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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: January 19, 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: Nanotechnology will make energy more mobile and distribution less centralized. This is an interview with David Carroll of Wake Forest University about the university's breakthrough flexible solar cell research.

Headline: Flexible solar cells advance "mobile power"
News source: Earth & Sky Radio Series

Scientists recently announced the development of solar cells they say are flexible — and twice as efficient as solar cells of the past. Researchers developed the flexible solar cell at the Center for Nanotechnology at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. David Carroll is director there, and he told Earth & Sky interviewers about this new solar cell in a radio interview.

"Mobile power, of course is the name of the game. Right now, if you want mobile power, you carry these very heavy silicon solar cells with you, or you carry fuel and a generator, or batteries. And all of those are extremely heavy compared to this." said Carroll.
David Carroll

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: General Electric has been pushing a lot of research in the nanofiltration arena. They have listed several research papers on their site defining nanofiltration's ability to filter specific elements.

Headline: General Electric research papers on nanofiltration
News source: Corporate website

Nanofiltration is a form of filtration that uses membranes to preferentially separate different fluids or ions. Nanofiltration is not as fine a filtration process as reverse osmosis, but it also does not require the same energy to perform the separation. Nanofiltration also uses a membrane that is partially permeable to perform the separation, but the membrane's pores are typically much larger than the membrane pores that are used in reverse osmosis.

Nanofiltration is capable of concentrating sugars, divalent salts, bacteria, proteins, particles, dyes, and other constituents that have a molecular weight greater than 1000 daltons. Nanofiltration, like reverse osmosis, is affected by the charge of the particles being rejected. Thus, particles with larger charges are more likely to be rejected than others. Nanofiltration is not effective on small molecular weight organics, such as methanol.

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: More promising cancer treatment news at the nanoscale.

Headline: Antibody and magnetic nanoparticles provide double targeting to liver cancer cells
News source: National Cancer Institute Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

Cancer researchers have long sought to harness the tumor-targeting ability of monoclonal antibodies with the cell-killing property of radioisotopes, particularly iodine. But clinical results with numerous I-antibody formulations have failed to live up to expectations, in large part because the therapy is not specific enough for tumors. In an attempt to remedy that problem, a group led by Jin Chen, Ph.D., and Changsheng Xie, Ph.D., both at Huazhong University of Science & Technology in Wuhan, China, has added magnetic nanoparticles to the I-antibody preparation, and the preliminary results suggest that this approach could be promising for treating human liver cancer.

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: Smart packaging that can detect pathogens in food is one application of nanotechnology in the food production industry.

Headline: Company developing nanotech silicon for food industry
News source: Food Production Daily.com by Ahmed ElAmin

Nanotechnology coupled with a silicon ingredient could be used for food quality, safety, authentication and the detection of pathogens, an Australian company says.

pSivida launched a new spinout company, PSiNutria, to develop its silicon technology for use by the food industry. The parent company is based in Australia and has offices in London and Singapore.

"Greater attention is being focused in the food industry on the quality and origin of food, particularly with concerns from bio terrorism where food sources may be deliberately contaminated," the company stated. "The ability to detect pathogens, deliberate contamination or spoiling of food has enormous commercial value."

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: According to this article, a group of scientists have found swirling spin structures that could lead to the next generation of electronic devices.

Headline: New nano-finding points to new computer technologies based on magnetic spin
News source: LinuxElectrons

An unusual pool of scientific talent at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory, combined with new nanofabrication and nanocharacterization instruments, is helping to open a new frontier in electronics, to be made up of very small and very fast devices.

A new discovery by this group opens a path to new computer technologies and related devices, and could drive entire industries into the future, the researchers say.

The researchers learned that swirling spin structures called magnetic vortices, when trapped within lithographically patterned ferromagnetic structures, behave in novel ways. In a nickel-iron alloy, the two vortices swirl in opposite directions, one clockwise and the other counterclockwise. However, the researchers discovered that the magnetic polarity of the central core of the vortices, like the eye of a hurricane, controlled the time-evolution of the magnetic properties, not the swirling direction.

The material being studied is about one micron in size, and the area of the vortex core is about 10 nanometers in size. For comparison, the period at the end of this sentence is about 100 microns or 100,000 nanometers in diameter.

Group leader Sam Bader, an Argonne scientist for more than 30 years, explained that the work could lead to the next generation of electronic devices. "When the first computer hard disk was introduced 50 years ago, it required a rather large size to store each bit of digital information. On today's computer disks, the corresponding size is about one-50-millionth of that needed in the original disks. We are now moving well into the nanoscale range, and nanomagnetism is one of the real drivers of the nanotechnology field."
Argonne Laboratory

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: Nanotechnology will help us explore space, but it will also help us answer questions. Taiwan scientists believe they have answered a three-decade-old question about space in a laboratory experiment on nanodiamonds.

Headline: Seeing red with nanodiamonds
Nano-scale diamonds illuminate a long-standing astronomical mystery

News source: Astronomy Magazine by Francis Reddy

A faint, reddish glow called the Extended Red Emission (ERE) pervades space's dustiest places. Astronomers have found the diffuse light in reflection, emission, and planetary nebulae; in the solar system's high-latitude "cirrus" dust clouds; in galaxies M82 and the Evil Eye (NGC 4862); and in the Milky Way's diffuse interstellar gas.

Astronomers have puzzled over the phenomenon for more than 3 decades. Now, a team led by Huan-Cheng Chang of Taiwan's Academia Sinica claims the glow comes from nanodiamonds in space.
Huan-Cheng Chang

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.

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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.

Foresight note: Here is a nanostructure that is atomically precise, covalently bonded, and in which the components can be made to assemble differently in other solvents. The article is written by the winner of the 2000 Foresight Prize in Communication.

Headline: One-pot route to nanocontainer
Eighteen molecular units condense to form covalent, hexameric host molecule

News source: Chemical & Engineering News by Ron Dagani

In a stroke of serendipity, chemists at Rutgers University have discovered a one-pot reaction in which 18 molecular components react sequentially to form, in high yield, a cavernous, covalent molecule that potentially could encapsulate other, smaller molecules.

Although a couple of covalent "nanocontainer" molecules have been synthesized previously, the new route is operationally far more efficient, and it also is atom-efficient. These features could be advantageous in potential applications such as drug delivery, separation science, catalysis, and sensing.
Link to published paper

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: Engineers solve chaos mystery in use of high-tech microscope
News Source: Newswise

Mechanical engineers at Purdue University have proven that the same sort of "deterministic chaos" behind the baffling uncertainties of the stock market and long-term weather conditions also interferes with measurements taken with a commonly used scientific instrument.

"The idea that chaos interferes with measurements in atomic-force microscopy has been sort of an urban myth over the years, but we have now proven this to be a fact," said Arvind Raman, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The findings will be detailed in a paper to appear online on Jan. 20 in the journal Physical Review Letters. The paper was written by mechanical engineering doctoral student Shuiqing Hu and Raman.

The engineers also have shown through a series of experiments precisely how much error is caused by the effects of chaos, information that could be used to help researchers make more accurate measurements with atomic-force microscopes.

Headline: Nanotubes stretched to record length
News Source: Small Times

Boston College physicists have, for the first time, shown carbon nanotubes can be stretched to nearly four times their original length. The researchers say the discovery might have implications for future semiconductor and nanocomposite design and development. Single-walled carbon nanotubes are nanoscale cylinders that are many times stronger than steel.

At normal temperatures, carbon nanotubes snap when stretched to about 1.15 times their original length. But a team of physicists led by Boston College Research Associate Professor Jianyu Huang showed that at high temperatures nanotubes become extremely ductile. When heated to more than 3,600 degrees Source

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

Honolulu, Hawaii
Event web site

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.

Dr. Nadrian Seeman, a Roadmap Steering committee member and winner of the 1995 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology, received the 2005 World Technology Award for Biotechnology. Presented by The World Technology Network (WTN), this prestigious award was originally given to Dr. Woo Suk Hwang. The WTN stripped Dr. Hwang of the award and conferred it upon Dr. Seeman last week. Dr. Seeman is also the Chairman of the Scientific Advisory Board for Nanoscience Technnologies, a corporate member of Foresight.

Congratulations, Nadrian!

— Judy

WTN release
Nanoscience Technologies release
NYU's release
To become a corporate member follow this link:

Join the discussion – visit our blog Nanodot 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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