Electronics: Big, bendy electrode

Summaries of newsworthy papers include The legacy of the Bush presidency, 50 years of pheromones, Polaritons go with the flow and Ancient braincase helps reveal jawbone origins


This press release is copyright Nature.

VOL.457 NO.7227 DATED 15 JANUARY 2009

This press release contains:

· Summaries of newsworthy papers:

Electronics: Big, bendy electrode

Commentary: The legacy of the Bush presidency

Essay: 50 years of pheromones

Quantum physics: Polaritons go with the flow

And finally… Ancient braincase helps reveal jawbone origins

· Mention of papers to be published at the same time with the same embargo

· Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Electronics: Big, bendy electrode (AOP)
DOI: 10.1038/nature07719

***This paper will be published electronically on Nature's website on 14 January at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included it on this release to avoid multiple mailings it will not appear in print on 15 January, but at a later date. ***

A new method for making stretchable, transparent electrodes is unveiled in this week’s Nature. The centimetre-scale graphene films are of better electronic and mechanical quality than any produced so far at that scale, bringing the prospect of flexible electronic devices, such as wearable computers, one step closer.

Byung Hee Hong and colleagues use a chemical vapour deposition technique to layer graphene films onto a nickel-based substrate. They also show how to pattern and transfer the films. The electrical properties match those of its petite predecessor — the microscale graphene film. The films are transparent and can be bent and stretched without degrading the electronic properties.

The demonstrated flexible transparent graphene electrodes have clear promise for large-area, flexible, stretchable and foldable electronics.

Byung Hee Hong (Sungkyunkwan University, Suwon, Republic of Korea)
Tel: +82 31 299 4166; E-mail: [email protected]

Commentary: The legacy of the Bush presidency (pp 258-261)

The former head of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) felt that she was undermined by the actions of US vice-president Dick Cheney, according to a Commentary article in this week’s Nature.

Christine Todd Whitman says that President George W. Bush had told her that the EPA would represent the US government on the environment. However, subsequent actions by the vice-president proved otherwise, she writes. “I believe that the EPA administrator should be the voice of environmental policy [but] the president must ultimately decide.”

Whitman’s article is part of a package of contributions from leading US voices in a special issue marking the inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama. In other articles, Timothy E. Wirth, former under-secretary for global affairs in the Clinton administration, says the United States must now lead the way to a new global climate deal, and Steven E. Nissen, chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, says the culture of secrecy at the Food and Drug Administration needs to end.

Elsewhere, Nature writers provide a thorough exploration of the Bush legacy. Declan Butler assesses the impact of the US president’s policies on global non-proliferation efforts, and Erika Check Hayden describes the administration’s efforts to combat HIV/AIDS.

From 1800 GMT Wednesday 14 January there will be a discussion forum on the Nature Networks site here: http://network.nature.com/groups/naturenewsandopinion/forum/topics/3684

Christine Todd Whitman (Whitman Strategy Group, Princeton, NJ, USA)

This author can be contacted through:
Heather Grizzle (New York, NY, USA) Media contact
Tel: +1 617 512 1643; [email protected]

Timothy E. Wirth (UN Foundation, Washington, DC, USA)
This author can be contacted through:
John Anthony (UN Foundation, Washington, DC, USA) Media contact
Tel: +1 202 778 1639; E-mail: [email protected]

Steven E. Nissen (Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, OH, USA)
Tel: +1 216 445 6852; E-mail: [email protected]

Essay: 50 years of pheromones (pp 262-263)

This month marks the 50th anniversary of a Nature paper proposing a new word – ‘pheromones’ – to describe the chemicals used to communicate between individuals of the same species (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v183/n4653/abs/183055a0.html). In celebration, pheromones expert and author Tristram Wyatt pens an essay on how these signals have been spotted in everything from moths to elephants, have triggered battles in mammalian researchers, and have prompted much speculation – but no proof as yet – that they exist in humans.

Peter Karlson and Martin Lüscher’s work in 1959 not only gave the phenomenon a name, but also predicted much about it, including how some pheromones might be ingested rather than smelled – as happens in termites. The concept has since faced key periods of controversy. Some said that mammalian odours should not count as pheromones at all, and others thought that only mammals with a ‘vomeronasal organ’ could sense them.

Wyatt discounts these arguments, and concludes that humans are likely to use pheromones. Yet no human pheromones have been conclusively identified, despite stories in the popular press. A strong contender is the compound that apparently causes menstrual synchrony in women living in close quarters. Its identification is keenly awaited, not least as it could potentially open the door to sniffable contraceptives.

Tristram Wyatt (Oxford University, UK)
Tel: +44 7817 804 144; E-mail: [email protected]

[2] Quantum physics: Polaritons go with the flow (pp 291-295; N&V)

Researchers have produced a condensate of particle-like entities in a semiconductor that appear to flow around an obstacle without friction. Such superfluid-like behaviour has been predicted but not seen before for this type of particle.

The particles are exciton-polaritons, which are a mixture of excitons and photons. Daniele Sanvitto and colleagues have developed a technique that generates and sets into motion a condensate of polaritons in a semiconductor microcavity. The authors study the collective dynamics of this condensate and show in real time that it collides with micrometre-sized obstacles without scattering or changing direction. Such resistance-free flow is a hallmark of superfluids.

The population of polaritons behaves a bit like a Bose–Einstein condensate (where bosons, such as cooled atoms, occupy the same quantum ground state and act collectively as a giant ‘superatom’) with the marked difference that the polariton condensate is not in thermal equilibrium. The work offers a new route for studying the collective dynamics of out-of-equilibrium condensates.

Daniele Sanvitto (Universidad Autonoma, Madrid, Spain)
Tel: +34 91 497 68 87; E-mail: [email protected]

Jonathan Keeling (University of Cambridge, UK) N&V author
Tel: +44 1223 337405; E-mail: [email protected]

[3] And finally… Ancient braincase helps reveal jawbone origins (pp 305-308)

The braincase of a long-extinct fossil fish from the Early Devonian is helping to shed light on the evolution of jawed vertebrates.

Acanthodians are a long-extinct group of fossil fishes that stand close to the divergence of cartilaginous and bony fishes. Their morphology has the potential to reveal much about the early evolution of jawed vertebrates, but their anatomy is poorly known and largely confined to Acanthodes — a probably unrepresentative genus that lived late in Acanthodian history.

In this week’s Nature, Martin Brazeau presents the first detailed description of the braincase of Ptomacanthus — an Acanthodian that lived around 415 million years ago. The structure is very different to that of Acanthodes, and shares features with ancient armoured fish and early cartilaginous jawed fish. The results indicate that Ptomacanthus was either a very early relative of sharks, or close to the common ancestry of all modern jawed vertebrates.

Martin Brazeau (Uppsala University, Sweden)
Tel: +46 18 471 2683; E-mail: [email protected]


[4] A binary origin for ‘blue stragglers’ in globular clusters (pp 288-290)

[5] Competition between the pseudogap and superconductivity in the high-Tc copper oxides (pp 296-300)

[6] Boundary layer control of rotating convection systems (pp 301-304; N&V)

[7] A tunable synthetic mammalian oscillator (pp 309-312; N&V)


***These papers will be published electronically on Nature's website on 14 January at 1800 London time / 1300 US Eastern time (which is also when the embargo lifts) as part of our AOP (ahead of print) programme. Although we have included them on this release to avoid multiple mailings they will not appear in print on 15 January, but at a later date. ***

[8] Synaptic depression enables neuronal gain control
DOI: 10.1038/nature07604

[9] Ubiquitin-related modifier Urm1 acts as a sulphur carrier in thiolation of eukaryotic transfer RNA
DOI: 10.1038/nature07643


The following list of places refers to the whereabouts of authors on the papers numbered in this release. For example, London: 4 - this means that on paper number four, there will be at least one author affiliated to an institute or company in London. The listing may be for an author's main affiliation, or for a place where they are working temporarily. Please see the PDF of the paper for full details.

Hamilton: 4
Toronto: 9

Paris: 2

Bergisch Gladbach: 9
Munster: 6

Nagoya: 5

Pohang: 1
Suwon: 1

Madrid: 2

Uppsala: 3

Basel: 7
Villigen: 5
Zurich: 7, 9

London: 8
Sheffield: 2
Southampton: 4


Los Angeles: 6
Santa Cruz: 6

Ames: 5

New York
New York: 1

Seattle: 9


From North America and Canada
Katherine Anderson, Nature New York
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; E-mail: [email protected]

Katie McGoldrick, Nature Washington
Tel: +1 202 737 2355; E-mail: [email protected]

From Japan, Korea, China, Singapore and Taiwan
Mika Nakano, Nature Tokyo
Tel: +81 3 3267 8751; E-mail: [email protected]

From the UK/Europe/other countries not listed above
Jen Middleton, Nature London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4502; E-mail [email protected]

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Published: 14 Jan 2009

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