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Highlights

  • Researchers have overcome a fundamental obstacle to realizing the full potential of quantum computing.They developed a method to protect quantum information while simultaneously performing calculations. When a quantum bit (qubit) interacts with the environment its quantum information is quickly destroyed. Until now, methods to decouple individual qubits from the environment isolated the qubits from each other so they could not exchange information. The scientists devised a scheme that seamlessly integrates decoupling from the environment into the quantum computation process. Excellent...

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  • Designing the building blocks of artificially engineered materials, known as metamaterials, just got easier. Metamaterials are built from small engineered structures that, in some ways, mimic the role of atoms, and can manipulate light in ways not seen in nature. The conducting materials used to make them are central to their efficiency. Energy is lost by conversion of light to heat in the metallic components and the support materials. Gold and silver are known to be relatively good building block materials and now we have a way to predict which other materials could work even better....

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  • Scientists have designed a device to achieve the seeming-impossibility of confining light to a space with dimensions smaller than its wavelength. The deceptively simple device is a pipe with a tiny bore, and walls made of so-called transformation optical materials. To understand how these materials work, consider first what happens when light hits water. Light changes directions, because of the difference in the refractive index of water versus air; it hits the water at one angle and travels through it at a different angle. Transformation optical materials are designed with a continuously...

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  • The use of the highest purity starting materials in fundamental research seems to be an obvious choice and is a priori assumed in experimental science, including rare earth metallurgy. Yet an ambiguous “99.9%” purity reported by commercial vendors for the rare earths, in almost all cases refers to the purity with respect to only the other rare earth elements, and generally does not include other metals and more importantly the presence of the interstitial non-metallic elements oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen, and carbon. In a recently published paper, Ames Laboratory scientists found that...

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  • The genetic modification of the plant cellulose structure has been demonstrated for the first time.This could be transformative for a bio-based economy.  Cellulose is difficult to break down to form the sugars needed to produce biofuels. The goal of genetically altering the plant is to make plant cellulose easier to digest.  Using solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance, a relative of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers identified changes in the crystallinity of the cellulose; and the less crystalline the cellulose, the easier it is to process the plant and form sugars...

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  • A new material has been made to behave in two distinct ways, helping to break down a significant barrier for understanding the mechanisms of high temperature superconductivity. Known high temperature superconductors fall into two different classes — layered cuprates and iron arsenides. The undoped, parent compounds of the cuprates are insulating, while the parent compounds of iron arsenide superconductors are metallic. Undoped barium–manganese–arsenic (BaMn2As2) has the same crystal structure as BaFe2As2, an iron arsenide superconductor parent...

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  • Using the surface sensitive synchrotron X-ray capabilities at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Photo Source, researchers were able to figure out that the structure of the vapor/liquid interface of an ionic liquid is actually made up of tiny crystals even 100 °F above the liquid’s melting point.Ionic liquids consist of positive and negative ions. Because of this, they have many interesting properties, like low volatility, that make them potential green alternatives to conventional solvents for commercial syntheses.These liquid salts have many different possible types of short and...

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  • Anisotropic Hc2 for the K0.8Fe1.76Se2 single crystals. Solid circles are obtained from the pulsed field radio frequency shift measurements and closed (open) square and triangle symbols are taken from temperature (magnetic field)-dependent resistance measurements. Inset shows the temperature dependence of the magnetic hyperfine field (Bhf). The solid line is a fit to a J=1/2 Brillouin function between 200 K and 500 K that yields an expected transition of 600 +- 30...

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  • A new iron-based superconductor, calcium-iron-platinum-arsenic, is magnetic but not superconducting at the lowest platinum concentrations and superconducting but not magnetic at the higher platinum levels; most of the other iron-based superconductors are both.This clear separation of magnetism and superconductivity in calcium-iron-platinum-arsenic lets scientists figure out what properties depend on superconductivity alone. In addition, this material exhibits the largest electronic anisotropy, meaning its properties depend on the direction in which they are measured, thus making it very...

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  • A layer of lead on clean silicon moves in a surprising way — in waves like a caterpillar. This explains the unexpected ultrafast mass transport observed even at low temperatures for this system. Although solid these single layers of atoms move as fast as molten lead. Computer simulations show that the lead layer forms waves that require almost no energy to keep moving thus explaining the quickness of mass transport. Other metals on surfaces typically move much slower by one atom at a time hopping along the surface. Knowing the critical parameters that give rise to this cooperative liquid-...

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