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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: December 7, 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: According to researchers at NIST, tethering hydrogen in stacked nanocages might lead to an alternative to fossil fuels.

Headline: Scientists report progress with hydrogen fuel nanocages
News source: SmallTimes

A strategy to stack more hydrogen in nanoscale, zinc-based box scaffoldings may ultimately help replace fossil fuels in vehicles, U.S. scientists report. Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology used beams of neutrons as probes to determine where hydrogen latches onto the lattice-like arrangement of zinc and oxygen clusters in a custom-made material known as a metal-organic framework.
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: This corporate webpage has a clear definition of nanofiltration in context with ceramics.

Headline: New ceramic nanofiltration membranes
News source: Lenntech Corporate Website

"The nanofiltration technique is mainly used for the removal of two valued ions and the larger mono valued ions like heavy metals. This technique can be seen as a coarse RO (reversed osmosis) membrane. Because nanofiltration uses less fine membranes, the feed pressure of the NF system is generally lower compared to RO systems. Also the fouling rate is lower compared to RO systems."
Nanofiltration Definition

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: Nanotechnology has the potential to improve diagnosis, imaging and early detection. This article discusses quantum dots sensing DNA without fluorescence.

Headline: Quantum dots to sense DNA
News source: Nature Materials and Eurekalert

Sensing DNA directly in a solution and without having to go through tedious separation and amplification procedures is a great challenge in molecular biology. The results of these analyses are critical for diagnosing genetic diseases. Chun-Yang Zhang and colleagues at John Hopkins University now present a straightforward and sensitive method that, being based on the fluorescence emission from quantum dots rather than from molecular probes, circumvents the infamous problem of background fluorescence.

"Conventional methods of finding and identifying samples of DNA are cumbersome and time-consuming," said Jeff Tza-Huei Wang, senior author of the paper published in Nature and supervisor of the research team. "This new technique is ultrasensitive, quick and relatively simple. It can be used to look for a particular part of a DNA sequence, as well as for genetic defects and mutations."
Jeff Wang's Lab Page
Johns Hopkins Department of Mechanical Engineering
Whitaker Biomedical Engineering Institute at Johns Hopkins

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: This article discusses a UK report being conducted that will address public concerns about nanotech. There is a large food and agriculture component in this study's current scope.

Headline: UK nanotechnology research directed at food industry
News source: Food Production Daily by Ahmed ElAmin

UK research will be directed to studying the potential risks posed by nanotechnology, including its effects on health from its use by the food industry, according to a report released yesterday.

The report is a forerunner to eventual regulation on nanotechnology and is meant to address public concerns over the emerging science, which is already being as used by the food industry. While far reaching visions such as nanotech food synthesizers or pathogen killing nanobots are not expected to become reality within the next decades, nanotechnology related research and development projects for food processing, food engineering and food packaging are currently in the innovation pipeline.

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: Here is an instance of two large companies, AMD and IBM, collaborating on the nanoscale for improved semiconductor and processing power.

Headline: AMD, IBM Unveil New, Higher Performance, More Power Efficient 65nm Process Technologies
News source: Physorg.com

In papers presented at the International Electron Devices Meeting (IEDM) in Washington, D.C., IBM and AMD detailed their progress in bringing new, advanced semiconductor process technologies and materials to the 65 nanometer technology generation.

The companies announced that they have successfully combined embedded Silicon Germanium (e-SiGe) with Dual Stress Liner (DSL) and Stress Memorization technology (SMT) on Silicon-On-Insulator (SOI) wafers, resulting in a 40 percent increase in transistor performance compared to similar chips produced without stress technology, while controlling power consumption and heat dissipation.

"Our joint work on developing advanced process technologies continues to ensure we can create and provide the highest performance, lowest power processors on the market," said Nick Kepler, vice president of logic technology development at AMD.
Advanced Micro Devices (AMD)

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: This article discusses how carbon nanotubes can be arrayed to lower the cost per payload to launch communication satellites.

Headline: Space saving approach to satellite communications
News source: Physorg.com

Ken Teo and his team at the University of Cambridge have come up with a much more efficient and compact way to send signals from satellites. They have managed to use an array of carbon nanotubes to create a device that replaces conventional heavy, bulky, high temperature, microwave amplifiers. The new electron source promises to revolutionize telecommunications and satellite communications in space.

Long-range communications are a vital part of our lives for business, entertainment or just keeping in contact with friends and family. Much of this, especially to remote areas, is made possible through communications using satellite-based transmitters. There are typically 50 microwave amplifiers on board a satellite, each weighing about 1kg and measuring about 30cm in length.

Currently it costs about 10,000 pounds sterling to send a single kilogram of payload (data) into space. There is an advantage, both in terms of cost savings and extra payload that can be carried, if the weight and size of the microwave devices are reduced.
University of Cambridge

13th Foresight Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology
Presentation Online

Dendrimer Technology: A Nanoscale Delivery Platform for the Identification and Treatment of Cancer

Robert Berry, CEO, Dendritic Nanotechnologies, presented on targeted therapeutics for ovarian cancer. There is an excellent slide that illustrates sizing from decimeter to picometer and details nano-pharma.

Quote from Robert Berry
"Where does nanotechnology fit with cancer? Size makes a huge difference in our ability to provide a targeted receptor based diagnostic and therapeutic delivery system. This happens at the nano scale."
Link to presentation

Spotlight on Foresight Members: Natural Nano

Foresight Nanotech Institute has updated its membership levels and added new benefits. One of the new levels is the corporate membership. This week we would like to highlight news from our corporate member, NaturalNano, Inc.

NaturalNano, Inc. (OTCBB: NNAN), formerly known as Cementitious Materials, Inc., announced that the Company completed the acquisition of NaturalNano, Inc., a previously privately-held company, through the merger of a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Company into NaturalNano. This merger and the private placement will allow NaturalNano to further develop and market its propriety technologies and processes.

NaturalNano is an advanced materials company that is developing unique and proprietary processes for refining naturally occurring nanotubes and other materials that add desirable properties to a range of advanced applications including uses in cosmetics and personal care products, absorbent materials, electromagnetic interference shielding, specialty coatings, and material additives for industrial polymers, plastics and composites.

NaturalNano has assembled a team of leading researchers in the field of nanotechnology and established relationships with several government and research institutions across the country and in Europe.

To become a corporate member follow this link:

Join Foresight

Are you curious about nanotechnology and what it means for you? Do you want to know more? Or, are you already informed and believe that nanotechnology can provide solutions to key challenges facing humanity?

Consider becoming an Electronic, Student or Basic Member of Foresight Nanotech Institute, a think tank that has been leading the public debate and education on nanotechnology since 1986.

If you wish to be more involved, consider becoming a Participating Member. Participating Members, formerly called Senior Associates, are a mix of technologists, philanthropists, visionaries, policy leaders, engineers, research scientists, artists, and nanotechnology experts.

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:

To join:

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.

January 8-11, 2006 – Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) US
Sponsored by SEMI
Half Moon Bay, California

What's Driving the Industry? Find out at the 28th Annual Industry Strategy Symposium (ISS) U.S. In order to remain successful, executives must keep pace with the accelerating rate of change in the worldwide semiconductor industry. That means identifying emerging markets and developing products and services that respond to customers needs before they become critically evident. ISS gives you the latest business and economic data you need to make well informed strategic business decisions.

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

February 1-2, 2006 – Clean-Tech Investor Summit
Sponsored by International Business Forum (IBF)
Rancho Mirage, California

Emerging growth companies delivering clean-tech products and services represent the next big wave of innovation. Clean-tech investing is at an all time high and is expected to flourish in a range of sectors, including renewable and distributed energy, advanced materials, transportation, and water purification and management. Many clean technologies are experiencing double-digit annual growth rates.

Nanotech Events & News

Nanotechnology and the Media: Realities and Risk
December 14, 2005
Washington, DC
Event web site

Nanotechnology, Fuel Cells and Ceramic Armor Sessions at the 30th International
Conference and Exposition on Advanced Ceramics and Composites
January 22-27, 2006
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Event web site

Call for Abstracts – Deadline March 15, 2006
Nanotechnology in Northern Europe 2006

Congress and Exhibition
May 16-18, 2006
Helsinki, Finland
Event web site

Headline: Nanotechnology: Big trouble in the mini-revolution?
News Source: The Independent by Jimmy Lee Shreeve

Nanotechnology could treat cancer or create clean energy. But what happens if nano-particles enter our bodies? Jimmy Lee Shreeve reports on the mounting fears.

Nanotechnology has been hailed as a potential cure for cancer and environmental ills. But could it become the asbestos of the 21st century? Researchers and futurists believe that nanotechnology could transform everything from healthcare and manufacturing to environmental clean-up and space travel. Many of the worst problems threatening us, they say, could be eradicated this century.

Cancer cells could be destroyed by tiny silicon combs; "nanobots" could clear blocked blood vessels. Hydrogen-based fuel cells using "nanotubes" could allow cars to travel 5,000 miles on a full tank. Minute solar cells in building facades and on road surfaces would produce cheap energy.

Nanoparticles might detoxify petrochemical waste. There could be a new industrial revolution as atoms are assembled into useful new products. But at scales of a millionth of a millimetrer, materials can develop unusual and unpredictable properties, leading to concerns about risks to health and the environment. Some experts are calling for a moratorium on nanotechnology, saying that ultra-fine particles created for cosmetic, industrial and high-technology uses could prove deadly.

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.


Scott E. Rickert, CEO of Nanofilm, Ltd. and a Participating Member of Foresight Nanotech Institute, wrote this opinion piece, "Taking The NanoPulse — Nanotechnology. Good And Green," for IndustryWeek.com. He provides some history of nanomaterials in the environment and gives a view for the future.

I have listed a couple of excellent quotes from Rickert's opinion piece but you really should read the entire article. It has several thought provoking points.

"Nanotechnologists care about the environment, too. We live on this earth, too, drinking the water and breathing the air. And, in fact, most of us have more contact with nanomaterials on a daily basis than anyone in the general public."

"Couldn't we simply slow down the whole expensive process and take a wait- and-see attitude? There is at least one multinational company executive who has publicly stated this to be his approach. There are two reasons why the answer must be no. First, the global economy will continue to push the limits of nanotechnology's possibilities; America can't afford to fall behind. Moreover, and most importantly, nanotechnology holds the potential to unlock advances that replace current environmentally harmful practices with new greener ones."
Nanofilm, Ltd.

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.

Special thanks to Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges Research Volunteer Michelle Hubbard, MSc Candidate, Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan

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