Thursday, 10 October 2013

A close look at the Toby Jug Nebula

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ESO's Very Large Telescope has captured a remarkably detailed image of the Toby Jug Nebula, a cloud of gas and dust surrounding a red giant star. This view shows the characteristic arcing structure of the nebula, which, true to its name, does indeed look a little like a jug with a handle.



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Scientists observe competing quantum effects on the kinetic energy of protons in water

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(Phys.org) —Quantum mechanics plays an important role in determining the structure and dynamics of water, down to the level of the atomic nuclei. Sometimes, nuclear quantum effects (NQEs) along different molecular axes compete with each other and partially cancel each other out. This phenomenon is thought to play a role in determining the melting and boiling temperatures of water. Now for the first time, scientists have experimentally observed that two large components of NQEs partially cancel each other out to result in a small net effect on the melting and boiling points of water.



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New microfluidic approach for the directed assembly of functional materials

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(Phys.org) —Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a new approach with applications in materials development for energy capture and storage and for optoelectronic materials.



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Physicists find that entanglement concentration is irreversible, in contrast with previous research

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(Phys.org) —Several different types of entangled states can be used in quantum information processes, and these states can be converted into one another using a variety of conversion processes. While previous research has suggested that one of the most common types of conversions, called entanglement concentration, is reversible, a new paper shows for the first time that it is irreversible due to a trade-off relation between performance and reversibility. The finding could have implications for future developments in quantum information applications.



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Runaway binary stars

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CfA astronomers made a remarkable and fortuitous discovery in 2005: an extremely fast moving star, clocked going over three million kilometers an hour. It appears to have been ejected from the vicinity of the galactic center's supermassive black hole around 80 million years ago by powerful gravitational effects as it swung past the black hole. Racing outward from the galaxy, the star lends added credibility to the picture of a massive black hole at the galactic center, and to calculations of how black holes might interact with their stellar environments.



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ALMA discovers large 'hot' cocoon around a small baby star

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International research team, led by researcher at the University of Electro-Communication observed an infrared dark cloud G34.43+00.24 MM3 with ALMA and discovered a baby star surrounded by a large hot cloud. This hot cloud is about ten times larger than those found around typical solar-mass baby stars. Hot molecular clouds around new-born stars are called "Hot Cores" and have temperature of – 160 degrees Celsius, 100 degrees hotter than normal molecular clouds. The large size of the hot core discovered by ALMA shows that much more energy is emitted from the central baby star than typical solar-mass young stars. This may be due to the higher mass infall rate, or multiplicity of the central baby star. This result indicates a large diversity in the star formation process.



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How microbes survive in freezing conditions

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Most microbial researchers grow their cells in petri dishes to study how they respond to stress and damaging conditions. But researchers tried something almost unheard of: Studying microbial survival in ice to understand how microorganisms could survive in ancient permafrost, or perhaps even buried in ice on Mars.

via Science Daily

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Watery asteroid discovered in dying star points to habitable exoplanets

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Astronomers have found the shattered remains of an asteroid that contained huge amounts of water orbiting an exhausted star, or white dwarf. This suggests that the star GD 61 and its planetary system – located about 150 light years away and at the end of its life – had the potential to contain Earth-like exoplanets, they say.



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Researchers find that bright nearby double star Fomalhaut is actually a triple

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(Phys.org) —The nearby star system Fomalhaut – of special interest for its unusual exoplanet and dusty debris disk – has been discovered to be not just a double star, as astronomers had thought, but one of the widest triple stars known.



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New biomimetic material to develop nanosensors

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The new features of this biomimetic material will allow us to develop multiple nanometer-sized chemical sensors over the same substrate by electron beam lithography, as a result, multifunctional biochips of major versatility will be developed. The possibility to record at nanometric scale is an essential benefit facing traditional biomimetic materials since this new material developed by researchers at the Universidad Polit├ęcnica de Madrid (UPM) and the Universidad Complutense (UCM) within the framework of Moncloa campus provides commercial potential applications.



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Researchers apply transmission electron microscopy through unique graphene liquid cell (w/ Video)

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(Phys.org) —Autumn is usually not such a great time for big special effects movies as the summer blockbusters have faded and those for the holiday season have not yet opened. Fall is more often the time for thoughtful films about small subjects, which makes it perfect for the unveiling of a new movie produced by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)'s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab). Through a combination of transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and their own unique graphene liquid cell, the researchers have recorded the three-dimensional motion of DNA connected to gold nanocrystals. This is the first time TEM has been used for 3D dynamic imaging of so-called soft materials.



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Graphene-based discs ensure safe storage

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(Phys.org) —Swinburne University of Technology researchers have shown the potential of a new material for transforming secure optical information storage.



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Astronomers observe distant galaxy powered by primordial cosmic fuel

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(Phys.org) —Astronomers have detected cold streams of primordial hydrogen, vestigial matter left over from the Big Bang, fueling a distant star-forming galaxy in the early Universe. Profuse flows of gas onto galaxies are believed to be crucial for explaining an era 10 billion years ago, when galaxies were copiously forming stars. To make this discovery, the astronomers – led by Neil Crighton of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy and Swinburne University – made use of a cosmic coincidence: a bright, distant quasar acting as a "cosmic lighthouse" illuminates the gas flow from behind. The results were published October 2 in the Astrophysical Journal Letters.



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Sensor provides new approach to molecule detection on silicon surfaces

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Alastair McLean and Benedict Drevniok from the Department of Physics, Engineering Physics and Astronomy and their collaborators have found a way to "feel" the surface of silicon molecules at the molecular level.



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Tiny antennas let long light waves see in infrared

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(Phys.org) —University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign researchers have developed arrays of tiny nano-antennas that can enable sensing of molecules that resonate in the infrared (IR) spectrum.



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Spinning CDs to clean sewage water

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Audio CDs, all the rage in the '90s, seem increasingly obsolete in a world of MP3 files and iPods, leaving many music lovers with the question of what to do with their extensive compact disk collections. While you could turn your old disks into a work of avant-garde art, researchers in Taiwan have come up with a more practical application: breaking down sewage. The team will present its new wastewater treatment device at the Optical Society's (OSA) Annual Meeting, Frontiers in Optics (FiO) 2013, being held Oct. 6-10 in Orlando, Fla.



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Carbon nanotube logic device operates on subnanowatt power

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(Phys.org) —Researchers have demonstrated a new carbon nanotube (CNT)-based logic device that consumes just 0.1 nanowatts (nW) in its static ON and OFF states, representing the lowest reported value by 3 orders of magnitude for CNT-based CMOS logic devices. The device could serve as a building block for large-area, ultralow-power CNT logic circuits that can be used to realize a variety of nanoelectronics applications.



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Promising new alloy for resistive switching memory

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Memory based on electrically-induced "resistive switching" effects have generated a great deal of interest among engineers searching for faster and smaller devices because resistive switching would allow for a higher memory density.



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Densest array of carbon nanotubes grown to date

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Carbon nanotubes' outstanding mechanical, electrical and thermal properties make them an alluring material to electronics manufacturers. However, until recently scientists believed that growing the high density of tiny graphene cylinders needed for many microelectronics applications would be difficult.



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Building bridges between nanowires

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Place a layer of gold only a few atoms high on a surface bed of germanium, apply heat to it, and wires will form of themselves. Gold-induced wires is what Mocking prefers to call them. Not 'gold wires', as the wires are not made solely out of gold atoms but also contain germanium. They are no more than a few atoms in height and are separated by no more than 1.6 nanometres (a nanometre is one millionth of a millimetre). Nanotechnologists bridge this small 'gap' with a copper-phthalocyanine molecule. A perfect fit. This molecule was found to be able to rotate if the electrons coursing towards it possess sufficient energy, allowing it to function as a switch. What's more: the copper atom of this molecule floats in the vacuum above the gap - fully detached. This might allow researchers to identify new properties the nanowires may possess.



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Researchers make flexible, transparent e-paper from silicon

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(Phys.org) —In the growing area of flexible, transparent electronic devices, silicon has not played much of a role. Instead, materials such as indium tin oxide, carbon nanotubes, and others are often used to make bendable electronics.



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Container's material properties affect the viscosity of water at the nanoscale

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Water pours into a cup at about the same rate regardless of whether the water bottle is made of glass or plastic.



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Nanocrystal catalyst transforms impure hydrogen into electricity

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(Phys.org) —The quest to harness hydrogen as the clean-burning fuel of the future demands the perfect catalysts—nanoscale machines that enhance chemical reactions. Scientists must tweak atomic structures to achieve an optimum balance of reactivity, durability, and industrial-scale synthesis. In an emerging catalysis frontier, scientists also seek nanoparticles tolerant to carbon monoxide, a poisoning impurity in hydrogen derived from natural gas. This impure fuel—40 percent less expensive than the pure hydrogen produced from water—remains largely untapped.



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Smaller than small: Why we measure the space between atoms

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We study the movement of incredibly small things. How small is small? Think smaller than "nano." Think smaller than atoms themselves. We measure the infinitesimally small shifts in the positions of atoms to electrical forces. Measuring small is challenging, but rewarding. By measuring things this small, we unlock hidden secrets that will advance a host of different electronic devices.



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Researchers' smartphone 'microscope' can detect a single virus, nanoparticles

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(Phys.org) —Your smartphone now can see what the naked eye cannot: A single virus and bits of material less than one-thousandth of the width of a human hair.



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Water-rich Planetary Building Blocks Found Around White Dwarf



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If you go walking along the beach or take an ocean cruise, it's hard to believe that Earth is essentially a "dry" planet. Barely 0.02 percent of our home planet's mass is surface water. In fact, our oceans came along a few hundred million years after Earth formed 4.6 billion years ago. Though still debated, astronomers think that the primeval Earth was most likely irrigated when water-rich asteroids in the solar system crashed into our planet.




via HubbleSite NewsCenter -- Latest News Releases

http://hubblesite.org/newscenter/archive/releases/2013/38/

Physicists 'entangle' microscopic drum's beat with electrical signals

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Extending evidence of quantum behavior farther into the large-scale world of everyday life, physicists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have "entangled"—linked the properties of—a microscopic mechanical drum with electrical signals.



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Super-earth or mini-Neptune? Telling habitable worlds apart from lifeless gas giants

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Perhaps the most intriguing exoplanets found so far are those bigger than our rocky, oceanic Earth but smaller than cold, gas-shrouded Uranus and Neptune. This mysterious class of in-between planets—alternatively dubbed super-Earths or mini-Neptunes—confounds scientists because nothing like them exists as a basis for comparison in our solar system.



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Flawed diamonds: Gems for new technology

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Scientists have made the first detailed observation of how energy travels through diamonds that contain nitrogen-vacancy centers. The unexpected and attractive properties of these "flawed" diamonds put them in the spotlight as promising candidates for a variety of technological advances.

via Science Daily

Scientists directly observe bound states of elementary magnets in ferromagnetic quantum crystals

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Simulating solid state properties with precisely controlled quantum systems is an important goal of the Quantum Many-Body Systems Division at MPQ. Now the team around Professor Immanuel Bloch (Chair for Experimental Physics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universit├Ąt Munich and Director at MPQ) has come again a step closer to it – to be precise, to the understanding of processes in ferromagnetic solid state crystals in which elementary excitations, so-called magnons, can emerge. About 80 years ago the German physicist Hans Bethe deduced from a theoretical model that in one-dimensional ferromagnets two of those elementary magnetic excitations can form a bound state. Like two tiny bar magnets, two atoms can stick together and form a new particle that propagates in the crystal. The MPQ team has now succeeded to observe these most elementary mobile magnetic domains, the two-magnon states, directly and to resolve their dynamics with time-resolved measurements. This study complements conventional spectroscopy in solid state crystals which yields information on momentum and frequency of the magnetic excitations. Bound states of excitations can influence the thermal conductance properties of low-dimensional ferromagnets or the propagation speed of quantum information in magnetic wires.



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Soft shells and strange star clusters

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The beautiful, petal-like shells of galaxy PGC 6240 are captured here in intricate detail by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, set against a sky full of distant background galaxies. This cosmic bloom is of great interest to astronomers due to both its uneven structure, and the unusual clusters of stars that orbit around it -- two strong indications of a galactic merger in the recent past.

via Science Daily

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Physicists use blind quantum computing to verify results of quantum computer

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(Phys.org) —A team of researchers working at the University of Vienna, has developed a technique for verifying results produced by a quantum computer. In their paper published in the journal Nature Physics, the researchers explain how their method uses one simple quantum computer to verify results produced by another that is far more powerful.



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Direct 'writing' of artificial cell membranes on graphene

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Graphene emerges as a versatile new surface to assemble model cell membranes mimicking those in the human body, with potential for applications in sensors for understanding biological processes, disease detection and drug screening.

via Science Daily

A strange lonely planet found without a star

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(Phys.org) —An international team of astronomers has discovered an exotic young planet that is not orbiting a star. This free-floating planet, dubbed PSO J318.5-22, is just 80 light-years away from Earth and has a mass only six times that of Jupiter. The planet formed a mere 12 million years ago—a newborn in planet lifetimes.



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Archival Hubble images reveal Neptune's 'lost' inner moon

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(Phys.org) —Neptune's tiny, innermost moon, Naiad, has now been seen for the first time since it was discovered by Voyager's cameras in 1989. Dr. Mark Showalter, a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, announced the result today in Denver, Colorado, at the annual meeting of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society. He and collaborators Dr. Jack Lissauer of the NASA Ames Research Center, Dr. Imke de Pater of UC Berkeley, and Robert French of the SETI Institute, also released a dramatic new image of Neptune's puzzling rings and ring-arcs, which were first imaged by Voyager.



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Diamond 'super-Earth' may not be quite as precious, graduate student finds

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(Phys.org) —An alien world reported to be the first known planet to consist largely of diamond appears less likely to be of such precious nature, according to a new analysis led by UA graduate student Johanna Teske.



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Researchers devise a means to observe single quantum trajectory of superconducting quantum bit

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(Phys.org) —A team of physicists at the University of California has devised a means for allowing the observation of the quantum trajectory of a superconducting quantum bit. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the team describes how they used a three dimensional transmon and microwaves to observe the random path of a quantum state as it collapsed from its superposition state to a classically permitted state.



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In quantum computing, light may lead the way

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(Phys.org) —Light might be able to play a bigger, more versatile role in the future of quantum computing, according to new research by Yale University scientists.



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Herschel throws new light on oldest cosmic light

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(Phys.org) —Cosmologists have achieved a first detection of a long-sought component in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). This component, known as B-mode polarisation, is caused by gravitational lensing, the bending of light by massive structures as it travels across the Universe. The result is based on the combination of data from the South Pole Telescope and ESA's Herschel Space Observatory. This detection is a milestone along the way to the possible discovery of another kind of B-mode signal in the polarised CMB - a signal produced by gravitational waves less than a second after the Universe began.



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Simulations help researchers decide which technology would make a better solar collector, quantum dot or nanowire

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A trio of researchers at North Dakota State University and the University of South Dakota have turned to computer modeling to help decide which of two competing materials should get its day in the sun as the nanoscale energy-harvesting technology of future solar panels—quantum dots or nanowires.



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Soft shells and strange star clusters

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The beautiful, petal-like shells of galaxy PGC 6240 are captured here in intricate detail by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, set against a sky full of distant background galaxies. This cosmic bloom is of great interest to astronomers due to both its uneven structure, and the unusual clusters of stars that orbit around it—two strong indications of a galactic merger in the recent past.



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Improving lithium-ion batteries with nanoscale research

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New research led by an electrical engineer at the University of California, San Diego is aimed at improving lithium (Li) ion batteries through possible new electrode architectures with precise nano-scale designs. The researchers have presented nanowires that block diffusion of lithium across the wire's silicon surface and promote layer-by-layer axial lithiation of the nanowire's germanium core.



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Carbon's new champion: Theorists calculate atom-thick carbyne chains may be strongest material ever

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(Phys.org) —Carbyne will be the strongest of a new class of microscopic materials if and when anyone can make it in bulk.



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Engineers invent programming language to build synthetic DNA

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Similar to using Python or Java to write code for a computer, chemists soon could be able to use a structured set of instructions to "program" how DNA molecules interact in a test tube or cell.



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Future phones and laptops could have speakers made of carbon nanotubes

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(Phys.org) —For the past year, researchers at Tsinghua University in Beijing have been listening to music on a laptop through a pair of unusual earphones. Although the earphones look ordinary, they do not contain the typical metal coil speaker found in most earphones, but rather a chip made of many string-like carbon nanotube (CNT) yarns with grooves etched in them. Because they are easy to fabricate, operate on 60 mW of power, and provide clear sound quality, the CNT-based chips could be used as components in a wide variety of speakers, including those found in cell phones and laptops.



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Folding batteries increases their areal energy density by up to 14 times

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(Phys.org) —By folding a paper-based Li-ion battery in a Miura-ori pattern (similar to how some maps are folded), scientists have shown that the battery exhibits a 14x increase in areal energy density and capacity due to its smaller footprint. Paper-based batteries are already attractive due to their low cost, roll-to-roll fabrication methods, and flexibility. The advantages of folding them into smaller sizes adds to these features and could lead to high-performance batteries for various applications.



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'Accelerator on a chip' demonstrated

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In an advance that could dramatically shrink particle accelerators for science and medicine, researchers used a laser to accelerate electrons at a rate 10 times higher than conventional technology in a nanostructured glass chip smaller than a grain of rice.



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A first: Stanford engineers build computer using carbon nanotube technology

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A team of Stanford engineers has built a basic computer using carbon nanotubes, a semiconductor material that has the potential to launch a new generation of electronic devices that run faster, while using less energy, than those made from silicon chips.



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Nanofabrication: Medical sensors improve with holey gold nanostructures

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Recent advances in nanotechnology are providing new possibilities for medical imaging and sensing. Gold nanostructures, for example, can enhance the fluorescence of marker dyes that are commonly used to detect biomolecules and diagnose specific diseases.



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Researchers devise means to combine scanning tunneling microscopy and infrared spectroscopy

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(Phys.org) —A team of researchers at the University of California with members also from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University has succeeded in combining tunneling microscopy and infrared spectroscopy to gain a better understanding of how molecules behave when they stick to a surface. In their paper published in the journal Physical Review Letters, the team describes how they used a custom built laser to allow for performing infrared spectroscopy with scanning tunneling microscopy without heating its tip.



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