Latest News from Nature Communications 2 November 2011

Improving light absorption in solar panels and a signalling molecule linked to obesity, among other news.

This press release contains:

• Summaries of newsworthy papers:

--- Improving light absorption

--- Signals for obesity

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

• Geographical listing of authors

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[1] Improving light absorption
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1528

The use of plasmonic nanostructures for creating broadband absorbers is demonstrated in Nature Communications this week. The proposed structures may help enhance the performance of photovoltaic cells which are used widely in solar panels.

The development of materials with high absorption across the visible light spectrum is important for a number of optical devices, including solar cells. Existing schemes based on plasmonics only work in narrow frequency ranges and for certain polarisations of light. Koray Aydin and colleagues have overcome these problems by building ultrathin metal-insulator-metal stacks with the top metal layer shaped into a grid of trapezoids just tens of nanometres wide. This provides them with an average of 70% absorption across the visible spectrum, independent of the incident light polarisation and for a wide range of incidence angles.

These stacks are only 260nm thick, making them an attractive possibility to enhance the light-harvesting capability of photovoltaics or to improve thermal emitters and absorbers.


Koray Aydin (Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA)
Tel: +1 847 491 3055; E-mail: [email protected]

[2] Signals for obesity
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1526

A signalling molecule that regulates red blood cell production also has an important role in maintaining normal fat mass and energy expenditure. This finding is reported in a mouse study in Nature Communications this week. Identification of factors that regulate energy homeostasis and the generation of fat cells could assist the development of effective approaches for the treatment or prevention of human obesity.

Erythropoietin is essential for erythropoiesis – the formation of red blood cells (erythrocytes) – but its role in metabolic homeostasis is uncertain. Receptors for this signalling molecule are not constrained to blood-forming tissues; they are also highly expressed in white fat tissue and in the hypothalamus, Constance Noguchi and colleagues find. They demonstrate that disruption of erythropoietin signalling in the hypothalamus decreases energy expenditure in mice, leading to the development of obesity and insulin resistance. An absence of erythropoietin signalling in the white fat tissue results in an increase in fat cell numbers, which may also contribute to obesity.

Together, these findings provide evidence for a role of erythropoietin in maintaining normal fat mass in mice. The authors suggest than further investigations are needed to fully understand the importance of erythropoietin in energy homeostasis.


Constance Noguchi (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD, USA)
Tel: +1 301 496 1163; E-mail: [email protected]

Papers to go live at the same time and with the same embargo…

[3] Experimental drying intensifies burning and carbon losses in a northern peatland
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1523

[4] CD91-dependent programming of T-helper cell responses following heat shock protein immunization
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1524

[5] Large-scale DNA editing of retrotransposons accelerates mammalian genome evolution
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1525

[6] A high-rate long-life Li4Ti5O12/Li[Ni0.45Co0.1Mn1.45]O4 lithium-ion battery
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1527

[7] Giant magnetostriction in annealed Co1 − xFex thin-films
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1529

[8] Super-resolution surface mapping using the trajectories of molecular probes
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1530

[9] Integrating the biophysical and molecular mechanisms of auditory hair cell mechanotransduction
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1533

[10] Rational design of a binary metal alloy for chemical vapour deposition growth of uniform single-layer graphene
DOI: 10.1038/ncomms1539



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.


Alberta: 3
Guelph: 3


Beijing: 10


Ramat Gan: 5


Rome: 6


Sendai: 2


Ekaterinburg: 7


Seoul: 6


Pasadena: 1
Menlo Park: 7
Stanford: 9
Boulder: 8
District of Columbia
Washington: 2
Davie: 3
Evanston: 1
Boston: 5
Bethesda: 2
College Park: 7
Gaithersburg: 7
New Jersey
Glassboro: 7
Corvallis: 7
Pittsburgh: 4


From North America and Canada
Neda Afsarmanesh, Nature New York
Tel: +1 212 726 9231; 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
Rachel Twinn, Nature, London
Tel: +44 20 7843 4658; E-mail: [email protected]

Published: 02 Nov 2011

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