learned about the disordered mechanical system.

Researchers develop surprising technique for ultrashort laser pulses

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:00:12 EST

Pulse lasers built entirely on optical fibers are increasingly used by industry. Optical scientists from the Warsaw Laser Centre of the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Faculty of Physics of the University of Warsaw have generated ultrashort laser pulses in an optical fiber with a method previously considered to be physically impossible. Their solution is not only useful, but also surprisingly simple.

Researchers use laser-generated bubbles to create 3-D images in liquid

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 10:48:08 EST

Researchers have developed a completely new type of display that creates 3D images by using a laser to form tiny bubbles inside a liquid "screen." Instead of rendering a 3D scene on a flat surface, the display itself is three-dimensional, a property known as volumetric. This allows viewers to see a 3D image in the columnar display from all angles without any 3D glasses or headsets.

Scientists solve puzzle of turning graphite into diamond

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 09:30:01 EST

(—Researchers have finally answered a question that has eluded scientists for years: when exposed to moderately high pressures, why does graphite turn into hexagonal diamond (also called lonsdaleite) and not the more familiar cubic diamond, as predicted by theory?

Getting the inside story on products with computed tomography

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 08:30:01 EST

It is often the case that a valuable new industrial capability brings with it a whole new set of challenges for measurement science—and thus, inevitably, for NIST.

Introducing Xenos, NIST's largest coordinate measuring machine

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 08:00:02 EST

When you walk into the laboratory that houses NIST's newest coordinate measuring machine (CMM), you might be puzzled at first about how engineers got it into the room.

Barcode scanner microscope films neurons firing

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 07:41:07 EST

Engineers at ANU have built an advanced microscope using barcode laser scanner technology that can film moving blood cells and neurons firing in living animals.

Tiny particles with a big, cool role to play in microscopy

Thu, 23 Feb 2017 07:19:15 EST

Researchers at UTS, as part of a large international collaboration, have made a breakthrough in the development of compact, low-cost and practical optical microscopy to achieve super-resolution imaging on a scale 10 times smaller than can currently be achieved with conventional microscopy.

Science versus the 'Horatio Alger myth'

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:50:13 EST

In a new study published today in the journal PLOS ONE, Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists have taken a condensed matter physics concept usually applied to the way substances such as ice freeze, called "frustration," and applied it to a simple social network model of frustrated components. They show that inequality of wealth can emerge spontaneously and more equality can be gained by pure initiative.

Researchers gain insight into a physical phenomenon that leads to earthquakes

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 11:23:52 EST

Scientists have gotten better at predicting where earthquakes will occur, but they're still in the dark about when they will strike and how devastating they will be.

Artificial intelligence in quantum systems, too

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 09:30:02 EST

Quantum biomimetics consists of reproducing in quantum systems certain properties exclusive to living organisms. Researchers at University of the Basque Country have imitated natural selection, learning and memory in a new study. The mechanisms developed could give quantum computation a boost and facilitate the learning process in machines.

Physicists investigate erasing information at zero energy cost

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 09:30:01 EST

(—A few years ago, physicists showed that it's possible to erase information without using any energy, in contrast to the assumption at the time that erasing information must require energy. Instead, the scientists showed that the cost of erasure could be paid in terms of an arbitrary physical quantity such as spin angular momentum—suggesting that heat energy is not the only conserved quantity in thermodynamics.

Laser heating hits the spot

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 08:50:01 EST

A method for accurately measuring the thermomagnetic properties of heat-assisted magnetic recording (HAMR) media reveals what the minimum bit size and ultimate data density might be for this next generation storage technology.

Time crystals—how scientists created a new state of matter

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 08:48:56 EST

Some of the most profound predictions in theoretical physics, such as Einstein's gravitational waves or Higgs' boson, have taken decades to prove with experiments. But every now and then, a prediction can become established fact in an astonishingly short time. This is what happened with "time crystals", a new and strange state of matter that was theorised, disproved, revamped and finally created in just five years since it was first predicted in 2012.

Unravelling the atomic and nuclear structure of the heaviest elements

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 06:53:24 EST

Little is known about the heaviest, radioactive elements in Mendeleev's table. But an extremely sensitive technique involving laser light and gas jets makes it possible for the very first time to gain insight into their atomic and nuclear structure. An international team led by scientists from the Institute for Nuclear and Radiation Physics at KU Leuven report these findings in Nature Communications.

Scientists create a nano-trampoline to probe quantum behavior

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 05:00:02 EST

A research group from Bar-Ilan University, in collaboration with French colleagues at CNRS Grenoble, has developed a unique experiment to detect quantum events in ultra-thin films. This novel research, to be published in the scientific journal Nature Communications, enhances the understanding of basic phenomena that occur in nano-sized systems close to absolute zero temperature.