Physics

As electronics designers cram more and more components onto each chip, current technologies for making random-access memory (RAM) are running out of room. European researchers have a strong position in a new technology known as resistive RAM (RRAM) that could soon be replacing flash RAM in USB drives and other portable gadgets.

On the ‘semiconductor road map’ setting out the future of the microchip industry, current memory technologies are nearing the end of the road. Future computers and electronic gadgets will need memory chips that are smaller, faster and cheaper than those of today –and that means going back to basics.

Today’s random-access memory (RAM) falls mainly into three classes: static RAM (SRAM), dynamic RAM (DRAM), and flash memory.

In the world of commercial materials, lighter and cheaper is better - especially when coupled with superior strength and special properties such as a material's ability to remember its original shape after it's been deformed by a physical or magnetic force.

A new class of materials known as "magnetic shape-memory foams" has been developed by two research teams headed by Peter Müllner at Boise State University and David Dunand at Northwestern University.

The foam consists of a nickel-manganese-gallium alloy whose structure resembles a piece of Swiss cheese with small voids of space between thin, curvy "struts" of material. The struts have a bamboo-like grain structure that can lengthen, or strain, up to 10 percent when a magnetic field is applied.

Researchers stunned the world when they announced a cloaking device for the microwave range. This device made use of metamaterials that had a negative refractive index for electromagnetic radiation. The metamaterials were carefully designed split-ring resonators with a structure size much smaller than the wavelength. Only 10 stacked layers of metamaterials were necessary to achieve the desired invisibility effect.

Now, researchers from the group of Harald Giessen at the University of Stuttgart have succeeded in manufacturing a stacked split-ring metamaterial for the optical wavelength range (Na Liu et al., Nature Materials Jan. 2008 issue).

If you do a search here on the LHC, you find all kinds of news articles.

The LHC was completed in April, except it wasn't, and parts broke, or were still being designed and testing will be delayed, except it's unimportant and it will still be the greatest thing ever. Maybe it will be. Or it will be another Hubble.

After yesterday's statements by CERN Director General Robert Aymar it's still unclear when it will be done or how it will work but, he says, 'good progress has been made on all fronts.'

So here's the latest:

The LHC is now fully installed in its 27 km tunnel.

Researchers at Low Temperature Laboratory and Laboratory of Physics (TKK) and at University of Stony Brook (New York) have potentially solved the problem of accurately defining the ampere. The group has developed a frequency to current converter, the accuracy of which is based on the known charge of an electron and the extreme accuracy in defining frequency. The nanodevice is essentially a single electron transistor which works as a simple single-electron turnstile. Its best performance is achieved at very low temperatures.

Previously, the electric current and its unit, the ampere, have been defined through the classical force induced to two parallel leads carrying the current.

Their day job is to keep trees upright but the forest's tiniest building blocks could soon be on their way into future products. Imagine a packaging material that also kills bacteria. Or a disposable duvet cover that keeps infection away when you are in a hospital bed.

Scientists in Trondheim believe that exciting new products can be created if we make use of some of nature's tiniest construction materials. They are called “fibrils” and you may never have heard of them, but there are millions of them in each piece of paper you hold.

A wonder of nature

Fibrils form continuously in all growing trees.

It has been 35 years since humans last walked on the moon, but there has been much recent discussion about returning, either for exploration or to stage a mission to Mars.

Imagine you are sitting around a campfire. If you move closer to the fire you get hotter. If you move awayy ou get cooler. Pretty basic, right?

Our closest star, the sun, doesn't follow those rules. As you move away from the solar surface, into the sun's outer atmosphere (the corona) it actually gets a lot hotter before it cools off. The solar surface is about 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit, while temperatures in the corona soar to millions of degrees.

Although scientists have some ideas of what might heat the solar corona, there is no universally accepted explanation.

Measuring soot formation in a diesel engine is far from easy because the turbulent environment in the combustion cylinder means no two combustion cycles are the same. Furthermore, the measurements are difficult to reproduce as the pressure at which fuel is injected into the cylinder causes an extra source of turbulence.

Bas Bougie, a doctoral candidate at Radboud University Nijmegen created a glass cylinder with an engine so he could investigate soot formation and find ways to optimize diesel performance using laser light.

Laser Induced Incandescence (LII) can be used to investigate optimal engine conditions that reduce soot emission from the engine. LII can be deployed in different types of engines and with different fuels.

It’s a rare case of all light and no heat: A new study reports that a laser can be used to switch a film of vanadium dioxide back and forth between reflective and transparent states without heating or cooling it.

It is one of the first cases that scientists have found where light can directly produce such a physical transition without changing the material’s temperature.

It is also among the most recent examples of “coherent control,” the use of coherent radiation like laser light to affect the behavior of atomic, molecular or electronic systems. The technique has been used to control photosynthesis and is being used in efforts to create quantum computers and other novel electronic and optical devices.