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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: May 10, 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: This is an opinion piece written by an officer of North Delhi Power Limited. Although he is discussing India's readiness in using power transmission that employ nanotechnology, the concepts and ideas are applicable to all countries.

Headline: Nanotechnology & the power sector: Is India ready?
News source: EnergyPulse by Sidhartha Das

With the usage of nanotechnology, carbon nanotube fiber bundles have the long term potential to be an ultra low loss, strong and lightweight replacement for the existing copper technology [for power transmission]. With a current carrying capacity of 100 million amperes per square centimeter, such a bundle would have 100 times the capacity of the best low temperature superconductors. It will take time to develop a viable replacement however. The longest conducting nanotubes produced to date were announced this past October by researchers at UC Irvine — just 0.4 cm long.

Perhaps the broadest way in which nanotechnology will impact energy is on the consumption side. Lighting accounts for about 40 percent of all electricity consumption in the world. Researchers at Sandia believe that a new white LED technology, based on nanoscale manufacturing to create flawless devices, can cut that energy usage by half.

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: This conference focuses on water disinfection and the applications of emerging technologies including nanotechnology.

Headline: Disinfection 2007 – Call for abstracts June 15, 2006
News source: Disinfection 2007 website

The Disinfection Committees of the Water Environment Federation, American Water Works Association and the International Water Association are sponsoring DISINFECTION 2007, specialty conference, to be held February 4-7, 2007, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This conference provides a forum for water industry professionals concerned with disinfection needs and technologies.

The conference will focus on all aspects of the disinfection of water, wastewater, reuse water, and biosolids. Current key disinfection issues include the following: bioterrorism; pathogen detection and treatment; microbial risk assessment; research and application of UV, ozone, and halogens (chlorine, chlorine dioxide, chloramines, etc.); membranes for microbial removal; microbial indicators in distribution systems and the environment; regulatory perspectives (microbial, DBP's); CSO/SSO; biosolids; disinfection system validation and modeling; research and application of emerging technologies; future trends; infrastructure security and sustainability; and integrated and sustainable disinfection approaches. The synergy of disinfectants/disinfection techniques and approaches continues to change as our understanding of indicator organisms, pathogens, and disease transmission increases.
Conference web site

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: This research may lead to improved neuron attachment and growth that would create better prosthesis control.

Headline: Nanotubes used to send signals to nerve cells
News source: Daily Tech by Tim Thorpe

Scientists have been able to use nanotubes to successfully transmit electrical signals to nerve cells in a laboratory environment.

Researchers at The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have announced that they have been able to send electrical signals to nerve cells using nanotubes.

Nanotubes are tiny hollow carbon filaments measuring 1.3 nm, and are showing considerable promise across multiple fields of study including biomedical and semiconductor research.

"As far as I know, we're the first group to show that you can have some kind of electrical communication between these two things, by stimulating cells through our transparent conductive layer," said Todd Pappas, director of sensory and molecular neuroengineering at UTMB's Center for Biomedical Engineering and one of the study's senior authors.
Todd Pappas

4. Maximizing the productivity of agriculture

Foresight note: This article discusses the food industry's approach to nanotech in their packaging and processes.

Headline: Food industry targets "mundane" use of nanotechnology
News source: Foodproductiondaily.com by Ahmed ElAmin

Most uses of nanotechnology in the food and drink industries will remain "below the waterline" — applications that make an economic difference for producers, packagers and retailers, but that consumer don't really notice, according to a research analyst.

So far nanotechnology has made minor inroads in the food and drink industry, mainly due to consumers' fears about the unknown risks the technology poses to their health.

Lux Research senior analyst Mark Bünger, one of the authors of a new report into the technology, says the food and drink industry will benefit through relatively mundane improvements in food cost, packaging, and safety, rather than from direct product applications.

The "mundane" uses include antimicrobial sensors and coatings, printable RFID tags, and the like. At the same time, industry is studying more "high- profile" product enhancements, such as "tunable" ingredients in functional foods, and other applications that are ingested.

For the most part he believes the real benefits will come in using nanoparticulate conducting inks to create smart packages, and other innovations that food technologists care a lot about but consumers never see.
Mark Bünger

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: This supercomputing center will focus on reducing the time and costs in designing and manufacturing nanoscale materials for the semiconductor industry.

Headline: New Supercomputing Center To Advance the Science of Nanotechnology
News source: Press Release from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in collaboration with IBM and New York state, announced a $100 million partnership to create the world's most powerful university-based supercomputing center, and a top 10 supercomputing center of any kind in the world.

The Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations (CCNI), based on the Rensselaer campus and at its Rensselaer Technology Park in Troy, N.Y., is designed both to help continue the impressive advances in shrinking device dimensions seen by electronics manufacturers, and to extend this model to a wide array of industries that could benefit from nanotechnology, according to the partners.

Cadence Design Systems, a leader in electronic design automation (EDA) software, and AMD, a leader in advanced microprocessor technology and products, will collaborate with Rensselaer and IBM at the Supercomputing Center in advanced simulation and modeling of nanoelectronic devices and circuitry. This activity complements the ongoing joint R&D activity between IBM and AMD in East Fishkill and Albany developing advanced high performance Silicon on Insulator (SOI) semiconductor devices and manufacturing processes.

The CCNI will focus on reducing the time and costs associated with designing and manufacturing nanoscale materials, devices, and systems.

"This new supercomputing center dedicated to nanotechnology will have global impact by finding innovative solutions to the challenges facing the continued productivity growth of the semiconductor industry and enabling key nanotechnology innovations in the fields of energy, biotechnology, arts, and medicine," said Rensselaer President Shirley Ann Jackson. "We applaud Senator Bruno and IBM for their vision and commitment to expand technology research in New York State and across the globe."

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: The Spaceward Foundation is offering a $150,000 Prize to the winner of this year's space elevator contest.

Headline: 2006 Space Elevator Challenge
News source: Press Release Elevator 2010

Following the success of the recent 2005 Space Elevator competition held at NASA's Ames Research Center, the Spaceward Foundation announced the details for the 2006 event, to be held on August 4th in Mountain View California, in the heart of Silicon Valley.

"The 2005 challenge was a great event for us" said Ben Shelef, founder of the Spaceward Foundation who is organizing the competitions, "and with 30 teams on the roster so far, and a first prize of $150,000 for each of two competitions, the 2006 event is looking to be even more exciting."

The top contenders in the 2005 challenge were two Canadian university teams, from the University of British Columbia and the University of Saskatchewan. The 2006 event is attracting attention from many universities including MIT, MTU, and Virginia Tech which sent an entire team to observe the 2005 competition.

The Space Elevator challenge consists of two competitions — one focused on power beaming, and the second on tether strength. These two competitions target the development of lightweight yet strong tether materials and wireless power transmission technologies, two of the key technologies required for the creation of a Space Elevator.
The Spaceward Foundation

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.

Speakers include:

Event brochure - PDF

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Nanotech News & Events

Headline: Nanotechnology expert analysis: huge impacts from tiny tech
Center for Responsible Nanotechnology announces new essays from leading thinkers
News source: Press Release Center for Responsible Nanotechnology

The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) announced the continuation of its first series of original essays in which industry experts predict profound impacts of nanotechnology on society. Eleven new articles by members of CRN's Global Task Force appear in the latest issue of the journal Nanotechnology Perceptions, published today, complementing the previous issue's collection. Covering topics from commerce to criminology, from ethics to economics, and from our remote past to our distant future, this new collection illustrates the profound transformation that nanotechnology will have on every aspect of human society.

Essay contributors include the following:


Headline: Nano World: $30 billion in nano goods
News source: Physorg.com

Emerging nanotechnology made its way into more than $30 billion in manufactured goods in 2005, more than double the year before, experts tell UPI's Nano World.

"The overall story that we're seeing for nanotechnology is motion out of the lab and onto the shelves," said New York-based nanotechnology analyst firm Lux Research President and Director of Research Matthew Nordan.

Products enabled by nanotechnology on the market today, ranging from antimicrobial refrigerators to drugs boosted by nanoparticles, carry an average price premium of 11 percent vs. comparable products. Nanotechnology is expected to be incorporated into $2.6 trillion in global manufactured goods in 2014, or roughly 15 percent of total output, Lux Research revealed in a report Monday.

Asia is rising in the nanomaterial supply field. "You have more than 30 companies in China alone when it comes to ceramic nanoparticles, with 120 in the rest of the world. You see CNT Co. in Korea, with carbon nanotubes at 200 dollars a kilogram, undercutting Western suppliers by more than 50 percent. That's pretty dramatic," Nordan said. "Asia can compete aggressively not only in labor, but in capital. In the long run, nanomaterials will probably by owned by East Asian companies."

Green Nanotechnology – Policy Options For Greening New Technologies May 24, 2006
Washington, D.C.
Sponsored by Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies
Event web site

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.

Tomorrow — May 11, 2006 — is the late-Richard Feynman's birth date. I would like to use this date to honor him and provide a link to his classic lecture, "Plenty Room at the Bottom: An Invitation to Enter a New Field of Physics."

This lecture was given on December 29, 1959 at an annual meeting of the American Physical Society at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and is widely considered the lecture that first pointed in the direction of atomically-precise nanotech and productive nanosystems.

Happy Birthday, Richard Feynman!

— Judy

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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