Home > Resources > Publications > Weekly News Digest

Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: March 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: There is a tremendous amount of nanoscale research being done on solar. In this opinion piece, Richard Jones in the UK leads discussion on his blog about a recent paper released on solar, nuclear and nanoscale research.

Headline: Taking the high road to large scale solar power
News source: Soft Machines (the blog) by Richard Jones

In principle there's more than enough sunlight falling on the earth to meet all our energy needs in a sustainable way, but the prospects for large scale solar energy are dimmed by a dilemma. We have very efficient solar cells made from conventional semiconductors, but they are too expensive and difficult to manufacture in very large areas to make a big dent in our energy needs. On the other hand, there are prospects for unconventional solar cells — Graetzel cells or polymer photovoltaics — which can perhaps be made cheaply in large areas, but whose efficiencies and lifetimes are too low. In an article in this month's Nature Materials, Imperial College's Keith Barnham suggests a way out of the dilemma.
Richard Jones blog
Imperial College press release
Nature Materials abstract (subscription needed to read full article)

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: This is a news announcement about two companies collaborating on sensors for water filtration.

Headline: JMAR, Portaqua to collaborate on water testing
News source: Smalltimes

JMAR Technologies, a developer of laser technology for nanoscale imaging, analysis and fabrication, has signed an agreement with Portaqua, a Virginia based company that is introducing a new portable water system into the bottling market, for its BioSentry water quality monitoring system.

Under the agreement, BioSentry will be offered as an optional feature of the Portaqua system. BioSentry is a contamination warning system for waterborne microorganisms. Whereas current water monitoring depends on batch sampling, BioSentry uses laser-based technology to provide continuous, online, real-time monitoring for harmful bacteria and protozoa. It is targeted towards a number of applications across multiple industries, including municipal drinking water utilities, the beverage industry, and homeland security.
JMAR press release

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: One of the many promises of advanced nanotechnology is its ability to repair damaged cells. This article discusses a breakthrough.

Headline: Nanofibers for brain repair
News source: UPI High-tech by Charles Choi

Self-assembling biodegradable scaffolds made of fibers only nanometers or billionths of a meter wide helped repair brain damage and return vision in surgically blinded hamsters, experts told UPI's Nano World.

"This appears to be the first time that nanotechnology has been used to repair the brain," said researcher Rutledge Ellis-Behnke, a neuroscientist at both the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge and the University of Hong Kong Medical Faculty.

In the future, such research could help patients of strokes or traumatic brain injuries.

"There are 550,000 new cases of severe stroke a year, with over 3 million living with the effects of severe stroke today in the United States alone. There are about 100,000 new cases of severe traumatic brain injury a year, with 2 million living with the effects," Ellis-Behnke said. "Those are the reasons I do what I do every day."

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: This conference features several speakers and tracks including assessing the regulation, application and challenges of nanoscale science and agriculture.

Headline: Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture
News source: Agra-net.com

Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture is scheduled for June 6-7, 2006 in Washington, DC. This is the first conference to focus specifically on potential applications of nanotechnology in food and agriculture. This event offers attendees an opportunity to capitalize on new developments being explored by leading manufacturers within the industry and the chance to avoid the potential pitfalls surrounding this innovative approach to technological development.

Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture will look at the calls already being made for regulation, and give you the chance to hear the views of government agencies that have direct influence in this area. If food and agribusiness companies act now to address these concerns, they can reduce the chances of punitive legislation, which may restrict future growth.

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: This research has developed a means to create electrical contact between nanoscale structures.

Headline: Penn Uses E-Beams To Create 'Nanogaps'
News source: EETimes by Mark LePedus

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania claim that they have bridged a major obstruction in the creation of nanoscale electronics by developing a method of creating tiny gaps between electrodes.

The development of so-called "nanogaps" will make it possible to make electrical contact to structures in the nanoscale world. The advent of "nanogaps" could have applications such as electronics, quantum computing and gene reading. In addition, nanoscale electronics could be used to create faster storage devices, semiconductors and microprocessor chips.

Researchers have already used "nanogaps" to measure electrical charge through several coupled nanocrystals, which are also referred to as quantum dots.

This research was funded through grants from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Naval Research and the American Chemical Society.

"A number of people have proposed nanoelectronic devices that use nanogaps, but nobody has been able to create nanogaps reliably in practice," said Marija Drndic, an assistant professor in Penn's Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences, in a statement. "For the first time, we were able to make the world's smallest and cleanest nanometer gaps that can be imaged directly with atomic resolution," he said. "These nanogaps can be used to electrically connect small objects, such as an individual molecule.
Marija Drndic

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: This article and press release announce a study that will focus on improving solar cell technology to enhance battery power for satellites specifically.

Headline: Nanotech to improve satellites and solar cells
News source: Physorg.com

More efficient space solar cells could mean better imagery satellites and improved solar energy technology. Scientists at the NanoPower Research Labs at Rochester Institute of Technology, led by director Ryne Raffaelle, are using nanotechnology to explore this possibility through a project funded by an $847,109 grant from the U.S. Department of Defense.

The project aims to take current state-of-the-art solar cells used for space power to the next level by developing nanostructured materials and, ultimately, by producing nanostructured cells. The program may extend to three and half years, with total funding reaching $3 million.

"If successful, the results of this program will improve current solar array and satellite technology, and lay the foundation for long-term improvement in our ability to use solar energy," Raffaelle says.
Rochester Institute of Technology press release

Foresight Speaking Engagements

Presentation: Engineering from the Bottom Up – Productive Nanosystems and the Future of Technology

K. Eric Drexler, PhD
Chief Technical Advisor, Nanorex
Founder of Foresight Nanotech Institute will give a keynote at the Nanomanufacturing Conference & Exhibits sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).
March 29, 2006
Los Angeles, California

Progress in molecular and nanoscale technologies has provided components and techniques that enable the engineering of artificial molecular machine systems, including early-generation productive nanosystems. These early-generation systems will have a wide range of applications, and can be used to build more advanced systems. Exploratory design and analysis shows this can lead to large-scale productive nanosystems that can make macro products with atomic precision and can greatly exceed the productivity of conventional manufacturing. The recently launched Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems will describe the next steps and longer-term opportunities at this frontier of engineering
Downloadable brochure from SME

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.
Downloadable brochure for this event

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

If you enjoy reading this news digest, please consider becoming a member. Your support is critical to our success in advancing beneficial nanotechnology.

We have membership levels suitable for everyone.

List of member benefits:

Nanotech Events & News

Headline: Nanoparticles Facilitate Chemical Separations
News source: Newswise

Using the unique properties of new nanometer-scale magnetic particles, researchers have for the first time separated for reuse two different catalysts from a multi-step chemical reaction done in a single vessel.

By combining the new magnetic separation process with traditional gravity driven separation, the technique could lead to more efficient production of specialty chemicals — and a reduction in waste normally produced by separation processes. The research was reported March 13 in the online preview version of the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

"We have developed a way to do multiple reactions in a single vessel while being able to recover the catalysts in pure form for reuse," explained Christopher W. Jones, an associate professor in the School of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "By doing the reactions in a single vessel, we can cut out two or three separation steps to provide both an economic advantage and an environmentally benign process."
Georgia Institute of Technology press release

Headline: Wilson Center Unveils Nano Product List
News source: Smalltimes Magazine

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars launched a nanotechnology consumer products inventory. It contains information on 212 products that the center believes use some form of nanotechnology.

"With this inventory, we also are learning that this technology is already being incorporated into our daily lives," said David Rejeski, director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, in a prepared statement. A news release said the inventory furthers the Project on Emerging Nanotechnology's mission to encourage discussion about nanotechnology's benefits and its promise, as well as its safety and environmental impacts.
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Read Nanodot discussion about this product list

Headline: Study shows strong job growth in the micro and nanotechnology sectors
News source: Smalltimes press release

The nano job market is heating up, according to Small Times magazine, the leading source of news and analysis about the micro and nanotechnology sectors. Small Times conducted a compensation survey of micro and nano professionals that revealed an overall trend in higher compensation and expanding job opportunities. More than 1,300 micro and nano professionals throughout the United States and 36 other countries responded.

The 2006 Next Big Thing Award – Deadline March 17, 2006
Sponsored by INNOVIC (Victorian Innovators' Program)

Call For Papers – Deadline March 24, 2006
NanoBiotech World Congress
November 16-17, 2006
Boston, Massachusetts

Nanotechnology & the Life Sciences – Abstract deadline March 31, 2006
Sponsored by Burnham Institute for Medical Research

2006 Nanochallenge International Business Plan Competition – Deadline June 16, 2006
Sponsored by Veneto Nanotech

Conference – NanoBusiness 2006
May 17-19, 2006
Sponsored by NanoBusiness Alliance
New York, New York

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.

A promising young scientist at UC Berkley is focusing on nanotechnology and solar panel applications. I have included a couple of quotes from a San Francisco Chronicle interview with him that illustrate his focus and drive. Reading these words makes it a lot easier to keep focusing on the potential of nanotechnology.

"I'm definitely more interested in trying to make an impact and trying to figure out what it's going to take to make an impact on a large scale in energy," said Ilan Gur, 25, a native of Pittsburgh and a doctoral student in materials science and engineering.

"This goes along with the idea of thinking that ultimately the technologies we need to develop are not the technologies for the next five years but the technologies for the next 15 years," he said.
More about Ilan Gur's research

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

Foresight Nanotech Institute
PO Box 61058
Palo Alto, CA 94306 USA
tel +1 650 289.0860
fax +1 650.289.0863

If you were forwarded this email from a friend and would like to subscribe yourself, follow this link and sign up for our free electronic membership.

If you wish to no longer receive nanotechnology email from Foresight Nanotech Institute, please send us an email to foresight@foresight.org

Thank you!