Tuning adhesion without relying on chemical treatment or micro or nanostructured surfaces is now closer with a novel, kirigami-inspired approach. New research shows that by carefully designing arrays of cuts in an adhesive film, the stickiness can not only be tuned by a factor of 100 across a single sheet, but also be decreased for an easy-release purpose. These kirigami-inspired structures at interfaces provide a mechanism to spatially control and enhance adhesion strength while providing directional characteristics for high-capacity, easy-release interfaces.
Cellulose aerogels, made from nanofibrils found in plants, have several unique features, one of which is super high oil absorption capacity that is several times higher than commercial sorbents available in the market. Researchers have created wood-based structures for oil/water separation, utilizing the native feature of wood, i.e. its tubular porosity and hierarchical organization. The novelty here is the development of new processing routes for hierarchical wood structures scaled from nano-, micro-, to macroscales.
Researchers have developed a nanocoating that wipes off dust and sand from a surface by an electrical trigger, e.g. to clean solar panels in desert like conditions. This novel coating forms dynamic surface undulations fuelled by an alternating electric field. This new approach is based on resonance enhanced microscopic (di)electric coupling of polar mesogens to the electric field. Further applications could be removal of water droplets on car screens; dust removal from lenses and other optical systems; and controlling friction at or between surfaces.
Researchers have demonstrated a new paradigm in 3D-printing by using genetically programmed living cells as active components to print living materials and devices. The living cells are engineered to light up in response to a variety of stimuli. When mixed with a slurry of hydrogel and nutrients, the cells can be printed, layer by layer, to form three-dimensional, interactive structures and devices. These printed large-scale high-resolution living materials accurately respond to signaling chemicals in a programmed manners.
Countless commercial and industrial products are routinely produced by manufacturing processes where solid parts are molded through injecting molten polymer into a cast and removing the finished shape once cooled. This process is well understood for solid materials. If the characteristics and properties of a liquid are of interest, e.g., ion transport or mobility, the ability to structure liquids into complex shapes becomes highly desirable. It would open a wide range of potential applications in areas such as all-liquid reaction vessels, energy storage materials, all-liquid electronic devices, and microfluidic devices. Researchers now have developed a very simple route to structure liquids by all-liquid molding.
Researchers have merged two important technologies of nanomanipulation - plasmonic tweezers and magnetically driven microbots - in order to overcome their individual limitations and achieve new functionalities that did not exist before. This technique is applicable to different types of particles in various fluids. The resulting mobile nanotweezers' performance combines the best of both worlds: capturing, maneuvering, and positioning sub micrometer objects of various materials at low illumination intensities, high speeds, and with great control.
Researchers have discovered that ices of simple organic molecules such as alcohols and nonane (main component of diesel) can be nanopatterned by a focused electron beam. The entire 3D lithography process takes place in a single vacuum instrument and avoids exposing users to chemicals and the need for cleanrooms. With organic ice resist (OIR) technology, nanolithography can be made accessible to more scientists. The short-term implication of this work is to provide researchers with a new nanoscale 3D printing technology. The long-term implications might have a revolutionary impact on semiconductor production and computing.
So far, most of the developed self-powered piezoelectric devices are rigid or have limited lateral stretchability and could not be used to harvest energy from lateral strain, which greatly limits their applications on large strain deformation. In new work, researchers have successfully fabricated a piezoelectric nanocomposite device with good transparency, high stretchability, and self-powered sensing characteristics. Attached to the human body, it can harvest biomechanical energy and monitor physiological signals.