In the past decades, the Density Functional Theory (DFT) has been very successful in helping chemists and physicists understand the properties of matter at extremely small scales. Although some problems still remain in the standard implementation of DFT, it represents an important theoretical tool which is used on a daily basis. Scientists now propose a variant of the standard DFT which could pave the way towards the simulation of very complex chemical and physical systems at a quantum level.
While nanotechnology researchers have made great progress over the past few years in developing self-propelled nano objects, these tiny devices still fall far short of what their natural counterparts' performance. Today, artificial nanomotors lack the sophisticated functionality of biomotors and are limited to a very narrow range of environments and fuels. In another step towards realizing the vision of tiny vessels roaming around in human blood vessels working as surgical nanorobots, researchers have now demonstrated, for the first time, externally driven nanomotors that move in undiluted human blood.
Recently, a new Dirac material - a lattice system where the excitations are described by relativistic Dirac or Weyl equations - namely a topological insulator (TI), entered researchers' sight. TIs possess a small band gap in their bulk state and a gapless metallic state at their edge/surface. A research group working on two-dimensional materials photonicshas now experimentally demonstrated for the first time that TI may be a novel microwave-absorbing material.
Over the past few years, researchers have demonstrated that microtubules driven by kinesin make flexible, responsive and effective molecular shuttles for nanotransport applications. In order to fully control microtubules driven by kinesin it has to be possible to switch them on, switch them off, and regulate the speed and direction of their movements - achievements that until now researchers have't fully attained yet. Now, though, it has become possible, for the first time, to achieve complete control over on/off switching of the movement of a nanomachine.
Nanocellulose from wood is a promising nanomaterial with potential applications as a substrate for printing electronics, filtration, or biomedicine. Researchers have now reported on a method to control the surface chemistry of nanocellulose. They fabricated nanocellulose gels that have a significantly higher swelling degree in neutral and alkaline conditions, compared to an acid environment. This material could be of great interest for critical wound healing applications.
Nanomaterials for nanomedicine and biological applications are often two-component structures - referred to as 'nanoconstructs' -consisting of a 'hard' nanoparticle core and a 'soft' shell of biomolecular ligands. Researchers have now demonstrated a nanoconstruct with enhanced in vitro efficacy. This highly loaded nanoconstruct was taken up by pancreatic cancer cells and fibrosarcoma cells at fast rates. The team found that the increased loading of Apt on AuNS also resulted in an enhanced in vitro response.
Researchers have proposed an alternative way of making graphene from rice husk. This research, using an ordinary synthetic apparatus and abundant agricultural waste, suggest that low cost graphene materials could now be easily and cheaply synthesized on an industrial scale. Due to its abundance, risk husk has already received much attention as a starting material in generating high-value-added materials such as silica and porous carbon.
Scientists have great expectations that nanotechnologies will bring them closer to the goal of creating computer systems that can simulate and emulate the brain's abilities for sensation, perception, action, interaction and cognition while rivaling its low power consumption and compact size - basically a brain-on-a-chip. Already, scientists are working hard on laying the foundations for what is called neuromorphic engineering - a new interdisciplinary discipline that includes nanotechnologies and whose goal is to design artificial neural systems with physical architectures similar to biological nervous systems.