Table of contents



Copenhagen no more p89


The opportunity of reaching a strong agreement on carbon emission cuts must not be missed again.



Biomaterials offer cancer research the third dimension pp90 - 93

Dietmar W. Hutmacher


To deepen understanding and hasten the development of treatments, cancer needs to be modelled more accurately in vitro; applying tissue-engineering concepts and approaches in this field could bridge the gap between two-dimensional studies and in vivo animal models.


Research Highlights


News and Views

Cancer therapy: A twist on tumour targeting pp95 - 96

Jon Dobson


The concept of using magnetic micro- and nanoparticles for targeting solid tumours with drugs was first proposed over three decades ago, but has yet to translate into a clinical application. Rethinking the mechanistic approach could circumvent the difficulties that have stood in its way.

Superconductivity: Interfaces heat up pp96 - 98

Kosmas Prassides


By using an ionic liquid as a gate dielectric, superconductivity can be induced in an inorganic band insulator up to a temperature of 15 K by an electric field, opening new directions in superconductivity research.

See also: Letter by Ye et al.

Material witness: Stealing a lead on lead p98


Liquid crystals: Defects dictated pp99 - 100

Dirk J. Broer


Stable particle-like molecular architectures are written in a frustrated chiral-nematic liquid crystal using a vortex laser beam. This fundamentally new mechanism to form toroidal features with anisotropic optical properties has great potential to create new applications in liquid-crystal photonics.

See also: Article by Smalyukh et al.



Emerging applications of stimuli-responsive polymer materials pp101 - 113

Martien A. Cohen Stuart, Wilhelm T. S. Huck, Jan Genzer, Marcus Müller, Christopher Ober, Manfred Stamm, Gleb B. Sukhorukov, Igal Szleifer, Vladimir V. Tsukruk, Marek Urban, Françoise Winnik, Stefan Zauscher, Igor Luzinov & Sergiy Minko


Stimuli-responsive polymers can be engineered, in both film and colloid forms, to respond to a variety of inputs, from temperature to pH. The inherent flexibility in their structure and responses result in materials that lend themselves to applications ranging from drug delivery to sensing. Recent advances and future challenges in this direction are reviewed.



Three-dimensional jamming and flows of soft glassy materials pp115 - 119

G. Ovarlez, Q. Barral & P. Coussot


Jamming transitions of disordered systems such as foams, gels and colloidal suspensions, describe the change from a liquid to a solid state. An investigation of the three-dimensional properties of jamming shows how, for example, unjamming occurs simultaneously in all directions even if it is induced in one direction only.

Three-dimensional imaging of strain in a single ZnO nanorod pp120 - 124

Marcus C. Newton, Steven J. Leake, Ross Harder & Ian K. Robinson


Coherent X-ray diffraction spectroscopy has recently emerged as a powerful tool for imaging strain at the nanoscale. Developments in both fabrication and experimental techniques have now enabled all nine components of the strain tensor in a nanorod to be determined, demonstrating the ability of coherent X-ray diffraction spectroscopy to yield measurements of strain in three dimensions with a resolution of a few tens of nanometres.

Subject Categories: Nanoscale materials | Characterisation and analytical techniques

Liquid-gated interface superconductivity on an atomically flat film pp125 - 128

J. T. Ye, S. Inoue, K. Kobayashi, Y. Kasahara, H. T. Yuan, H. Shimotani & Y. Iwasa


Using a liquid gate has allowed electrically induced superconductivity in a solid specimen by means of carrier accumulation on the surface. But this phenomenon was limited to materials that became superconductors at low carrier density. It is now shown that superconductivity can be induced in a much wider range of materials by using an ionic liquid.

Extreme-angle broadband metamaterial lens pp129 - 132

Nathan Kundtz & David R. Smith


One of the more promising uses of metamaterials is in imaging, where the capability to control the propagation of light could lead to new applications. In particular, the realization of a broadband metamaterial lens that has an almost complete hemispherical field of view that is focused on a flat plane represents a significant step towards such new uses.



Oscillatory spin-polarized tunnelling from silicon quantum wells controlled by electric field pp133 - 138

Ron Jansen, Byoung-Chul Min & Saroj P. Dash


Electrostatic control of spin polarization is a promising route for developing efficient spintronic devices, but is challenging for materials with a small spin–orbit interaction. It is now shown that an electric field can be used to vary the spin polarization in a silicon quantum well by exploiting the discrete nature of the energy levels. This route may work for other inorganic and organic materials.

Three-dimensional structure and multistable optical switching of triple-twisted particle-like excitations in anisotropic fluids pp139 - 145

Ivan I. Smalyukh, Yves Lansac, Noel A. Clark & Rahul P. Trivedi


Chiral nematic liquid-crystal phases consist of rod-shaped molecules that have a preference to twist. However, applied fields force them to exist without the twist. Introducing particle-like twists, so called torons, using laser light relieves this frustration by facilitating the reappearance of the twist. The presence of torons could extend the use of liquid crystals in electro-optic and photonic devices.

Ordered mesoporous α-MoO3 with iso-oriented nanocrystalline walls for thin-film pseudocapacitors pp146 - 151

Torsten Brezesinski, John Wang, Sarah H. Tolbert & Bruce Dunn


Capacitive energy storage is technologically attractive because of its short charging times and its ability to deliver more power than batteries. The capacitive charge-storage properties of mesoporous films of MoO3 with iso-oriented grains now lead to pseudocapacitive materials that offer increased energy density while still maintaining high power density.

High-performance polymer semiconducting heterostructure devices by nitrene-mediated photocrosslinking of alkyl side chains pp152 - 158

Rui-Qi Png, Perq-Jon Chia, Jie-Cong Tang, Bo Liu, Sankaran Sivaramakrishnan, Mi Zhou, Siong-Hee Khong, Hardy S. O. Chan, Jeremy H. Burroughes, Lay-Lay Chua, Richard H. Friend & Peter K. H. Ho


The morphology and structure of polymer blends is central to charge-carrier, exciton and photon management in organic light-emitting diodes, transistors and solar cells. A broadly applicable approach, based on mixing a photocrosslinkable moiety into semiconducting polymers, enables the simple formation of heterostructured blends with control of morphology and structure for use in all types of device.

Dynamic display of biomolecular patterns through an elastic creasing instability of stimuli-responsive hydrogels pp159 - 164

Jungwook Kim, Jinhwan Yoon & Ryan C. Hayward


Surfaces with physicochemical properties that can be modulated using external stimuli offer great promise for designing responsive or adaptive materials. Now, biocompatible dynamic scaffolds based on thin hydrogel coatings that reversibly hide and display surface chemical patterns in response to temperature changes have been fabricated.

Biofunctionalized magnetic-vortex microdiscs for targeted cancer-cell destruction pp165 - 171

Dong-Hyun Kim, Elena A. Rozhkova, Ilya V. Ulasov, Samuel D. Bader, Tijana Rajh, Maciej S. Lesniak & Valentyn Novosad


Biocompatible, lithographically defined, ferromagnetic microdiscs that have a spin-vortex ground state oscillate when activated by an alternating magnetic field. This oscillation compromises the integrity of the cell membrane and initiates programmed cell death in ~90% of cancer cells in vitro, even with a low-frequency field applied for only ten minutes.

Porous metal–organic-framework nanoscale carriers as a potential platform for drug delivery and imaging pp172 - 178

Patricia Horcajada, Tamim Chalati, Christian Serre, Brigitte Gillet, Catherine Sebrie, Tarek Baati, Jarrod F. Eubank, Daniela Heurtaux, Pascal Clayette, Christine Kreuz, Jong-San Chang, Young Kyu Hwang, Veronique Marsaud, Phuong-Nhi Bories, Luc Cynober, Sophie Gil, Gérard Férey, Patrick Couvreur & Ruxandra Gref


An important challenge in medicine is the efficient delivery of drugs in the body using non-toxic nanocarriers. Porous metal–organic frameworks with imaging properties are now used as nanoscale carriers for the controlled delivery of antitumour and retroviral drugs against cancer and AIDS.



Biofunctionalized magnetic-vortex microdiscs for targeted cancer-cell destruction p179

Dong-Hyun Kim, Elena A. Rozhkova, Ilya V. Ulasov, Samuel D. Bader, Tijana Rajh, Maciej S. Lesniak & Valentyn Novosad