A collaboration between U.S. and South Korean researchers has produced what is thought to be the world’s smallest man-made pump, merely the size of a red blood corpuscle. More impressive still is their means of powering the pump, using glass – generally a very bad conductor of electricity – to craft an electrode at the nanoscale.
Polymers are generally put to work as insulators, but a team of researchers at MIT has devised a way to turn polyethylene -- the most commonly used polymer -- into a conductor that transfers heat better than many pure metals. But the conversion of insulator to conductor is only half of the breakthrough; by coaxing all the polymer molecules into precise alignment, the researchers have created a polyethylene that conducts heat in only one direction.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.