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Volume 609 Issue 7928, 22 September 2022

Builder drones

Ground-based robots have potential for helping in the construction industry, but they are limited by their height. In this week’s issue, Mirko Kovac, Robert Stuart-Smith and their colleagues introduce highly manoeuvrable aerial robots that can perform additive 3D construction tasks. Inspired by natural builders such as wasps and bees, the researchers created BuilDrones (as shown on the cover) that can work in an autonomous team to perform 3D printing tasks using foam- or cement-based materials. They also created ScanDrones to assess the quality of the structures being built. The team hopes that this approach of ‘aerial additive manufacturing’ could help to build structures in difficult to access areas.

Cover image: Yusuf Furkan Kaya (Imperial College London/Materials and Technology Centre of Robotics, Empa Switzerland).

This Week

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News in Focus

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  • News & Views

    • The global tsunami and atmospheric waves that followed the eruption of the Tongan volcano Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai were observed around the world. Analysing the data could reshape our understanding of such events.

      • Emily M. Lane
      News & Views
    • Specialized neurons that are activated after infection have been identified in the brain. These neurons orchestrate an array of sickness behaviours that help the body to cope with disease and to fight infection.

      • Amirah-Iman Hicks
      • Masha Prager-Khoutorsky
      News & Views
    • A structure with precisely engineered layers produces a giant strain in an electric field. The interplay between structural distortions and electric dipoles at the interfaces between layers could aid material and device design.

      • David A. Egger
      News & Views
    • When combined, two drugs alter the activity of a protein complex called target of rapamycin complex 1 such that it is inhibited in the brain but not the body, enabling the treatment of brain tumours in mice without systemic toxicity.

      • Matthias P. Wymann
      • Chiara Borsari
      News & Views
    • Analysis of early human embryos reveals that DNA duplication after fertilization is highly inefficient. This causes DNA damage, chromosome breaks and abnormal numbers of chromosomes, impairing embryo development.

      • Tommaso Cavazza
      • Melina Schuh
      News & Views
  • Articles

    • An elementary quantum network of two entangled atomic clocks is demonstrated; the high fidelity and speed of entanglement generation show that entangled clocks can offer practical enhancement for metrology.

      • B. C. Nichol
      • R. Srinivas
      • D. M. Lucas
    • An additive manufacturing method using a team of autonomous aerial robots allows for scalable and adaptable three-dimensional printing, and is used to deposit building materials during flight.

      • Ketao Zhang
      • Pisak Chermprayong
      • Mirko Kovac
    • A macroscopic and scalable pyroelectric energy harvester in the form of multilayer capacitors produces 11.2 J of electrical energy, with a pyroelectric material generating up to 4.43 J cm−3 per cycle.

      • Pierre Lheritier
      • Alvar Torelló
      • Emmanuel Defay
      Article Open Access
    • A high-efficiency, robust process using a high-concentration imide-based lithium-salt electrolyte enables the electroreduction of nitrogen with stabilized ammonia yield rates of 150 ± 20 nmol s−1  cm−2 and a current-to-ammonia efficiency that is close to 100%.

      • Hoang-Long Du
      • Manjunath Chatti
      • Alexandr N. Simonov
    • By analysing sea-level, atmospheric and satellite data captured after eruption of the Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha’apai volcano, as well as numerical and analytical models, it is shown that global tsunamis can be triggered by acoustic-gravity waves.

      • R. Omira
      • R. S. Ramalho
      • M. A. Baptista
      Article Open Access
    • The Hunga Tonga eruption represents a natural experiment, being a clearly identifiable near-point source producing gravity waves across a broad range of spatiotemporal and frequency scales, observed by a diverse array of instruments worldwide.

      • Corwin J. Wright
      • Neil P. Hindley
      • Jia Yue
      Article Open Access
    • Detailed ancestral gene content reconstruction shows that the large phenotypic differences between Metazoa and Fungi are the outcome of sharply contrasting trajectories of genomic changes that predated the origin of both groups.

      • Eduard Ocaña-Pallarès
      • Tom A. Williams
      • Iñaki Ruiz-Trillo
      Article Open Access
    • Reconstitution of the SARS-CoV-2 RNA 5′ cap reveals the unconventional mechanism by which SARS-CoV-2 caps its RNA genome, providing a new target in the development of antiviral agents to treat COVID-19.

      • Gina J. Park
      • Adam Osinski
      • Vincent S. Tagliabracci
      Article Open Access
    • Cryo-electron microscopy studies of Escherichia coli complex I suggest a conserved mechanism of coupled proton transfers and electrostatic interactions that result in proton ejection from the complex exclusively at the distal NuoL subunit.

      • Vladyslav Kravchuk
      • Olga Petrova
      • Leonid Sazanov
    • CDK11 associates with SF3B1 and phosphorylates threonine residues at the N terminus of SF3B1 during spliceosome activation, and the inhibition of CDK11 blocks the activation and leads to widespread intron retention and the accumulation of non-functional spliceosomes on pre-mRNAs and chromatin.

      • Milan Hluchý
      • Pavla Gajdušková
      • Dalibor Blazek
    • Cryogenic electron microscopy structures of the Synechocystis phycobilisome—alone and bound with orange carotenoid protein—reveal detailed information regarding the biophysical basis of the control of cyanobacterial light harvesting.

      • María Agustina Domínguez-Martín
      • Paul V. Sauer
      • Cheryl A. Kerfeld
    • Thyroid-stimulating hormone and autoantibody M22 push the extracellular domain of the thyrotropin receptor into an upright active conformation, revealing a universal activation mechanism of glycoprotein hormone receptors and providing the molecular basis of Graves’ disease, hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s disease.

      • Jia Duan
      • Peiyu Xu
      • H. Eric Xu
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