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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: October 12, 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: This article details research that will increase the efficiency of organic solar energy cells.

Headline: Researchers Make Thin-film Solar Efficiency Advances
News source: Renewable Energy Access

Progress with polymer and organic solar photovoltaic cells is measured in small percentage steps. Another came this week from a team of scientists from New Mexico State University and Wake Forest University.

While traditional solar panels are made of silicon, which is expensive and rigid, organic solar cells being developed by this team are made of plastic that is relatively inexpensive, flexible, can be wrapped around structures or even applied like paint, said physicist Seamus Curran, head of the nanotechnology laboratory at NMSU.

Seamus Curran

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: Here is mention of a new type of membrane that is no bigger that a pencil and capable of filtering a liter of liquid in 90 seconds. The membrane is based on carbon nanotubes and doesn’t use electricity.

Headline: Tools for the ultimate high-tech survival kit
News source: CNET News.com by Stefanie Olsen

Natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina can turn a high-tech culture into a decidedly low-tech one—where food, water and shelter are what matter most.

But that doesn't stop technologists from inventing devices for the disaster kit of the future. They're trying to provide for the most basic needs with technology that can turn sewer water into Gatorade, equip people with long- lasting lighting or save hypothermia victims without the use of electricity.

Seldon Laboratories, LLC

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: More breakthrough cancer treatment research using nanoparticles. This research describes feeding nanoparticles to breast cancer cells, then heating up the nanoparticles. The nanoparticles are referred to as "thermal scalpels."

Headline: Targeted Magnetic Nanoparticles Heat Tumors to Death
News source: NCI Alliance for nanotechnology in Cancer

One idea for treating cancer that is gaining a foothold among researchers is that it may be possible to kill cancer, not with drugs, but with targeted nanoscale heaters that would essentially cook malignant cells to death from the inside out. Indeed, recent papers have reported preliminary success using carbon nanotubes and gold nanocages as the nanoscale thermal therapy devices. Now, thanks to work from the University of Paris in France, iron oxide nanoparticles have been added to the list of promising nanoscale thermal scalpels.

Reporting its work in the journal Bioconjugate Chemistry, a research team headed by Patrick Couvreur, Ph.D., describes its studies in which the investigators use folic acid to target magnetic nanoparticles to tumor cells. Once the tumor cells engulfed the nanoparticles, the researchers then heated the nanoparticles with a rapidly oscillating magnetic field.

Patrick Couvreur

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: The food industry is understandably concerned about the public’s perception of nanotechnology. This article quotes a report about two areas where nanotech is going to make great strides in food production: food engineering and food packaging.

Headline: Nanotechnology targets new food packaging products
News Source: Food Production Daily.com by Ahmed ElAmin.

Exciting new nanotechnology products for food packaging are in the development pipeline or, as in the case of anti-microbial films, have already entered the market, according to a report published this month by an EU funded research team.

Nanotechnology is attractive to the food industry as it promises to yield new solutions to key challenges, the team stated.

Food engineering is one of the issues receiving highest attention. Research and development underway includes the development of functional food, nutrient delivery systems and methods for optimizing food appearance, such as color, flavor and consistency.

Another big issue in food industry-related R&D is food packaging and food monitoring. In the food-packaging arena, nanomaterials are being developed with enhanced mechanical and thermal properties to ensure better protection of foods from exterior mechanical, thermal, chemical or microbiological effects.


5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: Computer chip manufacturing might benefit from this "walking" protein.

Headline: Energy Efficient System Found in "Walking" Protein
News source: Small TechAdvantage

A protein called kinesin has a "walking" mechanism that is very energy efficient and could be used to develop in the future molecular-sized machines without worries about problems caused by heat, Japanese researchers said Monday

Using a technique called "optical tweezers," the researchers, led by Osaka University Prof. Toshio Yanagida, discovered the mechanism of how kinesin sets its direction and walks one foot after another like humans.

Kinesin has sensors on its "feet" that determine which way the protein should go by interpreting thermodynamic information known as entropy, according to their report published online by Nature Chemical Biology on Monday.

"When you try to make highly integrated tiny devices like computer chips, you will find heat is a big problem," Yanagida said. "But further studying kinesin's walking mechanism, which does not produce heat but use it, could lead to a major breakthrough."

Toshio Yanagida

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: NASA’s Centennial Challenges program launches with space elevator tethers and beam powers. According to the release, next year’s competitions will be even more challenging.

Headline: Spaceward Foundation and NASA Announce the First Beam Power and Tether Competitions; $100,000 Prize Purse Furnished by the NASA Centennial Challenges Program
News source: Elevator 2010 press release

The Spaceward Foundation, in partnership with NASA, today announced the venue and timing for the first Beam Power and Tether competitions. The event will be held at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., on Oct. 21 - 23, 2005, with prize money furnished by the NASA Centennial Challenges program.

The Tether Challenge centers on the creation of a material that combines light weight and incredible strength. Under this challenge, teams will develop high strength materials that will be stretched in a head-to-head competition to see which tether is strongest.

The Beam Power challenge focuses on the development of wireless power technologies for a wide range of exploration purposes, such as human lunar exploration and long-duration Mars reconnaissance. In this challenge, teams will develop wireless power transmission systems, including transmitters and receivers, to power robotic climbers to lift the greatest weight possible to the top of a 50-meter cable in under three minutes.

Elevator 2010

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

You Really Should Take a Look at this Program

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

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 updated 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.


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 14th

Now is the time to make your hotel reservations as the group rate cut-off deadline of October 14, 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.

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.

You Won’t Hear Candid Nanotech Talk Like This Anywhere Else

Vision Weekend
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 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 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

Headline: DuPont, Environmental Defense Create Framework for Nanotechnology
News source: Nanotechnology Now

DuPont and Environmental Defense recently agreed to collaborate on a framework for the responsible development, production, use and disposal of nano-scale materials. Nanomaterials are 1 to 100 nanometers in at least one dimension and exhibit novel properties due to their small size. These materials hold great promise for new applications in materials, energy, medicine and other fields, but more needs to be known about their potential risks.

The intent of this framework is to define a systematic and disciplined process that can be used to identify, manage and reduce potential health, safety and environmental risks of nano-scale materials across all lifecycle stages. This framework will then be pilot-tested on specific nano-scale materials or applications of commercial interest to DuPont.


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

Rockville, Maryland

Book: Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines Now Freely Available Online

Kinematic Self-Replicating Machines (KSRM), a book co-authored by Robert Freitas, Jr. and Ralph C. Merkle, was published in hardback late 2004. The book is freely accessible online.

With 200+ illustrations and 3200+ literature references, KSRM describes all proposed and experimentally realized self-replicating systems that were publicly known as of 2004, ranging from nanoscale to macroscale systems. The book extensively describes the historical development of the field. It presents for the first time a detailed 137-dimensional map of the entire kinematic replicator design space to assist future engineering efforts. KSRM has been cited in two articles appearing in Nature this year (Zykov et al., Nature 435, 163 (12 May 2005) and Griffith et al., Nature 437, 636 (29 September 2005) and appears well on its way to becoming the classic reference in this field.

Online issue at http://www.MolecularAssembler.com/KSRM.htm
Robert Freitas, Jr. http://www.rfreitas.com
Ralph C. Merkle http://www.merkle.com

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 is a column written by Patti Glaza, Vice President and Group Publisher at Smalltimes Magazine. She mentions the debate between Drs. Eric Drexler and Richard Smalley as being a healthy debate and forum for dreams, creativity, and sharing a unified vision for a positive nanotech future.

Headline: Even at Loggerheads, Great Minds Inspire Us to Dream Grandly
News source: Smalltimes Magazine by Patti Glaza

"Smalley and Drexler are both visionaries and have contributed significantly to the field of nanotechnology… Both men share a desire to make a positive impact on the world…This is the kind of debate that gets the blood boiling, the mind spinning and the younger generation inspired. In a world of ever-increasing population, pollution and limited resources, we need dreams to drive research and development. Nanotechnology has captured the imagination of the general public and we would be foolish not to take advantage of the momentum currently behind it."

Also, note that Pennwell Corporation, a large publishing company, purchased Smalltimes this week. Follow this link to the press release.
Press release

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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