Miniature lightning: The team used a femtosecond laser to create a thin column of plasma – a special charged state of matter – in the air between two electrodes.

Laser Helps Channel Electricity Through Air

Researchers at the University of Arizona have created a column of plasma in the air between two electrodes using a femtosecond laser. »

Astronaut Mike Fincke pictured to the left of the Combustion Integrated Rack facility installed in the Destiny module of the ISS shortly after installation

Cool Burning Flames Could Lead to Better Engines

A team of international researchers has discovered a new type of cool burning flames that could lead to greener, more efficient combustion engines. »

Scientist develop a self-cooling solar cell

Silica Glass Keeps Solar Cells Cool

A team of scientists led by Shanhui Fan, an electrical engineering professor at Stanford University, has used a specially patterned layer of silica glass to keep solar cells cool by shepherding away unwanted thermal radiation. »

Fundamental research improves oil extraction efficiency

Research Could Greatly Improve Oil Extraction Techniques

Oil extraction techniques can be significantly improved by using water with a lower salt content when drilling. However, until now it was unclear which specific physical principles were behind this and what role salt ions played. »

A new thermoelectric material may boost green technology

New Thermoelectric Material May Boost Green Tech

University of Miami physicist Joshua Cohn and his collaborators report new surprising properties of a metal named lithium purple-bronze (LiPB) that may impact the search for materials useful in power generation, refrigeration, or energy detection. »

Dr. Nils Haag developed an experimental setup that allowed him to determine the missing spectrum of uranium 238

Antineutrinos May Help Monitor Nuclear Reactors

When monitoring nuclear reactors, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has to rely on input given by the operators. In the future, antineutrino detectors may provide an additional option for monitoring. »

The Undulator Hall of SLAC Lab's Linac Coherent Light Source, which

X-Rays Help Understand High-Temperature Superconductivity

A new study pins down a major factor behind the appearance of laser-induced high-temperature superconductivity in a promising copper-oxide material. »

Illustration of the boron-nitride bilayer (blue and orange atoms) functionalized with fluorine atoms along the bottom and hydrogen atoms long the top.

Chinese Scientists Suggest Using Infrared Light for Hydrogen Production

Infrared light could help split water into hydrogen and oxygen, despite the fact that infrared photons have less energy than is needed to drive the reaction. That is the claim of physicists in China, who have calculated that the reaction could proceed with the help of a bilayer catalyst that has a strong internal electric dipole. »

The user can operate the experiment with a set of controls, shown on the left side of the screen, and watch the effect on the apparatus at PPPL using the webstream video, shown on the right.

Software Allows to Control Real Plasma Experiment From Browser

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) have developed software with which anyone can easily observe and control a real 50,000 degree hot plasma experiment from anywhere in the world. »

Martin Maldovan, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, has published a review article on phononics in Nature.

Phononics May Provide Buildings With Thermal Cloaking

The emerging field of phononics opens a number of exciting possibilities in the energy field. In a recent review article in Nature, Martin Maldovan of the Georgia Institute of Technology explains how new ideas and devices that make use of phononic properties can be used to control both sound and heat. »

Quasi-Random Structures Help Solar Cells to Capture More Sunlight

Quasi-Random Structures Help Solar Cells to Capture More Sunlight

An international team of scientists, led by researchers from the Universities of York and St Andrews, has developed a new method to increase the efficiency of solar cells. The new approach involves using a new structure called a quasi-random structure and achieves highly efficient broadband light trapping in thin films. »

The polymer blend morphology without (left) and with (right) nanowires.

New Organic Solar Cell Production Method Proposed

Physicists at Imperial College London have come up with a technology that might help bring down the prices on organic solar cells. They propose a new method to control the arrangement of polymer molecules to create ordered pathways along which electrical charges can easily travel. »

A liquid sheet squeezed from two clapping hands at the velocity of 10.2 centimeter per second. (Credit: Virginia Tech)

New Fluid Flow Research Will Help Oil Separation

In a paper appearing this month in Physical Review E, Sunny Jung, assistant professor of engineering science and mechanics at Virginia Tech, and five colleagues reported on the dynamics of squeezing fluids using a simple experiment of clapping with wet hands. The findings of this fluid flow research can help better understand the finer points of the oil separation process, making it more efficient. »

The Modern Prometheus: Scientists Uncover the Secret of ‘Magnetic Fire’

The Modern Prometheus: Scientists Uncover the Secret of ‘Magnetic Fire’

A group of physicists from the New York University have uncovered how energy is released and dispersed in magnetic materials in a process similar to the spread of forest fires. This finding not only has the potential to deepen our understanding of self-sustained chemical reactions, but also could open new exciting possibilities for energy storage. »

Electron pumps made from graphene work ten times faster (Image: Malcolm Connolly, NPL/Cambridge)

Graphene Redefines Electric Current, Literally

A new joint innovation by the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and the University of Cambridge could pave the way for redefining the ampere in terms of fundamental constants of physics. The world’s first graphene single-electron pump (SEP), described in Nature Nanotechnology, provides the speed of electron flow needed to create a new standard for electrical current based on electron charge. »

The exterior of the National Ignition Facility, a ten-story building the size of three football fields, is pictured at sunset. NIF is the world's largest and highest-energy laser system and the nation's largest scientific project. It is located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in northern California. (Credit: Lawrence Livermore National Security)

National Academies Recommend Continued High Priority for Fusion Experiments

National Research Council have recently issued a report called “An Assessment of the Prospects for Internal Fusion Energy,” highlighting that the current U.S. fleet of internal fusion facilities offers a unique opportunity for experiments at “fusion scale” where fusion conditions are accessible for the first time. Report aims to determine, how best to exploit this opportunity and judges that “potential benefits of internal fusion energy justify it as part of the long-term U.S. Energy R&D portfolio.” According to the report, the target physics programs at the National Ignition Facility, Naval Research Laboratories (NIKE laser), Laboratory for Laser Energetics (OMEGA EL Laser) and Sandia National Laboratory (Z machine) should receive continued high priority. »