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Chemists observe ‘spooky’ quantum tunneling

Ammonia molecules concept illustration (stock image). Credit: © Forance / Adobe Stock A molecule of ammonia, NH3, typically exists as an umbrella shape, with three hydrogen atoms fanned out in a nonplanar arrangement around a central nitrogen atom. This umbrella structure is very stable and would normally be expected to require a large amount of…

‘Intelligent’ metamaterial makes MRIs affordable and accessible

Medical scanner control room (stock image). Credit: © Gorodenkoff / Adobe Stock Boston University researchers have developed a new, "intelligent" metamaterial -- which costs less than ten bucks to build -- that could revolutionize magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), making the entire MRI process faster, safer, and more accessible to patients around the world. The technology,…

Go with the flow: Scientists design new grid batteries for renewable...

High-voltage tower (stock image). Credit: © bohbeh / Adobe Stock How do you store renewable energy so it's there when you need it, even when the sun isn't shining or the wind isn't blowing? Giant batteries designed for the electrical grid -- called flow batteries, which store electricity in tanks of liquid electrolyte -- could…

Why is ice so slippery?

Skating on frozen lake (stock image). Credit: © Night Sky Dreamer / Adobe Stock The answer to the question of why ice is slippery lies in a film of water that is generated by friction, one that is far thinner than expected and much more viscous than usual water through its resemblance to the "snow…

Achieving quantum supremacy

Quantum computing concept illustration (stock image). Credit: © vchalup / Adobe Stock Researchers in UC Santa Barbara/Google scientist John Martinis' group have made good on their claim to quantum supremacy. Using 53 entangled quantum bits ("qubits"), their Sycamore computer has taken on -- and solved -- a problem considered intractable for classical computers. "A computation…

Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019: Lithium-ion batteries

Lithium-ion batteries concept (stock image). Credit: © malp / Adobe Stock The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2019 to John B. Goodenough, of The University of Texas at Austin, USA, M. Stanley Whittingham, of Binghamton University, State University of New York, USA, and Akira Yoshino of…

2019 Nobel Prize in Physics: Evolution of the universe and discovery...

Illustration of exoplanet orbiting star (stock image). Credit: © vchalup / Adobe Stock The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2019 "for contributions to our understanding of the evolution of the universe and Earth's place in the cosmos" with one half to James Peebles of Princeton University,…

How to dismantle a nuclear bomb

Missiles with warheads concept (stock image). Credit: © gerasimov174 / Adobe Stock How do weapons inspectors verify that a nuclear bomb has been dismantled? An unsettling answer is: They don't, for the most part. When countries sign arms reduction pacts, they do not typically grant inspectors complete access to their nuclear technologies, for fear of…

A new concept could make more environmentally friendly batteries possible

Batteries (stock image). Credit: © Gudellaphoto / Adobe Stock A new concept for an aluminium battery has twice the energy density as previous versions, is made of abundant materials, and could lead to reduced production costs and environmental impact. The idea has potential for large scale applications, including storage of solar and wind energy. Researchers…

A new way to turn heat into useful energy

Glowing light bulb (stock image). Credit: © BillionPhotos.com / Adobe Stock An international team of scientists has figured out how to capture heat and turn it into electricity. The discovery, published last week in the journal Science Advances, could create more efficient energy generation from heat in things like car exhaust, interplanetary space probes and…

The best of two worlds: Magnetism and Weyl semimetals

Power lines (stock image). Credit: © bohbeh / Adobe Stock Imagine a world in which electricity could flow through the grid without any losses or where all the data in the world could be stored in the cloud without the need for power stations. This seems unimaginable but a path towards such a dream has…

Combination of wood fibers and spider silk could rival plastic

Spider web (stock image). Credit: © otaraev74 / Adobe Stock Achieving strength and extensibility at the same time has so far been a great challenge in material engineering: increasing strength has meant losing extensibility and vice versa. Now Aalto University and VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland researchers have succeeded in overcoming this challenge, inspired…

New route to carbon-neutral fuels from carbon dioxide

Cerium oxide (stock image). Credit: © monamakela.com / Adobe Stock If the idea of flying on battery-powered commercial jets makes you nervous, you can relax a little. Researchers have discovered a practical starting point for converting carbon dioxide into sustainable liquid fuels, including fuels for heavier modes of transportation that may prove very difficult to…

The rare molecule weighing in on the birth of planets

Protoplanetary disk illustration (stock image). Credit: © Peter Jurik / Adobe Stock Astronomers using one of the most advanced radio telescopes have discovered a rare molecule in the dust and gas disc around a young star -- and it may provide an answer to one of the conundrums facing astronomers. The star, named HD 163296,…

FDA phase 1 trial shows hydrogel to repair heart is safe...

Heart attack (stock image). Credit: © peterschreiber.media / Adobe Stock Ventrix, a University of California San Diego spin-off company, has successfully conducted a first-in-human, FDA-approved Phase 1 clinical trial of an injectable hydrogel that aims to repair damage and restore cardiac function in heart failure patients who previously suffered a heart attack. The trial is…

Solving the longstanding mystery of how friction leads to static electricity

Static hair (stock image). Credit: © Voyagerix / Adobe Stock Most people have experienced the hair-raising effect of rubbing a balloon on their head or the subtle spark caused by dragging socked feet across the carpet. Although these experiences are common, a detailed understanding of how they occur has eluded scientists for more than 2,500…

Hard as a diamond? Scientists predict new forms of superhard carbon

Natural diamond (stock image). Credit: © Björn Wylezich / Adobe Stock Superhard materials can slice, drill and polish other objects. They also hold potential for creating scratch-resistant coatings that could help keep expensive equipment safe from damage. Now, science is opening the door to the development of new materials with these seductive qualities. Researchers have…

How to simulate softness

Fingers touching marshmallows (stock image). Credit: © leungchopan / Adobe Stock What factors affect how human touch perceives softness, like the feel of pressing your fingertip against a marshmallow, a piece of clay or a rubber ball? By exploring this question in detail, a team of engineers and psychologists at the University of California San…

Reactor turns greenhouse gas into pure liquid fuel

Models of carbon dioxide molecules (stock image). Credit: © Ted Reinhard / Adobe Stock A common greenhouse gas could be repurposed in an efficient and environmentally friendly way with an electrolyzer that uses renewable electricity to produce pure liquid fuels. The catalytic reactor developed by the Rice University lab of chemical and biomolecular engineer Haotian…

Physicists mash quantum and gravity and find time, but not as...

Quantum time abstract concept (stock illustration). Credit: © Stillfx / Adobe Stock A University of Queensland-led international team of researchers say they have discovered "a new kind of quantum time order." UQ physicist Dr Magdalena Zych said the discovery arose from an experiment the team designed to bring together elements of the two big --…

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