Nanomaterials hold promise as synthetic vaccines. They have the ability to deliver cargo to specific immune cells and modulate the resulting immune response. Compared to natural vaccine vectors, including engineered viruses or attenuated pathogens, synthetic nanoscale vaccines are safer, more controlled, and have the potential to be more effective. Nanoscale vaccines may also prevent, or even treat a wider range of diseases, including cancer. Researchers now have developed nanoscale polymer micelles that elicit both humoral and cellular immunity. The constructs could help in the fight against infectious diseases and cancer.
Nanotechnology is helping to revolutionize cancer hyperthermia - the treatment of cancer with heat. Certain types of nanoparticles, in particular those made of gold or iron oxide, act as transducers that absorb electromagnetic radiation and generate heat. If the nanoparticles are delivered selectively to a tumour, heat can be generated within the tumour tissue by irradiating it with an external energy source. This results in heat-induced cell death within the tumor, sparing the surrounding healthy tissues. Researchers have now developed gold nanoparticles coated with a temperature-sensitive dye. The constructs allow nanoparticle-induced heating to be monitored locally.
Researchers have come up with various electrode materials to improve the performance of supercapacitors, focussing mostly on porous carbon due to its high surface areas, tunable structures, good conductivities, and low cost. Graphene and carbon nanotubes show great potential but are costly. Researchers in Canada have now reported the successful hydrothermal-based synthesis of two-dimensional, yet interconnected, carbon nanosheets with superior electrochemical storage properties comparable to those of state-of-the-art graphene-based electrodes.
Ferromagnetic materials exhibit the so-called anomalous Hall effect (AHE), whereby the electrons flowing through the material experience a lateral force pushing them to one side as a result of the material's intrinsic magnetization. Although the AHE has been used in the field on nanotechnology to measure the magnetic behavior of nanoparticles (with sizes larger than 50 nm), nobody so far had tried to separate the signals of the individual particles. Researchers in Germany have now developed a simple technique which allows to measure the magnetic response of single ferromagnetic nanoparticles down to a radius of about 3.3 nm.
The low-frequency 1/f noise is a ubiquitous phenomenon found everywhere from fluctuations of human heart rates to fluctuations of electrical currents in semiconductor devices. An acceptable level of flicker 1/f noise is one of the key metrics that each new material has to pass before it can be used for practical devices. Graphene has shown a great potential for applications in high-frequency communications, analog circuits and sensors. The envisioned applications require a low level of 1/f noise, which contributes to the phase-noise of communication systems and limits the sensor sensitivity. Now, researchers have discovered a unique feature of 1/f noise in graphene, which can help understand its microscopic origin and develop new techniques for noise reduction.
Nanopores are an exciting class of single molecule nanosensors. For several years now, nanopore technology has been developed as a biosensor at the single-molecule resolution to detect an array of biomedical molecules, such as DNA, RNA, protein, biotoxin, and various nanopore projects have been funded to develop the next generation of DNA sequencing technology. The sensing principle is based on the resistive pulse technique - molecules are detected as they pass through a single nanopore since during translocation the molecules exclude ions and therefore modulate the current. In new work, researchers have demonstrated the single molecule detection of a wide range of proteins with solid state glass nanopores.
For a transistor to work properly, it must contain impurity atoms - called dopants - replacing the silicon atoms at certain places in the device. Given that modern transistor are approaching the atomic scale, the exact location of a single dopant atom becomes critical in determining the device functionality. In a different context, single dopant atoms in semiconductors have now proved to be an excellent platform to encode quantum information. Therefore, the exact location of single dopant atoms is also crucial to future quantum computers based on silicon. A new technique allows the accurate location of a single dopant atom in a nanoscale device, after the device has been fabricated, and without damaging or altering any of its functionalities.
Every year, large quantities of antibiotics are released into lakes and rivers as a byproduct of their use in farming and medicine. Antibiotics in the environment can select for antibiotic-resistant bacterial populations, which can cause severe infections if they come into contact with humans or animals. In addition, antibiotics can disrupt the natural bacterial flora that plays a vital role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems. Scientists have now found that solar-powered proteoliposomes derived from bacteria can extract and store contaminants released into natural bodies of water,