Popular Science articles about Physics & Chemistry

Robotic insect mimics Nature's extreme moves

The concept of walking on water might sound supernatural, but in fact it is a quite natural phenomenon. Many small living creatures leverage water's surface tension to maneuver themselves around. One of the most complex maneuvers, jumping on water, is...

New computer model could explain how simple molecules took first step toward life

Brookhaven researchers Sergei Maslov (left) and Alexi Tkachenko developed a theoretical model to explain molecular self-replication.Nearly four billion years ago, the earliest precursors of life on Earth emerged. First small, simple molecules, or monomers, banded together to form larger, more complex molecules, or polymers. Then...

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UT Dallas nanotechnology research leads to super-elastic conducting fibers

University of Texas at Dallas scientists have constructed novel fibers by wrapping sheets of tiny carbon nanotubes to form a sheath around a long rubber core. This illustration shows complex two-dimensional buckling, shown in yellow, of the carbon nanotube sheath/rubber-core fiber. The buckling results in a conductive fiber with super elasticity and novel electronic properties.An international research team based at The University of Texas at Dallas has made electrically conducting fibers that can be reversibly stretched to over 14 times their initial length and...

Atomic view of cellular pump reveals how bacteria send out proteins

The pump, a single-molecule machine, (yellow coils) carries proteins through the cell membrane (pink and dark blue). Within the pump, the researchers found a strikingly large water-filled channel (light blue), a natural environment for hydrophilic proteins.Bacteria have plenty of things to send out into world beyond their own boundaries: coordinating signals to other members of their species, poisons for their enemies, and devious instructions to...

Simulations lead to design of near-frictionless material

In this schematic of the superlubricity system, the gold represents nanodiamond particles; the blue is a graphene nanoscroll; green shows underlying graphene on silicon dioxide; and the black structures are the diamond-like carbon interface.Argonne scientists used Mira to identify and improve a new mechanism for eliminating friction, which fed into the development of a hybrid material that exhibited superlubricity at the macroscale for...

Bringing back the magic in metamaterials

Durdu Güney stands in his lab where he and his team work on creating a 'perfect lens'.A single drop of blood is teeming with microorganisms--imagine if we could see them, and even nanometer-sized viruses, with the naked eye. That's a real possibility with what scientists call...

Study finds metal foams capable of shielding X-rays, gamma rays, neutron radiation

Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams -- like the one pictured here -- are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of...

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Nanowires give 'solar fuel cell' efficiency a tenfold boost

A solar cell that produces fuel rather than electricity. Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and FOM Foundation today present a very promising prototype of this in the journal...

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More precise estimate of Avogadro's number to help redefine kilogram

The number of atoms in this silicon sphere is known given or taken 20 atoms each 10^9. The atom distance was measured by the X-ray interferometer on the left.An ongoing international effort to redefine the kilogram by 2018 has been helped by recent efforts from a team researchers from Italy, Japan and Germany to correlate two of the...

Graphene-based film can be used for efficient cooling of electronics

Silane coupling between the graphene and the silicon (an electronic component). After heating and hydrolysis of (3-Aminopropyl) triethoxysilane (APTES) molecules, silane coupling is created, which provides mechanic strength and good thermal pathways.Researchers at Chalmers University of Technology have developed a method for efficiently cooling electronics using graphene-based film. The film has a thermal conductivity capacity that is four times that of...

Bonelike 3-D silicon synthesized for potential use with medical devices

This 3-D silicon mesostructure measures approximately 200 nanometers (the size of a small bacterium) across its narrow dimension. It is designed for integration with biological systems. The mesoscale is intermediate between the nanometer and macroscopic scales.Researchers have developed a new approach for better integrating medical devices with biological systems. The researchers, led by Bozhi Tian, assistant professor in chemistry at the University of Chicago, have...

This s-SNOM infrared image shows Luttinger-liquid plasmons in a metallic single-walled nanotube.

Researchers predict material with record-setting melting point

Compounds made from hafnium and carbon have some of the highest known melting points. Using computer simulations, Brown University engineers predict that a material made with hafnium, nitrogen, and carbon will have a higher melting point than any known material.Using powerful computer simulations, researchers from Brown University have identified a material with a higher melting point than any known substance.

Young scientist discovers magnetic material unnecessary to create spin current

<p>Research at Argonne indicates you don't need a magnetic material to create spin current from insulators -- has important implications for the field of spintronics and the development of high-speed, low-power electronics that use electron spin rather than charge to carry information. 

<p>ABOVE: Typically when referring to electrical current, an image of electrons moving through a metallic wire is conjured. Using the spin Seebeck effect (SSE), it is possible to create a current of pure spin (a quantum property of electrons related to its magnetic moment) in magnetic insulators. However, this work demonstrates that the SSE is not limited to magnetic insulators but also occurs in a class of materials known as paramagnets. Since magnetic moments within paramagnets do not interact with each other like in conventional ferromagnets, and thus do not hold their magnetization when an external magnetic field is removed, this discovery is unexpected and challenges current theories for the SSE. New ways of generating spin currents may be important for low-power high-speed spin based computing (spintronics), and is also an area of great fundamental interest. The paramagnetic SSE changes the way we think about thermally driven spintronics, allowing for the creation of new devices and architectures where spin currents are generated without ferromagnetic materials, which have been the centerpiece of all spin-based electronic devices up until this point.It doesn't happen often that a young scientist makes a significant and unexpected discovery, but postdoctoral researcher Stephen Wu of the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory just did...

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Rice University finding could lead to cheap, efficient metal-based solar cells

This is Bob Zheng.New research from Rice University could make it easier for engineers to harness the power of light-capturing nanomaterials to boost the efficiency and reduce the costs of photovoltaic solar cells.

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Finding the origins of life in a drying puddle

Georgia Tech graduate student Sheng-Sheng Yu holds a sample that has been subjected to repeated cycles of wet-dry conditions. From amino acids and hydroxy acids, the process results in a mixture of polyesters and peptides containing as many as 14 units.Anyone who's ever noticed a water puddle drying in the sun has seen an environment that may have driven the type of chemical reactions that scientists believe were critical to...

After 85-year search, massless particle with promise for next-generation electronics found

An international team led by Princeton University scientists has discovered Weyl fermions, elusive massless particles theorized 85 years ago that could give rise to faster and more efficient electronics because of their unusual ability to behave as matter and antimatter inside a crystal. The team included numerous researchers from Princeton's Department of Physics, including (from left to right) graduate students Ilya Belopolski and Daniel Sanchez; Guang Bian, a postdoctoral research associate; corresponding author M. Zahid Hasan, a Princeton professor of physics who led the research team; and associate research scholar Hao Zheng.An international team led by Princeton University scientists has discovered Weyl fermions, an elusive massless particle theorized 85 years ago. The particle could give rise to faster and more efficient...

Weyl points: Wanted for 86 years

This is a zoomed-in picture of the photonic crystal built by Lu et al. with a penny sitting on top for scale.Weyl points, the 3D analogues of the structures that make graphene exceptional, were theoretically predicted in 1929. Today, an international team of Physicists from MIT and Zhejiang University, found them...

Physicists discover long-sought 'pentaquark' particle

Now that NSF-funded researchers have discovered the long-sought pentaquark, their next step is to study how quarks are bound together within this remarkable particle. They could be bound together tightly, as seen in this image.CERN's Large Hadron Collider announced Tuesday that researchers discovered a remarkable class of particles known as pentaquarks that could reshape scientists' understanding about the properties of matter.

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Neutrons find 'missing' magnetism of plutonium

Doug Abernathy, left, ARCS instrument scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Marc Janoschek, Los Alamos National Laboratory, prepare their sample for experiments at the Spallation Neutron Source.Groundbreaking work at two Department of Energy national laboratories has confirmed plutonium's magnetism, which scientists have long theorized but have never been able to experimentally observe. The advances that...

A jump for soft-bodied robots

Traditional robots are made of components and rigid materials like you might see on an automotive assembly line - metal and hydraulic parts, harshly rigid, and extremely strong. But away...

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Autonomous taxis would deliver significant environmental and economic benefits

Berkeley Lab researchers Jeff Greenblatt (left) and Samveg Saxena.Imagine a fleet of driverless taxis roaming your city, ready to pick you up and take you to your destination at a moment's notice. While this may seem fantastical, it...

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