Physics

A fresh look inside the protein nano-machines

Proteins perform vital functions, they digest food and fight infections. They are in fact nano-machines, each one of them designed to perform a specific task. But how did they evolve to match those needs, how did the genes encode the structure and function of proteins? Researchers have conducted a study that tackles this yet unanswered question.

Researchers discover way to make solar cells more efficient

When it comes to improving the efficiency of solar cells, a group of University of Wyoming professors has discovered a way to do so by adding manganese atoms—an alternate metal—to the mix. Doing so, they found, dramatically increases solar cell energy conversion by an average 300 percent and, in some cases, up to 700 percent.

One-dimensional crystals for low-temperature thermoelectric cooling

Thermoelectric cooling is a solid-state refrigeration process where the heat in an electrically conductive material is transferred using the material's own conduction electrons without any need for the gaseous coolants, such as chlorofluorocarbons, that are used in conventional refrigeration. Coolers based on thermoelectric technology can be scaled down in size without changing their thermal-to-electrical energy conversion efficiency and this is a major advantage for localized cooling of tiny electronic devices.

Chemical potential effect found to depend on electronic structure of material

The chemical potential is a fundamental concept in condensed matter physics. While the relevant equations which define it can be found in any undergraduate physics textbook, its temperature dependence in systems which are good conductors is usually insignificant. As a result, despite intensive research interest in FeSe, an unconventional superconductor exhibiting several extraordinary properties, the temperature dependence of the chemical potential has been previously overlooked.

Medical gamma-ray camera is now palm-sized

Researchers invented a Compton camera of 580g which visualizes gamma rays of arbitrary energies, and succeeded in achieving a high-resolution, multicolor 3-D molecular image of a live mouse administered with three different radioactive tracers in just two hours. The results of this study imply possibilities for producing new tracers of wide energy range at reduced costs and enabling the simultaneous imaging of multiple tracers which provide multilateral information on disease in target organs.

Atomic structure of irradiated materials is more akin to liquid than glass

Materials exposed to neutron radiation tend to experience significant damage. At the nanoscale, these incident neutrons collide with a material's atoms, which then collide with each other. The resulting disordered atomic network resembles those seen in some glassy materials, which has led many in the field to use them in nuclear research. But the similarities between the materials may not be as useful as previously thought.

Neptune: Neutralizer-free plasma propulsion

Plasma propulsion concepts are gridded-ion thrusters that accelerate and emit more positively charged particles than negatively charged ones. To enable the spacecraft to remain charge-neutral, a 'neutralizer' injects electrons to exactly balance the positive ion charge in the exhaust beam, but this neutralizer requires additional power from the spacecraft. Researchers are investigating how the radio-frequency self-bias effect can be used to remove the neutralizer altogether.

Understanding stars: How tornado-shaped flow in a dynamo strengthens the magnetic field

The massive, churning core of conducting liquids in stars and some planets creates a dynamo that generates the planetary body's magnetic field. Researchers aim to better understand these dynamos through computer simulations and by recreating them in the laboratory using canisters of rapidly spinning, liquid sodium.

NASA Acting Administrator Statement on Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Proposal

The following is a statement from NASA acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot on the Fiscal Year 2018 budget proposal released Tuesday.

New blackbody force depends on spacetime geometry and topology

(Phys.org)—In 2013, a group of physicists from Austria proposed the existence of a new and unusual force called the "blackbody force." Blackbodies—objects that absorb all incoming light and therefore appear black at room temperature—have long been known to emit blackbody radiation, which repels small nearby objects such as atoms and molecules. But the physicists showed that blackbodies theoretically also exert an attractive force on these objects.

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