Physical Sciences

Twinkle, twinkle: How astronomers investigate alien planets

The NASA Kepler Space Telescope revolutionised our understanding of the universe. By continuously observing over half a million stars during its four-year mission, Kepler discovered thousands of exoplanets. Many hundreds of these are Earth-like in size and composition, and tens of them reside in the habitable ‘Goldilocks’ zone. Kepler and similar space-based telescopes like TESS discover planets purely by inference, […]

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Physical Sciences

Maths and honeycombs: Searching for the materials of the future

The nanotechnology revolution is fuelled by the versatility of nanomaterials. Changing a nanomaterial’s composition and structure alters its properties, rendering nanomaterials tailor-made for specific applications. Mathematical modelling guides researchers towards predicting desired behaviour prior to experimentation. Titus Masese of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and Godwill Kanyolo of the University of Electro-Communications (UEC), in Japan, […]

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Physical Sciences

Using thermal imaging to prevent and forecast particulate emissions from mine tailings

Fugitive dust emissions from dry mine tailings surfaces is an environmental concern that undermines the mining industry’s social acceptability. Aluminium refining waste material management involves intensive mud farming activities intended to accelerate drying prior to the residue’s permanent storage and site remediation. Throughout this process surface evaporation occurs much faster, requiring continuous and in-situ monitoring of mine tailings’ drying state […]

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Physical Sciences

Modelling sea-island reversal in viscoelastic phase separation

In the 1990s, researchers first discovered that within mixtures of viscoelastic materials, unique transitions known as phase separations can appear when the right conditions are applied. In his research, Mr Yoshihide Kubo, Hiroshima University alumnus, presents the first robust approach for modelling these systems, avoiding unnecessary complexities while producing results which can be easily reproduced in experiments. His work addresses […]

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Physical Sciences

Sensing in a disordered environment

Dr Farzan Beroz has developed a physical theory of sensing that predicts cell behaviour. Cells measure stiffness by pushing and pulling on their surroundings. However, because their tissue surroundings are disordered, it has been unclear what information cells actually learn by probing. Dr Beroz estimated what a cell learns and predicted that some cells change their shape and move around […]

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Physical Sciences

Electron emission patterning: A new path towards smaller devices?

The demand for smaller and more powerful electronic devices is ever growing in many sectors of today’s society. Current technology limits how small devices can be. To develop smaller devices, new materials and manufacturing techniques are needed. Ali Aliev and Ray Baughman of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute have developed a non-contact dry patterning technique for carbon nanotubes. Their […]

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Physical Sciences

Laser induced damage threshold testing

Today’s latest laser technologies can be used for a diverse array of applications. Currently, however, their use is being hindered by a lack of knowledge about certain power thresholds, above which lasers can damage valuable materials and components. Through their research, Dr Jan Vanda and colleagues at the HiLASE Centre, part of the Institute of Physics at the Czech Academy […]

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Physical Sciences

Inspiration from surfactants gives Li-S cells longer life

The renewable-fuelled future is reliant on improvements in battery energy density to smooth the grid and power electric vehicles for longer journeys. Lithium-ion cells – the industry standard – are almost at their capacity. Lithium-sulfur cells could be the answer, current technology degrades quickly due to an effect called redox shuttling. Dr Gao Liu, a staff scientist and his team […]

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Physical Sciences

Textile-embedded microcapsules: The future of drug delivery

Research on textiles has come a long way, with numerous examples of textiles having bifunctional characteristics. Advancements in the area show the incorporation of microcapsules on textiles, containing active principles with antimicrobial, cosmetic, or even drug characteristics. Prof Manuel Jose Lis Arias, at the Terrassa Institute of Textile Research and Industrial Cooperation of the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, has been […]

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Physical Sciences

Hydrogen’s Second Flavour: A Solution to Dark Matter?

From their observations, astronomers widely predict that dark matter must comprise around 85% of all matter in the universe. So far, however, most theories about the nature of this mysterious source of mass have pinned their hopes on theoretical, as-yet undiscovered particles. Professor Eugene Oks from the Physics Department of the Auburn University has proposed that a more natural explanation […]

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