All the small things


The first issue of Nature Nanotechnology finally hits the newsstands (well, the web at least) today. What small wonders can you find inside? Well, here is brief guide to issue 1:

The editorial, ‘Small is different’, points to some of the opportunities, challenges and problems associated with science and technology performed on the nanoscale.

Thought by some to be the moment at which ‘nanotechnology’ began in earnest, Christoph Gerber and Hans Peter Lang from the University of Basel reflect upon the invention of the scanning tunnelling microscope in their commentary, ‘How the doors to the nanoworld were opened’.

In Thesis, a monthly column that will focus on some of the broader aspects and implications of all things nano, Chris Toumey from the USC NanoCenter at the University of South Carolina argues that, for the sake of its future, the nanotechnology community needs to listen to public opinion.

Exactly what is nanotechnology? One of my favourite articles in this first issue is a feature that addresses this question. How? Well, we asked a range of researchers, industrialists and others from across the globe what nanotechnology means to them – what some of them have to say may surprise you…

Nature Nanotechnology will also feature reviews of nano-books (and perhaps nano-plays and nano-films in the fullness of time), and this month, Ray Baughman from the University of Texas at Dallas considers the merits of the Nanomaterials Handbook by Yury Gogotsi.

The Research Highlights section covers important nano-related papers recently published in the literature. This month’s selection covers a wide range of topics, including molecular electronics, electroactive dendrimers, indium nitride nanoflowers, neuron-nanowire interfaces, single-molecule protein switches, carbon nanotube resonators and nanotoxicology.

This section will also feature a regular column called Top Down, Bottom Up – which will focus each month on a multidisciplinary research project where the successful collaboration of scientists and engineers from different fields has been required to solve a nano-related problem.

The News & Views section features six articles about significant nano papers (three of them linked to papers in this issue and three linked to others published elsewhere) and covers a range of topics including bionanoelectronic devices, separating carbon nanotubes, toxicology, imaging, friction and SQUIDs – yes, SQUIDs.

The subject of the Review article in the first issue, written by Ben Feringa and Wesley Browne from the University of Groningen in The Netherlands, is that of molecular machines and how they are now being put to work as nanovalves, nanocars, nanoelevators and other such nanomachines.

The issue is rounded out with papers concerning primary research and here is a selection of the sort of questions that are being addressed:

how do you make a nanoSQUID and what does it do?

what happens to the electronic properties of a carbon nanotube when you twist it?

how do you build a nanoelectronic device from a virus?

how can DNA be used to measure really small distances?

how do you separate metallic carbon nanotubes from semiconducting ones on a large scale?

is there a general method to pattern different nanostructures on to different surfaces?

why do suspended silicon nanowires show giant piezoresistance effects?

Now, I must get back to working on issue 2, apparently these things come around each month…

Happy reading!


Stuart Cantrill (Associate Editor, Nature Nanotechnology)

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