- Published on 12 June 2018
The Soreq Applied Research Accelerator Facility (SARAF) is under construction in the Soreq Nuclear Research Center at Yavne, Israel. Phase I of SARAF (SARAF-I) is already in operation, generating scientific results in several fields of interest, especially the astrophysical s-process. When completed at the beginning of the next decade, SARAF-II will be a user facility for basic and applied nuclear physics, based on a 40 MeV, 5 mA CW proton/deuteron superconducting linear accelerator. This review presents first a technical overview of SARAF-I and II, including a description of the accelerator and its irradiation targets, and provides a survey of existing research programs at SARAF-I. It then describes in some detail the research potential at the completed facility. SARAF-II’s cutting-edge specifications, with its unique liquid lithium target technology, will enable world-competitive research plans in several disciplines: precision studies of beyond-Standard-Model effects by trapping light exotic radioisotopes (including meaningful studies already at SARAF-I); extended nuclear astrophysics research with higher-energy neutrons, including generation and studies of exotic neutron-rich isotopes relevant to the astrophysical r-process; nuclear structure of exotic isotopes; high-energy neutron cross sections for basic nuclear physics and material science research, including neutron-induced radiation damage; neutron-based imaging with an imaging plane flux similar to that of a 5 MW research reactor; accelerator-based neutron therapy; and, last but not least, novel radiopharmaceuticals development and production.
EPJ B Colloquium - Laser and hot-electrons induced ultrafast magnetic phenomena in multilayers and nanostructures
- Published on 04 June 2018
Understanding and controlling the magnetization dynamics in magnetic multilayers and nanostructures on the femtosecond timescale is becoming indispensable, both at the fundamental level and to develop future technological applications. While direct laser excitation of a ferromagnetic layer was commonly used during the past twenty years, laser-induced hot-electrons femtosecond pulses and subsequent transport in magnetic multilayers have attracted a lot of attention. Indeed, replacing photons by hot-electrons offers complementary information to improve our understanding of ultrafast magnetization dynamics and to provide new possibilities for manipulating the magnetization in a thin layer on the femtosecond timescale.
- Published on 30 May 2018
New study shows elegant mathematical solution to understand how the flow of electrons changes when carbon nanotubes turn into zigzag nanoribbons
In a new study published in EPJ B, Basant Lal Sharma from the Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur provides a detailed analysis of how the flow of heat and electrons is affected at the interface between an ‘armchair’ shaped carbon nanotube and a zigzagging nanoribbon made up of a single-layer carbon honeycomb sheet of graphene. Applications of this method can help us understand the propagation of electrons and thermal flow in graphene and similar materials for electromagnetic devices. For example, a partially unzipped carbon nanotube could act as a device with varying electrical resistance depending on the strength of an external magnetic field applied to it. By contrast, these junctions can also act as perfect ‘valley filters’, allowing certain types of electrons through the junction with the maximum possible conductance, while other electrons can't pass through.
- Published on 30 May 2018
Patchy particles is the name given to a large class of systems of mesoscopic particles characterized by a repulsive core and a discrete number of short-range and highly directional interaction sites. Numerical simulations have contributed significantly to our understanding of the behaviour of patchy particles, but, although simple in principle, advanced simulation techniques are often required to sample the low temperatures and long time-scales associated with their self-assembly behaviour.
In this EPJ E colloquium paper, Rovigatti et al. review the most popular simulation techniques that have been used to study patchy particles, with a special focus on Monte Carlo methods.
- Published on 23 May 2018
A new study shows how to couple highly accurate and simplified models of the same system to extract thermodynamics information using simulations
Computer simulations are used to understand the properties of soft matter - such as liquids, polymers and biomolecules like DNA - which are too complicated to be described by equations. They are often too expensive to simulate in full, given the intensive computational power required. Instead, a helpful strategy is to couple an accurate model - applied in the areas of the system that require greater attention - with a simpler, idealised model. In a recent paper published in EPJ E, Maziar Heidari, from the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research, Mainz, Germany and colleagues make the accurate model in high-resolution coincide seamlessly with an exactly solvable representation at lower resolution.
- Published on 22 May 2018
A team in China has just calculated the size of scale-free and small-world networks
Networks are often described as trees with spanning branches. How the tree branches out depends on the logic behind the network’s expansion, such as random expansion. However, some aspects of such randomly expanding networks are invariant; in other words, they display the same characteristics, regardless of the network’s scale. As a result, the entire network has the same shape as one or more of its parts. In a new study published in EPJ B, Fei Ma from Northwest Normal University in Lanzhou, Gansu Province, China, anc colleagues calculate the total number of spanning trees in randomly expanding networks. This method can be applied to modelling scale-free network models, which, as it turns out, are characterised by small-world properties. This means, for instance, that members of the network only exhibit six degrees of separation, like most people in our society.
- Published on 16 May 2018
Revisiting the roots of a physics field known as computational statistical mechanics
It may sound like the stuff of fairy tales, but in the 1950s two numerical models initially developed as a pet project by physicists led to the birth of an entirely new field of physics: computational statistical mechanics. This story has recently appeared in a paper published in EPJ H, authored by Michel Mareschal, an Emeritus Professor of Physics at the Free University of Brussels, Belgium. The article outlines the long journey leading to the acceptance of such models - namely Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics simulations - as reliable evidence for describing matter. This happened at a time when the computing power required to run simulations was scarce. Today, these techniques are used by thousands of researchers to model the behaviour of materials, in contexts ranging from fusion to biological systems.
- Published on 15 May 2018
The field of experimental positronium physics has advanced significantly in the last few decades, with new areas of research driven by the development of techniques for trapping and manipulating positrons using Surko-type buffer gas traps. Large numbers of positrons (typically ≥106) accumulated in such a device may be ejected all at once, so as to generate an intense pulse.
- Published on 14 May 2018
New study outlines key factors affecting the transfer of molecules through biological channels
In our bodies, the transfer of genetic information, viral infections and protein trafficking, as well as the synthesis and the degradation of biomolecules, are all phenomena that require the transport of molecules through channels. Improving our control of these channels and the capacity of molecules to get across could have many potential applications in the fields of energy, biotechnology and medicine. These include ultra-fast DNA sequencing, detection of biological markers used in disease diagnostics, protein folding, high-resolution determination of the size of biological molecules or even the control of ion or biomolecule transport through the protein sensor. In a new study published in EPJ E, Manuela Pastoriza-Gallego from the University Paris-Seine, France, and colleagues have shown how to alter external factors, such as external voltage, to control the transport of a dextran sulfate molecule - a polyelectrolyte - through the nanopores of the aerolysin protein channel.
- Published on 03 May 2018
Improving the spatial compression of a mixed matter-antimatter trapped plasma brings us one step closer to grasping the acceleration of antimatter due to Earth’s gravity
An international team of physicists studying antimatter have now derived an improved way of spatially compressing a state of matter called non-neutral plasma, which is made up of a type of antimatter particles, called antiprotons, trapped together with matter particles, like electrons.