Physics

Researchers develop new metamaterial that can improve MRI quality and reduce scan time

Could a small ringlike structure made of plastic and copper amplify the already powerful imaging capabilities of a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine? Xin Zhang, Stephan Anderson, and their team at the Boston University Photonics Center can clearly picture such a feat. With their combined expertise in engineering, materials science, and medical imaging, Zhang and Anderson, along with Guangwu Duan and Xiaoguang Zhao, designed a new magnetic metamaterial, reported in Communications Physics, that can improve MRI quality and cut scan time in half.

Fiber-optic probe can see molecular bonds

Engineers have developed the world's first portable, inexpensive, optical nanoscopy tool that integrates a glass optical fiber with a silver nanowire condenser. The device is a high-efficiency round-trip light tunnel that squeezes visible light to the very tip of the condenser to interact with molecules locally and send back information that can decipher and visualize the elusive nanoworld.

Settling the debate: Solving the electronic surface states of samarium hexaboride

A team led by Osaka University used angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy to probe the unusual surface conductivity of samarium hexaboride crystals. They showed that the material is a co-existing phase of "topological insulator" in which electrical current can flow along the surface but not through the bulk of the sample, a "Kondo insulator," which undergoes a metal-to-insulator transition due to the strong electron correlation.

Settling the debate: Solving the electronic surface states of samarium hexaboride

Researchers show that samarium hexaboride is a topological insulator, which allows electrons to flow only along its exterior surface. Together with its strong electron correlations, this material has potential to be used in future spintronic quantum devices that utilize the spins of individual electrons.

What if dark matter is lighter? Report calls for small experiments to broaden the hunt

Theorized dark matter particles haven't yet shown up where scientists had expected them. So researchers are now designing new and nimble experiments that can look for dark matter in previously unexplored ranges of particle mass and energy, and using previously untested methods.

Dashing the dream of ideal 'invisibility' cloaks for stress waves

Some have dreamt of the perfect cloak to make buildings impervious to stress waves caused by bombs, earthquakes or other calamities. Sorry, researchers are now dashing the dream. But there's still hope. They also say it's possible to make imperfect, real-world cloaks that will actually do some good by adding significant partial protection against some common earthquake waves.

Dashing the dream of ideal 'invisibility' cloaks for stress waves

Whether Harry Potter's invisibility cloak, which perfectly steers light waves around objects to make them invisible, will ever become reality remains to be seen, but perfecting a more crucial cloak is impossible, a new study says. It would have perfectly steered stress waves in the ground, like those emanating from a blast, around objects like buildings to make them "untouchable."

Infrared frequency comb measures biological signatures

Researchers have demonstrated a compact frequency-comb apparatus that rapidly measures the entire infrared band of light to detect biological, chemical and physical properties of matter.

New core-shell catalyst for ethanol fuel cells

Scientists have developed a highly efficient catalyst for extracting electrical energy from ethanol, an easy-to-store liquid fuel that can be generated from renewable resources.

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