- Published on 07 May 2014
A change of models demystifies anomalous particle behaviour at very low temperatures, confirming that the third law of thermodynamics cannot be violated
In theory, the laws of physics are absolute. However, when it comes to the laws of thermodynamics—the science that studies how heat and temperature relate to energy—there are times where they no longer seem to apply. In a paper recently published in EPJ B, Robert Adamietz from the University of Augsburg, Germany, and colleagues have demonstrated that a theoretical model of the environment’s influence on a particle does not violate the third law of thermodynamics, despite appearances to the contrary. These findings are relevant for systems at the micro or nanometer scale that are difficult to decouple from the heat or the quantum effects exerted by their environment.
- Published on 22 April 2014
A new study predicts that heat flow in novel nanomaterials could contribute to creating environmentally friendly and cost-effective nanometric-scale energy devices
Physicists are now designing novel materials with physical properties tailored to meet specific energy consumption needs. Before these so-called materials-by-design can be applied, it is essential to understand their characteristics, such as heat flow. Now, a team of Italian physicists has developed a predictive theoretical model for heat flux in these materials, using atom-scale calculations. These findings, published in EPJ B by Claudio Melis and colleagues from the University of Cagliary, Italy, could have implications for optimising the thermal budget of nanoelectronic devices—which means they could help dissipate the total amount of thermal energy generated by electron currents—or in the production of energy through thermoelectric effects in novel nanomaterials.
- Published on 08 April 2014
Latest theoretical advances pertaining to the dynamics of highly sensitive magnetometers could find military applications in low-noise amplifiers and sensitive antennas
Theoretical physicists are currently exploring the dynamics of a very unusual kind of device called a SQUID. This Superconducting Quantum Interference Device is a highly sensitive magnetometer used to measure extremely subtle magnetic fields. It is made of two thin regions of insulating material that separate two superconductors – referred to as Josephson junctions – placed in parallel into a ring of superconducting material. In a study published in EPJ B, US scientists have focused on finding an analytical approximation to the theoretical equations that govern the dynamics of an array of SQUIDs. This work was performed by Susan Berggren from the US Navy research lab, SPAWAR Systems Center Pacific, in San Diego, CA, USA and Antonio Palacios San Diego State University. Its applications are mainly in the military sector, including SQUID array-based low-noise amplifiers and antennas.
- Published on 31 March 2014
A new theoretical study shows the conductivity conditions under which graphene nanoribbons can become switches in externally controlled electronic devices
One of graphene’s most sought after properties is its high conductivity. Argentinian and Brazilian physicists have now successfully calculated the conditions of the transport, or conductance mechanisms, in graphene nanoribbons. The results, recently published in a paper in EPJ B, yield a clearer theoretical understanding of conductivity in graphene samples of finite size, which have applications in externally controlled electronic devices.
- Published on 11 March 2014
A new EPJ B Colloquium reviews the latest advances in silicon carbide (SiC) for optoelectronics. The wide bandgap of SiC makes it a great semiconductor material to make devices for in high power, high frequency and high temperature applications.
During the past decade, SiC has also become a promising materials for light-emitting diodes (LED), since it was found that co-doping it with nitrogen and boron produces a high donor-acceptor pair emission efficiency. Fluorescent SiC based white LED light source is an innovative concept for optoelectronic devices.
- Published on 11 March 2014
The growing need for alternative “green” energy sources has prompted renewed interest in thermoelectric materials. These materials can directly convert heat to electricity or, conversely, use electrical current to cool. The thermoelectric performance of a material can be estimated by the so-called figure of merit, zT = σα2T/λ (α is the Seebeck coefficient, σα2 is the power factor, σ and λ are the electrical and thermal conductivity, respectively), the value of which depends only on the material.
In a new EPJ B review, authors Gonçalves and Godart discuss the state of the art in this field, with special emphasis on the strategies to reduce the lattice part of the thermal conductivity and maximize the power factor in thermoelectric materials.
- Published on 05 March 2014
Physicists reveal that the real-time dynamics in a football game are subject to self-similarity characteristics in keeping with the laws of physics, regardless of players’ psychology and training
Football fascinates millions of fans, all of them unaware that the game is subject to the laws of physics. Despite their seemingly arbitrary decisions, each player obeys certain rules, as they constantly adjust their positions in relation to their teammates, opponents, the ball and the goal. A team of Japanese scientists has now analysed the time-dependent fluctuation of both the ball and all players’ positions throughout an entire match. They discovered that a simple rule governs the complex dynamics of the ball and the team’s front-line. These findings , published in EPJ B, could have implications for other ball games, providing a new perspective on sports science.
- Published on 18 February 2014
To understand natural phenomena with a chaotic nature, the key is to find out how their variable physical characteristics behave at the very point preceding the onset of chaos
The edge of chaos—right before chaos sets in—is a unique place. It is found in many dynamical systems that cross the boundary between a well-behaved dynamics and a chaotic one. Now, physicists have shown that the distribution—or frequency of occurrence—of the variables constituting the physical characteristics of such systems at the edge of chaos has a very different shape than previously reported distributions. The results have been published in EPJ B by Miguel Angel Fuentes from the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico, USA, and Universidad del Desarrollo, Chile, and Alberto Robledo from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, Mexico City. This could help us better understand natural phenomena with a chaotic nature.
- Published on 11 February 2014
Ensuring that parents in recomposed families see their children regularly is a complex network problem that models developed to study materials may help to solve
Physics can provide insights into societal trends. Problems involving interactions between people linked in real-life networks can be better understood by using physical models. As a diversion from his normal duties as a theoretical physicist, Andrés Gomberoff from the Andres Bello University, in Santiago, Chile, set out to resolve one of his real-life problems: finding a suitable weekend for both partners in his recomposed family to see all their children at the same time. He then joined forces with a mathematician and a complex systems expert. This resulted in a study published in EPJ B, showing that solving this problem essentially equates to minimising the energy in a material model.
- Published on 04 February 2014
A new study proposes a method for quantitatively analysing the relative value of models for crowd dynamics prediction, following individual movement
Stampedes unfortunately occur on too regular a basis. Previously, physicists developed numerous models of crowd evacuation dynamics. Their analyses focused on disasters such as the yearly Muslim Hajj or of the Love Parade disaster in Germany in 2010. Unfortunately, the casualties at these events may have been linked to the limitations of the crowd dynamics models used at the time. Now, a new study outlines a procedure for quantitatively comparing different crowd models, which also helps to compare these models with real-world data. In a paper published in EPJ B, Vaisagh Viswanathan, a PhD student from Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, and colleagues have demonstrated that these crowd evacuation dynamics models are a viable decision-making tool in safety preparation and planning concerning real-world human crowds.