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Archive for the ‘physics’ category

Nov 17, 2019

Research sheds light on the underlying mechanics of soft filaments

Posted by in categories: biological, cyborgs, physics, robotics/AI, wearables

Artificial muscles will power the soft robots and wearable devices of the future. But more needs to be understood about the underlying mechanics of these powerful structures in order to design and build new devices.

Now, researchers from the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) have uncovered some of the fundamental physical properties of artificial muscle fibers.

“Thin soft filaments that can easily stretch, bend, twist or shear are capable of extreme deformations that lead to knot-like, braid-like or loop-like structures that can store or release energy easily,” said L. Mahadevan, the Lola England de Valpine Professor of Applied Mathematics, of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, and of Physics. “This has been exploited by a number of experimental groups recently to create prototypical artificial muscle fibers. But how the topology, geometry and mechanics of these slender fibers come together during this process was not completely clear. Our study explains the theoretical principles underlying these shape transformations, and sheds light on the underlying design principles.”

Nov 15, 2019

New Lasers May Be Powerful Enough to Drill a Hole in Reality

Posted by in categories: physics, space

The prestigious academic physics journal Physical Review Letters published a paper this week about cutting-edge laser tech — and, if bloggers are to be believed, it could have juicy ramifications.

The paper itself is dry and technical, but the prominent tech blog Ars Technica’s interpretation of its findings is anything but. According to Ars, in fact, the tech it describes could pulse a laser “through fabric of the Universe.”

Nov 15, 2019

Research reveals new state of matter: a Cooper pair metal

Posted by in categories: materials, physics

For years, physicists have assumed that Cooper pairs, the electron duos that enable superconductors to conduct electricity without resistance, were two-trick ponies. The pairs either glide freely, creating a superconducting state, or create an insulating state by jamming up within a material, unable to move at all.

But in a new paper published in Science, a team of researchers has shown that Cooper pairs can also conduct electricity with some amount of resistance, like regular metals do. The findings describe an entirely new state of matter, the researchers say, that will require a new theoretical explanation.

“There had been evidence that this would arise in thin film superconductors as they were cooled down toward their , but whether or not that state involved Cooper pairs was an open question,” said Jim Valles, a professor of physics at Brown University and the study’s corresponding author. “We’ve developed a technique that enables us to test that question and we showed that, indeed, Cooper pairs are responsible for transporting charge in this metallic state. What’s interesting is that no one is quite sure at a fundamental level how they do that, so this finding will require some more theoretical and to understand exactly what’s happening.”

Nov 13, 2019

Double Down

Posted by in categories: cosmology, physics

Stars explode. But how?

A recent press release asks, “What happens when a star explodes?” The answer, not surprisingly, is, “…the same thing that happens when gas explodes here on Earth.”

The Electric Universe agrees with modern physics: a supernova is an exploding star. However, there is much more to the story that involves plasma. Electricity flowing through plasma creates regions of charge separation isolated by double layers. Could charge separation be the foundation for supernovae?

Nov 13, 2019

Multimaterial 3D printing manufactures complex objects, fast

Posted by in categories: 3D printing, engineering, law, physics

3D printers are revolutionizing manufacturing by allowing users to create any physical shape they can imagine on-demand. However, most commercial printers are only able to build objects from a single material at a time and inkjet printers that are capable of multimaterial printing are constrained by the physics of droplet formation. Extrusion-based 3D printing allows a broad palette of materials to be printed, but the process is extremely slow. For example, it would take roughly 10 days to build a 3D object roughly one liter in volume at the resolution of a human hair and print speed of 10 cm/s using a single-nozzle, single-material printhead. To build the same object in less than 1 day, one would need to implement a printhead with 16 nozzles printing simultaneously!

Now, a new technique called multimaterial multinozzle 3D (MM3D) printing developed at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering and John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) uses high-speed pressure valves to achieve rapid, continuous, and seamless switching between up to eight different printing materials, enabling the creation of complex shapes in a fraction of the time currently required using printheads that range from a single nozzle to large multinozzle arrays. These 3D printheads themselves are manufactured using 3D printing, enabling their rapid customization and facilitating adoption by others in the fabrication community. Each nozzle is capable of switching materials at up to 50 times per second, which is faster than the eye can see, or about as fast as a hummingbird beats its wings. The research is reported in Nature.

“When printing an object using a conventional extrusion-based 3D printer, the time required to print it scales cubically with the length of the object, because the printing nozzle has to move in three dimensions rather than just one,” said co-first author Mark Skylar-Scott, Ph.D., a Research Associate at the Wyss Institute. “MM3D’s combination of multinozzle arrays with the ability to switch between multiple inks rapidly effectively eliminates the time lost to switching printheads and helps get the scaling law down from cubic to linear, so you can print multimaterial, periodic 3D objects much more quickly.”

Nov 12, 2019

Physics experiment with ultrafast laser pulses produces a previously unseen phase of matter

Posted by in categories: energy, physics

Adding energy to any material, such as by heating it, almost always makes its structure less orderly. Ice, for example, with its crystalline structure, melts to become liquid water, with no order at all.

But in new experiments by physicists at MIT and elsewhere, the opposite happens: When a pattern called a charge density wave in a certain material is hit with a fast laser pulse, a whole new charge density wave is created—a highly ordered state, instead of the expected disorder. The surprising finding could help to reveal unseen properties in materials of all kinds.

The discovery is being reported today in the journal Nature Physics, in a paper by MIT professors Nuh Gedik and Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, postdoc Anshul Kogar, graduate student Alfred Zong, and 17 others at MIT, Harvard University, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, and Argonne National Laboratory.

Nov 11, 2019

Previously Unseen Phase of Matter Produced by Ultrafast Laser Pulses

Posted by in categories: energy, physics

Adding energy to any material, such as by heating it, almost always makes its structure less orderly. Ice, for example, with its crystalline structure, melts to become liquid water, with no order at all.

But in new experiments by physicists at MIT and elsewhere, the opposite happens: When a pattern called a charge density wave in a certain material is hit with a fast laser pulse, a whole new charge density wave is created — a highly ordered state, instead of the expected disorder. The surprising finding could help to reveal unseen properties in materials of all kinds.

The discovery is being reported today (November 11, 2019) in the journal Nature Physics, in a paper by MIT professors Nuh Gedik and Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, postdoc Anshul Kogar, graduate student Alfred Zong, and 17 others at MIT, Harvard University, SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, Stanford University, and Argonne National Laboratory.

Nov 11, 2019

We May Finally Understand the Moments Before the Big Bang

Posted by in categories: cosmology, physics

There’s a hole in the story of how our universe came to be. First, the universe inflated rapidly, like a balloon. Then, everything went boom.

But how those two periods are connected has eluded physicists. Now, a new study suggests a way to link the two epochs.

Nov 10, 2019

The ‘Attoclock’ Shows How Fast Electrons Move in a Millionth of a Billionth of a Second

Posted by in categories: entertainment, physics

O.o.


An ultraprecise new “attoclock” helps physicists make molecular movies of ultrafast chemical reactions.

Nov 8, 2019

Frequency combs shape the future of light

Posted by in categories: physics, transportation

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the first time an optical-frequency comb was used to measure the atomic hydrogen 1S-2S optical transition frequency, which was achieved at the Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik (MPQ) in Garching, Germany. Menlo Systems, which was founded soon afterwards as a spin-off from MPQ, has been commercializing and pioneering the technology ever since.

Today, optical frequency combs (OFCs) are routinely employed in applications as diverse as time and frequency metrology, spectroscopy, telecommunications, and fundamental physics. The German company’s fibre-based systems, and its proprietary “figure 9” laser mode-locking technology, have set the precedent for the most stable, reliable, robust, and compact optical frequency combs available on the market today.

An optical frequency comb exploits laser light that comprises up to 106 equidistant, phase-stable frequencies to measure other unknown frequencies with exquisite precision, and with absolute traceability when compared against a radiofrequency standard. The most common and versatile approach to create an OFC is to stabilize an ultrafast mode-locked laser, in which pulses of light bounce back and forth in an optical cavity. The frequency spectrum of the resulting pulse train is a series of very sharp peaks that are evenly spaced in frequency, like the teeth of a comb.

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