Chemists and computer scientists are using a special facility at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to scale molecules up for people-sized interactions. Using chemical data, NIST software, special eyewear, and floor-to-ceiling display screens, they create giant three-dimensional molecules that move. Molecular behavior can be seen and understood in minutes instead of the weeks required using traditional techniques.
NIST scientists and collaborators used the 3D facility to study “smart gels,” inexpensive materials that expand or contract in response to external stimuli. For example, a “smart” artificial pancreas might release insulin inside the body in response to high sugar levels. Other applications may include exotic foods, cosmetics or sensors. But scientists need to better understand the molecular behavior of the gels before they can optimize them for specific products.
The NIST team is studying a category of these materials called shake gels. Mixtures of clays and polymers, these materials firm up into gels when shaken, and then gradually relax again to liquids. In a shock absorber, for instance, such materials would generally be liquid but would stiffen into a gel when the car drove over bumps or potholes.
Laura Ost | NIST
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Together with their colleagues from the University of Würzburg, physicists from the group of Professor Alexander Szameit at the University of Rostock have devised a “funnel” for photons. Their discovery was recently published in the renowned journal Science and holds great promise for novel ultra-sensitive detectors as well as innovative applications in telecommunications and information processing.
The quantum-optical properties of light and its interaction with matter has fascinated the Rostock professor Alexander Szameit since College.
Researchers at the University of Zurich show that different stem cell populations are innervated in distinct ways. Innervation may therefore be crucial for proper tissue regeneration. They also demonstrate that cancer stem cells likewise establish contacts with nerves. Targeting tumour innervation could thus lead to new cancer therapies.
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An international research team led by Kiel University develops an extremely porous material made of "white graphene" for new laser light applications
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Researchers at Graz University of Technology have developed a framework by which wireless devices with different radio technologies will be able to communicate directly with each other.
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Terahertz waves are becoming ever more important in science and technology. They enable us to unravel the properties of future materials, test the quality of...
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