Hexbyte Glen Cove New family of ferroelectric materials raises possibilities for improved information and energy storage thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove New family of ferroelectric materials raises possibilities for improved information and energy storage

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Part of the process of creating ferroelectric magnesium-substituted zinc oxide thin films includes: (left) Image showing thin film being sputter-deposited from metal sources; (center) ferroelectric hysteresis loops of thin-film capacitors showing two remanent polarization states at zero field; (right) atomic force microscope image showing a smooth surface at the nanometer scale and a very fine-grained and fiber-textured microstructure. Credit: Materials Research Institute, Penn State

A new family of materials that could result in improved digital information storage and uses less energy may be possible thanks to a team of Penn State researchers who demonstrated ferroelectricity in magnesium-substituted zinc oxide.

Ferroelectric materials are spontaneous electricly polarized bcause negative and positive charges in the material tend toward opposite sides and with the application of an external electric field reorient. They can be affected by physical force, which is why they are useful for push-button ignitors such as those found in gas grills. They can also be used for data storage and memory, because they remain in one polarized state without additional power and so are low-energy digital storage solutions.

“We’ve identified a new family of materials from which we can make tiny capacitors and we can set their polarization orientation so that their surface charge is either plus or minus,” said Jon-Paul Maria, Penn State professor of materials science and engineering, and co-author of the paper published in the Journal of Applied Physics. “That setting is nonvolatile, meaning we can set the capacitor to plus, and it stays plus, we can set it to minus, it stays minus. And then we can come back and identify how we set that capacitor, at say, an hour ago.”

This ability could enable a form of digital storage that does not use as much electricity as other forms.

“This type of storage requires no additional energy,” Maria said. “And that’s important because many of the computer memories that we use today require additional electricity to sustain the information, and we use a substantial amount of the American energy budget on information.”

The new materials are made with magnesium-substituted thin films. The film was grown via sputter deposition, a process where argon ions are accelerated towards the target materials, impacting it with a high enough energy to break atoms free from the target that contains magnesium and zinc. The freed magnesium and zinc atoms travel in a vapor phase until they react with oxygen and collect on a platinum-coated aluminum oxide substrate and form the thin films.

Researchers have studied magnesium-substituted zinc oxide as a method of increasing zinc oxide’s band gap, a key material characteristic that is important for creating semiconductors. However, the material was never explored for ferroelectricity. Nonetheless, the researchers believed that the material could be made ferroelectric, based on an idea of “ferroelectrics everywhere” posited by Maria and Susan Trolier-McKinstry, Evan Pugh University Professor, Steward S. Flaschen Professor of Ceramic Science and Engineering, and co-author on the paper.

“Generally speaking, ferroelectricity often occurs in minerals that are complicated from a structure and chemistry point of view,” Maria said. “And our team proposed the idea about two years ago, that there are other simpler crystals in which this useful phenomenon could be identified, as there were some clues that made us propose this possibility. To say ‘ferroelectrics everywhere’ is a bit of a play on words, but it captures the idea that there were materials around us that were giving us hints, and we were ignoring those hints for a long time.”

Trolier-McKinstry’s research career has focused on ferroelectrics, including the search for better with different properties. She noted that the University of Kiel in Germany had found the very first of this surprising type of ferroelectric materials in 2019 in nitrides, but that she and Maria have demonstrated comparable behavior in an oxide.

Part of the process Trolier-McKinstry and Maria’s group followed is developing a figure of merit, a quantity used in sciences such as analytical chemistry and materials research that characterizes the performance of a device, material or method relative to alternatives.

“As we look at any application for material, we often devise a figure of merit that says what combination of materials properties we would need for any given application to make it as effective as possible,” said Trolier-McKinstry. “And this new family of ferroelectrics, it gives us whole new possibilities for those figures of merit. It’s very appealing for applications that historically we haven’t had great materials sets for, so this kind of new materials development tends to spark new applications.”

An added benefit of the magnesium-substituted zinc oxide thin films is how they can be deposited at much than other ferroelectric materials.

“The overwhelming majority of electronic materials are prepared with the assistance of high temperatures, and high temperatures means anywhere from 300 to 1000 degrees Celsius (572 to 1835 degrees Fahrenheit),” said Maria. “Whenever you make materials at elevated temperatures, it comes with a lot of difficulties. They tend to be engineering difficulties, but nonetheless they make everything more challenging. Consider that every capacitor needs two electrical contacts—if I prepare my ferroelectric layer at high temperatures on at least one of these contacts, at some point an unwanted chemical reaction will occur. So, when you can make things at low temperatures, you can integrate them much more easily.”

The next step for the new materials is making them into capacitators that are approximately 10 nanometers thick and 20 to 30 nanometers in lateral dimensions, which is a difficult engineering challenge. The researchers need to create a way to control the growth of the materials so there are no issues such as imperfections in the materials. Trolier-McKinstry said that solving these issues will be key to whether these materials are usable in new technologies—cell phones with chips that use much less energy, allowing sustained operation for a week or more.

“When developing , you have to find out how they fail, and then understand how to mitigate those failure mechanisms,” Trolier-McKinstry said. “And for every single application, you need to decide what are the essential properties, and how will they evolve over time. And until you’ve made some measurements on that, you don’t know what the big challenges are going to be, and the reliability and manufacturability are huge in terms of whether this material ends up in your cell phone in five years.”

More information:
Kevin Ferri et al, Ferroelectrics everywhere: Ferroelectricity in magnesium substituted zinc oxide thin films, Journal of Applied Physics (2021). DOI: 10.1063/5.0053755

New family of ferroelectric materials raises possibilities for im

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Space mission tests NREL perovskite solar cells thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Space mission tests NREL perovskite solar cells

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Dennis Schroeder, NREL

On a clear night, Kaitlyn VanSant will be able to watch her work whiz by. Knowing the success of her project, however, will have to wait until her tiny, temporary addition to the International Space Station returns to Earth.

“My family and I have definitely been looking up at night more frequently,” said VanSant, who earned her doctorate from the Colorado School of Mines in last year. Now a postdoctoral researcher with NASA, VanSant holds a unique collaborative appointment at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The pairing of NREL and NASA continues a long-standing alliance between and space. Specialized photovoltaic (PV) panels turned to the sun have been used to generate electricity for Mars rovers and , but the manufacturing costs of these high-efficiency are too high for use on Earth. Researchers at NREL are testing ways to bring those costs down for terrestrial applications and transforming how PV technologies could work in space as well.

The latest test will evaluate the potential use of perovskite solar in space and assess the durability of materials used in those cells. VanSant worked with Ahmad Kirmani, Joey Luther, Severin Habisreutinger, Rosie Bramante, Dave Ostrowski, Brian Wieliczka, and Bill Nemeth at NREL to prepare the perovskite cells and materials. Eight of these samples are scheduled to launch to the space station in August and another set of 25 samples will be launched in the spring of 2022. The samples, each of which are a square inch in size, are part of the Materials International Space Station Experiment (MISSE) program and will be fastened to the outside of the orbiting platform.

The International Space Station (ISS) serves as an orbiting research laboratory and observatory that conducts in a range of fields that include astronomy, physics and materials science, to name just a few.

“We get to prove very nascent technologies in such a way that we don’t fool ourselves by simulating the space environment on the ground in a vacuum chamber, for example,” said Timothy Peshek, an electrical engineer in the photovoltaics group at NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and VanSant’s postdoctoral adviser. “This is the real-world operation.”

With approval in hand to return PV experiments to the space station, Peshek put out calls for researchers who might want to take part. Adele Tamboli, a researcher in the Materials Physics research group at NREL, welcomed the opportunity, and introduced Peshek to VanSant.

Credit: NASA

“Partnering with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory just made a lot of sense,” said Peshek, himself a former post-doctoral researcher at NREL. “They had the facilities and abilities ready to go on day one.”

Solar power on Earth tends to be generated from silicon modules. Other PV technologies, such as those used in space, rely on materials from the III and V columns of the periodic table and are dubbed III-V cells. Scientists have experimented with stacking a III-V cell atop a layer of silicon to increase the efficiency of capturing sunlight to convert to electricity. By itself, the most efficient silicon solar cell is about 26%, when measured under the typical terrestrial solar spectrum. (The solar spectrum is different on Earth and in space.)

Tamboli was among the research group that set records in 2017 for III-V cells on silicon, including a triple-junction cell with an efficiency of 35.9%. She, along with VanSant and staff scientist Emily Warren, would later propose that these types of cells could find a use to power satellites in a low Earth orbit. Before that could happen, the cells had to be tested in the extreme conditions of space.

If the moon is a harsh mistress, space itself can be equally cruel. Equipment is subjected to extreme swings in temperatures and bombarded by . When the ISS moves behind the Earth and away from the sun, the temperature plummets to 250 degrees below zero Fahrenheit. Emerging into sunlight spikes the temperature to 250 degrees above zero.

“That’s harsh,” Peshek said. “That’s a pretty brutal environment.”

“Radiation damage is a factor,” said Warren. “Our record cell was gallium arsenide on silicon, and the one that we sent up is actually gallium indium phosphide on silicon. That was because we know that those materials would be more radiation tolerant.”

SpaceX’s cargo re-supply spacecraft carried NREL’s III-V-on-silicon solar cell to the ISS in March 2020. VanSant, whose Ph.D. research centered on III-V-on-silicon tandem solar cells, worked with Michelle Young and John Geisz at NREL to fabricate the prototype cell for the MISSE project, and watched a broadcast of the rocket launch carrying it into space.

This perovskite sample is in the intermediate crystal phase and about to be placed on a hotplate to fully crystallize. Credit: Dennis Schroeder, NREL

“I watched it with my two daughters,” VanSant said. “They got a real kick out of it. I mean, you can’t really watch a space launch without just being completely fascinated. Nobody can be blasé about a space launch.”

The prototype spent 10 months affixed to the exterior of the ISS before being returned to Earth in January.

“The post-flight analysis of the cell gives us the opportunity to study how we want to evolve the design and to improve it for performance and to see whether it’s realistic that this could be a technology for providing power in space,” VanSant said.

Now she is playing a waiting game for the perovskite solar cells and materials, which are expected to spend six months on the ISS. The process is not a straight shot into space. After NREL, the cells are shipped to Alphaspace, a Houston company that prepares the samples for operation on the MISSE platform and arranges the launch of the experiment aboard a SpaceX flight.

Perovskite solar cells are grown using a mixture of chemicals, and notable for a rapid improvement in how efficiently they are able to harness sunlight for energy. Ongoing experimentation involves readying perovskite cells for commercial use. The early perovskite cells degraded too quickly. Progress has been made but there is still work to do.

“It’s a real interesting problem,” Peshek said, “because these cells are notorious for having degradation problems. But the reason they degrade is because of moisture and oxygen. We don’t have to worry about that in space.”

Earth-bound experiments conducted in radiation test facilities demonstrate perovskite solar cells are surprisingly tolerant to radiation, said Joseph Luther, a senior scientist at NREL, co-adviser on the project, and an expert in perovskite technology. “They are very thin, and so that helps a lot. Most of the radiation just goes right through them. Silicon, relative to perovskites, is hundreds of times thicker. It’s also very cheap due to the production scale and is awesome for terrestrial PV applications, but in space it’s so thick that when radiation is impinging on the surface it gets absorbed and it damages the cell, causing problems.”

Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Lightweight perovskite solar cells would fit with NASA’s ongoing mission to reduce the price for putting a payload into orbit, from about $10,000 per pound today to hundreds of dollars a pound within a quarter-century.

“We’re very interested in trying to match the efficiency of the III-V solar cells, but do it in an extremely lightweight cell design,” Luther said. “Perovskites can be deposited on plastics or metal foils and things like that, which are comparatively lightweight.”

The efficiency of the solar cells was measured before leaving NREL and will be measured again upon their return. Both the cells and the component materials of the cells will also be characterized before and after flight, with imaging expertise provide by Steve Johnston. How well the perovskite cells and materials survived their trip will be immediately apparent. Lyndsey McMillon-Brown, a research engineer at NASA Glenn Research Center and principal investigator on the effort to bring working with Peshek on bringing perovskites to space, said a color change offers the first clue.

“The desirable phase for a perovskite solar cell is a black phase,” she said. “The film is jet black. However, when these things degrade, they turn into a yellowy mustard color. So we’re hoping to see black films upon their return.”

The lessons learned from the time the perovskites spend in space could help with the technology terrestrially. “Some of the things that we’re facing in space are extreme, like extreme temperature cycling, extreme UV exposure, but when you’re here on Earth you still have UV exposure and you still have temperature cycling,” McMillon-Brown said. “It’s just not as rapid and frequent. We’re still thinking that our lessons learned and our findings will apply and help make perovskites more marketable and gain a bigger commercial market share here on Earth, too.”

While waiting for the return of the samples, VanSant receives a regular reminder of the ongoing work. She signed up for text notifications about when the ISS is visible overhead. When the time is right and her 7- and 9-year-old daughters are awake, they try to spot the station.

“In addition to watching the ISS go by in the night sky, we have also watched NASA’s video footage from cameras outside the ISS that show the Earth passing by as the ISS orbits,” VanSant said. “The launch of these cells has been a great reminder to look up into the night sky, but also an opportunity to see things from a completely different perspective.”

Space mission tests NREL perovskite solar cells (2021, August 30)
retrieved 30 August 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-space-mission-nrel-perovskite-solar.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Selfies of missing persons before they disappear used for future forensic dental identification thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Selfies of missing persons before they disappear used for future forensic dental identification

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Selfies taken by missing persons before they disappear could prove key for future forensic dental identification, according to a researcher studying at the University of Dundee.

Selfies showing teeth and gum shields are just some of the new dental identifiers to now appear on a checklist designed to aid the police and forensic odontologists in missing person cases.

The Dental Identification Record Checklist, which is the first of its kind, was developed by Dr. Claire Sallis and her supervisor Dr. Scheila Mânica at the University of Dundee’s School of Dentistry.

It aims to speed up the process of forensic identification by allowing police to request more dental by-products than ever before, such as bleaching trays or teeth molds and helps remind law enforcement officers to check for supplementary evidence such as selfies that may portray the missing person’s teeth.

Working in collaboration with the British Association for Forensic Odontology and the UK Missing Persons Unit, Dr. Sallis hopes the free checklist, which has already been translated into 14 languages, will reduce the time it takes for police to gather important evidence, mitigating the emotional weight on families awaiting closure.

“You may not think about it but your teeth are incredibly individual to you,” said Dr. Sallis, a 29-year-old from Chester, who is studying MSc Forensic Dentistry in Dundee.

“When a dentist places a filling, they will never make the same filling ever again in their lifetime. That’s how unique they are and that’s why they are great for identifying missing people.

“It’s the role of forensic odontologists to identify the deceased by their teeth but this process can be frustrated by both general dentists and police not knowing exactly the types of evidence that could help speed up the process. The checklist should be applicable all across the world and so far it has been translated into Mandarin, Arabic and Malay amongst other languages and has been downloaded more than 200 times.

“Ultimately though, creating the list was about the families and relatives of missing people and helping reduce the time they might be anxiously waiting.”

A cheaper alternative to DNA-testing, Dr. Sallis says teeth play a larger part in identifying the missing or deceased than popular culture gives credit for.

“Fingerprints, DNA and comparative dental analysis are the three primary identifiers recognized by INTERPOL. In the UK we don’t have a national database of fingerprints unless you are a criminal; therefore, it is more likely that an individual has attended their dentist at some point than having had their prints taken. In certain situations, DNA can also be rendered unusable. For this reason, dental identifiers can be relied upon more frequently.

“We don’t tend to talk about how forensic odontology is used in books or films, but teeth are composed of one of the hardest tissues in your body-enamel—and therefore can last a very long time and withstand a variety of assaults. In cases where the bodies of the deceased have begun post-mortem changes, the police have been able to rely upon dental identification due to the natural resilience of teeth.

“Looking ahead, with less and fewer people needing root-canal treatments or fillings, selfies could prove particularly useful to help match up the deceased with missing person profiles, especially if the missing person has distinctive dental features such as rotations or gaps; or in the cases of missing children where we might not have any dental records at all.

“So, even if you think your are fine, getting a check-up to update your dental records could help should the worst ever happen.”

Dr. Sallis plans to return to work as a dentist in Chester but aspires to become a registered forensic odontologist with BAFO where she may be asked to help on missing persons cases in the UK or abroad. She believes her time at Dundee will play a significant role in her new career.

She said, “There are few international opportunities for dentists to gain expertise in forensic dentistry and Dundee is the only university in the UK that offers a one-year program within an active medicine department. It is thanks to amazing supervisors like Dr. Mânica that we are able to contribute to the field in such an important way.”

More information:
Dental Identification Record Checklist: dentalidrecordchecklist.com/

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Effects of harvest intensity on sustainable utilization of non-timber forest products thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Effects of harvest intensity on sustainable utilization of non-timber forest products

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The sketch map of study site and experimental design. C: control treatment plot; L: light harvest intensity treatment plot; M: medium harvest intensity treatment plot; H: high harvest intensity treatment plot; S: severe harvest intensity treatment plot. Credit: DOI: 10.1186/s40663-021-00332-w

Non-timber forest products (NTFPs) are very important for local forest dwellers to increase their income. The growing demand for NTFPs resources with high economic value may lead to disorderly utilization and over-exploitation.

Researchers from the Institute of Applied Ecology (IAE) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) recently revealed how harvest intensity affects the sustainable utilization of NTFPs by experimentally designing different harvest intensity levels to verify which harvest intensity is optimum for sustainable harvesting of NTFPs in a montane region of Northeast China.

They found that harvest activities could increase the yield of both two important NTFPs species (Acanthopanax senticosus and Aralia elata). Light harvest intensity (harvest 25% leaves) was favorable for the sustainable harvesting of Acanthopanax senticosus, and high harvest intensity (harvest all terminal buds) was beneficial to sustainable of Aralia elata.

These results highlight the role of harvest intensity in the sustainable utilization of NTFPs, and provide practical guidance and theoretical basis for forest managers to harvest and manage NTFPs resources.

Relevant results have been published in Forest Ecosystems, titled “Effects of harvest on the marketable organ yield, growth and reproduction of non-timber products (NTFPs): implication for conservation and sustainable utilization of NTFPs.”

More information:
Ting Zhang et al, Effects of harvest intensity on the marketable organ yield, growth and reproduction of non-timber forest products (NTFPs): implication for conservation and sustainable utilization of NTFPs, Forest Ecosystems (2021). DOI: 10.1186/s40663-021-00332-w

Effects of harvest intensity on sustainable utilization of non-timber forest products (2021, August 30)
retrieved 30 August 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-effects-harvest-intensity-sustainable-non-timber.html

This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no
part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Meet the spotted lanternfly, the bug health officials are begging you to kill on sight thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Meet the spotted lanternfly, the bug health officials are begging you to kill on sight

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Walthery, CC BY-SA 4.0

Meet the spotted lanternfly, the bug health officials are begging you to kill on sight

Whether you choose to kill insects or not, there is one bug across the northeastern United States health officials want you to take care of immediately: the spotted lanternfly.

Though it may seem like a colorful moth worthy of an Instagram post, it’s actually an that can wreak havoc on trees, plants and other landscapes, resulting in millions of dollars in damages.

The spotted lanternfly originates from China, and George Hamilton, department chair of entomology at Rutgers University, believes they landed in the U.S. via a crate coming from the Asian country. The invasive insects—which actually don’t fly but rather are leafhoppers—were first spotted in Pennsylvania less than 10 years ago. Now, they can be seen throughout the northeast and mid-Atlantic, from the five boroughs in New York City to parts of Indiana.

They may have spread so easily because they are hard to notice. From hiding on cars and packages, they’ve become such a problem that New Jersey and nearby areas have issued quarantine orders, asking people to inspect their vehicles before traveling. In Pennsylvania, there are 34 counties currently under quarantine.

“They’re very good hitchhikers,” Hamilton told USA TODAY. “Most people don’t even know they’ve got them until the adult form comes out.”

The good news about the insects is that they can’t harm humans or pets. However, they cause massive damage to plants and are known to feed on over 70 different types of trees and plants.

But the damage doesn’t end there. As Amy Korman, a horticulture educator for Penn State Extension, says, “What goes in must come out.”

The spotted lanternflies secrete a sticky material known as honeydew, which is very high in sugar. It is a substrate for mold, and when it gets on plants, it prevents them from photosynthesizing which then leads to the plants dying. The mold these lanternflies leave can end up in backyards and decks and can attract numerous other bugs.

“It seems like it’s such a fragile insect. And yet it’s been so successful in taking over our landscapes,” Korman said. “It’s sort of like the Pandora’s box of problems.”

They’ve destroyed vineyards throughout Pennsylvania, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. A January 2020 study done by the Penn State’s College of Agricultural Sciences found that if the species isn’t contained, it could result in at least a $324 million hit to the state’s economy and the loss of around 2,800 jobs. A estimates a $554 million economic loss and almost 5,000 jobs lost.

The study also found current spotted lanternfly-related damage is estimated to be $50.1 million per year with a loss of 484 jobs.

“This insect has the potential to be such a significant economic burden,” Korman said. “We’re still working on ways to manage this insect. We haven’t cracked the nut and how to really manage populations of this insect very well.”

The states impacted by the spotted lanternfly have a variety of ways to handle the population, but they all have the same goal.

“First thing you should do is kill it,” Hamilton said.

If you don’t feel up to killing a spotted lanternfly, Hamilton added the next best thing to do is to take a picture of it and report it to your state’s department of agriculture. The state of Ohio has a form residents can fill out.

Scrapping and destroying the eggs also helps control the population.

“The only good ones are dead ones,” Korman said.

There are numerous ways to kill them, including the use of pesticides or simply crushing them. Extreme heat or cold also does the trick as well.

Korman added that she’s heard of many different ways people have handled the insects, which has ranged from detergents, alcohol and even kerosene.

“Sometimes you have to laugh. I”s like you really came up with that concoction and you thought it was gonna work?” she said. “‘I’m always scratching my head over with the next great home remedy will be.”

©2021 USA Today
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Meet the spotted lantern

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Hexbyte Glen Cove 2020 had 102 tropical storms, well above world average, NOAA report says thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove 2020 had 102 tropical storms, well above world average, NOAA report says

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: Pixabay/CC0 Public Domain

Tropical storms in 2020 didn’t just break records in the northern Atlantic.

It happened everywhere.

Storm totals exceeded records all over the world, according to an international study from 60 countries detailed in the “State of the Climate in 2020″ report released Wednesday. The is compiled by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Centers for Environmental Information and published by the American Meteorological Society.

In both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere, scientists recorded 102 . It’s a total far above the 1981–2010 average of 85, according to the study.

In the 2020 Atlantic season, scientists observed a total of 30 storms—a in its own right breaking the 2005 record of 28, according to the NOAA.

The Atlantic also had seven , or storms with maximum sustained winds greater than 110 mph (Category 3 or higher). One of those major storms was the development of Category 4 Hurricane Iota, which gave meteorologists a surprise last year as Category 4 storms rarely develop in November when waters begin to cool and the season comes to an end.

The year was also historic for the number of landfalling storms observed in the United States, coming in at 12. The previous record was nine.

On the bright side, the northern Pacific did not measure a record amount of formation. However, meteorologists observed the record breaking phenomenon of Super Typhoon Goni, which was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in the history and led to the evacuation of almost one million people in the Philippines, the report showed. Goni had at one point maximum sustained winds of 180 mph. While on land the storm maintained winds just under 140 mph, according to NASA. About 25 people were reported dead, nearly 400 people were injured and six people were missing as of January, according to a report by the International Red Cross and Red Crescent.

The record tropical season was observed as scientists also recorded 2020 as among the three warmest years on the global surface ever recorded since the mid-1800s, according to the report. Perhaps more alarming, 2020 was among the seven warmest years on record, which all took place in the last seven years. Last year’s heat record was accomplished without the presence of the warming effects of El Niño. The only years to beat out 2020 for the warmest record were 2016 and 2019; both of which observed the presence of El Niño.

“New high temperature records were set across the globe,” according to the report, which “found that the major indicators of climate change continued to reflect trends consistent with a warming planet.”

Another concerning aspect, sea-surface temperature hit a near-record in spite of 2020 having a cooling La Niña influence in the second half of the year.

“The largest anomalies occupied the western and portions of the central North Atlantic, where numerous tropical storms and hurricanes tracked across this region,” the report stated.

Sea-surface temperatures are an important indicator for many global phenomenon including hurricane formation. It was one of the factors the NOAA used last year to predict an above-average hurricane season. The NOAA made a similar prediction regarding the 2021 season citing a forecast of high during the peak of season. However, prior to August, temperatures have been recorded at near normal, said Lauren Gaches, an NOAA spokeswoman.

“It’s been varying from week to week, though generally near-normal over any two-week period,” she said.

Still hurricane season is ahead of the game in storm production and falling in line with the NOAA’s “above-average” prediction as hurricane specialists prepare for the ninth named storm of the —that’s unusual as letter “I” storms don’t typically form before Oct. 4, according to the NOAA records.

The report also addressed other concerning data including broken records of higher sea levels and permafrost. The former was measured as the ninth consecutive year the global average sea level rose to a new record high.

“Global sea level is rising at an average rate of 1.2 in (3.0 cm) per decade due to changes in climate,” the report showed. “Melting of glaciers and ice sheets, along with warming oceans, account for the trend in rising global mean sea level.”

©2021 Orlando Sentinel.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

2020 had 102 tropical storms,

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Hexbyte Glen Cove Geophysicist sprints to monitor quake aftershocks in Alaska thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Geophysicist sprints to monitor quake aftershocks in Alaska

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Geoffrey Abers, the William and Katherine Snee Professor in Geological Sciences, deploys a temporary seismometer on Kodiak Island in August. Credit: Cornell University

When an 8.2-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Chignik, Alaska, on July 29, geophysicist Geoffrey Abers did the logical—if not simple—thing.

He raced to Alaska with a group of collaborators to record its .

The data they collect could provide new insight into the mechanics of crustal faults and possibly help researchers understand and anticipate future earthquake clusters.

“This was the biggest earthquake in the U.S. since 1965,” said Abers, the William and Katherine Snee Professor in Geological Sciences and chair of the Department of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences in the College of Engineering. “There are very few good recordings of earthquakes this large anywhere on the planet. So that’s a big motivation for trying to understand the sequence as sort of an archetype. We know enough about the area and its past history that we can put it in context.”

Because Alaska rests atop a , where it is regularly jarred by shifting tectonic plates, the country is a wellspring of seismic activity, and Abers has been studying its earthquakes for three decades.

In 2017, he led the Alaska Amphibious Community Seismic Experiment (AACSE), a $4.5 million project that deployed 105 high-end seismometers along a 435-mile-long stretch of the Alaska peninsula’s coast.

The July 29 quake had a whiff of déjà vu. It occurred in almost the exact same spot as the AACSE research.

“I thought if anybody’s going to figure this out, it’s us, because we know the logistics of it,” he said.

Unfortunately, the AACSE seismometers had been collected in 2019 to harvest the data, which meant Abers and his collaborators needed to acquire new instrumentation more or less from scratch. On the plus side, they knew precisely where to put it all. They just needed to get there quickly.

“You’re racing against time because every day there are fewer aftershocks on average. That happens less and less the longer you wait,” he said.

Abers reconnected with his main AACSE collaborator, Jeff Freymueller, a geodesy specialist at Michigan State University, and researchers with the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the University of California Santa Cruz and the University of Colorado, Boulder. The team received a $154,000 rapid grant from the National Science Foundation, which had funded the AACSE. For their equipment, they turned to the IRIS Program for the Array Seismic Studies of the Continental Lithosphere (PASSCAL) instrument center, an NSF-supported user facility at New Mexico Tech.

“This all happened really fast. It’s kind of a blur,” Abers said. “Almost literally at the 11th hour, we were still assembling the team of people.”

The researchers began arriving in Alaska on Aug. 8. Abers spent several days deploying five temporary seismometers on Kodiak Island. Each seismometer consists of a sensor, roughly the size of a large coffee mug, that is buried about two feet underground and connected by cable to a data logger, which converts electrical signals to digital bits and stores them on a disk. The units are powered by air-alkaline technology that keeps the seismographs running all year. The electronics and batteries are housed in sturdy aluminum boxes, specially designed to resist the prying paws of the numerous brown bears on the island.

Freymueller’s group traveled further out on the Alaska Peninsula to install continuous GPS sites that will record post-seismic movements with precise timing, as well as additional seismometers.

The team also revived their old AACSE blog to document their efforts.

By Aug. 18, the researchers were returning home. They won’t be able to analyze their data until they travel to Alaska in late spring to collect the instruments. Their data will be sent to the IRIS Data Management Center, where it will be publicly accessible for anyone interested.

“The Alaska peninsula section has been especially interesting,” Abers said. “These plates are steadily converging. The stresses are building up. This is the place it’s been the longest since the last big earthquake (circa 1938), so seems like the most likely for the next one.”

Abers once thought of earthquake prediction as a “fool’s errand,” but he’s become more optimistic that by understanding how stresses can spread to other segments, seismologists may be able to develop a mechanism for specific causal prediction.

While the team must wait until next year to reap the full rewards of their research, they did experience seismic activity in real time. At least some of them did.

“There was a 6.9 aftershock while we were up there,” Abers said. “But it was the middle of the night, so I slept through it.”


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Hexbyte Glen Cove Thousands rally to 'hug' Spain's dying Mar Menor lagoon thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Thousands rally to ‘hug’ Spain’s dying Mar Menor lagoon

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‘Politicians you let the Mar Menor die’ proclaims a banner on the beach.

Tens of thousands of people formed a human chain around Spain’s crisis-hit Mar Menor lagoon on Saturday in a show of mourning after tonnes of dead fish washed ashore, organisers and officials said.

One of Europe’s largest saltwater lagoons, the Mar Menor has long been a draw for tourists but is slowly dying as a result of agricultural pollution, with millions of and crustaceans dying over the past fortnight.

Images of dead fish have traumatised this southeastern coastal region, with locals and tourists turning out to join the mass mourning.

Footage from the scene showed huge lines of people, many in beachwear, holding hands along the waterfront on Alcazares beach, which stretches six kilometres and other part of the lagoon’s 73-kilometre (45-mile) shoreline.

“It was an act of mourning for the death of the animals… we wanted people to somehow ask their forgiveness for the barbarity we’ve inflicted on them,” Jesus Cutillas, one of the organisers told AFP.

“For days, we’ve witnessed the death of millions and millions of fish and seeing all that unnecessary death hurts.

“The aim was to express our regret for what has happened and show our determination that it never happens again.”

Many people wore black, others held up banners reading: SOS Mar Menor.

Organisers estimated up to 70,000 people joined the protest.

15 tonnes of fish, algae

Experts say the fish suffocated due to a lack of oxygen caused by hundreds of tonnes of nitrates from fertilisers leaking into the waters, causing a phenomenon known as eutrophication which collapses aquatic ecosystems.

On Monday, regional officials said they had removed 4.5-5.0 tonnes of fish, but by Saturday that had risen threefold to 15 tonnes of fish and algae.

“The 15 tonnes of dead fish and biomass (removed from the shore) show that this is indeed an environmental catastrophe and emergency. We need immediate help for the ecosystem,” tweeted Noelia Arroyo, mayor of the nearby town of Cartagena.

Pedro Garcia, director of regional conservation organisation ANSE, said this week that feared the marine death toll was more than twice the figure given on Monday by the authorities.

“Within that 15-tonne figure, there will certainly be at least two or three tones of dead vegetation, but we have no way of knowing for sure,” he told AFP on Saturday.

At the lagoon on Wednesday, Environment Minister Teresa Ribera accused the regional government of turning a blind eye to farming irregularities in the Campo de Cartagena, a vast area of intensive agriculture that has grown tenfold over the past 40 years.

But agricultural groups insist they comply scrupulously with environmental legislation.

© 2021 AFP

Thousands rally to ‘hug’ Spain’s dying Mar Menor lagoon (2021, August 28)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove Hunt on for monarch butterfly eggs in the gardens of Canada thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Hunt on for monarch butterfly eggs in the gardens of Canada

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Hundreds of Canadian volunteers are taking part in a program to find monarch butterfly eggs, to help researchers determine environmental zones in need of protection.

When Canadian conservation enthusiasts head out to find monarch eggs, it’s always with a magnifying glass and a notebook. They are volunteers taking part in a summer census of the iconic, endangered butterflies.

July and August are the best months, when the monarch is visible in Canada at all stages of its development: eggs, caterpillar, chrysalis and adult butterfly.

It is also the reproduction period for the generation which will take off in a few weeks for a 4,000 kilometer (2,500 mile) journey to Mexico.

But it’s complicated research. “The monarch lays one egg per leaf. There are insects which can lay a dozen eggs all together while the monarch lays one. So we are looking for something very small,” explains Jacques Kirouac, who is among the hundreds of people who take part in the citizen science program Mission Monarch.

The eggs of these creatures known for their striking orange and black colors are off-white or yellow and about the size of a pinhead, with ridges that run from the tip to the base.

The species’s dire situation led to the creation five years ago of this program set up by the Montreal Insectarium to document monarch breeding grounds. The data is used by researchers, in particular to determine zones in need of protection. There are similar programs in the United States.

Monarchs of the eastern side of the North American continent are in a difficult situation: their population has decreased by more than 80 percent in two decades.

Monarchs of the eastern side of the continent are in a difficult situation: their population has decreased by more than 80 percent in two decades. Western monarchs—which hibernate in California—are even worse off: fewer than 2,000 were reported in the last census by Western Monarch Count, down 99.9 percent since the 1980s.

More generally, the disappearance of insects—less spectacular and less striking for the public than that of —is just as worrying, say the scientists.

They are essential to ecosystems and economies because they pollinate plants, recycle nutrients and serve as for other animals.

‘Not enough data’

“It’s a beautiful butterfly. It would be a real loss to lose it,” says Renald Saint-Onge, also a volunteer for Mission Monarch.

This 73-year-old former carpenter and ornithologist feels driven to “save this butterfly.” So he decided to let grow at his home as many as possible. Often considered a weed, this perennial plant is the only one on which the monarch butterfly lays. But we find it less and less.

Monarch butterflies are essential to ecosystems and economies because they pollinate plants, recycle nutrients and serve as staple food for other animals.

“The natural fields where we had milkweed and nectar-bearing plants are increasingly rare,” says Alessandro Dieni, coordinator of the Mission Monarch program. And the plants are “of because we have fields with monocultures everywhere” and an intensive use of pesticides in the country that killed them off.

Logging has also devastated forests in Mexico where the monarchs spend the winter.

Faced with the catastrophic decline of this insect, the Canadian government has decided to get involved in helping the monarch by seeking to protect its breeding grounds. “However, there was not enough data in Canada to know where to go to protect the monarch,” says Dieni.

The decline of insects, which represent two-thirds of all terrestrial species, dates back to the beginning of the 20th century, and accelerated in the years 1950-60 to reach alarming proportions over the last 20 years.

“Thanks to the censuses, we can now do more precise research,” explains Marian MacNair of McGill University.

“This allows us to better determine the routes taken, the conditions that the monarch particularly like,” adds the biologist who expresses amazement over this small, emblematic butterfly’s ability to fly thousands of kilometers.

The monarch butterfly makes a good study for scientists because often “we have great difficulty in observing the evolution” of populations of insects. But the monarch’s territory is rather small and therefore it is easy to do calculations and observations and document “the extent of the disaster,” explains MacNair.

© 2021 AFP

Hunt on for monarch butterfly eggs in the gardens of Canada (2021, August 28)
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Hexbyte Glen Cove A new type of infrared polaritons at the surface of bulk crystals thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove A new type of infrared polaritons at the surface of bulk crystals

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Illustration of ghost polaritons propagating away from a point source over a calcite surface. Credit: Weiliang Ma/HUST

An international team has reported in Nature the first observation of ghost polaritons, which are a new form of surface waves carrying nanoscale light strongly coupled with material oscillations and featuring highly collimated propagation properties. The research team observed these phenomena over a common material—calcite—and showed how ghost polaritons can facilitate a superior control of infrared nano-light for sensing, signal processing, energy harvesting and other technologies.

In recent years, nanophotonics at infrared and terahertz frequencies has become important for highly sensitive, ultracompact and low-loss technologies for bio-molecular and chemical diagnosis, sensors, communications and other applications. Nanomaterial platforms that can facilitate enhanced light-matter interactions at these frequencies have become essential for these technologies. Recent work has been using low-dimensional van der Waals materials, such as graphene, and alpha-phase molybdenum trioxide (α-MoO3, Nature 2018), because of their highly exotic response to confined light at the nanoscale. However, these emerging nanomaterials require demanding nanofabrication techniques, hindering large-scale nanophotonic technologies.

Writing in Nature on 18th August 2021, a highly collaborative international team led by scientists at the City University of New York Advanced Science Research Center at the Graduate Center, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (HUST), National University of Singapore (NUS) and National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) has reported that calcite —a well-known bulk crystal commonly used in other technologies—can naturally support ghost polaritons.

The team explored light interactions with calcite and found unexpected infrared phonon responses. They demonstrated that calcite, which can be easily polished, can support ghost polariton surface waves that feature complex, out-of-plane momentum totally different from any observed surface polariton to date. 

“Polaritonics is the and technology of exploiting strong interactions of light with matter, and it has revolutionized in the past few years,” said Andrea Alù, Einstein Professor of Physics at the Graduate Center and Founding Director of the Photonics Initiative at the Advanced Science Research Center at the CUNY Graduate Center. “Our discovery is the latest example of the exciting science and surprising physics that can emerge from exploring polaritons in conventional materials like calcite.”

“We used scattering-type scanning near-field optical microscopy (s-SNOM) to probe these ghost polaritons,” said first author Weiliang Ma, a Ph.D. candidate at HUST. “Excitingly, we have shown ray-like nano-light propagation for up to 20 micrometers, a record long distance for polariton waves at room temperature.” 

“We have been thrilled to find a new solution of Maxwell’s equations featuring complex, out-of-plane momentum. And even more excitingly, we have been able to observe it in a very common crystal.” says Guangwei Hu, co-first author, NUS postdoctoral fellow and long-term visitor at CUNY.  

“This type of polaritons can be tuned through their optical axis, introducing a new way of manipulation of polaritons, said Cheng-Wei Qiu, Dean’s Chair professor at NUS. “We believe our findings will stimulate exploration of various optical crystals for nanoscale light manipulation.”

Professors Debo Hu and Qing Dai from NCNS and Runkun Chen, Ph.D. and professor Xinliang Zhang from HUST have also contributed significantly to this work.

More information:
Weiliang Ma et al, Ghost hyperbolic surface polaritons in bulk anisotropic crystals, Nature (2021). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-021-03755-1

A new type of infrared polaritons at the surface of bulk crystals (2021, August 27)
retrieved 28 August 2021
from https://phys.org/news/2021-08-infrared-polaritons-surface-bulk-crystals.html

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