Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: September 19, 2007
Updated Conference Deadlines
Updated deadlines for Productive Nanosystems Conference, Oct. 9-10
Foresight note: Another example of the unique behavior of graphene that is expected to lead to novel types of nanoelectronics.
Headline: Sheet of carbon atoms acts like a billiard table, physicists find
Physicists at UC Riverside have demonstrated that graphene—a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in hexagonal rings—can act as an atomic-scale billiard table, with electric charges acting as billiard balls.
The finding underscores graphene's potential for serving as an excellent electronic material, such as silicon, that can be used to develop new kinds of transistors based on quantum physics. Because they encounter no obstacles, the electrons in graphene roam freely across the sheet of carbon, conducting electric charge with extremely low resistance.
Health: New nanotech gene therapy system created
Headline: New nanotech gene therapy system created
U.S. scientists have developed a technology that might one day deliver gene therapy by using magnetically directed nanoparticles. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia researchers bonded DNA segments to tiny iron-containing nanoparticle spheres. They then used magnetic fields to direct the nanoparticles into arterial muscle cells where the DNA could have a therapeutic effect.
The FASEB Journal abstract
Headline: Targeting quantum dots to deliver SiRNA therapy
Take a quantum dot, add a coating of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), and attach a homing peptide and a piece of small interfering RNA (siRNA), and the result is a targeted nanoparticle that can stop the production of a specific protein by a targeted cell. If the homing peptide targets tumor cells and the siRNA molecule shuts down a cancer-related protein, the result could be a new type of anticancer agent that would also double as an imaging agent.
Bioconjugate Chemistry abstract
Headline: Nanoparticle could help detect many diseases early
Most people think of hydrogen peroxide as a topical germ killer, but the medicine cabinet staple is gaining steam in the medical community as an early indicator of disease in the body.
Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University researchers are the first to create a nanoparticle capable of detecting and imaging trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide in animals. The nanoparticles, thought to be completely nontoxic, could some day be used as a simple, all-purpose diagnostic tool to detect the earliest stages of any disease that involves chronic inflammation — everything from cancer and Alzheimer's to heart disease and arthritis.
Nature Materials abstract
Headline: Nanoflower improves solar cell
A flower-shaped photoanode can improve the energy conversion efficiency of dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs) by 90% compared with conventional anodes made of rod-shaped structures. The new result comes from researchers at the Institute of Microelectronics and the Nanyang Technological University, both in Singapore. The technique could be used to make flexible DSSCs, says the team.
Applied Physics Letters abstract
Headline: Beyond Batteries: Storing power in a sheet of paper
Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new energy storage device that easily could be mistaken for a simple sheet of black paper.
The nanoengineered battery is lightweight, ultra thin, completely flexible, and geared toward meeting the trickiest design and energy requirements of tomorrow's gadgets, implantable medical equipment, and transportation vehicles.
…the device is completely integrated and can be printed like paper. The device is also unique in that it can function as both a high-energy battery and a high-power supercapacitor, which are generally separate components in most electrical systems. Another key feature is the capability to use human blood or sweat to help power the battery.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences abstract
Headline: Nanocomposite goes from strength to strength
A new high-strength material consisting of ultrafine nanograins of aluminium has been made by researchers in Australia. The material has a strength of up to 740 MPa and a Vickers microhardness of 2285 MPa and might suit automobile and aerospace applications in the future.
Foresight note: Although they have quite a way to go to get to atomically precise manipulation, these researchers have demonstrated important features of nanorobotic assembly of nanostructures.
Headline: Hands-on nanotechnology: towards a nanorobotic assembly line (includes video)
A group of researchers from Denmark and Germany have now developed the rudimentary beginnings of the nanotechnology equivalent of an assembly line. They have shown 'pick-and-place' assembly of a working device using a silicon gripper—a robotic 'hand' some 10000 times smaller than a human hand. This nanogripper, controlled by a nanorobotic arm, is capable of picking up a carbon nanofiber (CN) and fix it onto the tip of an atomic force microscope cantilever.
"We managed to break off a sturdy carbon nanofiber, mount it at the pyramidal tip of an atomic force cantilever and used it for scanning in a deep groove" Dr. Peter Bøggild explains to Nanowerk. "Now, people have made sharp tipped AFMs before, but this is the first time—we think—a dedicated nanotool has literally snapped off a nanotube from a fixed position and mounted it as a device component—and tested that the device worked."
Conference sponsored by Foresight Nanotech Institute and Society of Manufacturing Engineers with support from Battelle
Now, for the first time, the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems will describe the R&D pathways and products resulting from this ultimate technological revolution. Join us as we explore the power of advanced "bottom-up" nanotechnology in this 14th Foresight Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology.
Feynman Prize luncheon on October 9, 2007
Special thanks to The Waitt Family Foundation and Sun Microsystems for financial support of the Roadmap project.
Mark your calendars for this very special event. Please join us to explore nanotechnology, AI, longevity, social technologies like Prediction Markets, and other coming technologies.
We've learned that you want a highly interactive meeting, so this year we'll be experimenting with a new format including big chunks of time for the Unconference meeting style that is taking the technical world by storm.
We have a firm limit of 200 participants. The website and Wiki are coming soon. Reserve your place now by sending your name and email address to email@example.com. We'll let you know when registration is open!
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? Or perhaps there are potential nanotech scenarios you would like to prevent.
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"Rolling and carrying molecules across surfaces" in Update 58
SmallTimes NanoCon International
Attracting hundreds of decision makers from around the world, Small Times NanoCon International is your premier source for business alliances, information exchange and commercial strategy.
Headline: Scientists shed light on molecules in living cells
Clemson University chemists have developed a method to dramatically improve the longevity of fluorescent nanoparticles that may someday help researchers track the motion of a single molecule as it travels through a living cell.
The chemists are exploiting a process called "resonance energy transfer," which occurs when fluorescent dye molecules are added to the nanoparticles. If scientists could track the motion of a single molecule within a living cell it could reveal a world of information. Among other things, scientists could determine how viruses invade a cell or how proteins operate in the body. Such technology also could help doctors pinpoint the exact location of cancer cells in order to better focus treatment and minimize damage to healthy tissue. Outside the body, the technology could help speed up detection of such toxins as anthrax.
Headline: More soldiers in nanotechnology labs?
Flawed government thinking is driving a rapid expansion in the military influence over science and technology, says a new briefing from Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR). US government spending on military research and development (R&D) is soaring (up 57% since 2001), while the UK government has rolled out two new military technology strategies in the last two years. Factors such as these are contributing to an expansion of military involvement in US and UK universities. As far as nanotechnology is concerned, and as we have reported here before, the military is the largest investor in the U.S. Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).
We continue our tradition of citing a special story that strikes the Editor as especially cool, but which doesn't fit within the usual editorial categories of the News Digest.
Often, what we can accomplish is limited by what tools we have. The atomic force microscope is one of the most useful tools that we have for studying nanoscale structure, so a large improvement in sensitivity and speed is likely to prove quite useful—in ways that are likely to surprise us. An editorial comment in the journal issue in which the research was published noted "…it could function as a delicate 'finger' in future AFM nanorobots for sophisticated tactile sensing that may one day be capable of handling nanoparticles. I am sure we will now see a new generation of atomic force microscopes that are truly capable of feeling matter on the nanoscale."
Headline: Twisting time for AFM
A new atomic force microscope (AFM) that can measure the mechanical properties of a material a thousand times faster than conventional AFMs has been developed by researchers in the US. The AFM, made by Ozgur Sahin of Harvard University and colleagues at Stanford University and Veeco Instruments, measures the twisting, or torsional, vibrations from the AFM cantilever. This is possible because the AFM tip is placed at one side of the cantilever, which is quite different to traditional devices where it is placed at the centre.
Nature Nanotechnology abstract
Caltech nanotechnology researchers have come up with a new way to fuel synthetic molecular motors for nanotech, as described by Physorg.com:
"This study provides a proof of principle that DNA hybridization can be used to power autonomous molecular locomotion," said Pierce. "Researchers at the NSF Center for Molecular Cybernetics, of which our team is a part, are now working to develop logical walkers that can work cooperatively and respond to their environment. It is possible that synthetic molecular motors may one day be routinely used in medicine, basic research, and manufacturing."
Headline: Test your nanotechnology IQ
Our friends over at Nanowerk have put together a light-hearted little nanotechnology IQ test which nanotech trackers might enjoy.
For your nanotech weekend viewing enjoyment, we bring to your attention a free webcast posted by Institute of Nanotechnology (UK) of a lecture by Sir Fraser Stoddart entitled Chemistry and Molecular Nanotechnology for Tomorrow's World.
—Nanodot posts by Christine Peterson
October 6-7, 2007
October 26, 2007
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