December 11-25, 2002   

   DNA prefers diamond
DNA is particularly useful for sensing pathogens like those used in biological weapons. The trick to making sensors that can be used in the field is integrating DNA with electronics. It turns out that diamond is accommodating to both. Sticking strands of DNA to a thin film of diamond makes for sensors prepared to withstand the rigors of the real world.
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Material soaks up the sun
The semiconductor indium nitride got a raw deal a few decades back when it was misclassified as a mediocre photovoltaic. It turns out the stuff could be a champ at changing sunlight into electricity. If all goes according to plan, indium nitride will make for more efficient solar cells.

Design links quantum bits
Realizing the potential of phenomenally fast quantum computers means having to link thousands of quantum bits, which are the transistors of computers that carry out logic operations using attributes of atoms and subatomic particles. So far researchers have been able to connect only a few. A scheme for linking many tiny superconducting loops may pull it all together.

Microscopic mix strengthens magnet
Magnets are usually an either-or proposition. They either generate a strong magnetic field or they hold up well in the presence of external magnetic fields. A method that mixes the two types of magnets at the nanoscale could pave the way for smaller electric motors and generators.

Laser pulses could speed memory
Like a good double-play combo in baseball, laser-to-electric-to-magnetic could be the key to fast magnetic memory chips: a pair of staggered, ultrafast laser pulses generates an electric field in a piece of semiconductor that, in turn, produces a square magnetic pulse. The square pulse hits a magnetic bit all at once, allowing the bit to store information very quickly.

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