A ferromagnetic thin film on a piezoelectric substrate offers a way to control magnetization in ultralow-power devices by relying on coupling between the piezoelectric and ferromagnetic components. At the ALS, researchers were able to image the electrically induced magnetic behavior and correlate it with the piezo-strain driving it. Read more »
The spontaneous formation of chiral structures from achiral molecules could shed light on the origin of biological homochirality—how one type of chirality dominated the other in certain biological molecules. Here, resonant soft x-ray scattering (RSoXS) has been used to explore helical phases that emerge from achiral asymmetric dimers. Read more »
Researchers designed and fabricated a nanomagnet array in which competing (“frustrated”) magnetic interactions can be directly tuned. Frustrated interactions are key to a wide range of phenomena, from protein folding and magnetic memory to fundamental studies of emergent exotic states.
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Parrotfish chew on coral, producing hundreds of pounds of sand each year. Mapping the microstructure of parrotfish teeth, scientists found bundles of crystals interwoven like chain mail. The results provide a blueprint for creating ultra-durable materials for mechanical components that undergo repetitive contact, movement, and abrasion. Read more »
Resonant soft x-ray scattering revealed liquid crystal structures that cannot be probed using diffraction, including chiral liquid crystal systems such as the “blue phase” and the twist-bend nematic phase. Information on how individual molecules form functional structures in these systems is key to developing new applications. Read more »
Researchers have discovered some good news regarding corals: the mechanism by which their exoskeletons grow may help them resist the effects of ocean acidification. The discovery, made with PEEM studies, has ramifications not only for the health of coral reefs, but for applications such as 3D printing as well.
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A parrotfish’s hardy teeth allow it to chomp on coral all day long, ultimately grinding it up through digestion into fine sand. Researchers wanting to see how the fine crystal structure of parrotfish teeth contribute to their incredible strength were able to visualize the orientation of individual crystals, which showed their intricately woven structure. Read more »
Resonant soft x-ray scattering (RSoXS) at the carbon K-edge was used to probe periodic structures of phases with orientational molecular order but homogeneous electron density distribution. This approach can be applied to structures with periodicities below the optical wavelength, to which neither optical nor classical x-ray diffraction techniques are sensitive. Read more »
Photoemission electron microscopy (PEEM) experiments have demonstrated that the circulation direction of a magnetic vortex can be switched by the application of an electric field, opening the door to digital devices with more streamlined system designs, improved performance, and greater energy efficiency.
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Skeletons of Stylophora pistillata corals form by the attachment of amorphous calcium carbonate precursor particles, formed within the coral tissue, to the coral skeleton surface. This mechanism is faster than the precipitation of ions from solution and may render the corals less susceptible to ocean acidification than previously assumed. Read more »