Researchers create first significant examples of optical crystallography for nanomaterials

Nanocrystals have diverse applications spanning biomedical imaging, light-emitting devices, and consumer electronics. Their unique optical properties result from the type of crystal from which they are composed. However, a major bottleneck in the development of nanocrystals, to date, is the need for X-ray techniques to determine the crystal type. Researchers at the University of Illinois … Read more

Experiments show that a few self-driving cars can dramatically improve traffic flow

The presence of just a few autonomous vehicles can eliminate the stop-and-go driving of the human drivers in traffic, along with the accident risk and fuel inefficiency it causes, according to new research. The finding indicates that self-driving cars and related technology may be even closer to revolutionizing traffic control than previously thought. “Our experiments … Read more

Achieving near-perfect optical isolation using opto-mechanical transparency

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have demonstrated a new level of optical isolation necessary to advance on-chip optical signal processing. The technique involving light-sound interaction can be implemented in nearly any photonic foundry process and can significantly impact optical computing and communication systems. “Low-loss optical isolators are critical components for signal routing … Read more

First-ever direct observation of chiral currents in quantum Hall atomic simulation

Using an atomic quantum simulator, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have achieved the first-ever direct observation of chiral currents in the model topological insulator, the 2-D integer quantum Hall system. Topological Insulators (TIs) are arguably the most promising class of materials discovered in recent years, with many potential applications theorized. That’s because … Read more

Wonder material? Novel nanotube structure strengthens thin films for flexible electronics

Reflecting the structure of composites found in nature and the ancient world, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have synthesized thin carbon nanotube (CNT) textiles that exhibit both high electrical conductivity and a level of toughness that is about fifty times higher than copper films, currently used in electronics. “The structural robustness of … Read more

The Inverse Faraday Effect, Laser Light and Magnetization of Metals: Addressing Fundamental Limits of Ultrafast Devices

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Korean Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) have uncovered physical mechanisms that enable laser light to alter the magnetization of a metal. “In our study, we illuminate thin layers of the cobalt, iron or nickel with pulses of laser light that have a duration of … Read more

Nanopores could map small changes in DNA that signal big shifts in cancer

Detecting cancer early, just as changes are beginning in DNA, could enhance diagnosis and treatment as well as further our understanding of the disease. A new study by University of Illinois researchers describes a method to detect, count and map tiny additions to DNA called methylations, which can be a warning sign of cancer, with … Read more

CRISPR mines bacterial genome for hidden pharmaceutical treasure

In the fight against disease, many weapons in the medicinal arsenal have been plundered from bacteria themselves. Using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology, researchers now have uncovered even more potential treasure hidden in silent genes. A new study from researchers at the University of Illinois and colleagues at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research in Singapore … Read more

Gray tin exhibits novel topological electronic properties in 3D

Alpha-tin joins two other known materials in class of topological Dirac semimetals  In a surprising new discovery, alpha-tin, commonly called gray tin, exhibits a novel electronic phase when its crystal structure is strained, putting it in a rare new class of 3D materials called topological Dirac semimetals (TDSs). Only two other TDS materials are known … Read more