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A thermographic image of a patterned ITO glass slide with a bolometric camera

Heated glass that has been etched with letters is imaged using a standard method for measuring temperature from a distance. A new, more sensitive version of the method can detect minute temperature changes. Credit: Sergii Yakunin/Bogdan Benin

Materials science

Glowing crystals help to measure temperatures from afar

New crystalline materials aid in the detection of tiny temperature shifts in a target object.

Crystals that detect temperature changes of just a fraction of a degree could form part of a ‘remote thermometer’ that gauges an object’s warmth from a distance.

For remote thermography, objects are coated with a substance that emits light when excited by a laser or other source. The length of the light emission, which is recorded by video, depends on the object’s temperature. But light-emitting substances now in use are sensitive to changes of only about 1 °C, and detectors to record these emissions are bulky and expensive.

Sergii Yakunin and Maksym Kovalenko at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and their colleagues made light-emitting substances from crystalline materials called perovskites. The team’s perovskites, which contain tin and one element from the halogen family, are sensitive to temperature changes as small as 0.01 °C.

The team recorded high-quality videos of these crystals in action using a prototype camera similar to those that capture players’ 3D movements in motion-based video games. The crystals could be used to gauge the temperature of living cells.

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Astronomy and astrophysics

Wiggly signal hints of an aurora on a planet far from the Solar System

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Atmospheric science

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Ants shrink their brains for motherhood — but can enlarge them when egg-laying ends

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Atmospheric science

Smoke from Australian fires turned up the heat in the southern sky

The catastrophic wildfires of late 2019 and early 2020 triggered a lingering temperature rise in a section of Earth’s lower atmosphere.
Visible and infrared images of the device in fully discharged and charged states

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Optics and photonics

One screen, three images — some invisible in ordinary light

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