October 16/23, 2006


Robot whiskers

Robotic whiskers designed to mimic the sensitive spatial perception of rat and seal whiskers record the three-dimensional shapes of objects it brushes across. The device could provide land and underwater robots with an additional navigational and exploratory sensor. (Robotic Whiskers Used to Sense Features, Nature, October 5, 2006)

Teleporting light to matter

Scientists have teleported the quantum information contained in a light beam onto a cloud of cesium atoms in the first demonstration of quantum teleportation between light and matter. Teleportation is a key component of quantum networks and many proposed quantum computers. Quantum computers have the potential to solve certain problems like cracking secret codes that are beyond the reach of ordinary computers. (Quantum Teleportation between Light and Matter, Nature, October 5, 2006)

Quantum light chip

A microfabricated array of silicon disks is the platform for the quantum interaction between light and single atoms. The device is a step toward mass-producible chip-based quantum computers and quantum network equipment. (Observation of Strong Coupling between One Atom and a Monolithic Microresonator, Nature, October 12, 2006)

Virus bits

Coating single tobacco mosaic viruses with platinum nanoparticles turns them into memory elements similar to the individual bits in flash memory chips. The metalized viruses could be a route to inexpensive, high-capacity nanoelectronic memory devices. (Digital Memory Device Based on Tobacco Mosaic Virus Conjugated with Nanoparticles, Nature Nanotechnology, October 2006)

Dose and antidote in one

A DNA-based nanoparticle carries an anticoagulation drug and its antidote, which is activated by exposure to ultraviolet light. The nanoparticle medicine gives physicians a quick off switch for anticoagulants, which are used to treat ailments like blood clots and heart attacks, in cases of bleeding or other side effects. (An Anticoagulant with Light-Triggered Antidote Activity, Angewandte Chemie International Edition, October 13, 2006)

Soapy nanotube sorter

Single-walled carbon nanotubes have great potential for nanoelectronics, but they come in conducting and semiconducting forms that are difficult to separate. Coating carbon nanotubes with soap-like substances and spinning them in a centrifuge causes the two types to separate. A variation of the technique can separate nanotubes by diameter. (Sorting Carbon Nanotubes by Electronic Structure Using Density Differentiation, Nature Nanotechnology, 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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October 26, 2006
Shockingly alert
The caffeine hit that leaves coffee drinkers wide-eyed and alert isn't the only way to get the brain revved up. It turns out that electrical brain stimulation also boosts cognitive function...

October 19, 2006
Invisibility demo

October 16, 2006
Cyclops camera

October 11, 2006
Nano super liquid Band-Aid


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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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