Superconducting graphene

Graphene’s business card is running out of space. We’ve already seen it doing nearly every possible thing in condensed matter physics. And superconductivity was to be there. It was a matter of time.

Magnetism and superconductivity don’t get along… to put it politely. So when you add magnetic atoms into a superconductor, the superconducting order is locally broken and spectral features (called Yu-Shiba-Rusinov states) appear inside the superconducting gap. And this features are important because they might be useful for quantum computing. 

Ivan Bruhuega, has lead an important research collaboration involving several countries (Finland, France, Portugal and Spain), that has for the first time observed these Yu-Shiba-Rusinov states in graphene. The complexity of this experiment is hard to grasp. To begin with, you have to induce superconductivity in graphene. They’ve done this by growing nanometer scale superconducting Pb islands over it. And then, using scanning tunneling microscopy and spectroscopy they’ve visualized Yu-Shiba-Rusinov states in the graphene grain boundaries. Quite a challenge.

We made this picture to illustrate the experience and it’s been featured in the cover of Advanced Materials.

Anti-metastatic treatment for breast cancer

Nanosized drug delivery systems based strategies are slowly changing our view of medical treatment. They can be applied to a wide variety of diseases and Dr. María J. Vicent (Polymer Therapeutics Lab) and Dr. Marcelo Calderón (POLYMAT) are designing new approaches expand their usage and improve their efficiency.

 

In their last work, they deal with triple negative breast cancer and its associated metastasis, for which we lack effective treatments. In their recent paper in Journal of Controlled Release, they propose “injectable poly-amino acid-based nanogels as a versatile hydrophilic drug delivery platform for the treatment of triple negative breast cancer lung metastasis”. These nanogels deliver the chemotherapeutic agents in more restricted, specific areas increasing their efficiency thus reducing their aggressiveness.

We designed this representation of the drug delivery process under the supervision of  María J. Vicent and Marcelo Calderón. Their work has been featured at the cover of JCR.

On pandemics, flexible spikes and mechanical stability

The SARS-CoV-2 is covered by a layer of “spikes” whose mobility (yet to be determined) has been proposed to be related to the infection process. Miklós S. Z. Kellermayer et al. (Semmelweis University, Budapest) “by imaging and mechanically manipulating individual, native SARS-CoV-2 virions with AFM” have proved that this layer is in fact dynamic. The virions show also a remarkable resistance to deformation and they’re able to recover from extreme mechanical deformations. You can read the details in their paper published in Nanoletters.

As a side note, the AFM experimental images they’ve published are just beautiful.

To illustrate the experiments we made this picture, under the close supervision of first author, Bálint Kiss, which has been featured in the cover of Nanoletters.

 

Good Vibrations

Today we want to talk about light and molecular vibrations coupling. It is known that infrared light can interact with matter through the molecules natural vibrations. What it was not so well known is that this coupling between light and matter can be so strong that it can change the material properties. But this strong-coupling-landscape has yet to be explored.

Researchers from CIC nanoGUNE BRTA (San Sebastian, Spain), the Donostia International Physics Center (San Sebastián, Spain) and the University of Oviedo (Spain) have employed a spectroscopic nanoimaging technique to achieve this strong coupling. By using “a particularly strong compression of infrared light” and a “thin layer of hexagonal boron nitride” they’ve explored in real space “how the phonon polaritons couple with the molecular vibrations” of organic molecules.

Their findings, published in Nature Photonics could have an impact in molecules detection technologies but more importantly, it opens a door to the study of quantum aspects of strong vibrational coupling.

This picture we did under the supervision of Andrei Bylinkin (first author) has been featured in the cover of Nature Photonics.

Boosting our batteries

Up to this point we’ve all recognized graphene’s omnipotence. This time we bring it to the website in its role of “energy storage enhancer”. At CIC energiGUNE, Daniel Carriazo et al., have just shown how functionalizing  graphene with phosphate groups in lithium-ion capacitors, highly improves both their power but more interestingly, they cyclability.

This picture, made under the supervision of Daniel Carriazo, has appeared as the cover feature at Batteries and Supercaps.

A sustainable Internet of Things ecosystem

A future of wireless self‐powered devices is upon us. The number of sensors and devices in our close environment is growing fast. And so does its energy demand.

 

In his last paper, Vincenzo Pecunia proposes the use of indoor photovoltaics: a clean sustainable way to fulfill this demand with lead‐free (and thus, non toxic) perovskite‐inspired materials. In particular Pecunia and co-workers, have studied two materials, BiOI and Cs3Sb2ClxI9‐x which happen to be really bad at harvesting sun light but present high efficiencies under indoor light conditions.

This research opens a door to the study of more efficient, non-toxic perovskite‐inspired materials and a sustainable future.

Under close supervision of Dr. Pecunia we made this picture that has been featured as the cover of Advanced Energy Materials.

 

Single-molecule junctions and atomic contacts

Dr. Laura Rincón made her thesis defense in August 2009. The manuscript, titled Conductance, thermopower and thermal conductance measurements in single-molecule junctions and atomic contacts, is a study on the properties of these contacts in the context of molecular electronics and thermoelectricity. The defense was recently awarded with the Best Experimental Thesis GEFES award.

Dr. Rincón used this picture we made years ago on request of her PhD advisor Prof. Nicolás Agrait.

Visualizing charges

Visualizing the behaviour of charge carriers will benefit the design and functionality of semiconductor devices. This, which seems a great idea, seems equally unattainable. However, at Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) they’re famous for not having any respect for seemingly unattainable challenges.

Jacob P. Hoogenboom et al. have developed a technique to visualize “fast bulk charge recombination and slow trapping”. These two competing processes involve fast free charges and slow, more stationary, trapped charges. The device, a Lock-in ultrafast scanning electron microscope has enabled, in a proof of concept, a deep analysis of trap states on GaAs surfaces. And as they conclude, this technique will allow the study of “carrier transport in and across heterojunctions, underneath nanostructured surfaces, or at edges or layer transitions in two-dimensional materials”.

This image we made under the close supervision of Mathijs Garming (first author of the paper), has been featured as the cover of The Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters.

Long live the Nucleobase!

Multiple medical and biological sensors and targeted drug delivery are based in the functionalization of nanoparticles (NPs) with biomolecules. The role of the NPs is to enhance the optical response of the target surroundings. But this enhancement comes with a huge risk: this same radiation can severily damage DNA or RNA producing mutations.

Johannes Feist (UAM) together with groups from the University of Modena and the University of Munich, have studied in which conditions these NPs can act as a protection for the biomolecules (in this case Uracil) while being effective in their sensing/therapeutic function. And importantly, the results proposed in their research can be easily implemented with the current nanophotonic technology.

This paper, published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, has been recognized with the cover we designed together with the supervision of Dr. Feist.

Optoelectronics: MoS2 on canvas.

If I understand it correctly (and I’m probably not), Andres Castellanos is not only making interesting discoveries in condensed matter physics. He and his collaborators (Kavli Institute of Nanoscience and the University of Teheran) are also actively working on making it easier for others to make advances on this area. How? By making easier to use, cheaper technology.

A good example is their “under 100 bucks probe station”. Another one is this recent paper where they fabricate paper-supported semiconducting devices by painting on them with MoS2 crystal. Let me repeat this last statement: BY PAINTING ON THEM WITH MoS2. They’ve not only proved this methodology works and produces perfectly working devices. They also show how this approach could open the path for the construction of cheaper sensors.

The picture we did for them to illustrate this process has been featured in the cover of Nanoscale.