Deep-brain exploration with nanomaterial
You can’t peer very far down into a well or below the surface of the ocean before things go dark—light does not penetrate to such depths. Though the brain is far from bottomless, neuroscientists face the same lack of light when they try to study living deep-brain structures. This is especially frustrating given that optogenetics, a method for manipulating genetically tagged brain cells with light, has exploded in popularity over the p...
'Jumping film' controls the power of humidity
Scientists from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science (CEMS) and the University of Tokyo have developed a film that curls up and straightens out autonomously when exposed to tiny, barely measurable changes in ambient humidity. When irradiated with ultraviolet light, which causes changes in the film's ability to absorb and desorb water, it can even "jump" into the air.
Converting waste heat into electricity is more efficient in 2D
The large amount of waste heat produced by power plants and automobile engines can be converted into electricity due to the thermoelectric effect, a physics effect that converts temperature differences into electrical energy. Now in a new study, researchers have confirmed theoretical predictions that 2D materials—those that are as thin as a single nanometer—exhibit a significantly higher thermoelectric effect than 3D materials, which ...
Terahertz laser changes the macromolecular structure of a polymer
Scientists from the RIKEN Center for Advanced Photonics (RAP) have, for the first time, successfully used a terahertz laser to induce permanent changes in the conformation of a polymer, giving it an increased pattern of crystallisation. Conformational changes are very important for macromolecular science because they can change the characteristics of a material and, in the case of proteins, can make it either possible or impossible for them ...
Rays provide power for an electric generator
Scientists from the RIKEN Quantitative Biology Center in Japan removed the electric organ from a torpedo and chemically stimulated the organ by injecting a solution of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine though a syringe. They were able to achieve more than a minute of continuous current, with a peak voltage of 91 mV and 0.25 mA of current. By increasing the number of syringes, they achieved a peak voltage of 1.5 V and a current of 0.64mA.
Hydrogel works like an artificial muscle
In research published in Nature Materials, a team led by scientists from the RIKEN Center for Emergent Matter Science in Japan has developed a hydrogel that works like an artificial muscle, quickly stretching and contracting in response to changing temperature. They have also managed to use the polymer to build an L-shaped object that slowly walks forward as the temperature is repeatedly raised and lowered.