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Physicists Discover New Massless Particle; Could Revolutionize Electronics & Quantum Computing

Hasan massless particle

Physics may have just taken a new leap forward, as three independent groups of physicists have found strong evidence for massless particles called “Weyl fermions,” which exist as quasiparticles – collective excitations of electrons. Ultimately, this discovery is over 80 years in the making, dating back to Paul Dirac.

In 1928, Dirac came up with an equation that described the spin of fermions (fermions are the building blocks that make up all matter). Within his equation, he discovered that, in relation to particles that have charge and mass, there should be a another particle and antiparticle—what we know as the electron and (its antiparticle) the positron.

Yet, there are more than one ways to skin a cat.

Other solutions to this equation hinted at more exotic kinds of particles. Enter Hermann Weyl, a German mathematician who, in 1929, come up with a solution that involved massless particles. These became known as “Weyl fermions.” And, for a number of years, physicists believed that neutrinos (subatomic particles that are produced by the decay of radioactive elements) were actually Weyl particles. Yet, further studies, which were published in 1998, indicated that neutrinos do, in fact, have mass, which means that they cannot be the aforementioned Weyl particles.

But now, we have evidence that Weyl fermions actually exist.

Unlocking the Find

The research comes thanks to Zahid Hasan over at Princeton University, who uncovered these particles in the semimetal tanatalum arsenide (which is referred to as TaAs). Hasan and his team suggested that  TaAs should contain Weyl fermions and (here is the important bit) it should have what is known as a “Fermi arc.” And in 2014, the team found evidence of such an arc.

Artist's rendition via ChutterStock

But that’s not all, another team, led by Hongming Weng at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, found similar evidence in an independent study that used the same methods. And Marin Soljačić and colleagues (hailing from MIT and the Univeristy of China) have seen evidence of Weyl fermions in a different material, specifically, a “double-gyroid” photonic crystal.

In this latter case, the team fired microwaves at the crystal and measured microwave transmission through it, varying the frequency of the microwaves throughout the experiment. Through this process, the team could map the structure of the crystal, allowing them to determine which microwave frequencies can travel through the crystal and which cannot. In the end, this revealed the presence of “Weyl points” in the structure, which is strong evidence for Weyl fermion states existing within the photonic crystal.

The Future of Physics

The significance of this find, quite literally, cannot be overstated. Hasan is clear to point this out, noting in the press release that, “The physics of the Weyl fermion are so strange, there could be many things that arise from this particle that we’re just not capable of imagining now.”

He goes on to note more specific applications: “It’s like they have their own GPS and steer themselves without scattering. They will move and move only in one direction since they are either right-handed or left-handed and never come to an end because they just tunnel through. These are very fast electrons that behave like unidirectional light beams and can be used for new types of quantum computing.” Soljačić, the head of the second study, adds that, “The discovery of Weyl points is not only the smoking gun to a scientific mystery, it paves the way to absolutely new photonic phenomena and applications.”

Ultimately, it is believed Weyl fermions could be very useful, in that, because they are massless, they can conduct electric charge much faster than normal electrons. Admittedly, this same feature is exhibited by electrons in graphene. Yet, graphene is a 2D material, Weyl fermions are thought to exist in more practical 3D materials.

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2,000-year-old electronics tech still can’t be matched

2,000-year-old electronics tech still can’t be matched

Published July 28, 2013

news.com.au
  • metalplatingcover.jpg

    How artisans centuries ago achieved sophisticated gilding, such as on the St. Ambrogio golden altar from 825 AD, is now coming to light. (American Chemical Society)

Over 2,000 years ago, gold and silversmiths developed a variety of techniques, including using mercury like a glue, to apply thin films of metals to statues and other objects.

They developed thin-film coating technology that is unrivalled by today’s process for producing DVDs, solar cells, electronic devices and other products and used it on jewels, statues, amulets and more common objects.

Workmen managed to make precious metal coatings as thin and adherent as possible, which not only saved expensive metals but improved resistance to wear caused from continued use and circulation.

Scientists today say understanding these sophisticated metal-plating techniques could help preserve priceless artistic and other treasures from the past.

British scientists say Elizabethan craftsmen developed advanced manufacturing technology that could match that of the 21st century. 

In Italy, Gabriel Maria Ingo, senior scientist at the Institute for the Study of Nanostructured Materials of the National Research Council, says that while scientists have made good progress in understanding the chemistry, big gaps in knowledge remain about how gilders in the Dark Ages and other periods applied such lustrous, impressively uniform films of gold or silver to intricate objects.

Ingo’s team set out to apply the newest analytical techniques to uncover the ancients’ artistic secrets. Using surface analytical methods, such as selected area X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy and scanning electron microscopy combined with energy-dispersive spectroscopy on Dark Ages objects such as St. Ambrogios altar from 825 AD, they say that their findings confirm “the high level of competence reached by the artists and craftsmen of these ancient periods who produced objects of an artistic quality that could not be bettered in ancient times and has not yet been reached in modern ones.”

In Britain, scientists studying a 400-year-old hoard of jewelry have found that Elizabethan craftsmen developed advanced manufacturing technology that could match that of the 21st century.

The team from Birmingham City University have analyzed the craftwork behind the famous Cheapside Hoard, the world’s largest collection of Elizabethan and Jacobean jewelry, discovered in a London cellar in 1912.

Among the historic find, which is being showcased by the Museum of London, is a Ferlite watch that dates back to the 1600s and is so technologically advanced it has been described as the “iPod of its day.”

Ann-Marie Carey, a research fellow at Birmingham City University, and her colleagues have used modern technology to discover how these beautiful items were created — and have been stunned at the advanced technologies used.

“Our forensic analysis has revealed the amazing technologies which craftsman of this period were using, and we fear some of these 400-year-old processes may now be lost to us,” she said.

“It is has been a fascinating investigation. We think of our own time as one of impressive technological advances, but we must look at the Elizabethan and Jacobean age as being just as advanced in some ways.”

Selected items of the Hoard are set to be revealed to the world at a major exhibition at the Museum of London from this October to next April.

The university experts combined their own background in craft with CAD-technology to investigate the Hoard in an attempt to discover what kind of manufacturing methods could have been used to create the jewelry, which includes brooches, pendants and delicate gemstone rings.

“When we received photographs of the Hoard we were fascinated with the level of detail in the jewelry,” Carey said.

“We wanted to know how such pieces were made and to understand the story behind them. Until now there had been little research into the craftsmanship involved so we feel we are making a unique contribution to the forthcoming exhibition.”

Carey, with the help of senior technologist Keith Adcock, have used 21st century digital technologies to recreate pieces from the Hoard, including a ‘Pearl Dropper’ an egg-shaped item that originally featured ribbons of pearls and was possible worn on as a hairpiece.

The university team has created a bronze version of this item which will be used as part of the exhibition, as well as ‘augmented reality’ displays of the jewelry items.

“This will create tangible items which will be ideal for visually-impaired visitors who will be handle items directly,” Carey added.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/07/28/2000-year-old-metal-coating-technology-cant-be-matched-even-today-for-use-in/?intcmp=obinsite#ixzz2ahE9Bh2g

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Use Your Laptop With Gestures Instead of Keyboard and Mouse?

Leap Motion, Gesture-Control Gadget For Your Laptop, Will Be Released This May For $80

The Huffington Post  |  By Posted: 02/27/2013 11:59 am EST

Leap Release
Turns out that 2013 is, indeed, a Leap Year.

Leap Motion, the company that makes the hotly anticipated gesture-control device of the same nameannounced Wednesday morning that the first Leap Motion units would ship to pre-orderers around the world on May 13, and that everyone could get their hands (and fingers) on one on May 19.

If you want one, you can order on Leap Motion’s website here or, somewhat curiously, on BestBuy.com right here. The Leap Motion Controller costs $80 at either outlet.

For a refresher, the Leap Motion controller plugs into almost any newer laptop and allows you to manipulate the screen via a series of hand and finger movements in the air. It’s sort of like having a touchscreen computer, but without actually touching the screen. Watch this video below, made by Leap Motion, to get an idea of how the small device can wholly transform your computer:

Previously, Leap Motion announced that it was sending 10,000 of its controllers to developers, so that there would be apps specifically built for gesture control; earlier this year, the company announced its app store, Airspace, and we’ve already seen one of those apps, by the developers behind the to-do list Clear, shown off.

In general, though, Leap Motion works with your existing operating system (Windows 7 or 8, or OS X 10.7 and 10.8), via zoom, scroll and zoom functions baked into the hardware, which you plug into your USB port. Wired’s Roberto Baldwin wrote that the Leap probably works best as a secondary controller, after your trackpad or mouse, and for specific apps or games written for it; but, like most reviewers, he came away very impressed by the little gizmo’s accuracy and speed.

For more on the Leap Motion Controller, and to pre-order, you can visit the official website right here.

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