Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: January 4, 2007
Nanotechnology that's Good For People
Foresight note: "Nanotemplate engineering," developed at University of Kentucky, enables targeted and sustained release of drugs in tissues.
Headline: UK researchers win patent for drug delivery process
U.S. Patent 7,153,525 was awarded to Russell Mumper and Michael Jay for a process for manufacturing nanoparticles — or microscopic particles — for use in pharmaceuticals and for other purposes, according to a statement from the school...
Mumper and Jay are conducting National Institutes of Health-funded research involving the use of Nanotemplate Engineering to facilitate the development of potential treatments for resistant metastatic breast cancer, a therapeutic vaccine for HIV/AIDS, enhanced molecular imaging agents for the diagnosis of tumors, and so-called "clean tech" applications in radiation sensing and detection.
Foresight note: This research reveals that nanodiamonds are not toxic to a variety of cell types for medical applications.
Headline: Easing concerns about the toxicity of diamond nanoparticles
New research has brightened the prospects for using nanodiamonds as drug carriers, implant coatings, nanorobots and other medical applications that take advantage of diamond nanoparticles' attractive properties.
The research is scheduled for publication Dec. 28 in ACS' weekly The Journal of Physical Chemistry B.
Liming Dai (University of Dayton), Saber M. Hussain (Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) and colleagues, including PhD student Amanda Schrand, explain that advances in technology have made a new generation of nanodiamonds available. Although diamond in bulk form is inert and biocompatible, nano-materials often behave differently than their bulk counterparts. That led to concern that diamond nanoparticles might have toxic effects on cells.
"We have for the first time assessed the cytotoxicity of nanodiamonds ranging in size from 2 to 10 nm," the researchers state, adding that nanodiamonds were not toxic to a variety of different cell types. "These results suggest that nanodiamonds could be ideal for many biological applications in a diverse range of cell types," they add.
Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet
Foresight note: The application should assist in making current heating and cooling systems more efficient.
Headline: Nanotechnology could halve hvac energy use
A company developing nanotechnology which, it is claimed, could make hvacr equipment at least 50% more efficient, is set to establish its headquarters in Cambridge.
The company, Airnatech, was set up following investment by the US Bridgehead Group in UK company Airnacon and Danish company NIL Technology.
The nano copper technology is the brainchild of Dr J H Lee, an ex-NASA scientist that helped develop the powerless cooling technology for the US space shuttle. Dr Lee developed the copper that goes into the heat exchangers, while NIL technology will provide the nano structures that go inside the copper.
This copper, the company claims, is around 40 times more effective in transferring heat than materials conventionally used, cutting the amount of electrical power needed and therefore reducing the total amount of energy consumed by air conditioners worldwide.
Foresight note: This research, in which bacteria produce conductive nanowires, could result in a method to bioengineer electrical devices.
Headline: Nanowire producing bacteria form an electrically integrated community
Bacteria are ubiquitous in the earth's surface, subsurface, fresh water, and oceanic environment. Bacteria are remarkable in that they are capable of respiring aerobically and anaerobically using a variety of compounds, including metals, as terminal electron acceptors. Metal reducing bacteria can significantly affect the geochemistry of aquatic sediments, submerged soils, and the terrestrial subsurface. Microbial dissimilatory reduction of metals is a globally important biogeochemical process driving the cycling of iron and manganese, associated trace metals, and organic matter. Microbial metal reduction is of significant interest among scientists who are researching remediation of environmental contaminants. However, little is known about the biochemical or molecular mechanisms underlying bacterial metal reduction. Conducting research with toxic metal reducing bacteria, researchers discovered that bacteria produce electrically conductive nanowires in response to electron-acceptor limitation. These findings could be used to bioengineer electrical devices such as microbial fuel cells.
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Headline: NIST laser-based method cleans up grubby nanotubes
News source: Physorg.com
Before carbon nanotubes can fulfill their promise as ultrastrong fibers, electrical wires in molecular devices, or hydrogen storage components for fuel cells, better methods are needed for purifying raw nanotube materials. Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL, Golden, Colo.), have taken a step toward this goal by demonstrating a simple method of cleaning nanotubes by zapping them with carefully calibrated laser pulses.
By now, due to a cascade of media coverage about nanotechnology, not only the scientific community but the public at large has heard about the huge impact that nanoparticles and their capabilities may have on our lives in the 21st century. But at the same time nanotech applications are expanding the limits of science and medicine, they are stretching the boundaries of intellectual property law. As with other waves of innovation, nanotechnology will catalyze change in social, scientific, and legal arenas.
Shifts in the way intellectual property (IP) is defined and administered are already becoming visible as a result of nanotechnology trends. "Universities and companies seem to think there is something quite significant going on here, because they are rushing to the patent office in record numbers to patent nanotechnology inventions," says Mark Lemley, professor at Stanford Law School and director of the Stanford Program in Law, Science, and Technology.
Foresight note: One of Forbes' top five breakthroughs in nanotech for 2006 is research by 2006 Foresight Feynman Prize Winner, Paul W. Rothemund of Caltech.
Top Five Nanotech Breakthroughs Of 2006
News source: Forbes.com by Josh Wolfe
This year saw a slew of remarkable nanotech breakthroughs, and narrowing down the top five was no easy task. One major theme of 2006 was the intersection of computing and biology—integrated circuits were used to study everything from neural activity to tissue dynamics, and disposable bio labs-on-a-chip became a reality...
Researcher: Paul W. K. Rothemund (Caltech)
The sheer simplicity and versatility of Dr. Rothemund's "DNA origami" renders it a revolution in nanoscale architecture. Rothemund developed a technique to fold a single long strand of DNA into any 2D shape held together by a few shorter DNA pieces. He created software to quickly determine what short sequences will fold the main strand into the desired shape, such as the DNA smiley face he built, which is a mere 100nm across and 2nm thick, or his nanoscale map of the Americas.
They sound silly, but these creations are proof of concept: here is a method for building scaffolding that can be used to hold quantum dots in a quantum computer or proteins in a multi-enzyme factory, to name just a few potential applications.
Headline: The first U.S. federal restrictions on nanoparticles could be coming soon, in a narrow decision by the EPA
News source: NanoWerk
In a major reversal, the U.S. EPA has determined that clothes washing machines that use silver ions as a disinfectant will have to be registered as a pesticide. Until now, the agency has not regulated nanomaterials, including silver ions, made of a bioaccumulating, persistent, and toxic metal. Yet EPA's decision may be meaningless, critics point out, because if the company deletes from its advertising the assertion that silver can kill bacteria, it won't have to register the washer.
The fact that a product can slip past the agency without being registered if the company doesn't claim that it can kill bacteria is a "quirk" of the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA), and "it'll be intriguing to see where we go on this," says Andrew Maynard, science adviser to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. He and others are urgently calling for research into nanotechnology's potential environmental, health, and safety risks.
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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.
Fraser Stoddart, who serves on the Steering Committee for the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems, will be knighted, but what I think is the coolest is that he perceives this honor as a way to continue speaking about the importance of nanotechnology.
Headline: UCLA Professor to Be Knighted
News source: MyFox Cleveland
A chemistry professor at the University of California at Los Angeles has been selected for knighthood by Queen Elizabeth II of Britain.
Fraser Stoddart, a world-renowned expert in molecular nanotechnology, said the honor would allow him "to be more influential, perhaps, in speaking on behalf of the importance of chemistry to science and the importance of nanotechnology."
However, Stoddart, who moved to UCLA in 1997, said he would prefer that no one in the United States address him as "Sir."
"I embrace the informality of American, and particularly California, culture," said Stoddart, 64, his Scottish accent still strong.
Stoddart is director of the California NanoSystems Institute, which is opening a building at UCLA next year.
News source: Nanodot
The Institute for the Future, in a UK-funded study published on the Stanford website, presents eleven outlooks for nanotechnology over the next 50 years:
Comments from Christine — These are probably all worth a look, although I found the "Impact" assessments listed at the bottom of each page to be...odd. Of the nanotechnology developments listed above, most have "Impact" listings of Medium-Low. Perhaps they are referring to near-term impacts. (Credit: Kennita Watson)
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