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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: February 15, 2006

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: Scalable manufacturing is key for nanotechnology applications. This story discusses a step forward for photovoltaics.

Headline: DOE lab could advance solar PV production
News source: Renewable Energy Access

By controlling materials at the nanoscale level, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) researchers believe they can greatly improve manufacturing processes of products ranging from solar cells to computers to flat-panel displays.

At the center of the optimism is a 750 kW radiant plasma arc lamp that claims 3,000 times higher heating rates and three times higher processing temperatures than those possible with conventional technologies. The Mattson Technology lamp, designed and developed by Mattson Technology and housed at the Department of Energy's ORNL, can heat a surface at a rate of 1 million degrees Fahrenheit per second.

"More importantly, the lamp achieves those laser power densities over large areas, and that enables us to produce uniform microstructures with uniform properties," said Craig Blue of ORNL's Metals and Ceramics Division.

"In the U.S., photovoltaics is a $500 million industry, and the industry is growing at a rate of 30 to 40 percent per year," said Ron Ott, Blue's colleague in the project. "By 2020, the photovoltaic industry is projected to boast revenues of $15 billion worldwide."
OakRidge National Laboratory
OakRidge National Laboratory Press Release

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: This event is a large water conference that will focus primarily on education and policy, with some technology.

Headline: 4th World Water Forum – March 16-22, 2006
Mexico City, Mexico
News source: World Water Forum website

The World Water Forum is an initiative of the World Water Council that has the aim of raising the awareness on water issues all over the world. As the main international event on water, it seeks to enable multi-stakeholder participation and dialogue to influence water policy-making at a global level, thus assuring better living standards for people all over the world and a more responsible social behavior towards water issues in line with the pursuit of sustainable development.

The World Water Forums are built on the knowledge, experience and input of different types of organizations active in the global water policy. It is a venture founded on the principles of collaboration, partnership and innovation.

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: This article discusses how two companies approached getting their research to market and approved by the FDA.

Headline: Getting FDA's okay to go inside the body
News source: Smalltimes by David Forman

Developing a new product — matching design and functionality with a real market need — is difficult enough. But when it comes to working inside the human body, it's doubly so. Devices and materials used in vivo must undergo rigorous clinical trials in what is essentially a make-or-break process. Two recent success stories, one a MEMS company and the other a nanotech company, highlight some of the best practices companies use to navigate the trials process.

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: Nanotechnology will solve several obstacles in the detection of food borne pathogens in the food industry.

Headline: Bioforce to collaborate with Iowa State University
News source: Smalltimes

BioForce Nanosciences, Inc. is collaborating with Iowa State University (ISU) to develop a sensitive nanotechnology-based method for detecting food-borne pathogens. Funding for this project was awarded last week from the University as a part of the "Grow Iowa Values Fund" program, which fosters the development of commercial applications from research.

The focus of the research is to provide new tools for the rapid and label-free detection of pathogen specific nucleic acid sequences with the potential to benefit the food industry, the medical and environmental diagnostics industries and the biotechnology and biodefense sectors.
BioForce Nanosciences, Inc.
Iowa State University

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: The development below is a great argument for roadmap projects as benchmarks for research and development. According to the article, this development comes at least five years sooner than anticipated, using the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors as a guide.

Headline: Breakthrough computer chip lithography method developed at RIT
News source: CNNews

A new computer chip lithography method under development at Rochester Institute of Technology has led to imaging capabilities beyond that previously thought possible.

Leading a team of engineering students, Bruce Smith, RIT professor of microelectronic engineering and director of the Center for NanolithographyResearch in the Kate Gleason College of Engineering, developed a method — known as evanescent wave lithography, or EWL — capable of optically imaging the smallest-ever semiconductor device geometry. Yongfa Fan, a doctoral student in RIT's microsystems engineering Ph.D. program, accomplished imaging rendered to 26 nanometers — a size previously possible only via extreme ultraviolet wavelength, Smith says. By capturing images that are beyond the limits of classical physics, the breakthrough has allowed resolution to smaller than one-twentieth the wavelength of visible light, he adds.

The development comes at least five years sooner than anticipated, using the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors as a guide, Smith says. The roadmap, created by a consortium of industry groups, government organizations, universities, manufacturers and suppliers, assesses semiconductor technology requirements to ensure advancements in the performance of integrated circuits to meet future needs.

"Immersion lithography has pushed the limits of optical imaging," Smith says. "Evanescent wave lithography continues to extend this reach well into the future. The results are very exciting as images can be formed that are not supposed to exist."
Bruce Smith

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: More news on space elevator research.

Headline: Space-elevator tether climbs a mile high
News source: NewScientist.com by Kimm Groshong

A slim cable for a space elevator has been built stretching a mile into the sky, enabling robots to scrabble some way up and down the line.

LiftPort Group, a private US company on a quest to build a space elevator by April 2018, stretched the strong carbon ribbon 1 mile (1.6 km) into the sky from the Arizona desert outside Phoenix in January tests.

The company's lofty objective will sound familiar to followers of NASA's Centennial Challenges program. The desired outcome is a 62,000-mile (99,779 km) tether that robotic lifters — powered by laser beams from Earth — can climb, ferrying cargo, satellites and eventually people into space.
LiftPort Group

Productive Nanosystems – News & Events

Productive Nanosystems will be molecular-scale systems that make other useful materials and devices that are nanostructured. Foresight and Battelle have launched the development of the International Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems, with seed funding provided by the Waitt Family Foundation. In this section of the Weekly News Digest we will cover news, presentations or research that lead to Productive Nanosystems. If you are interested in becoming a Roadmap Sponsor, please contact foresight@foresight.org.

Presentation: NanoMechanical Engineering – Design and Analysis Tools for Productive Nanosystems

Mark Sims, President of Nanorex will give a presentation at the Nanomanufacturing Conference & Exhibits sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).
March 29, 2006
Los Angeles, California

Highly-specialized CAD software for the design and analysis of molecular machines is critical for the development of productive nanosystems. nanoENGINEER-1, a GPL open source project sponsored by Nanorex, is one of the first molecular CAD programs developed exclusively for nanomechanical engineering. Drawing from elements of the Drexler/Burch nanofactory animation, the presentation will demonstrate some of the key features required to aid future nanoengineers in their quest to design working nanosystems.

Nanorex is a Foresight Nanotech Institute corporate member.

To find out more about corporate membership follow this

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.

April 25-26, 2006 – Carbon Nanotubes
Sponsored by Interch-Pira
Belgium, Brussels

Carbon nanotubes are poised to take the world by storm! This tiny technology has the potential to revolutionize strength and light weighing across a multitude of different materials, making it suitable applications as widespread as aeronautics and packaging. Attend this groundbreaking event to find out where this burgeoning technology is heading and what opportunities it could offer your business.

May 7-11, 2006 – Nanotech 2006
Sponsored by NSTI (Nano Science and Technology institute)
Boston, Massachusetts

Are you ready for the US's largest nanotechnology conference? It's coming up, May 7-11, 2006, at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston. It's the Nano Science and Technology (NSTI) Nanotech 2006 conference, featuring more than eight hundred technology presentations, government program reviews, early stage company showcase and expanded vertical industry symposia. Attendance is expected to exceed 3,000 with 200+ exhibitors.

Become a Member of Foresight

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Maybe you just know, 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.

If any of the above are important to you, consider becoming a Foresight Nanotech Institute member. We have membership levels suitable for everyone.

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Nanotech Events & News

Foresight Note: Ahmet Yildiz, who received the award below, was the recipient of the Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award in 2003.


Headline: Turkish scientist's discovery of how proteins work
News source: Medical News Today

For his discovery of how proteins work within cells, Ahmet Yildiz, a regional winner from North America and the Grand Prize winner, today was named to receive the $25,000 Young Scientist Award, supported by GE Healthcare and the journal Science.

He will receive his award in St. Louis on Saturday, February 18, during the 2006 Annual Meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the world's largest general scientific society, which publishes Science.

"First, Ahmet has improved single molecule fluorescence by developing a technique that can locate the position of a single dye to within 1.5 nanometers, which is 20 times better than has previously been achieved and 200 times better than the classical diffraction limit of light," said Professor Paul R. Selvin, who supervised his graduate work at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. "Ahmet then applied this technique to measure how Myosin V, a biomolecular motor involved in intracellular transport, moves."

Headline: Carbon nanotubes pass safety test
Functionalized carbon nanotubes are rapidly cleared from blood, excreted in urine
News source: Chemical & Engineering News by Michael Freemantle

A new study could allay some of the fears about health and safety issues relating to carbon nanotubes and open the door for exploring the use of such nanomaterials in the body. In the study, mice were intravenously administered water-soluble carbon nanotubes, either single-walled or multiwalled. Electron microscopy analysis revealed that both types of nanotubes are excreted intact in urine.

The work was carried out at the Centre for Drug Delivery Research at the University of London's School of Pharmacy and was led by Kostas Kostarelos, deputy head of the center, in collaboration with organic chemists Alberto Bianco at the CNRS Institute of Molecular & Cellular Biology, in Strasbourg, France, and Maurizio Prato of the University of Trieste, in Italy (Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, published online, dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.0509009103).
Kostas Kostarelos

Molecular Medicine Tri-Conference
February 21-24, 2006
San Francisco, California

Nanotechnology Symposium: Nanoparticles in the Workplace
May 13, 2006
AIHA's Aerosol Technology Committee
Chicago, Illinois
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.

When I think of nanotechnology applications I envision clean energy, clear water, targeted therapeutics and early diagnostics. These are all very lofty but there are some near term applications, that may be mundane to some that are exciting to others.

This article mentions Feynman, Kurzweil, and Asimov, while placing nanotech in the context of golf research and development. Note that this article discusses most of the hurdles, policy approval, price point, scalability, and practical applications, for a nanoscale technology to become commercially viable.

Headline: The Future of Golf Equipment is Near
News source: Cybergolf by Tony Dear

Strong and light sounds like the perfect recipe for a golf club, of course, which is why so many golf club manufacturers are now devoting big bucks to nano R&D. Thus far, the only company among the big boys to convert research into tangible products is Wilson, which offers three drivers, a fairway wood, four balls and even a golf bag made using nano-materials.

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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