Existence of Widespread Ultra Small Nanobacteria Confirmed

by Tommy on 2/03/2015


Diverse uncultivated ultra-small bacterial cells in groundwater, Birgit Luef, Kyle R. Frischkorn, Kelly C. Wrighton, Hoi-Ying N. Holman, Giovanni Birarda, Brian C. Thomas, Andrea Singh, Kenneth H. Williams, Cristina E. Siegerist, Susannah G. Tringe, Kenneth H. Downing, Luis R. Comolli and Jillian F. Banfield, Nature Communications, 6, 6372 (27 February 2015)

Bacteria from phyla lacking cultivated representatives are widespread in natural systems and some have very small genomes. Here we test the hypothesis that these cells are small and thus might be enriched by filtration for coupled genomic and ultrastructural characterization. Metagenomic analysis of groundwater that passed through a ~0.2-μm filter reveals a wide diversity of bacteria from the WWE3, OP11 and OD1 candidate phyla. Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy demonstrates that, despite morphological variation, cells consistently have small cell size (0.009±0.002 μm3). Ultrastructural features potentially related to cell and genome size minimization include tightly packed spirals inferred to be DNA, few densely packed ribosomes and a variety of pili-like structures that might enable inter-organism interactions that compensate for biosynthetic capacities inferred to be missing from genomic data. The results suggest that extremely small cell size is associated with these relatively common, yet little known organisms.


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The Mysterious Fifth Planet Ceres Begins to Reveal its Secrets

by Tommy on 26/02/2015
Ceres Bright Crater Spots

Ceres Bright Crater Spots


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The Surface of the Fifth Planet Ceres is Now Fully Resolved

by Tommy on 25/02/2015
Ceres Dawn Fully Resolved

Ceres Dawn Fully Resolved

Screw Mars! The IAU can now get moving on their vitally important task of naming craters.

Everything has got to have a name, right?


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A Modern Discussion of the Seebeck Coefficient is Presented

by Tommy on 24/02/2015


A note on the electrochemical nature of the thermoelectric power, Y. Apertet, H. Ouerdane, C. Goupil and Ph. Lecoeur

While thermoelectric transport theory is well established and widely applied, there remains some degree of confusion on the proper thermodynamic definition of the Seebeck coefficient (or thermoelectric power) which is a measure of the strength of the mutual interaction between electric charge transport and heat transport. Indeed, as one considers a thermoelectric system, it is not always clear whether the Seebeck coefficient is to be related to the gradient of the system’s chemical potential or to the gradient of its electrochemical potential. This pedagogical article aims to shed light on this confusion and clarify the thermodynamic definition of the thermoelectric coupling. First, we recall how the Seebeck coefficient is experimentally determined. We then turn to the analysis of the relationship between the thermoelectric power and the relevant potentials in the thermoelectric system: As the definitions of the chemical and electrochemical potentials are clarified, we show that, with a proper consideration of each potential, one may derive the Seebeck coefficient of a non-degenerate semiconductor without the need to introduce a contact potential as seen sometimes in the literature. Furthermore, we demonstrate that the phenomenological expression of the electrical current resulting from thermoelectric effects may be directly obtained from the drift-diffusion equation.

This is extremely enlightening.

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Metastable Excitonic Impurity States Found in a Fermi Gas

by Tommy on 24/02/2015


Excitonic states of an impurity in a Fermi gas, Zhihao Lan and Carlos Lobo

We study excitonic states of an atomic impurity in a Fermi gas, i.e., bound states consisting of the impurity and a hole. Previous studies considered bound states of the impurity with particles from the Fermi sea where the holes only formed part of the particle-hole dressing. Within a two-channel model, we find that, for a wide range of parameters, excitonic states are not ground but metastable states. We further calculate the decay rates of the excitonic states to polaronic and dimeronic states and find they are long lived, scaling as ΓExcPol ∝ (Δω)5.5 and ΓExcDim ∝ (Δω)4. We also find that a new continuum of exciton-particle states should be considered alongside the previously known dimeron-hole continuum in spectroscopic measurements. Excitons must therefore be considered as a new ingredient in the study of metastable physics currently being explored experimentally.

Ok then. There you have it.

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New Analytic Results on the BCS-BEC Transition Derived

by Tommy on 24/02/2015


Scattering length of composite bosons in the 3D BCS-BEC crossover, L. Salasnich and G. Bighin, Accepted for Publication in Phys. Rev. A

We study the zero-temperature grand potential of a three-dimensional superfluid made of ultracold fermionic alkali-metal atoms in the BCS-BEC crossover. In particular, we analyze the zero-point energy of both fermionic single-particle excitations and bosonic collective excitations. The bosonic elementary excitations, which are crucial to obtain a reliable equation of state in the BEC regime, are obtained with a low-momentum expansion up to the forth order of the quadratic (Gaussian) action of the fluctuating pairing field. By performing a cutoff regularization and renormalization of Gaussian fluctuations, we find that the scattering length aB of composite bosons, bound states of fermionic pairs, is given by aB=(2/3)aF, where aF is the scattering length of fermions.

This is a new crop of crazy Italians.

Very good stuff.

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T-Matrix Approximation Yields BCS-BEC Pseudogap Behavior and the Breakdown of Fermi Liquid Theory in the Normal State

by Tommy on 22/02/2015


Quasiparticle Dispersions and Lifetimes in the Normal State of the BCS-BEC Crossover, Matthew D. Reichl and Erich J. Mueller

We compute the spectral density in the normal phase of an interacting homogenous Fermi gas using a T-matrix approximation. We fit the quasiparticle peaks of the spectral density to BCS-like dispersion relations, and extract estimates of a “pseudo-gap” energy scale and an effective Fermi-wavevector as a function of interaction strength. We find that the effective Fermi-wavevector of the quasiparticles vanishes when the inverse scattering length exceeds some positive threshold. We also find that near unitarity the quasiparticle lifetimes, estimated from the widths of the peaks in the spectral density, approach values on the order of the inverse Fermi-energy. These results are consistent with the “breakdown of Fermi liquid theory” observed in recent experiments.


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Behold the Surface of the Mysterious Fifth Planet Ceres

by Tommy on 17/02/2015
Fifth Planet Ceres Dawn

Fifth Planet Ceres Dawn

Now 50,000 miles away.

They’re giant sinkholes!

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Red Luminescence in Zero Dimensional Organic Bismuth Iodide

by Tommy on 15/02/2015


Structural characterization, vibrational, optical properties and DFT investigation of a new luminescent organic–inorganic material: (C6H14N)3Bi2I9, Hajer Dammak, Aymen Yangui, Smail Triki, Younes Abid and Habib Feki, Journal of Luminescence, Volume 161, Pages 214–220 (May 2015)

The new organic–inorganic compound (C6H14N)3Bi2I9 has been grown by the solvent evaporation method. The zero-dimensional (0-D) structure for the bismuth-iodide (C6H14N)3Bi2I9 has been determined by the single X-ray diffraction. It crystallizes at room temperature in the non-centrosymmetric space group P1c1 and consists of a cyclohexylammonium cations and a discrete (0-D) anion built up of face-sharing bioctahedra which are interconnected by means of hydrogen bonding contacts N–H⋯I. The optimized molecular structure and vibrational spectra were calculated by the Density Functional Theory (DFT) method using the B3LYP function with the LanL2DZ basis set. Good consistency is found between the calculated results and the experimental structure, IR, and Raman spectra. The detailed interpretation of the vibrational modes was carried out. Optical transmission measurements performed on thin films of (C6H14N)3Bi2I9 revealed three absorption bands at 3.51, 2.91 and 2.46 eV. Photoluminescence measurements showed a peak at around 2.06 eV. The unaided-eye-detectable red luminescence emission comes from the excitonic transition in the Bi2I9 anions.

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Topological Edge States of Bismuth Bilayer Islands Probed

by Tommy on 12/02/2015


One-Dimensional Edge States with Giant Spin Splitting in a Bismuth Thin Film, A. Takayama, T. Sato, S. Souma, T. Oguchi and T. Takahashi, Phys. Rev. Lett. 114, 066402 (2015)

To realize a one-dimensional (1D) system with strong spin-orbit coupling is a big challenge in modern physics, since the electrons in such a system are predicted to exhibit exotic properties unexpected from the 2D or 3D counterparts, while it was difficult to realize genuine physical properties inherent to the 1D system. We demonstrate the first experimental result that directly determines the purely 1D band structure by performing spin-resolved angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy of Bi islands on a silicon surface that contains a metallic 1D edge structure with unexpectedly large Rashba-type spin-orbit coupling suggestive of the nontopological nature. We have also found a sizable out-of-plane spin polarization of the 1D edge state, consistent with our first-principles band calculations. Our result provides a new platform to realize exotic quantum phenomena at the 1D edge of the strong spin-orbit-coupling systems.

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevLett.114.066402

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Spin Fluctuations Not Responsible For Cuprate Charge Order

by Tommy on 11/02/2015


A strong coupling critique of spin fluctuation driven charge order in underdoped cuprates, Vivek Mishra and M. R. Norman

Charge order has emerged as a generic feature of doped cuprates, leading to important questions about its origin and its relation to superconductivity. Recent experiments on two classes of hole doped cuprates indicate a novel d-wave symmetry for the order. These were motivated by earlier spin fluctuation theoretical studies based on an expansion about hot spots in the Brillouin zone that indicated such order would be competitive with d-wave superconductivity. Here, we reexamine this problem by solving strong coupling equations in the full Brillouin zone. Our results find that bond-oriented order, as seen experimentally, is strongly suppressed, indicating that the charge order must have a different origin.

I get that.

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Bismuth Iodide Bi4I4 Confirmed as Novel Topological Insulator

by Tommy on 10/02/2015
Bismuth Mono Iodide Sub Halide

Bismuth Mono Iodide Sub Halide


A Novel Quasi-One-Dimensional Topological Insulator in Bismuth Iodide β-Bi4I4: Theoretical Prediction and Experimental Confirmation, Oleg V. Yazyev, Gabriel Autes, Anna Isaeva, Luca Moreschini, Jens C. Johannsen. Andrea Pisoni, Taisia G. Filatova, Alexey N. Kuznetsov, Lazlo Forro, Wouter Van den Broek, Yeongkwan Kim, Jonathan D. Denlinger, Eli Rotenberg, Aaron Bostwick, Marco Grioni, Bulletin of the American Physical Society, Abstract B10.00010, APS March Meeting 2015, Volume 60, Number 2

A new strong Z2 topological insulator is theoretically predicted and experimentally confirmed in the β-phase of quasi-one-dimensional bismuth iodide Bi4I4. According to our first-principles calculations the material is characterized by Z2 invariants (1;110) making it the first representative of this topological class. Importantly, the electronic structure of β-Bi4I4 is in proximity with both the weak topological insulator phase (0;001) and the trivial phase (0;000), suggesting that a high degree of control over the topological electronic properties of this material can be achieved. Experimentally produced samples of this material appears to be practically defect-free, which results in a low concentration of intrinsic charge carriers. By using angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy (ARPES) on the (001) surface we confirm the theoretical predictions of a highly anisotropic band structure with a small band gap hosting topological surface states centered at the M¯ point, at the boundary of the surface Brillouin zone.

Let the celebrations begin!

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The Dawn Spacecraft Probe is Now on Ceres Final Approach

by Tommy on 6/02/2015
Dawn Ceres Final Approach

Dawn Ceres Final Approach

90,000 Miles – One Month Away From Ceres

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Governor Scott Walker Kills The University of Wisconsin Idea

by Tommy on 5/02/2015
Scott Walker Koch Presidential Boob

Scott Walker Koch Presidential Boob

It’s like this thing was written by little children. Jobs!

We hope your stay at the Madison Technical University is safe and productive.

Now get back to work you pathetic post doctoral slave laborer!

Please elect this guy president. We want him gone.

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Dawn’s Approach to Ceres Begins to Resolve Surface Details

by Tommy on 27/01/2015
Dawn Ceres Approach 2

Dawn Ceres Approach 2

It’s a beat up Tethys.

It’s split open too!

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Bismuth Rhodium Iodide Bi14Rh3I9 for Topological Circuits

by Tommy on 26/01/2015


Sub-nm wide electron channels protected by topology, Christian Pauly, Bertold Rasche, Klaus Koepernik, Marcus Liebmann, Marco Pratzer, Manuel Richter, Jens Kellner, Markus Eschbach, Bernhard Kaufmann, Lukasz Plucinski, Claus M. Schneider, Michael Ruck, Jeroen van den Brink and Markus Morgenstern, Nature Physics In Press

Helical locking of spin and momentum and prohibited backscattering are the key properties of topologically protected states. They are expected to enable novel types of information processing such as spintronics by providing pure spin currents, or fault tolerant quantum computation by using the Majorana fermions at interfaces of topological states with superconductors. So far, the required helical conduction channels used to realize Majorana fermions are generated through application of an axial magnetic field to conventional semiconductor nanowires. Avoiding the magnetic field enhances the possibilities for circuit design significantly. Here, we show that sub-nanometer wide electron channels with natural helicity are present at surface step-edges of the recently discovered topological insulator Bi14Rh3I9. Scanning tunneling spectroscopy reveals the electron channels to be continuous in both energy and space within a large band gap of 200 meV, thereby, evidencing its non-trivial topology. The absence of these channels in the closely related, but topologically trivial insulator Bi13Pt3I7 corroborates the channels’ topological nature. The backscatter-free electron channels are a direct consequence of Bi14Rh3I9‘s structure, a stack of 2D topologically insulating, graphene-like planes separated by trivial insulators. We demonstrate that the surface of Bi14Rh3I9 can be engraved using an atomic force microscope, allowing networks of protected channels to be patterned with nm precision.

Are you a believer now?

See also: http://arxiv.org/abs/1303.2193

Stacked topological insulator built from bismuth-based graphene sheet analogues, Bertold Rasche, Anna Isaeva, Michael Ruck, Sergey Borisenko, Volodymyr Zabolotnyy, Bernd Buchner, Klaus Koepernik, Carmine Ortix, Manuel Richter and Jeroen van den Brink, Nature Materials, 12, 422–425 (10 March 2013)

DOI: 10.1038/NMAT3570

Commonly materials are classified as either electrical conductors or insulators. The theoretical discovery of topological insulators (TIs) in 2005 has fundamentally challenged this dichotomy. In a TI, spin-orbit interaction generates a non-trivial topology of the electronic band-structure dictating that its bulk is perfectly insulating, while its surface is fully conducting. The first TI candidate material put forward -graphene- is of limited practical use since its weak spin-orbit interactions produce a band-gap of ~0.01K. Recent reinvestigation of Bi2Se3 and Bi2Te3, however, have firmly categorized these materials as strong three-dimensional TI’s. We have synthesized the first bulk material belonging to an entirely different, weak, topological class, built from stacks of two-dimensional TI’s: Bi14Rh3I9. Its Bi-Rh sheets are graphene analogs, but with a honeycomb net composed of RhBi8-cubes rather than carbon atoms. The strong bismuth-related spin-orbit interaction renders each graphene-like layer a TI with a 2400K band-gap.

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Unusual Surface States in Dirac Semimetal Sodium Bismuth

by Tommy on 25/01/2015


Observation of Fermi Arc Surface States in a Topological Metal: A New Type of 2D Electron Gas beyond Topological Insulators, Su-Yang Xu, Chang Liu, Satya K. Kushwaha, Raman Sankar, Jason W. Krizan, Ilya Belopolski, Madhab Neupane, Guang Bian, Nasser Alidoust, Tay-Rong Chang, Horng-Tay Jeng, Cheng-Yi Huang, Wei-Feng Tsai, Hsin Lin, Pavel P. Shibayev, Fangcheng Chou, Robert J. Cava and M. Zahid Hasan, Science, 347, 6219, 294-298 (2015)

DOI: 10.1126/science.1256742

In a topological insulator, it is the electrons on the surface or edge that carry the signature of topology. Recently, a novel topological state has been proposed in metals or semimetals (gapless) whose band-structure is similar to that of a three-dimensional analog of graphene. However, to this date the signature of its topology remains an open question. We report the experimental discovery of a pair of polarized Fermi arc surface state modes in the form of a new type of two-dimensional polarized electron gas on the surfaces of Dirac semimetals. These Fermi arc surface states (FASS) are observed to connect across an even number of bulk band gapless nodes and found to have their spin uniquely locked to their momentum. We show that these states are distinctly different from the topological surface states (TSS) seen in all known topological insulators. Our observed exotic two-dimensional states not only uncover the novel topology of gapless Dirac metals (such as sodium tribismuth Na3Bi) but also opens new research frontiers for the utilization of topological Fermi arc electron gases for a wide range of fundamental physics and spintronic studies.

or …

The topology of the electronic structure of a crystal is manifested in its surface states. Recently, a distinct topological state has been proposed in metals or semimetals whose spin-orbit band structure features three-dimensional Dirac quasiparticles. We used angle-resolved photoemission spectroscopy to experimentally observe a pair of spin-polarized Fermi arc surface states on the surface of the Dirac semimetal Na3Bi at its native chemical potential. Our systematic results collectively identify a topological phase in a gapless material. The observed Fermi arc surface states open research frontiers in fundamental physics and possibly in spintronics.

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Insulator Metal Transition in Cuprates Is Similar to a Gas Liquid Phase Transition in Supercooled Water

by Tommy on 23/01/2015


CDW and similarity of the Mott-Insulator-to-Metal transition in cuprates with the gas to liquid-liquid transition in supercooled water, G. Campi, D. Innocenti and A. Bianconi, Superstripes 2014 Conference, Erice July 25-31 2014. Appears in J Supercond Nov Magn (2015)

New advances in x-ray diffraction, extended x-ray absorption fine structure EXAFS and x-ray absorption near edge structure XANES using synchrotron radiation have now provided compelling evidence for a short range charge density wave phase (CDW) called striped phase in the CuO2 plane of all cuprate high temperature superconductors. The CDW is associated with a bond order wave (BOW) and an orbital density wave (ODW) forming nanoscale puddles which coexist with superconducting puddles below Tc. The electronic CDW crystalline phase occurs around the hole doping 0.125 between the Mott charge transfer insulator, and the 2D metal. The Van der Waals (VdW) theoretical model for a liquid of anisotropic extended objects proposed for supercooled water is used to describe : a) the underdoped regime as a first spinodal regime of a slightly doped charge transfer Mott insulator puddles coexisting with the striped polaronic CDW puddles; and b) the optimum doping regime as a second spinodal regime where striped polaronic CDW puddles coexist with the normal 2D metal puddles. This complex phase separation with 3 competing phases depends on the strength of the anisotropic electron-phonon interaction that favors the formation striped polaronic CDW phase.

The liquid – liquid part in supercooled water is fairly contentious right now.

See, for instance : http://arxiv.org/abs/1407.7884

And of course :

Perspective on the structure of liquid water, A. Nilsson and L.G.M. Pettersson, Chemical Physics, 389, 1–3, 1–34 (7 November 2011)


We present a picture that combines discussions regarding the thermodynamic anomalies in ambient and supercooled water with recent interpretations of X-ray spectroscopy and scattering data of water in the ambient regime. At ambient temperatures most molecules favor a closer packing than tetrahedral, with strongly distorted hydrogen bonds, which allows the quantized librational modes to be excited and contribute to the entropy, but with enthalpically favored tetrahedrally bonded water patches appearing as fluctuations, i.e. a competition between entropy and enthalpy. Upon cooling water the amount of molecules participating in tetrahedral structures and the size of the tetrahedral patches increase. The two local structures are connected to the liquid–liquid critical point hypothesis in supercooled water corresponding to high density liquid and low density liquid. We will discuss the interpretation of X-ray absorption spectroscopy, X-ray emission spectroscopy, wide and small angle X-ray scattering and molecular dynamics simulations in light of the current debate.

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Phosphorene Comes of Age

by Tommy on 22/01/2015


Energetics, Charge Transfer and Magnetism of Small Molecules Physisorbed on Phosphorene, Yongqing Cai, Qingqing Ke, Gang Zhang and Yong-Wei Zhang, Accepted by JPCC

First-principles calculations are performed to investigate the interaction of physisorbed small molecules, including CO, H2, H2O, NH3, NO, NO2, and O2, with phosphorene, and their energetics, charge transfer, and magnetic moment are evaluated on the basis of dispersion corrected density functional theory. Our calculations reveal that CO, H2, H2O and NH3 molecules act as a weak donor, whereas O2 and NO2 act as a strong acceptor. While NO molecule donates electrons to graphene, it receives electrons from phosphorene. Among all the investigated molecules, NO2 has the strongest interaction through hybridizing its frontier orbitals with the 3p orbital of phosphorene. The nontrivial and distinct charge transfer occurring between phosphorene and these physisorbed molecules not only renders phosphorene promising for application as a gas sensor, but also provides an effective route to modulating the polarity and density of carriers in phosphorene. In addition, the binding energy of H2 on phosphorene is found to be 0.13 eV/H2, indicating that phosphorene is suitable for both stable room-temperature hydrogen storage and its subsequent facile release.

Behold the beginning of the phosphonics era.

Beware of phosphine gas.

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Antarctica – Antarctic Ice Sheet Impact Crater Spotted By Plane

by Tommy on 21/01/2015
Antarctica Antarctic Ice Sheet Impact Crater

Antarctica Antarctic Ice Sheet Impact Crater

Tobias Binder – Alfred Wegener Institute

Daily Mail Online Article

September 2, 2004

Update: The hypothesis is melting … Melting … MELTING!


BUT … But … but, wouldn’t an impact fireball create a meltwater lake?

My brain is burning … Burning … BURNING!

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Surface of Planet Ceres To Be Revealed By Approach of Dawn

by Tommy on 20/01/2015
Dawn Ceres First Approach

Dawn Ceres First Approach

As close as the moon.

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Nutjob Texas Senator Ted Cruz Wants To Bankrupt NASA

by Tommy on 14/01/2015
Nutjob Texas Senator Ted Cruz

Nutjob Texas Senator Ted Cruz

Ted Cruz supports an obsolete Space Launch System and Orion capsule as a failed Constellation wannabe for NASA. NASA – Failed Until Constellation is Killed – FUCK.

The new nutjob in charge is just the same as the old nutjob.

You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all.

Houston Chronicle Article

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Angular Orbital Magnetoresistance of Bismuth Investigated

by Tommy on 8/01/2015


Angle dependence of the orbital magnetoresistance in bismuth, Aurelie Collaudin, Benoit Fauque, Yuki Fuseya, Woun Kang and Kamran Behnia

We present an extensive study of angle-dependent transverse magnetoresistance in bismuth, with a magnetic field perpendicular to the applied electric current and rotating in three distinct crystallographic planes. The observed angular oscillations are confronted with the expectations of semi-classic transport theory for a multi-valley system with anisotropic mobility and the agreement allows us to quantify the components of the mobility tensor for both electrons and holes. A quadratic temperature dependence is resolved. As Hartman argued long ago, this indicates that inelastic resistivity in bismuth is dominated by carrier-carrier scattering. At low temperature and high magnetic field, the threefold symmetry of the lattice is suddenly lost. Specifically, a 2π/3 rotation of magnetic field around the trigonal axis modifies the amplitude of the magneto-resistance below a field-dependent temperature. By following the evolution of this anomaly as a function of temperature and magnetic field, we mapped the boundary in the (field, temperature) plane separating two electronic states. In the less-symmetric state, confined to low temperature and high magnetic field, the three Dirac valleys cease to be rotationally invariant. We discuss the possible origins of this spontaneous valley polarization, including a valley-nematic scenario.

We have not heard the last of this.

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Galactic Occurrence of Earth Type Habitable Planets Estimated

by Tommy on 8/01/2015
CE5T1 Earth Moon

CE5T1 Earth Moon


The Occurrence of Potentially Habitable Planets Orbiting M Dwarfs Estimated from the Full Kepler Dataset and an Empirical Measurement of the Detection Sensitivity, Courtney D. Dressing and David Charbonneau, Submitted to ApJ

We present an improved estimate of the occurrence rate of small planets around small stars by searching the full four-year Kepler data set for transiting planets using our own planet detection pipeline and conducting transit injection and recovery simulations to empirically measure the search completeness of our pipeline. We identified 157 planet candidates, including 2 objects that were not previously identified as Kepler Objects of Interest (KOIs). We inspected all publicly available follow-up images, observing notes, and centroid analyses, and corrected for the likelihood of false positives. We evaluate the sensitivity of our detection pipeline on a star-by-star basis by injecting 2000 transit signals in the light curve of each target star. For periods shorter than 50 days, we found an occurrence rate of 0.57 (+0.06/-0.05) Earth-size planets (1-1.5 Earth radii) and 0.51 (+0.07/-0.06) super-Earths (1.5-2 Earth radii) per M dwarf. Within a conservatively defined habitable zone based on the moist greenhouse inner limit and maximum greenhouse outer limit, we estimate an occurrence rate of 0.18 (+0.18/-0.07) Earth-size planets and 0.11 (+0.10/-0.05) super-Earths per M dwarf habitable zone. Accounting for the cooling effect of clouds by doubling the insolation limit at the inner edge of the habitable zone results in a higher occurrence rate of 0.27 (+0.16/-0.09) Earth-size planets and 0.25 (+0.11/- 0.07) super-Earths per M dwarf habitable zone.

That’s a whole lotta planets.

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Cosmic Weather Report – 50% Chance of Change Tomorrow

by Tommy on 5/01/2015
SpaceX ASDS Automated Spaceport Drone Ship

SpaceX ASDS Automated Spaceport Drone Ship

Here it comes – X marks the spot.

Update: Close, but no cigar.

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David Radzanowski Declines Congressional SLS Orion Hearing

by Tommy on 10/12/2014


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Dawn’s First Light at the Fifth Planet Ceres

by Tommy on 7/12/2014
Dawn Ceres First Light

Dawn Ceres First Light

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The Alan Parsons Project – I Robot

by Tommy on 4/12/2014

My blob gets visited by a lot of robots. They aren’t very smart. Yet.

Soon the robots will find these videos and delete them.

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Chucky Bouldin – Upcoming Orion Launch is ‘BIG’

by Tommy on 3/12/2014
Orion NASA US Bogus Space Capsule

Orion NASA US Bogus Space Capsule

Sure Chuck, if bogosity has a scientific measure, Orion is ‘big’.

We now measure scientific and technical bogosity in units of Ares 1-Xs.

This is one, like Ares 1-X, that is sure to be ‘botched’. They just don’t know when to quit.

This post is brought to you in memory of Rocketsandsuch and Rocket Man.

May the crash test dummies survive.

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Non Equilibrium Metastability of Bose Einstein Condensates

by Tommy on 21/11/2014


Metastable Bose-Einstein Condensation in a Strongly Correlated Optical Lattice, David McKay, Ushnish Ray, Stefan Natu, Philip Russ, David Ceperley and Brian DeMarco

We experimentally and theoretically study the peak fraction of a Bose-Einstein condensate loaded into a cubic optical lattice as the lattice potential depth and entropy per particle are varied. This system is well-described by the superfluid regime of the Bose-Hubbard model, which allows for comparison with mean-field theories and exact quantum Monte Carlo (QMC) simulations. Despite correcting for systematic discrepancies between condensate fraction and peak fraction, we discover that the experiment consistently shows the presence of a condensate at temperatures higher than the critical temperature predicted by QMC simulations. This metastability suggests that turning on the lattice potential is non-adiabatic. To confirm this behavior, we compute the timescales for relaxation in this system, and find that equilibration times are comparable with the known heating rates. The similarity of these timescales implies that turning on the lattice potential adiabatically may be impossible. Our results point to the urgent need for a better theoretical and experimental understanding of the timescales for relaxation and adiabaticity in strongly interacting quantum gases, and the importance of model-independent probes of thermometry in optical lattices.

Quantum weirdness? Or not.

Must read again.

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The Archimedes Group and the Bismuth Quantum Initiative

by Tommy on 21/11/2014


Science for a New Century

Quantum information science and technology research is conducted at several outstanding universities and laboratories around the world, including LANL. At Los Alamos, however, even the most basic quantum research often has national security implications or connections.

Although the Quantum Initiative’s national security mission at Los Alamos is manifest in many areas, it is perhaps most evident in two of the Laboratory’s most successful quantum technology initiatives— quantum cryptography and the race for a quantum computer.

Bzzzt. Error, Beep, Warning. Wrong.

Ok, let’s start over, because obviously this didn’t work. If you have been paying attention at all here, you would have noticed the recent breakthrough in understanding of bismuth-bismuth metal-metal bonding in relation to nanostructures (picostructures, actually) in the form of bismuth oxidation states, bismuth monolayers, bismuth hexagonal sheets, bismuth wires, bismuth tubes and indeed, the remarkable fluorescence properties of isolated bismuth ions.

Indeed, bismuth, the most remarkable metal, can be wired up in any number of ways on silicon with the use of subhalides such as hydrogen and iodine, in the form of bismuth monolayers and bismuth nano-islands which display coherent propagating topological edge and surface states, Dirac cones, Weyl points, relativistic propagating electrons, metal-insulator-superconducting transitions, multilayers, highly efficient thermoelectric heat transport, and with the high density bismuth iodide in a solid state at half filling, nobody knows. It could be weird. It is definitely cool.

I intend to use polymeric one dimensional pure bismuth iodide – Bi4I4, and possibly Bi14I4 as a feedstock for physical and chemical deposition (adatom adsorption and desorption), pulsed laser deposition (3 eV, XUV and soft X-rays), and laser assisted molten salt quenching using argon gas gloveboxes, evacuated quartz and Pyrex tubes with tungsten electrode plugs and 405 nm blue violet laser excitation. I’m writing John Holdren a letter about this problem today.


The crystal structure of Bi14I4 condensed bismuth clusters, E. V. Dikarev, Prof. Dr. B. A. Popovkin and A. V. Shevelkov, Zeitschrift für Anorganische und Allgemeine Chemie, Volume 612, Issue 6, pages 118–122, June 1992 (Published Online 9 November 2004)

The crystal structure of Bi14I4 — the final known member of binary bismuth halides — was determined by the single crystal X-ray diffractometer technique (P21/m, Z = 1, a = 13.309(3) Å, b = 11.447 (3) å, c = 4.342(1) å, γ = 92.08(3)°, R/Rw = 0.060/0.060 for 369 reflections, sinθ/λ ≤ 0.593, MoKγ). The structure consists of condensed bismuth clusters and is build up from infinite one-dimensional bismuth nets running along the c-axis and limited by iodine atoms in another direction.

The common structural features of bismuth subhalides containing condensed clusters are also considered based on the analysis of interatomic distances and bond angles. The influence of the lone pair of electrons of the bismuth atom on the geometry of bismuth coordination polyhedra, and the connection between bismuth atoms coordination and the formal oxidation state of these atoms is discussed.

Elon seems to be very afraid of this, but efficient thermoelectricity is the immediate goal.

There appears to be a variety of approaches and routes to high-zT thermoelectricity.

On the Nature of Bismuth (I) Iodide in the Solid State

T. L. Elifritz, Spec. Sci. Tech., 17, 85, 1994

And, of course, the numerous chalcogenide alloys.

Topological insulators and superconductors.

And plasmonic light radiation and such.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, world.

Update: http://lifeform.net/archimedes/Quantum_Initiative.pdf

There will be another page at least.

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Imada’s Hidden Fermion Competes with Phillips’ Hidden Boson

by Tommy on 21/11/2014

This idea has been developed over a series of papers in the last few years.


Evidence for hidden fermion that triggers high-temperature superconductivity in cuprates, Shiro Sakai, Marcello Civelli and Masatoshi Imada

In superconductors, electrons bound into Cooper pairs conduct a dissipationless current. The strength of the Cooper pairs scales with the value of the critical transition temperature (Tc). In cuprate high-Tc superconductors, however, the pairing mechanism is still unexplained. Here we unveil why in the cuprates the Cooper pairs are so strongly bound to work out the extraordinary high Tc. From one-to-one correspondence between numerical simulation on a microscopic cuprate model and a simple two-component fermion model, we show that hidden fermions emerge from the strong electron correlation and give birth to the strongly bound Cooper pairs. This mechanism is distinct from a conventional pairing mediated by some bosonic glue, such as phonons in conventional superconductors. The hidden fermions survive even above Tc and generate the strange-metal pseudogap phase. This reveals an unprecedented direct relationship between the pseudogap phase and superconductivity in the cuprates.

I can only suggest a secret hidden composite boson fermion collaboration to sort this out.

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Diverse Metal Dichalcogenides Display Superconducting Domes

by Tommy on 21/11/2014


Quasiparticle-Phonon Coupling Mediated Superconducting Dome in MoS2 and TiSe2, Tanmoy Das and Kapildeb Dolui

We use a first-principles based self-consistent framework to compute the combined effects of electron-electron and electron-phonon interactions in describing the quasiparticle band renormalizations, effects of electronic correlation on the electron-phonon coupling, and the superconducting dome in MoS2 and TiSe2. We find that the angular and dynamical fluctuations of the spin and charge degrees of freedom are strong and doping dependent in both materials. Their feedback effects, captured by the calculations of self-energy effects within a self-consistent momentum-resolved density fluctuation (MRDF) model, render doping dependent renormalization of the quasiparticle spectrum as well as the quasiparticle-phonon coupling (α2F) which result in a superconducting dome in these materials. Our results suggest that the interplay between a dynamical electron-electron interaction and electron-phonon coupling (or, in general, any electron-boson coupling) can provide a generic mechanism to the superconducting dome in a larger class of materials.

Eggimuffin. Yeah.

On another note, metal intercalated Group IV hexagonal sheets appear to have limits.


Superconductivity in intercalated group-IV honeycomb structures, José A. Flores-Livas and Antonio Sanna, Submitted to Phys. Rev. B

We present a theoretical investigation on electron-phonon superconductivity of honeycomb MX2 layered structures. Where X is one element of the group-IV (C, Si or Ge) and M an alkali or an alkaline-earth metal. Among the studied composition we predict a Tc of 7 K in RbGe2, 9 K in RbSi2 and 11 K in SrC2. All these compounds feature a strongly anisotropic superconducting gap. Our results show that despite the different doping and structural properties, the three families of materials fall into a similar description of its superconducting behavior. This allows us to estimate an upper critical temperature of about 20 K for the class of intercalated group-IV structures, including intercalated graphite and doped graphene.

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Extraterrestrial Lonsdaleite is Structurally Defective Diamond

by Tommy on 21/11/2014

Yet another university press release without a link to the published literature.

What the fuck is wrong with these people?


Asteroid impacts on Earth make structurally bizarre diamonds, say ASU scientists

Scientists have argued for half a century about the existence of a form of diamond called lonsdaleite, which is associated with impacts by meteorites and asteroids. A group of scientists based mostly at Arizona State University now show that what has been called lonsdaleite is in fact a structurally disordered form of ordinary diamond.

The scientists’ report is published in Nature Communications, Nov. 20, by Péter Németh, a former ASU visiting researcher (now with the Research Centre of Natural Sciences of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences), together with ASU’s Laurence Garvie, Toshihiro Aoki and Peter Buseck, plus Natalia Dubrovinskaia and Leonid Dubrovinsky from the University of Bayreuth in Germany. Buseck and Garvie are with ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, while Aoki is with ASU’s LeRoy Eyring Center for Solid State Science.

“So-called lonsdaleite is actually the long-familiar cubic form of diamond, but it’s full of defects,” says Péter Németh. These can occur, he explains, due to shock metamorphism, plastic deformation or unequilibrated crystal growth.

Ok, here it is:


Lonsdaleite is faulted and twinned cubic diamond and does not exist as a discrete material, Péter Németh, Laurence A. J. Garvie, Toshihiro Aoki, Natalia Dubrovinskaia, Leonid Dubrovinsky and Peter R. Buseck, Nature Communications, 5, 5447 (20 November 2014)


Lonsdaleite, also called hexagonal diamond, has been widely used as a marker of asteroidal impacts. It is thought to play a central role during the graphite-to-diamond transformation, and calculations suggest that it possesses mechanical properties superior to diamond. However, despite extensive efforts, lonsdaleite has never been produced or described as a separate, pure material. Here we show that defects in cubic diamond provide an explanation for the characteristic d-spacings and reflections reported for lonsdaleite. Ultrahigh-resolution electron microscope images demonstrate that samples displaying features attributed to lonsdaleite consist of cubic diamond dominated by extensive {113} twins and {111} stacking faults. These defects give rise to nanometre-scale structural complexity. Our findings question the existence of lonsdaleite and point to the need for re-evaluating the interpretations of many lonsdaleite-related fundamental and applied studies.

Yes, it comes with a pretty picture.

Carbon and Diamond.

Breaking Bad.

Not a pretty picture.

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Modular Space – Engine Modules For Reusable Space Flight

by Tommy on 7/11/2014

NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) NNH15ZOA0001N-15NIAC-A1

Modular Space – Engine Recovery Modules of Reusable Space Flight


This is about all I can do for this.

Update: The answer is 42.

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Superconducting Bilayers Can Be Thermoelectrically Borked

by Tommy on 7/11/2014

This is a follow up paper on their first two on this subject.


Enhancement of thermoelectric effect in diffusive superconducting bilayers with magnetic interfaces, Mikhail S. Kalenkov and Andrei D. Zaikin

We demonstrate that thermoelectric currents in superconducting bilayers with a spin-active interface are controlled by the two competing processes. On one hand, spin-sensitive quasiparticle scattering at such interface generates electron-hole imbalance and yields orders-of-magnitude enhancement of the thermoelectric effect in the system. On the other hand, this electron-hole imbalance gets suppressed in the superconductor bulk due to electron scattering on non-magnetic impurities. As a result, large thermoelectric currents can only flow in the vicinity of the spin-active interface and decay away from this interface at a distance exceeding the electron elastic mean free path ℓ. The magnitude of the thermoelectric effect reaches its maximum provided ℓ becomes of order of the total bilayer thickness.

See Also : http://arxiv.org/abs/1405.3858

Electron-hole imbalance and large thermoelectric effect in superconducting hybrids with spin-active interfaces, Mikhail S. Kalenkov and Andrei D. Zaikin, Phys. Rev. B 90, 134502 (2014)

DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.90.134502

We argue that spin-sensitive quasiparticle scattering may generate electron-hole imbalance in superconducting structures, such as, e.g., superconducting-normal hybrids with spin-active interfaces. We elucidate a transparent physical mechanism for this effect demonstrating that scattering rates for electrons and holes at such interfaces differ from each other. Explicitly evaluating the wave functions of electron-like and hole-like excitations in superconducting-normal bilayers we derive a general expression for the thermoelectric current and show that — in the presence of electron-hole imbalance — this current can reach maximum values as high as the critical current of a superconductor.

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Unusual High ZT Thermomagnetic Efficiency Found in URu2Si2

by Tommy on 6/11/2014


Colossal thermomagnetic response in the exotic superconductor URu2Si2, T. Yamashita, Y. Shimoyama, Y. Haga, T.D. Matsuda, E. Yamamoto, Y. Onuki, H. Sumiyoshi, S. Fujimoto, A. Levchenko, T. Shibauchi and Y. Matsuda, to appear in Nature Physics

When a superconductor is heated above its critical temperature Tc, macroscopic coherence vanishes, leaving behind droplets of thermally fluctuating Cooper pair. This superconducting fluctuation effect above Tc has been investigated for many decades and its influence on the transport, thermoelectric and thermodynamic quantities in most superconductors is well understood by the standard Gaussian fluctuation theories. The transverse thermoelectric (Nernst) effect is particularly sensitive to the fluctuations, and the large Nernst signal found in the pseudogap regime of the underdoped high-Tc cuprates has raised much debate on its connection to the origin of superconductivity. Here we report on the observation of a colossal Nernst signal due to the superconducting fluctuations in the heavy-fermion superconductor URu2Si2. The Nernst coefficient is enhanced by as large as one million times over the theoretically expected value within the standard framework of superconducting fluctuations. This, for the first time in any known material, results in a sizeable thermomagnetic figure of merit approaching unity. Moreover, contrary to the conventional wisdom, the enhancement in the Nernst signal is more significant with the reduction of the impurity scattering rate. This anomalous Nernst effect intimately reflects the highly unusual superconducting state embedded in the so-called hidden-order phase of URu2Si2. The results invoke possible chiral or Berry-phase fluctuations originated from the topological aspect of this superconductor, which are associated with the effective magnetic field intrinsically induced by broken time-reversal symmetry of the superconducting order parameter.

This result is quite simply extraordinary.

At lower temperatures below T*, ν of clean crystals becomes huge especially in the vicinity of Tc. Indeed, ν of the cleanest crystal #1 is comparable to that of pure semimetal Bi with the largest Nernst coefficient reported so far. Moreover, the combination of the large Nernst signal and high conductivity in this system leads to a sizeable thermomagnetic figure of merit ZTε = N2σT/κ (κ is the thermal conductivity), which quantifies the adequacy of a given material for thermoelectric refrigeration. As shown in Fig. 2c, this number exceeds by far the values of previously studied materials and approaches unity at 1.5K and 1T, which opens a possible route toward thermomagnetic cooling for a cryogenic Ettingshausen refrigerator. Interestingly, for the Nernst effect based engine there exists universal bound for the ratio between the maximum efficiency and the Carnot efficiency.

In other words, READ THIS PAPER!

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SpaceShipTwo Mohave Test Flight Ends in Complete Disaster

by Tommy on 31/10/2014
Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crash

Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo Crash

I’m only getting third hand reports on this.

Update: Reports say one survivor, one dead.

Update: Listening to the police and fire scanner I gathered that one is DOA and one is injured and transported to the hospital. Doug Messier twitter reports the dead pilot did not make it out.

Commentary: I think it is over for Virgin Galactic, but in the future I can recommend some adult supervision for these people, some liquid engines and no advanced sales with this sort of thing.

NTSB Update: According to the NTSB reports this is looking like either outright operator error, operational error or procedural error, resulting in a structural failure due to aerodynamic forces.

The nylon hybrid engine actually performed quite well, so maybe it’s not over after all.

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Quantum Hall Effect on Surface of 3D Topological Insulator

by Tommy on 30/10/2014


Observation of topological surface state quantum Hall effect in an intrinsic three-dimensional topological insulator, Yang Xu, Ireneusz Miotkowski, Chang Liu, Jifa Tian, Hyoungdo Nam, Nasser Alidoust, Jiuning Hu, Chih-Kang Shih, M. Zahid Hasan and Yong P. Chen, Accepted by Nature Physics

A three-dimensional (3D) topological insulator (TI) is a quantum state of matter with a gapped insulating bulk yet a conducting surface hosting topologically-protected gapless surface states. One of the most distinct electronic transport signatures predicted for such topological surface states (TSS) is a well-defined half-integer quantum Hall effect (QHE) in a magnetic field, where the surface Hall conductivities become quantized in units of (1/2)e2/h (e being the electron charge, h the Planck constant) concomitant with vanishing resistance. Here, we observe well-developed QHE arising from TSS in an intrinsic TI of BiSbTeSe2. Our samples exhibit surface dominated conduction even close to room temperature, while the bulk conduction is negligible. At low temperatures and high magnetic fields perpendicular to the top and bottom surfaces, we observe well-developed integer quantized Hall plateaus, where the two parallel surfaces each contributing a half integer e2/h quantized Hall (QH) conductance, accompanied by vanishing longitudinal resistance. When the bottom surface is gated to match the top surface in carrier density, only odd integer QH plateaus are observed, representing a half-integer QHE of two degenerate Dirac gases. This system provides an excellent platform to pursue a plethora of exotic physics and novel device applications predicted for TIs, ranging from magnetic monopoles and Majorana particles to dissipationless electronics and fault-tolerant quantum computers.

Update: http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v10/n12/abs/nphys3140.html

Nature Physics, 10, 956–963 (10 November 2014)


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ARPES Evidence of Topological Superconductivity Observed

by Tommy on 30/10/2014


Momentum space imaging of Cooper pairing in a half-Dirac-gas topological superconductor (a helical 2D topological superconductor), Su-Yang Xu, Nasser Alidoust, Ilya Belopolski, Anthony Richardella, Chang Liu, Madhab Neupane, Guang Bian, Song-Hsun Huang, Raman Sankar, Chen Fang, Brian Dellabetta, Wenqing Dai, Qi Li, Matthew J. Gilbert, Fangcheng Chou, Nitin Samarth and M. Zahid Hasan

Superconductivity in Dirac electrons has recently been proposed as a new platform between novel concepts in high-energy and condensed matter physics. It has been proposed that supersymmetry and exotic quasiparticles, both of which remain elusive in particle physics, may be realized as emergent particles in superconducting Dirac electron systems. Using artificially fabricated topological insulator-superconductor heterostructures, we present direct spectroscopic evidence for the existence of Cooper pairing in a half Dirac gas 2D topological superconductor. Our studies reveal that superconductivity in a helical Dirac gas is distinctly different from that of in an ordinary two-dimensional superconductor while considering the spin degrees of freedom of electrons. We further show that the pairing of Dirac electrons can be suppressed by time-reversal symmetry breaking impurities removing the distinction. Our demonstration and momentum-space imaging of Cooper pairing in a half Dirac gas and its magnetic behavior taken together serve as a critically important 2D topological superconductor platform for future testing of novel fundamental physics predictions such as emergent supersymmetry and quantum criticality in topological systems.

I do believe critical mass has been achieved.

Behold the beginning of the topological superconductivity era!

Update: http://www.nature.com/nphys/journal/v10/n12/abs/nphys3139.html

Nature Physics, 10, 943–950 (2 November 2014)


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Topological Insulators are Good for Optical – UV Plasmonics

by Tommy on 29/10/2014


Ultraviolet and visible range plasmonics of a topological insulator, Jun-Yu Ou, Jin-Kyu So, Giorgio Adamo, Azat Sulaev, Lan Wang and Nikolay I. Zheludev, Nature Communications, 5, 5139 (8 October 2014)

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6139

Ultraviolet and visible range plasmonics in the topological insulator Bi1.5Sb0.5Te1.8Se1.2


The development of metamaterials, data processing circuits and sensors for the visible and UV parts of the spectrum is hampered by the lack of low-loss media supporting plasmonic excitations and drives the intense search for plasmonic materials beyond noble metals. By studying plasmonic nanostructures fabricated on the surface of topological insulator Bi1.5Sb0.5Te1.8Se1.2 we found that it is orders of magnitude better plasmonic material than gold and silver in the blue-UV range. Metamaterial fabricated from Bi1.5Sb0.5Te1.8Se1.2 show plasmonic resonances from 350 nm to 550 nm while surface gratings exhibit cathodoluminescent peaks from 230 nm to 1050 nm. The negative permittivity underpinning plasmonic response is attributed to the combination of bulk interband transitions and surface contribution of the topologically protected states. The importance of our result is in the identification of new mechanisms of negative permittivity in semiconductors where visible-range plasmonics can be directly integrated with electronics.

Behold the beginning of the optical UV plasmonics era!

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Mathematical Theory of Topological Quantum Fermi Phases

by Tommy on 29/10/2014
Topological Quantum Numbers

Topological Quantum Numbers


Postgraduate Thesis: Topological theory of gapless and gapped fermionic systems, Zhao, Yuxin, The HKU Scholars Hub, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong (July 2014)

Recently the discoveries of graphene, Weyl semi-metal and Dirac semi-metal are drawing more and more people’s attentions back to the topological characteristics of Fermi surfaces, which may be tracked back to the pair of Weyl points observed experimentally in the phase A of Helium three in 80s in the last century. Based on the pioneer works by Volovik and Hořava, we classify all kinds of Fermi surfaces with respect to anti-unitary symmetries and codimensions of Fermi surfaces. The first chapter of this thesis is attributed to develop symmetry-dependent topological invariants to characterize topological properties of Fermi surfaces, and map out the periodic classification tables of Fermi surfaces. Compared with the existing classification of topological insulators (TIs) and superconductors (TSCs), it is observed that there exists a two-step dimension shift from our classification of Fermi surfaces. Actually the two classifications can both be derived rigorously in the framework of K-theory, a mathematical algebraic topology theory for stable fiber bundles, where the dimension shift can also be derived rigorously by constructing maps between Fermi surfaces and TIs/TSCs. This unified treatment of the two classifications is of mathematical elegance, even providing us deeper understandings of these topological phenomena, and is the subject of chapter II of this thesis. In the beginning of chapter III, when applying our theory of topological Fermi surfaces on the boundary of TIs/TSCs, a general index theory is conjectured describing a faithful boundary-bulk correspondence of TIs/TSCs, which is motivated by the dimension shift in the two classifications. Then we construct all kinds of TIs/TSCs and Fermi surfaces by Dirac matrices, which is actually a physical interpretation of the Atiyah-Bott-Shapiro construction as a mathematical theory, and provides us a rigorous proof of our general index theorem. We also provide applications of our theory and its connections to nonlinear sigma models of disordered systems. The last chapter of this thesis may be regarded as a collection of applications of the boundary-bulk correspondence described by the general index theorem for spatially one-dimensional systems. Specifically one-dimensional superconductor models in the other three nontrivial cases are constructed as generalizations of the Kitaev’s model that is one of four nontrivial cases, and every model is solved in detail by methods similar to that provided by Kitaev. Then we analyze each model in the framework of the general index theorem, focusing on the topological properties of Majorana zero-modes with codimension zero at the ends of these models under the open boundary condition. The possible applications of these models to universal quantum manipulations are also discussed.

For a modern review, see also: http://arxiv.org/abs/1410.4614

Exploration and prediction of topological electronic materials based on first-principles calculations, Hongming Weng, Xi Dai and Zhong Fang, MRS Bulletin 39, 849-858 (2014)

DOI: 10.1557/mrs.2014.216


The class of topological insulator materials is one of the frontier topics of condensed matter physics. The great success of this field is due to the conceptual breakthroughs in theories for topological electronic states and is strongly motivated by the rich variety of material realizations, thus making the theories testable, the experiments operable, and the applications possible. First-principles calculations have demonstrated unprecedented predictive power for material selection and design. In this article, we review recent progress in this field with a focus on the role of first-principles calculations. In particular, we introduce the Wilson loop method for the determination of topological invariants and discuss the band inversion mechanism for the selection of topological materials. Recent progress in quantum anomalous Hall insulators, large-gap quantum spin Hall insulators, and correlated topological insulators are also covered.

Here the phrase ‘topological superconductor’ is quoted explicitly.

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Orbital Sciences Loses a Launch Vehicle at Wallops Island Pad

by Tommy on 28/10/2014
Orbital Sciences Antares ORB3 Launch Failure

Orbital Sciences Antares ORB3 Launch Failure

I had a really bad feeling about this one and so I wanted to watch it.

Condolences. This is going to screw up everything.

No screen grab, sorry, I was too shocked.

Worst case scenario there.

Update: Screen grabs are starting to make the rounds. Obviously an AJ26-58 engine failure.

This was extremely painful to watch live.

Update: There are reports coming out of Russia that Orbital Sciences has chosen the recently developed RD-193 engine, a detuned variant of the RD-191 (Angara), for their new engine. The RD-191 is a detuned variant of the RD-170, which is a heritage engine of the RD-180. Almost any of these engines would work well for them, but the RD-193 would be the quickest solution.

Hopefully a Phoenix can rise up from the ashes here.

Thank you Vladimir Putin.

Update: Just when you think it can’t get any worse, it does.

Update: It will take until 2016 to reengine Antares so they will outsource some of the launches.

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Masters Thesis of Mathias Rosdahl Jensen – Niels Bohr Institute

by Tommy on 28/10/2014


Understanding the low energy physics of bismuth selenide: A three-dimensional topological insulator, Mathias Rosdahl Jensen, Center for Quantum Devices, Niels Bohr Institute, University of Copenhagen (31 July 2014, 09:15 AM)

In this thesis, we give a thorough investigation of the basic physics of bismuth selenide, a recently discovered three-dimensional topological insulator. We give a detailed and pedagogical introduction to group theory, describing the symmetry operations of the crystal lattice, in order to construct the minimal effective model, describing the topological features of bismuth selenide. Qualitatively, we discuss the physical principles of the band structure around the Fermi level, which is found to consist of linear combinations of p-orbitals. Specifically, we see that a strong spin-orbit coupling leads to a band inversion. This band inversion gives rise to a non-trivial topology. Within this model, we calculate the topological surface states by imposing hard-wall boundary conditions. For a single isolated surface we find the conditions on the parameters of the model, for the existence of surface states. We analytically find the spectrum and wave functions of the surface states. These have a Dirac-like spectrum, and a helical spin structure. In a thin film, the overlap of wavefunctions on opposite surfaces, leads to a gap in the spectrum. We discuss the dependence of the gap on the thickness, as well as the parameters of the model and compare to experimental measurements of the gap. For a thin film, the spin structure is dependent on position. The helical spin structure, gets opposite vorticity on the two surfaces, which is a result of the inversion symmetry of the crystal.

This will undoubtedly go down in history as the greatest masters thesis of all time.


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Theoretical Analysis of Bismuth Monolayer Edges on Silicon

by Tommy on 28/10/2014


Edge states and topological properties of electrons on the bismuth on silicon surface with giant spin-orbit coupling, D.V. Khomitsky and A.A. Chubanov, Journal of Experimental and Theoretical Physics, vol. 118, No. 3, pp. 457-466 (27 April 2014)


DOI: 10.1134/S1063776114020101

We derive a model of localized edge states in the finite width strip for two-dimensional electron gas formed in the hybrid system of bismuth monolayer deposited on the silicon interface and described by the nearly-free electron model with giant spin-orbit splitting. The edge states have the energy dispersion in the bulk energy gap with the Dirac-like linear dependence on the quasimomentum and the spin polarization coupled to the direction of propagation, demonstrating the properties of topological insulator. The topological stability of edge states is confirmed by the calculations of the Z2 invariant taken from the structure of the Pfaffian for the time reversal operator for the filled bulk bands in the surface Brillouin zone which is shown to have a stable number of zeros with the variations of material parameters. The proposed properties of the edge states may support future advances in experimental and technological applications of this new material in nanoelectronics and spintronics.

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Huntsville Alabama – Rocket City – Civil War Prison Camp

by Tommy on 28/10/2014
Huntsville Alabama Rocket City Prison Guards

Huntsville Alabama Rocket City Prison Guards


One prisoner died of alcohol withdrawal. Constipation killed another. A third succumbed to gangrene.

The deaths sound like they come from the logs of a Civil War POW encampment, but all three are alleged to have befallen detainees at the Madison County Jail in Huntsville, Alabama, while they were awaiting trial.

In 2013.

“What connects them all is that all of these people were in the medical-watch area, supposedly under the care of nurses,” said Florence-based civil rights attorney Hank Sherrod.

Chucky Bouldin will straighten this all out.

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The Chinese Decide To Take A Little Cruise Around The Moon

by Tommy on 28/10/2014
CE5T1 Earth Moon

CE5T1 Earth Moon

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The Element Bismuth is the Super Duper Wonder Marvel Metal

by Tommy on 28/10/2014

But I already knew that …


Recent advances in bismuth activated photonic materials, Hong-Tao Sun, Jiajia Zhou and Jianrong Qiu, Progress in Materials Science, Volume 64, July 2014, Pages 1–72 (5 March 2014)

Bismuth is one of the most thoroughly investigated main group elements, which has been regarded as ‘the wonder metal’ because of its diverse oxidation states and profound propensities to form bismuth clusters, resulting from the easy involvement in chemical combinations for the electrons in the p orbital. This peculiarity allows them to behave as smart optically active centers in diverse host materials. Remarkable progress in the research of bismuth activated photonic materials has been seen over the last ten years owing to their unique properties and important applications in areas of telecommunication, biomedicine, white light illumination and lasers. The aim of this review is to present a critical overview of the current state of the art in bismuth activated photonic materials, their features, advantages and limitations as well as the future research trends. We first shortly introduce the fundamental properties of bismuth element including principles of bismuth-related luminescence and characterization techniques available. This is followed by a detailed discussion on the recent progress in the synthesis and characterization of bismuth-activated photonic materials, with an emphasis on material systems emitting in the near-infrared (NIR) spectral region. Furthermore, we describe the representative achievements regarding their prospective applications in broadband NIR optical amplifiers, fiber lasers, bioimaging, and white light-emitting diodes. Finally, we point out what key scientific questions remain to be answered, and present our perspectives on future research trends in this exciting field of sciences.

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XUV Laser Plasma Erosion for Bismuth Monolayer Deposition

by Tommy on 27/10/2014


Langmuir probe measurement of the bismuth plasma plume formed by an extreme-ultraviolet pulsed laser, P. Pira, T. Burian, A. Kolpaková, M. Tichý, P. Kudrna, S. Daniš, L. Juha, J. Lančok, L. Vyšín, S. Civiš, Z. Zelinger, P. Kubát and J. Wild, J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys., 47 405205 (08 October 2014)


Properties of the plasma plume produced on a bismuth (Bi) target irradiated by a focused extreme-ultraviolet (XUV) capillary-discharge laser beam were investigated. Langmuir probes were used in both single- and double-probe arrangements to determine the electron temperature and the electron density, providing values of 1 – 3 eV and ~1013 – 1014 m−3, respectively. Although the temperatures seem to be comparable with values obtained in ablation plasmas produced by conventional, long-wavelength lasers, the density is significantly lower. This finding indicates that the desorption-like phenomena are responsible for the plume formation rather than the ablation processes. A very thin Bi film was prepared on an MgO substrate by pulsed XUV laser deposition. The non-uniform, sub-monolayer character of the deposited bismuth film confirms the Langmuir probe’s observation of the desorption-like erosion induced by the XUV laser on the primary Bi target.

This looks promising to tidy up those self assembled bismuth monolayers into usable devices.

It shouldn’t take an XUV laser to perform bismuth desorption and adsorption, but I guess it’s all a matter of finesse and control. I have only begun to investigate this concept. 3.1 eV is 400 nm so a 405 nm violet laser should excite the Bi3+ and break the neutral Bi0 bismuth metal-metal bond.

The only modern discussion I can find for this phenomenon seems to confirm this.


Violet-green excitation for NIR luminescence of Yb3+ ions in Bi2O3-B2O3-SiO2-Ga2O3 glasses, Weiwei Li, Jimeng Cheng, Guoying Zhao, Wei Chen, Lili Hu, Malgorzata Guzik, and Georges Boulon, Optics Express, Vol. 22, Issue 8, pp. 8831-8842 (21 April 2014)

DOI: 10.1364/OE.22.008831

60Bi2O3-20B2O3-10SiO2-10Ga2O3 glasses doped with 1-9 mol% Yb2O3 were prepared and investigated mainly on their violet-green excitation for the typical NIR emission of Yb3+, generally excited in the NIR. Two violet excitation bands at 365 nm and 405 nm are related to Yb2+ and Bi3+. 465 nm excitation band and 480 nm absorption band in the blue-green are assigned to Bi0 metal nanoparticles/grains. Yb-content-dependence of the excitation and absorption means that Bi0 is the reduced product of Bi3+, but greatly competed by the redox reaction of Yb2+ ↔ Yb3+. It is proved that the violet-green excitations result in the NIR emission of Yb3+. On the energy transfer, the virtual level of Yb3+ – Yb3+ as well as Bi0 dimers probably plays an important role. An effective and controllable way is suggested to achieve nano-optical applications by Bi0 metal nanoparticles/grains and Yb3+.

This paper is open and downloadable and it’s a really good read. I am really stoked now, lol.

My original Bi1+ hypothesis is nearly confirmed and I can use Shuji Nakamura’s laser diode!

Update: Frequency doubled gallium arsenide infrared lasers are cheaper and more powerful.


http://flash.desy.de/ (in 315 meters!)

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Boson Fermion Model Gets Rigorous Mathematical Treatment

by Tommy on 26/10/2014


d–Wave Pairing Driven by Bipolaronic Modes Related to Giant Electron–Phonon Anomalies in High–Tc Superconductors, J.-B. Bru, A. Delgado de Pasquale and W. de Siqueira Pedra (September 9, 2014)

Taking into account microscopic properties of most usual high–Tc superconductors, like cuprates, we define a class of microscopic model Hamiltonians for two fermions (electrons or holes) and one boson (bipolaron) on the two–dimensional square lattice. We establish that these model Hamiltonians can show d–wave paring at the bottom of their spectrum, despite their space isotropy. This phenomenon appear when a “giant electron–phonon anomaly” is present at the boundaries of the Brillouin zone (“half breathing” bond–stretching mode), like in doped cuprates. Our results can be used to derive effective electron–electron interactions mediated by bipolarons and we discuss regimes where the corresponding model is relevant for the physics of high–temperature superconductivity and can be mathematically rigorously studied.

I found this on the University of Texas website. This is not for the faint of heart. I fixed the title.

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