Watch our summary of 2016 for a flavour of the year's highlights. celebrates 30 years of AFM and STM

This year has marked the 30th anniversary of the Nobel Prize for scanning tunnelling microscopy (STM) and the first report of atomic force microscopy (AFM). Alongside the focus collection in Nanotechnology, we had a web movie series of pioneers in the field describing milestones over the past 30 years, a discussion webinar and Pinterest poll for the people’s favourite pictures.

Highlights include:
Flat-packed unit brings creativity to AFM (Tech Update, Jan)
Atomic force microscopy – 30 years on (Tech Update, May)
30 years of SPM (web movie series)

Biology and medicine

There was plenty to celebrate in the successful application of nanotechnology in biology and medicine this year in sensing, diagnosis, drug delivery and oncology.

Highlights include:
Graphene patch detects glucose in sweat (Tech Update, Mar)
Quantum-dot barcodes for diagnosing disease (Tech Update, Apr)
Polymeric nanoparticles deliver anti-inflammatory proteins (Tech Update, Apr)
Clinicians, companies and academics converge for Nano World Cancer Day 2016 (In Depth, Feb)

Electronics and photonics

While records continue to be broken in shrinking transistors, there was also a lot of progress in neuromorphic computing. Many of the year’s developments featured graphene and other 2D materials, which showed great potential for displays.

Highlights include:
Memristor behaves like a synapse (Tech Update, Sep)
All phase-change neuromorphic device recognises correlations (Tech Update with movie, Aug)
Phase change neurons and synapses detect correlations (Lab Talk, Aug)
Nanotube array transistor breaks new record (Tech Update, Sep)
Graphene composite enables metre-sized flexible displays (Tech Update with movie, Jul 2016)


There have been focus collections in the main journal Nanotechnology in various energy-related technologies, including focus on supercapacitors and a focus on perovskite solar cells – topics that have both seen a lot of coverage on as well.

Highlights include:
Supercapacitors empower sustainable storage – (In Depth, May)
2D perovskite solar cells break new efficiency record (Tech Update, Jul)
Self-powered textile could be woven into smart clothes (Tech Update, Oct)

Synthesis and properties

This year is 20 years since one of Nanotechnology’s most cited papers was published, demonstrating the potential of electrospinning for nanofibres. Today, global markets for nanofibres are projected to reach $2.2 billion by 2020, and we looked in depth at some of the applications benefiting as well as developments to the technique. We’ve also looked at spun fibres from the natural world, delving into the secrets of spider silk’s incredible strength – more on the hierarchical nanostructures responsible in next year’s focus collection.

Highlights include:
Electrospinning forms a common thread in new technologies (In Depth, Dec)
Nanomechanics – the whole is more than the sum of its parts (In Depth with movie, Aug)

Business and community news

It’s been a good year for industry – for both enterprises large and small – and a great year for awards. Both the physics and chemistry Nobel Prizes were awarded for work that has a significant impact on nanotechnology. We also announced the first winner of the Nanotechnology Young Researcher Award, and the launch of a new journal from IOP Publishing – the high-impact future-scaping Nano Futures.

Highights include:
Google gains new ground on universal quantum computer (Tech Update, Jun)
Theory consultancy catalyses big business opportunities (Tech Update, Apr)
Chemistry Nobel Prize awarded for molecular nanomachines (Tech Update, Oct)
David Thouless, Duncan Haldane and Michael Kosterlitz win 2016 Nobel Prize for Physics (Tech Update, Oct)
Nanotechnology announces the first winner of the Young Researcher Award (Tech Update, Feb)
Press release: Shaping the nanoscience landscape – IOP Publishing launches Nano Futures (Your News, Nov)