“Theory of 2D crystals: graphene and beyond”

2D crystals seem to be here to stay. And it was time to make a review on the essential aspects of graphene and the new families of semiconducting 2D materials. Prof. Francisco Guinea (IMDEA Nanociencia) et al present minimal theoretical models for various materials. And also present some of the exciting new possibilities offered by 2D crystals.

This work deserved the cover of Chemical Society Reviews.

Diamonds are sensor’s best friend

We have been lately working for Prof. Patrick Malekinsky making pictures to illustrate their research. He, together with his group, has been working on innovative microscopies based on quantum sensors in diamond.

This new technology has propelled the creation of a new company, Qnami. Their goal is to package quantum mechanics into a user-friendly interface.

Quantum boxes

Do you remember the famous quantum corrals? (see figure below)

The Well (Quantum Corral) (2009) by Julian Voss-Andreae. Created using the 1993 experimental data by Lutz et al., the gilded sculpture was pictured in a 2009 review of the art exhibition

Well, lets say that Prof. Thomas A. Jung and co-workers have gone way further than that. During 2016, they presented a quantum breadboard, composed of a 2D metalorganic network creating surface state derived quantum well states in the pores. Scanning probe microscopy manipulation of Xe atoms was used to configure the Xe population of the pores, which affects the quantum state of the 2D array or breadboard.

On Piezoelectric Layered Materials

A new addition to the nanoscopic world: the piezoelectric effect. Prof. M. Lanza et al. have studied the ability of layered MoS2 to produce electric currents under the pressure of a conductive atomic force microscope. This would allow the fabrication of self-powered devices.

This research has been published in Nanoscale Journal and its been awarded with the front cover.

A new 2D exotic solid phase

Dr. Eva G. Noya et al have studied the phase diagram of a two-dimensional system of disk particles with three patches distributed symmetrically along the particle equator (read more). Due to the geometry of the particles, this system shows a rich phase diagram that goes from a nearly empty honey-comb lattice (at low temperatures),to an almost filled lattice at high temperatures.

Their work, along with our picture, made it to the cover of Soft Matter.

I’ve got you, under my skin

Dr. Juan Aguirre (Helmholtz Zentrum München) explains, in this Biomedical Engineering Nature article, the challenges he went through in the development of a portable clinical Raster Scan Optoacoustic Mesoscope (RSOM) to image skin. With this device, it is possible to acquire images of structures under the skin, up to 5mm depth, with amazing resolution.

We helped them illustrate the physics of the device with this picture:

To me, the interesting part of this research is that from the very beginning, their goal was to build “a system compatible with the clinic that was easy to use, portable and fast enough to allow comfortable imaging sessions while keeping within light exposure limits (J. Aguirre)”.

This work has resounded strongly enough to get them the cover of this month’s Biological Engineering Nature. Congrats!

 

On how to build a synthetic cell

One of those things that make you wonder “is this even possible?” while your jaw is still dropping.

Then Netherlands are funding the consortium BaSyC in order for them to build a synthetic biological cell. It is hard to foresee what new pieces of knowledge and technology this research will produce. But in the short term, by building a cell bottom-up, we will learn to understand the cell at its most fundamental level.

The BaSyC consortium includes the University of Amsterdam, the Radboud University, the University of Wageningen, the Vrije University of Amsterdam, as well as our old friends in TuDelft. Actually they were the one that contacted us to make this animation illustrating the process.

Click here if you want to know more about the project.

Hybrid Nanoscopy of Hybrid Nanomaterials

Dr. Cristina Flors research group (IMDEA Nanoscience) is exploring the combination of complementary techniques to characterize materials at the nanoscale. This is a key step to the design and fabrication of new materials with improved properties and diverse functions. The combination of atomic force microscopy and super-resolution fluorescence imaging is investigated as a useful tool to characterize hybrid luminescent materials, specifically amyloid-like fibers functionalized with quantum dots.