Physical Sciences

Molecular hopping in solid-like liquids: Understanding the self-diffusion and viscosity of liquid molecules

To fully understand how liquids flow, it is crucial for researchers to build models which can accurately recreate their behaviours on molecular scales – yet since the time of Newton, the complexities involved have presented numerous challenges. In their research, Prof Russ Keanini, Prof Peter Tkacik and Prof Jerry Dahlberg at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, present new ways […]

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Physical Sciences

Monitoring electrolyte stability in lithium-air batteries for electric aircraft

Switching to electric powered transport is one way of reducing CO2 emissions and their negative effects on the climate. Lithium-air batteries could play an important role in this transition, as they have the potential to provide the highest known theoretical energy density (3,400 Wh/kg). Development of lithium-air batteries requires highly stable electrolytes that are resistant to decomposition under operating conditions. […]

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Physical Sciences

Advancing connector technologies for multicore optical fibres

Optical fibres play indispensable roles in modern communication technologies, as well as in remote sensing and power transmission. With the expansion of the domain of application of optical fibre communication to subscriber and customer premises, the focus of new optical fibre-based technologies has been shifting from performance improvement to miniaturisation and cost reduction. Optical connectors are crucial components of optical […]

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Physical Sciences

A rigorous model of electron attachment in lanthanide atoms

Understanding the physical mechanism underlying negative ion formation in low-energy electron collisions with lanthanide atoms is of fundamental importance in physics and chemistry. It also has important implications for a wide range of applications, from catalysis to drug delivery and water purification. Unfortunately, the complexity of the interactions among electrons in lanthanides has for a long time made it virtually […]

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Physical Sciences

Using diglycolamides to improve rare-earth element separation

The family of 17 elements known as the “rare earth elements” are difficult to produce economically. Despite this, they are described as “critical raw materials” because of their unique properties and their various technological applications. This means their use is accelerating globally. Separation of these elements is a fundamental challenge, but this does not daunt Dr Santa Jansone-Popova and her […]

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Physical Sciences

Modelling the growth of minerals

What do precious gems, seashells, and bones have in common? The answer is minerals. Minerals are chemically complex solids that are mostly formed naturally by Earth’s and space’s geological processes but can also be produced by many living species, including humans. Dr Raffaella Demichelis, at Curtin University, Australia, is using computational chemistry to see how these minerals form and how […]

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Physical Sciences

Improving product quality in pharmaceutical ball milling

Ball milling is used in the pharmaceutical industry to reduce the size of particulate material such as pharmaceutical granules. Dr Alexander Krok and Dr Sandra Lenihan from Munster Technological University, Ireland, have developed a computational approach to achieve optimal, energy-efficient size reduction in ball milling resulting in the production of high-quality particulate material (i.e. granules) of homogeneous shape and size. […]

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Physical Sciences

‘Pool and split’ high-throughput experimentation: Turning complex designs into simple assays

High-throughput experimentation (HTE) protocols enable scientists to perform multiple experiments and test multiple hypotheses, in parallel and with minimal consumption of resources and materials. Dr Marco Santagostino from the Chemical Process Development Department at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma, Germany and his collaborators Philipp Kollmus and Raphael Steimbach devised a new protocol that greatly reduces the number of experiments needed in HTE. […]

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Physical Sciences

How to make noisy drones a little less irritating

Unmanned drones hold the potential to transform many aspects of our society for the better. So far, however, their perception by the public has been held back by the annoying noise they make. In his research, Dr Antonio Torija Martinez at the University of Salford in Manchester studies how the impact of drone noises on communities can be reduced – […]

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Physical Sciences

Sustainable energy and water collection

The intense energy demand of the modern world is a major driver for the burning of fossil fuels. If humanity is to stand a chance of controlling climate change, we must move towards sustainable energy. Professor Bin Su and Dr Zheng Ma, of the Huazhong University of Science and Technology in China, have created technology that allows for the conversion […]

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