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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: May 31, 2006

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This issue marks the one-year anniversary of the News Digest. Over 15,000 individuals in 125 countries have been reading about advancing beneficial nanotechnology and how current nanotechnology research applies to the Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges.

We felt this year anniversary was an appropriate time to update one of the challenges. Many of you have expressed the desire for us to focus more on nanotechnology and the environment. With this in mind, Challenge #4 is now: Healing and Preserving the Environment.

If you are interested in advancing beneficial nanotechnology, please consider becoming a member. With your support, Foresight will continue to be a leading public interest voice for nanotechnology. Our focus is on using this powerful technology to improve the health and well being of people and the planet.

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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 news release discusses an advance in testing the safety of lithium ion batteries using nanomaterials instead of graphite.

Headline: Altair Nanotechnologies Altairnano's nLTO is a Safe, Common-Sense Material for Enabling Mass Usage of Electric/Hybrid Vehicles
News source: The Auto Channel

Altair Nanotechnologies Inc. announced it has completed a safety testing cycle for lithium ion battery products that represents a significant step forward in the effort to develop lithium ion batteries that are safe enough to be used in electric-powered automobiles.

Although lithium ion batteries are the predominant power source for cell phones, laptop computers and many other small electronic devices, safety concerns related to the potential for explosion, typically caused by charging malfunctions or extremes of temperature, have so far proved to be a vexing obstacle to using lithium ion batteries to power electric and hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs).

In order to address these safety concerns and, by doing so, help to speed the deployment of powerful, efficient electric vehicles (EVs) and HEVs for mass usage, Altairnano has invented and developed a nano-structured negative electrode material called nano Lithium Titanium Oxide, or nLTO, that replaces the graphite used in "standard" lithium ion batteries with safe, nanomaterials.
Altair Nanotechnologies

2. Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight note: This conference focuses on water disinfection and the application 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, including nanotechnology.

3. Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight note: How the "nano" label is being used in drug delivery and also a mention of recent breakthrough research is covered in this article.

Headline: Nanotechnology delivers drugs
News source: ScienceBusiness by Michael Kenward

"Nanomedicine" first reared its head 40 years ago in the film, Fantastic Voyage. (The filmmakers then recruited Isaac Asimov to turn it into a book.) More recently, there have been a few attempts to use the label to make traditional biomedical research look trendy.

"While you could describe most drugs research as nanotechnology — that is, after all, about the size of the molecules they use — there are some genuine new applications of small size to drug development. If nothing else, just thinking nano can freshen up approaches to R&D. That's why we looked with interest at a paper in Molecular Pharmaceutics, with the mind bending title, Diacyllipid Micelle-Based Nanocarrier for Magnetically Guided Delivery of Drugs in Photodynamic Therapy.

"We can do no better than lift a couple of sentences in a recent issue of American Chemical Society (ACS) News Service Press Package. "The great promise of nanomedicine in opening a new era in diagnosis and treatment of disease depends heavily on the availability of versatile nanocarriers. The ultra-small counterparts of hypodermic syringes and IVs, nanocarriers are the containers that will carry and deliver nanodiagnostic and nanotherapeutics to their targets inside the human body."

4. Healing and preserving the environment

Foresight note: This article announces the funding given to a nanotech company for the design of a fuel cell system that will allow water treatment plants to be self-sufficient in emergencies.

Headline: Higgins announces $2 million for NanoDynamics
News source: AZONano.com

Congressman Brian Higgins (D-NY) announced that he secured $2,000,000 in federal funding for NanoDynamics Inc, a leading company in the rapidly growing field of nanotechnology, located along Buffalo's Outer Harbor. The funding will be used for the design and construction of a fuel cell system operating through the use of methane gas, a by-product of many water treatment facilities.

The technology can be used to ensure that water treatment facilities can operate without grid power in an emergency situation or due to terrorism. The funding was included in the Energy & Water Appropriations bill in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Biomass and Biorefinery Systems Research and Development program passed by the House of Representatives last night. The Energy & Water Appropriations bill will now proceed to the Senate.

"Keeping Western New York's water clean in times of natural emergency, natural disaster, or terror attack is critical," said Congressman Higgins. "We cannot always depend on traditional electricity sources to power the machinery to keep our water clean. The availability of an independent energy source which will continue to keep our water clean during an emergency is essential. Congressman Reynolds and I both know the crucial role of clean water and the importance of this type of research to our region; I applaud NanoDynamics for their cutting edge research and for making Buffalo a leader in this field."
Brian Higgins

5. Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight note: Led by Charles Leiber, a member of the International Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems steering committee, this research illustrates the speed that nanowire devices will bring to electronic applications.

Headline: Superior nanowire transistor
News source: Physorg.com

Transistors made with semiconductor wires just nanometers or billionths of a meter wide can exceed the performance of current state-of-the-art silicon transistors by three or four times, experts tell UPI's Nano World.

Moreover, the nanowire devices show "more attractive scaling in performance as they are made smaller," said researcher Charles Lieber, a chemist at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. "This shows clearly that there is a reason, not simply hype, to consider developing nanowire devices for electronic applications with the expectation that their performance can exceed the best possible in industry."

Specific applications for nanowire transistors in future "include use in building high-performance logic circuits as well as host of electronics applications on unconventional substrates, such as plastics, where such high-performance devices have not been possible," Lieber added.
Charles Lieber

6. Enabling the development of space

Foresight note: LiftPort has published a book about space elevators featuring excerpts from over 40 authors and scientists.

Headline: "LiftPort — The Space Elevator: Opening Space to Everyone," A New Book on the Science and Social Impact of Building the First Space Elevator
News source: Spaceref.com

LiftPort Group, the space elevator companies, released "LiftPort — The Space Elevator: Opening Space to Everyone," a new book on the LiftPort Space Elevator, a revolutionary new way of sending cargo and humans into space. Compiled by LiftPort, the Seattle based company dedicated to building the first commercial elevator to space, the new book is an exploration of both the scientific and social aspects relating to the development of the LiftPort Space Elevator, as told by a collection of nearly 40 leading authors and experts on science and space.

"LiftPort — The Space Elevator: Opening Space to Everyone" covers both the scientific issues relating to the physical construction of the world's first space elevator, as well as the social issues and business impact the space elevator can bring. Nonfiction chapters on topics relating to the science of building the space elevator, such as "Powering a Space Elevator" and "Rockets and the Space Elevator" are interspersed with others on the social and business issues of the space elevator, along with short stories and essays by such noted science fiction authors as Kim Stanley Robinson and Sir Arthur C. Clarke.

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.

Nanotechnology Oversight & Risk?, It's Your Business! – June 12, 2006
Sponsored by the MIT Stanford UC Berkeley Nanotechnology Forum
Palo Alto, California

Nanotech News

Foresight Note: The MagicNano product that was recalled in Germany last month did not contain nanoparticles. This is an example of a product being labeled "nano" for marketing purposes.

Headline: Nano particles were not the cause of health problems triggered by sealing sprays! Products did not contain any ultrafine particles
News source: Press Release: BfR – Federal Institute for Risk Assessment

According to the findings of the Federal Institute for Risk Assesment (BfR), nano particles are not the cause of the health disorders, in some cases severe, which occurred after using so-called sealing sprays. Based on the information from manufacturers and chemical studies commissioned by BfR, the products do not contain any nano-sized particles.

The term "nano" in the product names is intended far more to draw attention to the wafer-thin film that forms on the surface of glass or ceramic after the spray-application of the products. More than 110 incidents of, in some cases severe, health disorders were notified to the poison control and treatment centres and BfR at the end of March 2006 after consumers had used the products Magic-Nano-Glasversiegeler (glass sealer) and Magic-Nano-Keramikversiegeler (ceramic sealer) in spray cans with a propellant. Initially it was thought that nano particles were involved in the intoxications.

Read comments on Foresight's nanodot blog about
MagicNano: neither magic nor nano

Nanotech Events

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)
Conference web site

Research News

Headline: Researchers explore using nanotubes as minuscule metalworking tools
'Science' paper details potential as nanoscale extruders, cylinders, and jigs
News source: Innovations report

Bombarding a carbon nanotube with electrons causes it to collapse with such incredible force that it can squeeze out even the hardest of materials, much like a tube of toothpaste, according to an international team of scientists. Reporting in the May 26 issue of the journal Science, the researchers suggest that carbon nanotubes can act as minuscule metalworking tools, offering the ability to process materials as in a nanoscale jig or extruder.

Engineers use a variety of tools to manipulate and process metals. For example, handy "jigs" control the motion of tools, and extruders push or draw materials through molds to create long objects of a fixed diameter. The newly reported findings suggest that nanotubes could perform similar functions at the scale of atoms and molecules, the researchers say.

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, event or idea that I think is especially cool.

The article quickly and succinctly discusses how nanotechnology could change the corporate landscape through technological breakthroughs.

Headline: Big business gets small
News source: The Motley Fool by Jack Uldrich

"In his informative and insightful book Quantum Investing, author Stephen Waite points out that of the 12 companies making up the original Dow Jones Industrial Average, only one — General Electric — still exists today. The others, including National Lead, Chicago Gas, American Sugar, U.S. Leather, and Tennessee Coal & Iron, were long ago relegated to the ash heap of history.

"Time indeed marches on, and Waite goes so far as to suggest that at our current pace of technological change, society will experience an amount of change within the next 20 years comparable to what it experienced in the past 100 years before that. Using history as guide, he then speculates that as many as 27 out of the 30 companies comprising today's Dow Index may be gone by 2025.

"Such a prediction might sound far-fetched, but I find it quite plausible. For instance, given the rapid advances being made with new nanomaterials, I can easily envision a troubling and uncertain future for a company like Alcoa. Advances in battery and fuel cell technology could spell problems for the already embattled General Motors, and the development of inexpensive, sturdy flexible electronics could render a sizeable portion of International Paper's business obsolete in the near future. The list could go on, but the broad point is that few, if any, companies are safe from the relentless forces of technological change."

— 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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