Physics in Action by Topic

Material Science

What could we accomplish with machines that draw power from the air around us?

Meet the Tiny Machines that Harness Humidity for Power

What could we accomplish with machines that draw power from the air around us?

A machine the size of a single molecule? This year's Nobel prize in chemistry went to the people who made it possible!

Molecular Machinery Snags 2016 Nobel in Chemistry

A machine the size of a single molecule? This year's Nobel prize in chemistry went to the people who made it possible!

Lasers and nanoengineering team up to take on one of nature's oldest and deadliest diseases.

Using Gold Nanoparticles to Kill Cancer

Lasers and nanoengineering team up to take on one of the deadliest diseases

A new software algorithm provides fast, sensitive detection of even the smallest seismic events

FAST: Earthquake Analysis

A new software algorithm promises fast, sensitive detection of small seismic events

Femtosecond-pulse lasers have enabled the creation of free-floating, interactive holograms!

Plasma Fairies: Femtosecond Laser Holograms

Lasers have enabled the creation of free-floating, interactive holograms!

Pollia thumbnail image

Color-Tunable Elastic Fibers

By mimicking the structure of organisms like the Pollia condensata berry, researchers have invented an elastic fiber that changes color when stretched!

Two images showing the intercalation of the aluminum tetrachloride ions with the graphene sheets

Ultrafast Aluminum Battery

It’s flexible, fast, nontoxic, doesn’t catch on fire, and its materials are inexpensive.

Scroll 1 thumb

Deciphering Vesuvius Scrolls with "X-ray" Vision

Uncovering ancient, charred texts with physics.


Passively Cool: A Departure from A/C

A potential low-energy alternative to air conditioning.


Measuring Drought with GPS

Tracking how strongly water pushes on the Earth's crust.


Holograms: From Credit Cards to Chocolate

Holograms' uses range from practical to purely aesthetic.


In Depth: Fusion Strides at NIF

How scientists recently pushed closer to sustainable fusion


Whirling Skirts Reveal Steady Patterns

An unexpected application of the Coriolis effect


Ancient Chalice Inspires New Physics

The Lycurgus Cup's optical mysteries inspire scientists


Atomic Friction

New research reveals the frictional nuances on the atomic scale


Element 115 and the Island of Stability

Ununpentium, the 115th element, has been confirmed


"Breathprint" Identification

Scientists can now identify people by their breath — just like a fingerprint


The Cyborg Scientist

Blurring the lines between man and machine with electronic implants


Shattering Science and Glass Physics

Scientists try to strike a balance with glass


Bullet Proof: Absorbing Micro-Bullets

Bullet-proof material absorbs bullets and reseals itself


Could This Be the Next Robotic Skin?

Ladybug hairs inspire sensitive, flexible electronic sensors


Wirelessly Charged Electric Buses

A new bus route will feature electric buses that wirelessly charge while waiting for passengers.

Olympic Medal

The Golden Age of Gold

During the Olympic Games, gold takes center stage. Gold was chosen for first place awards because it symbolized the Golden Age of Mankind in Greek mythology. According to Greek mythology, the Golden Age ended long ago for mankind, but new research on gold indicates that we may now be in the "Golden Age of Gold."


High-tech road science: Where nano meets pavement

New developments in asphalt pavement could dramatically reduce fuel consumption, environmental pollution, and the frequency and cost of maintenance.

space diving

Surviving a Plunge From Space

Spacesuits are being developed to allow humans to survive a fall from thousands of feet in the sky.

flexible electronics

Monitoring the Brain with Flexible Electronics

A new brain sensor developed by a team of researchers could represent a significant improvement in the ability to detect exactly where abnormal brain activity starts.


Super Efficient LEDs

More than 100% efficient, these Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) put out more light energy than the electrical energy that they use!


Ultralight Lattices

Strong, springy, and ultralight, these lattices can sit atop a dandelion in seed without damaging it, and carry about 1000 times its weight without being damaged!


Nano Cupcakes

For a while carbon nanotubes have been a hot topic in science. Some of the latest research on nanotubes done at the US National Institute of Standards and Technology in Boulder, CO are fondly called Cupcakes,1,2 but you may only want a mental bite of these!


3D Printers & Fabbers

If you can dream it, you can print it! Learn how these 3D printers are changing the invention process.


Graphene Printing Press

It's been a year since Konstantin Novoselov and Andre Geim won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their breakthroughs with graphene. What is graphene up to now?


Nanoantennas – detecting the very small

How many ways can you think of to detect a single particle or atom? What uses would a tool that could do this have? The nanoantenna can! Read on to find out how and what uses it might have.


Cloaking – Making Something Appear Invisible

Cloaking makes things appear to be invisible. What may seem like science fiction is really just science.


Answering the Call for Extreme Tires

Robert Frost concerned himself with which road to take, but in some cases the more important question may be which tires to use. Learn about the newest technology in tires.


Ionizing Radiation and Humans – The Basics

In the wake of the Fukishima Nuclear Reactor incident, radiation is on the minds of many people, but did you know that people are exposed to radiation everyday? Ionizing radiation, like many things, isn’t bad unless a living organism is exposed to too much of it.



And the 2010 Nobel Prize goes to the André Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for graphene! Wait, isn’t that what’s in our pencils? Well, yes and no. See how the graphite in pencils and common adhesive tape lead these two to a Nobel Prize.

Virus-enabled templating

Lithium-ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries already power your cell phone and your laptop, and they may soon power your car. What makes these batteries so great?


Fiddle Physics

Physicists are using sophisticated recording equipment and computer models to probe how a violin makes its sound. Could they be on the verge of discovering the "secret of Stradivari"?



How would you like to board a Maglev train and then speed off to your destination at more than 300 miles per hour? The magnets that levitate these trains are an application of superconductivity.


Tiny Machines

In 1959 the physicist Richard Feynman gave a talk called "There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom," on the possibility of microminiaturization. To encourage progress he offered a prize of $1,000 to anyone who could build an operating electric motor that fit into a 1/64th inch cube, and within months, someone had done it.


Tubular Peas

Nanotubes, discovered in 1991, are a new form of carbon. With four electrons available for bonding, the carbon atom can combine with others in a number ways and produce many useful materials.


Fluids in Space

We have all seen images, such as the one at the right, of astronauts floating inside a spacecraft. If these astronauts used a spring scale to weigh themselves, they would detect no weight at all. Does no weight mean no gravity?


Matters of State

We know about solids, liquids, gases, and plasmas —these are the well-known states of matter. But now there’s another, called the Bose-Einstein condensate (BEC), and it’s been predicted for a long time.


Building at the Nanoscale

The thickness of a human hair is about 200 microns, 20 times the length of this guitar.


Water Tubes

Physicists have created a new form of water, one that stays liquid at hundreds of degrees C below zero.


Ferrofluid Fun

Have you ever seen a liquid magnet? If magnetic material is ground into an extremely fine powder, with a particle size of about 10 nanometers, and suspended in a liquid, the resulting magnetic suspension is called a ferrofluid.


Giant Magnetoresistance

Nobel-prize-winning research led to the MP3 player and HDTV-on-demand.


Granular Materials

In our everyday world, matter is usually classified into solids, liquids, and gases. But what about dry sand?