The engine of a typical passenger vehicle is made up of hundreds of mechanical parts. These parts require lubrication to prevent them from overheating and to keep them working efficiently. Ken Hope and his team at Chevron Phillips Chemical, headquartered in Texas, have analysed the extent to which different types of lubricant oils reduce friction. They then used this data to estimate how an optimised oil mixture can achieve an overall improvement in engine efficiency.
Interstellar space may seem like the last place you would look when searching for the chemical origins of life. Yet on the surfaces of tiny dust grains within this vast expanse, complex chemical reactions are continually occurring, which likely played a key role in establishing the rich diversity of complex molecules we observe in the solar system today. In a new study, astrochemists in Spain and Italy, led by Albert Rimola at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, examine how advanced simulation techniques can be used to study these important processes on atomic scales.
Reinventing the Capacitor: The Topological Route of Electricity – Professor Valerii Vinokur | Professor Anna Razumnaya | Professor Igor Lukyanchuk
Modern microelectronics is currently facing a profound challenge. The demand for even smaller and more closely packed electronics has hit a stumbling block: the power emitted in these devices releases more heat than can be efficiently removed. Now, Professors Valerii Vinokur, Anna Razumnaya, and Igor Lukyanchuk propose a solution based on the seemingly counterintuitive phenomenon of ‘negative capacitance’. The effect is surprisingly linked to an intriguing topological structure, which is found time and again across a broad range of scientific fields.
Although nuclear power is a clean alternative to fossil fuel combustion, this industry often causes uranium pollution in the local environment. The generation of metatorbernite, a solid material containing uranium, is one promising way to remove dissolved uranium atoms from industrial wastewater. However, before this remediation technology can be widely applied, we need a deeper understanding of the properties of metatorbernite, such as its long-term stability, to ensure that uranium will not be re-released from its structure. Dr Caroline Kirk, Ms Fi MacIver-Jones and their colleagues at the University of Edinburgh have been working to establish the structure and stability of this material, so that it can be applied for uranium remediation in the near future.
Investigating Fructans to Understand How Plants Can Survive Harsh Environments | Dr José Ordaz-Ortiz
The molecules within plant tissues can tell us about how they can withstand harsh environmental conditions. The Agave tequilana plant, native to Mexico, has a high concentration of fructan molecules throughout its tissues. Alongside his colleagues, Dr José Ordaz-Ortiz at the Center for Research and Advanced Studies of the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico, combines several powerful analytical techniques to better understand the role that these fructans play in plant biology.
Revealing How Table Tennis Could Be Transformed into a Popular Spectator Sport | Professor Ralf Schneider
Rapid-fire rallies of short, fast shots are a defining feature of professional table tennis – but for many audiences, the excitement of these matches isn’t easily conveyed on the TV screen. Using a combination of computer simulations and statistical analysis, Professor Ralf Schneider and his colleagues at the Institute of Physics of the University of Greifswald, Germany, explore how slight changes to the game’s equipment could slow matches down, and make them more interesting to viewers. Karl Lüskow, Marc Marschall and Stefan Kemnitz produced and optimised the simulation code, while Lars Lewerentz performed statistical analysis of the data.