Physical Sciences

Weighing weightless photons for laser-based manufacturing

It may be hard to believe that a beam of light can melt steel, but that is exactly what happens during laser beam machining. Using lasers for processing has become increasingly common but knowing exactly how much energy and heating occurs during these processes is a challenging task. This is why colleagues Dr John Lehman and Dr Paul Williams at […]

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Physical Sciences

Converting to terahertz communications

The amount of data we generate globally is now accelerating at a breakneck pace. As this transformation occurs, exchanges of terahertz signals could become a crucial aspect of future communication systems, yet without a way to efficiently convert these waves to and from optical signals, such a prospect has remained unfeasible so far. In his research, Professor Cyril Renaud at […]

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Physical Sciences

Realising free-space communication with quantum cascade lasers

As cheap and accessible tools for transmitting private information, freely propagating light waves are highly desirable for parties operating secure communication networks. However, the encoded information these waves contain can easily be lost due to unpredictable fluctuations in the Earth’s atmosphere. In their research, Frédéric Grillot and Olivier Spitz at Télécom Paris have developed sophisticated new techniques to overcome this […]

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Physical Sciences

Seizing control over quantum systems through measurement

Thanks to the deep complexities of quantum mechanics, physicists have so far faced serious difficulties in establishing control over quantum systems. In his research, Dr Arjendu Pattanayak at Carleton College in Minnesota demonstrates that the dynamics of vibrating quantum systems can be altered by adjusting the settings of the lasers used to measure them. His team’s results could lead to […]

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Physical Sciences

Harnessing the photochemistry of bromine for sustainable manufacturing

Chemical production can be fraught with hazards. From explosions to toxic chemicals, making useful molecules often requires careful thought about how to make a process inherently safer. Researchers at RCPE (Austria) have developed an ingenious way to use the automated flow reactors manufactured by Corning SAS (France) to safely harness the photochemistry of bromine – a highly toxic, sludge-brown substance […]

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Physical Sciences

The 30,000-year ceramics comeback

Despite the ubiquity of metals in machinery, ceramic tools and systems can perform better under the most extreme conditions. M2 Laboratory are a group of scientists at Tianjin University in China with an interest in ceramic materials. Amongst their ranks is Bin Lin, a professor, doctoral supervisor and deputy director of the key laboratory of Advanced Ceramics and Processing Technology. […]

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Physical Sciences

Physics of degradation: the difference between reliability engineering and reliability science

Quality and reliability are key factors for a product’s commercial success. Reliability testing usually occurs at the final product, using destructive methods. This implies that there might be added costs and delays if reliability tests fail. Looking at reliability sciences from the physics of degradation and the identification of degradation mechanisms, Prof Cher Ming Tan from the Research Center on […]

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Physical Sciences

Monitoring photonic crystal fibre fabrication in real-time

Photonic crystal fibres (PCFs) were first explored in the 1990s, and as conventional optical fibres have revealed their limits, interest in PCFs has only increased further. PCFs use a specific pattern of air-holes which stretch the length of the fibre to guide light. These delicate microstructures are functionally essential, but currently there is no way to monitor their production in […]

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Physical Sciences

Spectroscopic standard could help revolutionise the analysis of plastics

Plastic pollution is an environmental catastrophe in progress. 32 percent of the plastic we use escapes into the environment and only nine percent currently gets recycled. Fugitive plastic products often undergo various forms of environmental degradation, which lead to the formation of microplastics. British company Polymateria have developed additives for conventional plastics which facilitate biodegradation if they escape the waste stream. […]

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Physical Sciences

Crystal engineering for solid-state molecular recognition

Host-guest interactions in crystalline frameworks can be exploited to selectively and reversibly adsorb molecular species within a crystalline lattice. This process is important in a variety of technological fields, including gas separation, catalysis, trapping of pollutants and carbon capture. Professor Akiko Hori (Shibaura Institute of Technology) is developing chemical approaches for optimising the building blocks of these solid-state systems. Perfluorination […]

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