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  • richardmitnick 3:02 pm on December 14, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , In the Ediacaran period complex organisms including soft-bodied animals up to a meter long sprang to life in deep ocean waters, ,   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers unearth why deep oceans gave life to the first big, complex organisms” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    December 12, 2018
    Josie Garthwaite
    (650) 497-0947
    josieg@stanford.edu

    In the beginning, life was small.

    For billions of years, all life on Earth was microscopic, consisting mostly of single cells. Then suddenly, about 570 million years ago, complex organisms including animals with soft, sponge-like bodies up to a meter long sprang to life. And for 15 million years, life at this size and complexity existed only in deep water.

    1
    More than 570 million years ago, in the Ediacaran period, complex organisms including soft-bodied animals up to a meter long sprang to life in deep ocean waters. (Image credit: Peter Trusler)

    Scientists have long questioned why these organisms appeared when and where they did: in the deep ocean, where light and food are scarce, in a time when oxygen in Earth’s atmosphere was in particularly short supply. A new study from Stanford University, published Dec. 12 in the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the Royal Society B, suggests that the more stable temperatures of the ocean’s depths allowed the burgeoning life forms to make the best use of limited oxygen supplies.

    All of this matters in part because understanding the origins of these marine creatures from the Ediacaran period is about uncovering missing links in the evolution of life, and even our own species. “You can’t have intelligent life without complex life,” explained Tom Boag, lead author on the paper and a doctoral candidate in geological sciences at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth).

    The new research comes as part of a small but growing effort to apply knowledge of animal physiology to understand the fossil record in the context of a changing environment. The information could shed light on the kinds of organisms that will be able to survive in different environments in the future.

    “Bringing in this data from physiology, treating the organisms as living, breathing things and trying to explain how they can make it through a day or a reproductive cycle is not a way that most paleontologists and geochemists have generally approached these questions,” said Erik Sperling, senior author on the paper and an assistant professor of geological sciences.

    Goldilocks and temperature change

    Previously, scientists had theorized that animals have an optimum temperature at which they can thrive with the least amount of oxygen. According to the theory, oxygen requirements are higher at temperatures either colder or warmer than a happy medium. To test that theory in an animal reminiscent of those flourishing in the Ediacaran ocean depths, Boag measured the oxygen needs of sea anemones, whose gelatinous bodies and ability to breathe through the skin closely mimic the biology of fossils collected from the Ediacaran oceans.

    “We assumed that their ability to tolerate low oxygen would get worse as the temperatures increased. That had been observed in more complex animals like fish and lobsters and crabs,” Boag said. The scientists weren’t sure whether colder temperatures would also strain the animals’ tolerance. But indeed, the anemones needed more oxygen when temperatures in an experimental tank veered outside their comfort zone.

    Together, these factors made Boag and his colleagues suspect that, like the anemones, Ediacaran life would also require stable temperatures to make the most efficient use of the ocean’s limited oxygen supplies.

    Refuge at depth

    It would have been harder for Ediacaran animals to use the little oxygen present in cold, deep ocean waters than in warmer shallows because the gas diffuses into tissues more slowly in colder seawater. Animals in the cold have to expend a larger portion of their energy just to move oxygenated seawater through their bodies.

    2
    Shallow waters offered sunlight and food supplies, but the deeper waters where large, complex organisms first evolved provided a refuge from wild swings in temperature. (Image credit: Shutterstock)

    But what it lacked in useable oxygen, the deep Ediacaran ocean made up for with stability. In the shallows, the passing of the sun and seasons can deliver wild swings in temperature – as much as 10 degrees Celsius in the modern ocean, compared to seasonal variations of less than 1 degree Celsius at depths below one kilometer (.62 mile). “Temperatures change much more rapidly on a daily and annual basis in shallow water,” Sperling explained.

    In a world with low oxygen levels, animals unable to regulate their own body temperature couldn’t have withstood an environment that so regularly swung outside their Goldilocks temperature.

    The Stanford team, in collaboration with colleagues at Yale University, propose that the need for a haven from such change may have determined where larger animals could evolve. “The only place where temperatures were consistent was in the deep ocean,” Sperling said. In a world of limited oxygen, the newly evolving life needed to be as efficient as possible and that was only possible in the relatively stable depths. “That’s why animals appeared there,” he said.

    See the full article here .


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    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

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  • richardmitnick 12:16 pm on December 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , Stanford researchers uncover startling insights into how human-generated carbon dioxide could reshape oceans,   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers uncover startling insights into how human-generated carbon dioxide could reshape oceans” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    December 11, 2018
    Nicole Kravec

    Volcanic carbon dioxide vents off the coast of Italy are rapidly acidifying nearby waters. This natural laboratory provides a crystal ball-view into potential future marine biodiversity impacts around the world.

    Something peculiar is happening in the azure waters off the rocky cliffs of Ischia, Italy. There, streams of gas-filled volcanic bubbles rising up to the surface are radically changing life around them by making seawater acidic. Stanford researchers studying species living near these gassy vents have learned what it takes to survive in acidic waters, providing a glimpse of what future oceans might look like as they grow more acidic.

    1
    Volcanic carbon dioxide seeps from the ocean floor near Ischia, Italy. (Image credit: Pasquale Vassallo, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn)

    Their findings, published December 11 in Nature Communications, suggest that ocean acidification driven by human-caused carbon dioxide emissions could have a larger impact than previously thought.

    “When an organism’s environment becomes more acidic, it can dramatically impact not only that species, but the overall ecosystem’s resilience, function and stability,” said Stanford marine biologist Fiorenza Micheli, lead author on the paper. “These transformations ultimately impact people, especially our food chains.”

    A natural laboratory


    Pietro Sorvino and Pasquale Vassallo

    Overall, the researchers found that the active venting zones with the most acidic waters were home to not only the least number of species, but also the lowest amounts of “functional diversity” – the range of ecosystem-support services or roles that each species can provide.

    “Studying the natural carbon dioxide vents in Ischia allowed us to unravel which traits from different species, like snail shell strength, were more vulnerable to ocean acidification. These results illuminate how oceans will function under different acidification scenarios in the future,” said lead author Nuria Teixidó, a marine biologist from Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn in Italy, who was a visiting researcher at Stanford during the research.

    Acidification in the waters of Ischia displaced long-lived species, such as corals, that form habitat for other species – a process already often witnessed on reefs across the world. The researchers also found that high levels of carbon dioxide and more acidity favored species with short life spans and fast turnover as they are the only species that can resist these environmental conditions. This change could lead to further diversity loss and instability in the oceans, as biodiversity tends to increase an ecosystem’s stability.

    A broader application

    Localized case studies such as Ischia can shed light on how future global environmental conditions may affect ocean life. Beyond losing biodiversity, ocean acidification will threaten food security for millions of people who depend on seafood, along with tourism and other ocean-related economies.

    3
    Biodiversity loss is mapped along a natural CO2 gradient. (Image credit: Nuria Teixidó, Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn)

    “The effects of ocean acidification on whole ecosystems and their functioning are still poorly understood,” said Micheli, a professor of biology. “In Ischia, we have gained new insights into what future oceans will look like and what key services, like food production and coastal production, will be lost when there is more carbon dioxide in the water.”

    To read all stories about Stanford science, subscribe to the biweekly Stanford Science Digest.
    Micheli is the David and Lucile Packard Professor in Marine Sciences at Stanford’s School of Humanities and Sciences and is also also a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and co-director of the Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions. Other co-authors are from Villa Dohrn Benthic Ecology Center of the Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, University of Perpignan, University of California, Santa Cruz, University of Montpellier and Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes- CSIC.

    Media Contacts

    Fiorenza Micheli, Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions and Hopkins Marine Station: (831) 917-7903, micheli@stanford.edu

    Nuria Teixidó, Hopkins Marine Station and Stazione Zoologica Anton Dohrn, present address: Sorbonne Université, CNRS, Laboratoire d’Océanographie de Villefranche, nuria.teixido@obs-vlfr.fr

    Nicole Kravec, Stanford Center for Ocean Solutions: (415) 825-0584, nkravec@stanford.edu

    The work was funded by National Geographic Society, the Total Foundation, a Maire Curie Cofund and by a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Global Fellowship.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

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  • richardmitnick 11:21 am on December 12, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , Two Compounds in Coffee May Team Up to Fight Parkinson's   

    From Rutgers University: “Two Compounds in Coffee May Team Up to Fight Parkinson’s” 

    Rutgers smaller
    Our Great Seal.

    From Rutgers University

    December 12, 2018
    Rutgers Today
    Media Contact
    Neal Buccino
    732-668-8439
    neal.buccino@rutgers.edu

    December 10, 2018
    Caitlin Coyle
    caitlin.coyle@rutgers.edu

    1
    M. Maral Mouradian of Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School has found a compound in coffee that when paired with caffeine may help to fight Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia. Photo by Steve Hockstein/Harvard Studio

    Caffeine plus another compound in coffee beans’ waxy coating may protect against brain degeneration, Rutgers study finds.

    2

    Rutgers scientists have found a compound in coffee that may team up with caffeine to fight Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia – two progressive and currently incurable diseases associated with brain degeneration.

    The discovery, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggests these two compounds combined may become a therapeutic option to slow brain degeneration.

    Lead author M. Maral Mouradian, director of the Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School Institute for Neurological Therapeutics and William Dow Lovett Professor of Neurology, said prior research has shown that drinking coffee may reduce the risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. While caffeine has traditionally been credited as coffee’s special protective agent, coffee beans contain more than a thousand other compounds that are less well known.

    The Rutgers study focused on a fatty acid derivative of the neurotransmitter serotonin, called EHT (Eicosanoyl-5-hydroxytryptamide), found in the bean’s waxy coating. The researchers found that EHT protects the brains of mice against abnormal protein accumulation associated with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy body dementia.

    In the current research, Mouradian’s team asked whether EHT and caffeine could work together for even greater brain protection. They gave mice small doses of caffeine or EHT separately as well as together. Each compound alone was not effective, but when given together they boosted the activity of a catalyst that helps prevent the accumulation of harmful proteins in the brain. This suggests the combination of EHT and caffeine may be able to slow or stop the progression of these diseases. Current treatments address only the symptoms of Parkinson’s disease but do not protect against brain degeneration.

    Mouradian said further research is needed to determine the proper amounts and ratio of EHT and caffeine required for the protective effect in people.

    “EHT is a compound found in various types of coffee but the amount varies. It is important that the appropriate amount and ratio be determined so people don’t over-caffeinate themselves, as that can have negative health consequences,” she said.

    According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Parkinson’s disease is a brain disorder that can lead to shaking, stiffness and difficulty with walking, balance and coordination. Nearly one million people in the United States are living with Parkinson’s disease. Lewy body dementia, one of the most common forms of dementia, affects more than one million people in the United States. It causes problems with thinking, behavior, mood and movement.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    rutgers-campus

    Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, is a leading national research university and the state’s preeminent, comprehensive public institution of higher education. Rutgers is dedicated to teaching that meets the highest standards of excellence; to conducting research that breaks new ground; and to providing services, solutions, and clinical care that help individuals and the local, national, and global communities where they live.

    Founded in 1766, Rutgers teaches across the full educational spectrum: preschool to precollege; undergraduate to graduate; postdoctoral fellowships to residencies; and continuing education for professional and personal advancement.

    As a ’67 graduate of University college, second in my class, I am proud to be a member of

    Alpha Sigma Lamda, National Honor Society of non-tradional students.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:45 am on December 10, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , Calditol, , Stanford researchers show that a protein in a microbe’s membrane helps it survive extreme environments, , Sulfolobus acidocaldarius   

    From Stanford University: “Stanford researchers show that a protein in a microbe’s membrane helps it survive extreme environments” 

    Stanford University Name
    From Stanford University

    December 5, 2018
    Danielle Torrent Tucker
    (650) 497-9541
    dttucker@stanford.edu

    Scientists discovered a protein that modifies a microbe’s membrane and helps it survive in hot, acidic environments, proving a long-standing hypothesis that these structures have a protective effect.

    1
    The microorganism Sulfolobus acidocaldarius lives in extreme environments, such as Emerald Hot Spring in Yellowstone National Park. (Image credit: Rennett Stowe / flickr)

    Within harsh environments like hot springs, volcanic craters and deep-sea hydrothermal vents – uninhabitable by most life forms – microscopic organisms are thriving. How? It’s all in how they wrap themselves.

    Stanford University researchers have identified a protein that helps these organisms form a protective, lipid-linked cellular membrane – a key to withstanding extremely highly acidic habitats.

    Scientists had known that this group of microbes – called archaea – were surrounded by a membrane made of different chemical components than those of bacteria, plants or animals. They had long hypothesized that it could be what provides protection in extreme habitats. The team directly proved this idea by identifying the protein that creates the unusual membrane structure in the species Sulfolobus acidocaldarius.

    The structures of some organisms’ membranes are retained in the fossil record and can serve as molecular fossils or biomarkers, leaving hints of what lived in the environment long ago. Finding preserved membrane lipids, for example, could suggest when an organism evolved and how that may have been the circumstance of its environment. Being able to show how this protective membrane is created could help researchers understand other molecular fossils in the future, offering new evidence about the evolution of life on Earth. The results appeared the week of Dec. 3 in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

    “Our model is that this organism evolved the ability to make these membranes because it lives in an environment where the acidity changes,” said co-author Paula Welander, an assistant professor of Earth system science at Stanford’s School of Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences (Stanford Earth). “This is the first time we’ve actually linked some part of a lipid to an environmental condition in archaea.”

    Rare chemistry

    The hot springs where S. acidocaldarius is found, such as those in Yellowstone National Park that are over 200 degrees Fahrenheit, can experience fluctuating acidity. This organism is also found in volcanic craters, deep-sea hydrothermal vents and other acidic environments with both moderate and cold temperatures.

    Welander became interested in studying this microbe because of its rare chemistry, including its unusual lipid membranes. Unlike plants and fungi, archaeal organisms do not produce protective outer walls of cellulose and their membranes do not contain the same chemicals as bacteria. Scientists had explored how the species produced its unusual membrane for about 10 years before experimentation stopped in 2006, she said.

    “I think we forget that some things just haven’t been done yet – I’ve been finding that a lot ever since I stepped into the geobiology world,” Welander said. “There are so many questions out there that we just need the basic knowledge of, such as, ‘What is the protein that’s doing this? Does this membrane structure really do what we’re saying it does?’”

    From previous research in archaea, Welander and her team knew that the organisms produce a membrane containing a ringed molecule called a calditol. The group thought this molecule might underlie the species’ ability to withstand environments where other organisms perish.

    To find out, they first went through the genome of S. acidocaldarius and identified three genes likely to be involved in making a calditol. They then mutated those genes one-by-one, eliminating any proteins the genes made. The experiments revealed one gene that, when mutated, produced S. acidocaldarius that lacked calditol in the membrane. That mutated organism was able to grow at high temperatures but withered in a highly acidic environment, suggesting that the protein is necessary to both make the unusual membrane and withstand acidity.

    The work was particularly challenging because Welander’s lab had to replicate those high temperature, acidic conditions in which the microbes thrive. Most of the incubators in her lab could only reach body temperature, so lead author Zhirui Zeng, a postdoctoral researcher in Welander’s lab, figured out how to imitate the organism’s home using a special small oven, she said.

    “That was really cool,” Welander said. “We did a lot of experimenting to try to figure out the chemistry.”

    Third domain of life

    This work is about more than just finding one protein, Welander said. Her research explores lipids found in present-day microbes with the goal of understanding Earth’s history, including ancient climatic events, mass extinctions and evolutionary transitions. But before scientists can interpret evolutionary characteristics, they need to understand the basics, like how novel lipids are created.

    Archaea are sometimes called the “third domain of life,” with one domain being bacteria and the other being a group that includes plants and animals – collectively known as eukaryotes. Archaea includes some of the oldest, most abundant lifeforms on the planet, without which the ecosystem would collapse. Archaea are particularly anomalous microbes, confused with bacteria one day and likened to plants or animals the next because of their unique molecular structures.

    The research is particularly interesting because the classification for archaea is still debated by taxonomists. They were only separated from the bacteria and eukaryote domains in the past two decades, following the development of genetic sequencing in the 1970s.

    “There are certain things about archaea that are different, like the lipids,” Welander said. “Archaea are a big area of research now because they are this different domain that we want to study, and understand – and they’re really cool.”

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    Stanford University campus. No image credit

    Stanford University

    Leland and Jane Stanford founded the University to “promote the public welfare by exercising an influence on behalf of humanity and civilization.” Stanford opened its doors in 1891, and more than a century later, it remains dedicated to finding solutions to the great challenges of the day and to preparing our students for leadership in today’s complex world. Stanford, is an American private research university located in Stanford, California on an 8,180-acre (3,310 ha) campus near Palo Alto. Since 1952, more than 54 Stanford faculty, staff, and alumni have won the Nobel Prize, including 19 current faculty members

    Stanford University Seal

     
  • richardmitnick 1:06 pm on December 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , Donna Strickland-Nobel Prize, , ,   

    From University of Rochester: “In the lab where it happened: Nobel science in pictures” 

    U Rochester bloc

    From University of Rochester

    December 8, 2018

    1
    NEXT GENERATION: Donna Strickland ’89 (PhD) and Gérard Mourou received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for work to develop chirped pulse amplification (CPA), research they undertook in the 1980s at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE).

    U Rochester Laboratory for Laser Energetics

    Today, members of the LLE, including (left to right) Dustin Froula, senior scientist and assistant professor of physics; his PhD student Sara Bucht; and Jake Bromage, senior scientist and associate professor of optics, use CPA in their own research to develop the next generation high-power lasers and to better understand the fundamentals of high-energy-density physics.

    2
    STRETCHING, AMPLIFYING, COMPRESSING: CPA involves a three-part sequence: stretching a laser pulse in time so the power is low; amplifying the pulse to higher intensities; and then compressing the pulse in time back to its exact original duration. Fundamental to the system is a grating, which, like a gold-plated prism, spreads the laser pulse into its wavelengths of color, stretching it in time. “Before the invention of CPA, the challenge was that you could only amplify a laser pulse so high before you blew up your amplifiers,” Bromage says. “Using gratings like this (pictured), you can spread the pulse in time, get the energy up by amplifying the longer pulse, and then use the compressor grating at the end to put it all back together.” Ultimately, CPA “allows you to put a lot more energy into a much shorter pulse.”

    3
    THEN AND NOW: In a lab at the LLE, Bucht holds the original grating developed by Strickland while Strickland was a graduate student at Rochester. Strickland’s original is much smaller than the grating used in current research, held by Bromage. Strickland’s original grating allowed researchers at the time to reduce pulse duration by three orders of magnitude; the larger grating allows researchers today to increase the power of the lasers by a factor of a million compared to before CPA was developed.

    4
    THE NEXT NOBEL? Now, however, scientists have reached another plateau in terms of how much power they can put in laser pulses and how big they can make the gratings. The future of CPA—and the subject of Bucht’s current research—involves using plasma instead of a grating. “It’s another step change in terms of laser power that could lead to a possible Nobel Prize for Sara—potentially the next graduate student project to be recognized by the Nobel committee,” Froula says. “We’ve taken the technology Donna and Gérard developed to its limits, and we’re now looking at what the next step in physics would be.”

    See the full article here .

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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    U Rochester Campus

    The University of Rochesteris one of the country’s top-tier research universities. Our 158 buildings house more than 200 academic majors, more than 2,000 faculty and instructional staff, and some 10,500 students—approximately half of whom are women.

    Learning at the University of Rochester is also on a very personal scale. Rochester remains one of the smallest and most collegiate among top research universities, with smaller classes, a low 10:1 student to teacher ratio, and increased interactions with faculty.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:37 am on December 9, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, Nucleation, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Two-dimensional materials skip the energy barrier by growing one row at a time, , University of California Los Angeles   

    From University of Washington: “Two-dimensional materials skip the energy barrier by growing one row at a time” 

    U Washington

    From University of Washington

    December 6, 2018

    1
    The peptides in this highly ordered two-dimensional array avoid the expected nucleation barrier by assembling in a row-by-row fashion. PNNL

    A new collaborative study led by a research team at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, University of California, Los Angeles and the University of Washington could provide engineers new design rules for creating microelectronics, membranes and tissues, and open up better production methods for new materials. At the same time, the research, published online Dec. 6 in the journal Science, helps uphold a scientific theory that has remained unproven for over a century.

    Just as children follow a rule to line up single file after recess, some materials use an underlying rule to assemble on surfaces one row at a time, according to the study.

    Nucleation — that first formation step — is pervasive in ordered structures across nature and technology, from cloud droplets to rock candy. Yet despite some predictions made in the 1870s by the American scientist J. Willard Gibbs, researchers are still debating how this basic process happens.

    The new study verifies Gibbs’ theory for materials that form row by row. Led by UW graduate student Jiajun Chen, working at PNNL, the research uncovers the underlying mechanism, which fills in a fundamental knowledge gap and opens new pathways in materials science.

    Chen used small protein fragments called peptides that show specificity, or unique belonging, to a material surface. The UCLA collaborators have been identifying and using such material-specific peptides as control agents to force nanomaterials to grow into certain shapes, such as those desired in catalytic reactions or semiconductor devices. The research team made the discovery while investigating how a particular peptide — one with a strong binding affinity for molybdenum disulfide — interacts with the material.

    “It was complete serendipity,” said PNNL materials scientist James De Yoreo, co-corresponding author of the paper and Chen’s doctoral advisor. “We didn’t expect the peptides to assemble into their own highly ordered structures.”

    That may have happened because “this peptide was identified from a molecular evolution process,” adds co-corresponding author Yu Huang, a professor of materials science and engineering at UCLA. “It appears nature does find its way to minimize energy consumption and to work wonders.”

    The transformation of liquid water into solid ice requires the creation of a solid-liquid interface. According to Gibbs’ classical nucleation theory, although turning the water into ice saves energy, creating the interface costs energy. The tricky part is the initial start — that’s when the surface area of the new particle of ice is large compared to its volume, so it costs more energy to make an ice particle than is saved.

    Gibbs’ theory predicts that if the materials can grow in one dimension, meaning row by row, no such energy penalty would exist. Then the materials can avoid what scientists call the nucleation barrier and are free to self-assemble.

    There has been recent controversy over the theory of nucleation. Some researchers have found evidence that the fundamental process is actually more complex than that proposed in Gibbs’ model.

    But “this study shows there are certainly cases where Gibbs’ theory works well,” said De Yoreo, who is also a UW affiliate professor of both chemistry and materials science and engineering.

    Previous studies had already shown that some organic molecules, including peptides like the ones in the Science paper, can self-assemble on surfaces. But at PNNL, De Yoreo and his team dug deeper and found a way to understand how molecular interactions with materials impact their nucleation and growth.

    They exposed the peptide solution to fresh surfaces of a molybdenum disulfide substrate, measuring the interactions with atomic force microscopy. Then they compared the measurements with molecular dynamics simulations.

    De Yoreo and his team determined that even in the earliest stages, the peptides bound to the material one row at a time, barrier-free, just as Gibbs’ theory predicts.

    The atomic force microscopy’s high-imaging speed allowed the researchers to see the rows just as they were forming. The results showed the rows were ordered right from the start and grew at the same speed regardless of their size — a key piece of evidence. They also formed new rows as soon as enough peptide was in the solution for existing rows to grow; that would only happen if row formation is barrier-free.

    This row-by-row process provides clues for the design of 2D materials. Currently, to form certain shapes, designers sometimes need to put systems far out of equilibrium, or balance. That is difficult to control, said De Yoreo.

    “But in 1D, the difficulty of getting things to form in an ordered structure goes away,” De Yoreo added. “Then you can operate right near equilibrium and still grow these structures without losing control of the system.”

    It could change assembly pathways for those engineering microelectronics or even bodily tissues.

    Huang’s team at UCLA has demonstrated new opportunities for devices based on 2D materials assembled through interactions in solution. But she said the current manual processes used to construct such materials have limitations, including scale-up capabilities.

    “Now with the new understanding, we can start to exploit the specific interactions between molecules and 2D materials for automatous assembly processes,” said Huang.

    The next step, said De Yoreo, is to make artificial molecules that have the same properties as the peptides studied in the new paper — only more robust.

    At PNNL, De Yoreo and his team are looking at stable peptoids, which are as easy to synthesize as peptides but can better handle the temperatures and chemicals used in the processes to construct the desired materials.

    Co-authors are Enbo Zhu, Zhaoyang Lin and Xiangfeng Duan at UCLA; Juan Liu and Hendrik Heinz at the University of Colorado, Boulder; and Shuai Zhang at PNNL. Simulations were performed using the Argonne Leadership Computing Facility, a Department of Energy Office of Science user facility. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

    See the full article here .


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    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    u-washington-campus
    The University of Washington is one of the world’s preeminent public universities. Our impact on individuals, on our region, and on the world is profound — whether we are launching young people into a boundless future or confronting the grand challenges of our time through undaunted research and scholarship. Ranked number 10 in the world in Shanghai Jiao Tong University rankings and educating more than 54,000 students annually, our students and faculty work together to turn ideas into impact and in the process transform lives and our world. For more about our impact on the world, every day.
    So what defines us —the students, faculty and community members at the University of Washington? Above all, it’s our belief in possibility and our unshakable optimism. It’s a connection to others, both near and far. It’s a hunger that pushes us to tackle challenges and pursue progress. It’s the conviction that together we can create a world of good. Join us on the journey.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:18 pm on December 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , Both new instruments use so-called soft X-rays which have a longer wavelength than hard X-rays, , SCS instrument-new, SQS instrument-new, Two more experiment stations start user operation,   

    From European XFEL: “Two more experiment stations start user operation” 

    XFEL bloc

    European XFEL

    From European XFEL

    2018/12/07

    Facility doubles experiment capacity.

    Two additional experiment stations—or instruments—have now started operation at European XFEL. The instruments for Small Quantum Systems (SQS) and Spectroscopy and Coherent Scattering (SCS) welcomed their first user groups for experiments last week and this week respectively. With the successful start of operation of the new instruments, European XFEL has now doubled its capacity to conduct research. With the first three groups coming to the new instruments in 2018, the total number of users who will have visited the facility in 2018 will reach over 500.

    1
    Scientists at the SQS instrument. Copyright European XFEL / Jan Hosan

    2
    The SCS instrument at European XFEL. Copyright European XFEL / Jan Hosan

    The two already operational instruments, SPB/SFX and FXE, have been used to examine biomolecules or biological processes and ultrafast reactions respectively since September 2017. In the future, two of the four now operational instruments will be run in parallel in twelve hour shifts. Two more instruments are scheduled to start user operation in the first half of 2019.

    3
    DESY’s Anton Barty (left) and Henry Chapman (right), seen at the SPB/SFX instrument.The SPB/SFX instrument will enable novel studies of structural biology. It is one of two instruments that has been available for users in fall 2017.

    4
    The FXE instrument will enable studies of ultrafast processes, such as the intermediate steps of chemical reactions. The instrument uses the ultrashort pulses of the European XFEL to create sequential images of reacting molecules, producing a slow-motion molecular movie of a previously invisible process. The FXE instrument is one of two instruments that has been available to users in fall 2017.

    “This important milestone gives even more researchers a chance to use the unique properties of our X-ray laser” says Prof. Serguei Molodtsov, Scientific Director at European XFEL. “We made a commitment to the scientific community that the two instruments SCS and SQS would be ready for operation by the end of the year. I am very pleased that we achieved this ambitious goal within time and budget. This has been made possible by the tremendous dedication of our staff and our colleagues from DESY, who operate the European XFEL’s accelerator. We now look forward to seeing the results that scientists from all over the world will achieve with the new instruments!”

    Both new instruments use so-called soft X-rays, which have a longer wavelength than hard X-rays.

    The SQS instrument is designed to study fundamental processes such as what happens when atoms or small molecules absorb many photons simultaneously as well as examining how and when molecular bonds break. SQS can also be used to investigate nanoparticles and biomolecules. The first experiment at SQS involved scientists from several institutes, who were interested in multi-photon processes triggered by the intense X-ray flashes of the European XFEL.

    The SCS instrument is designed to help scientists unravel the electronic and structural properties of a range of materials, including understanding what kind of nanoscale changes happen in magnetic and superconducting materials, and observing what happens during chemical reactions in real-time. The first experiment at the instrument also included scientists from many different institutes and was designed to explore how solid state samples respond to intense X-ray pulses and react under the high pulse rate of the X-ray beam.

    See the full article here .

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    XFEL Campus

    XFEL Tunnel

    XFEL Gun

    The Hamburg area will soon boast a research facility of superlatives: The European XFEL will generate ultrashort X-ray flashes—27 000 times per second and with a brilliance that is a billion times higher than that of the best conventional X-ray radiation sources.

    The outstanding characteristics of the facility are unique worldwide. Started in 2017, it will open up completely new research opportunities for scientists and industrial users.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:12 am on December 8, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, Atoms stand in for electrons in system for probing high-temperature superconductors, , , , The Fermi-Hubbard model   

    From MIT News: “Atoms stand in for electrons in system for probing high-temperature superconductors” 

    MIT News
    MIT Widget

    From MIT News

    December 6, 2018
    Helen Knight

    Using new “quantum emulator,” physicists can observe individual atoms moving through these materials, and measure their speed.

    1
    Atoms are like small magnets, so applying a magnetic force pushes them around, here to the left (top left). Since these atoms repel each other, they cannot move if there are no empty sites (top middle). But the atomic “magnetic needles” are still free to move, with stronger magnets (red) diffusing to the left in the image, and weaker magnets (blue) having to make room and move to the right (bottom row). This so-called spin transport is resolved atom by atom in the cold atom quantum emulator. Images: courtesy of the researchers

    High-temperature superconductors have the potential to transform everything from electricity transmission and power generation to transportation.

    The materials, in which electron pairs travel without friction — meaning no energy is lost as they move — could dramatically improve the energy efficiency of electrical systems.

    Understanding how electrons move through these complex materials could ultimately help researchers design superconductors that operate at room temperature, dramatically expanding their use.

    However, despite decades of research, little is known about the complex interplay between the spin and charge of electrons within superconducting materials such as cuprates, or materials containing copper.

    Now, in a paper published today in the journal Science, researchers at MIT have unveiled a new system in which ultracold atoms are used as a model for electrons within superconducting materials.

    The researchers, led by Martin Zwierlein, the Thomas A. Frank Professor of Physics at MIT, have used the system, which they describe as a “quantum emulator,” to realize the Fermi-Hubbard model of particles interacting within a lattice.

    The Fermi-Hubbard model, which is believed to explain the basis for high-temperature superconductivity, is extremely simple to describe, and yet has so far proven impossible to solve, according to Zwierlein.

    “The model is just atoms or electrons hopping around on a lattice, and then, when they’re on top of each other on the same lattice site, they can interact,” he says. “But even though this is the simplest model of electrons interacting within these materials, there is no computer in the world that can solve it.”

    So instead, the researchers have built a physical emulator in which atoms act as stand-ins for the electrons.

    To build their quantum emulator, the researchers used laser beams interfering with each other to produce a crystalline structure. They then confined around 400 atoms within this optical lattice, in a square box.

    When they tilt the box by applying a magnetic field gradient, they are able to observe the atoms as they move, and measure their speed, giving them the conductivity of the material, Zwierlein says.

    “It’s a wonderful platform. We can look at every single atom individually as it moves around, which is unique; we cannot do that with electrons,” he says. “With electrons you can only measure average quantities.”

    The emulator allows the researchers to measure the transport, or motion, of the atoms’ spin, and how this is affected by the interaction between atoms within the material. Measuring the transport of spin has not been possible in cuprates until now, as efforts have been inhibited by impurities within the materials and other complications, Zwierlein says.

    By measuring the motion of spin, the researchers were able to investigate how it differs from that of charge.

    Since electrons carry both their charge and spin with them as they move through a material, the motion of the two properties should essentially be locked together, Zwierlein says.

    However, the research demonstrates that this is not the case.

    “We show that spins can diffuse much more slowly than charge in our system,” he says.

    The researchers then studied how the strength of the interactions between atoms affects how well spin can flow, according to MIT graduate student Matthew Nichols, the lead author of the paper.

    “We found that large interactions can limit the available mechanisms which allow spins to move in the system, so that spin flow slows down significantly as the interactions between atoms increase,” Nichols says.

    When they compared their experimental measurements with state-of-the-art theoretical calculations performed on a classical computer, they found that the strong interactions present in the system made accurate numerical calculations very difficult.

    “This demonstrated the strength of our ultracold atom system to simulate aspects of another quantum system, the cuprate materials, and to outperform what can be done with a classical computer,” Nichols says.

    Transport properties in strongly correlated materials are generally very hard to calculate using classical computers, and some of the most interesting, and practically relevant, materials like high-temperature superconductors are still poorly understood, says Zoran Hadzibabic, a professor of physics at Cambridge University, who was not involved in the research.

    “(The researchers) study spin transport, which is not just hard to calculate, but also even experimentally extremely hard to study in conventional strongly-correlated materials, and thus provide a unique insight into the differences between charge and spin transport,” Hadzibabic says.

    Complementary to MIT’s work on spin transport, the transport of charge was measured by Professor Waseem Bakr’s group at Princeton University, elucidating in the same issue of Science how charge conductivity depends on temperature.

    The MIT team hopes to carry out further experiments using the quantum emulator. For example, since the system allows the researchers to study the movement of individual atoms, they hope to investigate how the motion of each differs from that of the average, to study current “noise” on the atomic level.

    “So far we have measured the average current, but what we would also like to do is look at the noise of the particles’ motion; some are a little bit faster than others, so there is a whole distribution that we can learn about,” Zwierlein says.

    The researchers also hope to study how transport changes with dimensionality by going from a two-dimensional sheet of atoms to a one-dimensional wire.

    Zwierlein’s team members consisted of MIT graduate students Lawrence Cheuk, Thomas Hartke, Melih Okan, Enrique Mendez, and postdoc Hao Zhang, all of whom are associated with the MIT-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms and the Research Laboratory of Electronics, as well as MIT professor of physics Senthil Todadri and Professor Ehsan Khatami from San Jose State University.

    The research was funded, in part, by the National Science Foundation, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Office of Naval Research, the Army Research Office, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.

    See the full article here .


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    The mission of MIT is to advance knowledge and educate students in science, technology, and other areas of scholarship that will best serve the nation and the world in the twenty-first century. We seek to develop in each member of the MIT community the ability and passion to work wisely, creatively, and effectively for the betterment of humankind.

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  • richardmitnick 1:57 pm on December 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Applied Research & Technology, ,   

    From The Conversation: “Scientist at work: To take atomic-scale pictures of tiny crystals, use a huge, kilometer-long synchrotron” 

    Conversation
    From The Conversation

    ANL Advanced Photon Source

    December 3, 2018
    Kerry Rippy

    It’s 4 a.m., and I’ve been up for about 20 hours straight. A loud alarm is blaring, accompanied by red strobe lights flashing. A stern voice announces, “Searching station B. Exit immediately.” It feels like an emergency, but it’s not. In fact, the alarm has already gone off 60 or 70 times today. It is a warning, letting everyone in the vicinity know I’m about to blast a high-powered X-ray beam into a small room full of electronic equipment and plumes of vaporizing liquid nitrogen.

    In the center of this room, which is called station B, I have placed a crystal no thicker than a human hair on the tip of a tiny glass fiber. I have prepared dozens of these crystals, and am attempting to analyze all of them.

    These crystals are made of organic semiconducting materials, which are used to make computer chips, LED lights, smartphone screens and solar panels. I want to find out precisely where each atom inside the crystals is located, how densely packed they are and how they interact with each other. This information will help me predict how well electricity will flow through them.

    To see these atoms and determine their structure, I need the help of a synchrotron, which is a massive scientific instrument containing a kilometer-long loop of electrons zooming around at near the speed of light. I also need a microscope, a gyroscope, liquid nitrogen, a bit of luck, a gifted colleague and a tricycle.

    Getting the crystal in place

    The first step of this experiment involves placing the super-tiny crystals on the tip of the glass fiber. I use a needle to scrape a pile of them together onto a glass slide and put them under a microscope. The crystals are beautiful – colorful and faceted like little gemstones. I often find myself transfixed, staring with sleep-deprived eyes into the microscope, and refocusing my gaze before painstakingly coaxing one onto the tip of a glass fiber.

    Once I’ve gotten the crystal attached to the fiber, I begin the often frustrating task of centering the crystal on the tip of a gyroscope inside station B. This device will spin the crystal around, slowly and continuously, allowing me to get X-ray images of it from all sides.

    1
    On the left is the gyroscope, designed to rotate the crystal through a series of different angles as the X-ray beam hits it. Behind it is the detector panel which records the diffraction spots. On the right is a zoomed in picture of a single crystal, mounted on a glass fiber attached to the tip of the gyroscope. Kerry Rippy, CC BY-ND

    As it spins, liquid nitrogen vapor is used to cool it down: Even at room temperature, atoms vibrate back and forth, making it hard to get clear images of them. Cooling the crystal to minus 196 degrees Celsius, the temperature of liquid nitrogen, makes the atoms stop moving so much.

    X-ray photography

    Once I have the crystal centered and cooled, I close off station B, and from a computer control hub outside of it, blast the sample with X-rays. The resulting image, called a diffraction pattern, is displayed as bright spots on an orange background.

    2
    This is a diffraction pattern that results when you shoot an X-ray beam at a single crystal. Kerry Rippy, CC BY-ND

    What I am doing is not very different from taking photographs with a camera and a flash. I’m about to send light rays at an object and record how the light bounces off it. But I can’t use visible light to photograph atoms – they’re too small, and the wavelengths of light in the visible part of the spectrum are too big. X-rays have shorter wavelengths, so they will diffract, or bounce off atoms.

    However, unlike with a camera, diffracted X-rays can’t be focused with a simple lens. Instead of a photograph-like image, the data I collect are an unfocused pattern of where the X-rays went after they bounced off the atoms in my crystal. A full set of data about one crystal is made up of these images taken from every angle all around the crystal as the gyroscope spins it.

    Advanced math

    My colleague, Nicholas DeWeerd, sits nearby, analyzing data sets I’ve already collected. He has managed to ignore the blaring alarms and flashing lights for hours, staring at diffraction images on his screen to, in effect, turn the X-ray images from all sides of the crystal into a picture of the atoms inside the crystal itself.

    In years past, this process might have taken years of careful calculations done by hand, but now he uses computer modeling to put all the pieces together. He is our research group’s unofficial expert at this part of the puzzle, and he loves it. “It’s like Christmas!” I hear him mutter, as he flips through twinkling images of diffraction patterns.

    3
    Solving a set of diffraction patterns produces an atomic-level picture of a crystal, showing individual molecules (left) and how they pack together to form a crystalline structure. Kerry Rippy, CC BY-ND

    I smile at the enthusiasm he’s managed to maintain so late into the night, as I fire up the synchotron to get my pictures of the crystal perched in station B. I hold my breath as diffraction patterns from the first few angles pop up on the screen. Not all crystals diffract, even if I’ve set everything up perfectly. Often that’s because each crystal is made up of lots of even smaller crystals stuck together, or crystals containing too many impurities to form a repeating crystalline pattern that we can mathematically solve.

    If this one doesn’t deliver clear images, I’ll have to start over and set up another. Luckily, in this case, the first few images that pop up show bright, clear diffraction spots. I smile and sit back to collect the rest of the data set. Now as the gyroscope whirls and the X-ray beam blasts the sample, I have a few minutes to relax.

    I would drink some coffee to stay alert, but my hands are already shaking from caffeine overload. Instead, I call over to Nick: “I’m gonna take a lap.” I walk over to a group of tricycles sitting nearby. Normally used just to get around the large building containing the synchrotron, I find them equally helpful for a desperate attempt to wake up with some exercise.

    As I ride, I think about the crystal mounted on the gyroscope. I’ve spent months synthesizing it, and soon I’ll have a picture of it. With the picture, I’ll gain understanding of whether the modifications that I have made to it, which make it slightly different than other materials I have made in the past, have improved it at all. If I see evidence of better packing or increased intermolecular interactions, that could mean the molecule is a good candidate for testing in electronic devices.

    Exhausted, but happy because I’m collecting useful data, I slowly pedal around the loop, noting that the synchrotron is in high demand. When the beamline is running, it is used 24/7, which is why I’m working through the night. I was lucky to get a time slot at all. At other stations, other researchers like me are working late into the night.

    See the full article here .

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    The Conversation US launched as a pilot project in October 2014. It is an independent source of news and views from the academic and research community, delivered direct to the public.
    Our team of professional editors work with university and research institute experts to unlock their knowledge for use by the wider public.
    Access to independent, high quality, authenticated, explanatory journalism underpins a functioning democracy. Our aim is to promote better understanding of current affairs and complex issues. And hopefully allow for a better quality of public discourse and conversation.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:07 pm on December 3, 2018 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Applied Research & Technology, , , , MESO devices, , Multiferroics,   

    From UC Berkeley: “New quantum materials could take computing devices beyond the semiconductor era” 

    UC Berkeley

    From UC Berkeley

    December 3, 2018
    Robert Sanders
    rlsanders@berkeley.edu

    1
    MESO devices, based on magnetoelectric and spin-orbit materials, could someday replace the ubiquitous semiconductor transistor, today represented by CMOS. MESO uses up-and-down magnetic spins in a multiferroic material to store binary information and conduct logic operations. (Intel graphic)

    Researchers from Intel Corp. and UC Berkeley are looking beyond current transistor technology and preparing the way for a new type of memory and logic circuit that could someday be in every computer on the planet.

    In a paper appearing online Dec. 3 in advance of publication in the journal Nature, the researchers propose a way to turn relatively new types of materials, multiferroics and topological materials, into logic and memory devices that will be 10 to 100 times more energy-efficient than foreseeable improvements to current microprocessors, which are based on CMOS (complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor).

    The magneto-electric spin-orbit or MESO devices will also pack five times more logic operations into the same space than CMOS, continuing the trend toward more computations per unit area, a central tenet of Moore’s Law.

    The new devices will boost technologies that require intense computing power with low energy use, specifically highly automated, self-driving cars and drones, both of which require ever increasing numbers of computer operations per second.

    “As CMOS develops into its maturity, we will basically have very powerful technology options that see us through. In some ways, this could continue computing improvements for another whole generation of people,” said lead author Sasikanth Manipatruni, who leads hardware development for the MESO project at Intel’s Components Research group in Hillsboro, Oregon. MESO was invented by Intel scientists, and Manipatruni designed the first MESO device.

    Transistor technology, invented 70 years ago, is used today in everything from cellphones and appliances to cars and supercomputers. Transistors shuffle electrons around inside a semiconductor and store them as binary bits 0 and 1.

    2
    Single crystals of the multiferroic material bismuth-iron-oxide. The bismuth atoms (blue) form a cubic lattice with oxygen atoms (yellow) at each face of the cube and an iron atom (gray) near the center. The somewhat off-center iron interacts with the oxygen to form an electric dipole (P), which is coupled to the magnetic spins of the atoms (M) so that flipping the dipole with an electric field (E) also flips the magnetic moment. The collective magnetic spins of the atoms in the material encode the binary bits 0 and 1, and allow for information storage and logic operations.

    In the new MESO devices, the binary bits are the up-and-down magnetic spin states in a multiferroic, a material first created in 2001 by Ramamoorthy Ramesh, a UC Berkeley professor of materials science and engineering and of physics and a senior author of the paper.

    “The discovery was that there are materials where you can apply a voltage and change the magnetic order of the multiferroic,” said Ramesh, who is also a faculty scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “But to me, ‘What would we do with these multiferroics?’ was always a big question. MESO bridges that gap and provides one pathway for computing to evolve”

    In the Nature paper, the researchers report that they have reduced the voltage needed for multiferroic magneto-electric switching from 3 volts to 500 millivolts, and predict that it should be possible to reduce this to 100 millivolts: one-fifth to one-tenth that required by CMOS transistors in use today. Lower voltage means lower energy use: the total energy to switch a bit from 1 to 0 would be one-tenth to one-thirtieth of the energy required by CMOS.

    “A number of critical techniques need to be developed to allow these new types of computing devices and architectures,” said Manipatruni, who combined the functions of magneto-electrics and spin-orbit materials to propose MESO. “We are trying to trigger a wave of innovation in industry and academia on what the next transistor-like option should look like.”

    Internet of things and AI

    The need for more energy-efficient computers is urgent. The Department of Energy projects that, with the computer chip industry expected to expand to several trillion dollars in the next few decades, energy use by computers could skyrocket from 3 percent of all U.S. energy consumption today to 20 percent, nearly as much as today’s transportation sector. Without more energy-efficient transistors, the incorporation of computers into everything – the so-called internet of things – would be hampered. And without new science and technology, Ramesh said, America’s lead in making computer chips could be upstaged by semiconductor manufacturers in other countries.

    “Because of machine learning, artificial intelligence and IOT, the future home, the future car, the future manufacturing capability is going to look very different,” said Ramesh, who until recently was the associate director for Energy Technologies at Berkeley Lab. “If we use existing technologies and make no more discoveries, the energy consumption is going to be large. We need new science-based breakthroughs.”

    Paper co-author Ian Young, a UC Berkeley Ph.D., started a group at Intel eight years ago, along with Manipatruni and Dmitri Nikonov, to investigate alternatives to transistors, and five years ago they began focusing on multiferroics and spin-orbit materials, so-called “topological” materials with unique quantum properties.

    “Our analysis brought us to this type of material, magneto-electrics, and all roads led to Ramesh,” said Manipatruni.

    Multiferroics and spin-orbit materials

    Multiferroics are materials whose atoms exhibit more than one “collective state.” In ferromagnets, for example, the magnetic moments of all the iron atoms in the material are aligned to generate a permanent magnet. In ferroelectric materials, on the other hand, the positive and negative charges of atoms are offset, creating electric dipoles that align throughout the material and create a permanent electric moment.

    MESO is based on a multiferroic material consisting of bismuth, iron and oxygen (BiFeO3) that is both magnetic and ferroelectric. Its key advantage, Ramesh said, is that these two states – magnetic and ferroelectric – are linked or coupled, so that changing one affects the other. By manipulating the electric field, you can change the magnetic state, which is critical to MESO.

    The key breakthrough came with the rapid development of topological materials with spin-orbit effect, which allow for the state of the multiferroic to be read out efficiently. In MESO devices, an electric field alters or flips the dipole electric field throughout the material, which alters or flips the electron spins that generate the magnetic field. This capability comes from spin-orbit coupling, a quantum effect in materials, which produces a current determined by electron spin direction.

    In another paper that appeared earlier this month in Science Advances, UC Berkeley and Intel experimentally demonstrated voltage-controlled magnetic switching using the magneto-electric material bismuth-iron-oxide (BiFeO3), a key requirement for MESO.

    “We are looking for revolutionary and not evolutionary approaches for computing in the beyond-CMOS era,” Young said. “MESO is built around low-voltage interconnects and low-voltage magneto-electrics, and brings innovation in quantum materials to computing.”

    Other co-authors of the Nature paper are Chia-Ching Lin, Tanay Gosavi and Huichu Liu of Intel and Bhagwati Prasad, Yen-Lin Huang and Everton Bonturim of UC Berkeley. The work was supported by Intel.

    RELATED INFORMATION

    Beyond CMOS computing with spin and polarization Nature Physics

    See the full article here .

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