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Laser experiment hints at weird in-between ice

Marcus Knudson
Marcus Knudson

A proposed form of ice acts like a cross between a solid and a liquid. Now, a new study strengthens the case that the weird state of matter really exists.

Hints of the special phase, called superionic ice, appeared in water ice exposed to high pressures and temperatures, researchers report February 5 in Nature Physics. Although such unusual ice isn’t found naturally on Earth, it might lurk deep inside frozen worlds like Uranus and Neptune.

“It’s definitely providing more insight into water at these conditions,” says physicist Marcus Knudson of Washington State University in Pullman.

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Science News

Best of Last Year—The top Phys.org articles of 2017

Peter Engels
Peter Engels

It was another great year for science, particularly physics.

A team of physicists at Washington State University, led by professor Peter Engels, announced that they had created “negative mass,” which, as they noted, behaved in surprising ways, such as accelerating backwards when pushed from a forward direction—it was created by using lasers to cool rubidium atoms to just above absolute zero and could be used to study challenging questions related to the cosmos.

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Phys.org

Transformation of graphite into hexagonal diamond documented by WSU researchers

Yogendra Gupta

Scientists have puzzled over the exact pressure and other conditions needed to make hexagonal diamond since its discovery in an Arizona meteorite fragment half a century ago.

Now, a team of WSU researchers has for the first time observed and recorded the creation of hexagonal diamond in highly oriented pyrolytic graphite under shock compression, revealing crucial details about how it is formed. The discovery could help planetary scientists use the presence of hexagonal diamond at meteorite craters to estimate the severity of impacts.

“The transformation to hexagonal diamond occurs at a significantly lower stress than previously believed,” said WSU Regents Professor Yogendra Gupta, director of the Institute for Shock Physics and a co-author of the study. “This result has important implications regarding the estimates of thermodynamic conditions at the terrestrial sites of meteor impacts.”

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New device could turn heat energy into a viable fuel source

Yi Gu

A new device being developed by Washington State University physicist Yi Gu could one day turn the heat generated by a wide array of electronics into a usable fuel source.

The device is a multicomponent, multilayered composite material called a van der Waals Schottky diode. It converts heat into electricity up to three times more efficiently than silicon — a semiconductor material widely used in the electronics industry. While still in an early stage of development, the new diode could eventually provide an extra source of power for everything from smartphones to automobiles.

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A New World of Microscopes

Matt McCluskey
Matt McCluskey

Four years removed from a frustrating “out of focus” problem with his confocal microscope, Washington State University (WSU) physicist Matthew McCluskey finds himself in the unexpected position of founder and chief technology officer of his own startup company, Klar Scientific.

Klar Scientific specializes in the development of optical instruments for materials characterization—some of which arise from McCluskey’s improvisation while working on semiconductor characterization in his lab at WSU.

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Laboratory Equipment