The poly(vinyl alcohol) micro-fibres contain graphene oxide sheets. The nanosheets stiffen the fibres in the direction of movement and enable an energy storage system. HZG/Oliver Gould

A highly efficient, micro-sized motor-cum-energy storage system has been presented by researchers from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht (HZG) and the University of Bordeaux in the journal ‘Science’. The ‘microengine’ is made from polymeric micro-fibres, which are stiff at room temperature. When heated, the fibres become elastic and can be twisted – like a model aeroplane powered by a rubber band. Unlike the elastic band, however, when the fibres are cooled, they remain twisted until the microengine is re-heated. The energy stored when the fibres were twisted is released, the movable end begins to turn and the ‘microfiber motor’ can propel objects.

 

Principle of reactive ion etching for the generation of quasi-periodic nanostructures. (c) Sebastian Reineke et al., Nature Communications: CC BY 4.0

Thanks to intensive research in the past three decades, organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) have been steadily conquering the electronics market - from OLED mobile phone displays to roll-out television screens, the list of applications is long.
Current OLED research focuses in particular on improving the performance of white OLEDs for lighting elements such as ceiling or car interior lighting. These components are subject to much stricter requirements in terms of stability, angular emission and power efficiency.

Sandwich element made from wood foam with textile-reinforced concrete as cover layer. Fraunhofer WKI | Manuela Lingnau

In a joint project with the Technische Universität Braunschweig, researchers from the Fraunhofer WKI have developed an innovative building element for the construction industry: a sandwich element with a wood-foam core and a thin cover layer of textile-reinforced concrete. It can be used, for example, as a lightweight curtain-wall element or in interior fittings. The high-performance wood foam requires no artificial binding agents and can be produced from regionally available wood residues. Through the utilization of wood foam instead of conventional foam based on petrochemicals, the proportion of particularly sustainable construction materials in buildings can be increased.

On a "quantum chessboard" the queens puzzle may be solved comparatively easily. University of Innsbruck

Physicists at the University of Innsbruck are proposing a new model that could demonstrate the supremacy of quantum computers over classical supercomputers in solving optimization problems. In a recent paper, they demonstrate that just a few quantum particles would be sufficient to solve the mathematically difficult N-queens problem in chess even for large chess boards.