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Soft materials are materials that can be easily deformed by thermal stresses or thermal fluctuations at about room temperature. Soft materials include liquids, polymers, foams, gels, colloids, granular materials, as well as most soft biological materials.
Cells contain isolated compartments where cascade enzymatic biochemical reactions occur to form essential biological products with high efficiency. Here the authors produce functional hydrogel particles with multiple compartments via microfluidics that contain spatially immobilized natural enzymes in distinct domains for one-pot, tandem reactions.
A skyrmion is a topological object originally introduced to model elementary particles and a baby skyrmion is its two-dimensional counterpart which can be realized as a defect in liquid crystals. Here the authors show that an electric field can drive uniform motion of baby skyrmions in liquid crystals.
Colloidal self-assembly is a unique method to produce three-dimensional materials with well-defined hierarchical structures and functionalities. Liljeström et al. show controlled preparation of macroscopic chiral wires with helical plasmonic superlattice structure composed of metal nanoparticles and viruses.
In contrast with protocols reporting self-assembly of nanocrystals after synthesis, Pd nanocrystals rapidly form 3D micrometre-size superlattices during growth. The nanocrystals keep growing after assembly, tuning the size of the lattice.
Vast beds of 'hair' coat many living systems, and usually exhibit shear-thinning behaviour — their flow resistance lessens with speed. But with geometric tweaks, such beds can also show shear-thickening and asymmetric ratchet-like behaviour.
Nanostructured films of organic semiconductors are now shown to enhance the Raman signal of probe molecules, paving the way to the realization of substrates for Raman spectroscopy with molecular selectivity.