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As each year draws to a close, Controlled Environments evaluates the news stories published on our website to look for trends so that we may better address the topics that our readers wish to see.
Two similar stories took the top spot of our list for 2014.
Our most-read news story of the year was about a team of
physicists at Australian National University that has developed the first long-distance optical tractor. This technique
only requires a single laser beam, and it could be used for
controlling atmospheric pollution or for the retrieval of tiny,
delicate or dangerous particles for sampling.
The second most-popular story, released in mid-November, also came from
Australian National University. Physicists were able to engineer a spiral laser beam, used
to create a whirlpool of hybrid light-matter particles called polaritons; this could connect conventional electronics with new laser and fiber-based technologies.
Also popular was a story about a Boston-based research team that is using nanotechnology to develop an unbreakable and efficient condom, as part of an initiative funded by the
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal is to create a new type of nanoparticle polymer
coating for condoms to reduce the risk of breakage, making them more durable and better
able to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.
Aerospace and NASA-related news continues to be of interest to our readers, such as
the story about a team of scientists who has combed through the aerogel and aluminum
foil dust collectors of NASA’s Stardust spacecraft, delivered back to Earth in 2006. The
team discovered seven dust motes that probably came from outside our solar system,
perhaps created in a supernova explosion millions of years ago. Other news describes
how NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope spotted an eruption of dust around a young star,
which is thought to be the result of a smashup between large asteroids and could eventually lead to the formation of planets. A third aerospace-related news story details
plans for the first 3D printer to go into space, which will enable astronauts to create
necessary supplies on the spot rather than wait for shipments from Earth.
We also learned about a cheap, simple spray technique that deposits a graphene
film able to heal manufacturing defects and produce a high-quality graphene layer
on a range of substrates. Researchers hope to develop industrial-scale applications of
graphene with this method.
In a follow-up to the deadly meningitis outbreak in 2012, we posted an article about
the arrest of a pharmacist who oversaw the sterile cleanrooms at a Massachusetts
compounding pharmacy, as he was about to board a plane to Hong Kong.
Harry Potter fans likely enjoyed a July news release about a new method of
building materials using light that could one day enable technologies such as invisibility cloaks and cloaking devices.
Rounding out our top 10 news stories of the year was President Obama’s announcement that North Carolina State University will lead the new Next Generation Power
Electronics Innovation Institute. This $140 million initiative will look to develop new
energy solutions through the use and evolution of wide bandgap semiconductors.
We will keep an eye on these trends for 2015, and we’ll also be on the lookout for
exciting new developments in the world of contamination control, semiconductors,
and nanotechnology. See you next year!
Vol. 17 • No. 10
November/December 2014 • www.cemag.us