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.

DNA Origami: Twisting the Basis of Life in New Directions

DNA-based smiley faces
Jun 15, 2016

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)

Diatoms
Feb 25, 2016

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

Microbes
Jan 11, 2016

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.

Spotlight LIve: Hey Einstein, It Really Is a Quantum World (Transcript)

Apparatus
Dec 11, 2015

On November 5, Ronald Hanson and Renato Renner discussed the strongest proof yet that quantum theory, with faster-than-light links between entangled particles, explains the true nature of our universe. This is the transcript of their conversation.

Why It's Time to Map the Microbiome

Soil Bacterium
Nov 23, 2015

The Unified Microbiome Initiative proposes to unlock the power of the microbial communities that shape our world and influence our health. Janet Jansson, Rob Knight and Jeff Miller talk about why it's urgent.

Spotlight Live: Hey Einstein, It Really Is a Quantum World

Loop Hole-free Bell Test experiment
Oct 29, 2015

Ronald Hanson and Renato Renner discuss the strongest proof yet that quantum theory, with faster-than-light links between entangled particles, explains the true nature of our universe. 

Spotlight Live: A Call for 'Brain Observatories'

Oct 14, 2015

How should the BRAIN Initiative evolve to unite and synergize the hundreds of individual laboratories it currently funds? Six researchers now propose a national network of neurotechnology centers, or “brain observatories.” Paul Alivisatos, Miyoung Chun, Michael Roukes and Rafael Yuste — four of the paper’s authors — answer your questions about this new idea and how it might affect the future of neuroscience.

Fueling Up: How nanoscience is creating a new type of solar power

Sep 02, 2015

Three leading nanoscientists — Peidong Yang, Thomas Moore and Ted Sargent — discuss a groundbreaking demonstration of artificial photosynthesis that turns the sun's energy into fuel. The remarkable new technology makes a sustainable energy future a very real possibility.

Spotlight Live: Learning from Earth’s Smallest Ecosystems

Mar 27, 2015

Two leaders in the field discussed what makes natural biomes so difficult to measure, and how nanoscience may help us unlock their secrets.

Unnatural Selection: New Materials & Unusual Properties by Design

Feb 26, 2015

By changing the nanoscale structure of materials, researchers have created invisibility cloaks and microscopes with unprecedented resolution. Three leaders in these new metamaterials explain how this is possible and consider what may come next.

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