Scientists are facing a number of barriers as they try to develop circuits that are microscopic in size, including how to reliably control the current that flows through a circuit that is the width of a single molecule.
Alexander Shestopalov, an assistant professor of chemical engineering at the Univ. of Rochester, has done just that, thereby taking us one step closer to nanoscale circuitry.
The most effective way to tackle debilitating diseases is to punch them at the start and keep them from growing.
Research at Michigan State Univ., published in the Journal of Biological Chemistry, shows that a small “molecular tweezer” keeps proteins from clumping, or aggregating, the first step of neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease. The results are pushing the promising molecule toward clinical trials and actually becoming a new drug, says Lisa Lapidus, MSU associate professor of physics and astronomy and co-author of the paper.
Ever stop to consider why lotus plant leaves always look clean? The hydrophobic – water repelling – characteristic of the leaf, termed the “Lotus effect,” helps the plant survive in muddy swamps, repelling dirt and producing beautiful flowers.
Of late, engineers have been paying more and more attention to nature’s efficiencies, such as the Lotus effect, and studying its behavior in order to make advances in technology. As one example, learning more about swarming schools of fish is aiding in the development of unmanned underwater vehicles. Other researchers are observing the extraordinary navigational abilities of bats that might lead to new ways to reconfigure aviation highways in the skies.
The recent discovery of the Higgs boson has confirmed theories about the origin of mass and, with it, offered the potential to explain other scientific mysteries.But, scientists are continually studying other, less-understood forces that may also shed light on matters not yet uncovered.
Among these is quantum turbulence, writes Katepalli Sreenivasan, an NYU professor, in a special issue of PNAS. Sreenivasan’s introductory analysis, written with issue co-editors Carlo Barenghi of Newcastle Univ. and Ladislav Skrbek of Prague’s Charles Univ., examines the direction and promise of this phenomenon.
Stem cells demonstrate a bizarre property never before seen at a cellular level, according to a study published today by scientists at the Univ. of Cambridge. The property, known as auxeticity, is one that may have application as wide-ranging as soundproofing, super-absorbent sponges and bulletproof vests.
Most materials when stretched will contract. For example, if one pulls on an elastic band, the elastic itself will get thinner. The opposite is also true: squeeze a material and it will expand – if one squeezes a tennis ball between both hands, the circumference around the ball gets larger. However, material scientists have begun to explore auxeticity, an unusual property that has the opposite effect – squeeze it and it will contract, stretch it and it will expand. This means that auxetic materials act as excellent shock absorbers or sponges, a fact that is being explored for various uses.
The ability to stick objects to a wide range of surfaces such as drywall, wood, metal and glass with a single adhesive has been the elusive goal of many research teams across the world, but now a team of Univ. of Massachusetts Amherst inventors has created a new, more versatile version of their creation, Geckskin, which can adhere strongly to a wider range of surfaces, yet releases easily, like a gecko’s feet.
“Imagine sticking your tablet on a wall to watch your favorite movie and then moving it to a new location when you want, without the need for pesky holes in your painted wall,” says polymer science and engineering professor Al Crosby. Geckskin is a “gecko-like,” reusable adhesive device that they had previously demonstrated can hold heavy loads on smooth surfaces such as glass.
The adage, “Everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it,” may one day be obsolete if researchers at the Univ. of Central Florida’s College of Optics & Photonics and the Univ. of Arizona further develop a new technique to aim a high-energy laser beam into clouds to make it rain or trigger lightning.
The solution? Surround the beam with a second beam to act as an energy reservoir, sustaining the central beam to greater distances than previously possible. The secondary “dress” beam refuels and helps prevent the dissipation of the high-intensity primary beam, which on its own would break down quickly.
Electrically Controlled Polymer Changes its Properties
Electrically controlled glasses with continuously adjustable transparency, new polarization filters and even chemosensors capable of detecting single molecules of specific chemicals could be fabricated thanks to a new polymer that unprecedentedly combines optical and electrical properties.
An international team of chemists from Italy, Germany and Poland developed a polymer with unique optical and electric properties. Components of this polymer change their spatial configuration depending on the electric potential applied. In turn, the polarization of transmitted light is affected. The material can be used, for instance, in polarization filters and window glasses with continuously adjustable transparency. Due to its mechanical properties, the polymer is also perfectly suitable for fabrication of chemical sensors for selective detection and determination of optically active (chiral) forms of an analyte.
As Cyclone Ita hit northern Australia last weekend, a much slower collision occurred in the world’s longest-running lab project, The Univ. of Queensland’s Pitch Drop Experiment.
After a wait of more than 13 years, the ninth drop of pitch collided ever so slowly with the eighth drop in the bottom of the beaker. The experiment was set up in 1927 to demonstrate that solid materials — pitch shatters if hit with a hammer — can flow like liquids.
A quasiparticle called an exciton — responsible for the transfer of energy within devices such as solar cells, LEDs and semiconductor circuits — has been understood theoretically for decades. But exciton movement within materials has never been directly observed.
Now scientists at MIT and the City College of New York have achieved that feat, imaging excitons’ motions directly. This could enable research leading to significant advances in electronics, they say, as well as a better understanding of natural energy-transfer processes, such as photosynthesis.
Writing in the journal Icarus this week, Prof. Carl Murray from Queen Mary Univ. of London’s Astronomy Unit reports that recently discovered disturbances at the very edge of Saturn’s outer bright A ring result from a small icy object that formed within the ring and which may be in the process of migrating out of it. His team have nicknamed the object, “Peggy.”
"We hadn’t seen anything like this before," explains Murray. "We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right."
From dental implants that are light, strong and porous enough to bond with bone to surgical implants that dissolve over time, modified metals are dramatically extending biomedical potential.
A new nanostructuring technique being researched by Prof. Yuri Estrin at Monash Univ.’s Centre for Advanced Hybrid Materials promises metals with greater strength, better corrosion resistance and increased biocompatibility.
A research team at the Univ. of Kansas has used high-powered lasers to track the speed and movement of electrons inside an innovative material that is just one atom thick. Their findings are published in the current issue of ACS Nano.
The work at KU’s Ultrafast Laser Lab could help point the way to next-generation transistors and solar panels made of solid, atomically thin materials.
A house window that doubles as a solar panel could be on the horizon, thanks to recent quantum-dot work by Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers in collaboration with scientists from Univ. of Milano-Bicocca (UNIMIB). Their project demonstrates that superior light-emitting properties of quantum dots can be applied in solar energy by helping more efficiently harvest sunlight.
“The key accomplishment is the demonstration of large-area luminescent solar concentrators that use a new generation of specially engineered quantum dots,” says lead researcher Victor Klimov of the Center for Advanced Solar Photophysics (CASP) at Los Alamos.