Nanoparticles Self-Assemble to Harvest Solar Energy

In APL Photonics, researchers design a solar harvester with enhanced energy conversion capabilities. The device employs a quasiperiodic nanoscale pattern, meaning most of it is an alternating and consistent pattern, while the remaining portion contains random defects that do not affect its performance. The fabrication process makes use of self-assembling nanoparticles, which form an organized material structure based on their interactions with nearby particles without any external instructions. Thermal energy harvested by the device can be transformed to electricity using thermoelectric materials.

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.

Using Physics to Improve Root Canal Efficiency

In Physics of Fluids, scientists report calculations with a model of a conical-shaped root canal inside a tooth. A crucial step in this common dental procedure is irrigation, or rinsing, of the root canal cavity with an antibacterial solution, and the researchers used computational fluid dynamics to determine the effect of temperature on the cleaning efficiency: Higher temperatures can, to a point, improve cleansing, but this benefit falls off if the temperature gets too high.

Broadband Enhancement Relies on Precise Tilt

If a photon source could be placed on a single chip and made to produce photons at a high rate, this could enable high-speed quantum communication or information processing. In Applied Physics Reviews, a simple on-chip photon source using a hyperbolic metamaterial is proposed, and investigators carried out calculations to show that a prototype arranged in a precise way can overcome problems of low efficiency and allow for high repetition rates for on-chip photon sources.

How a Magnet Could Help Boost Understanding of Superconductivity

Physicists have unraveled a mystery behind the strange behavior of electrons in a ferromagnet, a finding that could eventually help develop high temperature superconductivity. A Rutgers co-authored study of the unusual ferromagnetic material appears in the journal Nature.

Spider-Man-Style Robotic Graspers Defy Gravity

Traditional methods of vacuum suction and previous vacuum suction devices cannot maintain suction on rough surfaces due to vacuum leakage, which leads to suction failure. Researchers Xin Li and Kaige Shi developed a zero-pressure difference method to enhance the development of vacuum suction units. Their method overcame leakage limitations by using a high-speed rotating water ring between the surface and suction cup to maintain the vacuum. They discuss their work in Physics of Fluids.