Review Articles

  • Review Article |

    Inherent properties of materials, such as their adhesiveness to cells, nanotopography, stiffness, degradability or chemical functionality, can influence the fate of stem cells. This Review discusses recent evidence of how inherent material properties can be engineered to regulate stem cell decisions, as well as of signal-transduction mechanisms that convert material stimuli into biochemical signals.

    • William L. Murphy
    • , Todd C. McDevitt
    •  & Adam J. Engler
  • Review Article |

    Stem cells respond to nanoscale cues from the extracellular matrix or culture substrates by altering cell adhesion, which can in turn define their fate. This Review discusses how stem cell adhesion and differentiation are influenced by surface nanotopography, with a particular focus on integrin–matrix interactions and cell-adhesion-mediated signalling processes.

    • Matthew J. Dalby
    • , Nikolaj Gadegaard
    •  & Richard O. C. Oreffo
  • Review Article |

    Strategies to increase light-trapping in solar cells can significantly improve the power-conversion efficiency of these devices. This Review discusses the use of nanostructured high-index layers to manipulate photons in thin-film solar cells, as well as the recent efforts aimed at integrating such layers in large-area devices.

    • Mark L. Brongersma
    • , Yi Cui
    •  & Shanhui Fan
  • Review Article |

    At present, magneto-, electro- and mechanocaloric effects are intensely investigated as the basis for possible cooling applications. This Review discusses and compares the three effects from both a fundamental and an applied perspective, with an emphasis on the experimental methods used to measure them.

    • X. Moya
    • , S. Kar-Narayan
    •  & N. D. Mathur
  • Review Article |

    Metamaterials are artificially fabricated materials that allow for the control of light and acoustic waves in a manner that is not possible in nature. This Review covers the recent developments in the study of so-called metasurfaces, which offer the possibility of controlling light with ultrathin, planar optical components.

    • Nanfang Yu
    •  & Federico Capasso
  • Review Article |

    Alongside their beneficial effects within the innate immune system, macrophages can also play a detrimental role in some disease settings. This Review discusses the range of nanoparticles that are known to target macrophages and hence, are able to act as imaging agents in cancer, atherosclerosis, myocardial infarction, aortic aneurysm, diabetes and other inflammatory conditions.

    • Ralph Weissleder
    • , Matthias Nahrendorf
    •  & Mikael J. Pittet
  • Review Article |

    Therapeutics based on small interfering RNA (siRNA), which in principle are able to reversibly silence any gene of interest, are under development for the treatment of cancers, viral infections, hereditary disorders and many other diseases. This Review discusses the biological challenges that siRNA delivery materials aim to overcome, as well as the most clinically advanced classes of siRNA delivery systems, including cyclodextrin–polymer nanoparticles, lipid nanoparticles and siRNA conjugates.

    • Rosemary Kanasty
    • , Joseph Robert Dorkin
    • , Arturo Vegas
    •  & Daniel Anderson
  • Review Article |

    The clinical application of vaccines has expanded from infectious diseases to cancer, enhancing our vision of how the immune system can be used to prevent and treat disease. This Review highlights recent developments, clinical successes and future challenges in the design of prophylactic, therapeutic and tolerance-inducing synthetic vaccines with inspiration from the natural immune system.

    • Darrell J. Irvine
    • , Melody A. Swartz
    •  & Gregory L. Szeto
  • Review Article |

    The use of macroscopic depots to deliver drugs — including small molecules, protein and cells — at the desired treatment site by using a carrier whose physical and chemical properties control the presentation of the drug increases drug effectiveness and reduces side effects. This Review discusses the advantages of macroscopic drug-delivery systems, the associated mechanisms of spatiotemporal control of drug presentation, and the design and use of multifunctional macroscopic drug-delivery devices.

    • Cathal J. Kearney
    •  & David J. Mooney
  • Review Article |

    Nanoscale materials that deliver drugs in response to specific stimuli offer enhanced control of the drugs' release profile and distribution. This Review provides a comprehensive discussion of progress during the past five years in the design of nanoscale systems that can respond to exogenous stimuli such as temperature or variations in light or magnetic-field intensities, or to endogenous stimuli such as redox gradients or changes in pH or enzyme concentration.

    • Simona Mura
    • , Julien Nicolas
    •  & Patrick Couvreur
  • Review Article |

    Semiconducting quantum dots are considered candidate materials for realizing spin-based quantum computation devices. This Review examines the main results obtained over the past decade concerning the so-called central spin problem, namely the interaction between a single electronic spin or hole with the surrounding nuclear environment.

    • E. A. Chekhovich
    • , M. N. Makhonin
    • , A. I. Tartakovskii
    • , A. Yacoby
    • , H. Bluhm
    • , K. C. Nowack
    •  & L. M. K. Vandersypen
  • Review Article |

    Single spins trapped in self-assembled quantum dots present rich opportunities for studying their quantum mechanical properties. This Review surveys their optical properties, and the techniques for initializing, manipulating and reading out single spin qubits in these structures.

    • Richard J. Warburton
  • Review Article |

    High-throughput computational approaches combining thermodynamic and electronic-structure methods with data mining and database construction are increasingly used to analyse huge amounts of data for the discovery and design of new materials. This Review provides an overall perspective of the field for a broad range of materials, and discusses upcoming challenges and opportunities.

    • Stefano Curtarolo
    • , Gus L. W. Hart
    • , Marco Buongiorno Nardelli
    • , Natalio Mingo
    • , Stefano Sanvito
    •  & Ohad Levy
  • Review Article |

    Metamaterials are man-made structures that allow optical properties to be shaped on length scales far smaller than the wavelength of light. Although metamaterials were initially considered mainly for static applications, this Review summarizes efforts towards an active functionality that enables a much broader range of photonic device applications.

    • Nikolay I. Zheludev
    •  & Yuri S. Kivshar
  • Review Article |

    When water binds to solid surfaces it forms a large variety of structures, which leads to behaviour relevant to many technological processes and phenomena such as lubrication, heterogeneous catalysis and electrochemistry. This Review discusses current understanding of the interface between water and flat metal surfaces at the atomic and molecular levels, as well as open questions in this field.

    • Javier Carrasco
    • , Andrew Hodgson
    •  & Angelos Michaelides
  • Review Article |

    Metamaterials have a tremendous potential for applications from biophotonics to optical circuits, although progress has been hampered by intrinsic metal losses. This Review discusses the progress in countering such losses through the use of gain media to realize devices such as nanoplasmonic lasers or improved metamaterials for imaging and nonlinear optical applications.

    • O. Hess
    • , J. B. Pendry
    • , S. A. Maier
    • , R. F. Oulton
    • , J. M. Hamm
    •  & K. L. Tsakmakidis
  • Review Article |

    The spin Hall effect is a relativistic spin–orbit coupling phenomenon, which can be used to electrically generate or detect spin currents in non-magnetic systems. This Review discusses the experiments that have established the basic physical understanding of the effect, and the role that several of the spin Hall devices have had in the demonstration of spintronic functionalities and physical phenomena.

    • Tomas Jungwirth
    • , Jörg Wunderlich
    •  & Kamil Olejník
  • Review Article |

    Control of the electron spin as well as its charge is predicted to lead to efficient electronic devices, with potentially new functionalities. Injecting and manipulating spin-polarized carriers in silicon is a natural step towards integrating spintronics with current technology. This Review describes the first encouraging results as well as the open questions and challenges that still remain.

    • Ron Jansen
  • Review Article |

    Spin caloritronics focuses on the interaction of electron spins with heat currents. This Review describes newly discovered physical effects that have re-invigorated the field by stimulating further research into understanding the fundamentals of spin–phonon interactions, and providing new avenues to explore to improve current thermoelectric technology.

    • Gerrit E. W. Bauer
    • , Eiji Saitoh
    •  & Bart J. van Wees
  • Review Article |

    Spin-transfer torque is the rotation that a spin-polarized current induces on the magnetization of the solid it flows through. The way in which currents generate torques in a wide variety of magnetic materials and structures is discussed in this Review, as well as recent state-of-the-art demonstrations of current-induced-torque devices that show great promise for enhancing the functionality of semiconductor devices.

    • Arne Brataas
    • , Andrew D. Kent
    •  & Hideo Ohno
  • Review Article |

    From magnetism, ferroelectricity and superconductivity to electrical and thermal properties, oxides show a broad range of phenomena of fundamental as well as practical relevance. Reviewed here are the emergent phenomena arising at the interface between oxide materials, which have attracted considerable interest based on advances in thin-film deposition techniques.

    • H. Y. Hwang
    • , Y. Iwasa
    • , M. Kawasaki
    • , B. Keimer
    • , N. Nagaosa
    •  & Y. Tokura
  • Review Article |

    The amount of energy that can be stored in Li-ion batteries is insufficient for the long-term needs of society, for example, for use in extended-range electric vehicles. Here, the energy-storage capabilities of Li–O2 and Li–S batteries are compared with that of Li-ion, their performances are reviewed, and the challenges that need to be overcome if such batteries are to succeed are highlighted.

    • Peter G. Bruce
    • , Stefan A. Freunberger
    • , Laurence J. Hardwick
    •  & Jean-Marie Tarascon
  • Review Article |

    Although heterogeneous photocatalysts for converting solar to chemical energy are mostly semiconductors, metallic plasmonic nanostructures have started to attract interest. Recent progress on plasmon-enhanced, water-splitting composite photocatalysts and photocatalytic reactions on the surface of plasmonic nanostructures of noble metals are now reviewed.

    • Suljo Linic
    • , Phillip Christopher
    •  & David B. Ingram
  • Review Article |

    Poisson's ratio describes the resistance of a material to distort under mechanical load rather than to alter in volume. On the bicentenary of the publication of Poisson's Traité de Mécanique, the continuing relevance of Poisson's ratio in the understanding of modern materials is reviewed.

    • G. N. Greaves
    • , A. L. Greer
    • , R. S. Lakes
    •  & T. Rouxel
  • Review Article |

    The thermal properties of nanostructures have become a fundamental topic owing to the necessity of heat removal in increasingly smaller electronic devices. Carbon allotropes present a range of intriguing thermal features, with the thermal conductivity spanning five orders of magnitude at room temperature. The topic is reviewed here with particular emphasis on graphene, which exhibits the highest thermal conductivity observed.

    • Alexander A. Balandin
  • Review Article |

    The presence of metal centres in synthetic polymers can impart interesting functionality on the resultant material. This Review Article focuses on the use of metal-containing polymers in a diverse range of applications, for example, in emissive and optical materials, in nanomaterials, as sensors, stimuli-responsive gels, catalysts and artifical metalloenzymes.

    • George R. Whittell
    • , Martin D. Hager
    • , Ulrich S. Schubert
    •  & Ian Manners
  • Review Article |

    Single dopants in semiconductors have an atom-like electron-energy spectrum whose discrete character gives them the potential for applications such as quantum information or transistors. This Review describes the marked advances in the past decade towards observing, controllably creating and manipulating single dopants, as well as their application in devices.

    • Paul M. Koenraad
    •  & Michael E. Flatté
  • Review Article |

    In chemistry, some dynamic bonds can be selectively and reversibly broken and reformed in response to an environmental stimulus. This Review article discusses the incorporation of dynamic bonds, or interactions, in polymeric materials and the structural changes and macroscopic responses observed in the presence of different stimuli.

    • Rudy J. Wojtecki
    • , Michael A. Meador
    •  & Stuart J. Rowan
  • Review Article |

    In 2000, a seminal study predicted ferromagnetism above room temperature in diluted magnetic semiconductors and oxides, fuelling tremendous research activity that has lasted for a decade. Tomasz Dietl reviews the progress in understanding these materials over the past ten years, with a view to the future of semiconductor spintronics.

    • Tomasz Dietl
  • Review Article |

    Transformation optics describes the capability to design the path of light waves almost at will through the use of metamaterials that control effective materials properties on a subwavelength scale. In this review, the physics and applications of transformation optics are discussed.

    • Huanyang Chen
    • , C. T. Chan
    •  & Ping Sheng
  • Review Article |

    Plasmonic structures are ideally suited to manipulate light on a scale that is much smaller than the wavelength of the plasmon resonance. This review discusses the applications arising from such extreme light concentration, which range from photonic devices and photovoltaics to localized thermal effects.

    • Jon A. Schuller
    • , Edward S. Barnard
    • , Wenshan Cai
    • , Young Chul Jun
    • , Justin S. White
    •  & Mark L. Brongersma
  • Review Article |

    This review article surveys the potential of using plasmonic nanostructures to enhance the absorption of photovoltaic devices. As a result, the physical thickness of solar cells can be reduced, leading to new photovoltaic-device designs.

    • Harry A. Atwater
    •  & Albert Polman
  • Review Article |

    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.

    • 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
  • Review Article |

    This review discusses glass and mineral dissolution in terms of traditional kinetic studies, and how nanometre-sized cluster oxide ions are now being used to gain mechanistic insight into the structural dynamics that take place during the dissolution process.

    • C. André Ohlin
    • , Eric M. Villa
    • , James R. Rustad
    •  & William H. Casey
  • Review Article |

    Control of the formation of nanostructures during their synthesis can be achieved using either equilibrium conditions, such as in nanostructure templating, or non-equilibrium conditions, such as in reaction–diffusion systems. This review analyses the different method types with the aim of producing guidelines for the rational design of hybrid organic–inorganic nanostructures.

    • Stephen Mann