- Published on 20 May 2015
Calculating the energy barrier that keeps liquid water below zero from immediately turning into ice provides the key to understanding its ability to be compressed as temperature drops
Water behaves in mysterious ways. Especially below zero, where it is dubbed supercooled water, before it turns into ice. Physicists have recently observed the spontaneous first steps of the ice formation process, as tiny crystal clusters as small as 15 molecules start to exhibit the recognisable structural pattern of crystalline ice. This is part of a new study, which shows that liquid water does not become completely unstable as it becomes supercooled, prior to turning into ice crystals. The team reached this conclusion by proving that an energy barrier for crystal formation exists throughout the region in which supercooled water’s compressibility continues to rise. Previous work argued that this barrier vanished as the liquid gets colder. These findings have been published in EPJ E by Connor Buhariwalla from St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, Canada and colleagues.
- Published on 20 May 2015
Our understanding of biomechanics increasingly improves through the use of physics models. There are some intriguing biological questions regarding the interplay between the behaviour of cells and the mechanics at the level of tissues. For example, how does a collective behavior, not apparent at the cell scale, emerge at the tissue level? Or how can the mechanical state of a tissue affect the cell division rate or the orientation of cells undergoing division?
The authors of this new EPJ E Colloquium entitled “Mechanical Formalism for Tissue Dynamics” think that the interplay between genes and mechanics is key to understanding how the adult shape emerges from a developing tissue.
- Published on 08 May 2015
Zero-gravity experiments can tell us a great deal about the effects of temperature change on the concentrations of three different liquids that are mixed together
What does space experimentation have in common with liquid cocktails? Both help in understanding what happens when multiple fluids are mixed together and subjected to temperature change - a phenomenon ubiquitous in nature and industrial applications such as oil fluids contained in natural reservoirs. The latest experimental data performed in zero gravity on the International Space Station is now available in the newly published Topical Issue of EPJ E. The results constitute the first set of highly accurate and broadly validated data on the thermodiffusion effects that occur when three different liquids are mixed. Such experiments were made possible by a collaboration of space agencies including the ESA, NASA, CSA and ROSCOSMOS.
- Published on 30 March 2015
Scientists have achieved an unprecedented level of control over defects in liquid crystals that can be engineered for applications in liquid matter photonics
Sitting with a joystick in the comfort of their chairs, scientists can play “rodeo” on a screen magnifying what is happening under their microscope. They rely on optical tweezers to manipulate an intangible ring created out of liquid crystal defects capable of attaching a microsphere to a long thin fibre. Maryam Nikkhou and colleagues from the Jožef Stefan Institute, in Ljubljana, Slovenia, recently published in EPJ E the results of work performed under the supervision of Igor Muševič. They believe that their findings could ultimately open the door to controlling the flow of light using light of a specific frequency in the Gigahertz range in liquid crystal photonic microdevices.
- Published on 25 March 2015
Applying the hydrodynamics approach to granular matter helps explain its wide range of behaviour, regardless of whether the material is solid- or fluid-like
Sand, rocks, grains, salt or sugar are what physicists call granular media. A better understanding of granular media is important - particularly when mixed with water and air, as it forms the foundations of houses and off-shore windmills. Until recently, there was no single theory that could account for granular media’s flows at different speeds. Now, a new theory dubbed GSH, which stands for granular solid hydrodynamics, is supplementing previous models of granular material that work only for narrow speed ranges. And Yimin Jiang from Central South University, Changsha, China and Mario Liu from the University of Tübingen, Germany have now applied GSH to different experimental circumstances, for a wide range of flow speeds, in a study published in EPJ E.
- Published on 13 March 2015
EPJE Associate Editors Kari Dalnoki-Veress and James A. Forrest open the journal for submissions of a new type of paper: Tips and Tricks.
Underpinning the scientific enterprise there is often some crucial numerical recipe, a sample cell configuration, a sample preparation method, or experimental design. In some cases more emails were shared describing a trick than citations gathered by the paper where a brief description was provided. Typically such details are only briefly described in the journal literature, passed only from student to student, or simply shared as a ‘personal communication’. Sometimes such enabling techniques are not passed on at all. In all such cases, the scientific community as a whole is missing out, lacking a way to document this knowledge and to build on it. Moreover, while the specific research of some team may not be directly relevant to another, a transformative computational or experimental methodology can form the commonality between researchers working in different fields.
2015 will see the launch of a new section of EPJ E: Tips and Tricks.
- Published on 16 February 2015
A simple physical mechanism that can be assimilated to folding, or buckling, means that an unformed mass of cells can change in a single step into an embryo organized as a typical vertebrate. This is the main conclusion of work by a team involving physicists from the Laboratoire Matière et Systèmes Complexes (CNRS/Université Paris Diderot) and a biologist from the Laboratoire de Biologie du Développement (CNRS/UPMC).
Thanks to microscopic observations and micromechanical experiments, the scientists have discovered that the pattern that guides this folding is present from the early stages of development. The folds that will give a final shape to the animal form along the boundaries between cell territories with different properties. This work has shed light on the mechanism for the formation of vertebrates and thus how they appeared during evolution. These findings have just been published in EPJ E.
- Published on 12 January 2015
A new study of how particles may respond to the mechanical effects of light helps improve optical manipulation and remote sensing of non-spherical particles.
Manipulation of small objects by light has gained in popularity in the past few years. Now, scientists have performed the first systematic analysis of the behaviour of ellipsoidal particles manipulated by laser beams. The work shows that such particles are constantly moving in and out of the reach of an optical beam, creating oscillations. These findings by a team of researchers from the University of Bordeaux, France, have just been published in EPJ E. This work could help understand the unusual behaviour of rod-like particles manipulated by optical tweezers. Ultimately, the theoretical part of this work could contribute numerical models of how complicated shapes and large sizes scatter laser light. Numerous applications exist in fluid engineering and remote sensing methods.
- Published on 19 December 2014
- Published on 02 December 2014
Understanding how a desert beetle harvests water from dew could help to improve drinking water collection in dew condensers mimicking the nanostructure of the beetle’s back
Insects are full of marvels—and this is certainly the case with a beetle from the Tenebrionind family, found in the extreme conditions of the Namib desert. Now, a team of scientists has demonstrated that such insects can collect dew on their backs—and not just fog as previously thought. This is made possible by the wax nanostructure on the surface of the beetle’s elytra. These findings by José Guadarrama-Cetina, then working at ESPCI ParisTech, France—on leave from the University of Navarra, in Spain—and colleagues were recently published in EPJ E. They bring us a step closer to harvesting dew to make drinking water from the humidity in the air. This, the team hopes, can be done by improving the water yield of man-made dew condensers that mimick the nanostructure on the beetle’s back.