Popular Science articles about Physics & Chemistry

University of Akron researchers find thin layers of water can become ice-like at room temperature

New research by scientists at The University of Akron (UA) shows that a nanometer-thin layer of water between two charged surfaces exhibits ice-like tendencies that allow it to withstand pressures of hundreds of atmospheres. The discovery could lead to better...

Electrons at the speed limit

A short laser pulse travels through a diamond (black spheres) and excites electrons inside it. The strength of the excitation is measured using an attosecond ultraviolet pulse (violet).Speed may not be witchcraft, but it is the basis for technologies that often seem like magic. Modern computers, for instance, are as powerful as they are because tiny switches...

3-D-printed structures 'remember' their shapes

In this series, a 3-D printed multimaterial shape-memory minigripper, consisting of shape-memory hinges and adaptive touching tips, grasps a cap screw.Engineers from MIT and Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) are using light to print three-dimensional structures that "remember" their original shapes. Even after being stretched, twisted, and bent...

Spherical tokamaks could provide path to limitless fusion energy

This image shows a test cell for National Spherical Torus Experiment-Upgrade with tokamak in the center.Creating "a star in a jar" - replicating on Earth the way the sun and stars create energy through fusion - requires a "jar" that can contain superhot plasma and...

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Symmetry crucial for building key biomaterial collagen in the lab

Simple shapes, such as these fish, can tile large surfaces if their geometry allows for symmetry. The edges each tessellating fish share with their surroundings are identical from fish to fish. Similarly, assemblies of collagen protein "tiles" can be achieved when the chemical and physical environments of every tile are designed to be identical, allowing scientists to produce synthetic collagen nanofibers.Collagen makes up the cartilage in our knee joints, the vessels that transport our blood, and is a crucial component in our bones. It is the most abundant protein found...

A nanoscale wireless communication system via plasmonic antennas

The pursuit of next-generation technologies places a premium on producing increased speed and efficiency with components built at scales small enough to function on a computer chip.

Feeling the force between sand grains

For the first time, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have measured how forces move through 3D granular materials, determining how this important class of materials might pack and behave...

New electrical energy storage material shows its power

A conductive polymer (green) formed inside the small holes of a hexagonal framework (red and blue) work together to store electrical energy rapidly and efficiently.A powerful new material developed by Northwestern University chemist William Dichtel and his research team could one day speed up the charging process of electric cars and help increase their...

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Understanding nature's patterns with plasmas

This is a schematic diagram of the spatial distributions of the pattern in three cross sections A, B and C along z axis. (a) A sketch of three dimenstional pattern. (b-d) Schematic diagram of the spatial distributions of the pattern in cross section A, B and C denoted in (a).Patterns abound in nature, from zebra stripes and leopard spots to honeycombs and bands of clouds. Somehow, these patterns form and organize all by themselves. To better understand how, researchers...

Battery you can swallow could enable future ingestible medical devices

Christopher Bettinger, Ph.D., is developing an edible battery made with melanin and dissolvable materials.Non-toxic, edible batteries could one day power ingestible devices for diagnosing and treating disease. One team reports new progress toward that goal with their batteries made with melanin pigments, naturally...

New flexible material can make any window 'smart'

This is a darkened electrochromic film on plastic prepared by chemical condensation.Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have invented a new flexible smart window material that, when incorporated into windows, sunroofs, or even...

This is an illustration of the Migration Enhance Encapsulated Growth (MEEG) process to stabilize novel wide-bandgap two-dimensional nitride semiconductors that are not naturally occurring. MEEG is facilitated by defects in the graphene lattice that act as pathways for intercalation. When the gallium and nitrogen adatoms meet at the graphene/SiC interface, they chemically react to form two-dimensional gallium nitride.

Crystal unclear: Why might this uncanny crystal change laser design?

These potassium diphosphate (KDP) crystals, which self-assemble in solution as hollow hexagonal rods, could find use in laser technology, particularly for fiber-optic communications. The scanning-electron image at right shows a crystal at higher resolution with scale added.Laser applications may benefit from crystal research by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and China's Shandong University. They have discovered a potential way to sidestep...

Structural, regulatory and human error were factors in Washington highway bridge collapse

A key factor in the crash was the curved opening of the bridge. The posted height was the maximum in the center, not the lower curved section above the outer lanes, which the truck hit.When an important bridge collapsed on Interstate 5 near Mount Vernon, Washington, in 2013, questions were raised about how such a catastrophic failure could occur. A new analysis by a...

The first autonomous, entirely soft robot

The octobot is powered by a chemical reaction and controlled with a soft logic board. A reaction inside the bot transforms a small amount of liquid fuel (hydrogen peroxide) into a large amount of gas, which flows into the octobot's arms and inflates them like a balloon. A microfluidic logic circuit, a soft analog of a simple electronic oscillator, controls when hydrogen peroxide decomposes to gas in the octobot.A team of Harvard University researchers with expertise in 3D printing, mechanical engineering, and microfluidics has demonstrated the first autonomous, untethered, entirely soft robot. This small, 3D-printed robot -- nicknamed...

FSU chemistry professor explores outer regions of periodic table

Thomas Albrecht-Schmitt has worked on the heaviest elements of the periodic table, including berkelium.A little known -- and difficult to obtain -- element on the fringes of the periodic table is broadening our fundamental understanding of chemistry. In the latest edition of...

New method developed for producing some metals

The MIT researchers were trying to develop a new battery, but it didn't work out that way. Instead, thanks to an unexpected finding in their lab tests, what they discovered...

University of Toronto scientists solve puzzle of converting gaseous carbon dioxide to fuel

Converting greenhouse gas emissions into energy-rich fuel using nano silicon (Si) in a carbon-neutral carbon-cycle is illustrated.Every year, humans advance climate change and global warming - and quite likely our own eventual extinction - by injecting about 30 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Analog DNA circuit does math in a test tube

Duke graduate student Tianqi Song and computer science professor John Reif have created strands of synthetic DNA that, when mixed together in a test tube in the right concentrations, form an analog circuit that can add, subtract and multiply as the molecules form and break bonds. While most DNA circuits are digital, their device performs calculations in an analog fashion, without requiring special circuitry to convert signals to zeroes and ones first.Often described as the blueprint of life, DNA contains the instructions for making every living thing from a human to a house fly.

Chaos could provide the key to enhanced wireless communications

Chaos, somewhat ironically, has one clear attribute: random-like, apparently unpredictable, behavior. However recent work shows that that unpredictable behavior could provide the key to effective and efficient wireless communications.

Stretchy supercapacitors power wearable electronics

This stretchy supercapacitor made from graphene could spur the development of wearable electronics.A future of soft robots that wash your dishes or smart T-shirts that power your cell phone may depend on the development of stretchy power sources. But traditional batteries are...

Light and matter merge in quantum coupling

Rice University graduate student Xinwei Li, with physicist Junichiro Kono, prepares a sample for a cavity quantum electrodynamics experiment. They are part of a team probing the boundaries of light-matter interactions as they bridge traditional condensed matter physics and cavity-based quantum optics.Where light and matter intersect, the world illuminates. Where light and matter interact so strongly that they become one, they illuminate a world of new physics, according to Rice University...

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