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Physics News

  • Found: A precise method for determining how waves and particles affect fusion reactions

    Like surfers catching ocean waves, particles within the hot, electrically charged state of matter known as plasma can ride waves that oscillate through the plasma during experiments to investigate the production of fusion energy. The oscillations can displace the particles so far that they escape from the doughnut-shaped tokamak that houses the experiments, cooling the plasma and making fusion reactions less efficient. Now a team of physicists led by the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) has devised a faster method to determine how much this interaction between particles and waves contributes to the efficiency loss in tokamaks.
    Thu, 17 Jan 2019 06:10:14 EST
  • Physicists show quantum materials can be tuned for superconductivity

    Some iron-based superconductors could benefit from a tuneup, according to two studies by Rice University physicists and collaborators.
    Thu, 17 Jan 2019 06:00:02 EST
  • Zirconium isotope a master at neutron capture

    The probability that a nucleus will absorb a neutron is important to many areas of nuclear science, including the production of elements in the cosmos, reactor performance, nuclear medicine and defense applications.
    Thu, 17 Jan 2019 04:56:56 EST
  • Novel material converts infrared light into visible light (Update)

    Columbia University scientists, in collaboration with researchers from Harvard, have succeeded in developing a chemical process to absorb infrared light and re-emit it as visible energy, allowing innocuous radiation to penetrate living tissue and other materials without the damage caused by high-intensity light exposure.
    Wed, 16 Jan 2019 13:00:08 EST
  • Fiery sighting: A new physics of eruptions that damage fusion experiments

    Sudden bursts of heat that can damage the inner walls of tokamak fusion experiments are a hurdle that operators of the facilities must overcome. Such bursts, called "edge localized modes (ELMs)," occur in doughnut-shaped tokamak devices that house the hot, charged plasma that is used to replicate on Earth the power that drives the sun and other stars. Now researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have directly observed a possible and previously unknown process that can trigger damaging ELMs.
    Wed, 16 Jan 2019 12:22:55 EST
  • Simple rules predict and explain biological mutualism

    Scientists have long employed relatively simple guidelines to help explain the physical world, from Newton's second law of motion to the laws of thermodynamics.
    Wed, 16 Jan 2019 11:14:58 EST
  • Researchers establish principles for transmitting light-delivered data via nonreciprocal circuits

    The development of fiber optics technology has been indispensable to increasing the speed at which information is delivered over large distances by relying on light to carry information rather than electricity. Currently, incoming light signals are converted into electrical signals, after which the information they carry is processed. Digital communications and sharing of information would be even faster and more energy efficient if light could be used throughout the entire process, but significant additional advances in integrated optical circuits and light-based computing are still required.
    Wed, 16 Jan 2019 10:26:57 EST
  • Understanding insulators with conducting edges

    Insulators that are conducting at their edges hold promise for interesting technological applications. However, until now their characteristics have not been fully understood. Physicists at Goethe University have now modelled what are known as topological insulators with the help of ultracold quantum gases. In the current issue of Physical Review Letters, they demonstrate how the edge states could be experimentally detected.
    Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:42:20 EST
  • New quantum structures in super-chilled helium may mirror early days of universe

    For the first time, researchers have documented the long-predicted occurrence of 'walls bound by strings' in superfluid helium-3. The existence of such an object, originally foreseen by cosmology theorists, may help explaining how the universe cooled down after the Big Bang. With the newfound ability to recreate these structures in the lab, earth-based scientists finally have a way to study some of the possible scenarios that might have taken place in the early universe more closely.
    Wed, 16 Jan 2019 08:03:12 EST
  • Physicists discover new effect in the interaction of plasmas with solids

    Plasmas—hot gases consisting of chaotically-moving electrons, ions, atoms and molecules—comprise the interiors of stars, but scientists can create them artificially using special equipment in the laboratory. If a plasma comes in contact with a solid, such as the wall of the lab equipment, under certain circumstances, the wall is changed fundamentally and permanently: Atoms and molecules from the plasma can be deposited on the solid material, or energetic plasma ions can knock atoms out of the solid, and thereby deform or even destroy its surface. A team from the Institute of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics at Kiel University (CAU) has now discovered a surprising new effect in which the electronic properties of the solid material, such as its electrical conductivity, can be changed by ion impact in a controlled, extremely fast and reversible manner. Their results were recently published in Physical Review Letters.
    Wed, 16 Jan 2019 07:40:52 EST
  • Experiments detect entropy production in mesoscopic quantum systems

    The production of entropy, which means increasing the degree of disorder in a system, is an inexorable tendency in the macroscopic world owing to the second law of thermodynamics. This makes the processes described by classical physics irreversible and, by extension, imposes a direction on the flow of time. However, the tendency does not necessarily apply in the microscopic world, which is governed by quantum mechanics. The laws of quantum physics are reversible in time, so in the microscopic world, there is no preferential direction to the flow of phenomena.
    Wed, 16 Jan 2019 07:32:48 EST
  • Mechanism helps explain the ear's exquisite sensitivity

    The human ear, like those of other mammals, is so extraordinarily sensitive that it can detect sound-wave-induced vibrations of the eardrum that move by less than the width of an atom. Now, researchers at MIT have discovered important new details of how the ear achieves this amazing ability to pick up faint sounds.
    Wed, 16 Jan 2019 07:27:32 EST
  • CERN lays out vision for next-generation particle collider

    Scientists behind the world's largest atom smasher have laid out their multibillion-euro vision to build an even bigger one, in hopes of unlocking even more secrets of matter and the universe in the coming decades.
    Tue, 15 Jan 2019 14:08:21 EST
  • Understanding physics could lead to big gains in shale oil recovery

    Oil companies are missing out on vast sums of recoverable oil in unconventional reservoirs, according to Penn State experts.
    Tue, 15 Jan 2019 12:26:39 EST
  • Three-dimensional femtosecond laser nanolithography of crystals

    Optical properties of materials are based on their chemistry and the inherent subwavelength architecture, although the latter remains to be characterized in depth. Photonic crystals and metamaterials have proven this by providing access through surface alterations to a new level of light manipulation beyond the known natural optical properties of materials. Yet, in the past three decades of research, technical methods have been unable to reliably nanostructure hard optical crystals beyond the material surface for in-depth optical characterization and related applications.
    Tue, 15 Jan 2019 09:30:01 EST
  • Researchers discover new evidence of superconductivity at near room temperature

    Researchers at the George Washington University have taken a major step toward reaching one of the most sought-after goals in physics: room temperature superconductivity.
    Tue, 15 Jan 2019 09:16:33 EST
  • Einstein–de Haas effect offers new insight into a puzzling magnetic phenomenon

    More than 100 years ago, Albert Einstein and Wander Johannes de Haas discovered that when they used a magnetic field to flip the magnetic state of an iron bar dangling from a thread, the bar began to rotate.
    Tue, 15 Jan 2019 09:14:13 EST
  • Topological quantities flow

    Topology is an emerging field within many scientific disciplines, even leading to a Nobel Physics Prize in 2016. Leiden physicist Marcello Caio and his colleagues have now discovered the existence of topological currents in analogy to electric currents. Their research is published in Nature Physics.
    Mon, 14 Jan 2019 11:00:40 EST
  • Here's how origami could be used to shape the future of engineering

    Folding a paper crane is a slow, methodical process. So is unfolding an array of solar panels in space.
    Mon, 14 Jan 2019 09:21:00 EST
  • Big Bang query: Mapping how a mysterious liquid became all matter

    The leading theory about how the universe began is the Big Bang, which says that 14 billion years ago the universe existed as a singularity, a one-dimensional point, with a vast array of fundamental particles contained within it. Extremely high heat and energy caused it to inflate and then expand into the cosmos as we know it—and, the expansion continues to this day.
    Mon, 14 Jan 2019 09:18:33 EST