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Program Highlights

Nanocoatings Harvest Water from Fog

In the Namib Desert in Namibia, Africa, a tiny beetle is able to convert microscopic droplets of water present in a morning fog into larger sized droplets that are directed into the beetle's mouth to quench a

Probing Spin Density Waves

Magnetism in metallic films and interfaces has been intensively studied since the discovery of Giant MagnetoResistance (GMR) in the late 1980s. This effect enabled fabrication of high sensitivity magnetic field sensors for the read heads in magnetic hard disks, revolutionizing magnetic recording.

Patterning of Large Arrays of Organic Semiconductor Single Crystals

Field-effect transistors made of single organic crystals are ideal for studying the charge transport characteristics of organic semiconductor materials. Their outstanding device performance, relative to that of transistors made of organic thin films, makes them also attractive candidates for electronic applications such as active matrix displays and sensor arrays.

Light Used as a Magnetic Hammer

Scientists in the University of Nebraska MRSEC are using very short light pulses from a femtosecond laser to perturb magnetic materials and to probe their behavior at times after the perturbation. The light pulses are only about 100 millionth-billionths of a second long.

Active Nanophotonic Materials and Devices

The recent decade has seen an explosion of optical communication. Yet much of the information processing is conducted electronically since there have been few truly tunable optical devices. Ferroelectric materials offer a potential solution. They possess interesting nonlinear properties that can be used to design and fabricate unique active tunable nanophotonic devices.

Catalytic Pumping: Electrokinesis arrested

In 2004, a Penn State MRSEC team showed that bimetallic platinum/gold nanorods could swim at speeds up to 20 microns per second by catalyzing the decomposition of hydrogen peroxide. Nickel stripes added to the motors allowed them to be steered using weak magnetic fields as a "remote control". Microgears formed from platinum and gold rotated in hydrogen peroxide solutions.

Molecular Rulers: A Marriage of Molecules and Metal

Molecules come in well-defined lengths: Penn State MRSEC researchers have invented a technique called "Molecular Rulers," in which molecular layers of precisely defined widths coat preexisting structures and form templates for patterning new structures with ever-smaller dimensions.

Engineered Evolution of Inorganic-Binding Peptides

Based on the similarity of the sequences of combinatorially selected peptides that have similar binding characteristics, we developed a bioinformatics approach that provides a general and simple methodology to quantitatively categorize a large number of inorganic binding peptides.