Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Physicists' findings about helium could lead to more accurate temperature, pressure measurements

18.05.2010
In the May 7 edition of Physical Review Letters, a journal of the American Physical Society, an international team led by University of Delaware researchers reports new findings about helium that may lead to more accurate standards for how temperature and pressure are measured.

In the article, highlighted as an “Editor's Suggestion” by the journal, the scientists provide a new theoretical computation of the force acting between a pair of helium atoms, referred to as “pair potential,” that is more accurate than any published to date.

Krzysztof Szalewicz, professor in the UD Department of Physics and Astronomy, led the study, which involved Wojciech Cencek, a postdoctoral researcher at UD, and colleagues from the University of Warsaw and Adam Mickiewicz University in Poland, and the University of Oslo in Norway.

Most of us know helium as a gas for filling party balloons or for making your voice temporarily sound like a cartoon character's. But this element named for the sun is used in lasers for eye surgery, to cooling agents in nuclear reactors.

Helium has a number of characteristics that make it special, Szalewicz says. It is the most stable of all the elements and has the lowest boiling point. It becomes a fluid at temperatures close to absolute zero while most other materials are a solid. In fact, helium is a liquid even at absolute zero and becomes a solid only at high pressure.

Helium is the only substance that exhibits superfluidity, and it will not burn or react with other elements, which is one reason why it is used as a pressurizing agent for liquid fuel rockets in space exploration, among many other applications.

“Of all the elements, helium is closest to the ideal gas,” Szalewicz says. “Two helium atoms form the weakest bound diatomic molecule. All the properties of temperature, for example, which is a measure of the kinetic energy of particles in matter, can be modeled if the force acting between a pair of helium atoms is known.

“This has been the subject of extensive activity,” Szalewicz notes, “as accurate knowledge of the pair potential of helium is of importance in several branches of science, including low-temperature condensed matter physics, spectroscopy, and metrology, which is the science of measurement.”

The research team used complex numerical techniques to compute several physical effects in the helium pair potential which are rarely considered in molecular physics. These effects include couplings of the electronic and nuclear motions, contributions due to Einstein's special relativity, and the so-called quantum electrodynamics contributions due to the interaction of the electrons with the electromagnetic field.

The scientists predict that the binding energy of two molecules of helium, chemically referred to as a “dimer,” is 6,790 times smaller than the potential depth, and the average separation between the atoms is 47 angstroms compared to the typical chemical bond length of about 1 angstrom. The estimated uncertainties of the theoretical results are an order of magnitude smaller than the best experimental ones, they report.

The thermophysical properties of gaseous helium computed from this potential now will be used to calibrate the apparatus for measuring properties such as viscosities or the speed of sound.

“These calculations should lead to new, better standards for quantities such as temperature or pressure,” Szalewicz says. “Continuous improvement of metrology standards is important for progress in experimental science, as well as in many industrial applications.”

The research was supported in part by grants from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation.

Tracey Bryant | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.udel.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht From rocks in Colorado, evidence of a 'chaotic solar system'
23.02.2017 | University of Wisconsin-Madison

nachricht Prediction: More gas-giants will be found orbiting Sun-like stars
22.02.2017 | Carnegie Institution for Science

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

In the field of nanoscience, an international team of physicists with participants from Konstanz has achieved a breakthrough in understanding heat transport

Im Focus: DNA repair: a new letter in the cell alphabet

Results reveal how discoveries may be hidden in scientific “blind spots”

Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...

Im Focus: Dresdner scientists print tomorrow’s world

The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.

The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...

Im Focus: Mimicking nature's cellular architectures via 3-D printing

Research offers new level of control over the structure of 3-D printed materials

Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...

Im Focus: Three Magnetic States for Each Hole

Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".

Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Booth and panel discussion – The Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings at the AAAS 2017 Annual Meeting

13.02.2017 | Event News

Complex Loading versus Hidden Reserves

10.02.2017 | Event News

International Conference on Crystal Growth in Freiburg

09.02.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Stingless bees have their nests protected by soldiers

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

New risk factors for anxiety disorders

24.02.2017 | Life Sciences

MWC 2017: 5G Capital Berlin

24.02.2017 | Trade Fair News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>