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Physical Sciences

Interdisciplinary theater piece gives glimpse into world of quantum physics

“Quantum Voyages,” an interdisciplinary theater piece created by University of Illinois physics and theatre professors, gives a glimpse into the strange world of quantum physics.

Team brings subatomic resolution to computational microscope

Scientists have built a “computational microscope” that can simulate the atomic and subatomic forces that drive molecular interactions. This tool will streamline efforts to understand the chemistry of life, model large molecular systems and develop new pharmaceutical and industrial agents, the researchers say.

Researchers demonstrate existence of new form of electronic matter

Researchers have produced a “human scale” demonstration of a new phase of matter called quadrupole topological insulators that was recently predicted using theoretical physics. These are the first experimental findings to validate this theory.

Researchers tap problematic e-waste surplus to recover high-quality polymers

Mixed-plastic electronics waste could be a valuable source of reusable polymers, a new study led by Illinois Sustainability Technology Center scientists suggests. The team has developed the first energy-efficient and environmentally friendly process that separates mixed polymers so that they can be recycled into new, high-quality plastic products.

Virtual predator is self-aware, behaves like living counterpart

Scientists report in the journal eNeuro that they’ve built an artificially intelligent ocean predator that behaves a lot like the original flesh-and-blood organism on which it was modeled. The virtual creature, “Cyberslug,” reacts to food and responds to members of its own kind much like the actual animal, the sea slug Pleurobranchaea californica, does.

Individual quantum dots imaged in 3-D for first time

Researchers have developed an imaging technique that uses a tiny, super sharp needle to nudge a single nanoparticle into different orientations and capture 2-D images to help reconstruct a 3-D picture. The method demonstrates imaging of individual nanoparticles at different orientations while in a laser-induced excited state.

Continental interiors may not be as tectonically stable as geologists think

Geologic activity within stable portions of Earth’s uppermost layer may have occurred more recently than previously believed.

Three Illinois professors named Sloan Research Fellows

Three Illinois scientists are among 126 recipients of the 2018 Sloan Research Fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. According to the foundation, the awards “honor early career scholars whose achievements mark them as among the very best scientific minds working today.” Winners receive a two-year $65,000 fellowship to further their research.

Tiny drug-delivering capsules could sustain transplanted insulin-producing cells for diabetics

A drug-carrying microsphere within a cell-bearing microcapsule could be the key to transplanting insulin-secreting pig pancreas cells into human patients whose own cells have been destroyed by type I diabetes.

Shape-shifting organic crystals use memory to improve plastic electronics

Researchers have identified a mechanism that triggers shape-memory phenomena in organic crystals used in plastic electronics. Shape-shifting structural materials are made with metal alloys, but the new generation of economical printable plastic electronics is poised to benefit from this phenomenon, too. Shape-memory materials science and plastic electronics technology, when merged, could open the door to advancements in low-power electronics, medical electronics devices and multifunctional shape-memory materials.

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