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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: January 17, 2007

In this issue:

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

Foresight note: More evidence that targeted therapy on the nanoscale will help in the fight against cancer.

Headline: Genes delivered by nanotechnology cut lung tumors
News source: CancerFacts

Using a combination of gene therapy and nanotechnology, scientists have cut the number of human non-small cell lung cancer tumors in mice by 75 percent, a new study shows.

In the study published in the Jan. 15, edition of Cancer Research, the researchers led by Dr. Jack Roth, professor and chair of the M. D. Anderson Department of Thoracic and Cardiovascular Surgery, used nanotechnology to deliver into cancer cells two genes that trigger programmed cell death, which are often shutdown when cells become mutated by cancer.

"In cancer treatment we have combination chemotherapy, and we also combine different modes of therapy — surgery, radiation and chemotherapy," Roth said in a prepared statement. "Now you've got the possibility of combined targeted gene therapy."

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

Foresight note: Nanotechnology is an enabling technology, and collaboration will be necessary to achieve applications that will help humankind. Here is a good start on one type of collaboration.

Headline: Unique collaboration funded to develop nanotechnology for melanoma
News source: Physorg.com

A unique collaboration between electrical engineers, mechanical engineers and cancer researchers may be the perfect combination to improve diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of patients with melanoma.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Texas at Dallas have received funding to develop a mechanical system the size of a wristwatch that will display the presence or absence of genetic signals of melanoma. The $1.1 million grant, funded over the next four years, was awarded by the National Science Foundation.

Engineers, working with cancer researchers, will use the funding attempt to "wire" and color code various genes using nanotechnology to screen blood samples. The goal is to help physicians and patients visualize changes that occur in melanoma cells that indicate important developments such as disease progression or response to therapy.

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

Foresight note: Biosensors to monitor blood glucose levels may be coming soon with the research mentioned in this article.

Headline: Towards a high performance nanotechnology glucose sensor for diabetes sufferers
News source: Nanowerk Spotlight

As the most common endocrine metabolic disorder for human beings, diabetes mellitus with an obvious phenomenon of high blood glucose concentrations results from a lack of insulin. Despite the availability of treatment, diabetes has remained a major cause of death and serious vascular and neuropathy diseases. Continuously monitoring the blood glucose level and intermittent injections of insulin are widely used for effective control and management of diabetes...Recent research effort for glucose sensing have turned to nanomaterials. Nanomaterial-based biosensors already have shown the capability of detecting trace amounts of biomolecules in real time. New research has studied the electrochemical characteristics of platinum decorated carbon nanotubes (CNTs) as a promising candidate for glucose sensing. Its improved performance may encourage further exploration of this novel nanomaterial in the field of bioapplications.

"The good electrochemical properties for both carbon nanotubes and platinum nanoparticles have been well documented," Dr. Jining Xie explains to Nanowerk. "However, there are few reports on combining both. The originality of our work is to in-situ prepare platinum decorated carbon nanotubes, not simple mixing them, as the supportive materials for glucose sensing electrodes."

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Foresight note: This research being done at HP could result in a prototype chip as soon as next year.

Headline: HP touts FPGA technology breakthrough
News source: ElectronicsWeekly.com by Colleen Taylor

Researchers at Hewlett Packard announced a breakthrough that they said could lead to the creation of field programmable gate arrays (FPGA) up to eight times denser, while using less energy for a given computation than those currently being produced.

In addition, the researchers claimed that such chips could be built using the same sized transistors as those used in today's FPGA design, meaning they could be built in current fabrication facilities with only minor modifications.

The technology calls for a nanoscale crossbar switch structure to be layered on top of conventional CMOS, using an architecture HP Labs researchers have named "field programmable nanowire interconnect" (FPNI), a variation on FPGA technology.

The research, by Greg Snider and Stan Williams of HP Labs, is a featured paper in the January 24 issue of Nanotechnology, a publication of the British Institute of Physics. The research was conducted using classic modelling and simulation techniques, but Williams said HP is working on producing an actual chip using the approach, and could have a laboratory prototype completed within the year.

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Foresight Challenge: Enabling space development

Foresight note: The mysteries of outer space may be mined using this nanoscale application.

Headline: New nano-detector very promising for remote cosmic realms
News source: Physorg.com

A miniscule but super-sensitive sensor can help solve the mysteries of outer space. Cosmic radiation, which contains the terahertz frequencies that the sensors detect, offers astronomers important new information about the birth of star systems and planets. Merlijn Hajenius developed these sensors for Delft University of Technology's Kavli Institute of Nanoscience, in close cooperation with the SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research.

The detector, called a 'hot electron bolometer', is based on the well-known phenomenon that electrical resistance increases when something is heated up. The use of a superconductor renders the detector extremely sensitive and allows it to be used for radiation that until now could not be so well detected.

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Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology

Quite a bit happened in the nanotechnology realm last year, and we anticipate that the pace of advanced research and policy discussion will only increase in 2007.

Do you believe that nanotechnology will give society the ability to tackle the hard challenges facing humanity? What's your priority for nanotechnology: cancer treatments and longevity therapies, sustainable energy, clean water, a restored environment, space development, or "zero waste" manufacturing?

If you would like to help influence the direction of this powerful technology, please consider becoming a member of Foresight Nanotech Institute. With your support, Foresight will continue to educate the general public on beneficial nanotechnology and what it will mean to our society.

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Foresight Partners

Nanotech Investing Forum
Sponsored by IBF
January 22-23, 2007
Palm Springs, California

The IBF Nanotech Investing Forum — where VCs, corporate investors and nanotech CEOs unite. This conference provides investors with leading-edge information to profit from nanotech innovation.

This conference will address:

  • Inside Look at Investing in Innovative Nanotechnologies: Venture Capitalists' Perspectives & Strategies
  • Partnering with Strategic Investors
  • Nanotechnology Patenting 2007: Increasing Corporate Value by Using the Patent System for Strategic IP
  • What Every Nano CEO Thinks About, But Doesn't Talk About
  • Commercial Advances: Real Companies and Real Revenues
  • What Nano Companies Need to Prove in order to Gain Pharma's Interest
  • Growing Investing Opportunity: How Nanotech is Helping in the Mitigation and Adaptation of Global Climate Change
  • The True Story: Upside & Downside of Going Public on the AIM

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Nanotech News

Headline: Nanotechnology in China: ambitions and realities
News source: PhotonicsOnline

A senior Department of Commerce official recently claimed that China is rapidly catching up to the United States in nanotechnology. This news comes on top of the latest OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) forecast that China will have spent more on research and development (R&D) than Japan in 2006, making it the world's second highest investor in R&D after the U.S.

Nanotechnology — the manipulation of materials at very small sizes, where these materials take on novel or unusual physical and chemical properties — is a field of intense international competition. Some experts predict nanotechnology will be as important as the steam engine, the transistor, and the Internet. Worldwide, governments and corporations invested almost $10 billion in nanotechnology R&D in 2005.

Is China poised to become the world's nanotech superpower, or is this prediction hyperbole? What is China's comparative advantage in the high-tech sector, and how is it exploiting this advantage in nanotechnology? Will China's investment in nanotechnology pay off? And how will the United States respond to China's growing nanotechnology capacity — with competition, cooperation, or both?

These questions are the topic of an event and live webcast on Tuesday, February 6th at 3:00 p.m. in the 5th Floor Conference Room of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

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Headline: GE's nanotechnology lab discovers direct pathway to ordered nanostructured ceramics
News source: Nanotechwire.com

GE Global Research, the centralized research organization of the General Electric Company (NYSE: GE), today announced a promising breakthrough in nanotechnology that provides a direct pathway to making nanoceramic materials from polymeric precursors. Developing processes and a greater understanding of nano-engineered ceramics could lead to future applications in aviation and energy, where products such as aircraft engines and gas turbines could one day achieve new levels of efficiency, reliability and environmental performance.

A cross-disciplinary team led by Dr. Patrick R. L. Malenfant and Dr. Julin Wan made the discovery, which is reported in the January issue of Nature Nanotechnology.

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Nanotech Events

Cleantech 2007 – Abstracts and Proposals Due February 2, 2007

Conference Dates: May 23-24, 2007
Sponsored by NSTI
Santa Clara, California

Cleantech 2007 is a multi-disciplinary and multi-sector conference on global sustainability addressing advancements in traditional technologies, emerging technologies and clean business practices. Cleantech is the growing set of knowledge-based technologies, products or services designed to improve operational performance, productivity or efficiency while reducing costs, inputs, energy consumption, waste or pollution.

Cleantech 2007 is co-located with the 10th annual Nanotech 2007 Conference, the largest nanotechnology and associated ventures and investment event in the US. The co-location of Cleantech 2007 and Nanotech 2007 is an ideal match due to many overlapping technologies and industries represented by both communities.

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NanotechBrief's Nano50 – Nominations Due March 16, 2007

Nanotech Briefs announces the Third annual Nano 50, the ultimate list of the top 50 technologies, products, and innovators that have significantly impacted — or will impact — key nanotechnology commercial markets, from automotive and electronics, to biomedical and materials.

The Nano 50 are the best of the best — the most innovative people and design ideas that will revolutionize nanotechnology in the near-term and beyond. Using the online entry form, nominate the person, technology, or product you believe has had the greatest impact on advancing the state of the art in nanotechnology, and on moving nanotech to mainstream markets.

Nominations opened December 1, 2006 and all nominations must be received by March 16, 2007.

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Editor's Pick

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.

This article discusses how nanotechnology is making it easier to manufacture diamonds that are flawless and identical to natural diamonds mined out of the earth. Laboratory-grown diamonds will provide us with dazzling jewels without wrecking havoc environmentally or socially.

— Judy

Headline: Nanotech is a girl's best friend
News source: MSNBC by Jack Uldrich

For thousands of years, pearls were counted among the world's most valued possessions. At one time, they were even referred to as the "queen of gems." What made them so valuable, in addition to their luster and beauty, was their relative rarity...

Now, thanks to nanotechnology, it is entirely possible that even diamonds might lose their elite image in the next few years, and the lucrative industry could be brought to its knees.

...Next, the cultured diamond - That's because a couple of small, privately owned nanotechnology companies — Apollo Diamond and Gemesis — are now employing two different processes for manufacturing "cultured" diamonds.

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Nanodot: Productive Nanosystems

Headline: Nanotechnology: Brits take lead toward advanced nanotechnology
News source: Nanodot

Earlier we expressed enthusiasm for the UK Software Control of Matter project, and sure enough, they have already made progress toward setting themselves an ambitious, visionary goal which is expected to be funded:

"We propose to create a molecular machine that will build new materials under software control. The output of the machine will be chains of building blocks linked by covalent bonds. The machine is modular and is designed to accept many different building blocks, from small molecules to nanoparticles, with a wide range of physical and chemical properties. In order to drive its development we will concentrate on using it to create two target products: a molecular wire, capable of transporting energy and electrical charge, and a catalyst. Software control starts with specification by the end-user of a sequence of building blocks. The target sequence is encoded in an instruction tape which can be read by the machine: the tape is itself a molecule, a synthetic DNA oligomer. The target sequence of building blocks is automatically converted into a control sequence of DNA bases, and the tape is produced by commercial solid-phase synthesis. The job of the machine is to read the instruction tape and to form the bonds between building blocks in the specified sequence. Every component of this molecular factory is itself a molecule: our ambition is to develop the system to the point where it could be distributed to end users as chemicals in plastic vials."

If youre not sure why this is important, see the comments on the page cited to get an idea of how exciting this is. And then ask, why the U.K.? Why can't U.S. government research funders be this visionary? (Or, insert the name of your own country.) Credit: Advanced Nanotechnology blog by Senior Associate Brian Wang

Christine Peterson

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Contact Foresight

The Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest is emailed every week to 15,000 individuals in more than 125 countries. Foresight Nanotech Institute is a member-supported organization. We offer membership levels appropriate to meet the needs and interests of individuals and companies.

Judy Conner, Director of Communications at Foresight Nanotech Institute, is the editor of the Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest. If you would like to submit a news item or contact her with comments about the News Digest, please send an email to: editor@foresight.org.

If you would like to browse past issues of the News Digest.

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