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Volume 4 Issue 7, July 2009

Many strongly correlated electron systems have a domain structure that obscures the fundamental properties of the material. Nanoscale samples, on the other hand, can be smaller than the characteristic domain size, thus making it possible to explore these fundamental properties in detail. Experiments by David Cobden and co-workers on single-domain nanobeams made of vanadium dioxide have revealed several new aspects of the metal-insulator transition in this material, including supercooling of the metallic phase, and a connection between the transition and the equilibrium carrier density in the insulating phase. The cover image, 85 m across, shows vanadium dioxide crystals and nanobeams attached to a silica substrate at 70 °C: the stripes are alternating metallic (darker) and insulating regions.

Cover design by Karen Moore

Letter p420; News & Views p406

Editorial

  • We need a systematic way to formulate and tackle problems in nanotoxicology, and to compare and combine the results from individual studies.

    Editorial

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Thesis

  • The relationship between humans and technology is often viewed as a debate between technophobes who oppose technology, irrespective of its benefits, and technophiles who think that all technology is good. Chris Toumey prefers the cyborg point of view.

    • Chris Toumey
    Thesis
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Feature

  • A collaboration between China's leading university and one of the world's biggest industrial companies is bringing a range of nanotube-based materials and devices to the market.

    • Adarsh Sandhu
    Feature
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Research Highlights

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News & Views

  • Using simple components such as oil, salt water, lipids and proteins, plus routine genetic engineering techniques, it is possible to create simple nanofluidic circuits.

    • Vicente M. Aguilella
    • Antonio Alcaraz
    News & Views
  • A new approach to mass spectrometry based on nanoelectromechanical systems removes the need to ionize molecules before their mass can be determined.

    • Anja Boisen
    News & Views
    • Michael Segal
    News & Views
  • Experiments on single-crystal nanobeams have revealed several new aspects of a phenomenon that has puzzled physicists for decades — the metal–insulator transition in vanadium dioxide.

    • Douglas Natelson
    News & Views
  • Inspired by the feet of the gecko lizard, researchers have tweaked a conventional plasma etching chamber so that it can make reusable adhesives that could have applications in the semiconductor industry.

    • Zhong Lin Wang
    News & Views
  • Mice inhaling low levels of multiwalled carbon nanotubes show suppressed immune function. New studies suggest that this suppression originates from signals in the lungs.

    • Alison Elder
    News & Views
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Progress Article

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Letter

  • Shape-memory alloys undergo reversible transformations between two distinct phases. Now researchers have shown that nanoscale pillars made of shape-memory alloys have a figure of merit for mechanical damping — substantially higher than the figures previously reported for bulk materials — making these nanopillars attractive for use in future microscale and smaller devices.

    • Jose San Juan
    • Maria L. Nó
    • Christopher A. Schuh
    Letter
  • Excitons are created when a carbon nanotube absorbs photons. However, the triplet exciton is usually optically inactive, preventing its direct observation, lowering photocurrent efficiency and making optical injection of spin-polarized carriers impossible. Optical excitation of the triplet exciton has now been achieved.

    • Aditya D. Mohite
    • Tiffany S. Santos
    • Bruce W. Alphenaar
    Letter
  • Multifunctional nanostructures have been created from DNA-based anisotropic, branched and crosslinkable building blocks — ABC monomers. Using these monomers, a target-driven polymerization process is demonstrated where polymers are generated only in the presence of a specific DNA molecule, leading to highly sensitive pathogen detection. The nanoarchitectures can also be used to deliver drugs to cells.

    • Jong B. Lee
    • Young H. Roh
    • Dan Luo
    Letter
  • Aqueous droplets connected by single lipid bilayers have been used to examine the properties of protein channels and pores, and networks of droplets can form microscale batteries and detect light. Now, by inserting an engineered pore with diode-like properties into the interface bilayers, droplet networks that mimic simple electronic devices have been produced.

    • Giovanni Maglia
    • Andrew J. Heron
    • Hagan Bayley
    Letter
  • Gold nanorods added to a laboratory-constructed estuarine mesocosm can accumulate in sediments, biofilms and various organisms such as fish, snails and shrimp. Most of the nanorods ended up in biofilms and clams, indicating that these nanoparticles could readily pass from the water column into the marine food web.

    • John L. Ferry
    • Preston Craig
    • Timothy J. Shaw
    Letter
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Article

  • Mass detection of single biological molecules in real time by a nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS) is demonstrated for the first time, and this is used to perform first generation NEMS-based mass spectrometry. Precipitous frequency shifts, proportional to the mass of the molecules, are recorded in real time by the NEMS mass spectrometry system as protein molecules and nanoparticles adsorb, one-by-one, onto an ultrahigh frequency NEMS resonator.

    • A. K. Naik
    • M. S. Hanay
    • M. L. Roukes
    Article
  • A class of core–shell nanoparticles self-assembled from amphiphilic peptides can kill a range of bacteria, yeast and fungus. They are more potent than their unassembled peptide counterparts and can suppress bacterial growth in the brains of rabbits infected with meningitis. These particles, which carry a high number of positive charges, are promising antimicrobial agents.

    • Lihong Liu
    • Kaijin Xu
    • Yi-Yan Yang
    Article
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