Popular Science articles about Physics & Chemistry

This shows University of Central Florida College of Optics and Photonics graduate students Matthew Mills and Ali Miri.

MRI, on a molecular scale

For decades, scientists have used techniques like X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging (NMR) to gain invaluable insight into the atomic structure of molecules, but such efforts have long...

'Exotic' material is like a switch when super thin

Researchers from Cornell University and Brookhaven National Laboratory have shown how to switch a particular transition metal oxide, a lanthanum nickelate (LaNiO3), from a metal to an insulator by making...

Better thermal-imaging lens from waste sulfur

A University of Arizona-led research team has discovered a simple process for making a new lightweight plastic from the inexpensive and abundant element sulfur. This plastic can be molded into easy-to-make, lightweight lenses that transmit infra-red light.Sulfur left over from refining fossil fuels can be transformed into cheap, lightweight, plastic lenses for infrared devices, including night-vision goggles, a University of Arizona-led international team has found.

Chiral breathing: Electrically controlled polymer changes its optical properties

Halves of a new polymer are connected at a single point and can be rotated with respect to each other by applying electric potential. Depending on the orientation of the halves, the new polymer either assumes or looses chirality. The polymer model is presented by Prof. Włodzimierz Kutner from the Institute of Physical Chemistry of the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw.Electrically controlled glasses with continuously adjustable transparency, new polarisation filters, and even chemosensors capable of detecting single molecules of specific chemicals could be fabricated thanks to a new polymer unprecedentedly...

At the origin of cell division

This shows active droplets.Droplets of filamentous material enclosed in a lipid membrane: these are the models of a "simplified" cell used by the SISSA physicists Luca Giomi and Antonio DeSimone, who simulated the...

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Floating nuclear plants could ride out tsunamis

When an earthquake and tsunami struck the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant complex in 2011, neither the quake nor the inundation caused the ensuing contamination. Rather, it was the aftereffects --...

Progress in the fight against quantum dissipation

Scientists at Yale have confirmed a 50-year-old, previously untested theoretical prediction in physics and improved the energy storage time of a quantum switch by several orders of magnitude. They report...

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Sensitive detection method may help impede illicit nuclear trafficking

This is a simulated inspection of a layered baggage-like object that contains a thin, shielded plutonium wedge (a), not to scale.  A single energy radiograph is shown in (b) along with the material estimations from the adaptive inverse algorithm which show an equivalent of color vision (by material) for a single-view radiograph using spectral X-ray detector data.According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) the greatest danger to nuclear security comes from terrorists acquiring sufficient quantities of plutonium or highly enriched uranium (HEU) to construct a...

Targeting cancer with a triple threat

Delivering chemotherapy drugs in nanoparticle form could help reduce side effects by targeting the drugs directly to the tumors. In recent years, scientists have developed nanoparticles that deliver one or...

Shiny quantum dots brighten future of solar cells

This shows quantum dot LSC devices under ultraviolet illumination.A house window that doubles as a solar panel could be on the horizon, thanks to recent quantum-dot work by Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers in collaboration with scientists from...

Under some LED bulbs whites aren't 'whiter than white'

Kevin Houser, Professor of Architectural Engineering at Penn State, sorts cards in a light box in the departments illuminating engineering lab for observation under several light sources.For years, companies have been adding whiteners to laundry detergent, paints, plastics, paper and fabrics to make whites look "whiter than white," but now, with a switch away from incandescent...

Gecko-like adhesives now useful for real world surfaces

To substantiate their claims of Geckskin's properties, the UMass Amherst team compared three versions to the abilities of a living Tokay gecko on several surfaces. As predicted by their theory, one Geckskin version matches and even exceeds the gecko's performance on all tested surfaces.The ability to stick objects to a wide range of surfaces such as drywall, wood, metal and glass with a single adhesive has been the elusive goal of many research...

Impurity size affects performance of emerging superconductive material

Research from North Carolina State University finds that impurities can hurt performance -- or possibly provide benefits -- in the key superconductive material Bi2212 (shown here), which is expected to find use in a host of applications, including future particle colliders. The size of the impurities determines whether they help or hinder the material's performance.Research from North Carolina State University finds that impurities can hurt performance -- or possibly provide benefits -- in a key superconductive material that is expected to find use in...

Surprising material could play role in saving energy

One strategy for addressing the world's energy crisis is to stop wasting so much energy when producing and using it, which can happen in coal-fired power plants or transportation. Nearly...

Information storage for the next generation of plastic computers

Inexpensive computers, cell phones and other systems that substitute flexible plastic for silicon chips may be one step closer to reality, thanks to research published on April 16 in the...

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Scientists achieve first direct observations of excitons in motion

A quasiparticle called an exciton -- responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs, and semiconductor circuits -- has been understood theoretically for decades. But...

Relieving electric vehicle range anxiety with improved batteries

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory developed a nickel-based metal organic framework, shown here in an illustration, to hold onto polysulfide molecules in the cathodes of lithium-sulfur batteries and extend the batteries' lifespans. The colored spheres in this image represent the 3D material's tiny pores into with the polysulfides become trapped.Electric vehicles could travel farther and more renewable energy could be stored with lithium-sulfur batteries that use a unique powdery nanomaterial.

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Global scientific team 'visualizes' a new crystallization process

Sometimes engineers invent something before they fully comprehend why it works. To understand the "why," they must often create new tools and techniques in a virtuous cycle that improves the...

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Engineers develop new materials for hydrogen storage

The researchers have created for the first time compounds made from mixtures of calcium hexaboride, strontium and barium hexaboride. The resulting ceramics are essentially crystalline structures in a cage of boron. To store hydrogen, the researchers would swap the calcium, strontium and boron with hydrogen atoms within the cage.Engineers at the University of California, San Diego, have created new ceramic materials that could be used to store hydrogen safely and efficiently.

Beam on target!

The Jefferson Lab CEBAF accelerator delivered its first greater than 6 GeV beam on target following its 12 GeV Upgrade on April 1, 2014. This graph shows data that were collected from the short run. The electrons shown were measured in Hall A's right High Resolution Spectrometer after impinging on nuclei in the carbon target.Late on April 1, the crown jewel of the Department of Energy's Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility ("Jefferson Lab") sparkled its way into a new era. Following an upgrade of...

Let the sun shine in: Redirecting sunlight to urban alleyways

This is a dim street in a dense urban area in Egypt (left) and a model of a dim alleyway for simulation (right).In dense, urban centers around the world, many people live and work in dim and narrow streets surrounded by tall buildings that block sunlight. And as the global population continues...

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