Lab Notes

Winter 2014

Bubbly Breakdowns: Bubbles add festive fizz to champagne, but when microscopic froth forms in metallic glass it signals a brittle breakdown. Materials scientist Michael Falk studied how bubbles form and expand when metallic glass is pulled outward by negative pressure, such as suction produced by a vacuum. His team’s findings—published in Physical Review Letters—reveal that bubbles emerge in a way predicted by classical theories. But bubbles also compete with glass reshuffling its atoms to release stress applied to particular locations in a process called “shear transformation.”

Light Beats: Researchers are investigating whether light, rather than electric jolts, can be used to treat irregular, life-threatening heart rhythms. In a paper published in Nature Communications, five biomedical engineers from Johns Hopkins and Stony Brook universities have proposed using biological lab data and an intricate computer model to test whether light-responsive proteins called opsins hold the promise of treating heart ailments. Researchers would test the idea on highly detailed computer models of the heart (developed by Professor Natalia Trayanova, Murray B. Sachs Professor) that simulate cardiac behavior from the molecular and cellular levels, all the way up to the behavior of the whole heart.