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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: October 5, 2005

In this issue:

Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges

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.

1. Meeting global energy needs with clean solutions

Foresight note: A measure of how effective an energy source is for commercialization is the energy yield ratio. This ratio addresses the question "How much energy and money do you have to invest to get significant quantities of useable energy out?" This news story discusses how nanotechnology could conceivably cut the cost of extracting hydrogen significantly.

Headline: Hydrogen Energy Breakthrough? NCSU Scientists Use Nanotechnology To Split Water
News source: LocalTech Wire

NCSU scientists recently discovered a way to extract hydrogen from water using half the energy required by current methods. They did so by utilizing nanotechnology.

Department of Physics professor Marco Buongiorno-Nardelli, Keith Gubbins, W.H. Clark Distinguished University Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering; post-doctoral researcher Milen Kostov; and students Erik Santiso and Aaron George made the discovery. They found that "defective" carbon nanotubes — so miniscule that 1,000 can be stacked to form the thickness of a human hair — make it easier to break up water molecules and extract the hydrogen.

"The discovery could have big implications, namely, lower hydrogen production costs, for industries looking to hydrogen as an alternative fuel," NCSU said.

"We think that nanotechnology can be used to produce more and better energy in an environmentally friendly way," says Buongiorno-Nardelli. "Our experience with the water molecules so far leads me to believe we’re headed in the right direction."


Dr. Marco Buongiorno-Nardelli

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: Come to the Oct. 24-27 conference and hear a panel about nanofiltration and other advances in near-term nanotech for solving one of the biggest challenges of the 21st century.

Nanotech for clean water
William Lee, President and CEO, eMembrane
Kevin McGovern, Chairman, McGovern & Associates (for KX Industries)
Fred Tepper, President, Argonide

See conference program for details:

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: There were two significant new items this week. One is an example of using nanowires as a cancer diagnostic tool. The other announces the disbursement of $26.3 million in support of nanotechnology cancer research.

Headline: Nanowires spot cancer markers in blood
News source: Nanotechweb.org by Liz Kalaugher

Scientists at Harvard University, US, have used arrays of silicon nanowires to detect low levels of molecular markers for cancer in body fluids.

"This is one of the first applications of nanotechnology to healthcare and offers a clinical technique that is significantly better than what exists today," said Charles Lieber of Harvard University. "A nanowire array can test a mere pinprick of blood in just minutes, providing a nearly instantaneous scan for many different cancer markers. It’s a device that could open up substantial new possibilities in the diagnosis of cancer and other complex diseases."

Charles M. Lieber

Headline: National Cancer Institute Establishes Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence
News source: Small Times

The National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, today announced that it has made first year awards totaling $26.3 million to help establish seven Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence.

In addition, the National Cancer Institute announced that it would be announcing twelve other 5-year awards this month. Known as Cancer Nanotechnology Platform Partnerships, the awards are intended to support the development of new products in a variety of cancer technology areas.

See the news story for list of recipient research institutions.

National Cancer Institute
National Institutes of Health

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Nanotech for Food Production and Reducing the Environmental "Footprint" of Agriculture (panel at our conference)
Norman Scott, Dept. of Biological & Environmental Engineering, Cornell University
Peter Singer, Director, University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics
Aaron Wagoner, Director of Research and Development, Natural Nano

Maximizing productivity of agriculture (presentation at our conference)
Peter Singer, Director, University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics, Canada

See conference program for details:

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: According to this article, we may not have to reboot our computers when using this chip technology. Labeled NRAM, these chips would feasibly provide better computing memory than conventional electronics without the bulk.

Headline: Nanotubes refine computer memory: Manufacturers gear up to mass-produce unconventional chips
News source: News nature.com

"Will computers that require no time to boot up become a reality? One company thinks the answer is yes, thanks to its carbon nanotube memory chips."

Nantero, based in Woburn, Massachusetts, has been working on the idea for years. Now they say they have made ground in the manufacturing process, pushing the chips closer to market.

The company has succeeded in making circular wafers, 13 centimetres in diameter, that hold 10 gigabits of data. These are much bigger than equivalent memory cards used today. But Greg Schmergel, chief executive officer of Nantero, says the nanotube chips are ten times faster than 'flash' cards, which are some of the swiftest ones now available.

Nantero calls its technology NRAM, which is loosely short for nanotube- based, non-volatile random access memory.

Follow this link to a NRAM movie

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: Nanotechnology materials are going to make a huge impact on space exploration. This article discusses materials that have been sent to space and what was found when the suitcases were opened. The materials ranged from carbon fibers to traditional plastics. (No lost luggage jokes, please.)

Headline: Space travel: NASA "suitcases" back on Earth
News source: The Virginian-Pilot by Jeremiah McWilliams

A small group of scientists huddled over two aluminum suitcases stuffed with multi-colored discs, plates and wires Monday in a lab at NASA Langley Research Center. Photographers edged in for a peek — spaceage paparazzi almost unrecognizable in surgical masks and hair nets.

The reason for all the buzz? The packages, shipped to Langley last week, were the first experimental samples retrieved and opened in the Materials International Space Station Experiments, or MISSE (pronounced missy). The program, supported by NASA, the Department of Defense and a consortium of companies, is designed to get hard data about what happens when materials ranging from plastics to ultra-thin carbon fibers are exposed directly to the hostile environment in space, 220 miles above Earth.


Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology

Focusing on the Cutting Edge
13th Foresight Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology

October 22-27, 2005
San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel

Full meeting: http://foresight.org/conference2005/index.html
Research sessions only: http://foresight.org/conference2005/research.html
Vision Weekend only: http://foresight.org/conference2005/vision_weekend.html

Comprehensive & Informative

This conference is an exceptional opportunity to learn about nanotechnology in context with policy, commercialization applications and current research.

Link to program:

Who Attends

Foresight is the nexus point for scientists, academics, entrepreneurs, investors, and others involved in nanotech to come together. Our annual conference offers an outstanding cross-section of the nanotechnology field and beyond:

New to Nanotech?

Our conference is designed to give an overview of the impact of this new technology across multiple disciplines, in a way accessible to those new to the field.

Already Tracking Nanotech?

Hear about current applications and research across many industry segments including energy, water, health, agriculture, space, and information technology — plus all the business and policy issues surrounding nanotechnology commercialization. If you’re not currently working in nanotechnology, come find out how to make your move into this dynamic field.


The Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology Conference offers the most comprehensive program, with days dedicated to Applications and Policy, Research, and a Vision Weekend. Here speakers will discuss key advances, funding and applications — and we have assembled debates to thrash out the more controversial issues in this next Industrial Revolution.

Link to program:


Foresight offers an a la carte option, so you may choose to attend the entire conference, or only the sections that most interest you.

For registration options:


Foresight's conference has a world-class group of speakers. Here’s a sample:

Floyd Kvamme, Co-Chair, President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology
Carl Kohrt, CEO, Battelle
George Atkinson, Science & Tech Advisor, U.S. Secretary of State
Scott Hubbard, Director, NASA Ames Research Center
Alex Zettl, UC Berkeley Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems
Randy Hayes, Founder, Rainforest Action Network
Michael Weiner, CEO, Biophan Technologies, Inc.
Charles Harris, Chairman & CEO, Harris & Harris
Peter Diamandis, Chairman, Founder and President, X Prize Foundation
Richard A.L. Jones, Professor of Physics, University of Sheffield; Author, Soft Machines: Nanotechnology and Life.

For entire speaker list:

To Register for the Conference

Foresight offers an a la carte option, so you may choose to attend the entire conference, or only the sections that most interest you.

For registration options:

Hotel Reservations – Group Rate deadline is October 7th

Now is the time to make your hotel reservations as the group rate cut-off deadline of October 7, 2005.

San Francisco Airport Marriott
1800 Old Bayshore Highway
Burlingame, CA 94010, USA
Group Rate: Rate of $129.00 plus tax—single or double occupancy.

Reserve your hotel room early.
To reserve: call SF Airport Marriott at 1 800-228-9290 in the US and Canada or + 1 650-692-9100, or go to http://www.marriott.com and use group code: forfora.

The hotel is centrally located on the San Francisco Bay, just 1-mile south of the San Francisco International Airport, 15 minutes from downtown San Francisco, and 20 minutes to Silicon Valley.

Airport To Hotel Transportation

Complimentary Hotel Airport Shuttle is available 24 hours a day to and from San Francisco International Airport.

Hurricane Special

For those who have been impacted by Hurricane Katrina: We will hold the early-registration rate for you. Please contact Elaine@foresight.org for consideration.

Vision Weekend – Exclusive & Off-the-Record

October 22-23, 2005, Saturday and Sunday
San Francisco Airport Marriott Hotel

We have an exceptional line-up of speakers and, of course, there is the enjoyment of being with like-minded individuals who are interested in nanotechnology, the future, and what that future might look like. This is a rare opportunity to hear speakers discuss the future of nanotechnology candidly and off-the-record.

The Vision weekend begins on Saturday, October 22, 2005 at 1 p.m. with schmoozing and not-to-be-missed speakers. Join us for the Welcome Reception that evening at 7 p.m. where you will find stimulating, smart, and lively discussion over outstanding food and drinks. This is a place to meet new Foresight friends and connect with old ones.

On Sunday, October 23, 2005 the stellar sessions continue throughout the day, including the ever-popular breakout discussions.

Vision Weekend only:

The Vision Weekend is exclusive to Foresight Participating members.

Foresight Participating Members Discounts

Foresight Nanotech Institute's Participating Members receive deep discounts to the Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology conference.

If you are attending 3-1/2 days of the conference, the registration fee is $795. If you become a Participating Member, your price is $695, and you receive additional membership benefits, including the opportunity to attend the invitation-only Vision Weekend.

For a complete list of Participating Member benefits:

Participating Members can join online:

Foresight Lectures

Perils and Promises of Nanotechnology
October 11, 2005
Organized by Commonwealth Club Silicon Valley
San Jose, CA

Christine Peterson, Founder & V.P., Foresight Nanotech Institute
Dr. John M. Balbus, Senior Scientist, Program Director, Environmental Defense
Norm Wu, Managing Director, Alameda Capital

Moderated by: Anthony Waitz, Managing Partner, Quantum Insight and Co-founder, MIT Stanford Berkeley Nano Forum

Nanotechnology is a complex field which has great potential to deliver environmental as well as other benefits. At the same time, these same novel properties may pose new risks to workers, consumers, the public and the environment. This panel of experts will explore the possible risks and clarify the difference between near-term commercial advances and the "next industrial revolution" expected to arrive in the next few decades.

Foresight Partners

If you attend or use any of our partners' events or services, please tell them you heard about it from Foresight Nanotech Institute.

October 6, 2005 – Commercial Nanotechnology for Medical Devices
Sponsored by MIT Stanford UC Berkeley Nanotechnology Forum
Palo Alto, California (Stanford Campus)

Popular discussions of the application of nanotechnology to medicine conjure up images of miniaturized robots traveling through the human body. Fantastic and futuristic as they may be, they are a far cry from the actual achievements of the nanotechnology researchers and entrepreneurs active in the field. Though not quite as dramatic as science fiction, the recent achievements have a substantiated ability to positively impact the future of medicine and improve the health of all. In the objective tradition of our Forum, we will take a look at the recent developments in this area, and hear first-hand from some of the recognized figures in the field about these latest developments.

October 5 (Ongoing) – EU Nanotechnology Science Forum series:
Sponsored by Accelrys
Multiple European locations

Invitation to an outstanding scientific seminar series with speakers from distinguished research centers and universities across Europe, open discussions, poster session and hands-on workshop. Excellent opportunity to learn how computational nanotechnology tools provide insight into the structure and properties of materials across a wide range of length and time scales. Free registration online at:

November 1, 2005 – Venture Capital Investing in India
Sponsored by International Business Forum (IBF)
San Francisco, California

With the country's 15-year-old reforms process taking effect, India is poised to be one of the fastest growing economies and is a current target for the VC community. Aided by a maturing domestic market and a projected 6-plus percent GDP growth rate, India’s stock markets are booming like never before, which now offers VCs the best promises of returns from the country to date. Consistent growth in the Indian IT market contribute to a continued climb in venture capital investments and with the rising number of US investments as a backdrop, IBF is proud to present its first India Venture Investing Conference.

December 4-9, 2005 – 19th Large Installation Systems Administration Conference
Sponsored by USENIX & SAGE
San Diego, California

The annual LISA conference is the meeting place of choice for system, network, database, storage, security, and all other computer-related administrators. Administrators of all specialties and levels of expertise meet at LISA to exchange ideas, sharpen old skills, learn new techniques, debate current issues, and meet colleagues and friends.

Nanotech Events & News

Study: nanotech processing "greener" than oil refining
Actuarial model puts risks of making nanotubes on par with making wine
News Source: Rice University

"Using a method for assessing the premiums that companies pay for insurance, a team of scientists and insurance experts have concluded that the manufacturing processes for five, near-market nanomaterials — including quantum dots, carbon nanotubes and buckyballs — present fewer risks to the environment than some common industrial processes like oil refining. For two of the nanomaterials — nanotubes and alumoxane nanoparticles — manufacturing risks were comparable with those of making wine or aspirin."

Headline: Call for ban on nano-particles
News source: Australian IT by Karen Dearne

THE GeneEthics Network has called for an immediate moratorium on engineered nanoparticles and the products containing them.

It fears microscopic particles being sold, unlabelled, in products such as sunscreen, cosmetics and clothing, could be a public health disaster in the making.

"Each type of nanoparticle may be as deadly as asbestos, so the risk is huge," said Bob Phelps, director of GeneEthics, of Melbourne.

November 17-18, 2005 – Applications of Nanobiology to Biodefense:
Diagnostics, Detection, Therapeutics, and Biodefense Immunology

Rockville, Maryland

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 that I think is especially cool.


This article discusses a material that is nicknamed "frozen smoke," but the application cross-over possibilities here are pretty amazing. The article mentions firefighter suits, shielding army helicopters, insulating blankets for space and replacing that bulky down jacket.

Headline: Nano World: Super-insulating frozen smoke
News source: World Peace Herald by Charles Q. Choi (UPI)

The world's best thermal insulators, aerogels made of necklaces of nanometer sized beads, are starting to find their way into flexible, lightweight sheets in everything from attack helicopters to snowboarding jackets.

For instance, aerogel blankets could slash the weight of next-generation naval destroyers by up to 120,000 pounds, experts told UPI's Nano World.

Aerogels are the world's lightest solids. They often are made of as much as 99.8 percent air — earning the materials the nickname of "frozen smoke" — but can in theory hold up to 500 to 4,000 times their own weight.

"You could use two or three millimeters in a jacket and replace a significant volume of down, to have something much leaner and body-forming," Young said. "There's also interesting work going on to perhaps address firefighter suits. The dream there is instead of 35 pounds of vulcanized rubber, you have something with more freedom and less weight so they can do their jobs."


Hope to see you at the conference! If you haven’t already, you should really take a look at the program. It is quite comprehensive and all who attend will come away informed and inspired.

Also, don’t forget to visit our blog Nanodot and join the discussion led by Christine Peterson.

About The Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest

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. To find out more about membership follow this link:

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.

Foresight Nanotech Institute is located in Menlo Labs in the Menlo Business Park, in Menlo Park, California. Our space is a generous donation from Tarlton Properties. If you are seeking space for your nanotechnology or biotechnology company, please contact them at http://www.tarlton.com.

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