Home > Resources > Publications > Weekly News Digest

Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: May 3, 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: Here's news of additional funding for solar power employing nanoscale materials. Hopefully this funding activity will lead to large-scale application.

Headline: Solar cell supplier Innovalight raises $7.5 million
News source: IEE Times by Spencer Chin

Innovalight Inc., a privately held firm focused on developing low-cost, nanotechnology-based printed solar cells, has raised an additional $7.5 million in private equity financing.

This Series B financing led by Harris & Harris Group, Inc., includes investment from existing investors Apax Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, Sevin Rosen Funds and Triton Ventures.

Innovalight plans to employ this additional capital to accelerate development of low cost, lightweight solar cells using a proprietary silicon ink-based technology.

Over 90 percent of solar energy modules are made from crystalline silicon wafers that are costly to produce and in critical short supply because of competing demand from the semiconductor industry.

"Today, solar energy represents a paltry two-hundredths of one percent of the total global electrical energy generated because current production methods are still too expensive," said Conrad Burke, president and chief executive. "Innovalight is developing a technology that could ultimately reduce the cost of producing solar-generated electricity tenfold."

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: This radio program discusses nanotechnology and desalination.

Headline: Can nanotechnology make saltwater drinkable?
News source: Earth & Sky Radio Series

Radio host Deborah Byrd: This is Earth & Sky. Some places are struggling to have enough freshwater to sustain a growing human population.

Radio host Joel Block: That includes some cities like Phoenix — the state of California — the Middle East — and, ironically, the coasts of many nations. Especially along the coasts, desalination can help. That's the removal of salts and other substances from saltwater to produce freshwater. Desalination is expensive. But it's already widely used in the Middle East, North Africa and the Caribbean, and California and Texas are planning desalination projects.

Radio host Deborah Byrd: We spoke with Kamalesh Sirkar at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He's using a new technology — nanotechnology — to purify saltwater. The most commonly used desalination techniques are called "distillation" and "reverse osmosis." The nanotech technique is also expensive, Sirkar said, but it should work faster than other techniques.

Radio host Joel Block: He's now trying to make it more energy efficient, and he's trying to solve the problem of scaling — a process in which salts and minerals clog up the system.

Radio host Deborah Byrd: Sirkar is optimistic. He predicts that within about three years, nanotech devices using his desalination technology will be on the market.
Kamalesh K. Sirkar

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: This research details how quantum dots can locate the blood source of cancer tumors, making it easier to surgically remove them.

Headline: Targeted quantum dots image tumor blood supply
News source: National Cancer Institute, Alliance for Nanotechnology

Using polymer-coated cadmium telluride/zinc sulfide (CdTe/ZnS) quantum dots targeted to a molecule found on newly growing blood vessels, a team at the Stanford University Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNE) has shown for the first time that quantum dots can image a tumor's blood supply. This development holds promise for the development of new ways of detecting cancer as well as identifying the edges of a tumor during surgery.

Reporting its work in the journal Nano Letters, a group of investigators led by Xiaoyuan Chen, Ph.D., Sam Gambhir, M.D., Ph.D., and Shan Wang, Ph.D., all project leaders in the Stanford CCNE, described its construction of a CdTe/ZnS quantum dot decorated with 30 to 50 copies of a small protein, or peptide, known as RGD. This peptide binds specifically to a much larger protein, called αvβ3, found on the surfaces of new blood vessels growing in response to tumor cell signals, as well as on some tumor cells. Tests with cultured human tumor cells confirmed that these quantum dots bound tightly only to those cells that have αvβ3 on their surfaces.

Based on these promising results with isolated cells, the investigators explored whether these targeted quantum dots would bind to human tumors growing in mice. In fact, tests with tumor-bearing animals showed that the quantum dots were visible in tumors within 20 minutes after injection. The fluorescent signal from the tumor-bound quantum dots peaked at six hours after injection, and optical images clearly outlined the tumors against a very low fluorescent background. Subsequent microscopic examination of the tumors showed that the quantum dots were congregated on the blood vessels growing in and around the tumors.

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: This conference features several speakers on food and nanotechnology. Here we highlight one of the presentations at this event.

Headline: Prospects for regulating nanotechnology in food
News source: Agra-net.com

Dr. Linda Katz, Director, Office of Colors & Cosmetics, at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) / Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) will give a presentation on Prospects for Regulating Nanotechnology in Food at Nanotechnology in Food and Agriculture, scheduled for June 6-7, 2006 in Washington, DC. 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.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) / Center for Food Safety & Applied Nutrition (CFSAN)

Christine Peterson, Vice President of Public Policy, will also speak at this meeting.

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: Physicists observe "contrary conductivity" at the nanoscale.

Headline: Tiny wires trigger electric reversal
News source: Small Times

Physicists have observed an unexpected reversal of conductive behavior in ultracold, ultrathin zinc wires.

Typically, a metal wire more readily superconducts, or transports electricity without resistance, when it spans superconductive electrodes. However, that wire loses its superconductivity if strung between electrodes of normal metals. Yet in recent experiments, ultrathin zinc wires did just the opposite: They conducted normally when between superconductive electrodes but became superconductive when between normal electrodes.

The reversal is "very stunning, very surprising," says theoretical physicist Dung-Hai Lee of the University of California, Berkeley.

Led by Moses H.W. Chan, researchers at Pennsylvania State University in State College observed the contrary conductivity. They created nanoscale-diameter wires within pores in thin membranes of polycarbonate or aluminum oxide and then placed the membranes between pairs of metal electrodes. The electrodes' shapes made it possible to measure the electrical properties of nanowires one at a time.
Moses H.W. Chan

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: The ISDC meeting was one of the first to cover nanotech for Space. This year they are including a space elevator panel.

Headline: Engineering Alternatives for Design and Deployment of the First Space Elevator
News source: The 25th Annual International Space Development Conference

A space elevator panel presentation at the Space Development Conference that will be held in Los Angeles on May 4-6, 2006 will feature leaders in space elevator development.

Panel: Engineering Alternatives for Design and Deployment of the First Space Elevator
May 5, 2006 - 4 p.m.
Brad Edwards
Tom Nugent
Ben Shelef

The 25th Annual International Space Development Conference

Foresight Lectures

The Singularity Summit at Stanford
May 13, 2006
Stanford, California

Christine Peterson, Founder and Vice President of Public Policy for Foresight Nanotech Institute will speak at The Singularity Summit on May 13, 2006 at Stanford University, California. Her focus will be on security and economic issues arising from accelerating change.

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.

May 16, 2006 – NanoTech: From Promise to Reality
Organized by IEEE San Francisco Bay Area Nanotechnology Council
Santa Clara, California

This 2nd annual all-day symposium will focus on alternative energy including photovoltaics and fuel cells.
Event brochure - PDF

Become a Member of Foresight

If you enjoy reading this news digest, then please consider becoming a member. Your support is critical to our success in advancing nanotechnology that is healthy for people and good for the planet.

We have membership levels suitable for everyone.

List of member benefits:
To join:

Nanotech Events & News

Headline: Scientist warns of nanotechnology dangers
News source: United Press International

A British scientist is warning that hundreds of nanotechnology products are about to go on sale despite a lack of biological safety testing.

Nanotechnology products — containing materials that are 10,000 times smaller than the width of a hair — are already being used in numerous products, from medical bandages to golf clubs and paints.

Edinburgh University Professor Anthony Seaton, one of Britain's leading environmental health experts, says concerns that tiny particles from the products might cause respiratory, cardiac and immune problems had not been properly assessed, The Scotsman reported Wednesday.

Speaking with the newspaper ahead of a presentation he gave Tuesday at the Nanoparticles for European Industry conference in London, Seaton said that recommended nano testing "simply hasn't happened."

A recent report from a U.S. science watchdog suggested there are already 200 products containing nanoparticles on the marketplace, with hundreds more to be introduced during the coming year.

Headline: A Humboldt Award for Lehigh University's Martin Harmer:
Nanotechnology research leader is renowned for studies of electronic ceramics
News source: EurekAlert

Martin Harmer, director of the Center for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology (CAMN) at Lehigh University, has been awarded a Humboldt Research Award for senior scientists by Germany's Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. The international honor, one of the most prestigious given by Germany, recognizes Harmer's lifetime research achievements in materials science and engineering.

Harmer, a professor of materials science and engineering at Lehigh, is world- renowned for his studies of the properties of structural and electronic ceramic materials and their control at the micro- and nanoscale. He is particularly interested in developing novel transparent materials and nanomaterials with multi-functional properties. Currently, he is studying the sintering behavior of nanoparticles of gold and iron oxide, and the mechanism of the conversion of polycrystalline alumina into single crystal sapphire for lighting applications.

As director of Lehigh's CAMN, Harmer leads a variety of projects. In one, a multi-disciplinary team of Lehigh researchers is working with peers from Harvard, Rice, Georgia Tech, UCLA and the Illinois Institute of Technology to study the economic and environmental impact of nanotechnology. The project is supported by a five-year, $1.7-million grant from the Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center of the National Science Foundation.

"The real power of nano is evident when it supports discovery and innovation in other areas — areas such as medicine, computing, materials, and environmental engineering," says Harmer.
Martin Harmer

Headline: NSTI Announces Winners of NSTI Nanotech Venture Awards to Top Early Stage Companies at NSTI Nanotech 2006 Conference in Boston
News source: Genetic Engineering News

The Nano Science and Technology Institute (NSTI) today announced its Early Stage Company Nanotech Venture Award recipients for 2006. The companies will present at Nanotech Ventures 2006, which features more than 60 early stage nanotech companies presenting exclusively to conference attendees and vetting teams comprised of some of the top names in nano business. This year's Nanotech Venture Award winners were selected by a review team comprised of business and investment leaders on the NSTI Vetting Team.

"Nanotech Ventures 2006 Early Stage Company Review provides an ideal forum for seed to early-stage companies to showcase their technologies, market advantages, and to search for funding and 'go-to-market' partners," said Matthew Laudon of the Nano Science & Technology Institute, co-producer of the event. "Over 150 early stage companies submitted their business plans into the event, and about fifty percent were invited to present. The vetted companies are then given 15 minutes to present and address on-site feedback from the vetting team."

This year's 2006 NSTI Nanotech Venture Award winners are Nanopoint, Inc., Progressive Cooling Solutions and OrionSolar Photovoltaics
NSTI Nanotech Ventures

May 17-19, 2006
NanoBusiness 2006 – Conference
Sponsored by NanoBusiness Alliance
New York, New York
The agenda for this meeting has been published

Call for Clean Tech Business Plans – Deadline May 31, 2006
California Clean Tech Open
Sponsored by Acterra: Action for a Sustainable Earth

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

Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes – Deadline June 30, 2006

The Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes, named in honor of pioneer physicist Richard Feynman, are given in two categories, one for experiment and the other for theory in nanotechnology. Established in 1993, these prizes are given to researchers whose recent work has most advanced the achievement of Feynman's goal for nanotechnology: the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of molecular machine systems.

Foresight Institute Prize in Communication – Deadline June 30, 2006

The Foresight Institute Prize in Communication recognizes outstanding journalistic or other communication endeavors that lead to a better understanding of molecular nanotechnology and its high social and environmental impact. This prize was created to encourage responsible coverage of molecular nanotechnology as a means for engaging the public in dialogue leading to improved public policy on this important issue. This prize was established in 2000 and is generously underwritten by the law firm Millstein & Taylor, PC.

Foresight Distinguished Student Award – Deadline June 30, 2006

The Foresight Distinguished Student Award was established in 1997 and is given to a college undergraduate or graduate student whose work is notable in the field of nanotechnology. This award highlights the winning student's research and underwrites the student's travel to the award conference. This prize is generously supported by Dr. James Ellenbogen, Ravi Pandya, and James Von Ehr, II.

September 18-20, 2006
Commercialization of NanoMaterials 2006 – Conference
Sponsored by TMS (The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society)
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. Peter Diamandis, who serves on Foresight Nanotech Institute's Board of Directors, will accept the 2006 Lindbergh Award at a ceremony next week. Peter and Arctic explorer Will Steger are recipients of this award, which is given by the Lindbergh Foundation to honor an "individual for his or her significant contributions toward the Lindbergh's vision of a balance between technological advancement and environmental preservation."

Congratulations, Peter!

— Judy

Headline: Peter Diamandis and Will Steger to receive 2006 Lindbergh awards
News source: HometownSource.com

The Lindbergh Award Event is about extremes — extreme ideas, extreme temperatures and extreme places on and above our Earth.

"Peter Diamandis and Will Steger are both consummate explorers, each in his own very different, and very exciting way," said Reeve Lindbergh, honorary chairwoman of the Foundation and youngest child of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh. "Together they not only represent balance and the Foundation's mission, they also reflect balance in human endeavors — on this planet and beyond?"

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!