Superhydrophobic materials have surfaces that are extremely difficult to wet with water and therefore are of considerable interest for various industrial applications. Researchers have unlocked the mechanism that makes some leaves either superhydrophobic or hydrophilic, opening the way to creating self cleaning surfaces and interfaces that will not stick. Potential industrial applications are self cleaning windows and windshields, hard disks and magnetic tapes (for data storage) and MEMS and NEMS devices with no stiction issues.
New research shows that soft, conformable sub-wavelength phase masks can be used, with 2-photon effects, to pattern in a parallel fashion and in a single exposure step large, 3D structures in certain classes of photopolymers. The result is a technique that is simple from an experimental standpoint, but which fully exploits the flexibility and patterning capabilities enabled by 2-photon effects, making it useful for applications in photonics, microfluidics and biotechnology.
Among the many potential biology-related applications proposed for carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are high-sensitivity biosensors and bio-fuel cells. In order to create the synergy between the biomolecules and CNTs required to realize these applications, biomolecules, such as proteins and DNAs, must be connected to the CNTs.
Smart magnetic hydrogels were investigated by researchers in Taiwan for the development of a new magnetically induced drug delivery system. By applying magnetic fields, they were able to switch the the drug release profile of the hydrogels between on and off mode.
In a rapidly growing field, electrospun biodegradable polymeric nanofibers are being used in scaffolds for engineering various tissues such as nerves, cartilages or bone. Recent research by scientists in Singapore offers new insights into the nanostructures and mechanical properties of single nanofibers.
It still is a huge challenge to treat neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer, Parkinson or Huntington, which are increasingly affecting our society as the average life-span of our population increases. One of the main obstacles for successful therapy of these disorders is safe and effective drug delivery to the central nervous system.
Tightly focused femtosecond laser pulses have been used to modify transparent dielectric materials, to form voids, and to polymerize resists and resins for more than a decade. A high sub-100-nm spatial resolution has now been reached making it potentially a nano-fabrication tool.