Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Electromagnetic radiation


Wormholes are fascinating cosmological objects that can connect two distant regions of the universe. Because of their intriguing nature, constructing a wormhole in a lab seems a formidable task. A theoretical proposal by Greenleaf et al. presented a strategy to build a wormhole for electromagnetic waves. Based on metamaterials, it could allow electromagnetic wave propagation between two points in space through an invisible tunnel. However, an actual realization has not been possible until now. Here we construct and experimentally demonstrate a magnetostatic wormhole. Using magnetic metamaterials and metasurfaces, our wormhole transfers the magnetic field from one point in space to another through a path that is magnetically undetectable. We experimentally show that the magnetic field from a source at one end of the wormhole appears at the other end as an isolated magnetic monopolar field, creating the illusion of a magnetic field propagating through a tunnel outside the 3D space. Practical applications of the results can be envisaged, including medical techniques based on magnetism.

Concepts: Electron, Electromagnetism, Magnetic field, Electromagnetic radiation, Maxwell's equations, Wave, Universe, Magnetostatics


Fluorescence using ultraviolet (UV) light has seen increased use as a tool in paleontology over the last decade. Laser-stimulated fluorescence (LSF) is a next generation technique that is emerging as a way to fluoresce paleontological specimens that remain dark under typical UV. A laser’s ability to concentrate very high flux rates both at the macroscopic and microscopic levels results in specimens fluorescing in ways a standard UV bulb cannot induce. Presented here are five paleontological case histories that illustrate the technique across a broad range of specimens and scales. Novel uses such as back-lighting opaque specimens to reveal detail and detection of specimens completely obscured by matrix are highlighted in these examples. The recent cost reductions in medium-power short wavelength lasers and use of standard photographic filters has now made this technique widely accessible to researchers. This technology has the potential to automate multiple aspects of paleontology, including preparation and sorting of microfossils. This represents a highly cost-effective way to address paleontology’s preparatory bottleneck.

Concepts: Fluorescence, Ultraviolet, Biology, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Laser, Fluorescent lamp, Black light


We demonstrate a new optical approach to generate high-frequency (>15 MHz) and high-amplitude focused ultrasound, which can be used for non-invasive ultrasound therapy. A nano-composite film of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) and elastomeric polymer is formed on concave lenses, and used as an efficient optoacoustic source due to the high optical absorption of the CNTs and rapid heat transfer to the polymer upon excitation by pulsed laser irradiation. The CNT-coated lenses can generate unprecedented optoacoustic pressures of >50 MPa in peak positive on a tight focal spot of 75 μm in lateral and 400 μm in axial widths. This pressure amplitude is remarkably high in this frequency regime, producing pronounced shock effects and non-thermal pulsed cavitation at the focal zone. We demonstrate that the optoacoustic lens can be used for micro-scale ultrasonic fragmentation of solid materials and a single-cell surgery in terms of removing the cells from substrates and neighboring cells.

Concepts: Optics, Electromagnetic radiation, Ultrasound, Pressure, Sound, Elastomer, Sonar, Photographic lens


Scanning small and wide angle X-ray scattering (scanning SWAXS) experiments were performed on healthy and pathologic human bone sections. Via crystallographic tools the data were transformed into quantitative images and as such compared with circularly polarized light (CPL) microscopy images. SWAXS and CPL images allowed extracting information of the mineral nanocrystalline phase embedded, with and without preferred orientation, in the collagen fibrils, mapping local changes at sub-osteon resolution. This favorable combination has been applied for the first time to biopsies of dwarfism syndrome and Paget’s disease to shed light onto the cortical structure of natural bone in healthy and pathologic sections.

Concepts: Optics, Electromagnetic radiation, Scattering, X-ray crystallography, Polarization, Circular polarization, Linear polarization


Cu2O p-type semiconductor hollow porous microspheres have been prepared by using a simple soft-template method at room temperature. The morphology of as-synthesized samples is hollow spherical structures with the diameter ranging from 200 to 500 nm, and the surfaces of the spheres are rough, porous and with lots of channels and folds. The photocatalytic activity of degradation of methyl orange (MO) under visible light irradiation was investigated by UV-visible spectroscopy. The results show that the hollow porous Cu2O particles were uniform in diameters and have an excellent ability in visible light-induced degradation of MO. Meanwhile, the growth mechanism of the prepared Cu2O was also analyzed. We find that sodium dodecyl sulfate acted the role of soft templates in the synthesis process. The hollow porous structure was not only sensitive to the soft template but also to the amount of reagents.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Semiconductor, Visible spectrum, Semiconductors, P-type semiconductor, N-type semiconductor


In the quest for producing an effective clinically relevant therapeutic agent, scalability, repeatability, and stability are paramount. In this paper, gold nanoparticles (GNPs) with precisely controlled near infrared (NIR) absorption are synthesized by a single step reaction of HAuCl4 and Na2S2O3, without assistance of additional templates, capping reagents or seeds. The anisotropy in the shape of gold nanoparticles offers high NIR absorption making it therapeutically relevant. The synthesized products consist of GNPs with different shape and size, including small spherical colloid gold particles and non-spherical gold crystals. The NIR absorption wavelengths and particle size increase with increasing molar ratio of HAuCl4/Na2S2O3. Non-spherical gold particles can be further purified and separated by centrifugation to improve the NIR absorbing fraction of particles. In-depth studies reveal that GNPs with good structural and optical stability only form in a certain range of the HAuCl4/Na2S2O3 molar ratio, whereas higher molar ratios result in unstable GNPs, which lose their NIR absorption peak due to decomposition and reassembly via Ostwald ripening. Tuning the optical absorption of the gold nanoparticles in the NIR regime via a robust and repeatable method will improve many applications requiring large quantities of desired NIR absorbing nanoparticles.

Concepts: Nanoparticle, Photon, Electromagnetic radiation, Gold, Sodium, Colloidal gold, Chloroauric acid, Sodium thiosulfate


We report the growth and characterization of ZnO/ZnTe core/shell nanowire arrays on indium tin oxide. Coating of the ZnTe layer on well-aligned vertical ZnO nanowires has been demonstrated by scanning electron microscope, tunneling electron microscope, X-ray diffraction pattern, photoluminescence, and transmission studies. The ZnO/ZnTe core/shell nanowire arrays were then used as the active layer and carrier transport medium to fabricate a photovoltaic device. The enhanced photocurrent and faster response observed in ZnO/ZnTe, together with the quenching of the UV emission in the PL spectra, indicate that carrier separation in this structure plays an important role in determining their optical response. The results also indicate that core/shell structures can be made into useful photovoltaic devices.

Concepts: Electron, Electron microscope, Diffraction, X-ray, Optics, Electromagnetic radiation, Solar cell, Zinc oxide


Wide wavelength ranges of light localization and scattering characteristics can be attributed to shape-dependent longitude surface plasmon resonance in complicated nanostructures. We have studied this phenomenon by spectroscopic measurement and a three-dimensional numerical simulation, for the first time, on the high-density branched silver nanowires and nanomeshworks at room temperature. These nanostructures were fabricated with simple light-induced colloidal method. In the range from the visible to the near-infrared wavelengths, light has been found effectively trapped in those trapping sites which were randomly distributed at the corners, the branches, and the junctions of the nanostructures in those nanostructures in three dimensions. The broadened bandwidth electromagnetic field enhancement property makes these branched nanostructures useful in optical processing and photovoltaic applications.

Concepts: Spectroscopy, Electromagnetism, Quantum mechanics, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Extraordinary optical transmission, Visible spectrum


Ordered CuIn(1 - x)GaxSe2 (CIGS) nanopore films were prepared by one-step electrodeposition based on porous anodized aluminum oxide templates. The as-grown film shows a highly ordered morphology that reproduces the surface pattern of the substrate. Raman spectroscopy and X-ray diffraction pattern show that CIGS nanopore films had ideal chalcopyrite crystallization. Energy dispersive spectroscopy reveals the Cu-Se phases firstly formed in initial stage of growth. Then, indium and gallium were incorporated in the nanopore films in succession. Cu-Se phase is most likely to act as a growth promoter in the growth progress of CIGS nanopore films. Due to the high surface area and porous structure, this kind of CIGS films could have potential application in light-trapping CIGS solar cells and photo electrochemical water splitting.

Concepts: DNA, Spectroscopy, Diffraction, X-ray, Electromagnetic radiation, Hydrogen, X-ray crystallography, Copper indium gallium selenide


Wherever the polarization properties of a light beam are of concern, polarizers and polarizing beamsplitters (PBS) are indispensable devices in linear-, nonlinear- and quantum-optical schemes. By the very nature of their operation principle, transformation of incoming unpolarized or partially polarized beams through these devices introduces large intensity variations in the fully polarized outcoming beam(s). Such intensity fluctuations are often detrimental, particularly when light is post-processed by nonlinear crystals or other polarization-sensitive optic elements. Here we demonstrate the unexpected capability of light to self-organize its own state-of-polarization, upon propagation in optical fibers, into universal and environmentally robust states, namely right and left circular polarizations. We experimentally validate a novel polarizing device - the Omnipolarizer, which is understood as a nonlinear dual-mode polarizing optical element capable of operating in two modes - as a digital PBS and as an ideal polarizer. Switching between the two modes of operation requires changing beam’s intensity.

Concepts: Optics, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Polarization, Birefringence, Circular polarization, Polarizer