Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: July 6, 2006
Foresight Note: This paper, which examines nanotechnology, water and development, features a nanofiltration case study.
Headline: Nanotechnology, Water, and Development Paper
Meridian Institute's ongoing Global Dialogue on Nanotechnology and the Poor: Opportunities and Risks (GDNP) commissioned the paper entitled "Nanotechnology, Water, and Development" to explore the scale and significance of water and sanitation problems in developing countries, the broad array of challenges associated with improving access to water, and the possible opportunities and risks of using nanotechnology to address these challenges.
Foresight Note: This nanotechnology research addresses the problem of targeted cancer treatments being compartmentalized within a cell.
Headline: Temperature-sensitive nanoparticles open new avenues for drug delivery
Many types of nanoparticles can cross the cell membrane and deliver their therapeutic payload into tumor cells. In some instances, however, nanoparticles can become trapped inside endosomes, distinct compartments within a cell in which enzymes can break down some anticancer agents. As a result, anticancer genes or drugs that must reach the nucleus in order to kill the cell may never reach their intended destination intact.
In an attempt to address this potential problem, researchers at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, South Korea, have developed polymer nanoparticles that can expand rapidly in response to a temperature change. This expansion breaks endosomes apart, releasing their contents into the cellular cytoplasm. In a related paper, the same investigators demonstrate that they can stabilize these temperature-sensitive nanoparticles using gold nanoparticles.
Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life
Foresight Note: This research suggests that solitons may have internal structures which may assist in the powering of artificial muscles and molecular electronics.
Headline: Solitons could power molecular electronics, artificial muscles
Scientists have discovered something new about exotic particles called solitons. Since the 1980s, scientists have known that solitons can carry an electrical charge when traveling through certain organic polymers. A new study now suggests that solitons have intricate internal structures.
Scientists may one day use this information to put the particles to work in molecular electronics and artificial muscles, said Ju Li, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at Ohio State University
Li explained that each soliton is made up of an electron surrounded by other particles called phonons. Just as a photon is a particle of light energy, a phonon is a particle of vibrational energy.
The new study suggests that the electron inside a soliton can attain different energy states, just like the electron in a hydrogen atom
Foresight Note: This paper is a comprehensive paper on what approaches are needed to solve our energy problems. Although this paper isn't necessarily about nanotechnology and clean energy solutions, there is little doubt that nanotechnology will play a major role in helping these approaches become a reality.
Headline: Clean Energy Solutions - Paper
Projected dramatic increases in energy consumption in the coming decades, combined with a higher risk of climate change, require a massive global response based on technological innovation and the power of the marketplace. Experts and government officials describe the options before us, including renewable energy, novel vehicles, and low-carbon power generation, and discuss the best ways leading to a sustainable energy future.
Foresight Note: Magnetic nanoparticles may help shrink electronics more quickly.
Headline: Nano World: Nanomagnets in chips, antenna
Magnetic particles only nanometers or billionths of a meter wide promise to help electronics continue to pack ever closer together for more powerful microchips and other devices, experts told UPI's Nano World.
These nanoparticles could help shrink the magnetic elements in electronics by ten-fold or more, explained William Crossman, chief operating officer of Embedded Nanomagnetics in Farmington, Conn. The company, which is getting spun out from nanomaterials firm Inframat within the next month, already has strategic partnerships based on its nanotechnology enhanced magnetic elements with an electronics industry giant, a leading cell phone manufacturer, and two head aerospace defense contractors, he added.
The potential market for these novel magnetic elements "is in the billions of dollars," Crossman said.
Computers have steadily advanced in power for decades, with the microchip industry doubling transistor density every two years for the last 30 years, a trend dubbed Moore's Law after Intel cofounder Gordon Moore.
"The problem is magnetic elements, which are in virtually all electronics, have not obeyed Moore's Law, reducing the ability to shrink electronics. The magnetics are often the biggest, heaviest, clunkiest, hottest, least efficient pieces in electronics," Crossman said.
Foresight Challenge: Making powerful information technology available everywhere
Foresight Note: This research seeks to replace electrical currents with beams of light.
Headline: Researchers create a broadband light amplifier on a chip
Cornell researchers have created a broadband light amplifier on a silicon chip, a major breakthrough in the quest to create photonic microchips. In such microchips, beams of light traveling through microscopic waveguides will replace electric currents traveling through microscopic wires.
A team of researchers working with Alexander Gaeta, Cornell professor of applied and engineering physics, and Michal Lipson, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering, used the Cornell NanoScale Facility to make the devices. They reported their results in the June 22 issue of the journal Nature.
The amplifier uses a phenomenon known as four-wave mixing, in which a signal to be amplified is "pumped" by another light source inside a very narrow waveguide. The waveguide is a channel only 300 x 550 nanometers (nm = a billionth of a meter, about the length of three atoms in a row) wide, smaller than the wavelength of the infrared light traveling through it. The photons of light in the pump and signal beams are tightly confined, allowing for transfer of energy between the two beams.
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September 27-28, 2006
nanoTX '06 has an extensive track on Defense - Aerospace - Homeland Security featuring speakers from several prestigious organizations including the following:
Headline: Full 3-D image of nanocrystals' interior created by shining X-rays through them
A vital step towards the ultimate goal of being able to take 'photographs' of individual molecules in action has been achieved by an international team led by UCL (University College London) researchers at the London Centre for Nanotechnology.
They report in the journal Nature on a novel method of obtaining a full 3-D image of the interior of nanocrystals. Using a process known as coherent X-ray diffraction imaging, they were able to build a picture of the inside of nanocrystals by measuring and inverting diffraction patterns.
Ultimately, the technique will help in the development of X-ray free-electron lasers, which will allow single-molecule imaging. It will also allow researchers to more accurately assess the defects in any given material which gives them specific properties.
Headline: Birth of a nanotube
Researchers at Purdue University are using a rare type of electron microscope to see how structures like carbon nanotubes form at the atomic level. Information derived from the microscope will be crucial for nanotechnology to find practical applications in computing, electronics and other areas.
The new transmission electron microscope has been modified so that researchers can watch how atoms come together to form nanostructures as gases flow into a chamber in the presence of a metal catalyst. This is the same method used to make nanotubes in research labs and electronic devices in the semiconductor industry.
Headline: Dallas Scientists Win Two Awards for Nanotechnology Breakthroughs
Scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) NanoTech Institute, together with an Australian collaborator, have won two awards for their breakthroughs in fabricating carbon nanotube yarns and transparent nanotube sheets.
The UTD team, lead by Dr. Ray H. Baughman, and an Australian colleague, Mr. Ken Atkinson from Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation Textile and Fibre Technology, were awarded the prestigious NanoVic Prize by Nanotechnology Victoria Ltd., a venture involving three universities and the government of the Australian state of Victoria. While interest in exploiting various aspects of the researchers? discoveries is worldwide, the NanoVic Prize, which includes a $10,000 award to team members, specifically recognizes innovation in nanotechnology research of importance to companies in Australia.
The scientists also garnered a Nano 50 Award, presented by NanoTech Briefs, a digital monthly magazine that highlights engineering breakthroughs in nanotechnology and micro-electro-mechanical systems. The annual awards recognize the top 50 technologies, products and innovators that have significantly impacted, or are expected to impact, the state of art in nanotechnology.
The researchers successfully assembled trillions of carbon nanotubes into strong, tough, electronically and thermally conducting nanotube yarns and transparent nanotube sheets and demonstrated their utility for such diverse applications as electronic textiles, protective clothing, artificial muscles, supercapacitors, fuel cells, organic light-emitting displays, solar cells and high-intensity sources of field-emitted electrons for lamps and miniature x-ray tubes. These and other related team advances are covered in a 430-page international patent application, important aspects of which are available for licensing nationally and internationally.
Headline: Grasp nanotechnology at Exploratorium
For Tom Rockwell, it's a question of scale.
Making the smallest things big enough to see and the biggest ideas small enough to grasp has been a huge challenge for the Exploratorium exhibit designer the past few months.
Rockwell is the conceptualist behind the San Francisco science museum's new Nanoscape exhibit and on Saturday he wants to see hundreds of hands lacing thousands of "atoms" into a structure that will scrape the ceiling of the cavernous exhibition space to illustrate an object smaller than, as he says, "a fraction of a speck." By building big, visitors will get a glimpse of complexity in a landscape of the very small.
"There is a world down there," Rockwell says. "Just like there is a world up here."
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.
I have been following the World Cup and saw the defeat of Germany by Italy. This cool nanotech soccer pitch doesn't make up for the loss of the host country, but it is rather cool to have a soccer pitch in one's desk drawer.
Headline: German scientist creates tiny soccer pitch
A German scientist created a soccer field so small 20,000 of them could fit on the end of strand of human hair.
The University of Kaiserslautern's Stefan Trellenkamp used nanotechnology and one day's time to engrave a soccer field's lines on the minute pitch of acrylic glass. The field measures 500 by 380 nanometers and can only be seen with a special microscope. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter or 0.00000003937 inches.
"I am really, really proud," the researcher told Reuters by telephone. "The only problem is that I really don't know what to do with it. I can't put it on show as no one can see it.
"I guess it'll just stay in my drawer for the time being."
Join the discussion: visit our blog Nanodot led by Christine Peterson.
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