Physics

Come on in, the water is superionic

The interiors of Uranus and Neptune each contain about 50 000 times the amount of water in Earth's oceans, and a form of water known as superionic water is believed to be stable at depths greater than about one-third of the radius of these ice giants.

Switching on a superfluid

We can learn a lot by studying microscopic and macroscopic changes in a material as it crosses from one phase to another, for example from ice to water to steam. A new study examines systems transitioning from 'normal' fluid to a quantum state known as a superfluid, which can flow with zero friction, with a view to future, superfluid-based, quantum technologies, such as ultra-low energy electronics.

Scientific formula calculates how to create more space for pedestrians in post-pandemic cities

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many cities are joining the trend towards providing more space for pedestrians. The current health crisis has put the spotlight on how we use public spaces and some towns and cities have extended pedestrian zones in order to facilitate social distancing and prevent contagion. Some roads have also been closed to traffic, but there was formerly no scientific method to help authorities make this kind of decision.

Study unveils the minimum temperature for droplets levitating from smooth surfaces

The Leidenfrost effect is a well-known physical phenomenon first discovered in 1756. It occurs when a liquid is in the proximity of a surface that is significantly warmer than its boiling point. This produces an insulating vapor layer that prevents the liquid from quickly boiling. Due to this effect, a droplet would hover over the surface instead of physically touching it.

Molecular "Lawnmower" is The First Autonomous Protein-Based Synthetic Motor

Living cells are filled with powerful molecular motors. Now biophysicists have built their own for the first time.

An experimental loop for simulating nuclear reactors in space

Nuclear thermal propulsion, which uses heat from nuclear reactions as fuel, could be used one day in human spaceflight, possibly even for missions to Mars. Its development, however, poses a challenge. The materials used must be able to withstand high heat and bombardment of high-energy particles on a regular basis.

Mimicking how water and wind create complex shapes in nature

Intricate natural formations like star-shaped sand dunes or arc-shaped rocks can appear so purposeful in form that it's easy to wonder whether someone has designed them. Scientists have long recognized that a particular combination of random and chaotic energy fields can, over a long period of time, give rise to these kinds of unique formations that dot our globe. Few, however, have succeeded in replicating these natural phenomena.

Quantum cryptography Records with Higher-Dimensional Photons

A new and much faster quantum cryptography protocol has been developed: Usually, quantum cryptography is done with photons that can be in two different states. Using eight different states, cryptographic keys can be generated much faster and with much more robustness against interference.

Using laser beam shaping to improve metal 3D printing

While laser-based 3D printing techniques have revolutionized the production of metal parts by greatly expanding design complexity, the laser beams traditionally used in metal printing have drawbacks that can lead to defects and poor mechanical performance.

New optical 'transistor' speeds up computation up to 1,000 times, at lowest switching energy possible

An international research team led by Skoltech and IBM has created an extremely energy-efficient optical switch that could replace electronic transistors in a new generation of computers manipulating photons rather than electrons. In addition to direct power saving, the switch requires no cooling and is really fast: At 1 trillion operations per second, it is between 100 and 1,000 times faster than today's top-notch commercial transistors. The study comes out Wednesday in Nature.

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