10-04 :: April 2010
News in Brief
A one-atom thick sheet of graphene (highlighted in the cir- cular window) on top of a silicon dioxide support proves to be an excellent thermal conductor, according to new research published in the journal Science. Although the interaction with the silicon dioxide suppressed the thermal conductivity of graphene compared to its freestanding form, supported graphene still demonstrated much higher heat conducting capability than silicon and copper nano- structures. This finding combined with graphene‘s superior strength and electron mobility make it a promising candi- date for use in next-generation nano-electronic devices. © University of Texas at Austin, USA
Biology & Material Engineering //
Nanoscale “Stealth” Probe Slides Into Cell Walls Seamlessly
© Louis Bergeron & Aimee Miles, Stanford University
or the first time, researchers have created a way
to implant an inorganic device into a cell wall
without damaging it. A nanometer-scale probe de- signed to slip into a cell wall and fuse with it could offer researchers a portal for extended eavesdropping on the inner electrical activity of individual cells.
Everything from signals generated as cells communi- cate with each other to “digestive rumblings” as cells react to medication could be monitored for up to a week, say Stanford University engineers. The key design feature of the probe is that it mimics natural gateways in the cell membrane, said Nick Melosh,
an assistant professor of materials science and engi- neering in whose lab the research was done. With modification, the probe might serve as a conduit for inserting medication into a cell‘s heavily defended interior, he said. It might also provide an improved method of attaching neural prosthetics, such as arti- ficial arms that are controlled by pectoral muscles, or deep brain implants used for treating depression.
The 600-nanometer-long, metal-coated silicon probe has integrated so smoothly into membranes in the laboratory, the researchers have christened it the “stealth” probe.