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Description: Physics News and Research. Why is the universe more partial to matter than antimatter? How could fuel cells be more efficient? Read current science articles on physics.

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ScienceDaily: Physics News

Freeze! Watching alloys change from liquid to solid could lead to better metals
by on Thu, 26 Feb 2015 11:11:13 EST:
If you put a camera in the ice machine and watched water turn into ice, the process would look simple. But the mechanism behind liquids turning to solids is actually quite complex, and understanding it better could improve design and production of metals. A recent investigation aboard the International Space Station contributed to that understanding.
Forbidden atomic transitions: Controlling matter 1,000 times more precisely using high-resolution spectroscopy
by on Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:33:41 EST:
A new twist on an old tool lets scientists use light to study and control matter with 1,000 times better resolution and precision than previously possible. Physicists have demonstrated "ponderomotive spectroscopy," which allows researchers to peer more deeply into the structure of atoms and direct their behavior at a much finer scale. The new technique could have applications in quantum computing.
Important step towards quantum computing: Metals at atomic scale
by on Mon, 02 Mar 2015 12:25:00 EST:
Scientists report that they could observe experimentally the current flow along channels at the crystal surfaces of topological insulators. The channels are less than one nanometer wide and extend along atomic steps of the crystal lattice. The scientists demonstrated also how these steps can be introduced in any arrangement.
Scientists trick the light fantastic
by on Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:52:03 EST:
What if one day, your computer, TV or smart phone could process data with light waves instead of an electrical current, making those devices faster, cheaper and more sustainable through less heat and power consumption? That's just one possibility that could one day result from an international research collaboration that's exploring how to improve the performance of plasmonic devices. The manipulation of light through tiny technology could lead to big benefits for everything from TVs to microscopes.
First ever photograph of light as a particle and a wave
by on Mon, 02 Mar 2015 10:47:31 EST:
Light behaves both as a particle and as a wave. Since the days of Einstein, scientists have been trying to directly observe both of these aspects of light at the same time. Now, scientists have succeeded in capturing the first-ever snapshot of this dual behavior.
Supersonic electrons could produce future solar fuel
by on Mon, 02 Mar 2015 09:17:10 EST:
Researchers have taken a step closer to producing solar fuel using artificial photosynthesis. In a new study, they have successfully tracked the electrons’ rapid transit through a light-converting molecule.
Quantum radar to detect objects which are invisible to conventional systems
by on Fri, 27 Feb 2015 08:46:28 EST:
A prototype quantum radar that has the potential to detect objects which are invisible to conventional systems has now been developed.
Top-precision optical atomic clock starts ticking
by on Thu, 26 Feb 2015 18:35:12 EST:
A state-of-the-art optical atomic clock is now 'ticking away.' As the first of its kind in Poland and one of just a handful of clocks of this caliber in the world, the new clock will keep track of the passage of time with extraordinary precision.
New research predicts when, how materials will act
by on Thu, 26 Feb 2015 12:23:36 EST:
A material might melt or snap in half. And for engineers, knowing when and why that might happen is crucial information. Now, a researcher has laid out an overarching theory that explains why certain materials act the way they do.
Clusters of aluminum metal atoms become superconductive at surprisingly high temperatures
by on Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:22:59 EST:
Clusters of atoms known as 'superatoms' represent an entirely new family of superconductors -- one that appears to work at temperatures well above standard superconductors.
Physicists offer a solution to the puzzle of the origin of matter in the universe
by on Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:22:55 EST:
Most of the laws of nature treat particles and antiparticles equally, but stars and planets are made of particles, or matter, and not antiparticles, or antimatter. That asymmetry, which favors matter to a very small degree, has puzzled scientists for many years. Physicists offer a possible solution to the mystery of the origin of matter in the universe.
Bending a highly energetic electron beam with crystal
by on Wed, 25 Feb 2015 13:21:10 EST:
Scientists have demonstrated that a bent silicon crystal can bend the paths of focused, very energetic electron beams much more than magnets used today. The method could be of interest for particle accelerator applications such as next-generation X-ray lasers that will help scientists unravel atomic structures and motions in unprecedented detail.
Magnetic nanoparticles enhance performance of solar cells
by on Wed, 25 Feb 2015 11:43:17 EST:
Magnetic nanoparticles can increase the performance of solar cells made from polymers -- provided the mix is right. Adding about one per cent of such nanoparticles by weight makes the solar cells more efficient, according to new findings.
Spin laser: Rapid data transfer thanks to quantum physics
by on Wed, 25 Feb 2015 08:25:32 EST:
Engineers have developed a new concept for accelerating data transfer in server farms. To this end, the team has applied a quantum-mechanical variable, i.e. the spin. Researchers are optimizing the so-called spin lasers for data transfer.
Ultra-thin nanowires can trap electron 'twisters' that disrupt superconductors
by on Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:34:26 EST:
Superconductor materials are prized for their ability to carry an electric current without resistance, a valuable trait crippled or lost when electrons swirl into tiny tornado-like formations called vortices. To keep supercurrents flowing at top speed, scientists have figured out how to constrain troublesome vortices by trapping them within extremely short, ultra-thin nanowires.
Optical nanoantennas set the stage for a NEMS lab-on-a-chip revolution
by on Tue, 24 Feb 2015 11:29:27 EST:
Newly developed tiny antennas, likened to spotlights on the nanoscale, offer the potential to measure food safety, identify pollutants in the air and even quickly diagnose and treat cancer, according to the scientists who created them.
Simulating superconducting materials with ultracold atoms
by on Mon, 23 Feb 2015 12:25:52 EST:
Physicists have used ultracold lithium atoms to create a state of matter that may help solve some of the mysteries of high-temperature superconductivity.
Stretch and relax: Losing one electron switches magnetism on in dichromium
by on Mon, 23 Feb 2015 10:41:33 EST:
Scientists have provided the first direct experimental insight into the secret quantum life of dichromium. Whereas in its normal state the 12 valence electrons form a strong multiple bond between the two chromium atoms, removing only one electron changes the situation dramatically: 10 electrons localize and align their spins, thus resulting in ferromagnetic behavior of the dichromium-kation. The bonding is done by one electron only, resulting in a much weaker bond.
Frequency combs in molecular fingerprint region
by on Mon, 23 Feb 2015 08:42:51 EST:
Silicon nanowire optical waveguides dramatically broaden mid-infrared frequency comb spectra, scientists report. Frequency combs are commercially available in the visible and near-infrared spectral ranges. The mid-infrared spectral region (2-20?m), however, is still emerging. Many applications in spectroscopy, material science, security and industry process control, or chemical, biological and medical sensing would straightforwardly take advantage of mid-infrared photonics devices of higher performance.
Quantum many-body systems on the way back to equilibrium
by on Mon, 23 Feb 2015 08:42:40 EST:
Advances in experimental and theoretical physics enable a deeper understanding of the dynamics and properties of quantum many-body systems.
SuperSTEM microscope sees single atoms
by on Fri, 20 Feb 2015 08:37:27 EST:
A new super powerful electron microscope that can pinpoint the position of single atoms, and will help scientists push boundaries even further, in fields such as advanced materials, healthcare and power generation, has just been unveiled.
New technique for making graphene competitor, molybdenum disulfide
by on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 14:46:49 EST:
Researchers have made an advance in manufacturing molybdenum disulphide, a 2-D material that could compete with graphene for replacing silicon in next-generation electronics. By growing flakes of the material around 'seeds' of molybdenum oxide, they have made it easier to control the size, thickness and location of the material.
Direct observation of bond formations
by on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 11:58:15 EST:
Direct "observation" of the bond making, through a chemical reaction, has been longstanding dream for chemists. However, the distance between atoms is very small, at about 100 picometer, and the bonding is completed very quickly, taking less than one picosecond (ps). Hence, previously, one could only imagine the bond formation between atoms while looking at the chemical reaction progressing in the test-tube. In this research, scientists directly observed a very fast chemical reaction, induced by photo-excitation.
Higgs mode in superconducting materials: Tabletop technique for examining physics' most celebrated missing link
by on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 10:17:13 EST:
The Nobel Prize-winning discovery of the Higgs boson -- the 'God particle' believed responsible for all the mass in the universe -- took place in 2012 at CERN's Large Hadron Collider. The first hint of Higgs was inspired by the study of superconductors -- a special class of metals that, when cooled to very low temperatures, allow electrons to move without resistance. Now, a research team has reported the first-ever observations of the Higgs mode in superconducting materials.
Shape-shifting nanorod ensembles release heat differently
by on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 10:13:38 EST:
Researchers have revealed previously unobserved behaviors in nanrods that suggest new rules for the behavior of nanorod ensembles and new insights into how to increase heat-transfer efficiency in a nanoscale system.
Searching for signs of a force from the 'dark side' in particle collisions
by on Thu, 19 Feb 2015 08:49:08 EST:
Scientists searching for signs of elusive “dark photons” as an explanation for an anomaly in a groundbreaking physics experiment have nearly ruled out their role.
Cheap solar cells made from shrimp shells
by on Wed, 18 Feb 2015 19:17:24 EST:
Researchers have successfully created electricity-generating solar-cells with chemicals found the shells of shrimps and other crustaceans for the first time.
Getting a grip on exotic atomic nuclei
by on Wed, 18 Feb 2015 10:16:26 EST:
A new model describing atomic nuclei more accurately predicts the properties of various exotic isotopes that are created in supernova explosions or inside nuclear reactors.
Gear technology helps lower cost of wave energy farming
by on Wed, 18 Feb 2015 09:21:39 EST:
A Swedish company has cracked the challenge of scaling up wave energy, with the help of new technology. CorPower Ocean's new wave energy system, which uses a gearbox design, generates five times more energy per ton of device, at one third of the cost when compared to competing state-of-the art technologies. Energy output is three to four times higher than traditional wave power systems.
Igniting the air for atmospheric research
by on Wed, 18 Feb 2015 07:30:18 EST:
Scientists have created a high-energy mid-infrared laser powerful enough to create shining filaments in the air. Such devices could be used to detect chemical substances in the atmosphere.
Building a more versatile frequency comb: Newly developed frequency combs can operate at higher power
by on Tue, 17 Feb 2015 13:12:38 EST:
Researchers have developed a room temperature frequency comb with increased power based on quantum cascade lasers. Since the discovery of optical frequency combs in the 1990s, many applications in metrology, spectroscopy, and frequency synthesis have emerged. Similar to the way a grandfather clock's pendulum ticks off the seconds before signaling the gears to turn its hands, frequency combs count oscillations and convert them into useful electronic signals.
Insight into inner magnetic layers
by on Tue, 17 Feb 2015 13:12:32 EST:
Research teams from Paris, Madrid and Berlin have observed for the first time how magnetic domains mutually influence one another at interfaces of spintronic components. Using measurements taken at BESSY II, they could demonstrate that what are known as spin filters form between the outer ferromagnetic layers and the inner anti-ferromagnetic insulating layer, influencing tunnel magnetoresistance.
Novel solid-state nanomaterial platform enables terahertz photonics
by on Tue, 17 Feb 2015 11:40:07 EST:
Compact, sensitive and fast nanodetectors are considered to be somewhat of a "Holy Grail" sought by many researchers around the world. And now a team of scientists in Italy and France has been inspired by nanomaterials and has created a novel solid-state technology platform that opens the door to the use of terahertz (THz) photonics in a wide range of applications.
Interaction between light and sound in nanoscale waveguide
by on Mon, 16 Feb 2015 20:04:26 EST:
Scientists have demonstrated interaction between light and sound in a nanoscale area. Their findings elucidate the physics of light-matter coupling at these scales – and pave the way for enhanced signal processing on mass-producible silicon photonic chips. In the last decade, the field of silicon photonics has gained increasing attention as a key driver of lab-on-a-chip biosensors and of faster-than-electronics communication between computer chips. The technology builds on tiny structures known as silicon photonic wires, which are roughly a hundred times narrower than a typical human hair. These nanowires carry optical signals from one point to another at the speed of light. They are fabricated with the same technological toolset as electronic circuitry. Fundamentally, the wires work only because light moves slower in the silicon core than in the surrounding air and glass.
Controlling car pollution at the quantum level
by on Mon, 16 Feb 2015 09:20:49 EST:
Researchers are working towards a new generation of automotive catalytic converters.
Half spheres for molecular circuits
by on Mon, 16 Feb 2015 06:48:20 EST:
Corannulene is a carbon molecule with a unique shape (similar to the better known fullerene) and promising properties. A team of scientists carried out computer simulations of the molecule’s properties and discovered that it might help overcome the difficulties building molecular circuits (i.e., of the size of molecules).
The future of electronics, now in 2-D
by on Sat, 14 Feb 2015 18:45:27 EST:
The future of electronics could lie in a material from its past, as researchers work to turn germanium -- the material of 1940s transistors -- into a potential replacement for silicon.
What’s new for LHC Run II
by on Sat, 14 Feb 2015 09:23:56 EST:
The most powerful particle accelerator on Earth soon will reawaken for its second run. Scientists explain how the upgraded capabilities of the Large Hadron Collider and its experiments will give access to a previously inaccessible realm of physics.
How iron feels the heat
by on Fri, 13 Feb 2015 14:50:55 EST:
Researchers have known that the arrangement of the atoms in a piece of iron changes several times before melting -- but the details of just how and why this property contributes to the metal's thermodynamic stability remained a mystery. Recent work provides evidence for how iron's magnetism plays a role in this curious property -- an understanding that could help researchers develop better and stronger steel.
Distortions glimpsed in atomic structure of materials
by on Fri, 13 Feb 2015 10:47:09 EST:
Researchers are using a technique they developed to observe minute distortions in the atomic structure of complex materials, shedding light on what causes these distortions and opening the door to studies on how such atomic-scale variations can influence a material's properties.
Seeing through sparklers: What happens to heat-treated diamonds
by on Fri, 13 Feb 2015 10:46:36 EST:
Diamonds come in all colors with price tags to match -- ice-white, blue and pink attract high prices and stones with brown hues the least. But now that brown diamonds can be heat-treated to remove the darker color to produce near-perfect colorless gemstones, can consumers tell the difference?
Gold nanotubes launch a three-pronged attack on cancer cells
by on Thu, 12 Feb 2015 21:19:49 EST:
Scientists have shown that gold nanotubes have many applications in fighting cancer: internal nanoprobes for high-resolution imaging; drug delivery vehicles; and agents for destroying cancer cells.
Exotic states materialize with supercomputers
by on Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:46:37 EST:
Supercomputers used to find new class of materials that exhibit exotic matter state known as the quantum spin Hall effect. The researchers propose a new type of transistor made from these materials.
Explaining 30-year-old 'hidden order' physics mystery
by on Thu, 12 Feb 2015 15:46:25 EST:
A new explanation for a type of order, or symmetry, in an exotic material made with uranium is a major step toward explaining a puzzle that physicists worldwide have been struggling with for 30 years. This 'hidden order' appears as a subtle change in the material's electrical and magnetic properties when the material is cooled to 17.5 degrees above absolute zero or lower -- a bone-chilling minus 428 degrees Fahrenheit.
Weird 'strings' attached to future high temperature superconductivity
by on Thu, 12 Feb 2015 06:51:35 EST:
The behavior of strongly correlated electron systems, such as high temperature superconductors, defies explanation in the language of ordinary quantum theory. A seemingly unrelated area of physics, string theory, might give physicists a better understanding of the weird behavior of this kind of collective electron systems.
Bacterial armor holds clues for self-assembling nanostructures
by on Wed, 11 Feb 2015 15:39:15 EST:
Researchers have uncovered key details in the process by which bacterial proteins self-assemble into a protective coating, like chainmail armor. This process can be a model for the self-assembly of 2-D and 3-D nanostructures.
Novel high-power microwave generator
by on Wed, 11 Feb 2015 12:40:16 EST:
High-power microwaves are frequently used in civil applications, such as radar and communication systems, heating and current drive of plasmas in fusion devices, and acceleration in high-energy linear colliders. They can also be used for military purpose in directed-energy weapons or missile guidance systems. In a new study scientists demonstrate that their proposed novel method, which is capable of producing such microwaves, offers a viable alternative to traditional approaches.
Wanted: The faces of the chemical crowd
by on Wed, 11 Feb 2015 12:36:04 EST:
Elements and their compounds will no longer be able to hide in mixtures, even if the latter are made up of many components. The end of chemical incognito is a result of the development at Warsaw's Polish Academy of Science's Institute of Physical Chemistry of a new, much more accurate method of identifying the 'fingerprints' of chemical substances, imprinted in the light dispersed by the mixtures.
CERN experiment brings precision to a cornerstone of particle physics
by on Wed, 11 Feb 2015 08:31:58 EST:
The COMPASS experiment at CERN reports a key measurement on the strong interaction. The strong interaction binds quarks into protons and neutrons, and protons and neutrons into the nuclei of all the elements from which matter is built. Inside those nuclei, particles called pions made up of a quark and an antiquark mediate the interaction. Strong interaction theory makes a precise prediction on the polarisability of pions – the degree to which their shape can be stretched. This polarisability has baffled scientists since the 1980s, when the first measurements appeared to be at odds with the theory. New result is in close agreement with theory.
Scientists take first X-ray portraits of living bacteria
by on Wed, 11 Feb 2015 08:29:47 EST:
Researchers have captured the first X-ray portraits of living bacteria. This milestone is a first step toward possible X-ray explorations of the molecular machinery at work in viral infections, cell division, photosynthesis and other processes that are important to biology, human health and our environment.
Smashing polarized protons to uncover spin and other secrets
by on Wed, 11 Feb 2015 08:29:43 EST:
If you want to unravel the secrets of proton spin, put a “twist” in your colliding proton beams. The Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) is the only facility in the world with the ability to collide such spin-polarized protons. The latest round of these collisions has just begun and will continue for approximately the next nine weeks.
New design tool for metamaterials
by on Mon, 09 Feb 2015 16:15:13 EST:
Researchers have shown that it is possible to predict the nonlinear optical properties of metamaterials using a recent theory for nonlinear light scattering when light passes through nanostructures.
On quantum scales, there are many second laws of thermodynamics
by on Mon, 09 Feb 2015 16:14:17 EST:
New research has uncovered additional second laws of thermodynamics which complement the ordinary second law of thermodynamics, one of the most fundamental laws of nature. These new second laws are generally not noticeable except on very small scales, at which point, they become increasingly important.
A centimeter of time: Cool clocks pave the way to new measurements of Earth
by on Mon, 09 Feb 2015 11:30:42 EST:
Two cryogenically cooled optical lattice clocks that can be synchronized to a tremendous 2.0 x 10^-18 -- meaning that they would only go out of synch by a second in 16 billion years. This is nearly 1,000 times more precise than the current international timekeeping standard cesium atomic clock.
In the quantum world, the future affects the past: Hindsight and foresight together more accurately 'predict' a quantum system’s state
by on Mon, 09 Feb 2015 08:30:11 EST:
In the quantum world, the future predicts the past. Playing a guessing game with a superconducting circuit called a qubit, a physicist has discovered a way to narrow the odds of correctly guessing the state of a two-state system. By combining information about the qubit's evolution after a target time with information about its evolution up to that time, the lab was able to narrow the odds from 50-50 to 90-10.
Nanovectors combine cancer imaging and therapy
by on Fri, 06 Feb 2015 12:51:36 EST:
Researchers have designed and developed hybrid gold-silica nanoparticles, which are turning out to be genuine therapeutic “Swiss Army knives”. Tested in mice and on cultured human cells, they make it possible to combine two forms of tumor treatment and three imaging techniques. They notably have a greater drug loading and delivery capacity than carriers currently on the market, which opens interesting perspectives for cancer research.
Physicists working to understand how and why matter came about
by on Fri, 06 Feb 2015 12:51:17 EST:
Physicists are engaged in a series of neutrino experiments, called NOvA, now under way at Fermilab to help answer how and why matter came about.
How oxygen is like kryptonite to titanium
by on Thu, 05 Feb 2015 14:29:19 EST:
Scientists have found the mechanism by which titanium, prized for its high strength-to-weight ratio and natural resistance to corrosion, becomes brittle with just a few extra atoms of oxygen. The discovery could potentially lead to more practical, cost-effective use of titanium in a broader range of applications, including vehicles, buildings and bridges.
Cesium atoms shaken, not stirred, to create elusive excitation in superfluid
by on Thu, 05 Feb 2015 14:12:33 EST:
In 1941, future Nobel laureate Lev Landau predicted that superfluid helium-4 should contain an exotic, particle-like excitation called a roton. Roton structure has been a matter of debate ever since. Physicists have now created roton structure in the laboratory.
The power of light-matter coupling
by on Thu, 05 Feb 2015 08:30:42 EST:
A theoretical study shows that strong ties between light and organic matter at the nanoscale open the door to modifying these coupled systems' optical, electronic or chemical properties. Light and matter can be so strongly linked that their characteristics become indistinguishable. These light-matter couplings are referred to as polaritons. Their energy oscillates continuously between both systems, giving rise to attractive new physical phenomena. Now, scientists have explained why such polaritons can remain for an unusual long time at the lowest energy levels, in such a way that alters the microscopic and macroscopic characteristics of their constituting matter.