Physics Today Daily Edition
MIT Technology Review: In cells, energy is rapidly transported through large, complex protein matrices with almost no energy loss. Filippo Caruso of the University of Florence in Italy and his colleagues have shown that the mechanism involved in energy transfer across these maze-like proteins likely combines quantum and classical effects. By themselves, both quantum and classical solutions to finding paths through mazes suffer from loss of energy. Caruso's team combined the simultaneous evaluation of multiple paths of the quantum process with the random jumps of the classical. The resulting hybrid process outperformed both individual ones. The researchers created various mazes from waveguides spaced at different distances from each other. When the waveguides were close together, light took full advantage of quantum effects; when further apart, classical noise disrupted the system. Thus the researchers were able to measure for the best mixing of quantum and classical properties. Their system still doesn't compare with the efficiency of the energy transfer in proteins, but it does provide some potential insight into the process.
Science: Last week US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz officially dedicated the $912 million successor to Brookhaven National Laboratory's National Synchrotron Light Source. Known as NSLS-II, the new facility will use a variety of wavelengths of light to study materials at a resolution nearing 10 nm and will reach intensities 10 000 times brighter than its predecessor. Currently only 7 of the 70 planned beamlines are operational; 25 more will be added over the next five years.
Op-ed sees 2015 as possibly "the year we confirm both the virtues and the limits of general relativity"
MIT Technology Review: Silicene is a single-layer molecule made from silicon. Like its carbon-based cousin graphene, silicene has unusual properties that make it potentially very useful in electronics. Unlike graphene, silicene does not occur naturally and is much less chemically and structurally stable in a two-dimensional form. Now, Deji Akinwande of the University of Texas at Austin and his colleagues have developed a method of growing the material that helps strengthen the molecule. They used the silicene as the base for contacts for a transistor, and the setup was stable in a vacuum. Although far from being commercially practical, the demonstration represents a significant proof of concept for the development of silicene-based electronics.