NanotubeA view down the middle of a boron nitride nanotube. (Credit: © Vin Crespi, Penn State Physics, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Nanoscience is well on its way to establishing itself as one of the critical technologies of the 21st Century. Just as semiconductors gave rise to computers, smart phones, the Internet, medical devices, and an endless stream of consumer products, nanoscience is enabling the development of new technologies in fields as diverse as electronics, medicine, photonics, energy, and quantum physics. Nanoscale constructions provide this flexibility for two reasons. First, they are small and precise enough to interact with molecules in entirely new ways. Nanomedicines, for example, often encapsulate drugs in molecular packages decorated with segments of molecules that enable them to target specific organs and diseases, and, once there, convince those cells to ingest the medication. Metal-organic frameworks, complex molecules engineered to reduce energy use in chemical reactions and capture carbon emissions from combustion, are another example. Second, and more intriguingly, nanoscale devices are closer in size to electrons and photons, and may interact with them in ways that are fundamentally different from the behavior of larger objects. For example, metamaterials, arrays of nanoscale structures, can bend light around an object to make it appear invisible. Nanoscale electronics can exploit quantum phenomena, like electron spin, energy waves, and quantum states to capture, store, and process information. As these technologies and other emerging applications reach commercialization, they are certain to change nearly every sphere of life.

Why It's Time to Map the Microbiome

Nov 23, 2015
Soil Bacterium

The Unified Microbiome Initiative proposes to unlock the power of the microbial communities that shape our world and influence our health. Janet Jansson, Rob Knight and Jeff Miller talk about why it's urgent.

Spotlight Live: Hey Einstein, It Really Is a Quantum World

Oct 29, 2015
Loop Hole-free Bell Test experiment

Ronald Hanson and Renato Renner discuss the strongest proof yet that quantum theory, with faster-than-light links between entangled particles, explains the true nature of our universe. 

Spotlight Live: A Call for 'Brain Observatories'

Oct 14, 2015

How should the BRAIN Initiative evolve to unite and synergize the hundreds of individual laboratories it currently funds? Six researchers now propose a national network of neurotechnology centers, or “brain observatories.” Paul Alivisatos, Miyoung Chun, Michael Roukes and Rafael Yuste — four of the paper’s authors — answer your questions about this new idea and how it might affect the future of neuroscience.

Fueling Up: How nanoscience is creating a new type of solar power

Sep 02, 2015

Three leading nanoscientists — Peidong Yang, Thomas Moore and Ted Sargent — discuss a groundbreaking demonstration of artificial photosynthesis that turns the sun's energy into fuel. The remarkable new technology makes a sustainable energy future a very real possibility.

Spotlight Live: Learning from Earth’s Smallest Ecosystems

Mar 27, 2015

Two leaders in the field discussed what makes natural biomes so difficult to measure, and how nanoscience may help us unlock their secrets.

Unnatural Selection: New Materials & Unusual Properties by Design

Feb 26, 2015

By changing the nanoscale structure of materials, researchers have created invisibility cloaks and microscopes with unprecedented resolution. Three leaders in these new metamaterials explain how this is possible and consider what may come next.

Thinking Smaller: How Nanoscience Can Help Us Understand Nature's Many Microbiomes

Feb 12, 2015

More than 50 million different species of single-celled microbes live on Earth, yet we know very little about the communities they inhabit. Two experts in the field, Eoin Brodie and Jack Gilbert, discuss how nanoscience may enable us to better understand their dynamics.

The Future of Nanoscience: Three Kavli Nanoscience Institute Directors Forecast the Field’s Future

Jan 09, 2015

The directors of three Kavli nanoscience institutes – Paul Alivisatos, Paul McEuen, and Nai-Chang Yeh – discuss what makes the nanoscale so important, the field’s grand challenges, safety challenges, and their thoughts on funding, training and the future.

2014 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience: A Discussion with Thomas Ebbesen, Stefan Hell and Sir John Pendry

Sep 07, 2014

The winners of the 2014 Kavli Prize in Nanoscience – Thomas Ebbesen, Stefan Hell and Sir John Pendry – discuss breaking the limits of what we can do with light and opening the door to possibilities ranging from optical computing to invisibility cloaks.

From Scotch Tape to Deli Sandwiches: Future 2D Materials

Aug 25, 2014

The emerging ability to precisely engineer 2D materials is opening design pathways to, among other things, future-generation microelectronics devices, improved batteries, and even new types of liquid crystals.


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