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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: November 2, 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: Here are two stories about nanotechnology and energy focusing on photovoltaics.

Headline: HelioVolt claims thin-film advance for solar energy
News source: EE Times

HelioVolt Corporation jointly published experimental results with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on Monday, October 31, 2005 that confirms predictions made in January about the performance of copper indium gallium selenide-based (CIGS) photovoltaics.

HelioVolt, a four-year-old developer of thin-film photovoltaic coatings, said CEO Billy Stanbery's model, also known as the "Intra-Absorber Junction," provides a basic understanding of physics of CIGS thin films. The company further claimed that the model was an advance toward commercialization of the technology for solar energy production.
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Headline: Sunny Future for Nanocrystal Solar Cells
News source: ScienceDaily

Imagine a future in which the rooftops of residential homes and commercial buildings can be laminated with inexpensive, ultra-thin films of nano-sized semiconductors that will efficiently convert sunlight into electrical power and provide virtually all of our electricity needs. This future is a step closer to being realized, thanks to a scientific milestone achieved at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).

"We obviously still have a long way to go in terms of energy conversion efficiency," said Ilan Gur, a researcher in Berkeley Lab's Materials Sciences Division and fourth-year graduate student in UC Berkeley's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, "but our dual nanocrystal solar cells are ultra-thin and solution-processed, which means they retain the cost-reduction potential that has made organic cells so attractive vis-a-vis their conventional semiconductor counterparts."
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: Contaminated water is a major concern as heard on our clean water panel at the 13th Foresight Conference.

Headline: The world's biggest problem? Dirty water, say some
News source: CNET news by Michael Kanellos

A small, but growing number of people think that a looming shortage of drinking water constitutes a much larger crisis. Water consumption is doubling every twenty years, but the supply isn't growing at the same rate, according to Kevin McGovern, chairman of venture firm McGovern Capital, quoting U.N. statistics.

"We have a crisis," he said at the Foresight Nanotechnology Conference taking place in Burlingame, Calif. this week.

Many of the world's health problems are already apparent. "About half of the world's hospital beds in the world are occupied by people with water borne diseases," he said. Three billion people in the world don't have easy access to a toilet and thousands of kids die a day from water-related complications.

McGovern, of course, is not just a disinterested observer. As a nanotech investor, he is putting money into water purification ideas. One company, KX Industries, will soon show off a filtration system that can eliminate both dangerous chemicals and viruses. Better yet, the replaceable filter element will only cost a dollar or so, so people in India will be able to buy it.

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: This article discusses some of the technical challenges (in layman terms) faced by nanoparticle cancer therapy.

Headline: Nano World: 150 nanodrugs on horizon News source: United Press International by Charles Q. Choi

"The National Cancer Institute's goal to the nation is to eliminate the suffering and death from cancer by 2015. Now getting rid of cancer is a ridiculous notion, but the hope is to turn cancer into something we can live with and treat, much like how diabetes was a death sentence 50 years ago and now is not. And these nanodrugs may help lead the way," said Mauro Ferrari, who led the development of the National Cancer Institute's nanotechnology plan and is associate vice president of health sciences technology and commercialization at Ohio State University in Columbus.
National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: Organic waste is a concern for large-scale food manufacturers. This corporate release announces one nanotechnology approach that is converting agricultural waste into energy.

Headline: NanoLogix and Welch Foods Inc. Sign Agreement for Hydrogen Bioreactor
News source: NanoLogix corporate press release

The NanoLogix methodology for hydrogen production is being developed for the limitless production of hydrogen from organic-containing waste water. Once successfully accomplished, this has the potentiality for solving the world energy crisis through the limitless production of hydrogen from any waste organic materials, such as sewer water, ground up garbage, etc. NanoLogix has assembled a distinguished team of scientists and university professors to work on this exciting project.

The NanoLogix reactor will utilize multiple proprietary methodologies for synergistically creating a hydrogen bioreactor. The hydrogen production method will utilize organic waste from Welch Food's waste stream.
Welch Foods

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: This article describes how nanotubes can be grown to become switches for mechanical actuation and signal processing.

Headline: Nanotubes bend to the task of switching
News source: EE Times by R. Colin Johnson

Cooperating to make an all-nanotube switch, electrical engineers from Cambridge University (England) and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. have circumvented the nano-to-micro interface. By lithographically seeding silicon wafers for nanotube growth of source, drain and gate electrodes, the EEs formed three-terminal switches that function like mechanical DRAM, dubbed a nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS) switch.

"Our NEMS switch will be useful wherever there is a mechanical actuation stage needed at the end of some signal processing," said professor Gehan Amaratunga, the lead EE on the Cambridge University team. Specifically, he said, the device can be used to switch routing connections on chips, as an alternative to on-chip fuses, for reconfiguration in a reversible manner and as an alternative to the silicon pillar structure now used as the base for capacitors in DRAM.
Gehan Amaratunga

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: This article details the space elevator games that were held at NASA Ames Research Center last month. One of the organizers described it as "more like Kitty Hawk than Kennedy Space Center."

Headline: Space elevator contest gets off the ground
NASA backs $100,000 games' for robot climbers, super-strong materials
News source: MSNBC by Alan Boyle, science editor

Climbing robots and super-strong strings are being put to the test this weekend as part of a $100,000 competition that someday might yield new ways to get to outer space.

It's all part of the Space Elevator Games, the first of NASA's Centennial Challenges to get off the ground. Ten teams from across the United States and Canada will face off at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, Calif., in two competitions — one for beam-powered robot climbers, the other for carbon nanotube tethers.

The games are modeled after technological challenges like the $10 million Ansari X Prize for private spaceflight and the $2 million DARPA Grand Challenge. This weekend's purse might be smaller, but there's the same sense of technological innovation, said Marc Schwager of the Spaceward Foundation, the Mountain View group that is managing the contests for NASA. "It's a little more like Kitty Hawk than Kennedy Space Center," he told MSNBC.com.
Elevator 2010

Spotlight on Foresight Members:

Foresight Nanotech Institute has updated its membership levels and added benefits. One of the new levels is the corporate membership. This week’s spotlight is on Foresight corporate member, Foley & Lardner LLP.

Corporate Member – Tarlton Properties

Foresight Nanotech Institute is located in Menlo Labs, part of Menlo Business Park in the Palo Alto, California area. Our space is a generous donation from Tarlton Properties. If you are seeking space for your nanotechnology or biotechnology company, please contact them at

Foresight Nanotech Institute offers membership levels appropriate to meet the needs and interests of individuals and companies. To find out more about membership follow this link:

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.

News Digest reader discount – read below:

November 10-11, 2005 – NASA Tech Briefs Nano Engineering Conference
Sponsored by NASA
Newton, Massachusetts

This fall, we invite you to discover how the world’s leading minds are applying nanotechnology to critical global challenges such as combating terrorism, finding a cure for cancer and reducing the world’s energy costs. During the two-day event over 30 presentations will focus on cutting-edge solutions in the aerospace, communications, electronics, environmental technology, bio-medicine, security, defense and energy industries. Keynote speakers include Keith Blakely, CEO of NanoDynamics, Inc. and David Bishop, VP of Nanotechnology Research for Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies. Foresight News Digest subscribers can receive a 10 percent discounted registration by going to http://www.techbriefs.com/nano/register.html and entering promotional code: foresight.

November 15, 2005 – Nanotech: Imagine the Possibilities
Sponsored by IEEE San Francisco Bay Nanotechnology Council
Sunnyvale, California
1 -6 p.m.

First annual symposium showcasing university graduate research. — See the frontier in Nanotechnology and help shape it.

Graduate research topics to be presented include: nanoscale optical devices on DNA scaffolds, nanotube nanofluidic transistors and circuits, anti-cancer drug delivery using viruses, and nanowire-based photonics and sensing.
Event web site

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.

January 31-February 1, 2006 – Nanotech Investing Forum
Sponsored by International Business Forum (IBF)
Rancho Mirage, California

Nanotechnology continues to receive growing attention from venture capital investors. Government, universities/labs, and corporations are fueling the growth of nanotech research into profitable commercial applications.
Event web site

Nanotech Events & News

Foresight note: It is with great reverence and admiration that we mention the death of Dr. Richard Smalley.

Headline: Nanotech pioneer, Nobel laureate Richard Smalley dead at 62
Rice chemist and buckyball discoverer became statesman for nanotechnology
News source: Press release: Rice University

Nobel laureate Richard Smalley, co-discoverer of the buckyball and one of the best-known and respected scientists in nanotechnology, died October 28, 2005, in Houston after a long battle with cancer. He was 62.

No one was better than Smalley himself at describing the discipline (nanotechnology) in plainspoken terms.

"We are about to be able to build things that work on the smallest possible length scales, atom by atom, with the ultimate level of finesse," Smalley told the U.S. House of Representatives while testifying in 1999 in support of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). "These little nanothings, and the technology that assembles and manipulates them — nanotechnology — will revolutionize our industries and our lives."

Headline: Small Times Announces Best of Small Tech Awards for 2005 News source: Small Times

Small Times unveiled its fourth annual Best of Small Tech Awards at the NanoCommerce & SEMI NanoForum trade show in Chicago. The awards honor companies and individuals in micro and nanotechnology that have made particularly noteworthy achievements during the previous 12 months.

Individual winners and finalists were named in the categories of product, company, business leader, researcher, innovator and advocate. In addition, a lifetime achievement award winner was named.

The awards were moderated by the Small Times editorial staff and 27 distinguished panelists from across industry and academia. The winners will be featured in a 16-page cover story in the upcoming November/December 2005 issue of Small Times magazine.

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 or idea that I think is especially cool.


At our conference last week, I heard several individuals talk about the Rice University "nanocar" that contains a chassis, axles and four wheels. When I began research for this news digest and I found this terrific DFJ NanoCar site.

Note: Draper Fisher Jurveston (DFJ) also includes information about, Phranque, the driver of the NanoCar.

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.

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