Kavli Institute Connects

The University of California, Santa Barbara’s Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) is celebrating its 35th anniversary by developing a research facility to serve as a haven for physicists to congregate and discuss questions in the broadest ranges of science.

The facility will be an extension of the KITP Scholar Program started in 1998 by Nobel Laureate and UCSB physics professor David Gross. The program awards funds to theoretical physics from universities across the U.S. to stay at UCSB for a total of six weeks and exchange research.

Snowfall On for Olympics

Concern over unusually warm temperatures and a lack of snowfall for the Winter Olympics kicking off this Friday in Sochi, Russia has been subsided with the help of physics.

Snowmakers generated nearly 500 football fields to a depth of two feet of snow by converting 230 million gallons of water to snow.

When snow is ejected from the snowmaker’s nozzle, water droplets evaporate and the air in the droplets expands, freezing the water into ice crystals reminiscent of snowflakes. Cold, dry air provides the most ideal freezing conditions. Crystallization, which is naturally encouraged by dust particles, was generated by adding inactive bacterial proteins to the water or by producing sees in the nucleation nozzle where water and compressed air mix.

The opening valves on each snowmaking machine propel 107 gallons of water a minute through a ring of nozzles, allowing the opening of the Winter Olympics to commence in a flurry of powder.

In addition to bountiful snow, gold medal winners on February 15 will receive medals embedded with fragments from the meteor that hit Chelyabinsk, Russia last February.

First Single-Molecule LED

A research group working from the Institut de Physique et de Chimie des Matériaux de Strasbourg (IPCMS, CNRS/Université de Strasbourg), in collaboration with UPMC and CEA, recently designed and constructed the first-ever single-molecule LED, a leap toward creating a molecular computer.

The team placed a polythiophene wire between the tip of a scanning tunneling microscope and a gold surface to create the device, which emits light only when the current passes in a certain direction.

The paper, published January 28th in the journal Physical Review Letters, says that “both emission mechanism and polarity dependence are similar to what occurs in organic light emitting diodes but at the level of a single molecular wire.”


A version of this story appeared on page 6 of Wednesday, February 5, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.