Virus-fighting nanoparticles, quantum dots, transparent wood: Hot topics in five research domains, found fast with ETO's Map of Science

How we used the Map to uncover hotspots across the global research landscape, from advanced materials to pharmacology.

ETO's Map of Science is designed to give users of different backgrounds, resources, and analytic perspectives an accessible way to explore global research. To achieve this mission, we combined powerful methods for merging, processing, and enriching hundreds of millions of research articles with a flexible, intuitive interface.

The Map of Science helps users quickly find specific areas in science and tech that matter to them, starting from broad questions like:

  • Which research areas are growing the fastest?
  • Which types of research are having the biggest impact?
  • What are researchers in particular countries publishing on?

To show how the Map can help turn questions like these into actionable insight, we recently took it on a test drive through five different domains of science and technology: materials science, quantum research, computing and networking hardware, Chinese AI research, and pharmacology. Within each domain, we applied filters in the Map to identify especially "hot" topics, each represented by a specific research cluster –– a group of articles that cite each other unusually often, typically because they share traits like subject matter, author, language, or authoring institution. (Read more about research clusters and how we identify them.)

The Map of Science organizes the global research literature into tens of thousands of these clusters, which can then be filtered and sorted with the Map's user-friendly interface to pinpoint research of greatest interest.

Screenshots: filtering the Map down to a smaller set of resulting clusters related to materials science
Winnowing the Map down by applying filters –– in this case, to find interesting materials science clusters to examine.

For our "hot topics" exploration, we looked for research clusters in each of the five broad domains that were:

  • Large: containing 100 articles or more, reflecting an active area of research.
  • Young: with an average article age of five years or under, reflecting lots of recent activity.
  • Fast-growing: adding new papers faster than most other clusters in the Map.
  • Impactful: whose articles were cited frequently, compared to articles in other clusters in the Map.

What we found

The Map's interface includes filters for each of these characteristics. By combining them with the Map's subject-matter filters, a single, non-expert analyst (your narrator) was able to quickly zero in on especially interesting areas.

Screenshots: Applying filters for cluster size, article age, and citation rating

The earlier entries in our Hot Topics series have more details for the five different domains of research we explored. Here are some highlights, with full results for each domain listed at the end of this post.

Materials science

  • Thousands of articles on or related to zinc-ion batteries have been published in the past few years alone.
  • Government-affiliated researchers seem to be interested in high-entropy ceramics. Top authoring institutions in this fast-growing area include the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Northwestern Polytechnical University (a Chinese military-affiliated university).
  • Laser-induced graphenes are attracting attention for their uses in applications including wearable technology and alternative energy.

👉 Read the post: What's hot in materials science? Discovering emerging topics with ETO's Map of Science

A gloved hand holding a sample of transparent wood.
A sample of transparent wood, one of the "hot topics" in materials science uncovered in our initial post. Photo credit: USDA/US Forest Service

Quantum

👉 Read the post: What's hot in quantum? Discovering emerging topics with ETO's Map of Science

Microscopy image of quantum dots.
Quantum dots are nanoscale semiconductor particles with interesting properties arising from quantum mechanics. They came up often in our exploration of hot topics in quantum research. Photo credit: PNNL/DOE

Computing and networking hardware

👉 Read the post: What's hot in hardware? Discovering emerging topics with ETO's Map of Science

Chinese AI research

👉 Read the post: What's hot in Chinese AI research? Discovering emerging topics with ETO's Map of Science

Grayscale radar image with multicolored overlay.
Synthetic aperture radar image of a volcano taken from a space-based instrument. Several of the Chinese AI research clusters we found were related to remote sensing and imagery. Image credit: NASA/JPL

Pharmacology

👉 Read the post: What's hot in pharmacology? Discovering emerging topics with ETO's Map of Science


Hopefully, these quick examples help show how you can use the Map to efficiently explore the global research landscape –– and (once you have an approach that gives interesting results) how you can tweak it without too much trouble.

Of course, no single method or resource is perfect, and the Map of Science certainly has its limitations. We hope the Map will be a useful complement to other methods, not necessarily a replacement. On its own, the Map can provide good initial insight into many important questions about global science and technology. If you have access to subject-matter experts, scholarly datasets, or other such resources, so much the better. We believe the Map will make those resources moreuseful, not less, by helping you easily and efficiently scope your analysis, experiment with different perspectives on the landscape, and find interesting "entry points" for further investigation.

To start using the Map of Science, visit sciencemap.eto.tech. In the meantime, if you'd like to learn more about the Map, its capabilities, and its limitations, ETO is here to help: check out our blog posts or the Map's documentation, book a live support slot, or contact us directly.

Full results

Materials science

Read the post: What's hot in materials science? Discovering emerging topics with ETO's Map of Science

Cluster ID

What does this cluster seem to be about? (summary based on the cluster's keywords and top articles)

Number of articles (last 5 years)

Selected articles (selected from the "Articles and sources" pane in the cluster's detail view)

Other interesting features (based on information from the cluster's detail view)

9380

Zinc-ion batteries

3620

"Active Materials for Aqueous Zinc Ion Batteries: Synthesis, Crystal Structure, Morphology, and Electrochemistry"
"Water‐Lubricated Intercalation in V2O5·nH2O for High‐Capacity and High‐Rate Aqueous Rechargeable Zinc Batteries"

Average article age is less than two years old; nearly 10 times as many Chinese-authored articles as U.S.-authored articles, but the U.S.-authored articles are cited about twice as often on average

107248

New uses of natural materials for pH-sensitive drug delivery - chitosan, alginate, graphene oxide, etc.

102

"pH-sensitive drug delivery based on chitosan wrapped graphene quantum dots with enhanced fluorescent stability"
"Construction of a pH-responsive drug delivery platform based on the hybrid of mesoporous silica and chitosan"

Extremely rapid growth (99th percentile)

43514

High-entropy ceramics and their applications

1002

"Processing and Properties of High-Entropy Ultra-High Temperature Carbides"
"High entropy oxides for reversible energy storage"

Top three author institutions: Chinese Academy of Sciences, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Northwestern Polytechnical University (a Chinese military-affiliated university)

48593

Nanoparticles that fight viruses

850

"Functional Carbon Quantum Dots as Medical Countermeasures to Human Coronavirus"
"Inhibition of H1N1 influenza virus infection by zinc oxide nanoparticles: another emerging application of nanomedicine"

75 patents cite articles in this cluster (90th percentile among all clusters in the Map)

81005

Phosphors in near-infrared light sources

341

"Highly efficient and thermally stable Cr3+-activated silicate phosphors for broadband near-infrared LED applications"
"Advances in Chromium‐Activated Phosphors for Near‐Infrared Light Sources"

81% of the most recent articles (276/341) have Chinese authors

2531

"MXenes" (two-dimensional materials with unusual properties) - synthesis and application

4461

"Applications of 2D MXenes in energy conversion and storage systems"
"The Rise of MXenes"

Drexel University (Philadelphia, PA) leads the authorship table (267 articles in the last five years, 30.37 citations per article), followed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (221 articles, 14.3 average citations per article)

54445

Using lasers to make graphene

670

"Laser-induced graphene for bioelectronics and soft actuators"
"Gas‐Permeable, Multifunctional On‐Skin Electronics Based on Laser‐Induced Porous Graphene and Sugar‐Templated Elastomer Sponges"

Frequently cited by articles in other clusters related to wearable sensors and alternative energy

55310

Transparent engineered wood

664

"Bioinspired Wood Nanotechnology for Functional Materials"
"Solar-assisted fabrication of large-scale, patternable transparent wood"

Top author countries: China, U.S., Sweden, Switzerland, Germany

14501

Hydrogel-based sensors with interesting properties

2143

"Mussel-inspired hydrogels as tough, self-adhesive and conductive bioelectronics: a review"
"Conductive MXene Nanocomposite Organohydrogel for Flexible, Healable, Low‐Temperature Tolerant Strain Sensors"

57% (1216/2143) of the articles in this cluster were funded by China's National Natural Science Foundation

Quantum

Read the post: What's hot in quantum? Discovering emerging topics with ETO's Map of Science

Cluster ID

What does this cluster seem to be about? (summary based on the cluster's keywords and top articles)

Number of articles (last 5 years)

Selected articles (selected from the "Articles and sources" pane in the cluster's detail view)

Other interesting features (based on information from the cluster's detail view)

48420

Single-photon emitting materials

643

"Quantum emitters in 2D materials: Emitter engineering, photophysics, and integration in photonic nanostructures"
"2D materials for quantum information science"

One in six articles in this cluster (98/643) has an author from the University of Technology Sydney

41709

Using machine learning to analyze quantum phenomena

828

"Drawing Phase Diagrams of Random Quantum Systems by Deep Learning the Wave Functions"
"Machine Learning Topological Invariants with Neural Networks"

Many authors are affiliated with institutions in Toronto (University of Waterloo, Perimeter Institute, Vector Institute)

57676

Quantum computing attacks on Feistel cryptographic structures and other ciphers

462

"Implementing Grover oracles for quantum key search on AES and LowMC"
"Quantum key-recovery attack on Feistel structures"

29 patents cite articles in this cluster

2503

Quantum computing algorithms

3804

"Noisy intermediate-scale quantum (NISQ) algorithms"
"Supervised learning with quantum-enhanced feature spaces"

Top author organizations from industry: Google, Microsoft, IBM, Xanadu Quantum Technologies

44652

Detecting contaminants with quantum dot sensors

442

"A facile optosensing protocol based on molecularly imprinted polymer coated on CdTe quantum dots for highly sensitive and selective amoxicillin detection"
"Construction and Application of Molecularly Imprinted Fluorescence Sensor"

About half of articles (217/442) reported funding from a Chinese organization

49998

Applications of van der Waals heterostructures

599

"Van der Waals heterostructures for high-performance device applications: challenges and opportunities"
"Antiambipolar Transistor: A Newcomer for Future Flexible Electronics"

91% of articles are in English, but the top ten author organizations are all East Asian

44845

Tungsten and molybdenum disulfide quantum dots

504

"WS Nanosheet/Graphene Heterostructures for Paper-Based Flexible Photodetectors"
"Molybdenum Disulfide Quantum Dots: Properties, Synthesis, and Applications"

Leading author country: India (206/504 articles)

2781

Topological semimetals

2524

"Extremely high conductivity observed in the triple point topological metal MoP"
"Magnetic Weyl semimetal phase in a Kagomé crystal"

Research is cited in patents for quantum computing, thermoelectric devices, far-infrared detection, hydrogen production

Computing hardware

Read the post: What's hot in hardware? Discovering emerging topics with ETO's Map of Science

Cluster IDWhat does this cluster seem to be about? (summary based on the cluster's keywords and top articles)Number of articles (last 5 years)Selected articles (selected from the "Articles and sources" pane in the cluster's detail view)Other interesting features (based on information from the cluster's detail view)
77332Magnetic tunnel junction devices238"Integer factorization using stochastic magnetic tunnel junctions"
"Neural-like computing with populations of superparamagnetic basis functions"
Purdue University leads the authorship table (53 articles in the cluster), followed by University of Central Florida (21) and Beihang University in China (9)
81599Advanced wearable medical monitoring devices233"A 13.34W Event-Driven Patient-Specific ANN Cardiac Arrhythmia Classifier for Wearable ECG Sensors"
"Design and Implementation of a Machine Learning Based EEG Processor for Accurate Estimation of Depth of Anesthesia"
10% of articles are AI-related
59431High-bandwidth optical transmitters385"400G and Beyond: Coherent Evolution to High-Capacity Inter Data Center Links"
"A SiGe-HBT 2:1 analog multiplexer with more than 67 GHz bandwidth"
Over 30% of articles are from industry (top authoring companies: Huawei, Nokia, NTT)
90867Hardware for posit arithmetic184"PACoGen: A Hardware Posit Arithmetic Core Generator"
"Performance-Efficiency Trade-off of Low-Precision Numerical Formats in Deep Neural Networks"
35% of articles are AI-related
32414Localization and positioning applications of ultra-wideband networks735"UWB-based system for UAV Localization in GNSS-Denied Environments: Characterization and Dataset"
"Applications of UWB Networks and Positioning to Autonomous Robots and Industrial Systems"
European authors and institutions lead the cluster
19741Ambient backscatter communication1233"Exploiting Multiple Antennas for Cognitive Ambient Backscatter Communication"
"Practical Backscatter Communication Systems for Battery-Free Internet of Things: A Tutorial and Survey of Recent Research"
116 patents cite articles in this cluster (94th percentile among all clusters)
13808Reconfigurable reflecting surfaces for wireless communication3590"Smart radio environments empowered by reconfigurable AI meta-surfaces: an idea whose time has come"
"Intelligent Reflecting Surface Enhanced Wireless Network via Joint Active and Passive Beamforming"
Growing extremely fast (99th percentile among all clusters in the Map)
3023Using drones as wireless networking infrastructure4547"Joint Trajectory and Communication Design for Multi-UAV Enabled Wireless Networks"
"A survey on UAV placement optimization for UAV-assisted communication in 5G and beyond networks"
Top five author organizations are all Chinese: Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Southeast University, Tsinghua University, Xidian University, PLA Army Engineering University
5367Various neuromorphic devices3182"Fully hardware-implemented memristor convolutional neural network"
"Recent Advances in Transistor-Based Artificial Synapses"
92% of articles are in English, but the top ten author organizations are all East Asian

Chinese AI research

Read the post: What's hot in Chinese AI research? Discovering emerging topics with ETO's Map of Science

Cluster IDWhat does this cluster seem to be about? (summary based on the cluster's keywords and top articles)Share of articles with at least one author from a Chinese institutionSelected articles (selected from the "Articles and sources" pane in the cluster's detail view)Other interesting features (based on information from the cluster's detail view)
1989Graph neural networks (in general)50% (2646/5262)"Deeper Insights into Graph Convolutional Networks for Semi-Supervised Learning"
"How Powerful are Graph Neural Networks?"
Top three countries by article count: China (2646), U.S. (1474), Australia (300); the same countries ranked by citations (per-article yearly average): Australia (13.2), U.S. (10.17), China (3.93)
19241Deep learning for hyperspectral image processing71% (1529/2139)"Hyperspectral Image Classification With Deep Feature Fusion Network"
"Advances in Hyperspectral Image Classification Based on Convolutional Neural Networks: A Review"
U.S.-affiliated authors published 67 articles in this cluster in 2021; 28 of them (42%) were collaborations with China-affiliated authors
3568Machinery fault detection with AI77% (3910/5048)"A deep convolutional neural network with new training methods for bearing fault diagnosis under noisy environment and different working load"
"Applications of machine learning to machine fault diagnosis: A review and roadmap"
Almost a quarter of articles are solely in Chinese - an unusually high percentage
13372Using machine learning in multiple-input/multiple-output wireless telecommunications51% (1212/2394)"Machine Learning in the Air"
"Deep Learning-based Channel Estimation for Beamspace mmWave Massive MIMO Systems"
161 patents cite research in this cluster
58382AI-based approaches to data fusion in remote sensing53% (249/468)"Deep Encoder–Decoder Networks for Classification of Hyperspectral and LiDAR Data"
"Identifying Corresponding Patches in SAR and Optical Images with a Pseudo-Siamese CNN"
Many articles in this cluster come from IEEE publications
7227"Skeleton-based action recognition"56% (1206/2159)"NTU RGB+D 120: A Large-Scale Benchmark for 3D Human Activity Understanding"
"Skeleton-Based Action Recognition Using Spatio-Temporal LSTM Network with Trust Gates"
211 patents cite articles in this cluster - sample title: "Method and system for recognizing emotions and actions"
24615AI approaches to associating diseases with specific microRNA88% (1031/1165)"A comprehensive survey on computational methods of non-coding RNA and disease association prediction"
"Predicting miRNA-disease association based on inductive matrix completion"
Top author institution: China University of Mining and Technology (98 articles. 15.6 average yearly citations per article)
63809Neuroimagery processing and diagnosis with AI66% (211/318)"Unsupervised Manifold Learning Using High-Order Morphological Brain Networks Derived From T1-w MRI for Autism Diagnosis"
"A toolbox for brain network construction and classification"
Leading author institutions are non-Chinese (Istanbul Technical Univesity, University of Dundee, UNC Chapel Hill), despite the heavy Chinese presence in the cluster as a whole
13724Machine learning for scene classification in remote sensing imagery62% (1197/1939)"PatternNet: A benchmark dataset for performance evaluation of remote sensing image retrieval"
"Urban land-use mapping using a deep convolutional neural network with high spatial resolution multispectral remote sensing imagery"
Private companies associated with articles in this cluster include Lockheed Martin, Airbus, and several Chinese state-owned enterprises

Pharmacology

Read the post: What's hot in pharmacology? Discovering emerging topics with ETO's Map of Science

Cluster IDWhat does this cluster seem to be about? (summary based on the cluster's keywords and top articles)Number of articles (last 5 years)Selected articles (selected from the "Articles and sources" pane in the cluster's detail view)Other interesting features (based on information from the cluster's detail view)
88560Using magnetic nanoparticles in hyperthermic cancer treatment163"Hadron Therapy, Magnetic Nanoparticles and Hyperthermia: A Promising Combined Tool for Pancreatic Cancer Treatment"
"Nanoparticles exhibiting self-regulating temperature as innovative agents for Magnetic Fluid Hyperthermia"
Extremely rapid growth (100th percentile among all clusters in the Map)
30068Akkermansia muciniphila probiotic bacteria1198"Akkermansia muciniphila: is it the Holy Grail for ameliorating metabolic diseases?"
"Pasteurized Akkermansia muciniphila increases whole-body energy expenditure and fecal energy excretion in diet-induced obese mice"
Over half of articles in the cluster have Chinese authors, but they are cited significantly less often than articles from other countries
10761COVID-19 protease-targeting drugs3073"Structural basis of SARS-CoV-2 3CL~(pro) and anti-COVID-19 drug discovery from medicinal plants"
"Boceprevir, GC-376, and calpain inhibitors II, XII inhibit SARS-CoV-2 viral replication by targeting the viral main protease"
Top authoring country: India (757/3073 articles have at least one Indian author)
68964Sodium-glucose co-transporter 2 inhibitors441"Empagliflozin Improves Liver Steatosis and Fibrosis in Patients with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial"
"SGLT-2 Inhibitors in NAFLD: Expanding Their Role beyond Diabetes and Cardioprotection?"
Japanese authors, institutions and funders are especially prominent in this cluster
85537Kinase inhibitor treatment for Alzheimer's disease160"Role of p38/MAPKs in Alzheimer's disease: implications for amyloid beta toxicity targeted therapy"
"Simplified immunosuppressive and neuroprotective agents based on gracilin A"
Top author in this cluster, both by paper count and citations (39 average yearly citations per paper): Hyang-Sook Hoe of the Korea Brain Research Institute
47700Ivermectin treatment for COVID-19831"Meta-Analyses Do Not Establish Improved Mortality With Ivermectin Use in COVID-19"
"Effect of Ivermectin on Time to Resolution of Symptoms Among Adults With Mild COVID-19: A Randomized Clinical Trial"
Top authoring institutions are predominantly British and Spanish
76046Near-infrared photoimmunotherapy of cancer234"Endoscopic Applications of Near-Infrared Photoimmunotherapy (NIR-PIT) in Cancers of the Digestive and Respiratory Tracts"
"Near-Infrared Photoimmunotherapy: Photoactivatable Antibody–Drug Conjugates (ADCs)"
The United States and Japan play leading roles in this cluster
19657Drug delivery via extracellular vesicles1543"New approaches in extracellular vesicle engineering for improving the efficacy of anti-cancer therapies"
"Engineering macrophage-derived exosomes for targeted paclitaxel delivery to pulmonary metastases: in vitro and in vivo evaluations"
Top venue for articles in this cluster, unsurprisingly: the Journal of Extracellular Vesicles