Reviews & Analysis

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  • Composite films of conducting polymers and fullerenes are attractive for making optoelectronic devices, such as solar cells. A new approach mixes the two components at the molecular level.

    • Antonio Cravino
    • Niyazi Serdar Sariciftci
    News & Views
  • Intercalation of ions in vanadium oxide is a well-known process that causes this material to swell. Researchers have now used this mechanical deformation effect to build a vanadium oxide artificial muscle that is stronger than human skeletal muscle.

    • Jacques Livage
    News & Views
  • Radiaton damage to graphite cores in nuclear reactors creates defects that store energy, and sometimes — more dangerously — release it. New simulations suggest that our fundamental picture of the behaviour of graphite defects was too simplistic.

    • Kai Nordlund
    News & Views
  • Solid-oxide fuel cells are on the verge of commercialization. But several engineering problems — including cheaper technology with a lower operation temperature — have to be solved first. A new all-ceramic anode presents a significant step forward.

    • Bernard A. Boukamp
    News & Views
  • The unusual synergy between magnetism and semiconductivity in the ferromagnetic semiconductor GaMnAs makes it an attractive material for 'spintronics'. Reports of a new giant switching effect lend it an even greater allure.

    • Sankar Das Sarma
    News & Views
  • Researchers in the field of 'nanophotonics' are attempting to fabricate the smallest possible structures with optical functionality. The ability to engineer silica–gold nanoshell particles may increase the importance of metals in a range of nanophotonic and biological applications.

    • Mark L. Brongersma
    News & Views
  • Supramolecular structures can be chiral even if made up of entirely achiral components. Now researchers have found a way to maintain supramolecular chirality through a rigid structure that induces a 'memory' effect without the need for a chiral template.

    • Roberto Purrello
    News & Views
  • Biomolecular templating uses biomolecules to position nanoscale materials onto substrates. DNA has emerged as an attractive scaffold to which metal nanoparticles can be electrostatically bound to form evenly spaced linear arrays.

    • R. Andrew McMillan
    News & Views
  • For over 15 years, layered copper oxides have held pole position in the race to higher superconducting temperatures. The first layered superconductor to replace copper with cobalt reveals both similarities and differences in their properties.

    • John V. Badding
    News & Views
  • Interfaces are central to the structures and processes that support life. Molecular assembly provides new capabilities for controlling biomolecular interactions at materials surfaces.

    • Ralph G. Nuzzo
    News & Views
  • A well-established principle of semiconductor surface science is that chemisorption tends to eliminate intrinsic surface states. But results for cubic SiC show that this is not universally true.

    • Victor M. Bermudez
    News & Views
  • There may be plenty of room at the bottom, but the size of conventional optical elements is restricted by the diffraction limit of light. Plasmon waveguides made from metal nanoparticle chains may allow a drastic reduction in the size of photonic devices.

    • Joachim R. Krenn
    News & Views
  • The rich behaviour of atoms diffusing on surfaces continues to hold surprises. New calculations suggest that some atoms prefer to diffuse just below the surface.

    • Rudolf Tromp
    News & Views
  • In nanoporous solids, optimizing both the size of the pores and the strength of long-range physical properties such as magnetism is not easy. A new approach using radical ions creates a hybrid framework with large pores, in which the reversible and selective loss of a solvent affects the magnetic properties.

    • Gérard Férey
    News & Views