Physics Research News

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A collection of press releases about physics research conducted by Penn State scientists.
Could a demon help to create a quantum computer? Physicists implement a version of Maxwell's famous thought experiment for reducing entropy
05 September 2018Reduced entropy in a three-dimensional lattice of super-cooled, laser-trapped atoms could help speed progress toward creating quantum computers.
New NSF-funded center to explore chemistry of “nanothreads”
27 August 2018The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded $1.8 million to a team of scientists led by John Badding, professor of chemistry, physics, and materials science and engineering at Penn State, to establish the NSF Center for Nanothread Chemistry (CNC).
Finding the proteins that unpack DNA
12 July 2018A new method allows researchers to systematically identify specialized proteins that unpack DNA inside the nucleus of a cell, making the usually dense DNA more accessible for gene expression and other functions.
Capturing light in a waveguide array: Confined, insensitive light could improve lasers, solar cells
04 June 2018Cheaper and more efficient photonic devices, such as lasers, optical fibers, and other light sources, may be possible with confined light that is unaffected by imperfections in the material that confines it, according to new research.
Penn State to participate in consortium to demonstrate remote monitoring of nuclear reactors
27 March 2018Penn State researchers will participate in a new international multi-laboratory and multi-university collaboration that harnesses the unusual characteristics of the elusive subatomic particles known as antineutrinos for nuclear nonproliferation.
NASA set to launch Penn State led experiment
26 March 2018NASA will launch a suborbital sounding rocket carrying a Penn State led experiment to test a newly-developed X-ray spectrograph and study the X-rays from a supernova remnant in the Milky Way galaxy.
Study of climate change could lead to understanding future of infectious disease
20 March 2018Over the past 34 years, rainfall in Uganda has decreased by about 12 percent even though many of the global climate models predict an increase in rainfall for the area, according to an international team of researchers. Rainfall levels in Uganda impact agriculture, food security, wildlife habitats and regional economics as well as the prevalence of certain diseases.
Three types of extreme-energy space particles may have unified origin
22 January 2018New model connects the origins of very high-energy neutrinos, ultrahigh-energy cosmic rays, and high-energy gamma rays with black-hole jets embedded in their environments.
Experiment Near South Pole Reveals How Earth Blocks High-Energy Particles Produced by Nuclear Reactions
22 November 2017For the first time, a science experiment has measured Earth's ability to absorb neutrinos -- the smaller-than-an-atom particles that zoom throughout space and through us by the trillions every second at nearly the speed of light. The experiment was achieved with the IceCube detector, an array of 5,160 basketball-sized sensors frozen deep within a cubic kilometer of very clear ice near the South Pole. The IceCube collaboration includes Penn State physicists.
Sky-high observatory sheds light on origin of excess anti-matter: New study excludes nearby pulsars, points to dark matter as possible culprit
16 November 2017The High-Altitude Water Cherenkov (HAWC) Observatory in Mexico, built and operated by an international team that includes Penn State scientists, has captured the first wide-angle view of very-high-energy light emanating from two rapidly spinning stars. The fresh perspective on these stellar neighbors casts serious doubt on one possible origin for a mysterious excess of particles near Earth.
Two-dimensional materials gets a new theory for control of properties
19 October 2017Desirable properties including increased electrical conductivity, improved mechanical properties, or magnetism for memory storage or information processing may be possible because of a theoretical method to control grain boundaries in two-dimensional materials, according to Penn State materials scientists.
Gravitational waves + new clues from space reveal new way to make a black hole
16 October 2017For the first time, two neutron stars are caught in the act of colliding
New gravitational wave hits Earth -- For the first time, 3 detectors zoom in on its location
27 September 2017For the first time, three detectors have tracked the gravitational waves emitted by a merger of two black holes -- a critical new capability that allows scientists to more closely locate a gravitational wave's birthplace in space.
Mystery solved: Super-energetic space particles crash to Earth from far, far away
21 September 2017Super-energetic space particles, which were thought to have been blasted toward Earth from somewhere outside our solar system, now have been discovered to be from very far away indeed -- from far outside our Milky Way galaxy.
New Gravitational-Wave Data Analysis Now Underway
25 August 2017Penn State LIGO physicists are members of the LIGO-Virgo collaboration to detect and characterize gravitational waves. The collaboration now is completing a very exciting Second Observing Run that is drawing to a close on August 25, 2017.
New gravity waves hit Earth after record-breaking trip through space
01 June 2017Gravitational waves produced by the birth of a massive black hole, a record-breaking billions of light-years from Earth, have been detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). The waves were generated when two smaller black holes collided and then merged to form a larger black hole with a mass about fifty times larger than our sun's.
Low cost, scalable water-splitting fuels the future hydrogen economy
01 June 2017The "clean-energy economy" always seems a few steps away but never quite here. Fossil fuels still power transportation, heating and cooling, and manufacturing, but a team of scientists from Penn State and Florida State University have come one step closer to inexpensive, clean hydrogen fuel with a lower cost and industrially scalable catalyst that produces pure hydrogen through a low-energy water-splitting process.
Next-generation dark matter detector in a race to finish line: Mile-deep U.S.-based experiment is on a fast track to help solve science mystery
24 February 2017The race is on to build the most sensitive U.S.-based experiment designed to directly detect particles of dark matter. Department of Energy (DOE) officials formally approved a key construction milestone that will propel the project named LUX-ZEPLIN (LZ) toward its goal for completion by April 2020.
NSF funds supercomputer cluster at Penn State
21 February 2017The Penn State Cyber-Laboratory for Astronomy, Materials, and Physics (CyberLAMP) is acquiring a high-performance computer cluster that will facilitate interdisciplinary research and training in cyberscience and is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation.
Measuring entropy: A scanning-tunneling microscope provides a glimpse of the mysterious property
13 February 2017New research shows that a scanning-tunneling microscope (STM), used to study changes in the shape of a single molecule at the atomic scale, impacts the ability of that molecule to make these changes. The study, appearing this week in the journal Nature Communications, demonstrates that the position of the tip of the STM relative to the molecule changes the energy requirements of the molecule to make changes in shape, and in turn, changes the entropy of the system.

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