September 18/25, 2006


Ionic booster

An organic light-emitting device uses positively and negatively charged atoms to boost electrical flow and thus produce brighter light. The device could be used to make light sources and solar cells, and variations of the technique could be used in electronic devices like computer memory. (Observation of Electroluminescence and Photovoltaic Response in Ionic Junctions, Science, September 8, 2006)

Surface tension power

A device inspired by the spore release mechanism of ferns provides a simple, inexpensive means of powering micromachines. The tiny flexible device is a rubber spine with a series of ribs that hold water between them. Surface tension pulls the ribs together, which bends the spine, and evaporation returns the device to its original shape. (Transpiration Actuation: The Design, Fabrication, and Characterization of Biomimetic Microactuators Driven by the Surface Tension of Water, Journal of Micromechanics and Microengineering, to be published)

Nanofibers get blood flowing

Nanofibers formed from a protein that initiates blood vessel formation and a biocompatible polymer promote extensive blood vessel growth even though the amount of the protein is too small to promote growth by itself. The technique could be used to grow human tissue including organs. (Heparin Binding Nanostructures to Promote Growth of Blood Vessels, Nano Letters, September 2006)

Nanotubes tap neurons

A laboratory study shows that neural implants made from arrays of multiwalled carbon nanotube microelectrodes are likely to be safer and more efficient than metal microelectrodes. These neural prostheses are designed to be implanted in the brain to allow people to control computers and prosthetic limbs. (Neural Stimulation with a Carbon Nanotube Microelectrode Array, Nano Letters, September 2006)

Swimming nanowire circuits

Silicon nanowires suspended in liquid can bridge pairs of gold electrodes by pulsing voltages in the electrodes, and can switch between different pairs in sets of three or four electrodes. The technique could be used to make new types of reconfigurable computer circuits. (Dielectrophoretic Reconfiguration of Nanowire Interconnects, Nanotechnology, October 2006)

Teleportation for two

A quantum teleportation experiment teleported two qubits at once, which is a step toward high throughput teleportation. Quantum teleportation, analogous to a fax machine for quantum particles, is an important component of quantum communications and computing schemes. (Experimental Quantum Teleportation of a Two-Qubit Composite System, Nature Physics, October 2006)


View from the High Ground: ICL's John Pendry
Physics as machine tool, negative refractive index, metamaterials, shattered wine glasses, higher capacity DVDs, scientific backwaters, risk perception and practice, practice, practice.

How It Works: Quantum computing: qubits
Photons, electrons and atoms, oh my! These particles are the raw materials for qubits, the basic building blocks of quantum computers.

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August 8th, 2006
Highlights from Siggraph
The red-eye removal feature in Photoshop, which uses object recognition technology to identify eyes, was Adobe’s first foray into working with the content of images. Automatic content analysis is a major focus of computer vision and image processing research......

July 25, 2006
Cooked wine

July 7, 2006
Music space

June 30, 2006
Crops take global warming hit


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"Physics is to the rest of science what machine tools are to engineering. A corollary is that science places power in our hands which can be used for good or ill. Technology has been abused in this way throughout the ages from gunpowder to atomic bombs."
- John Pendry, Imperial College London

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