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Gizmorama - May 3, 2017

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A new class of 2D quantum materials has developed that can conduct electricity at almost the speed of light. That's amazing!

Learn about this and more interesting stories from the scientific community in today's issue.

Until Next Time,

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*-- Scientists build world's fastest camera --*

Scientists in Sweden have built the world's fastest camera, capable of snapping 5 trillion images per second -- that's an image every 0.2 trillionths of a second.

The camera could be employed to observe super fast processes in chemistry, physics, biology and biomedicine.

Researchers used their new record-breaking camera to document photons traversing a distance equivalent to the width of a piece of paper. In reality, the process takes a picosecond -- one trillionth, or one millionth of one millionth of a second. Using the camera, researchers can break the process down into an observable action, slowed down by a factor of one trillion.

Instead of capturing one image at a time, the camera records multiple images at once and uses an algorithm to sort them into a film-like sequence after the fact.

The first subjects of the new camera will be natural processes, researchers say.

"This does not apply to all processes in nature, but quite a few, for example, explosions, plasma flashes, turbulent combustion, brain activity in animals and chemical reactions. We are now able to film such extremely short processes," Elias Kristensson, a researcher at Lund University, said in a news release. "In the long term, the technology can also be used by industry and others."

Many natural processes are so fast, they are impossible to capture using moving film. The only way to study these processes is by employing still image photography. But the fastest cameras used today capture just 100,000 images per second.

"You then have to attempt to repeat identical experiments to provide several still images which can later be edited into a movie," Kristensson said. "The problem with this approach is that it is highly unlikely that a process will be identical if you repeat the experiment."

Researchers described the camera in a new paper published this week in the journal FRAME.

* New 2D materials conduct electricity at nearly the speed of light *

Researchers in China and the United States have developed a new class of 2D quantum materials capable of conducting electricity at nearly the speed of light. The materials could be used to build the next generation of quantum computers.

The new materials feature data-carrying Dirac or Majorana fermions, particles without a charge and mass. The particles can travel at almost the speed of light.

"Finally, we can take exotic, high-end theories in physics and make something useful," Jing Xia, an association professor of physics and astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, said in a news release. "We're exploring the possibility of making topological quantum computers [currently theoretical] for the next 100 years."

The new materials -- detailed in three newly published scientific papers -- are microscopic. The research required a powerful microscope. To carry out their work, Xia and his colleagues built the most powerful magnetic microscope on the planet, the fiber-optic Sagnac interferometer microscope.

"This machine is the ideal measurement tool for these discoveries," said Alex Stern, a grad student at UCI. "It's the most accurate way to optically measure magnetism in a material."

Researchers used the microscope to observe chromium germanium telluride, a superthin atomic carbon film similar to graphene. The scientists observed the material at negative 387 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unlike graphene, CGT is both conductive and magnetic, making it an ideal material with which to build computer components.

Researchers also observed the interface between bismuth and nickel at minus 452 degrees Fahrenheit. At their precise point of contact, the interface becomes "an exotic superconductor that breaks time-reversal symmetry."

The materials developed by Xia and his research partners could be used to build the next generation of supercomputers and quantum computers.

"The issue now is to try to achieve this at normal temperatures," Xia said. The third study shows promise in overcoming that hurdle.


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