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[Images above] Credit: NIST


Graphene and an intense laser open the door to the extreme

Osaka University researchers, in collaboration with the National Institutes for Quantum Science and Technology, Kobe University, and National Central University in Taiwan, reported direct energetic ion acceleration by irradiating a graphene target with the ultraintense J-KAREN laser at Kansai Photon Science Institute.

Frozen light in graphene

Researchers from University of Regensburg, Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, University of Kansas, and Massachusetts Institute of Technology discovered an abnormally strong absorption of light in magnetized graphene. The effect appears upon the conversion of normal electromagnetic waves into ultra-slow surface waves running along graphene.

Combined piezoelectric thin film, metasurfaces creates lens with tunable focus

Researchers created a metasurface lens that uses a piezoelectric thin film to change focal length when a small voltage is applied. The lens could be useful for portable medical diagnostic instruments and drone-based 3D mapping, among other applications.


Fabrication of perovskite solar cells with just a piece of paper

Researchers from Tor Vergata University and University of Zanjan found they can use a simple sheet of paper to deposit perovskite films without any expensive equipment. The trick to achieve high performance is to soak the paper applicator in anti-solvent, which almost doubles efficiencies to 11% on flexible plastic substrates.

DeepMind’s AI can control superheated plasma inside a fusion reactor

In collaboration with the Swiss Plasma Center at EPFL, U.K.-based DeepMind trained a deep reinforcement learning algorithm to control the superheated plasma inside a nuclear fusion reactor. Controlling the plasma requires constant monitoring and manipulation of the magnetic field.

Scientists combine AI and atomic-scale images in pursuit of better batteries

Using artificial intelligence to analyze vast amounts of data in atomic-scale images, Stanford University researchers answered long-standing questions about lithium iron phosphate, an emerging type of rechargeable battery.


Nano-engineered sealer leads to more durable concrete

A nanomaterials-engineered penetrating sealer developed by Washington State University researchers is able to better protect concrete from moisture and salt. The novel sealer showed a 75% improvement in repelling water a​​nd a 44% improvement in reducing salt damage in laboratory studies compared to a commercial sealer.

Changing the shape of floors could cut concrete usage by 75%

An interdisciplinary team from the Universities of Bath, Cambridge, and Dundee unveiled a full-scale demonstration of a thin-shell floor, which uses 60% less carbon in its consruction than an equivalent flat slab that could carry the same load. The new vaulted style of floor also uses 75% less concrete than a traditional flat slab floor.

Astronauts are mixing concrete in space aboard the ISS

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station will hand-mix concrete in microgravity using a specially designed mixer no larger than the size of their hand and a giant inflatable bag. Earth’s gravity plays a major role in the concrete curing process, so this experiment could lead to more effective mixing strategies to better combine materials.

A possible paradigm shift within piezoelectricity

DTU Energy researchers showed that it is possible to create piezoelectric effects in materials where this is not ordinarily possible, i.e., centrosymmetric materials. Induction of piezoelectricity in centrosymmetric oxides can be achieved by using alternating current and direct current simultaneously.

Researchers use solar cells to achieve fast underwater wireless communication

Researchers showed that solar cells can be used to achieve underwater wireless optical communication with high data rates. The new approach uses an array of series-connected solar cells as detectors.

Liquid electronics: Graphene-wrapped droplets for printed microchips, wearable sensors

University of Sussex researchers built on their previous work to wrap emulsion droplets with graphene and other 2D materials by reducing the coatings down to atomically-thin nanosheet layers. They created electrically-conducting liquid emulsions that are the lowest-loading graphene networks ever reported—just 0.001 vol%.

Scientists enhance wood–plastic composites with graphene

A new study published online in Polymers provides a comprehensive literature review on carbon nanomaterial-enriched wood-polymer and natural fiber-reinforced composites.  Additionally, the authors present examples of novel and innovative applications made possible by using carbon nanotubes and graphene as filler materials in hybrid composites.

Growing the perfect diamond: Simulations reveal interesting geometric patterns

Researchers at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University simulated the growth of diamond films to reveal geometrical properties and insights on how to grow these films more efficiently in the lab. Porous diamond films could one day be used as platforms for growing neurons and other cells.

American Physical Society takes on scientific misinformation

The American Physical Society is launching an initiative aimed at countering scientific misinformation and increasing trust in science, which was also the subject of a related panel discussion last month at the society’s Annual Leadership Meeting.

We’re all radioactive—so let’s stop being afraid of it

Should nuclear power play a role in the future of energy? In an article on The Conversation, ACerS past president and Distinguished Life Member Bill Lee discusses how most radiation is natural and life on Earth wouldn’t be possible without it, and argues that understanding radiation’s role can help quell fears surrounding nuclear reactors.