In one of those scientific breakthroughs that makes John McCain want to strangle an experimental cocaine-addled monkey, researchers at the University of Birmingham in the UK have created the world’s smallest atomic valentine, measuring just five nanometers by three-and-a-half nanometers. The previous record, set two years ago by the very same group, was eight nanometers.
Lasers are getting smaller and more powerful — earlier this month, we saw the first-ever atomic scale laser, and now researchers are reporting the smallest telecommunications-frequency laser ever built. The laser is one-fifteenth the size of the light waves it can produce, and it works at room temperature.
A new type of X-ray microscope — or more appropriately, nanoscope — is another big breakthrough in the world of imaging the small. It computes images rather than glimpsing them directly, allowing scientists to see details at the nanoscale.
Today in clever science tricks: a new kind of microscopy that can see down to resolutions smaller than the wavelength of the imaging light itself. On its face, this shouldn't be possible; the smallest resolution you should be able to get in the visible spectrum is about 200 nanometers because of the lower limits of visible light's wavelengths. But with a special lens, Dutch researchers have used 561-nanometer laser light to image gold nanoparticles just 97 nanometers across.
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.
Scientists have created the world's smallest superconductor, from a sheet of four molecule-pairs less than a nanometer wide. That's far smaller than the head of a pin -- which stretches across a million nanometers -- and more on the order of a DNA molecule, which is about 2 nanometers wide.
Superconductivity has been considered a large-scale phenomenon ever since its discovery in 1911. But the new study by Ohio University scientists suggests that nanoscale superconducting wires could become a very real possibility for powering tiny electronic devices or other energy applications.
Invisibility cloaks continue to taunt us in 2010 with their promise of Harry Potter-style shenanigans. But New Scientist points to a new proposal that consists of silver-coated nanoparticles floating in water. Such nanoparticles would self-assemble into chains that are controllable by magnetic fields of different strengths, Chinese scientists say -- at least in theory.
Whoever thinks science isn't fun must have never heard of Legos. The colorful construction toy has been used before as a cellular teaching tool. But these days, even researchers working in the nanoscale world get to play around a little.
The National Synchrotron Light Source was commissioned in 1982, and it remains one of the world's leading experimental light sources. But with so much of today's science happening on the nano-scale, the '80s technology doesn't quite have the resolution to keep up. The $912 million NSLS-II, which is slated to go live in 2015 -- if funding comes through -- will have the most concentrated, brightest radiation beam in the world: 10,000 times brighter than its predecessor -- not to mention 10 billion times brighter than the sun.