October 15/22, 2007


Semiconductor light-bender

A semiconductor metamaterial that's relatively easy to make carries out the unusual and useful feat of bending infrared light backwards. This metamaterial, which is easier to make than previous negative-index-of-refraction materials and can be integrated with semiconductor devices, could be used to channel lightwaves in optical communications devices and as magnifying lenses for scientific and medical imaging. (Negative Refraction in Semiconductor Metamaterials, Nature Materials, published online October 14, 2007)

Printable power

A tangled mass of carbon nanotubes stores electricity well because it's highly porous. The nanotube material can be rolled or sprayed, making it possible to print batteries onto surfaces. (Carbon Nanotube Based Battery Architecture, Applied Physics Letters, October 1, 2007)

Nanowire logic

Single cadmium sulfide nanowires form the backbones of basic logic circuits of two or three transistors. The nanowire circuits offer a route to fabricating extremely dense, and therefore very powerful, computer chips. (High-Performance Logic Circuits Constructed on Single CdS Nanowires, Nano Letters, published online October 13, 2007)

Diamond drug delivery

In the lab, nanodiamonds carry the anticancer drug doxorubicin hydrochloride into cancer cells and release it inside the cells. Nanodiamonds are biocompatible and could be used to deliver a range of drugs to particular cells inside the body. (Active Nanodiamond Hydrogels for Chemotherapeutic Delivery, Nano Letters, published online October 5, 2007)

Sticky frog feet

A critter-foot-inspired material that contains microscopic air- or oil-filled channels makes a powerful and reusable adhesive. Inspired by the subsurface structures of tree frog and cricket feet, the material is the latest in a series of biomimetic adhesives. (Microfluidic Adhesion Induced by Subsurface Microstructures, Science, October 12, 2007)

Steely plastic

A transparent plastic is as strong as steel, thanks to its nanoscale structure. The material is a composite of nanoscale sheets of clay and polymer. (Ultrastrong and Stiff Layered Polymer Nanocomposites, Science, October 5, 2007)


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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"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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