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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: June 28, 2006

In this issue:

Nanotechnology That's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight Note: This research may lead to targeted therapeutics that can be taken orally rather than injected.

Headline: Sugar-based nanoparticles have potential to deliver proteins orally
News source: Nanotechwire.com

Nanotechnology-based drug delivery research has largely focused on developing nanoparticles for use with drugs that are poorly soluble in water with many notable successes. Now, a team of investigators at the University of Santiago de Compostelas in Spain has used two different sugars to create a nanoparticle that can entrap water-soluble molecules such as proteins. The researchers believe that this nanoparticle could be used to create protein drug formulations that can be taken by mouth rather than by injection or inhalation. The results of this study were published in the journal Macromolecules.

Maria Alonso, Ph.D., and colleagues used the water-soluble sugar polymers, or polysaccharides, known as chitosan (CS) and glucomannan (GM) to create the new nanoparticles. Chitosan, obtained from insect shells, is used primarily as a plant growth enhancer, while glucomannan, a plant root product, is a soluble fiber used to treat constipation and high cholesterol. By varying the relative amounts of the two polysaccharides, the researchers were able to create stable nanoparticles that could efficiently entrap proteins. Additional experiments using different forms of glucomannan and a crosslinking agent provided data that should enable the fine-tuning of the release rates of proteins from the nanoparticles.

Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight Note: This research uses natural materials to create nanomaterials for medical applications such as tissue engineering.

Headline: Researchers create new organic gel nanomaterials
News source: Physorg.com

Researchers have created organic gel nanomaterials that could be used to encapsulate pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic products and to build 3-D biological scaffolds for tissue engineering. Using olive oil and six other liquid solvents, the scientists added a simple enzyme to chemically activate a sugar that changed the liquids to organic gels.

We are using the building blocks provided by nature to create new nanomaterials that are completely reversible and environmentally benign," said Jonathan Dordick In the experiments, researchers activated a sugar using a simple enzyme, which generated a compound that self-assembles into 3-D fibers measuring approximately 50 nanometers in diameter. As the fibers entangle, a large amount of solvent gets packed together, trapping some 10,000 molecules.

Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight Note: This nanotechnology research team believes their polymer may lead to the development of human organs.

Headline: New nanocomposite polymer for medical devices
News source: UCL press release

A team of UCL scientists has developed a new biomaterial for use in medical devices for applications including, among others, bypass grafts, liver transplants and plastic surgery such as cartilage growth, face transplants and breast implants. In two recently published articles in the journals Biomaterials and Biomacromolecules, the team claims its material is superior to any existing materials in the field and offers great potential for the development of human organs with the aid of stem cell technology.

The new nanocomposite polymer, its processing and forming, was developed by the UCL team, which brings together UCL professors Alex Seifalian (UCL Tissue Engineering, Leader), Mohan Edirisinghe (UCL Mechanical Engineering, Chair of Biomaterials), George Hamilton (Vascular Surgery), Peter Butler (Plastic Surgery) and Brian Davidson (Liver Transplant).

Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

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Nanotechnology That's Good For The Planet

Foresight Challenge: Meeting global energy needs with clean solutions

Foresight Note: MIT is working on an electric car battery using carbon nanotubes that could recharge at the same speed as filling a tank of gas.

Headline: MIT research may spell end for the battery
News source: Boston.com by Hiawatha Bray

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology think they're on the verge of making traditional batteries obsolete. The researchers are working on a new device that uses carbon nanotubes to store and release electrical energy in a system that could carry as much power as today's lead or lithium batteries. But unlike the rechargeable batteries used on today's cellphones and laptop computers, these devices could be recharged hundreds of thousands of times before wearing out.

And instead of taking hours to recharge, they could be powered up in about the same time it takes to fill up a gas tank.

Electronics professor Joel Schindall drives a Toyota car, which uses an electric battery to reduce gasoline consumption. But Schindall would prefer an all-electric car, and he thinks his team's research could finally make such vehicles practical.

Foresight Challenge: Meeting global energy needs with clean solutions

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Foresight Challenge: Meeting global energy needs with clean solutions

Foresight Note: More evidence that nanotechnology research is getting a boost from the search for sustainable energy.

Headline: BP to fund solar project at Caltech
News source: LATimes.com by Elisabeth Douglass

Oil giant BP pledged $5 million Tuesday to fund a five-year solar project at Caltech that would explore using tiny silicon rods to make solar cells absorb sunlight more efficiently.

The research supplements a smaller collaboration between BP and Caltech that focuses on improving existing solar technology, said Jean Posbic, director of product development at BP Solar.

"With this agreement, we're looking even further into the future, about five to 10 years out," he said.

Foresight Challenge: Meeting global energy needs with clean solutions

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Foresight Challenge: Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight Note: Rice has found a way to use electric fields to sort semiconductor nanotubes by size.

Headline: Rice develops first method to sort nanotubes by size
News source: EurekAlert

Rice University scientists have developed the first method for sorting semiconducting carbon nanotubes based on their size, a long-awaited development that could form the basis of a nanotube purification system capable of producing the necessary feedstocks for nano-circuits, therapeutic agents, next-generation power cables and more.

Nanotubes, tiny cylinders of carbon no wider than a strand of DNA, possess a tantalizing array of properties coveted by materials scientists. Nanotubes are stronger than steel, but weigh one sixth as much. Some varieties are excellent semiconductors, while others are metals that conduct electricity as well as copper.

But there are dozens of varieties of nanotubes, each slightly different in size and atomic structure and each with very different properties. For many applications, engineers need to use just one type of nanotube, but that's not possible today because all production methods turn out a mishmash of types. New research due to appear in an upcoming issue of the Journal of the American Chemical Society describes a new method that uses electric fields to sort nanotubes by size.

"People have developed sorting methods based on both chemical and electrical properties, but ours is the first that's capable of sorting semiconducting nanotubes based upon their dielectric constant, which is determined by their diameter," said corresponding author, Howard Schmidt, executive director of Rice's Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory (CNL).

Foresight Challenge: Making powerful information technology available everywhere

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Foresight Challenge: Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight Note: Data storage is and will continue to be a challenge. This research is working on using nanoparticles as a storage medium.

Headline: Leicester investigates nanotech storage
News source: VNUnet

The University of Leicester is to co-ordinate a nanotechnology research project into storing information on nano-particles.

Called Nanospin, the project aims to use nano-particles to build new materials and find out if it is possible to use a single particle to hold a one bit of information.

Such a medium could be capable of storing the contents of two million books in the space of postage stamp, experts at the university claim.

Foresight Challenge: Making powerful information technology available everywhere

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Foresight News

Prize Deadline is June 30, 2006

The submission deadline for the prestigious Foresight Nanotech Institute nanotechnology prizes is this Friday, June 30, 2006.

Foresight Nanotech Institute's awards and prizes recognize students, researchers and journalists who work to accelerate the development and positive uses of advanced nanotechnology.

"We look forward to honoring the very best in nanotechnology," said Christine Peterson, Co-Founder and Vice President of Public Policy at Foresight Nanotech Institute. "Foresight focuses on nanotech that is good for people and good for the planet. Our prizes are given to those individuals whose recent efforts place us closer to that goal."

Foresight will award four prizes in 2006: two Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes, the Foresight Institute Prize in Communication, and the Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award.

Winners will be announced at nanoTX '06, an exhibition and conference to be held in Dallas, Texas, on September 27-28, 2006.

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Foresight Lectures

Christine Peterson, Founder and Vice President of Public Policy for Foresight Nanotech Institute, will chair a workshop assessing NGO perspectives on nanotech risk at the IRGC Nanotechnology Risk Governance Conference, July 6-7, 2006, Zurich Switzerland

Downloadable Conference Program

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Foresight Members

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 and tell them you heard about them through Foresight.

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Become a member of Foresight

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

We have membership levels designed for inclusion of all who are interested in our collective nanotechnology future whether you are a student, individual or corporation.

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Foresight Partners

SPIE Optics & Photonics

SPIE Optics & Photonics has quietly become one of the world's largest nanotechnology research conferences, with 500 papers being presented this year in San Diego, California, August 13-17, 2006.

With 500 presentations spanning molecular engineering, materials, nanostructures, fabrication, nanotubes, nanomodeling, and study of various nanoscale phenomena, optical manipulation of nanoparticles — plus applications ranging from nano-medicine to nano-lithography, this meeting is packed with relevant information and opportunities for networking.

Keynote – Nanotechnology: Managing Potential Risks in a Climate of Uncertainty Kristen M. Kulinowski, Executive Director for Public Policy of the Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) and Faculty at Rice Univ.

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Nanotech Research

Headline: Laboratory for Biological Effects of Nanomaterials and Nanosafety Established in China
News source: AzNano.com

The National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (NCNST) at Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and the CAS Institute of High Energy Physics (IHEP) have joined hands in establishing a Laboratory for Biological Effects of Nanomaterials and Nanosafety (NCNST-IHEP) in Beijing.

Its nameplate-unveiling ceremony was held on June 22 on the campus of IHEP. CAS Executive Vice President Bai Chunli was present at the event. Research into bio-effects of nanomaterials and nanosafety concerns the application and long-term development of nanotechnology, notes Prof Bai.

It also contains innovation opportunities in the field. Apart from a social responsibility for scientists, the in-depth studies of nanosafety will effectively promote the health development of nanoscience and technology.

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Nanotech News

Headline: ICON and UCSB Invite Participation in Documenting Current Practices for Nanomaterial Handling
News source: ICON

The International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON) is pleased to announce the commencement of the interview phase of University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)'s research of nanotechnology current practices. ICON and UCSB collectively encourage industry, governmental and academic participation in this research, which will examine the environmental, health, and safety practices of people working with nanomaterials around the world.

In March 2006 the International Council on Nanotechnology (ICON) awarded a grant to researchers from UCSB to conduct research on nanotechnology current practices while maintaining strict confidentiality.

ICON recognizes that identification of the safest way to work with nanomaterials first requires an identification of the most common practices in use today by researchers in industry, governmental and academic labs. This information can then be used to develop best practices for nanomaterial handling.

Participation in the research is sought from a wide variety of producers and users of nanomaterials so that an accurate cross-section of the range of current practices can be established.

Headline: Nanotech Briefs Nano50
News source: Nanotech Briefs

Nanotech Briefs has announced the winners of the second annual Nano 50th Awards, which recognize the top 50 technologies, products, and innovators that have significantly impacted "or are expected to impact" the state of the art in nanotechnology. The winners of the Nano 50 awards are the "best of the best." These are the innovative people and designs that will move nanotechnology to key mainstream markets.

Nano 50 nominations were judged by a panel of nanotechnology experts. The technologies, products, and innovators receiving the 50 highest scores were named Nano 50 award winners.

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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.

Stronger nautical rope and more comfortable bullet-proof vests may be the results of this research. Anything that will hold things tighter and keep people safer is cool by me.

— Judy

Headline: Nanotechnology creates super-strong fibers for bullet-proof vests
News source: AzNano.com

Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have developed a new technology that can greatly enhance the ballistic-proof strength of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fiber by adding carbon nanotubes to pristine high-strength fiber.

Jointly developed by the Departments of Chemical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering, the new technology is expected to pave the way for new UHMWPE applications, such as more comfortable and effective bullet-proof vests and extra-durable nautical rope.

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Join the Discussion on Nanodot

Join the discussion: visit our blog Nanodot led by Christine Peterson.

Contact Foresight

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.

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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