The origin of the granular capillary effect -- the rise of sand or other granules in a tube -- was a long-standing mystery. Only recently did an international team of physicists succeed in unveiling it. Further research may open up new ways to move materials, leading to promising new applications in trade and industry.
Researchers from EPFL have shown that the surface of minuscule water drops with a 100 nm size is surprisingly ordered. At room temperature, the surface water molecules of these droplets have much stronger interactions than a normal water surface. The structural difference corresponds to a difference in temperature of -50°C, which may shed new light on a variety of atmospheric, biological and even geological processes.
Japanese researchers have succeeded in deriving a theoretical formula that quantitatively predicts the wetting and spreading behavior of droplets that collide with the flat surface of a solid material. In the past, researchers from all over the world have attempted to make quantitative predictions about the extent of wetted areas through experimentation, theory, and numerical analysis, but predictions, particularly during slow collision speeds, have not been realized.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have shown how evolutionary dynamics proceed when selection acts on two traits governed by a trade-off. The results move the life sciences a step closer to understanding the full complexity of evolution at the cellular level.
It may be surprising to learn that much remains unknown about radiation's effects on materials. To find answers, Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers are developing techniques to explore the microstructural evolution and degradation of materials exposed to radiation. They report a dynamic option, this week in Applied Physics Letters, to continuously monitor the properties of materials being exposed to radiation during the exposure. This provides real-time information about a material's microstructural evolution.
Plasma propulsion concepts are gridded-ion thrusters that accelerate and emit more positively charged particles than negatively charged ones. To enable the spacecraft to remain charge-neutral, a 'neutralizer' injects electrons to exactly balance the positive ion charge in the exhaust beam, but this neutralizer requires additional power from the spacecraft. Researchers are investigating how the radio-frequency self-bias effect can be used to remove the neutralizer altogether. They report their work in this week's Physics of Plasmas.
Scientists at Amherst College (USA) and Aalto University (Finland) have made the first experimental observations of the dynamics of isolated monopoles in quantum matter. The obtained fundamental understanding of monopole dynamics may help in the future to build even closer analogues of the magnetic monopoles.
Quantum field theories are often hard to verify in experiments. Now, there is a new way of putting them to the test. Scientists have created a quantum system consisting of thousands of ultra cold atoms. By keeping them in a magnetic trap on an atom chip, this atom cloud can be used as a 'quantum simulator', which yields new insights into some of the most fundamental questions of physics.
A new study examining how ice forms from pure water found that the geometry of the surface that water is on can have an effect on whether or not it freezes, suggesting that surface geometry plays an important role in ice formation.
Researchers from the National University of Singapore recently uncovered novel properties of strontium niobate, which is a unique semiconductor material that displays both metallic type conduction and photocatalytic activity.