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From the College of Natural Sciences
UT Austin Launches $15.6 Million Center for Materials Research

UT Austin Launches $15.6 Million Center for Materials Research

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering and the College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin have received a $15.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to discover and advance new types of materials for use in many applications including energy storage, medical devices and information processing.

Surprising Property of Ferroelectrics Might Lead to Smaller, Lighter Electronics

Surprising Property of Ferroelectrics Might Lead to Smaller, Lighter Electronics

In this artist’s conception, a needle from a scanning impedance microscope touches a domain wall in a ferroelectric material. Image credit: Ella Maru Studio.

A research team led by physics professor Keji Lai at the University of Texas at Austin has discovered that a material he studies has an unusual property that could one day lead to cell phones and other electronic devices that are smaller, lighter and more energy efficient.

A New Era for Physics? With Creation of New Form of Matter, a Time Crystal, It Just Might Be

A New Era for Physics? With Creation of New Form of Matter, a Time Crystal, It Just Might Be

Salt, snowflakes and diamonds are all crystals, meaning their atoms are arranged in 3-D patterns that repeat. Today scientists are reporting in the journal Nature on the creation of a phase of matter, dubbed a time crystal, in which atoms move in a pattern that repeats in time rather than in space.

Unusual Quantum Liquid Could Inspire Future Electronics

Unusual Quantum Liquid Could Inspire Future Electronics

For the first time, an experiment has directly imaged electron orbits in a high-magnetic field, illuminating an unusual collective behavior in electrons and suggesting new ways of manipulating the charged particles.

Low-Temp Production Could Mean Cheaper, Flexible Smart Windows

Low-Temp Production Could Mean Cheaper, Flexible Smart Windows

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have invented a new flexible smart window material that, when incorporated into windows, sunroofs, or even curved glass surfaces, will have the ability to control both heat and light from the sun. Their article about the new material will be published in the September issue of Nature Materials.

A darkened electrochromic film on plastic prepared by chemical condensation.
Scientists Glimpse Inner Workings of Atomically Thin Transistors

Scientists Glimpse Inner Workings of Atomically Thin Transistors

With an eye to the next generation of tech gadgetry, a team of physicists at The University of Texas at Austin has had the first-ever glimpse into what happens inside an atomically thin semiconductor device. In doing so, they discovered that an essential function for computing may be possible within a space so small that it's effectively one-dimensional.

New Nanostructure Could Lead to Advanced Optical Devices

New Nanostructure Could Lead to Advanced Optical Devices

When a quantum dot (right) is placed next to it, the light scattering properties of a much larger gold nanoparticle (center) change. A polarized light shining on the nanoparticle generates an electric field (surrounding bands of color).

Physicists Xiaoqin "Elaine" Li, Gennady Shvets and their colleagues have been exploring new ways to manipulate light on the nanoscale. In a paper published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they describe work that could lead to better biological sensors and improved devices for optical communications and computing.

New Device Bends Light at Sharp Angles

New Device Bends Light at Sharp Angles

Most modern computers and communications devices use electrons to transmit and process information. But when they're crammed onto smaller and smaller devices, electrons become unruly, generating a lot of heat. Scientists have long dreamed of replacing electrons with particles of light called photons. Because photons don't generate much heat and move at light speed, computer chips could theoretically be made much smaller and faster than current chips.

Scientists Create New Tool to Study Emerging Materials for Spintronics

Scientists Create New Tool to Study Emerging Materials for Spintronics

As traditional electronics begin to reach their physical limits of compactness and speed, scientists and engineers are looking for new ways to stay on track with Moore's Law. One possible solution is to develop spintronics, devices that use a property of electrons known as spin to represent the 0's and 1's in computers. A class of materials called topological insulators (TIs) might have the right properties for spintronics, but since they were discovered less than a decade ago, scientists still know little about their properties.

Researchers Build World's Thinnest Light Bulb from Graphene

Researchers Build World's Thinnest Light Bulb from Graphene

graphene-light-bulb700-narrow.jpg

A team of scientists and engineers from Columbia University, Seoul National University (SNU), Korea Research Institute of Standards and Science (KRISS) and The University of Texas at Austin have demonstrated — for the first time — a visible light source using graphene, an atomically thin form of carbon. This new type of light source could form the basis of faster communications devices and computer displays that are thin, flexible and transparent.