One of the fundamental challenges in the development of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) – and of nanotube- and nanowire-based devices in general – is the large-scale controlled placement of molecular sized building blocks on a substrate. The ability to effectively place at will molecules so that they can be rapidly organized into functional components is a core requirement of many nanotechnology applications, components and functional devices.

Making a splash? Engineers have created metallic nanofish that are inspired by the swimming style of real fish, and could be used to carry drugs to specific sites of the body. The nanofish are 100 times smaller than grains of sand, and are constructed from gold and nickel segments linked by silver hinges. The two outer gold segments act as the head and tail fin, while the two inner nickel segments form the body. Each segment is around 800 nanometres long, a nanometre being one billionth of a metre.

Sensors have evolved from simple measuring tools to smart appliances that are connected through the internet to the cloud and to each other. At the recent ISSCC-conference, researchers from imec & Holst Centre have presented a number of remarkable developments. These may pave the way to a world where sensors assist us to drive more safely, live healthier, and make the planet more sustainable.

Two-dimensional (2D) materials like graphene and molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) are known to have unique properties. The family of 2D structures with a wide range of chemistries can open the door for better understanding of differences between properties of 2D and 3D materials; lead to identification of useful properties of 2-D carbides, nitrides, oxycarbides and other related structures; and ultimately result in new applications.

There is an unprecedented multidisciplinary convergence of scientists dedicated to the study of a world so small, we can not see it - even with a light microscope. That world is the field of nanotechnology, the realm of atoms and nanostructures. Nanotechnology i­s so new, no one is really sure what will come of it. Even so, predictions range from the ability to reproduce things like diamonds and food to the world being devoured by self-replicating nanorobots.