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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: March 22, 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: Nanotechnology applications in solar energy continue to receive attention and funding. A promising Israeli solar company announces funding and some technological advances.

Headline: OrionSolar shines an extra $1M
News source: Red Herring

Israeli solar energy firm OrionSolar PhotoVoltaics snagged an extra $1 million in a second round of funding Tuesday and said it had developed an advanced solar energy cell that will reduce the costs of producing solar electricity.

The Jerusalem-based company received the funds from 21Ventures, a VC firm based in New York City that also provided OrionSolar's initial $300,000-round of funding four months ago.

The company was also funded by a private incubator group called Incentive based in Ariel, Israel for about a year and a half. It received about $500,000 from that group, according to David Anthony, managing partner of 21Ventures.

OrionSolar believes its dye cell photovoltaic technology can decrease the cost of solar energy to about $0.70 per peak watt, compared to the about $6 to $9 per peak watt of energy generated by traditional silicon-based photovoltaic cells.

The company also said its cells are lighter and more flexible than traditional solar cells, so they can be more easily mounted on top of homes and commercial buildings, and even on top of buses built to run on hybrid forms of energy

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: This is a promotional brochure on nanotech and water released by Nanotechnology/Australia. There are several snapshot brochures on nanotechnology in Australia on this website as well.

Headline: Australian nanotechnology: water & environment
News source: Australian Government website

Australia enjoys a proud reputation for excellence in environmental sciences and research. The nation's natural resource-based industries, water scarcity challenges, experience working across a diverse range of environmental conditions and industries, outstanding science and research base, and proximity to fast-growing Asian markets make Australia the perfect place for investment in environmental nanotechnology.

Strong government commitment and the establishment of a number of key industry and research networks are enhancing Australia's position at the forefront of this fast-growing and strategic industrial and scientific capability.
Source (PDF)

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: Targeted therapeutics and drug delivery are a focus for nanotechnology research. This article announces a slow-release vaccine using nanoparticles, which could provide inoculation against diseases for a lengthy period of time.

Headline: New slow-release vaccine heralded
News source: BBC News

Slow-release vaccines, which would cut the need for booster jabs, could be ready for use within five years.

The jab uses controlled-release of microscopic nanoparticles that release the vaccine over a few weeks as the body breaks them down. The new technology would mean instead of having a series of jabs, patients would get a whole course in one shot.

Dr Bruce Roser, chief scientific advisor for Cambridge BioStability, said: "The body has physical processes which can gradually eat these micro- particles away, revealing this vaccine which gradually leaks out into the body.

"By this mechanism we can get the vaccine out over a very long period."
This is a more in-depth story about this same subject
Bruce Roser

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: This technical conference for the food industry features several speakers on nanotechnology and food production.

Headline: Food Colloids 2006 – Self-Assembly and Material Science Congress and Exhibition
News source: Conference website

The Food Colloids 2006 conference to be held April 23-26, 2006, will feature discussions 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.
Conference website

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: Funding has been given to the University of Texas to research semiconductors in the context of nanotechnology advances.

Headline: Engineers to study nano in silicon semiconductors
News source: Physorg.com

A University of Texas at Austin microelectronics researcher has received $500,000 from the Department of Defense to research ways to use nanotechnology to overcome hurdles that might halt the march of the silicon- based integrated circuit.

The money will be used to buy new equipment, provide research assistantships to undergraduate and graduate students and help fund a work force development project to train semiconductor technicians with Austin Community College (ACC), said Dr. Sanjay Banerjee, director of the Microlectronics Research Center at The University of Texas at Austin and a professor in the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering in the College of Engineering.

"With the University of Texas and a large high tech sector in my district, I am going to do everything I can to support their efforts in cutting edge research and technological innovation," said U.S. Rep. Michael McCaul, who represents the 10th District of Texas.

Banerjee said McCaul has proven to be a staunch supporter of research and higher education in Texas, and an effective spokesman for Texas in Congress.

"The Microelectronics Research Center is extremely grateful to him for this critical support at a time of dwindling research dollars," Banerjee said.
Sanjay Banerjee
Michael McCaul

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: This is a keynote speech in which the speaker discusses the state of space exploration and technology.

Headline: Speech by OSTP Director John Marburger to the 44th Robert H. Goddard Memorial Symposium – Keynote Address
News source: SpaceRef.com

John Marburger, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President

"It is a privilege for me to speak in this Symposium. My first job as a scientist, before I went on to graduate school, was at Goddard Space Flight Center. I had worked there during the summer of 1961, and returned as a full time employee in what was then called the Thermal Systems branch in the summer of 1962. Goddard was booming in those days, and the challenge of making scientific instruments work in the space environment attracted many fine scientists and engineers. I worked with a team trying to understand and optimize the properties of materials that could be used as thermoelectric generators for space applications, which shows you how broadly the spectrum of science and technology must extend to support missions in space. In the fall of 1963 I became a NASA graduate trainee in Stanford's then-new Department of Applied Physics, and ever since have combined my love of basic science with an interest in practical applications. The topic of this year's Symposium, "... Engineers, Scientists and the Vision" reflects the combination of mental attitudes needed to accomplish great things in space, and I am pleased to add a few thoughts of my own this morning on these topics."

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, presentations or research that lead to Productive Nanosystems.

Visualizing nanotechnology and nanosystems, in particular, is a major challenge in communicating the power of this technology.

Lizard Fire Studios has released a new version, 1.1, of "Productive Nanosystems: from Molecules to Superproducts," a computer-generated animated short film. This five-minute film is a collaborative project of animator and engineer, John Burch, and pioneer nanotechnologist, Dr. K. Eric Drexler. The film depicts an animated view of a nanofactory and demonstrates key steps in a process that converts simple molecules into a billion-CPU laptop computer.

These steps include the sorting of molecules, precise atomic construction through the use of placement tools, and the assembly of smaller parts into larger parts. Scenes depicting initial tool preparation show molecular reactions based on computational quantum chemistry, and later stage manufacturing processes are based on industrial processes found in large-scale factories.

The new version features a professional sound track of music and sound effects provided by Mark Keefner, owner of Waymo Music & Soundesign.

Downloadable version can be found here

Foresight Speaking Engagements

The Ethical, Legal and Societal Implications of Nanotechnology
March 28, 2006
Chicago, Illinois

Christine Peterson, Founder and Vice President of Public Policy for Foresight Nanotech Institute, will speak on a panel about the societal implications of nanotechnology at the Nano&Bio in Society Conference. Other panelists are Timothy Hsieh, ABA Nanotech Committee, and Jason Robert, Arizona State University Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes. Moderated by Nigel Cameron, Center for Nanotechnology and Society, the panel will discuss the interplay among the ethical, legal and social issues raised by nanotechnology. The panel members represent law, ethics, business, and nanoscale science and development.
Conference website

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.
Event website

Spotlight on Foresight Members

Foresight Nanotech Institute has updated its membership levels and added benefits. One of the new levels is the corporate membership. This week's spotlight is on Foresight corporate member, Tarlton Properties

Corporate Member – Menlo Labs – Tarlton Properties

Foresight Nanotech Institute is located in Menlo Labs, part of Menlo Business Park in the Palo Alto, California area. Our space is a generous donation from Tarlton Properties. If you are seeking space for your nanotechnology or biotechnology company, please contact them at

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Nanotech Events & News

Headline: Experts seek public input on nanotechnology
News source: Earth & Sky Radio

Earth & Sky Radio interview: David Guston, Director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University.

Earth & Sky Radio: This is Earth & Sky, on nanotechnology and new ethical, legal and practical questions. For example, scientists might someday be able to introduce nanomachines — tiny devices too small for the human eye to see — into human organs or cells. Meanwhile, these devices could hunt down and destroy cancer cells. But similar devices might be used to enhance a person's physical or mental abilities. Ultimately, might nanotechnology change what it means to be human?

David Guston: So there are questions about whether those kinds of integrations of humans and machines at the nanoscale are worth pursuing and if so, to what ends and with what kind of restrictions.

Earth & Sky Radio: That's David Guston, Director of the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University. He's planning to conduct a series of citizens' forums across the U.S. in 2008. Groups of about a dozen private citizens each will study specific issues, ask the experts questions, deliberate, and develop reports. Guston hopes the reports will help frame the way policy-makers and scientists think about nanotechnology.
David Guston
Read Nanodot discussion about surveillance and nanotechnology

Headline: First images of flowing nano ripples
News source: Innovations Report

Delft University of Technology – Delft Researchers have shed new light on the formation of nanoscale surface features, such as nano ripples. These features are important because they could be useful as templates for growing other nanostructures.

The scientific journal Physical Review Letters published an article this week on the research in Delft. Some remarkable geometrical features may appear for instance on a glass surface when it is bombarded with ions, such as triangular patterns and ripples.

Scientists study nano ripples and other geometrical features created by bombarding a surface with a beam of ions because of their potential as a template for growing other specific nanostructures. If they want to exploit this potential, they will first need a thorough understanding of the creation and evolution of geometrical features of this kind.
Delft University of Technology, Netherlands

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

Nanotechnology: living up to the promise
April 15, 2006
Berkeley Nanotechnology Forum 2006
Berkeley, California
Event website

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

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

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 interview with nanotechnology author and scientist, Ted Sargent of University of Toronto. Sargent's comments are clear and enlightening. I pulled a few Q&A sections for your reading.

Headline: Nanoscience Guru Shares Large Visions of Tiny Tech's Future
News source: National Geographic News by Stefan Lovgren

National Geographic: Many people only have a vague notion of what nanotechnology means. What do you tell them?

Ted Sargent: I call it engineering new things with the smallest little Lego blocks that we can get our hands on. It turns out that these building blocks — atoms and molecules — don't follow the same rules as those that you can physically pick up with your hands. As a result, the opportunity to create new functions becomes greatly enhanced, because it's like we have a whole new and very rich landscape in which to design materials.

National Geographic: It's not just about scale, you're really emulating nature.

Ted Sargent: It's stunning what nature can do and what we can't do. The most dramatic thing, to me, is how nature builds at so many length scales. Nature builds with atoms ... then builds very simple molecules, and from those molecules builds proteins, and the proteins all collaborate together to eventually form structures inside cells, and then cells, and eventually organs, and eventually people.

Nature [builds] from the bottom up using these forces of self-organization, and that's something nanotechnology is trying to emulate. Although we use things that are small, maybe we can build things that are really big with it.
Ted Sargent

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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