A team of researchers in Germany and the U.S. demonstrates that it is possible to operate extremely compact optical circuits on the nanoscale, a size scale that makes it compatible and potentially competitive with state-of-the-art electronic microchips, while substantially reducing the limiting factor of heating loss and while strongly increasing the efficiency to funnel infrared laser light into these circuits with a novel design of optical nanoantennas.
Notwithstanding the red-hot research area of flexible electronics, today's state-of-the-art electronic devices rely on rigid and brittle mono-crystalline silicon based transistors which are unmatched with regard to low-cost production, high-performance computing, and ultra-low power consumption. Researchers have now developed a low-cost generic batch process using a state-of-the-art CMOS process to transform conventional silicon electronics into flexible and transparent electronics while retaining its high-performance, ultra-large-scale-integration density and cost.
As the use of antibiotics increases for medical, veterinary and agricultural purposes, the increasing emergence of antibiotic-resistant strains of pathogenic bacteria is an unwelcome consequence. The incidence of the multidrug resistance (MDR) of bacteria which cause infections in hospitals/intensive care units is increasing, and finding microorganisms insensitive to more than 10 different antibiotics is not unusual. The emergence of superbugs has made it imperative to search for novel methods, which can combat the microbial resistance. Thus, application of nanotechnology in pharmaceuticals and microbiology is gaining importance to prevent the catastrophic consequences of antibiotic resistance.
Thanks to nanotechnology, medical research is moving quickly towards a future where intelligent medical implants can continuously monitor their condition inside the body and autonomously respond to changes such as infection by releasing anti-inflammatory agents. A recent review discusses present and prospective implantable sensors incorporating nanostructured carbon allotropes. The authors describe various applications with an in-depth look at the implantable sensors from the viewpoints of nanomedicine, materials science, nanobiotechnology, and sensor design, both present and future.
Conventional carbon-fiber electrodes have been the material of choice for identifying the chemical nature of neurotransmitters in the brain. Unfortunately, they have some limitations that leave some of the molecules that researchers are interested in just out of our reach. Further miniaturization of biologically compatible, carbon based electrode materials to the nanoscale promises to enhance the very characteristics that made microelectrodes so transformative in the first place, enabling high speed measurements in discrete spatial locations.
In new work, researchers have demonstrated that flexible cotton threads can be used as a platform to fabricate a cable-type supercapacitor. Wearable electronics will go far beyond just very small electronic devices or wearable, flexible computers. Not only will these devices be embedded in textile substrates but an electronics device or system could ultimately become the fabric itself. Supercapacitors with a cable-type architecture could lead to flexible energy storage devices that can remove traditional restriction and achieve a subversive technology that could open up a path for design innovation.
Using quantum dots as the basis for solar cells is not a new idea, but attempts to make such devices have not yet achieved sufficiently high efficiency in converting sunlight to power. Although these performance levels are promising, all high-performing device results to date have relied on a multiple-layer-by-layer strategy for film fabrication rather than employing a single-layer deposition process. Now, though, researchers have developed a semiconductor ink with the goal of enabling the coating of large areas of solar cell substrates in a single deposition step and thereby eliminating tens of deposition steps necessary with the previous layer-by-layer method.
In contrast to flexible electronics, which rely on bendable substrates, truly foldable electronics require a foldable substrate with a very stable conductor that can withstand folding, i.e. an edge in the substrate at the point of the fold, which develops creases, and the deformation remains even after unfolding. That means that, in addition to a foldable substrate like paper, the conductor that is deposited on this substrate also needs to be foldable. Researchers have now demonstrated a fabrication process for foldable graphene circuits based on paper substrates.