Popular Science articles about Physics & Chemistry

Calculating the future of solar-fuel refineries

A team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has developed a new tool to help plot the future of solar fuels.

New research re-creates planet formation, super-earths and giant planets in the laboratory

New laser-driven shock compression experiments on stishovite provide thermodynamic  and electrical conductivity data at unprecedented conditions and reveal the unusual properties of rocks deep inside large exoplanets and giant planets.New laser-driven compression experiments reproduce the conditions deep inside exotic super-Earths and giant planet cores, and the conditions during the violent birth of Earth-like planets, documenting the material properties that...

Exotic, gigantic molecules fit inside each other like Russian nesting dolls

This illustration shows the sizes of triatomic molecules that follow the geometrical scaling predicted by Vitaly Efimov in 1970. University of Chicago physicists have reported evidence of this geometric scaling in three-atom, lithium-ceisum Efimov molecules at a temperature 200 nanokelvin, a fraction of a degree above absolute zero (minus 459.6 degrees Fahreneheit).University of Chicago scientists have experimentally observed for the first time a phenomenon in ultracold, three-atom molecules predicted by Russian theoretical physicsist Vitaly Efimov in 1970.

Self-assembled nanotextures create antireflective surface on silicon solar cells

Chuck Black of the Center for Functional Nanomaterials displays a nanotextured square of silicon on top of an ordinary silicon wafer. The nanotextured surface is completely antireflective and could boost the production of solar energy from silicon solar cells.Reducing the amount of sunlight that bounces off the surface of solar cells helps maximize the conversion of the sun's rays to electricity, so manufacturers use coatings to cut down...

New signal amplification process set to transform communications, imaging, computing

This schematic illustrates the concepts involved in the cycling excitation process.Signal amplification is ubiquitous to all electronic and optoelectronic systems for communications, imaging and computing -- its characteristics directly impact device performance.

Self-destructive effects of magnetically-doped ferromagnetic topological insulators

This is a topographic image of chromium dopant-atom locations at the topological insulator surface.The discovery of "topologically protected" electrical conductivity on the surface of some materials whose bulk interior acts as an insulator was among the most sensational advances in the last decade...

New high-speed 3-D microscope -- SCAPE -- gives deeper view of living things

This schematic depicts SCAPE's imaging geometry. The sample is illuminated by a thin sheet of light (blue), incident at an oblique angle. SCAPE achieves high speed imaging by sweeping this light sheet back and forth within the sample, achieved using a scanning mirror configured similarly to confocal microscopy. This optically sectioned plane is imaged onto a high speed sCMOS camera via the same objective lens. Unique de-scanning and image rotation optics ensure that the illuminated plane is always co-aligned with the camera plane, throughout its scan position. The end result is data equivalent to conventional light-sheet microscopy, but requiring a single, stationary objective lens, no sample translation, and consequently very high speed 3-D imaging. This unique configuration permits volumetric imaging of intact tissues including the awake, behaving mouse brain. While limited in penetration depth (since SCAPE is currently implemented with a 488 nm laser) spontaneous activity in apical dendrites in layers one and two of the mouse cortex can be resolved at >10 volumes per second. Panels show dendrites rendered from SCAPE data acquired in an awake behaving mouse with layer five neurons labeled with GCaMP5g. Renderings show dendritic branches corresponding to the colored time-courses shown below. Temporal resolution and signal to noise are sufficient to discern different properties of onset and decay dynamics within individual dendritic branches for single events.Opening new doors for biomedical and neuroscience research, Elizabeth Hillman, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Columbia Engineering and of radiology at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC), has developed a...

Rice-sized laser, powered one electron at a time, bodes well for quantum computing

Princeton University researchers have built a rice grain-sized laser powered by single electrons tunneling through artificial atoms known as quantum dots. The tiny microwave laser, or "maser," is a demonstration...

DNA 'glue' could someday be used to build tissues, organs

DNA molecules provide the "source code" for life in humans, plants, animals and some microbes. But now researchers report an initial study showing that the strands can also act as...

Quantum physics just got less complicated

Quantum physics says that particles can behave like waves, and vice versa. Researchers have now shown that this 'wave-particle duality' is simply the quantum uncertainty principle in disguise.Here's a nice surprise: quantum physics is less complicated than we thought. An international team of researchers has proved that two peculiar features of the quantum world previously considered distinct...

Electron spin could be the key to high-temperature superconductivity

Cuprates are materials with great promise for achieving superconductivity at higher temperatures (-120oC). This could mean low-cost electricity without energy loss. Intense research has focused on understanding the physics of...

New technique helps probe performance of organic solar cell materials

A research team led by North Carolina State University has developed a new technique for determining the role that a material's structure has on the efficiency of organic solar cells, which are candidates for low-cost, next generation solar power. The...

Scientists set quantum speed limit

The speed limit, that is, the minimal time to transition between two easily distinguishable states, such as the north and south poles representing up and down states of a quantum spin (top), is characterized by a well-known relationship. But the speed limit between two states not entirely distinguishable, which correspond to states of arbitrary latitude and longitude whether on or within the sphere of all possible states of a quantum spin (bottom), was unknown until two UC Berkeley chemical physicists calculated it.University of California, Berkeley, scientists have proved a fundamental relationship between energy and time that sets a "quantum speed limit" on processes ranging from quantum computing and tunneling to optical...

Laser-generated surface structures create extremely water-repellent metals

University of Rochester's Institute of Optics Professor Chunlei Guo has developed a technique that uses lasers to render materials hydrophobic, illustrated in this image of a water droplet bouncing off a treated sample.Scientists at the University of Rochester have used lasers to transform metals into extremely water repellent, or super-hydrophobic, materials without the need for temporary coatings.

One nanoparticle, 6 types of medical imaging

University at Buffalo researchers and colleagues have designed a nanoparticle detectable by six medical imaging techniques. This illustration depicts the particles as they are struck by beams of energy and emit signals that can be detected by the six methods: CT and PET scanning, along with photoacoustic, fluorescence, upconversion and Cerenkov luminescence imaging.It's technology so advanced that the machine capable of using it doesn't yet exist.

New laser could upgrade the images in tomorrow's technology

A new semiconductor laser developed at Yale has the potential to significantly improve the imaging quality of the next generation of high-tech microscopes, laser projectors, photolithography, holography, and biomedical imaging.

Defining adhesion clusters

This image depicts superresolution imaging of E-cadherin at the cell membrane. Conventional microscopy (white box) shows E-cadherin as a belt along the cell membrane. Superresolution imaging reveals that E-cadherin assembles as distinct, punctate clusters.Scientists at the Mechanobiology Institute (MBI) at the National University of Singapore (NUS) have discovered the molecular mechanisms responsible for the formation of the adherens junction at the nanoscale level....

MIT team enlarges brain samples, making them easier to image

Beginning with the invention of the first microscope in the late 1500s, scientists have been trying to peer into preserved cells and tissues with ever-greater magnification. The latest generation of...

Chemical dial controls attraction between water-repelling molecules

Fear of water may seem like an irrational hindrance to humans, but on a molecular level, it lends order to the world.

A new step towards using graphene in electronic applications

Few materials have received as much attention from the scientific world or have raised so many hopes with a view to their potential deployment in new applications as graphene has....

New technique reveals immune cell motion

Neutrophils, a type of white blood cell, are the immune system's all-terrain vehicles. The cells are recruited to fight infections or injury in any tissue or organ in the body...

A 'GPS' for molecules

This is professor Dr. Olav Schiemann (left) and doctoral student Dinar Abdullin with an image of the enzyme azurine.In everyday life, the global positioning system (GPS) can be employed to reliably determine the momentary location of one en route to the desired destination. Scientists from the Institute of...

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