Engineering

  • Article
    | Open Access

    The successful in-orbit operation of an electric space propulsion system based on iodine, rather than the more expensive and difficult-to-store xenon, is demonstrated.

    • Dmytro Rafalskyi
    • , Javier Martínez Martínez
    •  & Ane Aanesland
  • Article |

    An all-in-one methodology for fabricating soft robotics reported here uses interfacial flows in elastomers that cure to produce actuators that can be tailored to suit applications from artificial muscles to grippers.

    • Trevor J. Jones
    • , Etienne Jambon-Puillet
    •  & P.-T. Brun
  • Article |

    A global inventory of utility-scale solar photovoltaic generating units, produced by combining remote sensing imagery with machine learning, has identified 68,661 facilities — an increase of over 400% on previously available asset-level data —  the majority of which were sited on cropland.

    • L. Kruitwagen
    • , K. T. Story
    •  & C. Hepburn
  • Perspective |

    Computing approaches based on mechanical mechanisms are discussed, with a view towards a framework in which adaptable materials and structures act as a distributed information processing network.

    • Hiromi Yasuda
    • , Philip R. Buskohl
    •  & Jordan R. Raney
  • Article |

    Multiple redox transitions in a molecular memristor can be harnessed as ‘decision trees’ to undertake complex and reconfigurable logic operations in a single time step.

    • Sreetosh Goswami
    • , Rajib Pramanick
    •  & R. Stanley Williams
  • Article |

    A structured fabric constructed of linked hollow polyhedral particles (resembling chain mail) can be simply and reversibly tuned between flexible and rigid states; when it is compressed, its linked particles become jammed.

    • Yifan Wang
    • , Liuchi Li
    •  & Chiara Daraio
  • Article |

    Flexible electronic platforms would enable the integration of functional electronic circuitry with many everyday objects; here, a low-cost and fully flexible 32-bit microprocessor is produced.

    • John Biggs
    • , James Myers
    •  & Scott White
  • Article |

    An intensity−duration−frequency model linking food shock risk to supply chain diversity in the USA finds that boosting a city’s food supply chain diversity increases the resistance of a city to food shocks of mild to moderate severity.

    • Michael Gomez
    • , Alfonso Mejia
    •  & Richard R. Rushforth
  • Article |

    Cellular fluidics provides a platform of unit-cell-based, three-dimensional structures for the deterministic control of multiphase flow, transport and reaction processes.

    • Nikola A. Dudukovic
    • , Erika J. Fong
    •  & Eric B. Duoss
  • Article |

    Machine learning tools are used to greatly accelerate chip layout design, by posing chip floorplanning as a reinforcement learning problem and using neural networks to generate high-performance chip layouts.

    • Azalia Mirhoseini
    • , Anna Goldie
    •  & Jeff Dean
  • Article |

    Origami-inspired multistable structures that can be inflated from flat to three dimensions have been designed; a library of foldable shapes is created and then combined to build metre-scale functional structures.

    • David Melancon
    • , Benjamin Gorissen
    •  & Katia Bertoldi
  • Article |

    A two-tiered dynamic design strategy achieves topological transformations of two-dimensional polymeric cellular microstructures in a reversible and temporally controllable manner through exposure to different liquids.

    • Shucong Li
    • , Bolei Deng
    •  & Joanna Aizenberg
  • Article |

    A large electronic display textile that is flexible, breathable and withstands repeated machine-washing is integrated with a keyboard and power supply to create a wearable, durable communication tool.

    • Xiang Shi
    • , Yong Zuo
    •  & Huisheng Peng
  • Article |

    A free-swimming soft robot inspired by deep-sea creatures, with artificial muscle, power and control electronics spread across a polymer matrix, successfully adapts to high pressure and operates in the deep ocean.

    • Guorui Li
    • , Xiangping Chen
    •  & Wei Yang
  • Article |

    A compact, high-performance silicon photonics-based light detection and ranging system for three-dimensional imaging is developed that should be amenable to low-cost mass manufacturing

    • Christopher Rogers
    • , Alexander Y. Piggott
    •  & Remus Nicolaescu
  • Perspective |

    Opportunities for the application of fibrillated cellulose materials—which can be extracted from renewable resources—and broader manufacturing issues of scale-up, sustainability and synergy with the paper-making industry are discussed.

    • Tian Li
    • , Chaoji Chen
    •  & Liangbing Hu
  • Article |

    A reprogrammable mechanical metamaterial constructed of bistable unit cells that can be switched independently and reversibly between two stable states with distinct mechanical properties using magnetic actuation is demonstrated.

    • Tian Chen
    • , Mark Pauly
    •  & Pedro M. Reis
  • Article |

    An optical vector convolutional accelerator operating at more than ten trillion operations per second is used to create an optical convolutional neural network that can successfully recognize handwritten digit images with 88 per cent accuracy.

    • Xingyuan Xu
    • , Mengxi Tan
    •  & David J. Moss
  • Article |

    Lateral-flow in vitro diagnostic assays based on fluorescent nanodiamonds, in which microwave-based spin manipulation is used to increase sensitivity, are demonstrated using the biotin–avidin model and by the single-copy detection of HIV-1 RNA.

    • Benjamin S. Miller
    • , Léonard Bezinge
    •  & Rachel A. McKendry
  • Article |

    Strain gauges with both high sensitivity and high mechanical resilience, based on strain-mediated contact in anisotropically resistive structures, are demonstrated within a sensor-integrated, textile-based sleeve that can recognize human hand motions via muscle deformations.

    • Oluwaseun A. Araromi
    • , Moritz A. Graule
    •  & Robert J. Wood
  • Article |

    A combination of spectroscopy, microscopy and theoretical calculations shows that the reactivity of titanium silicalite-1 as an epoxidation catalyst is due to the presence of dinuclear titanium sites.

    • Christopher P. Gordon
    • , Hauke Engler
    •  & Christophe Copéret
  • Article |

    A jigsaw-style configuration of interlocking structures identified in the elytra of the remarkably tough diabolical ironclad beetle, Phloeodes diabolicus, is used to inspire crush-resistant multilayer composites for engineering joints.

    • Jesus Rivera
    • , Maryam Sadat Hosseini
    •  & David Kisailus
  • Article |

    The concept of neuromorphic completeness and a system hierarchy for neuromorphic computing are presented, which could improve programming-language portability, hardware completeness and compilation feasibility of brain-inspired computing systems

    • Youhui Zhang
    • , Peng Qu
    •  & Luping Shi
  • Article |

    In a rotating reactor, immiscible or pairwise-immiscible liquids organize into stable but internally agitated concentric layers, enabling multistep syntheses and separations of reaction mixtures.

    • Olgierd Cybulski
    • , Miroslaw Dygas
    •  & Bartosz A. Grzybowski
  • Article |

    Electrophysical processes are used to create third-order nanoscale circuit elements, and these are used to realize a transistorless network that can perform Boolean operations and find solutions to a computationally hard graph-partitioning problem.

    • Suhas Kumar
    • , R. Stanley Williams
    •  & Ziwen Wang
  • Article |

    An air gap embedded within the structure of a thermophotovoltaic device acts as a near-perfect reflector of low-energy photons, resulting in their recovery and recycling by the thermal source, enabling excellent power-conversion efficiency.

    • Dejiu Fan
    • , Tobias Burger
    •  & Stephen R. Forrest
  • Article |

    Miniature gut tubes grown in vitro from mouse intestinal stem cells are perfusable, can be colonized with microorganisms and exhibit a similar arrangement and diversity of specialized cell types to intestines in vivo.

    • Mikhail Nikolaev
    • , Olga Mitrofanova
    •  & Matthias P. Lutolf
  • Article |

    Cooling efficiency is greatly increased by directly embedding liquid cooling into electronic chips, using microfluidics-based heat sinks that are designed in conjunction with the electronics within the same semiconductor substrate.

    • Remco van Erp
    • , Reza Soleimanzadeh
    •  & Elison Matioli
  • Article |

    A new class of voltage-controllable electrochemical actuators that are compatible with silicon processing are used to produce over one million sub-hundred-micrometre walking robots on a single four-inch wafer.

    • Marc Z. Miskin
    • , Alejandro J. Cortese
    •  & Itai Cohen
  • Article |

    A Damascus-like steel consisting of alternating hard and soft layers is created by using a laser additive manufacturing technique and digital control of the processing parameters.

    • Philipp Kürnsteiner
    • , Markus Benjamin Wilms
    •  & Dierk Raabe
  • Article |

    A massively parallel coherent light detection and ranging (lidar) scheme using a soliton microcomb—a light source that emits a wide spectrum of sharp lines with equally spaced frequencies—is described.

    • Johann Riemensberger
    • , Anton Lukashchuk
    •  & Tobias J. Kippenberg
  • Article |

    Wall-free liquid channels surrounded by an immiscible magnetic liquid can be used to create liquid circuitry or to transport human blood without damaging the blood cells by moving permanent magnets.

    • Peter Dunne
    • , Takuji Adachi
    •  & Thomas M. Hermans
  • Article |

    Layered nanocomposites fabricated using a continuous and scalable process achieve properties exceeding those of natural nacre, the result of stiffened matrix polymer chains confined between highly aligned nanosheets.

    • Chuangqi Zhao
    • , Pengchao Zhang
    •  & Lei Jiang
  • Article |

    An on-chip, all-electronic device based on the formation of a nanoplasma provides ultrafast electron transfer, enabling picosecond switching of electric signals and the generation of high-power terahertz pulses.

    • Mohammad Samizadeh Nikoo
    • , Armin Jafari
    •  & Elison Matioli
  • Article |

    A two-dimensional semiconductor photodiode array senses and processes optical images simultaneously without latency, and is trained to classify and encode images with high throughput, acting as an artificial neural network.

    • Lukas Mennel
    • , Joanna Symonowicz
    •  & Thomas Mueller
  • Article |

    High-pressure diamond anvil cell experiments reveal that compression strengthening of nanocrystalline nickel increases as its grain sizes decrease to 3 nanometres, owing to dislocation hardening and suppression of grain boundary plasticity.

    • Xiaoling Zhou
    • , Zongqiang Feng
    •  & Bin Chen
  • Article |

    A topological laser based on the valley degree of freedom in a compact photonic crystal can be pumped electrically, bringing topological physics concepts closer to real-life applications.

    • Yongquan Zeng
    • , Udvas Chattopadhyay
    •  & Qi Jie Wang