A Week in Review: 10/26/14 – 11/1/14

October 30, 2014

AFOSR continues legacy of Nobel Prize-winning research
The Air Force Office of Scientific Research will add four winners to its illustrious list following the Nobel Foundation’s announcements of the 2014 laureates for Physics and Chemistry on Oct. 7 and 8.

October 28, 2014

Air Force takes table-top approach to quantum physics
Air Force Research Laboratory scientists can now study the mysteries of quantum physics in house and at a lower cost, thanks to a new high performance table-top quantum computing system. With funding in part from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) and the DoD High Performance Computing Modernization Program, cold-atom technology developer, ColdQuanta, delivered two table-top Bose Einstein Condensate (BEC) systems–one in April 2014 and the second in September 2014–to a new facility jointly operated by AFRL and the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Department of Physics and Astronomy.

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.

Knighthoods for Nobel-winning Stronger than Steel Graphene Pioneers

We have some exciting news to share!

Two Nobel laureates funded by AFOSR, involved in the creation and isolation of graphene, a sheet of carbon just one atom thick, have received British knighthoods from the Queen of England.

Professors Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, from the University of Manchester, Great Britain, won the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics for their pioneering research in graphene, which they first isolated in their seminal work of 2004 and 2005. 

AFOSR’s European Office of Aerospace Research (EOARD) has funded their work to further the promise of graphene since 2008.  And now they add knighthoods to the honors as bestowed by the Queen’s New Year Honours List 2012.

Geim and Novoselov demonstrated graphene’s remarkable qualities as the thinnest material in the universe and quite possibly the strongest ever measured.  In addition to those amazing characteristics, its charge carriers—that is, the electrons that transport the electric charge in an induced electric current—exhibited the highest intrinsic mobility with zero effective mass, and can travel micron distances without scattering at room temperature. 

Graphene boasts multiple record electric and mechanical properties including the highest sustainable electric current, one million times copper; the highest thermal conductivity and mechanical strength both exceeding diamond, while at the same time it’s the thinnest material possible at one atom thick, and still stretchable, flexible, and impermeable. 

Some scientists have predicted that graphene could one day replace silicon – which is the current material of choice for transistors.  It could also yield incredibly strong, flexible and stable materials and find applications in transparent touch screens or solar cells.  Our European office, EOARD, has aggressively followed up on this program, as have many others within the DoD research community.