Nanoscience

NanotubeA view down the middle of a boron nitride nanotube. (Credit: © Vin Crespi, Penn State Physics, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Nanoscience is well on its way to establishing itself as one of the critical technologies of the 21st Century. Just as semiconductors gave rise to computers, smart phones, the Internet, medical devices, and an endless stream of consumer products, nanoscience is enabling the development of new technologies in fields as diverse as electronics, medicine, photonics, energy, and quantum physics. Nanoscale constructions provide this flexibility for two reasons. First, they are small and precise enough to interact with molecules in entirely new ways. Nanomedicines, for example, often encapsulate drugs in molecular packages decorated with segments of molecules that enable them to target specific organs and diseases, and, once there, convince those cells to ingest the medication. Metal-organic frameworks, complex molecules engineered to reduce energy use in chemical reactions and capture carbon emissions from combustion, are another example. Second, and more intriguingly, nanoscale devices are closer in size to electrons and photons, and may interact with them in ways that are fundamentally different from the behavior of larger objects. For example, metamaterials, arrays of nanoscale structures, can bend light around an object to make it appear invisible. Nanoscale electronics can exploit quantum phenomena, like electron spin, energy waves, and quantum states to capture, store, and process information. As these technologies and other emerging applications reach commercialization, they are certain to change nearly every sphere of life.

Can Nanoscience Quench a Thirsty World?

Oct 06, 2017
Water press

By harnessing the power of nanomaterials, three innovators—Meny Elimelech, Naomi Halas and Omar Yaghi—have developed ways to harvest water from air and make seawater fit to drink.

Q&A: Lieven Vandersypen, Quantum Nanoscientist

Apr 07, 2017
Artist impression of two electron spins that talk to each other via a 'quantum mediator'.

Physicist Lieven Vandersypen talks about his new role as co-director and the future of the Kavli Institute for Nanoscience at Delft University of Science and Technology.

Frontiers of Technology: Are Computers Finally Going Quantum?

Apr 06, 2017
The chip with the electrical contacts used to create the quantum dots. (Source: Tim Baart)

The race to build the world’s first quantum computer is heating up. A string of new investments from tech industry heavyweights like Microsoft, Intel and Google could finally create a winner. We asked three physicists—Lieven Vandersypen, Shohini Ghose and John Martinis—to estimate the odds.

The Chemistry of Nature, Reimagined

Jan 05, 2017
MOFs and COFs

Nature uses complex molecules to perform miraculous feats, such as turning sunlight into sugars. A new class of crystals is making that kind of complexity accessible to humans. Three nanoscientists—Omar Yaghi, Joseph Hupp and Thomas Bein—discuss their truly transformational way of doing chemistry.

Uniting Diverse Sciences to Tackle the Microbiome

Sep 20, 2016
Dental plaque microbiome

The Kavli Microbiome Ideas Challenge will provide $1 million in grants for innovative tools to investigate how microbes live in complex communities. Three scientists - Tim Donohue, Julie Biteen and Terry Hwa - discuss why it matters.

2016 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience: A Discussion with Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber

Aug 20, 2016
Nanographene molecule

Two of the 2016 Kavli Prize laureates – Gerd Binnig and Christoph Gerber – discuss how the ability to see and manipulate single molecules and atoms has changed our view of the nanoscale world.

DNA Origami: Twisting the Basis of Life in New Directions

Jun 15, 2016
DNA-based smiley faces

A new generation of researchers is re-imagining DNA as a building block rather than the carrier of our genetic code. They call it DNA origami. In a roundtable discussion, Shawn Douglas, Paul Rothemund and William Shih discuss how they are using DNA to better understand proteins, craft new medicines, and even perform computations.

Spotlight Live: A Microbial Manifesto (Transcript)

Feb 25, 2016
Diatoms

In this live webcast, three of the scientists behind The Unified Microbiome Initiative proposal—Janet Jansson, Rob Knight and Jeff Miller—discuss how to unlock the power of the microbial communities that shape our world and influence our health.

Spotlight Live: A Microbial Manifesto

Jan 11, 2016
Microbes

A live webcast on the Unified Microbiome Initiative, in which Janet Jansson, Rob Knight and Jeffrey Miller discuss the potential of nature's microbiomes and how we can tap into it.

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