Bioinformática con Ñ

5 years ago now, several Spanish researchers, got together to write a book describing the principles of bioinformatics. Álvaro Sebastián asked us to give a hand in this free, collaborative project by designing the cover of the book. And this is what we did, in the early days of Scixel.


We are huge Tintin fans. There is just one thing we love more than Tintin covers, which is apocryphal Tintin covers. So we did our own six or seven years ago.

Internet out of thin air

We’ve already talked about the “quantum internet” in several occasions. The Netherlands is making a huge effort in this field. But this new update comes from Barcelona (Spain). Nicolas Maring etal. (ICFO) has transferred quantum information between a solid crystal and a cloud of cold atomic gas. The result was published in Nature in November 2017.
The transference of qubits between nodes is of key importance in the construction of the so called “quantum internet”. This nodes can be made out of different types of matter so they can perform different functions. While we now know how to transfer information between similar systems, it was not straightforward how to do that using radically different matter configurations.


Cool, man!

[Sorry for the bad joke]

One of the issues of nanocircuits is heat dissipation. As in the macro world, at the nanoscale, it is imperative to find a way to cool circuits. Thanks to a collaboration between the University of Michigan and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, has been proved that a particular arrangement of molecules in nanocircuits, achieves and optimizes molecular termoelectric refrigeration.

This result has been published in Nature Nanotecnology.

Hammering viruses

Prof. Pedro de Pablo (Nanoforces Lab) has been using atomic force microscopy to break viruses for a while. Apart from the obvious pleasure that breaking things produces, their main focus is to study the stability of viruses. Viruses infect cells by releasing their highly packed genetic material. So the understanding of the stability of the viruses capsides will offer new venues for the development of novel antiviral strategies [article].

Individual impurity atoms

Early this year, Prof. Shigeki Kawai asked me to make a picture illustrating his new achievement. He, at NIMS (Japan), together with a team at Basel University, had succeeded at detecting single atom impurities in graphene ribbons.

Keeping it clean!

Several modern applications require antireflective transparent materials. We try to avoid reflections in our screens and clean transparent coatings are essential in solar panels. Scientists have been looking for a clean, cheap and durable solution for quite long. And this is exactly what Prof. Isabel Rodriguez et al. have recently reported in Nanoscale.
Thanks to this collaboration (IMDEA Nanociencia & IMDEA Materiales) a new coating system has been developed. The methodology involves the fabrication of sub-wavelength moth-eye nanofeatures onto transparent surface composite films in a combined processing step of nanoparticle coating and surface nanoimprinting.

With this approach they’ve been able to reduced the optical reflection losses from values of 9% of typical PMMA plastic films to an optimum value of 0.6%.

We made this picture (which appeared in the back cover of Nanoscale) with the supervision of Prof. Rodriguez. It represent both the high transmission coefficient of this new coating system and its durability.

Cocaine detection

Cocaine happens to be one of the most illicit drugs in Europe and US. Yet, estimations say there are around 17 million users worldwide. This together, makes important the detection of cocaine and having devices able to precisely measure a wide range of cocaine concentrations in street samples. At TU Delft, together with the Netherlands Forensic Institute Lukasz Poltorak et al. have proposed a successful method which allows not only the detection of very different concentrations of cocaine but also the analysis and detection of cutting agents.