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

Concept: Visible spectrum


Metamaterial-based optical cloaks have thus far used volumetric distribution of the material properties to gradually bend light and thereby obscure the cloaked region. Hence, they are bulky and hard to scale up and, more critically, typical carpet cloaks introduce unnecessary phase shifts in the reflected light, making the cloaks detectable. Here, we demonstrate experimentally an ultrathin invisibility skin cloak wrapped over an object. This skin cloak conceals a three-dimensional arbitrarily shaped object by complete restoration of the phase of the reflected light at 730-nanometer wavelength. The skin cloak comprises a metasurface with distributed phase shifts rerouting light and rendering the object invisible. In contrast to bulky cloaks with volumetric index variation, our device is only 80 nanometer (about one-ninth of the wavelength) thick and potentially scalable for hiding macroscopic objects.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Refraction, Electromagnetic radiation, Visible spectrum, Invisibility, Concealment, Cloak


The application of current channelrhodopsin-based optogenetic tools is limited by the lack of strict ion selectivity and the inability to extend the spectra sensitivity into the near-infrared (NIR) tissue transmissible range. Here we present an NIR-stimulable optogenetic platform (termed “Opto-CRAC”) that selectively and remotely controls Ca(2+) oscillations and Ca(2+)-responsive gene expression to regulate the function of non-excitable cells, including T lymphocytes, macrophages and dendritic cells. When coupled to upconversion nanoparticles, the optogenetic operation window is shifted from the visible range to NIR wavelengths to enable wireless photoactivation of Ca(2+)-dependent signaling and optogenetic modulation of immunoinflammatory responses. In a mouse model of melanoma by using ovalbumin as surrogate tumor antigen, Opto-CRAC has been shown to act as a genetically-encoded “photoactivatable adjuvant” to improve antigen-specific immune responses to specifically destruct tumor cells. Our study represents a solid step forward towards the goal of achieving remote control of Ca(2+)-modulated activities with tailored function.

Concepts: Immune system, White blood cell, DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Cancer, Bacteria, Visible spectrum


Cork popping from clear transparent bottles of champagne stored at different temperatures (namely, 6, 12, and 20 °C) was filmed through high-speed video imaging in the visible light spectrum. During the cork popping process, a plume mainly composed of gaseous CO2 with traces of water vapour freely expands out of the bottleneck through ambient air. Most interestingly, for the bottles stored at 20 °C, the characteristic grey-white cloud of fog classically observed above the bottlenecks of champagne stored at lower temperatures simply disappeared. It is replaced by a more evanescent plume, surprisingly blue, starting from the bottleneck. We suggest that heterogeneous freezing of CO2 occurs on ice water clusters homogeneously nucleated in the bottlenecks, depending on the saturation ratio experienced by gas-phase CO2 after adiabatic expansion (indeed highly bottle temperature dependent). Moreover, and as observed for the bottles stored at 20 °C, we show that the freezing of only a small portion of all the available CO2 is able to pump the energy released through adiabatic expansion, thus completely inhibiting the condensation of water vapour found in air packages adjacent to the gas volume gushing out of the bottleneck.

Concepts: Light, Water, Temperature, Thermodynamics, Gas, Visible spectrum, Vapor, Atmospheric thermodynamics


Rapid advancements in stretchable and multifunctional electronics impose the challenge on corresponding power devices that they should have comparable stretchability and functionality. We report a soft skin-like triboelectric nanogenerator (STENG) that enables both biomechanical energy harvesting and tactile sensing by hybridizing elastomer and ionic hydrogel as the electrification layer and electrode, respectively. For the first time, ultrahigh stretchability (uniaxial strain, 1160%) and transparency (average transmittance, 96.2% for visible light) are achieved simultaneously for an energy-harvesting device. The soft TENG is capable of outputting alternative electricity with an instantaneous peak power density of 35 mW m(-2) and driving wearable electronics (for example, an electronic watch) with energy converted from human motions, whereas the STENG is pressure-sensitive, enabling its application as artificial electronic skin for touch/pressure perception. Our work provides new opportunities for multifunctional power sources and potential applications in soft/wearable electronics.

Concepts: Electricity, Light, Capacitor, Diode, Electrical engineering, Electronics, Visible spectrum, Debut albums


Shape plays an important role in defining the function of materials, particularly those found in nature. Several strategies exist to program materials to change from one shape to another; however, few can temporally and spatially control the shape. Programming the sequence of shape transformation with temporal control has been driven by the desire to generate complex shapes with high yield and to create multiple shapes from the same starting material. This paper demonstrates a markedly simple strategy for programmed self-folding of two-dimensional (2D) polymer sheets into 3D objects in a sequential manner using external light. Printed ink on the surface of the polymer sheets discriminately absorbs light on the basis of the wavelength of the light and the color of the ink that defines the hinge about which the sheet folds. The absorbed light gradually heats the underlying polymer across the thickness of the sheet, which causes relief of strain to induce folding. These color patterns can be designed to absorb only specific wavelengths of light (or to absorb differently at the same wavelength using color hues), thereby providing control of sheet folding with respect to time and space. This type of shape programming may have numerous applications, including reconfigurable electronics, actuators, sensors, implantable devices, smart packaging, and deployable structures.

Concepts: Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Absorption, Wavelength, Digestion, Hue, Visible spectrum


Lasing at the nanometre scale promises strong light-matter interactions and ultrafast operation. Plasmonic resonances supported by metallic nanoparticles have extremely small mode volumes and high field enhancements, making them an ideal platform for studying nanoscale lasing. At visible frequencies, however, the applicability of plasmon resonances is limited due to strong ohmic and radiative losses. Intriguingly, plasmonic nanoparticle arrays support non-radiative dark modes that offer longer life-times but are inaccessible to far-field radiation. Here, we show lasing both in dark and bright modes of an array of silver nanoparticles combined with optically pumped dye molecules. Linewidths of 0.2 nm at visible wavelengths and room temperature are observed. Access to the dark modes is provided by a coherent out-coupling mechanism based on the finite size of the array. The results open a route to utilize all modes of plasmonic lattices, also the high-Q ones, for studies of strong light-matter interactions, condensation and photon fluids.

Concepts: Optics, Fundamental physics concepts, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Nanotechnology, Gold, Surface plasmon resonance, Visible spectrum


Nature provides much inspiration for the design of materials capable of motion upon exposure to external stimuli, and many examples of such active systems have been created in the laboratory. However, to achieve continuous motion driven by an unchanging, constant stimulus has proven extremely challenging. Here we describe a liquid crystalline polymer film doped with a visible light responsive fluorinated azobenzene capable of continuous chaotic oscillatory motion when exposed to ambient sunlight in air. The presence of simultaneous illumination by blue and green light is necessary for the oscillating behaviour to occur, suggesting that the dynamics of continuous forward and backward switching are causing the observed effect. Our work constitutes an important step towards the realization of autonomous, persistently self-propelling machines and self-cleaning surfaces powered by sunlight.

Concepts: Light, Laser, Liquid crystal, Visible spectrum, Mike Oldfield


Present on-chip optical communication technology uses near-infrared light, but visible wavelengths would allow system miniaturization and higher energy confinement. Towards this end, we report a nanoscale wireless communication system that operates at visible wavelengths via in-plane information transmission. Here, plasmonic antenna radiation mediates a three-step conversion process (surface plasmon → photon → surface plasmon) with in-plane efficiency (plasmon → plasmon) of 38% for antenna separation 4λ0 (with λ0 the free-space excitation wavelength). Information transmission is demonstrated at bandwidths in the Hz and MHz ranges. This work opens the possibility of optical conveyance of information using plasmonic antennas for on-chip communication technology.

Concepts: Energy, Quantum mechanics, Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Electromagnetic spectrum, Frequency, Visible spectrum, Radio


Light in biological media is known as freely diffusing because interference is negligible. Here, we show Anderson light localization in quasi-two-dimensional protein nanostructures produced by silkworms (Bombyx mori). For transmission channels in native silk, the light flux is governed by a few localized modes. Relative spatial fluctuations in transmission quantities are proximal to the Anderson regime. The sizes of passive cavities (smaller than a single fibre) and the statistics of modes (decomposed from excitation at the gain-loss equilibrium) differentiate silk from other diffusive structures sharing microscopic morphological similarity. Because the strong reflectivity from Anderson localization is combined with the high emissivity of the biomolecules in infra-red radiation, silk radiates heat more than it absorbs for passive cooling. This collective evidence explains how a silkworm designs a nanoarchitectured optical window of resonant tunnelling in the physically closed structures, while suppressing most of transmission in the visible spectrum and emitting thermal radiation.

Concepts: Optics, Physics, Electromagnetic radiation, Black body, Infrared, Visible spectrum, Bombyx mori, Emissivity


It has previously been shown that the biosynthesis of the mycotoxins ochratoxin A and B and of citrinin by Penicillium is regulated by light. However, not only the biosynthesis of these mycotoxins, but also the molecules themselves are strongly affected by light of certain wavelengths. The white light and blue light of 470 and 455 nm are especially able to degrade ochratoxin A, ochratoxin B and citrinin after exposure for a certain time. After the same treatment of the secondary metabolites with red (627 nm), yellow (590 nm) or green (530 nm) light or in the dark, almost no degradation occurred during that time indicating the blue light as the responsible part of the spectrum. The two derivatives of ochratoxin (A and B) are degraded to certain definitive degradation products which were characterized by HPLC-FLD-FTMS. The degradation products of ochratoxin A and B did no longer contain phenylalanine however were still chlorinated in the case of ochratoxin A. Citrinin is completely degraded by blue light. A fluorescent band was no longer visible after detection by TLC suggesting a higher sensitivity and apparently greater absorbance of energy by citrinin. The fact that especially blue light degrades the three secondary metabolites is apparently attributed to the absorption spectra of the metabolites which all have an optimum in the short wave length range. The absorption range of citrinin is, in particular, broader and includes the wave length of blue light. In wheat, which was contaminated with an ochratoxin A producing culture of Penicillium verrucosum and treated with blue light after a pre-incubation by the fungus, the concentration of the preformed ochratoxin A reduced by roughly 50% compared to the control and differed by > 90% compared to the sample incubated further in the dark. This indicates that the light degrading effect is also exerted in vivo, e.g., on food surfaces. The biological consequences of the light instability of the toxins are discussed.

Concepts: Light, Electromagnetic radiation, Mycotoxin, Wavelength, Penicillium, Visible spectrum, Ochratoxin, Mycotoxins