Evolving nano developments

With the emphasis on nanotechnologies and the emphasis on two-dimensional materials, other areas that are pushing boundaries are often overlooked.  A recent article [Ref. 1] summarizes work done at King’s College London on relieving pain.  Their treatment employs a ultra-low frequency neuromodulation to safely relieve chronic pain.  Neuromodulation employs electrical current to block transmission of pain signals between neurons.  The procedure normally requires implanting a device and sending signals.  Spinal cord stimulation is one example of this procedure.  Unfortunately, the success of that process has been less than desired.  This new method, employs a type of ultralow frequency biphasic current with a period of 10 seconds.  The process mimics the direct current applications, which can cause tissue damage and electrode degradation.  Due to the nature of the alternating polarity there is the potential for much reduced tissue damage.  Work is continuing in the area.  For further information the Wolfson Centre for Age-Related Diseases [Ref. 2] has additional information regarding their ongoing work.

A team of Chinese researchers has developed an interesting “twist” to graphene [Ref. 3].  By placing a second layer of graphene over the first and creating a slight misalignment, they created a Moire superlattice.  As the angle approaches 108 degrees, the material begins to show properties that imply low temperature superconductivity.  The result is that the kinetic energy of the electrons is suppressed and form localized accumulations at points where the two sheets interact.  There are additional effects that include correlated insulator states.   This is important because integrated photonics require nanolasers.  (Data transmission on a chip can travel at the speed of light.)  The work to produce these nanolasers has focused on a number of approaches, but the material properties for th4ese approaches has not been developed at the nano scale required for inclusion on semiconductor devices.  The referenced paper provides specifics on the low power required for lasing.  The researchers indicate their opinion that this development has the potential to impact many fields including “nonlinear optics and cavity quantum electrodynamics at the nanoscale.” [Ref. 4]

Researchers from Rice University and Northwestern University created a stable sheet of double layered borophene [Ref. 5].  This is a material structure is similar to graphene (Carbon sheets).  The atomic number of Boron is 4.  Carbon is 6.  Research is indicating that the borophene has electrical and mechanical properties that could rival graphene.  The difference is that the borophene is much more challenging to create.  The researchers succeeded in growing the material on a metal substrate.  Boron, when attempts to create the double sheet structure, tends to revert to its three dimensional structure.  The researchers think that the borophene structure could produce a much greater type of structures than graphene.  One projection is the potential for inserting a layer of lithium to create a superior two dimensional battery. 

As always, these developments don’t happen over night.  The work on borophene has taken over 6 years.  This will be followed by experimentation to develop a reasonable means of creating the materials. Only after that is available can products be produced that will appear in the public arena.

References:

  1. https://physicsworld.com/a/ultralow-frequency-neuromodulation-safely-relieves-chronic-pain/
  2. https://www.kcl.ac.uk/neuroscience/about/departments/card
  3. https://physicsworld.com/a/moire-superlattice-makes-magic-angle-laser/
  4. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41565-021-00956-7
  5. https://physicsworld.com/a/double-layered-borophene-is-created-at-long-last/

About Walt

I have been involved in various aspects of nanotechnology since the late 1970s. My interest in promoting nano-safety began in 2006 and produced a white paper in 2007 explaining the four pillars of nano-safety. I am a technology futurist and is currently focused on nanoelectronics, single digit nanomaterials, and 3D printing at the nanoscale. My experience includes three startups, two of which I founded, 13 years at SEMATECH, where I was a Senior Fellow of the technical staff when I left, and 12 years at General Electric with nine of them on corporate staff. I have a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, an MBA from James Madison University, and a B.S. in Physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

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