This issue of Sports Technology, published by Wiley-Blackwell, spotlights recent developments that seek to close the gap between able-bodied athletes and para-athletes, with two published articles highlighting running prostheses.

The first article, entitled "Biomechanics of double transtibial amputee sprinting using dedicated sprinting prostheses" by Bruggemann et al., compares the sprinting mechanics data of able-bodied sprinters with that of a double transtibial amputee by examining the overall kinetics and the kinetics at the joints – while sprinting at maximum speed.

BERKELEY, CA – In the electronics industry, thin metal films are deposited on silicon wafers with a sputter gun, which uses energetic ions – atoms with a positive charge – to knock the metal atoms off a target. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have now developed a powerful new kind of sputter process that can deposit high-quality metal films in complex, three-dimensional nanoscale patterns at a rate that by one important measure is orders of magnitude greater than typical systems.

In the race to develop the next generation of storage and recording media, a major hurdle has been the difficulty of studying the tiny magnetic structures that will serve as their building blocks. Now a team of physicists at the University of California, Davis, has developed a technique to capture the magnetic "fingerprints" of certain nanostructures – even when they are buried within the boards and junctions of an electronic device. This breakthrough in nanomagnetism was published in the Jan. 19 issue of Applied Physics Letters.

Often referred to as artificial atoms, quantum dots have previously ranged in size from 2-10 nanometers in diameter. While typically composed of several thousand atoms, all the atoms pool their electrons to "sing with one voice", that is, the electrons are shared and coordinated as if there is only one atomic nucleus at the centre. That property enables numerous revolutionary schemes for electronic devices.

The principle behind whispering galleries – where words spoken softly beneath a domed ceiling or in a vault can be clearly heard on the opposite side of the chamber – has been used to achieve what could prove to be a significant breakthrough in the miniaturization of lasers. Ultrasmall lasers, i.e., nanoscale, promise a wide variety of intriguing applications, including superfast communications and data handling (photonics), and optical microchips for instant and detailed chemical analyses.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 22—Tiny disk-shaped lasers as small as a speck of dust could one day beam information through optical computers. Unfortunately, a perfect disk will spray light out, not as a beam, but in all directions. New theoretical results, reported in the Optical Society (OSA) journal Optics Letters, explain how adding a small notch to the disk edge provides a single outlet for laser light to stream out.

Common sense tells us that when you heat something up it gets softer, but a team of researchers, led by University of Toronto chemistry and physics professor R.J. Dwayne Miller, has demonstrated the exact opposite. Their findings will be published online in the prestigious international journal Science on January 22.

PITTSBURGH—Inspired by the aquatic wriggling of beetle larvae, a University of Pittsburgh research team has designed a propulsion system that strips away paddles, sails, and motors and harnesses the energy within the water's surface. The technique destabilizes the surface tension surrounding the object with an electric pulse and causes the craft to move via the surface's natural pull. The researchers will present their findings Jan. 26 at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' 2009 Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) conference in Sorrento, Italy.

Smart' fridges that run on renewable electricity and are capable of negotiating the most energy efficient way to keep food cold have been developed by researchers from CSIRO's Energy Transformed Flagship.

CSIRO's Intelligent Energy team have developed a fridge capable of maintaining its average temperature while regulating its power consumption from renewable-energy generators, such as solar panels (photovoltaics) or wind turbines.