On Wireless BioSensors!

The last paper of T. Ruzgas, J. Sotres etal at Malmö University (Sweden) starts with a disturbing statement: “It is predicted that with the development of Internet of Things technology by 2025 we expect more than 1000 connected devices per human”. With this idea in mind they are studying how to develop robust and cheap biosensors that will provide us with health information. And for that they are exploiting the ability of enzymes to “establish direct electron transfer contact with electrically conducting materials”.


This research, that made it to the cover of ChemElectroChem, is getting us closer to a cyborg-like healthier future.

DIPC 2018 Activity Report

One of our pictures was recently used to illustrate DIPC’s 2018 activity report. Lots of great friends there doing amazing research work!

On frogs, tadpoles and better batteries

My vast ignorance of chemistry doesn’t allow me to talk about this article, so here I leave you the abstract:

“Trapping negative charges in polymer electrolytes using a frog‐shaped, ether‐functionalized anion (EFA) is presented by H. Zhang, J. Carrasco, M. Armand, and co‐workers in their Communication on page 12070 ff. The bis(trifluoromethanesulfonyl)imide anion (TFSI), shown as a slippery tadpole, is highly mobile in poly(ethylene oxide) (PEO) matrix. In contrast, the ethylene oxide legs in EFA endow trapping interactions between the anion and PEO, which suppresses mobility”. [read more]

I did this picture on request and under close supervision of Dr. Heng Zang and Dr. Javier Carrasco (CIC Energigune, Spain). It deserved the inside cover of Angewandte Chemie (two in a row!).


Nature already did it!

Protein based electronics. I’ll say it again. Protein based electronics. Dr. Linda Zotty and Prof. Carlos Cuevas (IFIMAC, Spain) are working in something that stills looks like science fiction to me: protein-bioelectronics.

In particular they are studying how to turn a redox protein (Cytochrome C) into a viable switch. These proteins belong to a family of redox-active proteins that act as electron carriers in biological energy conversion systems (as in those involved in cellular respiration). Together with groups from the Weizmann Institute of Science (Israel) and Shemyakin-Ovchinnikov Institute of Bioorganic chemistry (Russia), they’ve theoretically shown how a Gold-Cytochrome-Gold structure can work as a voltage controlled switch.

Their research has been published in Angewandte Chemie and has been presented in the inside back cover.


A strain tunable single-layer MoS2 photodetector

Lets take a single layer of MoS2. Lets attach it to a surface in such a way that it can be stretched (or compressed) and there you have it: A strain tunable single-layer MoS2 photodetector. A device which uses strain to change the electrical and optical properties of 2D materials. In particular they’ve proven that with this method, they can reversibly change the photoresponsivity, the response time and the spectral bandwidth of single layered MoS2.

At Dr. Castellanos Lab, they are excelling at beautiful and elegant research. “… we demonstrated that applying tensile biaxial strain to the MoS2 device can be an effective strategy to increase both the responsivity and the wavelength bandwidth of the photodetector (at the expense of a slower response time), while compressive strain can be exploited to yield faster photodetectors (although with a lower photoresponse and with a narrower wavelength bandwidth). This adaptable optoelectronic performance of this device can be very useful to adjust the photodetector operation to different lighting conditions, similarly to human eye adaptability (scotopic vision during the night vs. photopic vision during the daylight).

Their research is a collaboration between ICMM-CSIC, Imdea Nanociencia and the State Key Laboratory of Tribology, Tsinghua University, Beijing and has been recognized with the inner cover of Materials Today.

It comes in colors everywhere

A research group at IMDEA Nanociencia (together with the University of Grenoble and Berkeley) have presented a new switchable iron-based coordination polymer, which works as a reversible acetonitrile sensor.

Coordination polymers are emerging as molecular sensing materials for a variety of reasons: they are not toxic, environmentally friendly and above all, they’re highly responsive to a wide variety of external stimuli.

This polymer in particular, the unutterable {[Fe(H2O)2(CH3CN)2(pyrazine)](BF4)2·(CH3CN)2}, happens to be an excellent acetonitrile sensor: a toxic volatile organic compound, that makes its detection a major issue. The desorption of interstitial acetonitrile changes reversibly the color of the polymer together with its electronic and magneto–structural properties.

On request of José Sánchez Costa and Enrique Burzuri we made this picture, showing the reversibility of the process, that made it to the back cover of Chemical Science.


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.

Demoreel 2017-2018

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

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.