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From the College of Natural Sciences
New Material Holds Promise for More Secure Computing

New Material Holds Promise for More Secure Computing

When the two atomically-thin sheets of this new material are rotated slightly with respect to each other, an interference pattern known as a moiré pattern appears. This feature appears to enable Li’s new material to act as a series of single photon emitters. Credit: University of Texas at Austin.

As computers advance, encryption methods currently used to keep everything from financial transactions to military secrets secure might soon be useless, technology experts warn. Reporting today in the journal Nature, a team of physicists and engineers led by University of Texas at Austin physics professor Xiaoqin Elaine Li report they have created a material with light-emitting properties that might enable hack-proof communications, guaranteed by the laws of quantum mechanics.

New Material Might Lead to Higher Capacity Hard Drives

New Material Might Lead to Higher Capacity Hard Drives

Over the past few decades, the cost of storing data on hard disk drives (HDDs) has fallen dramatically, enabling revolutions in personal, scientific and cloud computing and allowing for storage of ever-greater amounts of data. But even as data collection continues to skyrocket, the cost-per-bit trend has been flattening out, leading to calls for new innovations in technology.

Two UT Scientists Part of Project to Detect ‘Life As We Don’t Know It’

Two UT Scientists Part of Project to Detect ‘Life As We Don’t Know It’

Eric Anslyn and Andrew Ellington.

A nearly $7 million grant from NASA is supporting research to develop approaches to detecting extraterrestrial life, and two University of Texas at Austin faculty are part of the interdisciplinary scientific team.

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.