Boosting Fiber Optics Communications with Advanced Quantum-Enhanced Receiver

Fiber optic technology is the holy grail of high-speed, long-distance telecommunications. Still, with the continuing exponential growth of internet traffic, researchers are warning of a capacity crunch. In AVS Quantum Science, researchers show how quantum-enhanced receivers could play a critical role in addressing this challenge. The scientists developed a method to enhance receivers based on quantum physics properties to dramatically increase network performance while significantly reducing the error bit rate and energy consumption.

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The Spintronics Technology Revolution Could Be Just a Hopfion Away

A research team co-led by Berkeley Lab has created and observed quasiparticles called 3D hopfions at the nanoscale (billionths of a meter) in a magnetic system. The discovery could advance high-density, high-speed, low-power, yet ultrastable magnetic memory “spintronics” devices.

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Cannabis use disorder linked to increased complications after spinal surgery

Dragonfly wings, lotus leaves, cicada wings — thanks to millennia of evolution, nature has optimized the ways these surfaces and others behave to offer antibacterial functionality. An international, interdisciplinary team of researchers is trying to find the best way to translate these features to create nature-inspired bactericidal surfaces for use in medical implants. They discuss the surface structures and chemical compositions for an ideal implant material in the journal Applied Physics Reviews.

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Pandemic is pushing women in STEM ‘past the point of no return’

Cryocoolers are ultracold refrigeration units used in surgery and drug development, semiconductor fabrication, and spacecraft. The regenerative heat exchanger, or regenerator, is a core component of cryocoolers. At temperatures below 10 kelvins, performance drops precipitously, with maximum regenerator loss of more than 50%. In Applied Physics Letters, researchers used superactivated carbon particles as an alternative regenerator material to increase cooling capability at temperatures as low as 4 kelvins.

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Thermal Power Nanogenerator Created Without Solid Moving Parts

As environmental and energy crises become more common, a thermal energy harvester capable of converting abundant thermal energy into mechanical energy appears to be a promising mitigation strategy. The majority of thermal power generation technologies involve solid moving parts, which can reduce reliability and lead to frequent maintenance. This inspired researchers in China to develop a thermal power nanogenerator without solid moving parts. In Applied Physics Letters, they propose a thermal power nanogenerator that converts thermal energy into electrical energy.

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A new spin on energy-efficient electronics

Researchers are harnessing the power of Argonne’s Advanced Photon Source to test new materials for use in spintronics. This emerging field uses electron spin instead of charge, allowing manufacturers to make smaller and more efficient electronic devices.

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Using Holographic Endoscopes to Observe Distant Objects

Scientists are developing tools to observe the biological machinery in in vivo animal models to be able to understand and better treat severe brain diseases, and holographic endoscopes attracted interest because of their potential to conduct minimally invasive observations. In APL Photonics, researchers in Germany created a particularly narrow endoscope made of single hair-thin optical fibers that uses holographic methods to reconstruct images of macroscopic objects placed in front of the far end of the endoscope.

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Teachers Invited to Participate in Virtual Science Activities Night

Elementary and middle school teachers are invited to register now to participate in the annual Virginia Region II Teacher Night hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility on April 14, 2021. The fully virtual event will allow educators to see demonstrations of new methods for teaching physical science concepts and safely meet and interact with their colleagues, all while they pick up one recertification point from the comfort of their own homes. Advance registration is required, and the event is open to all upper elementary and middle school teachers of physical science.

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Science Snapshots From Berkeley Lab – Week of March 29, 2021

India’s Ambitious Clean Energy Goals, a Secret Pathway to Harnessing the Sun for Clean Energy, and a Supersmart Gas Sensor for Asthmatics

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Argonne’s 2021 Maria Goeppert Mayer Fellows bring new energy, promise to their fields

The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory is proud to welcome five new FY21 Maria Goeppert Mayer Fellows to campus, each chosen for their incredible promise in their respective fields.

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Catching electrons in action in an antiferromagnetic nanowire

The electron is one of the fundamental particles in nature we read about in school. Its behavior holds clues to new ways to store digital data. A new study explores alternative materials to improve capacity and shrink the size of digital data storage technologies. Specifically, the Michigan Tech team found that chromium-doped nanowires with a germanium core and silicon shell can be an antiferromagnetic semiconductor.

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Controlling Sloshing Motions in Sea-Based Fish Farming Cages Improves Fish Welfare

Sea-based fish farming systems using net pens are hard on the environment and fish. A closed cage can improve fish welfare, but seawater must be continuously circulated through the cage. However, waves can cause the water to slosh inside the cage, creating violent motions and endangering the cage and fish. A study using a scale-model containment system is reported in Physics of Fluids and shows why violent sloshing motions arise and how to minimize them.

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Microwave-Assisted Recording Technology Promises High-Density Hard Disk Performance

Researchers have studied the operation of a small device fabricated in the write gap of a hard disk drive’s write head to extend its recording density. The device is based on microwave-assisted magnetic recording. This technology, reported in Journal of Applied Physics, uses a spin-torque oscillator, which causes the magnetic particles of the recording medium to wobble. This makes them much easier to flip over when the write head applies a recording magnetic field in the writing process.

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Tiny diamonds prove an excellent material for accelerator components

In a new study from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, researchers have demonstrated a new material that has an excellent balance of parameters needed to generate a good accelerator beam.

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Applications Sought for AIP Robert H.G. Helleman Memorial Fellowships

The American Institute of Physics is accepting nominations for three AIP Robert H.G. Helleman memorial fellowships, which support graduate students or postdoctoral fellows with Dutch citizenship to pursue research activities in physics in the United States and who demonstrate academic excellence and financial need. Applications to AIP for the inaugural awards will be accepted until March 15.

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Low-Level Jets Create Winds of Change for Turbines

Global wind power capacity has increased more than fivefold over the past decade, leading to larger turbines, but low-level jets are one cause for concern. The effects of these strong, energetic wind flows depend on how high the wind flows are in relation to the turbines. In the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy, researchers considered three different scenarios in which the LLJs were above, below, and in the middle of the turbine rotors.

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Measuring Hemoglobin Levels with AI Microscope, Microfluidic Chips

A complete blood count can help ascertain the health of a patient and typically includes an estimate of the hemoglobin concentration, which can indicate several conditions, including anemia, polycythemia, and pulmonary fibrosis. In AIP Advances, researchers describe a new AI-powered imaging-based tool to estimate hemoglobin levels. The setup was developed in conjunction with a microfluidic chip and an AI-powered automated microscope that was designed for deriving the total as well as differential counts of blood cells.

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In New Step Towards Autonomous Materials, Researchers Design Patterns in Self-propelling Liquid Crystals

Imagine a capsule implanted in your body that automatically releases antibodies in response to a virus, or clothing that senses and captures contaminants from the air.

PME researchers have taken a step toward developing such autonomous materials by creating self-propelling liquid crystals and patterning their activity to control the movements of defects within the crystals.

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Hydrogel Promotes Wound Healing Better Than Traditional Bandages, Gauzes

For explosion wounds as well as some incurred in disasters and accidents, severe hemorrhage is a leading cause of death. Hydrogel dressings, which have advanced in recent years, may help; they are good at promoting wound healing and can better meet the demands of different situations. Many are antibacterial, biodegradable, responsive, and injectable and can fill irregularly shaped wounds. In APL Bioengineering, researchers in China examine some of the recent advances.

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FRESH 3D-Printing Platform Paves Way for Tissues, Organs

Research into 3D bioprinting has grown rapidly in recent years as scientists seek to re-create the structure and function of complex biological systems from human tissues to entire organs. In APL Bioengineering, researchers from Carnegie Mellon University provide perspective on the Freefrom Reversible Embedding of Suspended Hydrogels 3D bioprinting approach, which solves the issue of gravity and distortion by printing within a yield-stress support bath that holds the bioinks in place until they are cured.

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Advanced Simulations Reveal How Air Conditioning Spreads COVID-19 Aerosols

A restaurant outbreak in China was widely reported as strong evidence of airflow-induced transmission of COVID-19, but it lacked a detailed investigation about exactly how transmission occurred. In Physics of Fluids, researchers at the University of Minnesota report using advanced simulation methods to capture the complex flows that occur when the cold airflow from air conditioners interacts with the hot plume from a dining table and the transport of virus-loading particles within such flows.

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Supercomputers Aid Scientists Studying the Smallest Particles in the Universe

Using the nation’s fastest supercomputer, Summit at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a team of nuclear physicists developed a promising method for measuring quark interactions in hadrons and applied the method to simulations using quarks with close-to-physical masses.

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UA Little Rock receives $1 million planned gift from Damerows to support science scholarships

Jerry and Sherri Damerow, longtime supporters of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education in Arkansas, have made a planned gift of $1 million to support scholarships for science majors at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. The gift will benefit the Jerry and Sherri Damerow Endowed Science Scholarship, which provides scholarships for students majoring in astronomy, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and Earth Science.

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Why Food Sticks to Nonstick Frying Pans

Foods will sometimes get stuck to a heated surface, even if oil or a nonstick frying pan is used. Scientists have investigated the fluid properties of oil on a flat surface and their work, reported in Physics of Fluids, shows convection may be to blame. When the pan is heated from below, a temperature gradient is established in the oil film, as well as a surface tension gradient. This gradient sets up a type of convection known as thermocapillary convection.

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Biosensors Require Robust Antifouling Protection

Some promising biosensors and medical devices work well within pristine laboratory environments but may stop working once exposed to real-world conditions. A thick layer of foulants will quickly cover biosensors, and there is no good way to revive them once they quit working. Essentially, a biosensor is only as good as its antifouling properties. In APL Materials, researchers review a variety of approaches developed to combat fouling.

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Microwaves Used to Deactivate Coronavirus, Flu, Other Aerosolized Viruses

As the pandemic continues, scientists are increasingly focused on developing methods to assist in decontaminating surfaces and spaces. In Review of Scientific Instruments, researchers report on experimental tools capable of presenting electromagnetic waves to an aerosol mixture with the capability to vary power, energy, and frequency of the electromagnetic exposure. The researchers seek to better characterize the threshold levels of microwave energy needed to inactivate aerosolized viral particles and reduce their ability to spread infection.

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Personalizing Cancer Care with Improved Tumor Models

While decades of research have resulted in substantial improvements in surviving cancer, a key challenge remains in identifying new drugs that improve outcomes for patients. In APL Bioengineering, researchers suggest a major hurdle is the paucity of models for cancer research that accurately represent patient tumors. They provide a perspective on strategies using models from individual patients and where the field needs to go in terms of research in animal systems and in culture systems.

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Combining Best of Both Worlds for Cancer Modeling

Treatment options for many types of cancers remain limited, due partly to the in vitro tools used to model cancers and that results from animal studies do not always translate well to human disease. These shortcomings point to a clear need for a better, patient-specific model. Researchers suggest bioengineered microscale organotypic models can address this need. They discuss the advantages and capabilities of this technique, as well as its challenges, in the journal APL Bioengineering.

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Fastener with Microscopic Mushroom Design Holds Promise

A Velcro-like fastener with a microscopic design that looks like tiny mushrooms could mean advances for everyday consumers and scientific fields. Currently available fasteners are called hook and loop fasteners and require harder, stiff material. In Biointerphases, researchers describe a design that can use softer materials and still be strong enough to work. The team believes a 3D mushroom design can be made with softer, more flexible materials and provide sufficient interlocking force on the fabric and hold strong.

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Eggs Reveal What May Happen to Brain on Impact

Our brains consist of soft matter bathed in watery cerebrospinal fluid inside a hard skull, and in Physics of Fluids, researchers describe studying another system with the same features, an egg, to search for answers about concussions. Considering that in most concussive brain injuries, the skull does not break, they wanted to find out if it was possible to break or deform the egg yolk without breaking the eggshell and did a simple experiment using an egg scrambler, measuring the soft matter deformation.

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Nominations Still Accepted for 2021 Andrew Gemant Award

The American Institute of Physics is still accepting nominations for the 2021 Andrew Gemant Award. The deadline to apply is Jan. 31, 2021. The Gemant Award is presented every year and recognizes the accomplishments of a person who has made significant contributions to the cultural, artistic, or humanistic dimension of physics. Self-nominations are permitted, and nominations of women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and scientists from outside the United States are encouraged.

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AAPM Advances Best Practices for Patient Safety in X-Ray Imaging

Since April 2019, the American Association of Physicists in Medicine has championed a critical way to make X-ray imaging safer and more effective by discontinuing the long-standing practice of placing leaded shields over patient gonads. Today, the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements released a statement recommending the discontinuation of routine shielding of patient gonads during X-ray imaging exams and AAPM stands ready to help imaging providers, patients and caregivers to understand and adopt these new best practices – practices that will ensure safer and higher-quality X-ray exams.

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Singing a Tumor Test Song

Singing may be the next-generation, noninvasive approach to determining the health of a patient’s thyroid. When a person sings, the vibrations create waves in the tissue near the vocal tract called shear waves. If a tumor is present in the thyroid, the elasticity of its surrounding tissue increases, stiffening, and causing the shear waves to accelerate. Using ultrasound imaging to measure these waves, researchers can determine the elasticity of the thyroid tissue. They demonstrate the technique in Applied Physics Letters.

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Can Sodium-Ion Batteries Replace Trusty Lithium-Ion Ones?

Sodium-ion batteries are a potential replacement for lithium batteries, but different anodes are needed for the same level of performance. Amorphous carbon is known to be a useful anode, because it has defects and voids that can be used to store sodium ions. Nitrogen/phosphorus-doped carbon also offers appealing electrical properties. In Applied Physics Reviews, researchers describe how they applied basic physical concepts of atomic scale to build high-performance anodes for sodium-ion batteries.

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Disposable Helmet Retains Cough Droplets, Minimizes Transmission to Dentists, Otolaryngologists

Dentists and otolaryngologists are at particular risk of infection of COVID-19, since they need direct access to the mouth, nose, and throat of patients. The current solutions are expensive, not highly effective, and not very accessible. In Physics of Fluids, researchers discuss their design of an open-faced helmet for patient use that is connected to a medical-grade air filtration pump from the top that creates a reverse flow of air to prevent cough droplets from exiting the helmet.

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