Do electric neurons dream of…

This is getting out of hand. At LanzaLab they try to emulate the behavior of neuron synapses using multilayered hexagonal boron nitride (h-BN) . An interesting paradigm states that a biologically inspired computing architecture, will overcome the energy and efficiency limitations of classic computing architectures. To carry it out will require the design of electronic neurons and synapses. There are several features to be copied from mother’s nature design: it has to be fast, energetically efficient and it has to have a long term/short term plasticity. And at Lanzalab, they’ve achieved most of them. Their h-BN devices consume between 0.1 fW and 600 pW and they have a truly fast response: around 10ns.

We made this image supervised by Prof. Mario Lanza to illustrate their work published in Nature Electronics.

Dust: the origin

We already talked about the project NANOCOSMOS in this website. This is a huge ERC funded project directed by Prof. José Cernicharo which has put together research groups from Spain and France. The researchers working in this project are trying to “unveil the physical and chemical conditions in the dust formation zone of evolved stars.

A year ago, Natalia Ruiz Zelmanovitch (Public Information Officer of the project), approached me to create a short documentary explaining the aims of this research. Now, a year later, its been made public. Scixel worked both in the animations and the music. Hope you enjoy this piece as much as we enjoyed making it.

Apart from the pleasure that is to work with Natalia, the intrinsic beauty of this research, made this collaboration a big moment of Scixel’s short history.

Waves and Stress

Measuring the mechanical strength of a material at the nanoscale is challenging . If the object we are measuring happens to be a two-dimensional material, the task amazingly difficult. But people at Castellanos-Gómez Lab are really smart. They’ve adapted a method (already used with organic thin films) to determine these materials Young Modulus that, apart from other advantages, does not require the material to be freely suspended.

To make a long story short, they compress the material. Not been freely suspended, ripples appear all over the material. The wavelength of this ripples depends only in the elastic properties of the film and the substrate, so voilá! Frankly, much easier to explain than to perform.

These results were published in Advanced Materials.

To illustrate it, and requested by Dr. Andrés Castellanos-Gómez, we did this image that made it to the back cover of Advanced Materials.

SAMS-4

SAMS-4 is the 4th edition of the Workshop on Scattering of Atoms and Molecules from Surfaces, which is organized every three years. Previous editions were held in Rehovot (Israel, 2010), Postdam (Germany, 2013) and Bergen (Norway, 2016) with great success. This year, organized by Prof. Daniel Farías the event will be held in Madrid.

Stefan Bilan kindly asked me to make a picture for their website. And this is what I did.

Flying metal!

Imagine a bulk of metal (titanium, zirconium and nickel) at 1100ºC flowing from a crucible and getting in contact with a cold fast spinning wheel. In principle, it sounds like a bad idea. And it is also the way the team lead by Dr. Laurent Marot produces amorphous metallic ribbons. Their main areas of application are transformer cores and active solder foils.

The company Endress+Hauser came to the University of Basel, looking for a solder foil that met its requirements. Basel University developed and is still improving this production method, reaching high levels of quality and reducing the process energy cost. According to Laurent Marot: “The cooperation is beneficial for both sides. Endress Hauser gets high-quality metallic glasses that they can use in their production of pressure sensors, and the university can use the revenue to finance their research. “

We did this picture, supervised by Dr. Laurent Marot to illustrate the process.

Demoreel 2017-2018

This demo has taken two years… documentaries, advertising, covers, pictures… we’ve been pretty busy lately.

Cold DNA

Here we have another breakthrough in our understanding of the DNA molecule. And this time it comes from people we particularly like. Physicist at Basel University have been able to study the dynamics of DNA at low temperatures using atomic force microscopy: cryo-force spectroscopy. With this technique it is possible to measure the bare underlying forces and interactions that join the molecule together. Their findings have been published in Nature Communications

Prof. Enrst Meyer, together with researchers from Germany and Madrid contacted us to make this picture that illustrates the process of stretching while detaching the DNA molecule from a gold surface.

Nucleation of pseudo hard-spheres

I would love to be intelligent enough to say something smart about the research of Eva González Noya, but I can’t. I know it has to do with the simulation of nucleation processes… and that’s all I have.

What I know instead is that she always gets the cover. And this time was not different.

Momentum

A year ago I started working on this short film. I was wondering, what if people had superpowers, but still had to be somehow tied to the laws of physics? What if they were able to do amazing things, but still energy or momentum had to be conserved. That’s how Momentum was born: a story of a huge misunderstanding.

Hope you like it!

Single-Molecules remember!

Our story with Basel University and in particular with Prof. Thomas Jung, goes back a long way. They are not only really nice people. They always come to me with amazingly beautiful pieces of research.

This time, Prof. Jung, together with Aisha Ahsan, have reported a new method that allows to change the physical state of just a few atoms or molecules within a network. Their efforts are focused in the manipulation of tiny molecules. The smaller the better. Why? Because this systems are perfect candidates for data storage. And the smaller the bits (molecules), the less energy it will take to modify them.


We did this picture to illustrate their research and also an animation that appeared in the video abstract of the paper.

You can read more here.