Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: November 15, 2006
Nanotechnology that's Good For People
Foresight note: This nanotech application is proving effective in absorbing arsenic from water.
Headline: New technology promises to decontaminate arsenic water
Cleaning water is now easy and inexpensive and can be done by using crystals of a compound that is related to rust, according to American researchers.
The team of scientists said that by using crystals of iron oxide, which is the byproduct of rust, contaminated water can be cleaned and can be used for drinking. The research was conducted by a group of scientists from the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology at Rice University in Texas.
The researchers developed crystals as small as 12 nanometers wide using nanotechnology. These crystals were then mixed with contaminated water. After some time, they found that the crystals were coated with poison and were acting like iron filings. They were then removed with the help of a strong magnet, and when the water was tested, it was found to be well within the international safety limits.
Professor Doug Natelson, one of the authors of the report, said that the trick was not new and was being practiced by chemical engineers for years adding that the team was surprised to see that the particles could be removed by using hand-held magnets in some of the cases.
Foresight note: Further proof that nanoparticles have the potential to "cook cancer" to death as part of a targeted treatment
Headline: Modeling and experiments aim to improve nanoscale heat therapy for cancer
Gold nanoparticles, through their unique ability to convert light into heat, show great promise as miniature heaters capable of cooking cancer cells to death. Now, that work gets a theory boost thanks to the efforts of Nikolai Khlebtsov, Ph.D., and colleagues at the Russian Academy of Sciences, who have developed a theory to explain the relationship between nanoparticle size, shape, and other physical parameters and the efficiency with which they absorb light, the most important factor in determining how much heat a given type of gold nanoparticle will produce to kill cancer cells.
Foresight note: This nanoscale cancer treatment may be effective with a single dose in the future.
Headline: Single-dose drug-loaded dendrimer cures mice of colon cancer
In a dramatic demonstration of the power of nanotechnology, a team of investigators has designed a nanoscale, polymeric drug delivery vehicle that when loaded with a widely used anticancer agent cures colon cancer in mice with a single dose. The researchers, led by Francis Szoka, Ph.D., of the University of California, San Francisco, and Jean Frechet, Ph.D., of the University of California, Berkeley, published the results of these experiments in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. This current work represents a milestone in a concerted effort to design nearly every aspect of a nanoscale drug delivery vehicle in order to maximize the anticancer activity of the drug payload.
Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet
Foresight note: This research team has proven that diamond can be a nanowire's best friend when it comes to carrying current.
Headline: For better nanowires, just add diamond
Among the positive characteristics of diamond, such as its beauty and unsurpassed hardness, are less well-known properties that make it a valuable material in the electronics industry. Now, according to two scientists at the University of California-Riverside, diamond can boast one more useful ability in that area: significantly increasing the current-carrying abilities of silicon nanowires. This means that diamond may play an important role in future nanoelectronic technologies.
The UCR scientists are Alexander Balandin, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Director of UCR's Nano-Device Laboratory (NDL) and Vladimir Fonoberov, a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer. In a paper published in the October 19 online edition of Nano Letters, they show theoretically that nanowires coated with diamond can be up to 100 times better at carrying electric current than bare nanowires at very low temperatures, and two times better at room temperature.
Nanotechnology is coming and it will have a tremendous impact on our society. What's your priority for nanotechnology: cancer treatments, sustainable energy, clean water, a restored environment, space development, or new manufacturing capabilities? Would you like to help influence the direction of this powerful technology?
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NSTI Nanotech 2007 - Abstract Deadline is this Friday
The tenth annual NSTI Nanotech 2007 Call for Papers is open. Scheduled for May 20-24, 2007 in Santa Clara, California, NSTI is expanding the event to highlight how nanoscience and nanotechnology research is having an impact on R&D in the Fortune 500 and is collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in presenting a Symposium on Nanotechnology in Health, Environment & Society.
Headline: Scientists set 'Five Grand Challenges' for nanotechnology risk research
News source: Physorg.com
Society is in danger of squandering the powerful potential of nanotechnology due to a lack of clear information about its risks, conclude 14 top international scientists in a major paper published in the November 16th issue of the journal Nature. The paper, "Safe Handling of Nanotechnology," identifies Five Grand Challenges for research on nanotechnology risk that must be met if the technology is to reach its full promise.
The paper's lead author is Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Chief Science Advisor Andrew Maynard. The co-authors are among the world's foremost nanotechnology risk and applications researchers from universities, government, and industry in the United States and Europe.
"The specter of possible harm — whether real or imagined — threatens to slow the development of nanotechnology unless sound, independent and authoritative information is developed on what the risks are, and how to avoid them," Maynard and his co-authors write.
Headline: ICON issues survey of nanotechnology practices
ICON, a broad-based council, released a survey titled, "A Survey of Current Practices in the Nanotechnology Workplace" regarding workplace safety. This report, the first comprehensive, international survey of workplace safety practices in the burgeoning nanotechnology industry, finds that many nanotech companies and laboratories believe nanoparticles — specks of matter that are smaller than living cells — may pose specific environmental and health risks for workers.
In response, companies are reporting that they are developing special programs and procedures for mitigating risks to workers and consumers. Yet, due in part to a lack of general information regarding nanomaterials risks, companies and labs have workers using conventional environmental, health and safety (EHS) practices when handling nanomaterials, even though the practices were developed to deal with bulk materials that can have markedly different chemical properties than their nano-sized counterparts.
"The use of conventional practices for handling nanomaterials appears to stem from a lack of information on the toxicological properties of nanomaterials, as well as nascent regulatory guidance regarding the proper environmental, health and safety practices that should be used with them," said Dr. Kristen M. Kulinowski, director of the International Council on Nanotechnology, a coalition of academic, industrial, governmental and civil society organizations that commissioned the survey.
News source: Gulf Times
Materials scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology in Roorkee (IIT-R) have developed microwave absorbing nanocomposite coatings that could make aircraft almost invisible to radar.
The technology for building invisible, or stealth aircraft, is a closely guarded secret of developed countries and a handful of laboratories in India are doing research in this area. Radars that emit pulses of microwave radiation identify flying aircraft by detecting the radiation reflected by the aircraft's metallic body.
The nanocomposite coatings developed by Rahul Sharma, R C Agarwala and Vijaya Agarwala at IIT-R absorb most of the incident radiation and reflect very little.
Headline: Comprehensive model is first to map protein folding at atomic level
News source: Physorg.com
Scientists at Harvard University have developed a computer model that, for the first time, can fully map and predict how small proteins fold into three-dimensional, biologically active shapes. The work could help researchers better understand the abnormal protein aggregation underlying some devastating diseases, as well as how natural proteins evolved and how proteins recognize correct biochemical partners within living cells.
The technique, which can track protein folding for some 10 microseconds — about as long as some proteins take to assume their biologically stable configuration, and at least a thousand times longer than previous methods — is described this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
"For years, a sizable army of scientists has been working toward better understanding how proteins fold," says co-author Eugene I. Shakhnovich, professor of chemistry and chemical biology in Harvard's Faculty of Arts and Sciences. "One of the great problems in science has been deciphering how amino acid sequence — a protein's primary structure — also determines its three-dimensional structure, and through that its biological function. Our paper provides a first solution to the folding problem, for small proteins, at an atomic level of detail."
January 22-23, 2007
The Nanotech Investing Forum is a window on where VCs are investing and what are the most promising nanotechnology commercial applications.
November 21, 2006
The Second Symposium Showcasing University Graduate Research, Nanotech: Imagine the Possibilities, will feature pre-publication briefs of university graduate research topics in nanotechnology. The event will give ample opportunity for networking.
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, event or idea that I think is especially cool.
One of nanotechnologies' future promises is quick medical diagnostics. This article outlines a simple test which detects virus types quickly.
Headline: New nanotechnology rapidly detects viruses
News source: Monsters — Critics Science — Nature
U.S. scientists are using nanotechnology to detect viruses as diverse as influenza and HIV in 60 seconds or less...
Lead author Ralph Tripp of the university`s College of Veterinary Medicine said the technique measures the change in frequency of a near-infrared laser as it scatters viral DNA or RNA. That change in frequency is as distinct as a fingerprint.
Although the phenomenon is well known, previous attempts to use spectroscopy to diagnose viruses failed because the signal produced is inherently weak.
But University of Georgia physics Professor Yiping Zhao and University of Georgia chemistry Professor Richard Dluhy found a way to significantly amplify the signal by using nanorods.
Headline: Nanotechnology DNA sensor promises benefits, possible downsides
News source: Nanodot
We are only in the very early stages of nanotechnology bringing new abilities to DNA reading, but the latest such nanotech advance comes from New Mexico Tech profs Peng Zhang and Snezna Rogelj, described in an article by George Zamora:
"NM Tech Researchers Develop Nanomaterial Bio-sensor"
"New Mexico Tech researchers have developed a highly sensitive nucleotide sensor that uses the special light-emitting properties of some nanoparticles in analyzing and identifying individual components of single strands of DNA and RN...
"Zhang said he and his fellow research team members are hoping to make the technology they have developed even more "useful and meaningful" by soon adapting it to detect and kill cancer cells."
Exciting work: an early nanomaterial used to detect a DNA difference and, with additional work, hoped to be able to kill cells. All of us concerned about cancer are pleased. Let's also keep an eye on potential misuse of related sensing/killing abilities, which could be used — someday — in a weapon. I have not heard of plans for such a thing, but it's an obvious idea and we should keep an eye out for it.
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