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Researchers make breakthrough in battery technology

Researchers make breakthrough in battery technology | Physics | Scoop.it
Researchers at the Materials and Surface Science Institute (MSSI), University of Limerick have made a significant breakthrough in the area of rechargeable battery technology. There is an ever-increasing demand for portable electronic devices, and improved technology for battery life and stability is ...
Mikko Hakala's insight:

"High-Performance Germanium Nanowire-Based Lithium-Ion Battery Anodes Extending over 1000 Cycles Through in Situ Formation of a Continuous Porous Network." Tadhg Kennedy, Emma Mullane, Hugh Geaney, Michal Osiak, Colm O'Dwyer, and Kevin M. Ryan. Nano Letters Article ASAP
http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl403979s

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Comet landing named Physics World 2014 Breakthrough of the Year - physicsworld.com

Comet landing named Physics World 2014 Breakthrough of the Year - physicsworld.com | Physics | Scoop.it
Rosetta mission tops our list of the 10 key breakthroughs in physics
Mikko Hakala's insight:

 

A great mix of 10 fundamental and applied physics breakthroughs. From the materials and condensed matter point of view, we have the better optical fibres and the magnetic holography data storage based on magnons.

 

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2014/dec/12/comet-landing-named-physics-world-2014-breakthrough-of-the-year

 

For a very short summary:

http://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-30415007

 

Which one is your favorite breakthrough? 

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Application of quantum calculations in the chemical industry—An overview - Deglmann - 2014 - International Journal of Quantum Chemistry - Wiley Online Library

Application of quantum calculations in the chemical industry—An overview - Deglmann - 2014 - International Journal of Quantum Chemistry - Wiley Online Library | Physics | Scoop.it

-Mikko's comment-

This is a great free-to-read overview on how quantum mechanical calculations help chemical industry, both in predicting properties and giving better understanding of the systems and the processes.

 

The key issues covered are:

* Method development

* Benchmarking (what is the quality of predictions)

* Modeling chemical reactions (in gas phase or in solutions, or in catalysis and on surfaces)

* Characterizing structures and predicting new ones, explaining experimental spectroscopic results

* Calculating excitations (energies, reactivities of excited states)

 

Link to the article:

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/qua.24811/abstract

 

h/t @physicsteo

 

My own interests link most closely to the fourth point (see for example our recent article http://goo.gl/FxjgUH).

Mikko Hakala's insight:

Can you recommend other similar overviews that combine fundamental research and industrial interests?

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Holey Rubber Slab Has Controllable Stiffness

Holey Rubber Slab Has Controllable Stiffness | Physics | Scoop.it
Squeezing a holey rubber slab changes its stiffness over a wide range in the direction perpendicular to the squeeze.
Mikko Hakala's insight:

 

Good materials physics article. Here's my quick summary:

 

* For metamaterials the properties (strength, reflectivity etc.) follow from macroscopic structure, not elemental composition.

* The developed silicone rubber slab has perforated alternative holes, leading to interesting non-linear stress-strain behavior.

* The material could absorb and dissipate energy (transferred to it for ex. by impacts or shocks), rather than only storing it as energy in the spring.

* In other words, the material is not 'bumpy' but 'dissipative'. Applications can be found in robotics etc. and everyday objects which require control of damping.

* The advantage of this material is that it's pure mechanical and doesn't require external energy to operate. 

 

Pin it for later: http://www.pinterest.com/pin/318981586081801924/

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Team reveals molecular structure of water at gold electrodes

Team reveals molecular structure of water at gold electrodes | Physics | Scoop.it
When a solid material is immersed in a liquid, the liquid immediately next to its surface differs from that of the bulk liquid at the molecular level. This interfacial layer is critical to our understanding of a diverse set of phenomena from biology to materials science. When the solid surface is charged, ...
Mikko Hakala's insight:

State of the art in the experimental research on structure of water. X-ray absorption spectroscopy reveals the structure of interfacial water (on the gold surface) with sub-nanometer sensitivity.

 

http://phys.org/news/2014-10-team-reveals-molecular-gold-electrodes.html

 

http://www.sciencemag.org/content/early/2014/10/22/science.1259437

 

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The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 | Physics | Scoop.it

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2014 was awarded jointly to Isamu Akasaki, Hiroshi Amano and Shuji Nakamura "for the invention of efficient blue light-emitting diodes which has enabled bright and energy-saving white light sources".

Mikko Hakala's insight:

The Nobel prize website offers both the popular and the more detailed scientific background of blue LEDs.

 

Quoting from the latter: "GaN-based LEDs result from a long series of breakthroughs in basic materials physics and crystal growth, in device physics with advanced heterostructure design, and in optical physics for the optimization of the light out-coupling."

 

The effort was worth it. The luminosity [measured in lumens] / power [measured in watts] increases roughly as follows (from the popular article):

   Light bulb, 1x 

   Fluorescent lamp, 4x 

   LED lamp, 19x

So roughly 20 times less energy consumed compared to light bulbs.

 

More detailed scientific background for blue LEDs:

http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/2014/advanced-physicsprize2014.pdf

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Team pioneers strategy for creating new materials

Team pioneers strategy for creating new materials | Physics | Scoop.it
Making something new is never easy. Scientists constantly theorize about new materials, but when the material is manufactured it doesn't always work as expected. To create a new strategy for designing materials, scientists at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory combined two different ...
Mikko Hakala's insight:

Processing (MBE), characterization (X-ray scattering) and computations (DFT) are combined here for better growth strategies in making new materials.

 

Molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) is used to make the layered structures, which are characterized with in situ synchrotron X-ray scattering measurements. Computations with density functional theory (DFT) level are performed to understand the resulting structures.

 

Ability to grow such new oxide materials in a controlled way is important, since the materials can be tuned to have various ferroelectric, catalytic, magnetic and dielectric properties. Tuning these properties is important for applications.

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The Smallest Possible Scale in the Universe

The Smallest Possible Scale in the Universe | Physics | Scoop.it
Is there a limit to how small a length can be?
Mikko Hakala's insight:

Sabine Hossenfelder (@skdh) writes about the possible existence of the smallest length in the universe, the fundamental smallest possible difference in position.  

 

This is the Planck length: 10^30 times smaller than the diameter of the blood cell, or 10^20 times smaller than the nucleus.

  

Does such a fundamental limit exist? And if yes, what are the consequences? Or in other words, is there a limit how sharp the resolution can be?

 

Read more about this fundamental and open question:

https://medium.com/starts-with-a-bang/the-smallest-possible-scale-in-the-universe-9e79497b9945

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Microwaving Light Bulbs Is Genuinely Useful (And Entertaining)

Microwaving Light Bulbs Is Genuinely Useful (And Entertaining) | Physics | Scoop.it
I love finding new things to put in the microwave. Say, for instance, an incandescent light bulb, which can test your microwave for a number of issues, besides just looking awesome. Even a non-functioning bulb can work, so dig out the dusty old bulbs you have at the back of the closet.
Mikko Hakala's insight:

Things to learn from light bulbs and the microwave oven: interference, electromagnetic induction, leakage flux. - Physics demonstration with everyday items.

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The Science of Lightning

The Science of Lightning | Physics | Scoop.it
A view into some of the rarer types of lightning
Mikko Hakala's insight:

Have you heard of dark, volcanic or alien lightning?


Some lesser known aspects of lightning in this short popular science article. Lightning is an active reserch topic in atmospheric science.


via +Jenny Winder

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Ten kinds of matter

A cool discovery: substances can be divided into 10 kinds.…

Ten kinds of matter<br/><br/>A cool discovery: substances can be divided into 10 kinds.… | Physics | Scoop.it
Ten kinds of matter

A cool discovery: substances can be divided into 10 kinds.

The basic idea is pretty simple.  Some substances have time-reversal… - John Baez - Google+
Mikko Hakala's insight:

Theoretical condensed matter physics in Google+.

 

By looking at the symmetries of substances, 10 different kinds of matter can be found. Discussion of the issue in the main post and more in the comments thread. Post by +John Baez.

 

via +Jari Vasell

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First Ab Initio Method for Characterizing Hot Carriers Could Hold the Key to Future Solar Cell Efficiencies

First Ab Initio Method for Characterizing Hot Carriers Could Hold the Key to Future Solar Cell Efficiencies | Physics | Scoop.it
Berkeley Lab researchers have developed the first ab initio method for characterizing the properties of “hot carriers” in semiconductors. This should help clear a major road block to the development of new, more efficient solar cells.
Mikko Hakala's insight:

 

Computer simulations for hot carriers in solar cell  

 

* These are first steps towards ab initio characterization of hot carriers in solar cell absorber materials. The approach is density functional and many body perturbation theory, requiring only the structure as input.

 

* Electron-electron and electron-phonon loss mechanisms are evaluated, and predictions are given for the life time and mean free path of the hot charge carriers in silicon.


* It's an important work since thermalization of hot carriers is hard to evaluate but is the main efficiency-limiting mechanism in solar cells. Now these are first steps to predict this phenomenon purely ab initio. The method will help design and engineer more performant crystalline solar cell absorbers.  


* The PRL article:

http://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.112.257402

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NASA rover's images show laser flash on martian rock (w/ Video)

NASA rover's images show laser flash on martian rock (w/ Video) | Physics | Scoop.it
(Phys.org) —Flashes appear on a baseball-size Martian rock in a series of images taken Saturday, July 12 by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera on the arm of NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover. The flashes occurred while the rover's Chemistry and Camera (ChemCam) instrument fired multiple laser shots ...
Mikko Hakala's insight:

Spectrosccopic analysis of the Martian rocks after laser shots. 

 

More info:

http://phys.org/news/2013-12-martian-laser-surpasses-zaps.html

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The Little-Known Scientific Reason Your iPhone Earbuds Always Get Tangled

The Little-Known Scientific Reason Your iPhone Earbuds Always Get Tangled | Physics | Scoop.it
Knots really do form on their own as a matter of physics, not because of your personal lack of neatness.
Mikko Hakala's insight:

A perfect everyday physics article - Must read. 

 

Via @DoTryThisAtHome

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ESRF News / December 2014

-Mikko's comment-

The December 2014 issue focuses on how X-ray research contributes to industrial needs. ESRF News is published by the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility.

Mikko Hakala's insight:

Continuing with the theme how basic research can be combined with industrial applications (see also http://sco.lt/91NxVh).

 

From pages 16-17: 

* improved automotive and industrial coatings

* characterisation of silicon wafers

* chemical species in catalysts

* microbeam radiation therapy

* obtaining 3D rock images to improve oil recovery

* non-destructive characterisation and imaging

 

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Simple but extremely sensitive magnetometer developed

An innovative magnetometer that can replace conventional technology in applications such as neuroimaging, mineral exploration and molecular diagnostics has been developed by scientists. Its manufacturing costs are between 70 and 80 per cent lower than those of traditional technology, and the device is not as sensitive to external magnetic fields as its predecessors. The design of the magnetometer also makes it easier to integrate into measuring systems.
Mikko Hakala's insight:

 

* A quantum mechanical phenomenon, kinetic inductance due to the motion of the superconducting electrons, is here employed to create a sensitive magnetometer. The non-linearity of kinetic inductance is utilized: the inductance increases when one approaches critical current densities (at which the superconducting pairs of electrons break up).

 

* The fabrication process is simpler than in conventional SQUIDS. The device is made from a single layer or niobium nitride, in contrast to SQUIDS that need a more complicated manufacturing process due to their layered structure.

 

* Nature Communications article:

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2014/140910/ncomms5872/full/ncomms5872.html

 

* VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland:

http://www.vtt.fi/?lang=en

 

* Kinetic inductance:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kinetic_inductance

 

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European XFEL - News - 2014 - Watching molecular matches

European XFEL - News - 2014 - Watching molecular matches | Physics | Scoop.it

Scientists at the European XFEL will watch the interplay of molecules with the instrument FXE, allowing stunning insight in the electronic forces driving the world of chemistry.

Mikko Hakala's insight:

 

Chemical reactions take place in femtoseconds (10^-15 s). Traditionally one just analyses the initial and final products of a reaction, but new instruments like X-ray free electron lasers start to enable following the actual development of the geometries and electronic states.

 

The femtochemistry as studied at European XFEL is explained in the feature article: http://www.xfel.eu/news/2014/watching_molecular_matches/index.html

 

See a simulation of an UV-light triggered reaction: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qAT6SkiEN9M

 

 

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Fundamentals of physics confirmed: Experiments testing Einstein's time dilation and quantum electrodynamics

Fundamentals of physics confirmed: Experiments testing Einstein's time dilation and quantum electrodynamics | Physics | Scoop.it
The special theory of relativity of Albert Einstein and quantum electrodynamics, which was formulated by, among others, Richard Feynman, are two important fundaments of modern physics. In cooperation with colleagues from several international universities and institutes, the research group of Professor ...
Mikko Hakala's insight:

 

Detecting fluorescence radiation from relativistically moving ions is here used to test two fundamental physics theories: special relativity and QED.  - Better precision obtained in the experiments, no violations found.

 

http://phys.org/news/2014-10-fundamentals-physics-einstein-dilation-quantum.html

 

Direct links to the studies:

 

Special relativity

http://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.120405

http://physics.aps.org/synopsis-for/10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.120405 ;

 

Hyperfine splitting (predicted by quantum electrodynamics)

http://journals.aps.org/pra/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevA.90.030501

 

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Making Invisible Cracks Visible

Making Invisible Cracks Visible | Physics | Scoop.it
A new acoustic imaging technique could reveal previously invisible cracks in bridges or other infrastructure.
Mikko Hakala's insight:

A new nonlinear ultrasonic acoustic imaging technique is developed for detecting cracks in materials (due to e.g. fatigue).

 

The technique is simple and practical because it uses standard imaging equipment and is based on established linear methods.

 

http://physics.aps.org/articles/v7/100

http://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.113.144301

 

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LHC research, presented in tangible tidbits

LHC research, presented in tangible tidbits | Physics | Scoop.it
Students working on their PhDs at the Large Hadron Collider explain their research with snacks, board games and Legos.
Mikko Hakala's insight:

Matter, fundamental particles and standard model - A three minute visual explanation with legos.

 

PhD student Eric Takasugi explains his studies at CERN.

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Acid Ions are More Than Spectators

Acid Ions are More Than Spectators | Physics | Scoop.it

"X-ray absorption fine structure (EXAFS) measurements carried out at the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Advanced Photon Source, coupled with state-of-the-art density functional theory (DFT) simulations reveal that strong acids, such as hydrochloric acid, form counter-ion pairs in solution across all concentration, a result that had not been seen in gas-phase studies. The discovery suggests that it is not simply the release of protons — hydrogen ions — that is important for the properties of acids."

Mikko Hakala's insight:

Structure of complex liquids - Case of aqueous hydrochloric acid

 

X-ray spectroscopy study from Argonne and Pacific Northwest National Laboratories sheds new light on the microscopic structure of aqueous hydrocholric acid (HCl). The study reports persistent pairing of the counterion (Cl-) and the hydronium ion (H3O+).

 

Previously, Cl- has been thought to be more like a separately solvated 'spectator', after dissociation of HCl. Thus the study shows the dissociation is not ideal. These contact-ion pairs seem to more important than expected for the properties of the solution. 

 

Interested in more news related to modern X-ray physics and spectroscopy? Follow @helixsfi (recently launched). 

 

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Magnets for fusion energy: A revolutionary manufacturing method developed

Magnets for fusion energy: A revolutionary manufacturing method developed | Physics | Scoop.it
The National Institute for Fusion Science (NIFS), of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) in Japan, has achieved an electrical current of 100,000 amperes, which is by far the highest in the world, by using the new idea of assembling...

Via tmertzi
Mikko Hakala's insight:

World-record electrical current demonstrated, 100 000 A, obtained with stacked yttrium-based superconducting tapes. Superconductors are the only viable option, since they can carry large dissipationless electrical currents.

 

As electrical current creates a magnetic field, superconductors can be used to create strong magnets. These in turn are needed in fusion reactors to control the plasma, in medical instruments and in power-electronics devices.

 

A short article explaining the achievement and two good illustrations. 

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Perovskite Solar Cell Technology of Oxford PV, The Potential Game-Changer | Sun Is The Future

Perovskite Solar Cell Technology of Oxford PV, The Potential Game-Changer | Sun Is The Future | Physics | Scoop.it
Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers, (Please click on red links and note magenta) At InterSolar North America 2014 in San Francisco, CA, I came across
Mikko Hakala's insight:

 

Solar cell technology based on perovskites

 

Useful info in the post and interview on Oxford PV activities in this field. In the video Dr. Christopher Case describes the material and its applications in various ways in solar cell technologies. Here's my quick summary of the video's content:

 

0:45 Fastest increasing photovoltaic efficiency 

1:15 Thin film material

1:35 Applications, initial view of the company was to develop semi-transparent coatings

2:10 Can be made in almost any color

3:00 New application of perovskites: tandem solar cells (perovskite coating on conventional Si)

4:10 What are perovskites

4:45 How to tailor the properties

5:10 Material itself studied already for decades

5:50 Finding the planar form by Prof. Snaith was a breakthrough

6:40 More and more papers coming out on this material

6:55 Perovskite on Si solar cells boosts efficiency, easier to make this product than a fully integrated PV

7:40 Perovskites fundamentally and perspectives for efficiency

8:15 Potential to replace Si?

8:40 About processing: it's solution processed from inexpensive materials

9:30 Future steps. Towards full perovskite-on-perovskite tandem cells

9:50 How to get in contact, what their company's website contains

 

 

 

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Surrey NanoSystems has "super black" material

Surrey NanoSystems has "super black" material | Physics | Scoop.it
(Phys.org) —A British company says it has scored a breakthrough in the world's darkest material. Surrey NanoSystems describes its development as not just a black material but super-black. They are calling it Vantablack, and they are singling out its ability to be applied to lightweight, temperature-sensitive ...
Mikko Hakala's insight:

Here is the ultimate black. This coating material is made from carbon nanotubes, with promising applications for example for telescopes.

 

There are also nice physics discussions in the comments.

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Supercomputers reveal strange, stress-induced transformations in world's thinnest materials

Supercomputers reveal strange, stress-induced transformations in world's thinnest materials | Physics | Scoop.it
(Phys.org) —Interested in an ultra-fast, unbreakable, and flexible smart phone that recharges in a matter of seconds? Monolayer materials may make it possible. These atom-thin sheets—including the famed super material graphene—feature exceptional and untapped mechanical and electronic properties. ...
Mikko Hakala's insight:

Behavior under stress of 4 novel monolayer materials studied (graphene, graphane, BN, MOS2), by density functional theory calculations.

 

By these simulations researchers identified a common soft (vibrational) mode failure mechanism that leads to the eventual breaking of these 2D-materials under stress. 

 

The article has a useful 'Key Takeaways' section in the end.

 

 

 

 

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Upgrade for European light source

Upgrade for European light source | Physics | Scoop.it

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF). One of Europe's premier scientific research laboratories is to go through a major upgrade.


Via tmertzi
Mikko Hakala's insight:

 

European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) is a most powerful X-ray machine in Europe, supported and shared by 20 countries. See http://www.esrf.eu/ ;

 

ESRF is going through a major upgrade. This BBC article by @BBCAmos (via @tmertzi) tells some essential information what this means to ESRF. See how much more radiation will be obtained, how much will the upgrade cost and the timetables.

 

How synchrotron X-rays are generated and how research is done with them? Here is one recent video from a canadian synchrotron explaining basic operation:

http://globalnews.ca/video/1439365/synchrotron-matters

(via @CanLightSource, @lightsources)

 

Follow ESRF in Twitter: @esrfsynchrotron

 

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