Month: September 2020

Developing the fastest and most sensitive graphene microwave bolometer

Bolometers are devices that measure the power of incident electromagnetic radiation thru the heating of materials, which exhibit a temperature-electric resistance dependence. These instruments are among the most sensitive detectors so far used for infrared radiation detection and are key tools for applications that range from advanced thermal imaging, night vision, infrared spectroscopy to observational astronomy, to name a few.

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Disease-spreading ticks keep marching north as weather stays warmer

Ticks are among nature’s most hardy survivors. They’ve been around for at least 100 million years and used to feast on dinosaur blood. Their bodies contain anti-freeze to help them survive cold weather and their two front legs have carbon dioxide and infrared sensors to help detect when a warm-blooded mammal is approaching. Tiny hairs on their legs increases friction and allows ticks to latch onto animals that brush by. And blacklegged ticks, which spread the most disease in the U.S., are notoriously un-picky eaters, happy to ingest the blood of numerous mammals and birds, making them perfect for spreading disease from one species to the next.

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Achieving invisibility: Cross-wavelength invisibility integrated with invisibility tactics

Invisibility is a superior self-protection strategy of long-standing interest in academia and industry, although the concept is thus far most popularly encountered in science fiction. In a new report on Science Advances, Su Xu and colleagues in engineering, nanotechnology, nanobionics and quantum information in China were inspired by the natural ecological relationship between transparent oceanic animals and their predators that employ a cross-wavelength detection strategy. The scientists proposed a new concept of cross-wavelength invisibility that integrated a variety of invisibility tactics. They presented a Boolean metamaterial design strategy to balance divergent material requirements across cross-scale wavelengths. As proof of concept, they simultaneously demonstrated longwave cloaking and shortwave transparency using a nanoimprinting technique. The work extended stealth techniques from individual strategies of invisibility targeting a single-wavelength spectrum to integrated invisibility targeting cross-wavelength applications. These experiments will pave the way to develop cross-wavelength integrated metadevices.

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Breaking new ground in the search for dark matter

The Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is renowned for the hunt for and discovery of the Higgs boson, but in the 10 years since the machine collided protons at an energy higher than previously achieved at a particle accelerator, researchers have been using it to try to hunt down an equally exciting particle: the hypothetical particle that may make up an invisible form of matter called dark matter, which is five times more prevalent than ordinary matter and without which there would be no universe as we know it. The LHC dark-matter searches have so far come up empty handed, as have non-collider searches, but the incredible work and skill put by the LHC researchers into finding it has led them to narrow down many of the regions where the particle may lie hidden—necessary milestones on the path to a discovery.

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Problems with reproduction in birds

In birds and other species alike, pairs can face considerable difficulties with reproduction. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology in Seewiesen have now shown in an extensive analysis of 23,000 zebra finch eggs that infertility is mainly due to males, while high embryo mortality is more a problem of the females. Inbreeding, age of the parents and conditions experienced when growing up had surprisingly little influence on reproductive failures.

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