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If you want to know the state of a hot field in materials research, then make sure you watch the patent database.
Future computers will require nanoscale transistors with high-dielectric-constant gate oxides. Carbon nanotube transistors integrated with ZrO2 gate oxides emerge as very promising candidates.
Surfaces are special states of matter. New experiments show that the non-ideal behaviour of nanoclusters on the surface of a catalyst strongly affects their tendency to form larger clusters, and therefore the catalyst's performance.
Genetically engineered bacteria could become polymer factories of the future. Bacteria can now turn non-natural chemicals into polythioesters — a new class of thermoplastic polymers hitherto inaccessible through chemical synthesis.
Molecular engineering strategies can be used to develop new features in nonlinear optical systems. Self-assembly based on chiral molecules is one important approach that opens up interesting routes in materials development.
Eating sugar gives us a boost when we feel tired because our cells use it as fuel to produce energy. Likewise, sugar can now be used to produce power in artificial biological fuel cells that function in a physiological environment.
Quantum dots are candidates for quantum computing applications, but the coherence time of their quantum states must be improved. Recent optical measurements on single quantum dots indicate that the local environment plays a large role.
Photosynthetic organisms use light to create chemical gradients across bilayer membranes that drive energetically unfavourable reactions. Synthetic systems that accomplish the same feat may find uses in a variety of biological and non-biological applications.
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