Today’s computers and other technological gizmos operate on electronic charges, but researchers predict that a new generation of smaller, faster, more efficient devices could be developed based on another scientific concept – electronic "spin." The problem, however, is that researchers have found it challenging to control or predict spin – which keeps practical applications out of reach.
But physicists in Europe, California and at Ohio University now have found a way to manipulate the spin of an electron with a jolt of voltage from a battery, according to research findings published in the recent issue of the journal Physical Review Letters.
In the new study, scientists applied voltage to the electron in a quantum dot, which is a tiny, nanometer-sized semiconductor. The burst of power changed the direction of the electron’s spin -- which can move either up or down. This also caused it to emit a small particle of light called a photon, explained Richard Warburton, a physicist with Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, and lead author on the new paper.
Andrea Gibson | EurekAlert!
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Proteins must be folded correctly to fulfill their molecular functions in cells. Molecular assistants called chaperones help proteins exploit their inbuilt folding potential and reach the correct three-dimensional structure. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry (MPIB) have demonstrated that actin, the most abundant protein in higher developed cells, does not have the inbuilt potential to fold and instead requires special assistance to fold into its active state. The chaperone TRiC uses a previously undescribed mechanism to perform actin folding. The study was recently published in the journal Cell.
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