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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: January 11, 2006

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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: Materials made from nanoscale composites will enable us to build our products and transport ourselves using less energy. This article discusses some how scientists are looking to nanotech in nature for future car parts.

Headline: Cars made of plants? It ain't sci-fi
News source: GlobeandMail.com by Michael Vaughan

"We have an active nanotechnology research program where scientists in our group are attempting to design the fibres that particular applications need. For example, a program has been initiated to develop fibre than has less lignin bonding between cellulose bundles," said Professor Mohini Sain, University of Toronto's Faculty of Forestry.

"In another very exciting area of nanotechnology, we are working on developing commercially viable technology to obtain nano-cellulose fibres from wood fibre, agro-fibre and root fibres (such as rutabaga). We have already demonstrated the excellent performance of these fibres when they are added in a plastic as reinforcement.

"We are working toward developing a continuous process to make such nano- fibre and then develop bio-nanocomposites by processing them in conventional plastic processing equipment."
Mohini Sain

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: Portable testing and treatment for toxics will be a benefit of nanotech. This article discusses a new approach to creating on-the-spot test strips.

Headline: Dye nanoparticles aid water analysis
Affixed indicator dyes may yield more reliable test strips for heavy metals
News source: Chemical & Engineering News by Steve Ritter

A new method generates ion-selective dye nanoparticles and immobilizes them onto cellulose membrane filters so they won't leach or rub off (Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., published online Dec. 29, 2005). The process is expected to significantly improve the reliability and sensitivity of popular colorimetric test strips used for inexpensive on-the-spot screening for toxic heavy metals in water.

Paper test strips impregnated with water-insoluble organic indicator dyes are generally prepared by soaking filter paper in a dye solution and then drying. But the dyes' tendency to leach easily from the test strips can reduce their effectiveness. And tighter environmental and drinking-water standards are requiring ever-lower detection limits that are becoming out of reach for current test strips.

Yukiko Takahashi and Toshishige M. Suzuki of the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science & Technology, in Sendai, Japan, and their coworkers discovered an effective way around these problems. The team fabricates nanosized dye particles by dissolving common dyes in an organic solvent and injecting the solution into vigorously stirred water. The dyes precipitate as finely dispersed nanocrystals, and when filtered, the nanoparticles stick to the cellulose fibers of the membrane filter and don't let go.
Toshishige M. Suzuki

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: This near-term product has been fast-tracked by the FDA and uses dendrimers to prevent transmission of diseases.

Headline: FDA fast-tracks anti-HIV and herpes gel
News source: UPI by Olga Pierce

A vaginal gel that incorporates nanotechnology to prevent the spread of HIV and genital herpes could be commercially available as soon as 2008.

Australian pharmaceutical company StarPharma announced Tuesday that the Food and Drug Administration has granted fast-track status to VivaGel, an investigational microbicidal gel that women would apply vaginally in the hours before intercourse to prevent transmission of HIV and genital herpes. Microbicide gels provide an additional weapon in the fight against AIDS where condom use is not socially acceptable.

"Topical microbicides just makes it a lot easier for women," said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health, which recently awarded $20 million to StarPharma to speed the development of VivaGel.

"It gives them a degree of control," Fauci told UPI. "They're important because of the relationship between the HIV pandemic and women's ability to protect themselves in societies that don't allow them that freedom."
Anthony Fauci

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: Packaging is an area where nanotechnology will make considerable impact on the food industry. This forum includes a session on food packaging applications.

Headline: Future of Nanotechnology for Packaging
News source: Conference website

Future of Nanotechnology for Packing, a industry forum scheduled for February 22, 2006 in San Antonio, Texas, features a session on "Enhancing properties of plastics and bioplastics with functional nanoadditives for food packaging applications," by Dr. Jose M. Lagaraon, Science Advisor, IATA- SIC and Nanobiomattters.

The Future of Nanotechnology for Packing forum is a component of a larger conference, The Future of Nanoplastics, scheduled for February 23-24, 2006 at the same venue.

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: According to this article, batteries of the future may be able to store power for decades and generate electric current on demand.

Headline: Batteries shrinking alongside electronics
News source: Electronic News

Lucent Technologies Bell Labs has become involved with the reinvention of the battery by shrinking electrodes to nanometer scales. The research group is working with next-generation telecoms and nanotechnology developer mPhase Technologies on a reserve battery prototype that relies on a nanotechnology-based architecture.

Bell Labs-developed nano-architecture was refined based on feedback from potential military customers like the U.S. Army Research Laboratory. mPhase said it is developing a new generation of reserve power cells, which could store reserve power for decades and generate electric current virtually on demand.

The prototype battery is based on a Bell Labs discovery that liquid droplets of electrolyte will stay in a dormant state atop nanotextured surfaces until stimulated to flow, thereby triggering a reaction producing electricity, the companies explained.
Bell Laboratories
mPhase Technologies

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: Revolutionary is a word often applied to nanotechnology. This organization is calling for scientists and theorists to submit their revolutionary ideas for a grants program. Nanotechnology will play a huge part in these concepts.

Headline: NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts – Call for Proposals
News source: Organization website

Maximizing humankind's potential here on Earth and beyond challenges modern thinkers and researchers to consider fresh approaches to aeronautics, spaceflight, exploration and colonization of off-world environments.

Governmental agencies like NASA recognize the need to identify innovative yet scientifically credible concepts in order to lay the groundwork for ambitious and far-reaching missions. To address this need for NASA, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) founded the NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC).

This release of the NIAC Phase I Call for Proposals, CP 06-01, Aeronautical and Concept Studies, is a continuation of the process to identify and nurture revolutionary advanced concepts that may have a significant impact on the future of aeronautics and space. Proposals are due February 13, 2006.

Examples of where nanotechnology will pay a significant role are: propellants, self-maintaining materials, lightweight construction and fabrication materials, support for human adaptation in space exploration.
Link to proposal guidelines PDF download

"Valley of Death" Panel Online

We assembled a stellar panel on the "Valley of Death." Hear these experts describe the gap between technical breakthrough and fundable prototype and detail how nanotechnology companies and researchers can survive this difficult commercialization stage.

Steve Jurvetson, Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Floyd Kvamme, Partner, Kleiner Perkins
Michael Moe, Chairman & CEO, ThinkEquity Partners
Ray Rothrock, Managing General Partner, Venrock Associates

Nanotech Challenge Doubles Your Impact

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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?

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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. With our new Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems initiative, 2006 promises to be even more critical for nanotech, which means your support is more important than ever.

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 or presentations about research that is leading to Productive Nanosystems.

Nanotech Roadmap for Optics & Photonics

History has shown that goal-oriented science can achieve great breakthroughs. In this session, you will hear progress toward a Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems, which make atomically precise structures, components and devices under programmable control.

Foresight Nanotechnology Institute, with partner including Battelle, is building a framework for understanding the pathways for developing such systems, the challenges that must be overcome in their development and the applications that they can address. This roadmap helps any organization formulate research and commercialization plans to achieve these capabilities. Optics and Photonics play a key role in this multi-disciplinary domain, in areas including imaging, fabrication, and manipulation at the nano-scale.

Marc Lurie, President, and Dr. Eric Drexler, Founder and Advisor, Foresight Nanotechnology Institute, will speak January 24, 2006 at Photonics West 2006 at the San Jose Convention Center, sponsored by The International Society for Optical Engineering.

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

Headline: Report Examines Safety of Nanotechnology
News Source: SmallTimes/The Associated Press by Andrew Bridges

From toothpaste to trousers, dozens of everyday products contain materials made through the blossoming science of nanotechnology — but laws safeguarding the public's health and safety aren't developing nearly as quickly, according to a new report.

Few will say whether nanomaterials are unquestionably safe or dangerous given the lack of definitive research into the matter.

However, Terry Davies, author of the report being released Wednesday, said it's time to start discussing changing laws — and perhaps drafting new ones — to identify and protect the public from any risks that may crop up in the future.

"The technology is new but it's not so new that it's not being commercialized," said Davies, a senior adviser to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former Environmental Protection Agency official.

Nanotechnology involves the manufacture and manipulation of materials at the molecular or atomic level — the smallest things get. At that scale, materials are measured in nanometers or billionths of a meter. Nanoscale materials, including particles used today in stain-resistant pants and suntan lotions, are generally less than 100 nanometers in diameter. A sheet of paper, in comparison, is a whopping 100,000 nanometers thick.

Nano boosters herald the potential for small-scale materials to have enormous effects on much of what we do, including developing drugs and sopping up toxic pollution. Nanomaterials already are used in at least 80 consumer products made by U.S. companies, according to Small Times.
Getting Nanotech Right: A New Report on Government Oversight of Nanotechnology
Link to report

Headline: EPA releases draft nanotechnology white paper
News Source: Capitol Reports

The U.S. EPA has issued the Draft Nanotechnology White Paper that identifies critical questions that must be addressed in order for the United States to reap the potential environmental and economic benefits of nanotechnology.

Along with presenting the anticipated benefits of nanotechnology, the paper also deals with risk management of possible negative impacts of the new technologies. The white paper identifies data gaps that need to be filled and the research that EPA will conduct to fully grasp the applications and the implications of nanotech. Those research results will inform the appropriate regulatory safeguards for nanotechnology. The latest nanotechnology and potential environmental benefits of nanotechnology are detailed. Risk management issues and the agency's statutory mandates are outlined, following an extensive discussion of risk assessment issues. The white paper concludes with recommendations on next steps for addressing science policy issues and research needs.

EPA said it will issue a final white paper on nanotechnology in early 2006.

Call for Abstracts – Deadline February 24, 2006
The Multifunctional Nano Composites International Conference

Honolulu, Hawaii

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.

This is an online, free course focusing on nanotechnology and its applications for vision. The organizers provide video streams compatible with both PC and Mac and for those who prefer to read, there are transcripts. Be forewarned: some of these talks are pretty basic. —Judy

Headline: Nanotechnology and Nanomedicine: Applications for Vision – Online Course
News source: Medical Technology Business Europe

The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) has launched its first online course, "Nanotechnology and Nanomedicine: Applications for Vision". The course was presented at ARVO's 2005 Annual Meeting and was sponsored by a grant from the US National Eye Institute (NEI) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The course is available for viewing free of charge at http://www.arvo.org/nano

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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