April 11, 2001   

   Glass mix sharpens holograms
The best materials for capturing high-resolution holograms have tended to be flimsy plastics that do a poor job of holding the holograms together. A composite material based on glass promises to record clear images and keep them that way.
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Material bends microwaves backwards
The laws of physics say that rain will never fall up and a bullet fired in empty space will never stop. But they do not say you can't make a convex lens that spreads light or a flat slab that focuses it.

Shaky chip makes for bug-eyed bots
Start up a jackhammer and, among other things, you can be sure your vision will get blurry. But jumping spiders actually improve their vision by vibrating their retinas. The principle could lead to better visual sensors for robots.

Cold plastic gives electrons a free ride
Put many kinds of metal in a deep freeze and electrons will flow through them like greased lightning. If you line up its molecules neatly, you can turn a type of plastic into a superconductor, too.

Holographic technique stresses interference
Holograms result from two laser beams interfering with each other. Researchers have found that adding another type of interference makes for sharper holograms.

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