Physical Sciences

Polarized fuel: A new option for sustained nuclear fusion

The journey towards sustained nuclear fusion may seem never-ending, but some physicists believe a promising step forward could come in the form of ‘polarized fuel’. In his research, Dr Ralf Engels at the Research Centre Jülich / GSI Darmstadt, Germany, together with colleagues at the Polarization Research for Fusion Experiments and Reactors (PREFER) collaboration, has identified three key challenges faced […]

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Physical Sciences

Combating corrosion in geothermal wells

Geothermal energy holds the potential to harvest vast amounts of energy from within the Earth’s crust. So far, however, exploitation of geothermal energy can be limited by corrosion – which damages the metal pipes required to carry high-temperature steam generated deep underground. In a new experiment, Andri Thorhallsson and Sigrun Karlsdottir at the University of Iceland show how the problem […]

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Physical Sciences

Theory and Experience: Assessing the methodology of physics

The relationship between theories and experiments is a central concept in physics, providing a robust basis for the sum of our knowledge of how the universe works. Yet despite its immense importance, there are still several key aspects of the relationship which physicists can’t agree upon – leading to deep-rooted disputes within the wider research community. In his essay, Theory […]

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Physical Sciences

Nanotechnology and metal-organic frameworks for carbon capture

Greenhouse gases pose a major environmental threat that needs to be tackled. Nanotechnology offers great potential, with novel nanomaterials such as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) being strong candidates for the adsorption of greenhouse gases. Dr Ocean Cheung, assistant professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, looked into a MOF sub-category, zeolite imidazolate frameworks (ZIFs), and examined how mixing raw materials for ZIF […]

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Physical Sciences

The 20-year-old mysteries of nu Octantis: Its almost unbelievable planet – or what?

When observing the light emitted by nearby stars as part of his PhD at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, Dr David Ramm made a discovery that turned astronomers’ understanding of orbital mechanics on its head. With an orbit lying roughly halfway between two very close stars in a binary system, the nu Octantis exoplanet seemed at first glance impossible. […]

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Physical Sciences

Bioinspired light-responsive materials for on-demand drug delivery

Polymer-based nanomaterials represent one of the most innovative and promising approaches in modern biomedical applications, including cancer and antibacterial therapy. They offer the ability to control the delivery of specific drugs within the human body. Their practical application, however, faces many challenges, for instance low tumour penetration in cancer or low drug internalisation in the case of antimicrobials. Professor Filippo […]

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Physical Sciences

Electron paramagnetic resonance: EPR everywhere

Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) measures the signal from unpaired electrons and is a technique already widely used in the bioscience and pharmaceutical industries. Dr Joshua R. Biller of TDA Research, Inc, USA is championing the novel use of EPR to answer research questions. He explains that rapid innovations in EPR will allow a wider group of researchers to image tumours, […]

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Physical Sciences

Highly efficient modelling of electronic structure

Chemistry can be defined as the study of electron motion in the field of nuclei, which obeys the rules of quantum dynamics. The electronic structure of a given system of N electrons is best described by an N-electron wave function built up with one-electron wave functions (orbitals) subject to the antisymmetry principle. The major issue is that the orbitals may […]

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Physical Sciences

Synchronisation in symmetrically and asymmetrically coupled oscillators

Complex networks are systems composed of several components which may interact with each other. Examples range from laser arrays to the human brain, global climate, and digital communication forms. The behaviour of complex systems depends upon the internal dynamics of the individual unit, communication among cells, type of coupling between them, and symmetry. Dr Antonio Palacios from San Diego State […]

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