The principle behind whispering galleries – where words spoken softly beneath a domed ceiling or in a vault can be clearly heard on the opposite side of the chamber – has been used to achieve what could prove to be a significant breakthrough in the miniaturization of lasers. Ultrasmall lasers, i.e., nanoscale, promise a wide variety of intriguing applications, including superfast communications and data handling (photonics), and optical microchips for instant and detailed chemical analyses.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22—Tiny disk-shaped lasers as small as a speck of dust could one day beam information through optical computers. Unfortunately, a perfect disk will spray light out, not as a beam, but in all directions. New theoretical results, reported in the Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters, explain how adding a small notch to the disk edge provides a single outlet for laser light to stream out.

Common sense tells us that when you heat something up it gets softer, but a team of researchers, led by University of Toronto chemistry and physics professor R.J. Dwayne Miller, has demonstrated the exact opposite. Their findings will be published online in the prestigious international journal Science on January 22.

PITTSBURGH—Inspired by the aquatic wriggling of beetle larvae, a University of Pittsburgh research team has designed a propulsion system that strips away paddles, sails, and motors and harnesses the energy within the water's surface. The technique destabilizes the surface tension surrounding the object with an electric pulse and causes the craft to move via the surface's natural pull. The researchers will present their findings Jan. 26 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' 2009 Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) conference in Sorrento, Italy.

Smart' fridges that run on renewable electricity and are capable of negotiating the most energy efficient way to keep food cold have been developed by researchers from CSIRO's Energy Transformed Flagship.

CSIRO's Intelligent Energy team have developed a fridge capable of maintaining its average temperature while regulating its power consumption from renewable-energy generators, such as solar panels (photovoltaics) or wind turbines.

Scientists have always wanted to take a closer look at biological systems and materials. From the magnifying glass to the electron microscope, they have developed ever-increasingly sophisticated imaging devices.

Now, Niels de Jonge, Ph.D., and colleagues at Vanderbilt University and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), add a new tool to the biology-watcher's box. In the online early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, they describe a technique for imaging whole cells in liquid with a scanning transmission electron microscope (STEM).

DURHAM, N.C. – A device that can bestow invisibility to an object by "cloaking" it from visual light is closer to reality. After being the first to demonstrate the feasibility of such a device by constructing a prototype in 2006, a team of Duke University engineers has produced a new type of cloaking device, which is significantly more sophisticated at cloaking in a broad range of frequencies.

Many hopes are pinned on spintronics. In the future it could replace electronics, which in the race to produce increasingly rapid computer components, must at sometime reach its limits. Different from electronics, where whole electrons are moved (the digital "one" means "an electron is present on the component", zero means "no electron present"), here it is a matter of manipulating a certain property of the electron, its spin. For this reason, components are needed in which electrons can be injected successively, and one must be able to manipulate the spin of the single electrons, e.g.

New Haven, Conn. -- Many Americans have already taken action to reduce their energy use and many others would do the same if they could afford to, according to a national survey conducted by Yale and George Mason universities.