The Life of an Accelerator

Tens of thousands of accelerators exist around the world, producing powerful particle beams for the benefit of medical diagnostics, cancer therapy, industrial manufacturing, material analysis, national security and nuclear as well as fundamental particle physics. Particle beams can also be used to produce powerful beams of X-rays.

Nanoparticles Shown to Improve Hydrogen Storage

Sometimes you have to go small to win big. And that's just the approach an interdisciplinary and multi-lab research group took in using nanoparticles and a novel nanoconfinement system to develop a method to change hydrogen storage properties. The team's discovery could enable the creation of high-capacity hydrogen storage materials capable of quick refueling, thus improving the performance of emerging hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicles.

ITER’s Promise of Clean Energy

At a dusty construction site amid the limestone ridges of Provence, workers scurry around immense slabs of concrete arranged in a ring like a modern-day Stonehenge. It looks like the beginnings of a large commercial power plant, but it is not. The project, called ITER, is an enormous, and enormously complex and costly, physics experiment. But if it succeeds, it could determine the power plants of the future and make an invaluable contribution to reducing planet-warming emissions.

MRI Scans Help Spot HIV in the Brain

Scientists at University College London have developed a way to use MRI scans to help identify when HIV is persisting in the brain despite effective drug treatment. The team looked at data from 146 HIV patients who were investigated for cognitive problems between 2011 and 2015. There was evidence that HIV was active in the brain in 22 patients (15 percent), and patients whose brains showed definite signs of change in the white matter were ten times more likely to have HIV in the brain than those with normal white matter appearances.

Liquid or Gas, DUNE Researchers Weigh Transport of Detector’s Argon

Nearly a mile below the surface of South Dakota, scientists are preparing the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment, or DUNE, a physics experiment that will look at minuscule particles called neutrinos. A beam of neutrinos will travel 800 miles through the Earth from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (CSA CSM) to the Sanford Underground Research Facility, headed for massive liquid argon detectors that can record traces of the elusive particles.


The science of thermodynamics plays a major role in cryogenics. It underlies the various refrigeration cycles, from Carnot to Brayton (Cold Facts Vol. 32 No. 2) and Joule-Thomson, is a fundamental part of the definition of terms such as coefficient of performance (Cold Facts Vol. 31 No. 1) and even explains why it is more … Continue reading Exergy

Boiloff Calorimetry for the Measurement of Very Low Heat Flows

The use of boiloff calorimetry to measure the effects of thermal energy (or heat) dates back to the early 1900s [1, 2]. Gas flow rates measured in evaporation—or boiloff—calorimetry enable direct calculation of quantities such as heat flux and thermal conductivity. A particularly useful approach is to use nitrogen for the heat measurement fluid as it is readily available, inert and generally safe to use.

Remembering the 1987 Woodstock of Physics

Paul Michael Grant was in the room where it happened, and in this essay, he recalls the 1987 APS March Meeting known as the "Woodstock of Physics." It began when Brian Maple, of UC San Diego, took the unprecedented and ambitious step of assembling an “off the program” all night session to discuss the discovery of copper oxide perovskite high temperature superconductors.

Cryogenic Sapphire Oscillator Enhancement Improves Accuracy

Researchers from the University of Adelaide in South Australia have enhanced the Cryogenic Sapphire Oscillator, or Sapphire Clock, to allow time measurements with accuracy on the femtosecond scale. The oscillator has a five-centimeter cylinder-shaped sapphire crystal cooled to about -267°C, or about five or six degrees above absolute zero. At this temperature, the microwave energy lost in the sapphire crystal is the lowest of any substance on Earth.

The Robots of CERN

The LHC contains 120 tons of liquid helium kept at 1.9 K. And even with safety systems in place, engineers there prefer to limit underground access when the cryogenic systems are activated. Enter TIM—the Train Inspection Monorail. TIM is a chain of wagons, sensors and cameras that snake along a track bolted to the LHC tunnel’s ceiling.