Wet etching makes high quality topological superconductor

Topological insulators have shot to fame in recent years following observations of exotic phenomena like the quantum spin Hall (QSH) effect in quantum wells made from mercury telluride (HgTe). However, research on these materials, which are electrical insulators in the bulk, but which can conduct electricity on their surface (via special surface electronic states), is Read more about Wet etching makes high quality topological superconductor[…]

New knit theory could help make smart self-folding materials

As well as being a popular and pleasant hobby, knitting is a thousand-year-old technology and, unlike weaving, it can produce loose yet extremely stretchable fabrics. Researchers in France have now developed a model to describe how individual stitches in a knitted fabric deform when stretched. The work could help in the design of thread-based smart Read more about New knit theory could help make smart self-folding materials[…]

Nanoporous carbon electrodes harvest blue energy

Blue energy production and water desalination Blue energy, which is the free energy lost when salty sea water and less salty river water meet and mix in estuaries, could become a significant source of global electricity in the future. Capacitive mixing, an up-and-coming technique that exploits the charge-discharge cycle of capacitors, can be used to Read more about Nanoporous carbon electrodes harvest blue energy[…]

Phase-separated state could make nanoscale switch

The experiment. Courtesy: Nano Letters 10.1021/acs.nanolett.7b04728 The so-called phase-separated state in perovskite nickelate materials might be put to good use in nanoscale devices such as switches or memristors. In contrast to some other technologies that exploit these materials, such devices would operate electronically rather than through redox processes or the movement of ions, and could Read more about Phase-separated state could make nanoscale switch[…]

Magnetic skyrmions could make storage bits for next-generation memories

Skyrmion team Magnetic skyrmions are quasiparticle magnetic spin configurations with a whirling vortex-like structure that could be used as storage bits in next-generation “racetrack” memories and logic devices thanks to their small size and their robustness to external perturbations. Researchers at CNRS, Thales and the Université Paris-Saclay in France have now succeeded in nucleating these Read more about Magnetic skyrmions could make storage bits for next-generation memories[…]

Frustrated liquid crystal film makes continuously rotating soft engine

A rotating chiral supramolecular structure Light-operated molecular machines can be used to rotate objects much bigger than themselves but at larger scales, they stop rotating once they reach the so-called photostationary state. By using a photo-sensitive chiral liquid crystal, it is now possible to generate continuously rotating supramolecular structures fuelled by light. Such soft engines Read more about Frustrated liquid crystal film makes continuously rotating soft engine[…]

X-ray crystallography sheds more light on optogenetic tool

Using X-ray diffraction, researchers in Russia, Germany and France are the first to have succeeded in determining the detailed structure of a light-sensitive membrane protein called channelrhodopsin 2, which is employed in optogenetics to control nerve cells with light. The advance will allow for the development of better optogenetics tools for studying neuron networks in Read more about X-ray crystallography sheds more light on optogenetic tool[…]

Nanodevice generates random numbers

Many emerging computing schemes, such as stochastic and certain brain-inspired (or neuromorphic) computation, rely on low-energy random number generation, but the circuit area and the energy required to produce these numbers is simply too high for existing random number generators. A team of researchers in France, the US and Japan has now succeeded in exploiting Read more about Nanodevice generates random numbers[…]