Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: February 22, 2006
In this issue:
Foresight has articulated six critical challenges that humanity faces which can be addressed by nanotechnology. In the Weekly News Digest we identify news items, research breakthroughs, and events citing current research and applications providing the stepping stones to solutions to these challenges.
Foresight note: This article discusses an ultracapacitor that would enable batteries to possibly outlive the item they are powering.
Headline: The Ultra Battery: A new type of ultracapacitor could eventually have you throwing out your conventional batteries.
A breakthrough technology is holding forth the promise of charging electronic gadgets in minutes, never having to replace a battery again, and dropping the cost of hybrid cars. Indeed, the technology has the potential to provide an energy storage device ten times more powerful than even the latest batteries in hybrid cars — while outliving the vehicle itself.
The new technology, developed at MIT's Laboratory for Electromagnetic and Electronic Systems, should improve ultracapacitors by swapping in carbon nanotubes, thereby greatly increasing the surface area of electrodes and the ability to store energy.
Ultracapacitors, a souped-up version of the capacitors widely used in electronics, have been around for decades. They're well-known for being powerful, that is, able to quickly absorb and release electricity. But they can't store much energy so their stored electricity is depleted in a matter of seconds. As a result, they've been limited to niche applications, such as providing quick bursts of power in some hybrid transit buses.
Foresight note: This panel of experts discusses the need for nanotechnology solutions for clean water. Presentations and audio online
Headline: Nanotechnology and Clean Water Panel Online
William Lee, President and CEO, eMembrane
Foresight note: An interdisciplinary group of scientists discusses how nanotech will impact health care in three specific areas.
Headline: Nanotechnology to improve health care delivery – at the molecular scale
Nanotechnology's potential for improving drug delivery, tissue regeneration and laboratory miniaturization is being explored by a diverse array of University of Michigan (U-M) researchers.
A handful of these leading scientists from engineering, public health, dentistry and medicine discussed the promise of nanotechnology for oral health diagnosis and treatment on a special panel at the AAAS Annual Meeting on Feb. 17, 2006.
Drug delivery – To help get the most potent anti-cancer drugs off the shelf and into the clinic, U-M researchers are looking at two nanotechnology approaches to precisely deliver drugs and visualize individual cells. One system is a star-shaped synthetic molecule called a dendrimer, and the other is a tiny plastic bead called a PEBBLE.
Tissue regeneration – Panel co-organizer David Kohn, professor of biologic and materials science in the U-M Dental School and biomedical engineering in the College of Engineering, studies bone structure at the molecular level. In experiments that use tissue engineering to build bone and other mineralized tissue, Kohn said, "we use a process that's like nature's, but certainly not as elegant."
Laboratory miniaturization: Reconfigurable cell adhesion substrates – A team led by Shuichi Takayama, assistant professor of biomedical engineering, has replicated the nano-scale features and stickiness of cell-adhesion molecules in a laboratory device. Studying how the surface of a cell interacts with adhesion proteins is key to understanding signal transduction, growth, differentiation, motility and cell death. But in vitro models are hard to come by.
Foresight note: This article announces the formation of a research project focusing on portable and early detection of food pathogens.
Headline: Portable nano and micro sensors developed for food safety
An EU-funded research project has developed micro and nanotechnology portable devices to detect toxins, pathogens and chemicals in foodstuffs on the spot.
The development means food samples would no longer have to be sent to a laboratory for tests — a comparatively lengthy and costly procedure — but could be analyzed for safety and quality at the farm, slaughter house, during transport, or in a processing or packaging plant, the project's researchers say.
Foresight note: According to this article, this research may lay the foundation for a possible optical quantum computer.
Headline: Study shows that quantum dots can "Talk"
Ohio University scientists who hope to use quantum dots as the building blocks for the next generation of computers have found a way to make these artificial atoms communicate.
"Essentially, the dots talk to each other," said Ameenah Al-Ahmadi, an OU doctoral student who recently published the findings with physics professor Sergio Ulloa.
The dots are tiny, engineered spherical crystals about 5 nm in diameter. An average biological cell, in comparison, has a diameter of about 1000 nm. Researchers believe that quantum dots will be extremely useful in developing nanoscale technologies because they are versatile and uniform, which could eliminate possible variations and flaws in materials.
In the recent study, the researchers were the first to use theoretical models to show how light energy shining on quantum dots would prompt them to transfer energy in a coherent, or more uniform, fashion. They found that when the dots were arranged a certain distance from each other — greater than the radius of the dots — light waves traveled between the nanocrystals in a consistent pattern. In previous research, the light's wavelength would change or become irregular during the energy exchange, which creates a breakdown in communication between quantum dots.
Foresight note: Results from research done on Earth will be used to get us into space, while the results from research done in space will bring new applications to Earth. This article discusses how one astronaut will be conducting research as he orbits the Earth.
Headline: Brazil astronaut to do nano research
Brazil's first astronaut, who is due to fly to the International Space Station at the end of March, will conduct nanotechnology research while in orbit.
Lt. Col. Marcos Pontes, said at his first news conference ahead of the March 30 blastoff, said he was expected to conduct nine nanotechnology-related experiments and also would use the space station's photo and video cameras to monitor his country's territory.
Pontes, 42, will fly to the ISS under an agreement signed by the leaders of Russia's and Brazil's space agencies in October 2005. The Brazilian is undergoing training at a cosmonaut training center outside Moscow, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
Pavel Vinogradov, Russian commander of the 13th expedition to the ISS, said he and U.S. astronaut Jeffrey N. Williams had a long list of assignments to perform during their six months in space, including numerous scientific experiments and two space walks apiece.
Productive Nanosystems – News & Events
In this section of the Weekly News Digest we will cover news, presentations or research that lead to Productive Nanosystems.
Productive Nanosystems will be molecular-scale systems that make other useful materials and devices that are nanostructured. Foresight and Battelle have launched the development of the International Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems, with seed funding provided by the Waitt Family Foundation. If you are interested in becoming a Roadmap Sponsor, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Presentation: NanoMechanical Engineering – Design and Analysis Tools for Productive Nanosystems
Mark Sims, President of Nanorex will give a presentation at the Nanomanufacturing Conference & Exhibits sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).
Highly-specialized CAD software for the design and analysis of molecular machines is critical for the development of productive nanosystems. nanoENGINEER-1, a GPL open source project sponsored by Nanorex, is one of the first molecular CAD programs developed exclusively for nanomechanical engineering. Drawing from elements of the Drexler/Burch nanofactory animation, the presentation will demonstrate some of the key features required to aid future nanoengineers in their quest to design working nanosystems.
See also the presentation by Foresight founder K. Eric Drexler at this conference.
Downloadable brochure from SME:
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April 25-26, 2006 – Carbon Nanotubes
Carbon nanotubes are poised to take the world by storm! This tiny technology has the potential to revolutionize strength and light weighing across a multitude of different materials, making it suitable applications as widespread as aeronautics and packaging. Attend this groundbreaking event to find out where this burgeoning technology is heading and what opportunities it could offer your business.
May 7-11, 2006 – Nanotech 2006
Are you ready for the US's largest nanotechnology conference? It's coming up, May 7-11, 2006, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. It's the Nano Science and Technology (NSTI) Nanotech 2006 conference, featuring more than eight hundred technology presentations, government program reviews, early stage company showcase and expanded vertical industry symposia. Attendance is expected to exceed 3,000 with 200+ exhibitors.
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Nanotech Events & News
Headline: Coordinated and Integrated Oversight of Nanotechnology Urged by Report from University of Michigan Humphrey Institute
New technology can enhance our quality of life, but how can we ensure the health and environmental safety of its applications? The Center for Science, Technology and Public Policy (CSTPP) at the University of Minnesota Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs has released a new report that addresses this question as it relates to nanotechnology, a rapidly emerging area with hundreds of applications, many already in the marketplace. The report captures recommendations and information developed at a conference held at the Humphrey Institute last fall.
Practitioners, academics and scientists contributed to the report, "The Nanotechnology-Biology Interface: Exploring Models for Oversight," and their conclusions raise issues for government bodies, scientists, the private sector and consumers. According to the report, the applications of nanotechnology require revised risk models and standards of safety. Researchers and others argue that it is increasingly urgent we address the issue of oversight as several new products already are in use by consumers and many more are on the way.
Student Scholarship: Nanotechnology – Environmental – Deadline March 15, 2006
The Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST) announced that two scholarships will be offered to two full-time students in the educational programs of science or engineering. The winners will be announced at the 52nd annual technical meeting and exposition of IEST, to be held May 7-10, 2006.
The Eugene Borson Scholarship, in the amount of $500, is offered annually by IEST for the best original technical paper(s) written by a student in a topic related to the environmental sciences in connection with controlled environments, particularly through contamination control and nanotechnologies, in which products and equipment are manufactured, processed, or tested.
The Park Espenschade Memorial Scholarship, in the amount of $500, is awarded offered by IEST for the best original technical paper(s) written by a student in a topic related to the environmental sciences. "Environmental sciences" is used by IEST in connection with the effects on equipment and machinery of natural, indoor, and extreme environments which may occur under various aerospace, marine, and climatic conditions; and simulating environments to better trace and predict those effects.
The Future of Ultra-thin Films and Nanocoatings
Nanotechnology Symposium: Nanoparticles in the Workplace
Dear readers — When reviewing news for this digest, I often read about something that I think is cool, but it doesn't fit within the usual editorial categories of the News Digest. This section highlights a nanotech advance or idea that I think is especially cool.
One of the great promises of nanotechnology is clean manufacturing and stronger materials. This article discusses an MIT breakthrough that could replace highly toxic metal coatings such as chromium, by shrinking the size of crystals.
Headline: Researchers think small to find safer alloys
Massachusetts Institute of Technology scientists say they have devised a method for shrinking the size of crystals to make safer metal alloys.
The Cambridge, Mass., researchers say the new materials could replace metal coatings such as chromium, which is dangerous for factory workers to produce.
Join the discussion – visit our blog Nanodot led by Christine Peterson.
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Special thanks to Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges Research Volunteer Michelle Hubbard, MSc Candidate, Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan
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