Optics

A tiny galaxy,SDSSJ0737+3216 (lens redshift 0.3223, source redshift 0.5812), nearly halfway across the universe and the smallest in size and mass known to exist at that distance, has been identified by an international team of scientists.

The scientists used data collected by NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

A plant-like micro-organism mostly found in oceans could make the manufacture of products, from iridescent cosmetics, paints and fabrics to credit card holograms, cheaper and ‘greener’.

The tiny single-celled ‘diatom’, which first evolved hundreds of millions of years ago, has a hard silica shell which is iridescent – in other words, the shell displays vivid colours that change depending on the angle at which it is observed. This effect is caused by a complex network of tiny holes in the shell which interfere with light waves.

Diatoms are classified as eukaryotic algae and represent one of the commonest types of phytoplankton. Each diatom is encased in a silica frustule, or cell wall. Although usually microscopic, some species of diatom may grow to as much as 2mm long.

CHARENTON-LE-PONT, France, October 2 /PRNewswire/ -- Essilor of America, a subsidiary of Essilor International, has acquired a majority stake in KBco, one of the largest polarized lens distributors in the United States.

Created in 1987 and based in Centennial, Colorado, KBco generates sales of around $31 million. A recognized specialist in polarized lenses for the US ophthalmic optics industry, it supplies retail chains and eye care professionals with a broad offering of innovative high quality products.

The acquisition enhances Essilor's portfolio of value-added corrective sun lenses and expands its presence in the fast-growing polarized segment.

KBco will keep its current management team.

The brand-new Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona has a gotten off to an astronomical start, helping an international team of astronomers learn that a recently discovered tiny companion galaxy to our Milky Way, named the Hercules Dwarf Galaxy, has truly exceptional properties: unlike the round tiny dwarf galaxies found so far, this neighbor 430,000 light years away is shaped more like a cigar.

The stars in many large galaxies are arranged in a disk-like configuration, like our Milky Way, but among the millions of well-studied tiny dwarf galaxies none has ever been observed to have a cigar-like shape before now.

An explanation for the galaxy's unusual shape is that it is being disrupted by the gravitational forces of the Milky Way.

CHARENTON-LE-PONT, France, August 30 /PRNewswire/ --

- Sustained Business Levels in the First Half

- Contribution Margin at 18.1%, an All-Time High

The Board of Directors of Essilor (OTC: ESLOY) International, the world leader in ophthalmic optics, has approved the financial statements for the six months ended June 30, 2007.

EUR millions First-half 2007 First-half 2006 % change Revenue 1,476.9 1,362.4 8.4% Contribution margin 18.1% 17.8% - Profit attributable to 181.7 164.1 10.7% equity holders of Essilor International Basic earnings per share 0.88 0.80 9.9% (in EUR)(1) (1) Adjusted for the two-for-one stock split on July 16, 2007

The highlights of the first half were:

In an experiment modeled on the classic “Young’s double slit experiment” and published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, researchers have powerfully reinforced the understanding that surface plasmon polaritons (SPPs) move as waves and follow analogous rules.

The demonstration reminds researchers and electronics designers that although SPPs move along a metal surface, rather than inside a wire or an optical fiber, they cannot magically overcome the size limitations of conventional optics.

Touted as the next wave of electronics miniaturization, plasmonics describes the movement of SPPs -- a type of electromagnetic wave that is bound to a metal surface by its interaction with surface electrons.

Like crowds of people, microscopic particles can act together under the right conditions. By exposing crowd behavior at the atomic scale, scientists discover new states and properties of matter. Now, ultrafast lasers have revealed a previously unseen type of collective electronic behavior in semiconductors, which may help in the design of optoelectronic devices.

Design of optoelectronic devices, like the semiconductor diode lasers used in telecommunications, currently involves a lot of trial and error. A designer trying to use basic theory to calculate the characteristics of a new diode laser will be off by a significant amount because of subtle interactions in the semiconductor that could not be detected until recently.

Like the surface motif of a bubble bath, the spatial distribution of a magnetic field penetrating a superconductor can exhibit an intricate, foam-like structure. Ruslan Prozorov at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory has observed these mystifying, two-dimensional equilibrium patterns in lead samples when the material is in its superconducting state, below 7.2 Kelvin, or minus 446.71 degrees Fahrenheit.

New research led by University of New Hampshire physicists has proved the existence of a new type of electron wave on metal surfaces: the acoustic surface plasmon, which will have implications for developments in nano-optics, high-temperature superconductors, and the fundamental understanding of chemical reactions on surfaces. The research, led by Bogdan Diaconescu and Karsten Pohl of UNH, is published in the July 5 issue of the journal “Nature.”

“The existence of this wave means that the electrons on the surfaces of copper, iron, beryllium and other metals behave like water on a lake’s surface,” says Pohl, associate professor of physics at UNH. “When a stone is thrown into a lake, waves spread radially in all directions.

The quality and size of electronic display screens may have gotten a lot better. We may also soon see erasable and rewritable electronic paper and ink that can change color electromagnetically, thanks to University of California, Riverside nanotechnologists who have succeeded in controlling the color of very small particles of iron oxide suspended in water simply by applying an external magnetic field to the solution.