Energy transport in biomimetic nanotubes (left) and a three-dimensional spectrum (right). Bjoern Kriete (l.) / Stefan Mueller (r.)

It is crucial for photovoltaics and other technical applications, how efficiently energy spreads in a small volume. With new methods, the path of energy in the nanometer range can now be followed precisely. Plants and bacteria lead the way: They can capture the energy of sunlight with light-harvesting antennas and transfer it to a reaction centre. Transporting energy efficiently and in a targeted fashion in a minimum of space – this is also of interest to mankind. If scientists were to master it perfectly, they could significantly improve photovoltaics and optoelectronics.

Left: Schematic illustration for the SMAIS method for 2D polymer synthesis, Right: High-resolution transmission electron microscopic image for 2D polyimide Left: by Marc Hermann, TRICKLABOR), Right: by Dr. Haoyuan Qi, Uni Ulm

Scientists at the Center for Advancing Electronics Dresden (cfaed) at TU Dresden have succeeded in synthesizing sheet-like 2D polymers by a bottom-up process for the first time. A novel synthetic reaction route was developed for this purpose. The 2D polymers consist of only a few single atomic layers and, due to their very special properties, are a promising material for use in electronic components and systems of a new generation. The research result is a collaborative work of several groups at TU Dresden and Ulm University and was published this week in two related articles in the scientific journals "Nature Chemistry" and "Nature Communications".

A monolayer of organic molecules is placed in the focused light field and replies to this illumination by fluorescence, embedding all information about the invisible properties. Pascal Runde

Physicists and chemists at the University of Münster (Germany) have jointly succeeded in developing a so-called nano-tomographic technique which is able to detect the typically invisible properties of nano-structured fields in the focus of a lens. Such a method may help to establish nano-structured light landscapes as a tool for material machining, optical tweezers, or high-resolution imaging. The study was published in "Nature Communications".

Time-lapse images show that the enzyme ‘breathes’ during turnover: it expands and contracts aligned with the catalytic sub-steps. Its two halves communicate via a string of water molecules. Jörg Harms / MPSD

Researchers from the Department of Atomically Resolved Dynamics of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg, the University of Potsdam (both in Germany) and the University of Toronto (Canada) have pieced together a detailed time-lapse movie revealing all the major steps during the catalytic cycle of an enzyme. Surprisingly, the communication between the protein units is accomplished via a water-network akin to a string telephone. This communication is aligned with a ‘breathing’ motion, that is the expansion and contraction of the protein.