Institute of Physics
Institute of Physics Articles
A step closer to first full-body PET scanner
Researchers from the University of California, Davis (UC Davis) have revealed the first results from the EXPLORER project – which aims to build world’s first full total-body positron emission tomography (PET) scanner. Positron emission tomography (PET) is a molecular imaging technique widely used in clinical diagnostics and clinical research to observe metabolic processes and molecular pathways in the body.
Research makes latest cancer treatment more precise
Researchers in Germany have taken an important step towards improving the accuracy of a highly effective radiotherapy technique used to treat cancer. The team, from the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), the Heidelberg Ion-Beam Therapy Centre (HIT) and the Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt (PTB), hoped to address uncertainty about the dosimetry – the measurement and assessment of the absorbed radiation dose – for carbon io...
Possibilities for microfluidics opened up by LEGO-like blocks
From building castles to spaceships, LEGO already has millions of applications. Researchers in California have found a new use for the popular blocks, a modular microfluidics system.
Modelling sheds light on bacteria behaviour
A study into how bacteria move, behave, and form colonies could allow a better understanding of infections, and pave the way to new antimicrobial treatments. For their paper, published in the New Journal of Physics, the interdisciplinary team from the Max Planck Institute and Helmholtz-Center, Dresden, and from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, used multiscale computer modelling of the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria t...
Travelling wave pattern could contain biological coordinates
Physicists in Israel and the US have proposed a new type of travelling wave pattern -- one that can adapt to the size of physical system in which it is embedded – reporting the work in the New Journal of Physics. According to the theory, all of the key characteristics of the oscillation (the number of maxima, minima and nodes) remain the same, over a very wide range of host sizes, which turns out to be an exciting result.
3D-printed goggles measure vortex breakdown in a bird’s wake
Research has shed light for the first time on how the breakdown of strong vortices birds create by flapping their wings limits our ability to calculate the lift they generate to fly. Using a high speed laser, four cameras running at 1,000 frames per second, and a willing slow-flying parrotlet equipped with its own custom 3D printed laser goggles, engineers at Stanford University in California studied the tip vortices the bird generates to st...
Reaction microscope scheme targets relevant molecules
Researchers in Germany and the US have upgraded the performance of a reaction microscope so that the technique - known as Cold Target Recoil Ion Momentum Spectroscopy, or COLTRIMS for short - can be extended to distinguish between isomers with two carbon centres. Having demonstrated the applicability of the approach on a synthetic prototype molecule a few years ago, the advance allows the team to begin exploring more complex structures such as th...
Physicists refine polymer model to study the origins of life
What can the growth patterns of reproducing and competing polymers tell us about the origins of life? These so-called ‘molecular evolution’ systems are helpful tools for discovering how chemical species adapt to their environment, but they can have shortcomings when it comes to learning more about the natural world.
Gel pen improves drug development
One way to lower the cost of developing pharmaceutical drugs is by improving the predictive properties of preclinical screening. By making benchtop testing more realistic, ineffective drugs can fail faster and before they undergo expensive animal and human trials. To help tackle the issue, Alison McGuigan and her group at the University of Toronto in Canada have developed scaffold strips that can be loaded with cell populations and then rolled up...
Getting real with nanotubes
Scientists are developing flexible, stretchable and wearable optoelectronic devices, such as body sensors that could provide continuous monitoring of a person's blood pressure. However, the jury is still out on the best materials to use for manufacturing these devices. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) show promise and some challenges.
There’s more to rainbows than meets the eye
Knowledge gained from studying these multicoloured arcs of scattered light can be incredibly useful in ways that may not immediately spring to mind. Rainbow effects can warn of chemical contamination in the atmosphere, help to develop more efficient combustion engines and possibly even provide insight into the mechanics of reinforced concrete.
Modelling water uptake in wood opens up new design framework
Wood is a highly complex biological system and its mechanical performance is strongly linked to the interaction of water with the cell walls - a key component of the structure. Our understanding of this versatile material relies heavily on extensive experimental programmes involving thousands of tests and carefully prepared samples.
Large-scale metamaterials could combat earthquakes
Metamaterials - artificial structures that exhibit extraordinary vibrational properties - could come to the rescue of regions threatened by earthquakes, according to new results published in the New Journal of Physics. The study, performed by researchers in Europe and involving detailed computer simulations, shows that large-scale metamaterials can attenuate the energy and amplitude of harmful low-frequency vibrations associated with seismic shoc...
Aquatic ferns could help to clean up messy oil spills
Certain varieties of aquatic floating weeds demonstrate an impressive ability to selectively absorb oil from contaminated water. These plants, which are often regarded as a nuisance, could in fact provide an extremely convenient way of cleaning up messy oil spills. Scientists have been discovering what makes these plants so special.
Physics used to unpick the art of spin bowling
Spin bowlers in cricket are masters at making the ball loop slowly through the air to confuse batsmen. Legends of the game know the magic combinations of top-spin, side-spin and off-spin necessary to fool the opposition, but some clever calculations by physicists in Australia could help to share this knowledge with a wider audience.
Collective hum: buzzing midges inspire new swarm theory
A team of researchers based in Israel and the US has found a mathematical resemblance between swarm dynamics and gravitational interactions. The study, which has just been published in the New Journal of Physics, could provide a big leap forward in understanding the mass movement of flying insects.
Knuckleball machine delivers soccer science
The zigzag trajectory of knuckleballs through the air has bamboozled goalkeepers and batsmen the world over. Scientists have been puzzled too by these strange shots and pitches, which are delivered at relatively slow speeds with little or no spin and yet travel in such an unpredictable way.
Did cutting edge optics help Rembrandt draw self-portraits?
Rembrandt and many other of the Old Masters may have used cutting-edge optics to aid their self-portraits. This is the conclusion drawn by two independent researchers, who publish their results today, 14 July, in the Journal of Optics.
Researchers assess heatwave risks associated with climate change
Combining climate and mortality data, researchers have estimated that 315 deaths in Greater London and 735 deaths in Central Paris can be strongly linked to the 2003 heatwave that set record-breaking temperatures across Europe. Taking their analysis a step further, they determine that 64 (± 3) deaths from the London dataset and 506 (± 51) deaths from the Paris dataset are attributable to anthropogenic climate change, which increased...
The largest neutrino telescope in the world
Deep-sea array will soak up signals from neutrinos travelling through the cosmos to study the evolution of the universe and to discover more about the fundamental properties of these prized sub-atomic particles. KM3NeT – a European collaboration pioneering the deployment of kilometre cubed arrays of neutrino detectors off the Mediterranean coast – has reported in detail on the scientific aims, technology and costs of its proposal in t...