Physical Sciences

A novel micro-valve for use in reliable small-scale thrusters

The changing shapes of liquid droplets on charged solid surfaces have been widely studied for decades – but only recently have physicists begun to explore how this ‘electrowetting’ behaviour can be enhanced through the use of salts in their liquid states. In their research, Professor Weizong Wang and Mr Jinrui Zhang at Beihang University, Beijing, China, have exploited this effect […]

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Physical Sciences

DNA molecular scissors as new cancer chemotherapeutics

The discovery of efficient new metallodrugs with minimal side effects is urgently needed in cancer medicine. Associate Professor Andrew Kellett and Dr Creina Slator, Dublin City University, Ireland, have employed ‘click chemistry’ to generate new copper DNA molecular scissors with anticancer and gene editing properties. Their molecules have coordinated metal centres and mimic the action of natural products that cause […]

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Physical Sciences

EvoSphere: A system where robots can physically evolve

While the field of robotics has made many exciting advances in recent years, designs of new robots are still generally being conceived by human engineers. Inspired by the evolution of organisms in nature, Professor A E Eiben at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, in The Netherlands, aims to show how robot designs may not need to be constrained in this way. Instead, they could […]

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Physical Sciences

Showcasing the potential for macroscopically aligned carbon nanotubes

Carbon nanotubes are already widely known for their potential uses across a broad range of technologies. So far, however, their marvellous one-dimensional properties have been proven only at microscopic levels, hindering progress toward real-world applications. Natsumi Komatsu from the laboratory of Professor Junichiro Kono at Rice University, Houston, shows how macroscopic alignment can be achieved in thin films and fibres, […]

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Physical Sciences

The Future Circular Collider: Its potential and lessons learnt from the LEP and LHC experiments

As researchers seek to learn more about the fundamental nature of our universe, new generations of particle accelerators are now in development in which beams of particles collide ever more precisely and at ever higher energies. Professor Stephen Myers, former Director of Accelerators & Technology at CERN and currently Executive Chair of ADAM SA, identifies both the positive and negative […]

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Physical Sciences

Presenting a case for molecular scales in atmospheric models

Modelling Earth’s atmosphere is a monumentally difficult task, and atmospheric scientists have long faced challenges in accurately recreating the large-scale processes they observe in real life. Dr Adrian Tuck, a retired former visiting professor at Imperial College London, proposes that models could be improved by accounting for processes which take place on molecular scales. Through a better explanation of the […]

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Physical Sciences

Quantum carpets from tumbling molecules: Manipulating molecular rotation by electromagnetic fields

Molecules are comprised of charged particles whose spatial distribution is or could be distorted, lending the molecules a handle by which they can be manipulated via external electromagnetic fields. Dr Burkhard Schmidt at the Freie Universität Berlin and Professor Bretislav Friedrich at the Fritz Haber Institute of the Max Planck Society in Berlin, along with their affiliates Dr Marjan Mirahmadi and […]

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Physical Sciences

Designing disorder at the atomic scale

The crystal structures of solids can exhibit a vast array of different atomic arrangements, which may also change depending on conditions, temperature, pressure, etc. In new research, a team led by Dr Daniel Chaney, based at the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in France, have used cutting-edge techniques to show for the first time how some materials display exciting new […]

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Physical Sciences

Optimising solvent extraction for metal recycling

The platinum-group metals play a central role in several technological applications including fuel cells, electronic devices, and catalysts for oil refining and automobile converters. Owing to the scarcity of these metals, methods for their recycling from end-of-life devices are in increasing demand. Hydrometallurgy, which exploits the ability of specific molecules to selectively dissolve metal ions and separate them from unwanted […]

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Physical Sciences

Galactic archaeology: Using chemical abundances to map our galaxy’s history

The different chemical elements we observe across the Milky Way have gone through drastically different formation processes – which have taken place on drastically different timescales. Crucially for astronomers, these differences can be clearly seen in the abundances of chemical elements contained in stars today, providing important clues about our Galaxy’s distant past. In a new overview, Professor Francesca Matteucci […]

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