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Nov 24, 2021

Emergent Matter Scientists Successfully Manipulate a Single Skyrmion at Room Temperature

Posted by in categories: computing, particle physics

Scientists from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science and collaborators have shown that they can manipulate single skyrmions—tiny magnetic vortices that could be used as computing bits in future ultra-dense information storage devices—using pulses of electric current, at room temperature.

Skyrmions—tiny particles that can be moved under small electric currents several orders lower than those used for driving magnetic domain walls—are being studied in the hope of developing promising applications in data storage devices with low energy consumption. The key to creating spintronics devices is the ability to effectively manipulate, and measure, a single tiny vortex.

Most research to date has focused on the dynamics for skyrmions a micrometer or more in size or skyrmion clusters stabilized below room temperature. For the current research, published in Nature Communications, the researchers used a thin magnetic plate made up of a compound of cobalt, zinc, and manganese, Co9Zn9Mn2, which is known as a chiral-lattice magnet. They directly observed the dynamics of a single skyrmion, with a size of 100 nanometers, at room temperature using Lorentz transmission electron microscopy. They were able to track the motions of the skyrmion and control its Hall motion directions by flipping the magnetic field, when they subjected it to ultrafast pulses of electric current—on the scale of nanoseconds.

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Nov 24, 2021

256-qubit Quantum Computer Unveiled

Posted by in categories: computing, particle physics, quantum physics

The first 256-qubit quantum computer has been announced by startup company QuEra, founded by MIT and Harvard scientists.

QuEra Computing Inc. – a new Boston, Massachusetts-based company – has emerged from stealth mode with $17 million in funding and has completed the assembly of a 256-qubit device. Its funders include Japanese e-commerce giant Rakuten, Day One Ventures, Frontiers Capital, and the leading tech investors Serguei Beloussov and Paul Maritz. The company recently received a DARPA award, and has already generated $11 million in revenue.

QuEra Computing recently achieved ground-breaking research on neutral atoms, developed at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is being used as the basis for a highly scalable, programmable quantum computer solution. The QuEra team is aiming to build the world’s most powerful quantum computers to take on computational tasks that are currently deemed impossibly hard.

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Nov 24, 2021

A new artificial material mimics quantum-entangled rare earth compounds

Posted by in categories: computing, particle physics, quantum physics

Physicists have created a new ultra-thin, two-layer material with quantum properties that normally require rare earth compounds. This material, which is relatively easy to make and does not contain rare earth metals, could provide a new platform for quantum computing and advance research into unconventional superconductivity and quantum criticality.

The researchers showed that by starting from seemingly common materials, a radically new quantum state of matter can appear. The discovery emerged from their efforts to create a quantum spin liquid which they could use to investigate emergent quantum phenomena such as gauge theory. This involves fabricating a single layer of atomically thin tantalum disulphide, but the process also creates islands that consist of two layers.

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Nov 24, 2021

Electrons set the stage for neutrino experiments

Posted by in category: particle physics

Neutrinos may be the key to finally solving a mystery of the origins of our matter-dominated universe, and preparations for two major, billion-dollar experiments are underway to reveal the particles’ secrets. Now, a team of nuclear physicists have turned to the humble electron to provide insight for how these experiments can better prepare to capture critical information. Their research, which was carried out at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility and recently published in Nature, reveals that major updates to neutrino models are needed for the experiments to achieve high-precision results.

Neutrinos are ubiquitous, generated in copious numbers by stars throughout our universe. Though prevalent, these shy particles rarely interact with matter, making them very difficult to study.

“There is this phenomenon of neutrinos changing from one type to another, and this phenomenon is called . It’s interesting to study this phenomenon, because it is not well understood,” said Mariana Khachatryan, a co-lead author on the study who was a graduate student at Old Dominion University in Professor and Eminent Scholar Larry Weinstein’s research group when she contributed to the research. She is now a postdoctoral research associate at Florida International University.

Nov 23, 2021

Artificial intelligence powers protein-folding predictions

Posted by in categories: biological, chemistry, particle physics, robotics/AI

Rarely does scientific software spark such sensational headlines. “One of biology’s biggest mysteries ‘largely solved’ by AI”, declared the BBC. Forbes called it “the most important achievement in AI — ever”. The buzz over the November 2020 debut of AlphaFold2, Google DeepMind’s (AI) system for predicting the 3D structure of proteins, has only intensified since the tool was made freely available in July.

The excitement relates to the software’s potential to solve one of biology’s thorniest problems — predicting the functional, folded structure of a protein molecule from its linear amino-acid sequence, right down to the position of each atom in 3D space. The underlying physicochemical rules for how proteins form their 3D structures remain too complicated for humans to parse, so this ‘protein-folding problem’ has remained unsolved for decades.

Researchers have worked out the structures of around 160,000 proteins from all kingdoms of life. They have been using experimental techniques, such as X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), and then depositing their 3D information in the Protein Data Bank. Computational biologists have made steady gains in developing software that complements these methods, and have correctly predicted the 3D shapes of some molecules from well-studied protein families.

Nov 23, 2021

The Mathematical Structure of Particle Collisions Comes Into View

Posted by in categories: computing, information science, mathematics, particle physics, quantum physics

And that’s where physicists are getting stuck.

Zooming in to that hidden center involves virtual particles — quantum fluctuations that subtly influence each interaction’s outcome. The fleeting existence of the quark pair above, like many virtual events, is represented by a Feynman diagram with a closed “loop.” Loops confound physicists — they’re black boxes that introduce additional layers of infinite scenarios. To tally the possibilities implied by a loop, theorists must turn to a summing operation known as an integral. These integrals take on monstrous proportions in multi-loop Feynman diagrams, which come into play as researchers march down the line and fold in more complicated virtual interactions.

Physicists have algorithms to compute the probabilities of no-loop and one-loop scenarios, but many two-loop collisions bring computers to their knees. This imposes a ceiling on predictive precision — and on how well physicists can understand what quantum theory says.

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Nov 22, 2021

Exotic New Material Could Be Two Superconductors in One — With Serious Quantum Computing Applications

Posted by in categories: computing, particle physics, quantum physics

Work has potential applications in quantum computing, and introduces new way to plumb the secrets of superconductivity. MIT physicists and colleagues have demonstrated an exotic form of superconductivity in a new material the team synthesized only about a year ago. Although predicted in the 1960s.


“An important theme of our research is that new physics comes from new materials,” says Joseph Checkelsky, lead principal investigator of the work and the Mitsui Career Development Associate Professor of Physics. “Our initial report last year was of this new material. This new work reports the new physics.”

Checkelsky’s co-authors on the current paper include lead author Aravind Devarakonda PhD ’21, who is now at Columbia University. The work was a central part of Devarakonda’s thesis. Co-authors are Takehito Suzuki, a former research scientist at MIT now at Toho University in Japan; Shiang Fang, a postdoc in the MIT Department of Physics; Junbo Zhu, an MIT graduate student in physics; David Graf of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory; Markus Kriener of the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science in Japan; Liang Fu, an MIT associate professor of physics; and Efthimios Kaxiras of Harvard University.

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Nov 22, 2021

Skyrmions: Fundamental particles modeled in beam of light

Posted by in categories: mathematics, particle physics, space

Scientists at the University of Birmingham have succeeded in creating an experimental model of an elusive kind of fundamental particle called a skyrmion in a beam of light.

The breakthrough provides physicists with a real system demonstrating the behavior of skyrmions, first proposed 60 years ago by a University of Birmingham mathematical physicist, Professor Tony Skyrme.

Skyrme’s idea used the structure of spheres in 4-dimensional space to guarantee the indivisible nature of a skyrmion particle in 3 dimensions. 3D particle-like skyrmions are theorized to tell us about the early origins of the Universe, or about the physics of exotic materials or cold atoms. However, despite being investigated for over 50 years, 3D skyrmions have been seen very rarely in experiments. The most current research into skyrmions focuses on 2D analogs, which shows promise for new technologies.

Nov 22, 2021

The Algorithm That Lets Particle Physicists Count Higher Than Two

Posted by in categories: information science, particle physics

Through his encyclopedic study of the electron, an obscure figure named Stefano Laporta found a handle on the subatomic world’s fearsome complexity. His algorithm has swept the field.

Nov 22, 2021

An Absolutely Bonkers Plan to Give Mars an Artificial Magnetosphere

Posted by in categories: particle physics, space

Terraforming Mars is one of the great dreams of humanity. Mars has a lot going for it. Its day is about the same length as Earth’s, it has plenty of frozen water just under its surface, and it likely could be given a reasonably breathable atmosphere in time. But one of the things it lacks is a strong magnetic field. So if we want to make Mars a second Earth, we’ll have to give it an artificial one.

The reason magnetic fields are so important is that they can shield a planet from solar wind and ionizing particles. Earth’s magnetic field prevents most high-energy charged particles from reaching the surface. Instead, they are deflected from Earth, keeping us safe. The magnetic field also helps prevent solar winds from stripping Earth’s atmosphere over time. Early Mars had a thick, water-rich atmosphere, but it was gradually depleted without the protection of a strong magnetic field.

Unfortunately, we can’t just recreate Earth’s magnetic field on Mars. Our field is generated by a dynamo effect in Earth’s core, where the convection of iron alloys generates Earth’s geomagnetic field. The interior of Mars is smaller and cooler, and we can’t simply “start it up” to create a magnetic dynamo. But there are a few ways we can create an artificial magnetic field, as a recent study shows.

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