Physics

Implantable nanophotonic probe based on an optical switch array for optogenetic neural stimulation. Credit: Aseema Mohanty, Columbia Engineering A new chip-based device that can shape and steer blue light could significantly reduce the size of the light projection components used in emerging applications such as augmented and virtual reality, autonomous vehicles, optogenetics and even trapped-ion
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Tiphaine Kouadou is a PhD student who is supposed to finish her dissertation this year and Mattia Walschaers is a CNRS research scientist. Both work in the multimode quantum optics group at the Laboratoire Kastler Brossel (LKB) in Paris, France, which is affiliated with Sorbonne Université, CNRS, ENS Université PSL, and Collège de France. This
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Get colouring: the latest posters from the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. (Courtesy: Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics) This week’s Red Folder focuses on things you can do at home. There is something therapeutic about colouring in pictures. Perhaps it takes some of us back to a childhood before the Internet and smartphones existed. If
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Daisy Shearer is a PhD student in experimental physics at the University of Surrey, UK, where she studies semiconductor spintronics in InSb-based materials for quantum technology applications. This post is part of a series on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the personal and professional lives of physicists around the world. If you’d like to
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In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast the science journalist Jon Cartwright explains how ultraviolet light at a specific wavelength could help in the fight against the next pandemic. Physics World’s science fiction aficionado Tushna Commissariat is on hand to talk about the plausibility of the physics in the Chinese blockbuster film Wandering
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The function of cardiac implantable electronic devices such as pacemakers can be affected by direct irradiation of the device during radiotherapy. (Courtesy: CC BY-SA 3.0/Lucien Monfils) When a patient with a pacemaker or other type of cardiac implantable electronic device (CIED) requires radiotherapy, the treatment plan is designed to avoid direct irradiation of the device,
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Taken from the May 2020 issue of Physics World, where it appeared under the headline “Serendipity in action”. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Accidental discoveries lie at the heart of many technological innovations. James McKenzie runs through his favourites Serendipitious success Microwave ovens are
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Twisted light could boost data transmission As the world’s appetite for data transmission grows, established ways of sending multiple simultaneous, independent signals down a single optical fibre – a process known as multiplexing – are falling behind. This week, US researchers report progress towards an alternative multiplexing method that could vastly increase the capacity of
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Uncertain times: electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virions, which are the cause of COVID-19. (Courtesy: NIAID-RML/CC BY 2.0) Models of disease spread inform governments on when and how to ease the measures currently in place to contain COVID-19. But physicist Susanna Manrubia, an expert in modelling biological phenomena at the Spanish National Centre for Biotechnology in Madrid,
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The experimental setup, showing a mannequin training head on the couch of a TrueBeam linac. The cameras of the Catalyst HD optical surface tracking are attached to the ceiling. (Courtesy: CC BY 4.0/J. Appl. Clin. Med. Phys. 10.1002/acm2.12866) A commercial optical surface tracking (OST) system can monitor a patient’s position with submillimetre accuracy during radiotherapy,
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Martin Booth, Patrick Salter and Andrew Rimmer describe how fundamental research on adaptive optics led them to start a company based on creating microscopic marks inside diamonds and other transparent materials Technology transfer Tools that were originally designed to enhance optical microscopy proved key to developing Opsydia’s laser-etching system. (Courtesy: Opsydia) Your company, Opsydia, started
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Dark star crashes: the computer simulation of two merging neutron stars (left) blended with an image of heavy-ion collisions at CERN to highlight the connection of astrophysics with nuclear physics. Courtesy: Lukas R Weih and Luciano Rezzolla/Goethe University Frankfurt and CMS/CERN) Gravitational waves from neutron star mergers could provide vital information for testing theories of
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We’ve all wished for weightlessness at some point in our lives—that fantastical quality that powers the magic of flying broomsticks and fuels our fascination with space travel. Although we’re a long way from floating down the street, physicists have developed ways to mitigate the effect of gravity, from carefully aligning sound waves to mimicking free
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[embedded content] “Particle of doubt” is the latest musical offering from David Ibbett, who is guest composer at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory outside Chicago. It is about the neutrinos and is sung in the above video by the soprano Beth Sterling. My favourite line is “You should be changeless. But the change gives us hope
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The electromagnetic spectrum, an assortment of energy wiggling throughout space and time, is overwhelmingly underappreciated in our lives. There is no combination of existence that could happen without it. To celebrate the role that light plays in our lives, our ecosystem, and the operation of the universe, UNESCO declared March 16th as the International Day
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Cosmonaut Borisenko Andrey Ivanovich with the SPRUT-2 bioimpedance analyser. (Courtesy: Roscosmos) Microgravity is an unhealthy environment for the human body. Long-term exposure causes a decrease in bone density, loss of muscle mass and a shift of body fluids into the top half of the body, which can impact cardiovascular system function. From long stays aboard
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Light show: Celebrating 60 years of the laser. (Courtesy: iStock/Terraxplorer) In October 1959, Theodore “Ted” Maiman, a relatively unknown 32-year-old physicist, set out to make what was then known as “optical maser” out of a crystal of pink ruby.  The project didn’t have the most auspicious of starts. Maiman’s employers at Hughes Research Laboratory were
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Cryogenics specialist ICEoxford has reinforced its international reputation for product innovation with a 2020 Queen’s Award for Enterprise Keeping it cool: ICEoxford managing director Chris Busby (left) and technology director Paul Kelly foster a customer-first mindset across the company’s engineering and commercial teams. (Courtesy: ICEoxford) It’s been a busy 12 months at ICEoxford, the UK-based
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UUltrasound is a powerful tool for looking inside the body. The scans see through layers of tissue to reveal pumping hearts, developing fetuses, troublesome blood clots, and injured muscles. They are relatively low-cost, portable, and have few side effects. Patients aren’t exposed to ionizing radiation or confined in a small space. They are, however, slathered
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Invisible nuclei: acoustically induced transparency allows gamma rays to travel through a sample of otherwise absorbent iron. (Courtesy: iStock/Andrey Prokhorov) Iron nuclei can be made transparent to gamma rays that they would normally absorb using a new technique called “acoustically induced transparency” (AIT).  This feat was achieved by physicists in the US and Russia, who
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Taken from the May 2020 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. Having written the Critical Point column in Physics World for 20 years, Robert P Crease still worries that physicists don’t realize why the humanities are so important  Critical thinking: Plato’s
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Pionic helium: In this experiment, a pion – shown here with one orange and one blue particle representing its quark and anti-quark – replaces one of the two electrons in the helium atom. This new metastable atom is then excited with laser light (shown here in red) to probe its properties. (Courtesy: Max Planck Institute
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Jeremy Frey (left) and Bill Brocklesby are investigating the use of extreme ultraviolet imaging to create ultrahigh-resolution images of biological samples. (Courtesy: University of Southampton) X-ray imaging is a valuable tool for studying biological systems, providing extremely high resolution as well as the ability to see within thick samples. The recent development of coherent X-ray
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Neurons. (Courtesy: iStock/ktsimage) A new technique that efficiently retrieves scattered light from fluorescent sources can be used to record neuronal signals coming from deep within the brain. The technique, developed by physicists at Sorbonne University in Paris, France, uses matrix factorization algorithms to overcome the fact that opaque biological tissues are strong scatterers of visible
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Diamond is a remarkable and useful material because of its rare beauty, hardness and extremely high thermal conductivity. At the microscopic level, the gem has crystal defects that are proving to be extremely useful for creating a range of quantum technologies. In this episode of the Physics World Weekly podcast, Daniel Twitchen of the company
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[embedded content] As an antidote to those glossy, big-budget TV programmes about the wonders of the universe, the cosmologist Peter Coles of Ireland’s Maynooth University is putting out a series of videos that point out that the universe is actually a bit disappointing. In his first video, shown above, he explains why stars really aren’t
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If you’re on the receiving end of a snapping shrimp’s attack, prepare to be stunned. Also known as pistol shrimp, these little crustaceans shoot lethal rounds at predators and prey at highway speeds—a direct hit can be outright fatal or shock the recipient into submission. It’s not just the force of the attack that’s stunning
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© AuntMinnie.com Using MRI and PET independently, researchers have further established that there is a significant relationship between excessive iron accumulation and tau protein deposits in brain regions linked to Alzheimer’s disease, according to a study published in Brain. Quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) on MRI and tau-PET imaging showed significantly higher levels of iron and
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“Spin cooling”. Courtesy: G Hétet, ENS The force from the spin of defects known as nitrogen vacancy (NV) centres can be used to cool down a macroscopic diamond particle. This “spin cooling” method, which has been demonstrated for the first time by a team of researchers from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in France, is conceptually
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Taken from the May 2020 issue of Physics World. Members of the Institute of Physics can enjoy the full issue via the Physics World app. With COVID-19 causing thousands of deaths worldwide and a global economic crash, Christopher Lavers says that we should have learned from previous crises  Clearing the air: Airborne nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
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Cool result: The laser cooling setup. (Courtesy: Benjamin Augenbraun) Physicists at Harvard University and Arizona State University in the US have succeeded in laser-cooling YbOH molecules – a crucial first step towards using these molecules to make precision measurements of the electron’s electric dipole moment (eEDM). Their work was augmented by a related effort, carried out by researchers
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Join us for a live webinar on 14 May 2020 exploring quality assurance for adaptive planning Want to take part in this webinar? Iridium Kankernetwerk is a busy oncology department that provides about 5600 radiation-therapy treatments per year across four locations in Belgium. The department was looking to optimize its quality-assurance programme through standardization and
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