PHYSICS New developments of Weyl semimetals Significant breakthroughs have been achieved over the last few years in the area of Weyl semimetals. These novel gapless topological states have drawn extensive attention in the condensed matter research. Xincheng Xie (Peking University), Xian-Gang Wan (Nanjing University), Hong-Ming Weng (Institute of Physics, CAS) and Hua Jiang (Soochow University) organized a special topic on Weyl semimetals in Frontiers of Physics, where recent progress of Weyl semimetals in first-principles prediction, material synthesis, transport theory, transport characterization, etc. was presented. [Xie X et al. (eds). Front Phys 2017; 12: 127201–11] PHYSICS Practical NbN superconducting nanowire single-photon detector with record detection efficiency over 90% Superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors (SNSPDs) outperform their semiconducting counterparts with higher detection efficiency, low dark count rate, etc. Lixing You and co-workers from the Shanghai Institute of Microsystem and Information Technology (SIMIT), CAS first demonstrated NbN SNSPD with a system detection efficiency (SDE) over 90% at 2.1 K at a wavelength of 1550 nm with a dark count rate (DCR) of 10 Hz, together with a timing jitter of 79 ps, which paves the way for practical applications of SNSPDs. [Zhang WJ et al. Sci China Phys Mech Astron 2017; 60: 120314] CHEMISTRY Improving K-ion storage performance by integrating Sb2S3 nanoparticles with S,N-codoped graphene Developing high-performance electrode materials for K-ion batteries is difficult and urgently needed. Recently, Jun Chen's group at Nankai University successfully designed and synthesized a self-supported anode material with Sb2S3 nanoparticles (∼20 nm) uniformly dispersed in a porous S,N-codoped graphene network. The as-prepared composite displays high performance for K-ion storage due to the rational structure design with high reactivity, strong affinity, high electric conductivity, and robust stability (see Fig. 1). Meanwhile, the self-supported architecture significantly decreases the inactive weight, facilitating a high energy density for the battery. This study reveals a new type of high-capacity anode for K-ion batteries. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Schematic illustration of the S,N-codpoped Sb2S3/graphene composite and the cycling performance. Figure 1. View largeDownload slide Schematic illustration of the S,N-codpoped Sb2S3/graphene composite and the cycling performance. [Lu Y et al. Sci China Chem 2017; 60: 1533–9] CHEMISTRY Air promotes the Pd-catalyzed hydrogenation production of nylon precursors Nanfeng Zheng and co-workers at Xiamen University reported an unprecedented effect of air in promoting the hydrogenation catalysis over Pd nanocatalysts. In the selective hydrogenation of phenol to cyclohexanone (an important intermediate for nylons and polyamide resins) at 30°C, the introduction of air endowed Pd/Al2O3 nanocatalysts with over 99% selectivity and an 80-fold enhancement in the activity. Air-induced generation of phenoxyl radicals was demonstrated as the main factor responsible for the enhancement. The unusual effect holds great promise for the development of a new catalytic process for the production of cyclohexanone. [Guo Q et al. Sci China Chem 2017; 60: 1444–9] MICROBIOLOGY Elucidating mechanisms of oncocin, an antimicrobial peptide, in action Oncocin represents a class of proline-rich antimicrobial peptides (PrAMPs) originally isolated from Oncopeltus fasciatus (milkweed bug), which is known to target the bacterial ribosomes. Chunlai Chen and co-workers at Tsinghua University directly characterized how oncocin affects the functions of individual ribosomes during translation using single-molecule fluorescence resonance energy transfer (smFRET) assays. They discovered that oncocin applies two different mechanisms, inhibiting aminoacyl-tRNA selection and deactivating elongating ribosomes, to inhibit protein synthesis with high efficiency. Their findings advance the current understanding of the working mechanisms of PrAMPs and provide a guide to optimizing them for future drugs. [Peng S et al. Protein Cell 2017; doi: 10.1007/s13238-017-0495-2] AGRICULTURAL SCIENCES Expanding the genome-editing range of CRISPR-Cas9 in rice The CRISPR-Cas9 system has been widely harnessed for genome editing in many species, but its editing range is constrained to genomic sites containing the canonical NGG motif. Kejian Wang from the China National Rice Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Jiayang Li from the Institute of Genetics and Development Biology, CAS, and their co-workers found that CRISPR-Cas9 is robust in recognizing the non-canonical NAG motif in rice. These findings significantly expand the range of genome editing in rice and indicate that more potential off-target sites should be taken into consideration during genome editing. [Meng X et al. Sci China Life Sci 2018; doi: 10.1007/s11427-017-9247-9] GEOSCIENCES Exploring the effect of environmental change and technological innovations on ancient social evolution Environmental change and technological innovations are ascribed as key triggers for driving the rise and fall of ancient civilizations, while the relative significance of these factors for influencing ancient social evolution remains a hotly debated topic. Recently, researchers in Lanzhou University have proposed that the dominant influencing factors for the evolution of ancient societies vary by spatial scale, and that geohazards, climate change and technological innovations were the primary factors behind ancient culture evolution at local, regional and global scales respectively (see Fig. 2). The mechanism of ancient social evolution has also been illustrated, providing a long-term perspective for understanding the pattern of human–environment interaction. Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Concept map of dominant influencing factors for the evolution of ancient societies. Figure 2. View largeDownload slide Concept map of dominant influencing factors for the evolution of ancient societies. [Dong GH et al. Sci China Earth Sci 2017; 60: 2067–77] MATERIALS SCIENCE Sensitive and rapid detection of microRNA in serum by fluorescence amplification of lanthanide nanoprobes Sensitive detection of tumor-marker microRNA is crucial for cancer diagnosis and treatment. Xueyuan Chen and co-workers at the Fujian Institute of Research on the Structure of Matter, CAS, developed the first inorganic lanthanide nanoprobe for the rapid detection of microRNA-21. The proposed strategy brings together the advantages of fluorescence amplification of lanthanide ions in the enhancer solution and near-zero background signals from the time-resolved technique. Without target amplification, the detection limit for microRNA-21 is as low as 1.38 fM, which is three orders of magnitude lower than that of the conventional fluorescent probe. [Lu L et al. Nano Res 2018; 11: 264–73] MATERIALS SCIENCE A new type of integrated fiber-based gas sensor to distinguish target gases at room temperature The ability to distinguish target gases at room temperature is imperative for wearable gas sensors. Recently, joint research by Guozhen Shen (Institute of Semiconductors, CAS), Wei Han and Zuoling Fu (Jilin University), and co-workers developed flexible fiber gas sensors based on carbon nanotubes and ZnO quantum dots to distinguish various target gases, exhibiting excellent specificity and sensitivity (see Fig. 3). The fiber gas sensor could be integrated into a smart face mask, which can selectively distinguish target gases at room temperature by reading corresponding LEDs with different colors. Such gas sensors have great potential applications in the Internet of Things and wearable electronics. Figure 3. View largeDownload slide The flexible fiber gas sensor and the sensing mechanisms to distinguish different target gases. Published in Nano Res 2018; 11: 511–9. Figure 3. View largeDownload slide The flexible fiber gas sensor and the sensing mechanisms to distinguish different target gases. Published in Nano Res 2018; 11: 511–9. [Gao Z et al. Nano Res 2018; 11: 511–9] MATERIALS SCIENCE Unique formation of metallic glass adjacent to intermetallic compounds Metallic glasses are commonly related to eutectics rather than terminal compositions, where the crystallization tendency of the liquid discourages glass formation. In contrast to this belief, Yi Li and co-workers at the Institute of Metal Research, CAS, discovered a new family of bulk ‘intermetallic glasses’ compositionally neighboring the terminal line compounds in the Cu–Zr binary system as close as 0.5 at.%. They realized that the low Gibbs free energy as well as the sluggish crystallization behavior of the alloy liquids sandwiching the intermetallic compounds are responsible for this new scenario. [Wang YX et al. J Mater Sci Technol 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.jmst.2017.09.008] MATERIALS SCIENCE Dislocation engineering makes alloys strong and ductile Strong and ductile metallic materials are desirable for engineering applications. Recently, Mingxin Huang and Binbin He at the University of Hong Kong proposed a new promising alloy design concept by engineering dislocations. To substantiate this concept, they used a conventional processing route to develop a deformed and partitioned (D&P) steel with an ultrahigh yield strength of 2.2 GPa and a large uniform elongation of 16%. They expect that this concept should be useful to improve the mechanical properties of quenching and partitioning (Q&P) steel by applying an additional warm rolling step. [Huang MX et al. J Mater Sci Technol 2017; doi: 10.1016/j.jmst.2017.11.045] © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of China Science Publishing & Media Ltd. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
National Science Review – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 1, 2018
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