Physics News of the Week: Another Nano-Breakthrough and a Thermal Invisibility Cloak

| May 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

This week there were some nice breakthroughs in nanotechnologies and thermal physics. In particular, KIT researchers succeeded in demonstrating that certain materials could be used to build a thermal cloak. Meanwhile, a group of leading nanoscientists succeeded in explaining the case of the herringbone crystals. The final report is on the clues, that might hide in exotic atoms, about the mystery of matter and anti-matter asymmetry. To receive these news straight to your email, register for our email newsletter.

1. An Invisibility Cloak for Thermal Flow (May 8)

By using special meta-materials scientists are now able to construct invisibility cloaks for light and sound  — devices that force light and sound to pass around objects.  Now, scientists at KIT have shown that it is possible to construct a similar invisibility cloak for the propagation of heat. To make this possible, they have used a structured plate of copper and silicon, which conducted heat around a central area without the edge being affected.

“For the thermal invisibility cloak, both materials have to be arranged smartly,” explains Robert Schittny from KIT. “By providing a thin copper plate with annular silicon structures, we produce a material that conducts heat in various directions at variable speeds. In this way, the time needed for passing around a hidden object can be compensated.” Read the full report here.

These pear-shaped nuclei might hold clues on the matter antimatter asymmetry

2. Exotic Atoms Might Hold Clues to an Unsolved Physics Puzzle (May 8)

An international group of physicists found clues in the pear-shaped nuclei in exotic atoms, which might help in resolving one of the most important problems in physics. In particular, the findings could advance the search for an explanation why the Big Bang created more matter than antimatter. One of the possible solutions could be a new fundamental force of nature, which would explain the matter-antimatter imbalance.

“If equal amounts of matter and antimatter were created at the Big Bang, everything would have annihilated, and there would be no galaxies, stars, planets or people,” said Tim Chupp, a University of Michigan professor of physics.

One of the ways to obtain evidence for a new force, as scientists believe, could be revealed by measuring how the axis of nuclei of the radioactive elements radon and radium line up with the spin. The cores of these atoms are shaped like pears, rather than the more typical spherical orange or elliptical watermelon profiles. By studying these pear-shaped nuclei scientist might come up with more clues to a possible new fundamental force. Read more here.

3. Solving the Case of the Herringbone Crystal (May 12)

When nanoscientists created beautiful, tiled patterns with flat nanocrystals, they were left with a mystery: some sets of crystals arranged themselves in an alternating, herringbone style. To tackle this problem, they turned to experts in computer simulation at the University of Michigan and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The result gives researchers a new tool for controlling how objects one-millionth the size of a grain of sand arrange themselves into useful materials. Full report here.

More news:

Graphene Joins the Race to Redefine the Ampere
Researchers Extend Electron Spin in Diamond for Incredibly Tiny Magnetic Detectors
Graphene Becomes Magnetic for First Time

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