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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: December 21, 2005

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Foresight Nanotech Institute thanks you for your support throughout 2005. The Weekly News Digest will not be published on December 28, 2005. We'll resume publication on Wednesday, January 4, 2006.

We wish you Happy Holiday Season and a Peaceful and Prosperous New Year.

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: The National Renewable Energy Laboratory issued a report that provides excellent information in layperson terms about energy and nanotechnology.

Headline: Nanoscience & Nanotechnology – Meeting 21st Century Energy Challenges
News source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

NREL's research into nanostructures — quantum dots, nanorods, carbon nanotubes, and nanoparticle precursors — portends great potential for renewable energy technologies. This is especially true for efficient, lightweight hydrogen storage and for highly efficient and inexpensive solar cells, both of which could provide economic pathways toward a carbon-free energy economy.
White Paper – Nanoscience & Nanotechnology – Meeting 21st Century Energy Challenges

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: This article discusses how a nanotechnology water filtration system will be introduced to work in conjunction with a city's current water delivery systems.

Headline: City water approval ratings on the rise
A recent study shows improvement in BG's water satisfaction

News source: BG News.com by Meghan Durbak

"The water is owned by the community. It is our job to keep in touch with the people we serve and be responsive with their needs and desires. Sometimes EPA standards aren't good enough," said Bowling Green's utility director, Kevin Maynard.

Because there is a need for increased water capacity, Maynard believes the EPA standards will be raised in the next few years. To meet the standards of both the EPA and the community he serves, Maynard said the city is looking into a nanofiltration system that acts like a reverse osmosis system.

The plan wouldn't be to abandon the older equipment, but to blend the water from the nanofiltration system and the older equipment to produce higher quality water while keeping the cost as reasonable as possible, Maynard said.

So far, the plan is to begin the nanofiltration pilot project in 2006, and if all goes well, the city will move forward with plans to implement the system in the next few years.

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: According to this article, a major challenge in treating brain cancer is getting through the protective system of blood vessels and protective cells in the brain. This article discusses how nanotechnology could assist in treating this type of cancer.

Headline: Nanotechnology Tackles Brain Cancer
News source: National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

Brain cancer can be counted among the most deadly and intractable diseases. Often diagnosed after a patient exhibits symptoms such as nausea, dizziness, uncharacteristic behavior changes, or paralysis, the growing mass of a brain tumor will continue to squeeze out normal tissue and degrade the brain's function if left untreated. But treatment is elusive. Tumors may be embedded in regions of the brain that are critical to orchestrating the body's vital functions, while they shed cells to invade other parts of the brain, forming more tumors too small to detect using conventional imaging techniques. Brain cancer's location and ability to spread quickly makes treatment with surgery or radiation like fighting an enemy hiding out among minefields and caves, and explains why the term "brain cancer" is all too often associated with the word "inoperable."
National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: It was a slow news week in the nanotech and agriculture arena. Here is an announcement of an event in 2006, which has a nanoscale component.

Headline: Food Colloids 2006
News source: Conference website

The scientific aim of the Food Colloids 2006 conference to be held April 23-26, 2006 is to discuss how the properties of food dispersion, emulsions, foams or gels can be described by concepts used in Material Science or Soft Condensed Matter Physics. A major goal of this science area is to understand the formation processes, structure, and functional properties of supramolecular systems that play an important role in real life. This implies the probing and understanding of structure formation and dynamical properties at the mesoscopic scale of soft materials, such as colloids, polymers or surfactants (e.g., Self-Assembly systems), i.e., materials which are easily deformable by external stresses or even thermal fluctuations.

The practical aim is to be able to control the quality of food products, such as taste, texture, color, shelf life or their nutritional value, and to give guidelines of how to formulate new structures of high quality by using Material Science concepts. Synthetic, biological and food materials will be discussed ranging from model systems through to specific biological or food problems.

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: According to this paper, future batteries based on this technology have the potential to deliver a longer shelf life and provide better storage capacity.

Headline: Nanobattery Project Paper Published
News source: Photonic.com

Scientists from mPhase Technologies and Lucent Technologies Bell Labs have demonstrated a working reserve nanotechnology-based battery that could be the prototype for a new generation of batteries that are lighter weight and have very long shelf lives and better storage capacities.

Titled "Reserve Battery Architecture Based on Superhydrophobic Nanostructured Surfaces," the paper detailing the research is published in the current issue of the Bell Labs Technical Journal and was co-authored by mPhase technical staff senior member Victor Lifton and Steve Simon, executive vice president of research and development, with Robert E. Frahm, technical manager in the micromechanics research department at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, N.J.
MPhase Technologies

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: Reducing the weight and increasing strength in materials is critical for the development of space. This polymer nanocomposite company has received funds to develop Mars Rover parachutes among other applications.

Headline: NEI Corporation to develop polymer nanocomposites for space and defense applications
News source: Nanotechwire.com

NEI Corporation, a proven provider of nanoengineered materials, has received two contracts, one from NASA and the other from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) to develop next generation polymer nanocomposite materials. Both programs commence in January, 2006 and have initial funding totaling $170,000.

The focus of the program from NASA is on developing advanced silicone nanocomposite coatings for airbags that can be used on Mars Exploration Rovers. It is anticipated that the addition of NEI's proprietary nanomaterials to silicone polymers will help reduce the weight of airbags, while maintaining or increasing the seam strength. Other space applications such as inflatable space structures, parachutes, and space suits could benefit from the technology. The program will help NEI offer new nanomaterial additives to commercial customers in the transportation field, including airbags, inflatable boats, and related applications.
NEI Corporation

13th Foresight Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology
Presentations Online

Capturing the Environmental Benefits of Nanotechnology

Shannon Lloyd, Senior Environmental Specialist, First Environment, Inc. discusses both the negatives and positives of nanotechnology and the environment within the context of the Life Cycle Assessments of product input and output net impact model.
Shannon Lloyd
Link to presentation and audio

Assessing Risks of Nanoscale Materials

Jo Anne Shatkin, Principal, The Cadmus Group, Inc. presented a risk assessment presentation which covered the importance of addressing risks now, assessing nanoscale materials, and why there is a concern about nanomaterials.
Jo Anne Shatkin
Link to presentation and audio

Nanotech Challenge Doubles Your Impact

What's your priority for nanotechnology: cancer treatments that really work, clean energy, clear water, a restored environment, the key to space exploration, future jobs, or new manufacturing capabilities?

Maybe you just know, as a Foresight supporter, that nanotechnology is coming, it will have tremendous impact on society — and your career — and it's vital for you to keep current on new developments, policy issues and future-oriented breakthroughs.

Are You Up for the Nanotech Challenge?

Thanks to support such as yours, we've been able to advance beneficial nanotechnology through our Conference, Weekly Digest read in more than 125 countries, redesigned Update Magazine, and a new Foresight website that provides more information and resources than ever before. And with our new Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems initiative, next year promises to be even more critical for nanotech, which means your support is more important than ever.

Now you can double the impact of your gift. Thanks to a generous $40,000 Challenge Grant, every donation you give to Foresight is matched dollar for dollar up to this amount. This Challenge is for a limited time only.

Please give now and together we can build an exciting nanotech future.

List of member benefits:

Productive Nanosystems – News & Events

Productive Nanosystems will be molecular-scale systems that make other useful materials and devices that are nanostructured. In this section of the Weekly News Digest we will cover news about research that is leading to Productive Nanosystems.

Foresight note: Moving and measuring molecules precisely are steps toward Productive Nanosystems. This article mentions a molecule analysis tool.

Headline: Researchers demonstrate single molecule absorption spectroscopy
News source: EurekAlert

A powerful new tool for probing molecular structure on surfaces has been developed by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Single molecule absorption spectroscopy can enhance molecular analysis, surface manipulation and studies of molecular energy and reactivity at the atomic level.

"This new measurement method combines the chemical selectivity of optical absorption spectroscopy with the atomic-scale resolution of scanning tunneling microscopy," said Martin Gruebele, a professor of chemistry, physics and biophysics and corresponding author of a paper accepted for publication in the journal Nano Letters, and posted on its Web site. "The method literally feels how a molecule changes shape when it absorbs energy."
Martin Gruebele

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 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.
Event web site

March 29-30, 2006 – Nanomanufacturing Conference & Exhibits
Sponsored by Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME)
Los Angeles, California

Looking to support the pace of innovation, development, and commercialization of the tools, instruments, and systems required for nanoscale manufacturing? Interested in learning about the latest nanotechnology applications and trends in top-down fabrication and bottom- up assembly techniques? Then this event is for you.
Event web site

Nanotech Events & News

Foresight note: Christine Peterson, Vice President of Public Policy at Foresight serves on California's Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology, which gave recommendation about what investments California needs to make to encourage nanotechnology within the state.

Headline: Task force urges California to take lead in nanotechnology
News source: The San Jose Mercury News, by May Wong

California must make immediate investments in education and infrastructure if it wants to be at the center of the estimated $1 trillion nanotechnology industry, a state task force recommended Monday.

Nanotechnology, the science of manipulating matter at the molecular level, has already improved the stain resistance in khakis, the bounce in tennis balls, and the moisturizer in lotions.

But that's only the beginning. The nascent sector promises countless other breakthroughs from toothpaste to spacecraft.

"The nanotech revolution is going to happen. The question is: Will California lead it? We're here today to make sure we do," state Controller Steve Westly said Monday, in announcing the recommendations of the nanotechnology task force he formed a year ago along with Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

Brave New Nano: Regulating the Future – January 30, 2006
Chicago Nano Forum
Chicago, Illinois

Call for Abstracts – Deadline February 1, 2006
Food Colloids 2006 – Self-Assembly and Material Science

Congress and Exhibition
April 23-26, 2006
Montreux, Switzerland
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

Call for Nominations – Deadline March 1, 2006
Nanotech Briefs – Second Annual Nano50

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.

Remember, the news digest will not be published next week. See you in the New Year and thank you. —Judy

This article mentions how FUD (Fear, Uncertainly and Doubt) surrounding nanotechnology could derail the very benefits that those who spread the FUD would want, such as freeing societies from being overly dependent on fossil fuels.

Headline: FUD Fight Over Nanotech
News source: Motley Fool by Carl Wherrett and John Yelovich

That's not to say that FUD hasn't affected nanotechnology. A recent article commenting on the potential health and safety concerns related to nanotech got front-page prominence on Yahoo!'s home page and subsequently received even more publicity when CNN.com repeated the article in its entirety.

There was little of substance in the article itself, other than calling for more research-and-development spending on what might be a problem.

The usual suspects warn of dire consequences to the world's health in the name of profit. A spokesman from a nonprofit eco-organization demands total withdrawal of nano-products on the market, including sunscreens, food additives, and stain-resistant pants. Perhaps he should add Babolat's tennis rackets, Wilson's tennis nano-bags and even Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPod nano to his list. (Actually, Wilson's bags and Apple's music player are both winners of our nano-faker awards — there is nothing "nano" apart from the marketing in either of them.)

We are not advocating simply ignoring basic health and safety concerns as they may relate to nanotech, but we strongly urge investors, scientists, and the public in general to educate themselves.

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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