70 posts · 75,450 views
I am Managing Editor for the physical sciences of the science magazine Nature Communications and freelance science writer. The views represented on my blog are my own.
This week two noteworthy papers have been published that I did not get around to highlight here. In terms of topic they could not be more different, one about a possible new data storage material, and the other one about string theory! The next big thing in computing could be silicon! It is not often [...]... Read more »
Yao, J., Sun, Z., Zhong, L., Natelson, D., & Tour, J. M. (2010) Resistive Switches and Memories from Silicon Oxide. Nano Letters. DOI: 10.1021/nl102255r
Graphene is one of the hottest research areas in nanotechnology, and it may seem slightly surprising it took me a month to write my first blog post on the topic. That moment has now come, with the advance publication of a Nature paper that presents highly attractive graphene transistor, even though in my humble opinion [...]... Read more »
Liao, L., Lin, Y.-C., Bao, M., Cheng, R., Bai, J., Liu, Y., Qu, Y., Wang, K. L., Huang, Y., & Duan, X. (2010) High-speed graphene transistors with a self-aligned nanowire gate. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature09405
Solar energy is a huge market and any improvement to the efficiency of solar cells has a significant impact. In 2008, worldwide photovoltaic solar energy production was about 5 gigawatts, and this is expected to rise to 15 gigawatts in 2015. To put this figure in context, a nuclear reactor produces around 1 to 1.5 [...]... Read more »
Ferry, V., Verschuuren, M., Li, H., Verhagen, E., Walters, R., Schropp, R., Atwater, H., & Polman, A. (2010) Light trapping in ultrathin plasmonic solar cells. Optics Express, 18(S2). DOI: 10.1364/OE.18.00A237
In the absence of GPS, a compass is the best option to find your way around. However, although the earth’s magnetic field is a great way to find your own position, doing the reverse, measuring magnetic fields with a high accuracy — on an atomic scale — remains a challenge. Sure, there are electron microscopes, which are [...]... Read more »
Park, H., Baskin, J., & Zewail, A. (2010) 4D Lorentz Electron Microscopy Imaging: Magnetic Domain Wall Nucleation, Reversal, and Wave Velocity. Nano Letters, 2147483647. DOI: 10.1021/nl102861e
Last week I wrote about interesting physics that can be done with ultracold atoms. One of the experiments I described was related to the Hanbury Brown-Twiss effect. Although I mentioned the experiment in some detail, the focus of my post was more on the analogies between ultracold atom systems and other physical systems. I did [...]... Read more »
BROWN, R., & TWISS, R. (1956) Correlation between Photons in two Coherent Beams of Light. Nature, 177(4497), 27-29. DOI: 10.1038/177027a0
Photonics is all about light. Processing of light for applications ranging from holograms and displays to optical telecommunications. Thanks to a better theoretical understanding and to advances in fabrication technology, photonic devices and gadgets have become increasingly versatile and powerful.
But photonics also has a dark side. In many light-processing devices and structures there are dark modes — oscillations of the light wave that while not forbidden cannot be directly excited by a ........ Read more »
Fano, U. (1961) Effects of Configuration Interaction on Intensities and Phase Shifts. Physical Review, 124(6), 1866-1878. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRev.124.1866
Mirin, N., Bao, K., & Nordlander, P. (2009) Fano Resonances in Plasmonic Nanoparticle Aggregates. The Journal of Physical Chemistry A, 113(16), 4028-4034. DOI: 10.1021/jp810411q
Fan, J., Wu, C., Bao, K., Bao, J., Bardhan, R., Halas, N., Manoharan, V., Nordlander, P., Shvets, G., & Capasso, F. (2010) Self-Assembled Plasmonic Nanoparticle Clusters. Science, 328(5982), 1135-1138. DOI: 10.1126/science.1187949
Hentschel, M., Saliba, M., Vogelgesang, R., Giessen, H., Alivisatos, A., & Liu, N. (2010) Transition from Isolated to Collective Modes in Plasmonic Oligomers. Nano Letters, 10(7), 2721-2726. DOI: 10.1021/nl101938p
Luk'yanchuk, B., Zheludev, N., Maier, S., Halas, N., Nordlander, P., Giessen, H., & Chong, C. (2010) The Fano resonance in plasmonic nanostructures and metamaterials. Nature Materials, 9(9), 707-715. DOI: 10.1038/nmat2810
One of the fundamental concepts of quantum mechanics is that objects can be described as waves, whether they are electrons, atoms, light, anything really, even your cat (or that of Erwin Schrödinger). And of course, if the equations that describe their wavefunctions are identical, objects will behave in the same way. Even if they are fundamentally different physical entities.
Two papers published this week highlight just how far this analogy can go. In one study a gas of ultracold atoms beha........ Read more »
Sherson, J., Weitenberg, C., Endres, M., Cheneau, M., Bloch, I., & Kuhr, S. (2010) Single-atom-resolved fluorescence imaging of an atomic Mott insulator. Nature. DOI: 10.1038/nature09378
Manning, A., Hodgman, S., Dall, R., Johnsson, M., & Truscott, A. (2010) The Hanbury Brown-Twiss effect in a pulsed atom laser. Optics Express, 18(18), 18712. DOI: 10.1364/OE.18.018712
Go to any condensed-matter physics meeting, and topological insulators are prominent on the agenda, and talks on the topic attract large audiences. For good reason. Topological insulators promise nothing less than a revolution in electronics. Even though as their name suggests topological insulators are electrically insulating, they are conducting on their surface. And unlike regular conductors, these surface currents flow without the electrons being thrown off the track by most (albeit not all)........ Read more »
Qu, D., Hor, Y., Xiong, J., Cava, R., & Ong, N. (2010) Quantum Oscillations and Hall Anomaly of Surface States in the Topological Insulator Bi2Te3. Science, 329(5993), 821-824. DOI: 10.1126/science.1189792
Fridge magnets, and related magnets used in homes and offices, are made from the ceramic BaFe12O19, whose annual commercial production reaches 830,000 tons a year. Contrary to what their mundane use suggests, the physics of these magnets is rather unusual. They belong to a rare class of materials whose magnetism can be controlled with electric voltages and vice versa, which offers a new way of controlling magnetic fields in applications such as information storage (other than putting notes up on........ Read more »
Kitagawa, Y., Hiraoka, Y., Honda, T., Ishikura, T., Nakamura, H., & Kimura, T. (2010) Low-field magnetoelectric effect at room temperature. Nature Materials. DOI: 10.1038/nmat2826
If you look at the image of an atom in a text book, it looks rather quiet and peaceful. There is a nucleus in the center made from a number of protons and neutrons. Around the nucleus the electrons typically are shown to orbit the core like planets around the sun. The reality, however, is far more complicated. First of all, the electrons don’t look like small planets, but are smeared out in complex shapes known as orbitals. The energy states of the different orbitals correspond to the electron........ Read more »
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