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Vapor-sensitive materials with self-assembling twisted microstructure

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Jun 12, 2020 (Nanowerk News) Researchers at Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST): graduate student Kulisara Budpud, Assoc. Prof. Kosuke Okeyoshi, Dr. Maiko Okajima and, Prof. Tatsuo Kaneko reveal a unique polysaccharide fiber in a twisted structure forming under drying process which showed spring-like behavior. The spring-like behavior of twisted structures is practically used as a reinforced structure in a vapor-sensitive film with millisecond-scale response time. This work is published in Small (“Vapor-Sensitive Materials from Polysaccharide Fibers with Self-Assembling Twisted Microstructures”). Optical microscopy image of a single fiber of self-assembled polysaccharide in snaking, twisted, and straight structures Figure 1. Optical microscopy image of a single fiber of self-assembled polysaccharide in snaking, twisted, and straight structures. (Image: JAIST) Polysaccharides play a variety of roles in nature, including molecular recognition and water retention. Still, there is a lack of study in vitro microscale structures of polysaccharides because of the difficulties in regulating self-assembled structures. If the self-assembled structures of these natural polysaccharides can be reconstructed in vitro, it will lead not only to an increased understanding of the morphological changes involved in polysaccharide self-assembly in water but also to the development of a new class of bio-inspired materials, which exhibit regulated structures on a nanometer scale. In this research, it is demonstrated that a cyanobacterial polysaccharide named sacran, can hierarchically self-assemble as twisted fibers from nanoscale to microscale with diameters of ∼1 µm and lengths >800 µm. this is remarkably larger than polysaccharides previously reported. Unlike other rigid fibrillar polysaccharides such as cellulose, the sacran fiber is capable of flexibly transforming into two-dimensional snaking and three-dimensional twisted structures at an evaporative air-water interface (Fig.1). This twisted sacran fiber behaves like a mechanical spring under a humid environment. To optimize the condition of the twisted structure is formed by controlling drying speeds. Actually, the drying speed and the capillary force are the dominant factors in creating these formations. To show the potential use of this spring-like polysaccharide fibers, a crosslinked polysaccharide film is prepared as a vapor-sensitive material and the effects of the microfiber’s spring behaviors in an environment with humidity gradient are demonstrated (Fig.2). Schematic illustration of a humido-sensitive film composed of a snaking/twisted fiber network Figure 2. Schematic illustration of the humido-sensitive film composed of a snaking/twisted fiber network. (Image: JAIST) The film reversibly and quickly switched between flat and bent states within 300-800 ms. This repulsive motion displayed by the film is caused by the snaking and twisted structures of the fibers responding to the change of moisture. The sacran film shows a fast response to the water drop retreating, changing from the bent state to the flat state. Because the extended sacran fibers have extension stress like a spring, the network could quickly release water by shrinking. As a result, the bent film becomes flat immediately. Thus, the snaking and twisted fiber network enable millisecond bending and stretching responses to changes in local humidity. From the simple method, JAIST researchers could create unique micro-spring from natural polysaccharide which is practically used as a vapor-sensitive material. Besides, by introducing functional molecules into the microfiber, it would be possible to prepare a variety of soft actuators responding to other changes in the external environment, such as light, pH, and temperature. The method for preparing vapor sensors developed by this study not only improves understanding of how the motion of self-assembled structures responds to stimuli. But also contributes toward the design of environmentally adaptive materials with a high potential for sustainable use.

Source: https://feeds.nanowerk.com/~/627120036/0/nanowerk/agwb~Vaporsensitive-materials-with-selfassembling-twisted-microstructure.php

Nano Technology

Rock ‘n’ control: Göttingen physicists use oscillations of atoms to control a phase transition

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Home > Press > Rock ‘n’ control: Göttingen physicists use oscillations of atoms to control a phase transition

Artist's impression of the phase transition of indium atoms on a silicon crystal controlled by light pulses CREDIT
Dr Murat Sivis
Artist’s impression of the phase transition of indium atoms on a silicon crystal controlled by light pulses CREDIT
Dr Murat Sivis

Abstract:
The goal of “Femtochemistry” is to film and control chemical reactions with short flashes of light. Using consecutive laser pulses, atomic bonds can be excited precisely and broken as desired. So far, this has been demonstrated for selected molecules. Researchers at the University of Göttingen and the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry have now succeeded in transferring this principle to a solid, controlling its crystal structure on the surface. The results have been published in the journal Nature.

Rock ‘n’ control: Göttingen physicists use oscillations of atoms to control a phase transition


Göttingen, Germany | Posted on July 8th, 2020

The team, led by Jan Gerrit Horstmann and Professor Claus Ropers, evaporated an extremely thin layer of indium onto a silicon crystal and then cooled the crystal down to -220 degrees Celsius. While the indium atoms form conductive metal chains on the surface at room temperature, they spontaneously rearrange themselves into electrically insulating hexagons at such low temperatures. This process is known as the transition between two phases – the metallic and the insulating – and can be switched by laser pulses. In their experiments, the researchers then illuminated the cold surface with two short laser pulses and immediately afterwards observed the arrangement of the indium atoms using an electron beam. They found that the rhythm of the laser pulses has a considerable influence on how efficiently the surface can be switched to the metallic state.

This effect can be explained by oscillations of the atoms on the surface, as first author Jan Gerrit Horstmann explains: “In order to get from one state to the other, the atoms have to move in different directions and in doing so overcome a sort of hill, similar to a roller coaster ride. A single laser pulse is not enough for this, however, and the atoms merely swing back and forth. But like a rocking motion, a second pulse at the right time can give just enough energy to the system to make the transition possible.” In their experiments the physicists observed several oscillations of the atoms, which influence the conversion in very different ways.

Their findings not only contribute to the fundamental understanding of rapid structural changes, but also open up new perspectives for surface physics. “Our results show new strategies to control the conversion of light energy at the atomic scale,” says Ropers from the Faculty of Physics at the University of Göttingen, who is also a Director at the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. “The targeted control of the movements of atoms in solids using laser pulse sequences could also make it possible to create previously unobtainable structures with completely new physical and chemical properties.”

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The work was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the European Research Council (ERC).

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For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Melissa Sollich
49-551-392-6228

Professor Claus Ropers
University of Göttingen
Faculty of Physics, Professor of Experimental Solid State Physics and Director, Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry

Friedrich-Hund-Platz 1, 37077 Göttingen, Germany
Tel: +49 551 39-24549
Email:
http://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/598878.html

Jan Gerrit Horstmann
Tel: +49 (0)551 3921485
Email:
http://www.uni-goettingen.de/en/598878.html

Copyright © University of Göttingen

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Original publication: J. G. Horstmann et al: Coherent control of a surface structural phase transition. Nature 2020, DoI: 10.1038/s41586-020-2440-4:

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Old X-rays, new vision: A nano-focused X-ray laser: Researchers enhance the accuracy of X-ray free-electron laser measurements closer to the diameter of typical atoms than previously possible

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Home > Press > Old X-rays, new vision: A nano-focused X-ray laser: Researchers enhance the accuracy of X-ray free-electron laser measurements closer to the diameter of typical atoms than previously possible

Schematic of the new method, based on speckles of coherent scattering. CREDIT
Osaka University
Schematic of the new method, based on speckles of coherent scattering. CREDIT
Osaka University

Abstract:
Imagine taking movies of the fastest chemical processes, or imaging atomic-scale detail of single virus particles without damaging them. Researchers from Japan have advanced the state-of-the-art in such endeavors, by enhancing the utility of a special X-ray laser for nanometer-scale measurements.

Old X-rays, new vision: A nano-focused X-ray laser: Researchers enhance the accuracy of X-ray free-electron laser measurements closer to the diameter of typical atoms than previously possible


Osaka, Japan | Posted on July 8th, 2020

In a study recently published in Journal of Synchrotron Radiation, researchers from Osaka University, in collaboration with RIKEN and Japan Synchrotron Radiation Research Institute (JASRI), have reduced the beam diameter in an X-ray free-electron laser to 6 nanometers in width. This considerably improves the utility of these lasers for imaging structures closer to the atomic level than possible in prior work.

To “see” extremely small and otherwise invisible objects, and observe ultrafast chemical processes, researchers commonly use synchrotron X-ray facilities. X-ray free-electron lasers are an alternative that can–in principle–image atomic-scale detail of, for example, a virus particle, on the timescale of an electron transition, without damaging the particle. To do this, you need an incredibly bright X-ray laser that focuses extremely fast laser pulses on the nanometer scale.

“Using multilayer focusing mirrors, we narrowed the width of our laser beam down to a diameter of 6 nanometers,” says lead author of the study Takato Inoue. “This is not quite the diameter of a typical atom, but we’re making good progress.”

Until now, it has been difficult to focus X-ray free-electron lasers to such small diameters. That’s because of challenges in fabricating the required mirrors, and confirming the focused size of the lasers. The researcher team addressed the focusing problem by analyzing the shape of the laser’s interference patterns, known as speckle profiles.

“We generated speckle profiles by coherent X-ray scattering of randomly distributed metal nanoparticles,” explains Satoshi Matsuyama, senior author. “This enabled experimental measurements of the laser beam profile, which were in good agreement with theoretical calculations.”

Because the laser beam diameter can be so precisely measured, further advancements are now feasible. For example, by using atoms for the scattering analysis, X-ray free-electron laser measurements can be improved to a 1-nanometer focus.

The researchers anticipate that extremely high-intensity lasers, over a million trillion times brighter than the Sun, will now be useful for imaging ultrafast molecular processes–at atomic-scale detail–that are beyond the capabilities of the most advanced synchrotrons. With such technology, protein molecules and other small important biological entities can be imaged without damaging them under the strategy of “diffraction before destruction,” by using a single laser pulse.

####

About Osaka University
Osaka University was founded in 1931 as one of the seven imperial universities of Japan and is now one of Japan’s leading comprehensive universities with a broad disciplinary spectrum. This strength is coupled with a singular drive for innovation that extends throughout the scientific process, from fundamental research to the creation of applied technology with positive economic impacts. Its commitment to innovation has been recognized in Japan and around the world, being named Japan’s most innovative university in 2015 (Reuters 2015 Top 100) and one of the most innovative institutions in the world in 2017 (Innovative Universities and the Nature Index Innovation 2017). Now, Osaka University is leveraging its role as a Designated National University Corporation selected by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology to contribute to innovation for human welfare, sustainable development of society, and social transformation.

Website: https://resou.osaka-u.ac.jp/en/top

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Saori Obayashi
81-661-055-886

@osaka_univ_e

Copyright © Osaka University

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The article, “Generation of an X-ray nanobeam of a free-electron laser using reflective optics with speckle interferometry,” was published in Journal of Synchrotron Radiation at DOI::

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Beyond von Neumann

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Data-centric computation and the scalability limits of current computing systems call for the developments of alternative to von Neumann architecture.

Digital computing has deeply permeated the fabric of the modern society. Its transformative power endowed by the remarkable technological evolution and commercial success begs no question of legitimacy. Notwithstanding, the underlying concept of the computer hardware design that has remained fundamentally unchanged since the days of von Neumann is in need of serious reform. In the current architecture where data moves between the physically separated processor and memory, latency is unavoidable. With no improvement in data transfer rates, the high-speed processor spends more time idle, waiting for data to be fetched from memory. To mitigate this issue within the von Neumann framework a number of solutions including caching, multi-threading, new types of random access memory and near-memory computing, with a processor mingled with memory on a single chip, have been proposed and implemented with varying degrees of success. Although the current architecture is unlikely to be abandoned in the foreseeable future, the growing trend of computational heterogeneity and a gradual shift towards learning computing with a data-centric approach typical of machine learning and deep learning calls for more specialized non-von Neumann platforms. One notable example is the architectures loosely modelled on the human brain structure, which infer a collocation of memory and processing units. In this scenario, the redundancy associated with data traffic could be entirely eliminated provided that computational tasks and data storage are both performed in place in the memory itself. This energy efficient solution, known as in-memory computing, could reduce the computational complexity and mitigate the issue of memory thrashing. Moreover, this approach is in keeping with the requirements of learning-based computing and has been actively explored for applications related to artificial intelligence.

As discussed in a Review in this issue by Abu Sebastian and co-workers, memory devices are essential building blocks of key computational primitives for in-memory computing. Similar to conventional memory, there is no universal solution for computational memory in that both charge-based and resistance-based memory technologies can be employed. For example, SRAM and DRAM are perfectly capable of performing in-memory logic operations while Flash memory is fit for matrix–vector multiplication operations. Another potent technology is phase-change memories (PCM) that have been successfully used to demonstrate the coexistence of storage and computation in a non-von Neumann architecture based on nanoscale PCM devices harnessing the crystallization dynamics1. Memristor-based memory devices often referred to as resistive random access memory (RRAM) relying on the formation of conducting filaments for switching between low and high resistance states are particularly attractive for in-memory computing owing to their non-volatile storage capability with a continuum of conductance states. In the context of the application-specific approach to computation, memory-based computational primitives can be used in a variety of tasks ranging from high-precision scientific computing to largely imprecise stochastic computing and everything in-between including deep learning in artificial neural networks (ANNs).

The original attempt to design ANNs in complementary metal–oxide–semiconductor (CMOS) technology has proved unsustainable with respect to energy consumption prompting the need for alternative non-von Neumann solutions for neuromorphic computing. Although, rethinking the hardware design at the device and system levels is a valid tactic, exploring the potential of emerging nanomaterials could enable the much needed departure from the conventional approaches to neuromorphic hardware. Neuromorphic nanoelectronic materials ranging from zero-dimensional, one-dimensional (1D) and two-dimensional (2D) nanomaterials to van der Waals heterostructures and mixed-dimensional heterojunctions have been actively explored for implementation in electronic and optoelectronic synapses. In a second Review in this Focus issue, Vinod Sangwan and Mark Hersam provide a detailed overview of the most prominent examples of nanomaterials for neuromorphic architectures including quantum dots that have been successfully employed in electro-photo-sensitive memristors, RRAM and quantum memristors based on Josephson junctions; 1D nanomaterials, particularly carbon nanotubes enabling the realization of synaptic transistors for unsupervised learning in spiking neural networks (SNNs) and group IV and III–V semiconducting nanowires exhibiting non-volatile memory characteristics. 2D materials, that have been widely covered by Nature Nanotechnology as potentially promising candidates for nanoelectronics, can also achieve neuromorphic functionality, particularly in view of improved device scaling and integration with planar wafer technology. For example, in one demonstration monolayer transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDCs) have been made into ultrathin vertical memristors where switching is likely to occur due to point defects2. Similar to 1D materials, synaptic transistors can be realized using ionic motion in layered TMDCs and black phosphorus, while phase transition in some TMDs have been harnessed to fabricate vertical RRAM. Moreover, the propensity of 2D materials for scalable processing and their ability to form van der Waals heterostructures can be explored for large-area, flexible and printable neuromorphic circuits.

To get a more complete overview of applications of 2D materials in nanoelectronics beyond neuromorphic computing we refer interested readers to another Review in this Focus issue by Chunsen Liu and colleagues, where the authors analyse the possibility of integrating 2D materials with the existing Si CMOS technology, in-memory computing platforms and matrix computing for ANNs and SNNs applications. By virtue of their atomic thickness 2D materials represent the ultimate limit for downscaling, the milestone that is hardly achievable in the context of the continued MOSFET shrinking.

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Beyond von Neumann. Nat. Nanotechnol. 15, 507 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41565-020-0738-x

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