Whooping Cough Clinic To Be Held On July 19th

first_imgFacebook0Tweet0Pin0 Submitted by Thurston County Public Health & Social Services DepartmentOlympia—Whooping Cough (also known as Pertussis) is at epidemic levels in Washington State and Thurston County has had more than three times the number of confirmed cases this year as last year.   Are you up to date on your Whooping Cough (Pertussis) vaccine?   Check with your health care provider.   If you do not have health insurance, your insurance does not cover the vaccine, or you cannot afford to be vaccinated, mark your calendar for Thursday, July 19.    The Thurston County Health Department and partners will be holding a no-cost immunization clinic, at the Union Gospel Mission Medical Clinic at 413 Franklin Street in downtown Olympia on Thursday, July 19th from 11:00 am until 7:00 pm.No appointment is necessary; first come first served, until supplies run out.   For more information call 360-709-3080 or go to www.co.thurston.wa.us/health.Let’s stop the spread of Pertussis.last_img read more

Mr. Clean Is Sick

first_imgDo you get sick too easily?  Did you grow up with allergies?  One reason might be your home environment is too clean, says a story on PhysOrg.    The “hygiene hypothesis” asserts that our immune system over-reacts to lack of stimulation by turning on itself – producing autoimmune diseases and allergies.  It “blames increased allergies on cleaner homes, increased air pollution and changes in diet.  Obesity and lack of exercise may also play a role.”    One researcher at University of Iowa is treating patients with multiple sclerosis and colitis with parasitic worms.  He claims incidents of these autoimmune diseases increased when parasitic worms were eliminated from our environment.  He thinks they have a “profound symbiotic effect on developing and maintaining the immune system.”Not sure we are ready to go that far and add parasitic worms to the diet – that idea needs much more proof!  The principle in this article could, however, help us think differently about some organisms with bad reputations.  Remember the milk maidens in Robert Jenner’s day who developed immunity to smallpox by working around cows?  Humans apparently need exposure to certain organisms to develop and maintain the immune system.  Certain tribes in Africa seem to get along quite well living in harmony with their livestock outdoors in environments that would freak out an American city dweller.    Maybe we should stop thinking of parasites as good vs evil, and view them instead as accelerators and brakes.  Everything in the living world is in motion.  There are constant pushes and pulls.  This is true in the genetic world, where promoters and repressors steer the expression of genes in a complex dance.  Our immune systems are not going to sit idly by when everything is sterile.  Needing stimulation and direction, they will practice on the body’s own cells, like bored firefighters setting the fire station on fire.  What’s needed in this view is balance, not isolation.    Our bodies are already covered inside and out with bacteria and other organisms, so encounters with more of them is only a matter of degree.  The microorganisms, fungi and worms in a new environment may act as alarms to keep our bodies ready.  Perhaps they even inject information needed for the body to adapt to the new environment.  They only become problematic when they swamp the body’s ability to react – perhaps because the immune response was not adequately exercised during development.  Allergies, in this view, are an over-reaction to things that should have been encountered in childhood.    These are mere suggestions that need more rigorous investigation.  The hygiene hypothesis cannot explain everything.  Plagues often ravage tribes close to nature as much as they do city dwellers.  Some parasites are nasty in any environment.  Maybe some of them had a useful function once but mutated into pathogens.  Whatever the balance point, cleanliness is still virtuous.  Didn’t we learn that from Joseph Lister?  (See last month’s Scientist of the Month).  All good suggestions need moderation.  Continue to shower and wash your hands.    The idea humans need exposure to organisms in natural environments makes sense, though.  Would some hospital patients recover faster in gardens open to fresh air?  Would incidence of allergies drop with more exposure to nature in childhood?  Is working the earth in gardening and farming good for health?  These seem like proper subjects for controlled experimentation and long-term population studies.  Meanwhile, it’s a good bet to increase your outdoor exposure.  Jog outdoors when you can instead of going to the gym.  Take your kids camping; go on hikes and visit a variety of outdoor environments.  This is unquestionably a better strategy for long-term health than parking them in front of the TV or video games with a bag of junk food.  This is a one principle both creationists and evolutionists should be able to agree on.(Visited 39 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Mineral Wool Boardstock Insulation Gains Ground

first_imgVapor permeanceA very attractive property of ComfortBoard IS is the high permeability to water vapor. A 2-inch layer of the insulation has a permeability of about 30 perms, which means it’s highly breathable. If the ComfortBoard is installed on the outside of the wall, the high permeance will allow excellent drying potential to the exterior. This approach, in which the sheathing layer provides the continuous air barrier, is gaining many fans in the building science community.ComfortBoard IS has a textured outer surface (see photos), which may even aid moderately in the product’s drying potential (acting like a rainscreen). When asked about this, Paraic Lally, the North American Manager for Specifications at Roxul, told me that the texturing is a function of the manufacturing process and not designed to provide a rainscreen; thus, the orientation of installation is not important.Another feature of mineral wool that I hadn’t appreciated before is the very low coefficient of thermal expansion with temperature. According to Roxul, the coefficient of thermal expansion of ComfortBoard is just 5.5 (10–6 m/m°C), compared with 80 for XPS and 120 for polyiso. In applications where temperatures fluctuate significantly (like on the outside of a wall in a cold climate) this could make a significant difference. Enter ComfortBoard mineral wool boardstockWith this context, I was thrilled to learn recently that Roxul, a Canadian manufacturer of mineral wool (or rock wool) insulation and part of the global, Denmark-based Rockwool International, has been gaining traction with their residential ComfortBoard IS in the U.S. Plus, the company has a new, even higher-density boardstock product coming out this month for commercial applications. Commercial ComfortBoard on the wayJust as exciting as the increased availability of ComfortBoard IS is a commercial version that’s about to be introduced: ComfortBoard CIS. It is similar to the residential product, but produced at a higher density of 11 pcf. Like Comfortboard IS, it can be ordered up to 6 inches thick, but standard thicknesses will be only up to 3 inches.While I am pleased to have used Foamglas and cork insulation on my home, I suspect that Roxul’s ComfortBoard will find its way into my next project. Availability and priceI was pleasantly surprised recently when I asked Leader Home Center in Brattleboro, Vermont, to price a number of insulation materials for a BuildingGreen report we’re revising. The contractor pricing for ComfortBoard IS came to $0.64 per board foot, compared to $0.48 per board foot for standard polyiso, $0.75 for fire-rated polyiso (Thermax), and $1.07 for XPS.While pricing will doubtless differ in other regions and for different quantities, the fact that ComfortBoard is in the same ballpark as these other materials is great. Even after correcting for the lower insulating value (you need more thickness of ComfortBoard to achieve R-10 than with the foam plastics), Comfortboard IS locally was more affordable than XPS: roughly $1.59 per square foot at R-10 for ComfortBoard vs. $2.14/sf @ R-10 for XPS. Rigid boardstock mineral wool has been available in the U.S. for decades from at least four manufacturers, and it is widely used in commercial construction. But it’s never been widely available for home building.That is changing as Roxul ramps up national distribution of ComfortBoard IS, which was first introduced about a year ago. (A few years earlier the company began national distribution of their ComfortBatt product for cavity-fill applications.)Manufactured at Roxul’s Milton, Ontario, factory, ComfortBoard IS is third-party-certified to have a minimum recycled content of 75%, and the product can be specified with recycled content up to 93%.ComfortBoard IS, the residential product, has a density of 8 pounds per cubic foot (pcf) and is available in four thicknesses: 1 1/4 inch, 1 1/2 inch, 2 inches, and 3 inches. The company has the capability to produce the product up to 6 inches thick — which could offer an attractive option for Passivhaus builders and those interested in deep-energy retrofits — but because thicker panels requires a special production run, those options are only available in truckload quantities.The insulating value of ComfortBoard IS is a very respectable R-4.0 per inch. That’s lower than XPS (R-5 per inch) and polyiso (about R-6.0 per inch), but there will be no “R-value drift” (reduction in R-value over time), which occurs with foam insulation materials that rely on lower-conductivity blowing agents that slowly leak out or allow air to leak in. Readers of this Energy Solutions blog may be aware that I’ve been critical of some of our foam-plastic insulation materials. I’ve come down hardest on extruded polystyrene (XPS), which is made both with a blowing agent that contributes significantly to global warming and with a brominated flame retardant, HBCD, that’s slated for international phaseout as a persistent organic pollutant.So I’m always keeping an eye out for alternatives. I’ve written here about two of those alternatives that I’ve used in our own home: a cellular glass material called Foamglas with high compressive strength that works very well below-grade; and a boutique, all-natural rigid insulation material made from expanded cork.I like both of those materials a lot, but they have two big problems: high cost and limited availability. They just won’t be able to enter the mainstream home building industry since they cost more than twice as much as XPS and polyisocyanurate and are hard to get hold of. Alex is founder of BuildingGreen, Inc. and executive editor of Environmental Building News. In 2012 he founded the Resilient Design Institute. To keep up with Alex’s latest articles and musings, you can sign up for his Twitter feed. RELATED ARTICLES Wrapping an Older House with Rock Wool InsulationInstalling Roxul Mineral Wool on Exterior Walls Installing Mineral Wool Insulation Over Exterior Wall SheathingGBA Product Guide: Roxul Mineral Wool Insulation Batts Insulating Sheathing for Residential Constructionby John StraubeQ&A: Fastening methods for Roxul ComfortBoard IS Q&A: Installing outie windows with 2-inch exterior Roxul board Q&A: Mineral wool exterior insulation, humidity, and windwashing Dimensions and installationAlthough Roxul literature shows ComfortBoard IS being available in three sizes — 24″ x 48″, 36″ x 48″, and 48″ x 96″ — it is most commonly stocked in the smaller sizes. This may be because the larger panels will be fairly heavy. At 8 pcf, a 3-inch-thick, 4′ by 8′ panel weighs 64 pounds — not an insignificant weight to wrestle into place.To achieve a reasonably thick, 4- to 6-inch layer of exterior insulation for a deep-energy retrofit or Passivhaus wall system will require a double layer (unless you have the ability to order by the truckload). This can be an advantage because is allows overlapping the panel joints (only square-edge product is produced), but it will likely increase labor costs.Rigid mineral wool may also take some getting used to from an installation standpoint. It can be cut with a hand saw, though I can’t (yet) report on cutting the product from personal experience. Minimum 1-inch-diameter washers or nail/screw heads are recommended for attachment, and when strapping is installed on the outside to produce a rainscreen, that strapping has to be screwed into wood studs through the insulation. Because it is mineral-fiber product, a dust mask and gloves should be used when working with it.last_img read more

Government Earmarks $11.5 Million for Building Research

first_imgThe Department of Energy will spend $11.5 million on 16 research projects aimed at improving the energy performance of building envelopes and HVAC systems in U.S. homes. The Building America Industry Partnerships will underwrite research in three broad categories: advanced residential envelope and HVAC systems, fault analysis for residential HVAC systems, and how building industry standards affect energy performance. The announcement came from the Building Technologies Office (BTO), which is part of the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy.RELATED ARTICLESAeroseal Rolls Out Air-Sealing Technology for HousesHow to Build a ‘Perfect Wall’Energy and Building Programs Brace for Trump BudgetHanley Award Goes to Energy Star’s Sam Rashkin The average American household spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills, with U.S. homes accounting for 20% of total energy consumption and 37% of all electricity use, the BTO said. In all, spending on residential energy is $240 billion a year. “While building materials and HVAC equipment efficiency have improved over recent decades,” the office said, “a number of challenges continue to result in significant energy losses.” Air sealing houses with an aerosol One of the technologies on the grant list is the use of an aerosol sealant to plug up air leaks in a building envelope. The promising technique called AeroBarrier was commercialized by Aeroseal, which used research from the University of California, Davis to market a system for sealing air ducts. AeroBarrier was first tested on a single-family house in 2012. The technology was licensed to Aeroseal in 2015. (For a detailed slide presentation on the process, click here.) AeroBarrier is designed to simplify what is now the painstaking and relatively expensive process of sealing leaks in the building shell with caulk, gaskets, and specialized tapes. Instead, technicians pressurize the house with a blower door and release an aerosol mist through tripod-mounted spray nozzles. Forced out of the house through gaps in exterior walls, floors and ceilings, the atomized latex material seals the exterior within a matter of hours. At least to a point, the longer the system runs, the tighter the house gets. According to the company, the process is capable of sealing a house well enough to pass the Passivhaus airtightness standard of 0.6 air changes per hour at 50 pascals of pressure (ach50). As part of the grants just announced, the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE) in Minneapolis will study the use of the technology on existing homes. Dave Bohac, the center’s director of research, said in a telephone call that some of the details of the two-year study are still being worked out. With UC Davis as a partner, researchers will test the process on 22 apartment units and 13 single-family houses — 35 residential units in all — with roughly half in California and the other half in the Midwest. The houses have yet to be selected. The study will supplement another Building America project in which the process was tested on new construction. In that research, houses in Minnesota were air sealed before the drywall had been installed. Bohac said the AeroBarrier process reduced air leaks by an average of 75% to 80%, with  average post-process airtightness of 0.7 ach50. Forty percent of the houses were tested at 0.6 ach50 or below. The houses were mostly production homes. The new round of study will help determine whether that kind of success can be translated to existing houses. The most logical time to apply the sealant is when the building is being renovated — no furnishings to worry about, no people, and possibly some open walls. In a test project a few years ago, Bohac said, an early 1900s masonry building was the guinea pig. The building was being divided into smaller units for income-eligible housing and had a leaky envelope testing at 13.4 ach50. The average after sealing was 4.1 ach50, with one unit getting down to 1.4 ach50, an 88% improvement over pre-treatment numbers. Whether AeroBarrier will be useful to seal houses that are complete — unoccupied but not undergoing any renovation — is another question. Cleaning up the sealant is one issue. The sealant doesn’t seem to stick to vertical surfaces, but it will collect on horizontal surfaces, and because it’s sticky it doesn’t sweep off easily. With cleanup in mind, Bohac suggested that a logical time to seal an older house is when it’s already undergoing lead abatement. Another possibility is isolating a single room in the house that’s undergoing renovation and misting just that space. How durable is the seal? The sealant gradually collects at cracks and holes in the building shell, and within a few hours airtightness improves dramatically. UC Davis has been conducting accelerated durability testing in the lab on ducts that have been sealed with Aeroseal, essentially same process, and so far the results are promising, Bohac said. Researchers are finding that duct seals are more durable (showed a slower increase in leaks over time) than ducts sealed conventionally with mastic and tape. Preliminary results on accelerated testing of AeroBarrier seals also show very little increase in leakage. “It’s worked really well for ducts,” he said. “It seems reasonable that it would work well for building envelopes, too.” He continued: “What we’ve been seeing on new construction, it’s not so much the big leaks that are causing the problems, but the narrower leaks that are just kind of ubiquitous — say, the leak between sheathing and the top plate or the bottom plate. There are just hundreds of feet of that kind of gap. Normally, it would be incredibly labor-intensive to seal that kind of leak, but the nice thing is you don’t even have to go around and find them. This approach just finds  them itself.” Another topic of interest will be the potential energy savings. Preliminary number crunching suggestions that an 80% reduction in air leaks could result in a 20% reduction in heating and cooling costs. The solid panel ‘Perfect Wall’ building Another grant recipient is the University of Minnesota, which will look at ways to speed up adoption of a solid panel wall system. The “Perfect Wall” building system yields a “studless” house that is more energy-efficient, tighter, and of higher quality than conventionally built houses, developers said. The idea is that a single contractor uses structural engineered panels to construct a rigid, structural shell before adding insulation, air-control, and cladding on the exterior. The shell consists of two layers of cross-laminated engineered wood sealed with a peel-and-stick membrane in advance of two layers of rigid insulation, a vented rainscreen and cladding. From start to finish, the construction process should take about two weeks. Layers of the studless ‘Perfect Wall’ system developed at the University of Minnesota. Image credit: University of Minnesota The university, in partnership with two affordable housing developers, has built a half-dozen of the houses since 2016 with several more planned this year. Energy modeling predicted a 40% energy savings over Minnesota code-compliant houses, and 30% energy savings over Energy Star Version 3 houses. (Actual performance data is coming in now.) Airtightness of the first Habitat for Humanity house was 0.26 ach50, according to a summary of the project. This new round of Building America funding, about $700,000, will pay for structural testing at the Home Innovations Research Laboratory over the next 2 1/2 years, said Patrick Huelman, associate extension professor and the Cold Climate Housing coordinator at the university. “The primary purpose of the new grant is to nail down the structural behavior of the two-ply panel,” he said by telephone. “It’s just to get all the engineering in place.” Outperforming conventional construction Exterior walls are built with two layers of 1 1/8-inch-thick OSB manufactured by Huber Engineered Woods using essentially the same formula as the company’s well known Advantech sheathing. The first 8-foot by 24-foot panels, each weighing about 750 pounds, are craned into place at the corners of the building. Panels run vertically from the foundation to the roof trusses. Once those are in place, the next course of panels is set horizontally on the inside of the walls and glued and screwed to the corner pieces. Floor trusses set on top edge of the first horizontal course make up the floor system for the second floor. Development of the system dates back to the 1990s, involving not only the university but some outside partners, including a company called Monopath, Huelman said. The idea was to bring down the cost of the structural portion of the house and put more money into water, vapor, and thermal control layers on the outside. “That dollar savings gets invested in the control layers, and when we get all said and done we have a more robust, better wall at approximately the same cost as traditional or conventional construction,” he said. “That was the goal. We aren’t quite there yet.” Huelman has no doubts the houses perform as intended, with one recent example scoring a 39 on the HERS Index (meaning it is 61% more efficient than a comparison code-compliant house). “We’ve knocked that one out of the park,” he said. “It’s just that we have not been able to get enough cost savings in the framing materials and the framing labor to get us back to even.” Completing structural testing and finishing engineering studies could help make the technology appealing to a wider audience and settle any potential misgivings about using relatively thin wall panels to support all the structural loads of a house. Other projects on the funding list The Department of Energy also is funding these projects: Residing: Researchers at the New Jersey Institute of Technology will field test a technique for residing existing homes with graphite-infused rigid insulation combined with a liquid flashing and sealing product, according to the DOE. The project is aimed particularly at houses in Climate Zones 3, 4, and 5. GBA requested details about the project, but a spokeswoman for the institute said no other information about the grant would be made available until the formal start date of the project in late April or early May. The DOE also was unable to provide any further details. Heating and cooling: Steven Winter Associates Inc. will conduct research to develop a new integrated heating, dehumidification, and air conditioning system for high-performance houses. The prototype will provide 1 ton of space conditioning for energy-efficient multifamily dwellings and low-load single-family homes.last_img read more

Weekly Wrap-Up: RWW Founder Starts New Chapter, Why iPhone Is Not Your Mother’s Smartphone, And The Best Time To Send Emails

first_imgRelated Posts Tags:#web#Weekly Wrap-ups adam popescu Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting RWW Founder Richard MacManus’ New Chapter, Why iPhone Is Not Your Mother’s Smartphone, and The Best Time To Send Emails. All of this and more in the ReadWriteWeb Weekly Wrap-up.After the jump you’ll find more of this week’s top news stories on some of the key topics that are shaping the Web – Location, App Stores and Real-Time Web – plus highlights from some of our six channels. Read on for more.RWW Founder Richard MacManus Starts His Next ChapterRichard’s vision and leadership made ReadWriteWeb an indispensable part of the tech journalism landscape. The editorial team will do its utmost to live up to Richard’s legacy, RWW Founder Richard MacManus Starts His Next Chapter.More Top Posts:Sorry, Samsung, iPhone Is Not Your Mother’s SmartphoneThe culmination of the crusty-iPhone meme is Samsung’s recent television ad, the latest move in the company’s year-long campaign to damage the hipster-hyped image of the iPhone, Sorry, Samsung, iPhone Is Not Your Mother’s Smartphone.What’s The Best Time Of Day To Send Emails? [Infographic]Email blasts may seem like the out-of-touch old fogey of online marketing, but there’s a reason they keep hanging around: They still work. But that doesn’t mean most businesses understand how to get the most out of them. One of the biggest, hardest-to-answer questions has always been: When is the best time to send out messages, What’s The Best Time Of Day To Send Emails? [Infographic].I Won’t Buy Apple Products Until The Company Treats Overseas Workers FairlyAt what point will Apple say enough is enough? When will it decide that the costs saved by manufacturing in China arn’et worth the PR blowback, to say nothing of the physical and emotional harm its partnership with Foxconn supports, I Won’t Buy Apple Products Until The Company Treats Overseas Workers Fairly.Your Twitter Hashtag Chats Are Ruining My Life. Please StopHaving a conversation on Twitter is like gabbing in the front row of a rock concert. You have to yell to be heard, and that annoys everyone around you. Yet for some reason, people engage in hashtag chats on Twitter. Hashtag chats are not only rude, they’re unnecessary. There are far better alternatives, Your Twitter Hashtag Chats Are Ruining My Life. Please Stop.Chrome Extension Protects Privacy Against Google, Facebook & 1,000 Other SitesIf you’re tired of logging into Facebook to reset your privacy options every time the company updates its user agreement, a new Chrome extension may be the fix you’re looking for, Chrome Extension Protects Privacy Against Google, Facebook & 1,000 Other Sites.The 5 Commandments For Smartphone OwnersSmartphones are not just for email, Facebook and fantasy football. They are multi-sensory assistant droids that extend our powers of creativity and observation. They’re loaded with powerful cameras, microphones and accelerometers. We can interact with the info they store with our fingers or our voices. They can communicate with other computers. And there’s an app for everything, The 5 Commandments For Smartphone Owners.How Social Media Consultants Dupe Their Corporate ClientsAnyone can call himself a social media expert and find clients willing to pay thousands of dollars for advice. Here are some things to consider before hiring a so-called expert, including whether you really need a social media consultant, How Social Media Consultants Dupe Their Corporate Clients.[Infographic] YouTube’s Top 1,000 Channels Reveal An Industry Taking ShapeYouTube is still the pesky younger sibling of television, which is the wicked uncle of Hollywood. But the social video site is slowly becoming a formidable medium in its own right, creating new business models and spheres of influence for – literally – a million rising stars, [Infographic] YouTube’s Top 1,000 Channels Reveal An Industry Taking Shape.Chirpify: Buy, Sell, Donate With Your Twitter AccountIt was only a matter of time. Tweets are now transactions. A new service called Chirpify has opened Twitter to e-commerce, enabling people to buy, sell, donate, pay and otherwise transact in-stream with their Twitter accounts, Chirpify: Buy, Sell, Donate With Your Twitter Account.ReadWriteWeb ChannelsEnterpriseTake My Facebook Password? Over My Dead BodyIs Microsoft Challenging Google on HTTP 2.0 with WebSocket?[Infographic] Social Media Security Basics MobileFacebook Friends: How Many Is Too Many?Fuzebox, the iPad and the Reality of Simple Unified CommunicationsSquashing Bugs: The Many Layered Approach to Mobile App TestingCloudFollow ReadWriteCloud on Twitter and join the ReadWriteCloud LinkedIn Group.Red Hat Sets a Date for OpenShift Source ReleaseBox Launches Its Own Enterprise Cloud Operating EcosystemGoogle’s Go Programming Language Grows Up: Now What?HackFollow ReadWriteHack on Twitter.Google Adds New Toys to OAuth PlaygroundTrello: Online Collaboration Software at Its FinestRevenge of the DevOps: Microsoft Targets Next Visual Studio for Admins TooReadWriteWeb CommunityYou can find ReadWriteWeb in many places on the web, a few of which are below.ReadWriteWeb on FacebookReadWriteWeb on TwitterReadWriteWeb on Google+ReadWriteWeb on LinkedInReadWriteWeb on PinterestReadWriteWeb on StorifySubscribe to the ReadWriteWeb Weekly Wrap-upWant to have this wrap up delivered to you automagically? You can subscribe to the Weekly Wrap-up by RSS or by email.center_img Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… A Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Marketlast_img read more

Researchers report observation of roomtemperature polar skyrmions

first_imgObservation of ordered polar structure. a, b, Cross-sectional dark-field TEM images of a (SrTiO3)16/(PbTiO3)16/(SrTiO3)16 trilayer (a) and a [(SrTiO3)16/(PbTiO3)16]8 superlattice (b), revealing a regular in-plane modulation of about 8 nm. c, d, Planar-view dark-field STEM imaging shows the widespread occurrence of nanometre-size round and elongated features in a (SrTiO3)4/(PbTiO3)11/(SrTiO3)11 trilayer (c) and only circular features in a [(SrTiO3)16/(PbTiO3)16]8 superlattice (d) along the [100] and [010] directions. The STEM studies were repeated in a minimum of 10 separate samples and the observations were repeatable. Insets, FFT of the images in c and d show a ring-like distribution with stronger intensities along the cubic directions—the same feature seen in RSM studies. Credit: Nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1092-8 Simulation of a single polar skyrmion. Red arrows signify that this is a left-handed skyrmion. The other arrows represent the angular distribution of the dipoles. Credit: Xiaoxing Cheng, Pennsylvania State University; C.T. Nelson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Berkeley Lab Zubko describes skyrmions as “tiny whorls of magnetic moments,” and notes that a lot of research has been done with them because they are very useful in data storage applications. But he also notes that finding electrical versions of skyrmions has been a difficult journey. That may change, however, as the researchers with this new effort report a way to create and observe at least one kind of electrically based skyrmion—the polar skyrmion.Zubko notes that the researchers started with the observation that ferroelectrics and ferromagnetics, despite being very different, have some basic similar properties—spontaneous magnetization and polarization are just one example. He suggests it is this property that makes both such a draw for data storage applications. He also notes that scientists have been searching for some time for polarization in ferroelectrics that rotate in a way that could lead to the creation of skyrmions. Prior work has shown that when ferroelectrics are confined at the nanoscale, they become more sensitive to stresses and electric fields, which can upset polar orientation and give way to dipoles. In such scenarios, small regions of dipoles with the same orientation can form spontaneously and those regions will have boundary walls separating them from other regions. More information: S. Das et al. Observation of room-temperature polar skyrmions, Nature (2019). DOI: 10.1038/s41586-019-1092-8Press release Journal information: Nature Army-funded research discovery may allow for development of novel device structures that can be used to improve logic/memory, sensing, communications, and other applications for the Army as well as industry. Image demonstrates simulation of emergent chirality in polar skyrmions for the first time in oxide superlattices. Credit: Xiaoxing Cheng, Pennsylvania State University; C.T. Nelson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Ramamoorthy Ramesh, University of California, Berkeley Physicists show skyrmions can exist in ferroelectrics Explore further Citation: Researchers report observation of room-temperature polar skyrmions (2019, April 18) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2019-04-room-temperature-polar-skyrmions.html In their work, the researchers noted that the domain walls had polarization components that were perpendicular to those that resided next to them. They found that all it took was looping a domain wall between regions to force a ring of polarization to develop, which led to the creation of bubbles—polar skyrmions. The team then used an electron microscope that was capable of showing atomic displacement to observe the skyrmions. They further report that X-ray diffraction of the skyrmions showed them to have macroscopic chirality. Zubko suggests that much more work will need to be done with the skyrmions to find out if they will work with real-world applications, such as racetrack memory devices. Simulation of a single polar skyrmion. Red arrows signify that this is a left-handed skyrmion. The other arrows represent the angular distribution of the dipoles. Credit: Xiaoxing Cheng, Pennsylvania State University; C.T. Nelson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Ramamoorthy Ramesh, Berkeley Lab Army-funded research discovery may allow for development of novel device structures that can be used to improve logic/memory, sensing, communications, and other applications for the Army as well as industry. Image demonstrates simulation of emergent chirality in polar skyrmions for the first time in oxide superlattices. Credit: Xiaoxing Cheng, Pennsylvania State University; C.T. Nelson, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Ramamoorthy Ramesh, University of California, Berkeley © 2019 Science X Network An international team of researchers has discovered a way to create and observe room-temperature polar skyrmions. In their paper published in the journal Nature, the group describes creating the polar skyrmions and their observations. Pavlo Zubko, with the London Centre for Nanotechnology, has published a News and Views piece on the work done by the team in the same journal issue. 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.last_img read more