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Interacting with the World’s Universal Building Blocks

2017-07-06T13:26:22-06:00
08/04
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Free app

AtomTouch is a free, interactive molecular simulation app, created by researchers at the University of Wisconsin Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (UW MRSEC) to allow learners to explore principles of thermodynamics and molecular dynamics in an tactile, engaging way.

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Interacting with the World’s Universal Building Blocks2017-07-06T13:26:22-06:00

New World Disorder

2018-06-01T11:27:45-06:00
04/26
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Electron movement in disordered nanowires

We tend to think of materials as either electrical conductors or insulators: some materials, like metals, have low electrical resistance and conduct electricity easily, while others, like wood or plastic, have high electrical resistance and do not readily conduct electricity. Strange experimental results, however, reveal large fluctuations in the electrical resistance of thin metallic nanowires when a magnetic field or charge difference is applied to them. Click to learn how a more nuanced understanding of electron behavior helps to explain these variations in electrical resistance that may revolutionize the tech industry!

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New World Disorder2018-06-01T11:27:45-06:00

Gravity for photons

2017-06-08T15:32:35-06:00
12/14
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Slow reflection

Inside solids, the properties of photons can be altered in ways that create a kind of "artificial gravity" that affects light. Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh tracked photons with a streak camera and found that whey they enter a solid-state structure, they act just like a ball being thrown in the air: they slow down as they move up, come to a momentary stop, and fall back the other way. Studying this "slow reflection" will allow us to manipulate light's behavior, including its speed and direction, with potential applications in telecommunications and quantum computing technologies.

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Gravity for photons2017-06-08T15:32:35-06:00

What is Surface Tension?

2020-03-16T12:10:16-06:00
03/13
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From bubbles and droplets to cleaning our dishes, surface tension is an important force in our daily lives. But what is it really?

Surface tension is a somewhat peculiar force. Its effects are all around us, but since it tends to act at the scale of millimeters or smaller, we don’t always notice it. It’s critical, however, for many creatures smaller than us, from water-walking insects to star-nosed moles that sniff out food underwater. So what is surface tension and where does it come from?

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What is Surface Tension?2020-03-16T12:10:16-06:00

Froot Loops, Legos, and Self-Assembly

2020-04-22T19:04:27-06:00
02/12
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Forming nanostructures

Self-assembly is the process by which individual building blocks—at the smallest level, atoms—spontaneously form larger structures. The structures they form depend on the size and shape of the building blocks, and on the conditions to which these building blocks are exposed. This can be demonstrated quite simply using breakfast cereal, or for more complex cases using specially prepared Legos.

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Froot Loops, Legos, and Self-Assembly2020-04-22T19:04:27-06:00

Swing-Dancing Electron Pairs

2020-02-28T17:18:40-06:00
02/19
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Superconductors

Superconductors are materials that permit electrical current to flow without energy loss. Their amazing properties form the basis for MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) devices and high-speed maglev trains, as well as emerging technologies such as quantum computers. At the heart of all superconductors is the bunching of electrons into pairs. Click the image to learn more about the "dancing" behavior of these electron pairs!

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Swing-Dancing Electron Pairs2020-02-28T17:18:40-06:00

How to Make a Quantum Laser Pointer

2016-02-27T23:07:04-06:00
02/27
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Nanowires

Scientists and engineers are making smaller and smaller structures designed to control the quantum states of electrons in a material. By controlling quantum mechanics, we can create new materials that do not exist in nature, develop more efficient solar cells and faster computer chips, and even discover exotic new states of matter.

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How to Make a Quantum Laser Pointer2016-02-27T23:07:04-06:00

Exotic Quantum States

2017-11-21T13:53:34-06:00
11/21
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Quantum weirdness

At ordinary temperatures and at the subatomic level, chaos is the rule. At low enough temperatures, however, electrons are constrained, forming exotic phases that exhibit long-range order, or repeating patterns.

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Exotic Quantum States2017-11-21T13:53:34-06:00

We Blinded Them With Science!

2017-06-15T17:53:03-06:00
06/03
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Physics Demos

(But Not Literally, Because Everyone Wore Safety Goggles) This video showcases the highlights of Jeremy Levy's physics demonstrations for the Investing Now program at the University of Pittsburgh, through which students explored Newton's laws of motion, optical phenomena, and the delicious effects of liquid nitrogen on cream and sugar.

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We Blinded Them With Science!2017-06-15T17:53:03-06:00

How to Make a Giant Bubble

2020-03-05T17:14:05-06:00
03/05
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Soapy Science

For the past two decades, giant bubble enthusiasts have been creating soap film bubbles of ever-increasing volumes. As of 2020, the world record for a free-floating soap bubble stands at 96.27 cubic meters, a volume equal to about 25,000 U.S. gallons! For a spherical bubble, this corresponds to a diameter of more than 18 feet and a surface area of over 1,000 square feet. How are such large films created and how do they remain stable? What is the secret to giant bubble juice? Click to find out more!

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How to Make a Giant Bubble2020-03-05T17:14:05-06:00

Creating nanoscale octopus structures from polymer brushes

2018-01-23T14:57:15-06:00
01/19
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Molecular engineering

Very small structures, much smaller than the human eye can see, often fall in the size range of nanometers. By understanding how the molecules that make up these structures interact, we can engineer them to do many special things that cannot be done at a larger scale. One exciting structure is a polymer brush, in which long, chain-like molecules called polymers are tethered at one end to a surface and stick up from the surface like bristles on a hairbrush. Polymer brushes can be used to keep bacteria away, provide an exceptionally smooth surface for items to slide across, or trap other molecules in solution like a hairbrush traps loose hair. In order to engineer polymer brushes that will perform as desired for a given application, we must understand the physics of how the molecular bristles move, and the chemistry of how they interact with their environment.

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Creating nanoscale octopus structures from polymer brushes2018-01-23T14:57:15-06:00

Fluid Dynamics of Paper Making

2017-06-08T15:32:37-06:00
02/19
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Fibers and turbulence

Measurements of the three-dimensional motion of fibers in turbulent fluid flow are helping us understand the multiphase flows involved in making paper.

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Fluid Dynamics of Paper Making2017-06-08T15:32:37-06:00

Going With the FFLO

2016-02-24T11:38:01-06:00
02/24
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Magnets and superconductors

Superconductors and magnetic fields do not usually get along, but a research team led by a Brown University physicist has produced new evidence for an exotic superconducting state that can indeed arise when a superconductor is subject to a strong magnetic field. Their results could enable scientists to develop materials for more efficient memory storage, and even help to explain the behavior of distant astronomical objects called pulsars.

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Going With the FFLO2016-02-24T11:38:01-06:00

Heat Flow and Quantum Oscillators

2017-06-08T15:32:36-06:00
03/10
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Good vibrations

Materials that are absolutely perfect—in other words, materials that contain no defect of any kind—are usually not very interesting. Imagine being married to a saint: you would quickly be bored out of your mind! Defects and impurities can considerably change many properties of materials in ways that allow a wide range of applications.

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Heat Flow and Quantum Oscillators2017-06-08T15:32:36-06:00