Physical Sciences

Imaging the dynamical hydration sphere of alkali metal ions

Alkali metal ions – lithium ion (Li+), sodium ion (Na+), potassium ion (K+), rubidium ion (Rb+), and caesium ion (Cs+) – play crucial roles in a variety of solution processes, but so far tracking their diffusive motion in water has been problematic. Professor Kikuko Hayamizu and her collaborators at Tsukuba University, Japan, have applied a technique based on nuclear magnetic […]

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Physical Sciences

Modelling and analysis of flows of viscoelastic fluids: Beyond the Navier–Stokes equations

The Navier–Stokes equations are important for science and engineering, since they describe the motion of fluids. For instance, they are used to model blood flow within arteries, an ocean’s currents, and dynamics of air around aeroplanes. A century ago, theoretical physicists and mathematicians made advances in the use of Navier–Stokes equations. Instead of considering these partial differential equations as a […]

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Physical Sciences

Waste into starting materials: Solvent-based recycling for the polymer industry

Polymer manufacturing is an essential business, but it poses a number of challenges from an environmental perspective. Many chemical processes are energy intensive as they require high temperatures or pressure to occur. Finding ways of reusing and recycling waste into valuable components is therefore incredibly important. At APK AG in Germany, the team around Dominik Triebert and Hagen Hanel has […]

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Physical Sciences

Revealing properties of regular convex polytopes in negative dimensions

Mathematics and physics extend the notion of dimensionality beyond the usual perception of three dimensions to consider higher-dimensional spaces (eg, four-dimensional space–time) as well as negative, fractionally, and complex dimensional spaces. The formulae describing properties such as area and volume of some geometric objects can result in indefiniteness, particularly when dealing with negative dimensions. Dr Szymon Łukaszyk, an independent researcher […]

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Physical Sciences

Antilope: A low-cost portable sensor system for air quality monitoring

Monitoring air quality and assessing personal pollutant exposure in urban settings remain challenging tasks in atmospheric science. As part of this monitoring, low-cost sensors have become increasingly available. This allows makers to assemble their own air quality stations according to online instructions, and institutions to multiply the number of measurement points. However, most of these commercial devices suffer from limitations […]

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Physical Sciences

Providing better radiation monitoring for nuclear waste

Despite the immense potential benefits of nuclear power, many people are understandably concerned about the dangerous radioactive waste (or radwaste) it generates. To provide reassurance that nuclear waste is being safely stored, Dr Paolo Finocchiaro and colleagues at Italy’s National Institute of Nuclear Physics (INFN) have developed an advanced new system for monitoring the material’s radioactivity in real-time. Using distributed […]

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Physical Sciences

NAPLIFE: Advancing nuclear fusion with nanotechnology

Nuclear fusion has long been discussed for its potential as an abundant source of energy. Yet owing to the immense technological challenges involved, the global rollout of the technology still seems a long way off. Dr Tamás Biró and colleagues at the Nano-Plasmonic Laser Inertial Fusion Experiment (NAPLIFE) project, Wigner Research Centre for Physics, Hungary, believe a solution could be […]

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Physical Sciences

Listening across the oceans: Distributed acoustic sensing

Fibre optic cables have become the backbone of digital communication across the oceans. These cables are not just useful for transmitting information from one location to another – they can also be used as an incredibly long sensor array in themselves. Distributed acoustic sensing (DAS) is a powerful way of measuring sound and vibrations in the sea floor. Dr Ole […]

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Physical Sciences

Dendrimers: Improving calibration standards for mass spectrometry

Soft-ionization mass spectrometry (MS) techniques for the analysis of peptides, proteins, and macromolecules are gaining popularity in the medical research community. Specifically, matrix-assisted laser-desorption/ionization (MALDI) and electrospray ionization (ESI) can identify high molecular weight compounds with accuracy and minimal fragmentation of the sample, but precise and regular calibration with standards of a known mass is needed. Professor Scott M Grayson […]

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Physical Sciences

Cascading energy: Explaining fluctuations in the solar wind

Originating from the dynamic upper reaches of the Sun’s atmosphere, the influence of solar wind can be felt throughout the solar system. We sat down with Dr Charles Smith at the University of New Hampshire to discuss how the latest theories of fluid dynamics, combined with observations from spacecraft missions, can help us to understand turbulence in the interplanetary plasma. […]

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