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February 2021 marks one year since Communications Materials published its first articles. In this collection the editors have selected some of their favorite papers from the last year. We hope that you enjoy reading them as much as we did.
Image credit: T. Frenzel et al., Large characteristic lengths in 3D chiral elastic metamaterials, Commun Mater 2, 4 (2021).
Common issues facing perovskite solar cells are current-voltage hysteresis and degradation during illumination. Here, a self-assembled monolayer is applied to an SnO2 electron transport layer, helping to achieve hysteresis-less behavior and limited degradation after 1,000 hours of illumination.
Lithium-ion-based batteries are a key enabler for the global shift towards electric vehicles. Here, considering developments in battery chemistry and number of electric vehicles, analysis reveals the increasing amounts of lithium, cobalt and nickel that could be needed.
Organic materials are attractive for photovoltaic interfaces in bioelectronics, but are limited by adhesion in aqueous environments and responsiveness in the visible spectrum. Here, an organic interface is reported for neuronal stimulation in the near-infrared and tested on explanted mice retinas.
Deep vein thrombosis is the clotting of blood in deep veins. Here, a microfluidic device containing flexible valves fabricated in-situ is used to investigate the effects of blood flow conditions and valve elasticity on thrombus formation, revealing the circumstance under which clotting occurs.
Armchair-edged graphene nanoribbons, characterized by width-dependent bandgaps, may become prominent in future semiconductor devices. Here, a small bandgap of 0.19 eV is achieved in 17-atom-wide nanoribbons, promising better transport characteristics in field-effect transistors.
Multiferroics that are both ferroelectric and ferromagnetic are highly desirable for technological applications but extremely rare. Here, signatures of a ferroelectric phase transition, supported by theoretical calculations, are observed in ferromagnetic EuO under a large epitaxial strain of 6.4%.
Topological insulators in contact with a superconductor could house unusual physical states such as Majorana fermions. Here, the authors fabricate and report the electron-transport characteristics of Josephson junctions built using a nanoscale topological insulator, finding evidence for ballistic transport in the surface states of the nanocrystals.
Robotic devices that can actuate at high speeds are challenging to achieve. Here, soft robotic devices driven by low magnetic fields show large deformations at frequencies of up to 100 Hz and are capable of a range of motions, including cross-clapping, walking, swimming and closing around a living fly.
Hydrophobic coatings are increasingly important in modern technology, but hard to study in the extreme non-wetting limit. Here, micropipette force sensors can directly measure nN-scale friction forces and, combined with particle image velocimetry, reveal pure rolling dynamics of slow water droplets.
Nanostructures are observed in many areas of materials science, and are often loosely described based on their shape. Here, a framework is presented for the categorization of nanoparticles based on their statistically defined geometry.
Mid-infrared optical modulators are important for detecting compounds in a wide range of applications, but are typically limited to short wavelengths. Now, a SiGe waveguide is used to fabricate an optical modulator that can reach wavelengths spanning 5.5 µm to 11 µm.
Traditionally, machine learning for materials science is based on database-specific models and is limited in the number of predictable parameters. Here, a versatile graph-based neural network can integrate multiple data sources, allowing the prediction of more than 40 parameters simultaneously.
Nanoplastics are a substantial environmental risk, and it is important to understanding where and how they are released into the environment. Here, a simple methodology is reported for the one-step synthesis of radiolabelled nanopolystyrene that can be used in environmental studies.
The current surge in data generation necessitates devices that can store and analyze data in an energy efficient way. This Review summarizes and discusses developments on the use of spintronic devices for energy-efficient data storage and logic applications, and energy harvesting based on spin.