A Week in Review: 8/17/14 – 8/23/14

Aug. 21, 2014

JILA team finds first direct evidence of ‘spin symmetry’ in atoms
JILA physicists led by theorist Ana Maria Rey and experimentalist Jun Ye have observed the first direct evidence of symmetry in the magnetic properties—or nuclear “spins”—of atoms. The advance could spin off practical benefits such as the ability to simulate and better understand exotic materials exhibiting phenomena such as superconductivity (electrical flow without resistance) and colossal magneto-resistance (drastic change in electrical flow in the presence of a magnetic field). http://www.colorado.edu/news/releases/2014/08/21/jila-team-finds-first-direct-evidence-%E2%80%98spin-symmetry%E2%80%99-atoms

Aug. 18, 2014

Bacterial nanowires not what scientists thought they were
For the past 10 years, scientists have been fascinated by a type of “electric bacteria” that shoots out long tendrils like electric wires, using them to power themselves and transfer electricity to a variety of solid surfaces. A team led by scientists at USC has now turned the study of these bacterial nanowires on its head, discovering that the key features in question are not pili, as previously believed, but rather extensions of the bacteria’s outer membrane equipped with proteins that transfer electrons called “cytochromes.”

A Week in Review: 8/10/14 – 8/16/14

Aug. 12, 2014

Electrical engineering’s Giebink receives Air Force Young Investigator Award Giebink’s proposal, titled “Complex index and nonlinearity modulation in organic photonic composites,” aims to develop a new class of optical materials made from small molecules and polymers that control the flow of light in photonic integrated circuits to enable unidirectional properties and efficient frequency conversion. http://news.psu.edu/story/322647/2014/08/12/academics/electrical-engineerings-giebink-receives-air-force-young

Aug. 13, 2014

New material could enhance fast and accurate DNA sequencing
Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found that nanopores in the material molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) could sequence DNA more accurately, quickly and inexpensively than anything yet available. http://news.illinois.edu/news/14/0813nanopores_NarayanaAluru.html

A Week in Review: 8/3/14 – 8/9/14

Aug. 8, 2014

Low-cost printable photonic integrated devices
By directly printing devices onto a functional resist with a high refractive index, optical components can be created without the use of any etching steps. This new low-cost fabrication technique can produce printable integrated circuits, as reported by researchers at aBeam Technologies, the Molecular Foundry and NanoOptic Devices. Presenting in Nanotechnology, several optical components are demonstrated, including ridge waveguides, light splitters and digital planar holograms that operate in the visible wavelength range. The approach could revolutionize the development of integrated photonic devices.

Aug. 7, 2014

Origami Robot Can Self-Assemble and Walk Without Human Help
A research team at Harvard and MIT announced today that they’ve created a self-assembling robot. The machine, which begins as a flat sheet of material, exploits principles of origami to fold itself into a 3-D robot capable of walking without any human assistance.

A Week in Review: 7/27/14 – 8/2/14

July 29, 2014

A new way to make microstructured surfaces
A team of researchers has created a new way of manufacturing microstructured surfaces that have novel three-dimensional textures. These surfaces, made by self-assembly of carbon nanotubes, could exhibit a variety of useful properties — including controllable mechanical stiffness and strength, or the ability to repel water in a certain direction.

A Week in Review: 7/20/14 – 7/26/14

July 24, 2014

Metal particles in solids aren’t as fixed as they seem, new memristor study shows In work that unmasks some of the magic behind memristors and “resistive random access memory,” or RRAM—cutting-edge computer components that combine logic and memory functions—researchers have shown that the metal particles in memristors don’t stay put as previously thought.

July 22, 2014

Creating Optical Cables Out of Thin Air
Imagine being able to instantaneously run an optical cable or fiber to any point on earth, or even into space.  That’s what Howard Milchberg, professor of physics and electrical and computer engineering at the University of Maryland, wants to do. In a paper published in the July 2014 issue of the journal Optica, Milchberg and his lab report using an “air waveguide” to enhance light signals collected from distant sources.  These air waveguides could have many applications, including long-range laser communications, detecting pollution in the atmosphere, making high-resolution topographic maps and laser weapons.

Birthday bash to celebrate laser inventor Charles Townes’ 99th
Only now nearing retirement – he plans to shutter his physics department office this summer, but will continue to make daily visits to his office at UC Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory – Townes’ career highlights include a 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering the laser, ground-breaking astronomical research, wide-ranging admiration for his efforts to reconcile science and religion, 31 honorary degrees and 38 awards.

July 21, 2014

Carbyne Morphs when Stretched
Stretching the material known as carbyne — a hard-to-make, one-dimensional chain of carbon atoms — by just 3 percent can begin to change its properties in ways that engineers might find useful for mechanically activated nanoscale electronics and optics. The finding by Rice theoretical physicist Boris Yakobson and his colleagues appears in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.

Royal recognition for UQ researcher
Studies involving some of the world’s smallest creatures have resulted in one of the world’s biggest honours for University of Queensland researcher Professor Mandyam Srinivasan.

July 20, 2014

Tiny laser sensor heightens bomb detection sensitivity
A team of researchers led by Xiang Zhang, UC Berkeley professor of mechanical engineering, has found a way to dramatically increase the sensitivity of a light-based plasmon sensor to detect incredibly minute concentrations of explosives. The researchers noted that the sensor could potentially be used to sniff out a hard-to-detect explosive popular among terrorists.