Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Transparency and translucency


Transparent and flexible electrodes are widely used on a variety of substrates such as plastics and glass. Yet, to date, transparent electrodes on a textile substrate have not been explored. The exceptional electrical, mechanical and optical properties of monolayer graphene make it highly attractive as a transparent electrode for applications in wearable electronics. Here, we report the transfer of monolayer graphene, grown by chemical vapor deposition on copper foil, to fibers commonly used by the textile industry. The graphene-coated fibers have a sheet resistance as low as ~1 kΩ per square, an equivalent value to the one obtained by the same transfer process onto a Si substrate, with a reduction of only 2.3 per cent in optical transparency while keeping high stability under mechanical stress. With this approach, we successfully achieved the first example of a textile electrode, flexible and truly embedded in a yarn.

Concepts: Electricity, Optical fiber, Cotton, Chemical vapor deposition, Stress, Textile, Yarn, Transparency and translucency


Materials that adapt dynamically to environmental changes are currently limited to two-state switching of single properties, and only a small number of strategies that may lead to materials with continuously adjustable characteristics have been reported. Here we introduce adaptive surfaces made of a liquid film supported by a nanoporous elastic substrate. As the substrate deforms, the liquid flows within the pores, causing the smooth and defect-free surface to roughen through a continuous range of topographies. We show that a graded mechanical stimulus can be directly translated into finely tuned, dynamic adjustments of optical transparency and wettability. In particular, we demonstrate simultaneous control of the film’s transparency and its ability to continuously manipulate various low-surface-tension droplets from free-sliding to pinned. This strategy should make possible the rational design of tunable, multifunctional adaptive materials for a broad range of applications.

Concepts: Mathematics, Optical fiber, Liquid, Surface tension, Surface, Film, Continuity, Transparency and translucency


Graphene oxide (GO) has been considered a promising filler material for building polymeric nanocomposites because of its excellent dispersibility and high surface area. In this work, we present the fabrication and characterization of transparent and ultraviolet (UV) shielding composite films based on GO and cellulose acetate (CA). GO sheets were found to be well-dispersed throughout the CA matrix, providing smooth and homogeneous composite films. Moreover, the GO sheets were completely embedded within the CA matrix and no presence of this nanomaterial was found at the surface. Nevertheless, CAGO composite films offered an improved high energy light-shielding capacity when compared to pristine CA films. Particularly for UVC irradiation, the CAGO film containing 0.50wt% GO displayed a UV-shielding capacity of 57%, combined with 79% optical transparency under visible light. These CAGO composite films can be potentially applied as transparent UV-protective coatings for packing biomedical, pharmaceutical, and food products.

Concepts: Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Optical fiber, Nanomaterials, Graphene, Cellulose acetate, Transparency and translucency, Transparent materials


Mobile health (mHealth) customers shopping for applications (apps) should be aware of app privacy practices so they can make informed decisions about purchase and use. We sought to assess the availability, scope, and transparency of mHealth app privacy policies on iOS and Android. Over 35 000 mHealth apps are available for iOS and Android. Of the 600 most commonly used apps, only 183 (30.5%) had privacy policies. Average policy length was 1755 (SD 1301) words with a reading grade level of 16 (SD 2.9). Two thirds (66.1%) of privacy policies did not specifically address the app itself. Our findings show that currently mHealth developers often fail to provide app privacy policies. The privacy policies that are available do not make information privacy practices transparent to users, require college-level literacy, and are often not focused on the app itself. Further research is warranted to address why privacy policies are often absent, opaque, or irrelevant, and to find a remedy.

Concepts: Evaluation, Policy, Availability, Transparency and translucency, Privacy, Transparency, Privacy policy, Information privacy


Transparency is recognised to be a key underpinning of the work of health technology assessment (HTA) agencies, yet it has only recently become a subject of systematic inquiry. We contribute to this research field by considering the Polish Agency for Health Technology Assessment (AHTAPol). We situate the AHTAPol in a broader context by comparing it with the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in England. To this end, we analyse all 332 assessment reports, called verification analyses, that the AHTAPol issued from 2012 to 2015, and a stratified sample of 22 Evidence Review Group reports published by NICE in the same period. Overall, by increasingly presenting its key conclusions in assessment reports, the AHTAPol has reached the transparency standards set out by NICE in transparency of HTA outputs. The AHTAPol is more transparent than NICE in certain aspects of the HTA process, such as providing rationales for redacting assessment reports and providing summaries of expert opinions. Nevertheless, it is less transparent in other areas of the HTA process, such as including information on expert conflicts of interest. Our findings have important implications for understanding HTA in Poland and more broadly. We use them to formulate recommendations for policymakers.

Concepts: Critical thinking, Technology, Agency, Stratified sampling, Poland, Transparency and translucency, Transparent materials, Transparency


The increase in annual global investment in biomedical research–reaching US$240 billion in 2010–has resulted in important health dividends for patients and the public. However, much research does not lead to worthwhile achievements, partly because some studies are done to improve understanding of basic mechanisms that might not have relevance for human health. Additionally, good research ideas often do not yield the anticipated results. As long as the way in which these ideas are prioritised for research is transparent and warranted, these disappointments should not be deemed wasteful; they are simply an inevitable feature of the way science works. However, some sources of waste cannot be justified. In this report, we discuss how avoidable waste can be considered when research priorities are set. We have four recommendations. First, ways to improve the yield from basic research should be investigated. Second, the transparency of processes by which funders prioritise important uncertainties should be increased, making clear how they take account of the needs of potential users of research. Third, investment in additional research should always be preceded by systematic assessment of existing evidence. Fourth, sources of information about research that is in progress should be strengthened and developed and used by researchers. Research funders have primary responsibility for reductions in waste resulting from decisions about what research to do.

Concepts: Health, Research, Recycling, Waste, Transparency and translucency, Basic research, Applied research


The fundamental challenge for designing transparent conductors used in photovoltaics, displays and solid-state lighting is the ideal combination of high optical transparency and high electrical conductivity. Satisfying these competing demands is commonly achieved by increasing carrier concentration in a wide-bandgap semiconductor with low effective carrier mass through heavy doping, as in the case of tin-doped indium oxide (ITO). Here, an alternative design strategy for identifying high-conductivity, high-transparency metals is proposed, which relies on strong electron-electron interactions resulting in an enhancement in the carrier effective mass. This approach is experimentally verified using the correlated metals SrVO3 and CaVO3, which, despite their high carrier concentration (>2.2 × 10(22) cm(-3)), have low screened plasma energies (<1.33 eV), and demonstrate excellent performance when benchmarked against ITO. A method is outlined to rapidly identify other candidates among correlated metals, and strategies are proposed to further enhance their performance, thereby opening up new avenues to develop transparent conductors.

Concepts: Optical fiber, Metal, Semiconductor, Solar cell, Indium tin oxide, Electrical conductivity, Indium(III) oxide, Transparency and translucency


Here we report that ternary metal oxides of type (Me)2O3 with the primary metal (Me) constituent being Fe (66 atomic (at.) %) along with the two Lanthanide elements Tb (10 at.%) and Dy (24 at.%) can show excellent semiconducting transport properties. Thin films prepared by pulsed laser deposition at room temperature followed by ambient oxidation showed very high electronic conductivity (>5 × 10(4) S/m) and Hall mobility (>30 cm(2)/V-s). These films had an amorphous microstructure which was stable to at least 500 °C and large optical transparency with a direct band gap of 2.85 ± 0.14 eV. This material shows emergent semiconducting behavior with significantly higher conductivity and mobility than the constituent insulating oxides. Since these results demonstrate a new way to modify the behaviors of transition metal oxides made from unfilled d- and/or f-subshells, a new class of functional transparent conducting oxide materials could be envisioned.

Concepts: Iron, Optical fiber, Oxide, Semiconductor, Electrical conductivity, Pulsed laser deposition, Transparency and translucency, Terbium


Here we construct mechanically flexible and optically transparent thin film solid state supercapacitors by assembling nano-engineered carbon electrodes, prepared in porous templates, with morphology of interconnected arrays of complex shapes and porosity. The highly textured graphitic films act as electrode and current collector and integrated with solid polymer electrolyte, function as thin film supercapacitors. The nanostructured electrode morphology and the conformal electrolyte packaging provide enough energy and power density for the devices in addition to excellent mechanical flexibility and optical transparency, making it a unique design in various power delivery applications.

Concepts: Vacuum tube, Optical fiber, Electrochemistry, Battery, Electrode, Bulk density, Transparency and translucency, Transparent materials


Next-generation flexible electronics require highly stretchable and transparent electrodes. Few electronic conductors are both transparent and stretchable, and even fewer can be cyclically stretched to a large strain without causing fatigue. Fatigue, which is often an issue of strained materials causing failure at low strain levels of cyclic loading, is detrimental to materials under repeated loads in practical applications. Here we show that optimizing topology and/or tuning adhesion of metal nanomeshes can significantly improve stretchability and eliminate strain fatigue. The ligaments in an Au nanomesh on a slippery substrate can locally shift to relax stress upon stretching and return to the original configuration when stress is removed. The Au nanomesh keeps a low sheet resistance and high transparency, comparable to those of strain-free indium tin oxide films, when the nanomesh is stretched to a strain of 300%, or shows no fatigue after 50,000 stretches to a strain up to 150%. Moreover, the Au nanomesh is biocompatible and penetrable to biomacromolecules in fluid. The superstretchable transparent conductors are highly desirable for stretchable photoelectronics, electronic skins, and implantable electronics.

Concepts: Solar cell, Indium tin oxide, Indium(III) oxide, Indium, Stretching, Transparency and translucency, Electronic engineering, Transparent electrodes