In the past decade, a series of useful molecular systems – known as phototriggers, photoswitches, photocaging groups or photoremovable protecting groups (PRPGs) – have been used in a wide variety of applications, playing a key role in the release of fragrances from household goods, as an aid in multi-step syntheses and in drug and gene delivery.
Thin films are used in industry to create a variety of products, such as semiconductors, optical coatings, pharmaceuticals and solar cells. A new mathematical approach developed by Jacques Amar, Ph.D., professor of physics at the University of Toledo, accelerates some complex computer calculations used to simulate the formation of micro-thin materials.
Many biological molecules and common surfaces carry an electrical charge. For example, DNA has a strong negative charge, and so does an amorphous form of silicon dioxide known as silica, the material most people recognize as “glass.” A charged molecule or surface, along with the electrically compensating layer of ions in the adjacent solution, is known as the electrical double layer (EDL).
The emerging field of soft robotics requires mechanical components that grasp objects with the same delicacy as human hands. At present, most soft robots are powered by hard, sometimes bulky, actuators such as a servo motor, air compressor or hydraulic pump. However a new class of polymers, called “liquid crystal elastomers,” may eventually find use as soft artificial muscles.