Highlights of 2012
Highlights of 2012

Drug delivery

Making sure that medicine hits its target is an application area in which nanotechnology excels. In the following work, scientists not only pave the way for targeting hard-to-reach areas such as the back of the eye or in spaces between joints, but also show that nanostructured polymer membranes offer a promising route to maintaining therapeutic concentrations of a drug in the body for long periods of time.

Nanodevice delivers drugs in hard-to-reach places (Oct 2012)

And here's another example, but this time focusing on drug delivery across the blood-brain barrier – a potential obstacle to treating diseases of the central nervous system.

Nanoparticles mediate drug delivery into injured brain tissue (Apr 2012)

Plus, in a third story, researchers demonstrate a step-change in sensitivity that's often associated with the use of nanomaterials.

New nanosensors could detect disease earlier (Jun 2012)

Future optics

Mobile-phones are packed with innovation, but even the slimmest of today's designs will feel clunky when scientists figure out how to make the most of this concept -

First flat lens focuses light without distortion (Sep 2012)

In our second selection, researchers show that an array of gold nanorods on a glass surface can function as a convex or concave lens depending on the circular polarization of light passing through it. Uses here include information processing.

Metalens doubles up (Nov 2012)

The third pick in this category is dubbed a "photonic nanoweb" and could lead to a new generation of light filters, sensors and other optical devices.

'Nanoweb' blocks light (Oct 2012)

Better batteries

In 2012, nanotechnology has continued to play a key role in ramping up the performance of batteries. Here are a couple of examples from this year –

Hydrogel electronics makes its debut (Jun 2012)

Core-shell nanoparticles further improve cycling stability of lithium-ion batteries (Mar 2012)

Graphene upgrade

Meanwhile, graphene remains the "go to" material for enhancing electronic circuits, helping to speed up, cool down, interconnect and even rethink the design of devices.

Graphene 'quilts' cool down transistors (May 2012)

CVD graphene nanoribbons make good interconnects (Aug 2012)

Flexible graphene transistor breaks new records (Dec 2012)

Graphene transistor goes vertical (Feb 2012)

From strength to strength

Artificial muscles were a big hit on YouTube, as researchers demonstrated applications including robot jellyfish and micro-actuators.

Robot jellyfish fuelled by hydrogen (May 2012)

CNT muscles power up (Nov 2012)

Smart thinking

This final selection further highlights the ingenuity on show this year –

Metallic nanowire surface fasteners provide alternative to soldering (Sep 2012)

Lissajous scan trajectories speed up scanning probe microscopy (Apr 2012)

Air-assisted fabrication paves the way for low-cost graphene solar cells (Jul 2012)

Nanoparticles repair damaged surfaces (Jan 2012)

Don't forget, this is just a snapshot of the nanoscience that hit the headlines in 2012. To read this year's coverage in full, visit our Tech Update and Lab Talk channels and keep them bookmarked ready for 2013!

And for more nano highlights, visit the latest collection of popular articles from our sister journal Nanotechnology.