Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Latest PhysicsWeb Summaries


Veneto Nanotech Launches the 2nd Edition of Nanochallenge Enter your
nanotechnology business plan to Nanochallenge 2006 and you could win the
grand prize of Euro 300,000. The competition seeks commercially viable
business plans for innovative start-ups to produce and commercialize
products and services in the nanotechnology industry. Find out more at



Solitons show up in uranium (Apr 4)
Scientists have observed highly localized solitary vibrations, or
solitons, in a three-dimensional solid for the first time. The solitons
exist in crystals of uranium heated to temperatures of 450K. Although
they were predicted to exist in 3D solids some 20 years ago, conclusive
evidence for them has never been obtained until now (Phys. Rev. Lett. 96

A new look for bifocals (Apr 5)
Do you wear bifocal spectacles and get frustrated at having to move your
gaze between the upper and lower lenses as you switch from far to near
vision? If so, help could soon be at hand thanks to a new lens developed
by optical scientists in the US. It consists of a layer of liquid
crystal sandwiched between two glass surfaces, the focusing power of
which can be changed by altering the voltage applied to the lens.
Although the lens has to be manually switched on and off to change
focus, the researchers say the work could lead to lenses that
automatically adjust their focus depending on where the user is looking
(Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. to be published).

Spray-on silicon makes its debut (Apr 7)
Researchers in Japan have unveiled a new way to make silicon-based
microelectronic devices. The method involves depositing silicon directly
onto a substrate from solution and overcomes some of the problems
associated with traditional silicon-processing lithographic techniques,
such as using sophisticated clean rooms and expensive vacuum equipment.
The researchers say the technique could lead to a way of making large,
flexible displays using "ink-jet" technology (Nature 440 783).

Water drops bounce into action (Apr 7)
What happens if you let a drop of water fall gently onto a
water-repelling surface? Physicists in France and the Netherlands who
tried the experiment were surprised by what they saw. They found that a
violent, ultra-fine jet of water emerges from the drop, moving at up to
40 times the drop's initial impact speed. The researchers believe the
unusual behaviour is caused by the collapse of an air cavity that is
created when the drop deforms as it hits the surface. The finding could
have a bearing on industrial applications in which liquids are coated on
to surfaces, such as insecticides being sprayed onto crops or in ink-jet
printing (Phys. Rev. Lett. 96 124501).

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