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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: July 12, 2006

In this issue:

Nanotechnology That's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Providing abundant clean water globally

Foresight Note: This article mentions a collaboration between US and Israeli researchers with the focus being clean water with quick commercialization at the end.

Headline:Israeli, US water researchers collaborate on four nanotech projects
News source: Israel21c

Water researchers from leading Israeli and American institutions have targeted four cutting-edge projects for collaborative research between the two countries.

Their selection is one outcome of a bi-national workshop held in Washington DC in mid-March, organized by the US and Israeli national nanotechnology initiatives, and the Center of Advanced Materials for Purification of Water with Systems (WaterCAMPWS) at the University of Illinois

According to Prof. Rafi Semiat, director of the Grand Water Research Institute at the Technion Institute of Technology and a workshop organizer, while the group will promote all 12 nanotech-based projects that were outlined at the workshop, special focus is being given to four projects that can provide extraordinary benefits for water purification, and that have the potential to be applied commercially within the next five years.

"Both countries see the target projects not only as very exciting, potential breakthroughs, but also as applied research that can get funded and get commercialized quickly," Semiat said.

Foresight Challenge: Providing abundant clean water globally

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight Note: This is a very informative website that has extensive slides and explanations of various nanodevices that are used in cancer research, including nanotubes, quantum dots, nanoshells and dendrimers.

Headline: Understanding Cancer Series: Nanodevices
News source: National Cancer Society

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: This nanotech research may increase the longevity of rechargeable batteries and fuel cells.

Headline: Carnegie Mellon Researcher Discovers Nanostructured Materials That May Increase Lifespan of High-Capacity Energy Systems
News source: Carnegie Mellon Press Release

A research team led by Carnegie Mellon University Materials Science and Biomedical Engineering Professor Prashant Kumta has discovered a nanocrystalline material that is cheaper, more stable and produces a higher quality energy storage capacity for use in a variety of industrial and portable consumer electronic products. Kumta said the discovery, published this summer in Advanced Materials Journal, has important implications for increasing the longevity of rechargeable car batteries, fuel cells and other battery-operated electronic devices.

"We have found that synthesis of nanostructured vanadium nitride and controlled oxidation of the surface at the nanoscale is key to creating the next generation of supercapacitors commonly used in everything from cars, camcorders and lawn mowers to industrial backup power systems at hospitals and airports," Kumta said.

Foresight Challenge: Meeting global energy needs with clean solutions

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Foresight Challenge: Healing and protecting the environment

Foresight Note: Helping conserve current energy supplies by substituting processes that use renewable energy sources is one way nanotechnology will help us heal and preserve our planet.

Headline: Nano World: Nano replacement for petroleum
News source: United Press International by Charles Q. Choi

The petroleum used to make adhesives, coatings and in the future, inks and even plastics, could get replaced with nanoparticles of sugar and starch, experts told UPI's Nano World. The starch in the nanoparticles comes from crops, a renewable resource, unlike petroleum, said John van Leeuwen, chairman and chief executive officer of biomaterials company Ecosynthetix in Lansing, Mich.

"Every $10 increase in a barrel of oil leads to an $80 billion a year impact on the national economy," van Leeuwen added. "Our technology became interesting once oil went above $25 a barrel."

Cardboard manufacturers alone currently use roughly four billion pounds of starchy adhesive a year across 1,700 plants worldwide to glue together the paper layers that make up corrugated containers, van Leeuwen explained. This market alone represented $3 billion in 2005

Foresight Challenge: Healing and protecting the environment

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Foresight Challenge: Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight Note: It appears that these researchers have outpaced conventional chips for speed in their laboratory.

Headline: Paint-on semiconductor outperforms chips
News source: Physorg.com

Researchers at the University of Toronto have created a semiconductor device that outperforms today's conventional chips — and they made it simply by painting a liquid onto a piece of glass. The finding, which represents the first time a so-called "wet" semiconductor device has bested traditional, more costly grown-crystal semiconductor devices, is reported in the July 13 issue of the journal Nature.

"Traditional ways of making computer chips, fiber-optic lasers, digital camera image sensors — the building blocks of the information age — are costly in time, money, and energy," says Professor Ted Sargent of the Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and leader of the research group. Conventional semiconductors have produced spectacular results — the personal computer, the Internet, digital photography — but they rely on growing atomically-perfect crystals at 1,000 degrees Celsius and above, he explains.

The Toronto team instead cooked up semiconductor particles in a flask containing extra-pure oleic acid, the main ingredient in olive oil. The particles are just a few nanometers (one billionth of a meter) across. The team then placed a drop of solution on a glass slide patterned with gold electrodes and forced the drop to spread out into a smooth, continuous semiconductor film using a process called spin-coating. They then gave their film a two-hour bath in methanol. Once the solvent evaporated, it left an 800 nanometer-thick layer of the light-sensitive nanoparticles.

Foresight Challenge: Making powerful information technology available everywhere

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Foresight Member News

Zyvex Corporation, a corporate member of Foresight Nanotech Institute, announced the addition of Dr. Rob Burgess as Vice President of Research & Development, and the promotions of Dr. Patrick Howard to Director of Worldwide Sales and Taylor Cavanah to Product Manager.

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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

The Next Industrial Revolution: Nanotechnology & Manufacturing

August 23-24, 2006
Sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers
Pollard Technology Conference Center, Oak Ridge, TN USA

Nanotechnology promises to usher in the next Industrial Revolution and replace our entire manufacturing base with a new, radically precise, less expensive, and more flexible way of making products. These pervasive changes in manufacturing will leave virtually no product, process, or industry untouched. Nanotechnology has the potential to disrupt entire industries while leading to the creative destruction of current business models.

SME's two-day day conference will highlight the current, near-term, and future applications of nanotechnology and how they are transforming the way we manufacture products using innovative top-down fabrication and bottom-up assembly techniques. This event will also provide a forum for peer networking, information sharing, and technology exchange among the world's leading researchers and developers of nanomanufacturing processes, systems, and tools.

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Nanotech Research

Headline: Researchers build sharpest tip
News source: ScienceDaily

Forget the phrase, "sharp as a tack." Now, thanks to new University of Alberta research the popular expression might become, "sharp as a single atom tip formed by chemically assisted spatially controlled field evaporation." Maybe it doesn't roll off the tongue as easily, but considering the researchers have created the sharpest object ever made, it would be accurate.

The scientists, working out of the National Institute of Nanotechnology at the U of A, used a unique process to make the sharpest tip ever known and opened the door to a range of possibilities. Technically speaking, they were able to coat peripheral atoms near the peak with nitrogen, making it a one atom-thick, tough protective paint job.

"That coating has the effect of binding the little pyramid of metal atoms or Tungsten, in place," said Dr. Robert Wolkow, a physics professor at the U of A and co-author on the research paper published in the Journal of Chemical Physics. "Such a pointy pyramid of metal atoms would normally just smudge away spontaneously. It's like a sand pile—you know you can't make it arbitrarily pointy. If you try to pile on more sand, it flows down and makes a more blunt pile. Metal atoms will do the same thing."

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Nanotech News

Headline: Understanding Potential Toxic Effects of Nanomaterials
News source: NCI Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

Various types of carbon-based nanomaterials, such as buckyballs and nanotubes, have shown promise as drug delivery tools and imaging agents, but reports of toxicity associated with some of these materials have raised questions about their ultimate utility in clinical oncology. Three recent reports in the literature provide new insights into why certain carbon-based nanomaterials are toxic to cells and others are not.

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Headline: General Electric Team Shines Light On Nanotechnology's Huge Potential
News source: Investor's Business Daily via Yahoo by J. Bonsia

One of the biggest of the big, General Electric, is making a big bet on the science of the remarkably small — nanotechnology. Margaret Blohm manages 50 people in GE's advanced technology program for nanotech. The corporate research center serves all of GE's business units, with a special focus on high-risk, long-term research.

GE has a long history of being on the leading edge of technology, says Blohm, who joined the company in 1987.

"Pretty much our whole business is differentiated by materials, either to make better scanners, appliances or aircraft engines," she said. "There's no way to lead the way without the best technology."

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Nanotech Events

American Chemical Society 232nd National Meeting & Exposition
September 10–14, 2006
San Francisco, CA USA

With hurricanes, tsunamis, earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters galvanizing public attention, the world's largest scientific organization has chosen disaster prevention and recovery as the multidisciplinary theme of its upcoming 232nd national meeting in San Francisco, September 10–14, 2006.

Although disasters are the theme, the 232nd American Chemical Society national meeting offers an amazingly rich variety of programs that cover science, medicine, health, food, energy, environment and business.

Modern chemistry may be the most multi-disciplinary science, and this meeting promises to include topics spanning science's horizons from astronomy to zoology, including: advances in nanomedicine and other areas of nanotechnology, a symposium on molecular cuisine in which scientists team with chefs, the next generation of solar cells and other renewable sources of energy, and findings on Hurricane Katrina's environmental impact.

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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.

This is an interview with Stanford President John L. Hennessy that ran in the Mercury News last Sunday. The focus of the interview is research at universities and how the commercialization of biotech (this also applies to nanotech) differs from IT. Anyone who is tracking nanotech as it moves from academic labs to commercialization will find this an intriguing interview. I pulled a quote that I thought was particularly succinct.

— Judy

Headline: Humans: the dangerous equation
News source: San Jose Mercury News by Paul Jacobs

"And what I'm deathly afraid of is . . . that you then kill the goose that laid the golden egg. You break that process of transferring new technologies from research environment to products. It already takes too long in the medical arena because we have such a focus on safety and risk avoidance. It already takes too long. Imagine it taking a lot longer. I view that as a tragedy for all the people who have a disease that that technology could help. . . .

The golden egg here is that technology that actually gets out there and saves lives."

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Join the Discussion on Nanodot

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

Foresight and other nanotech NGOs and companies have requested the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies, to allocate US$1 million for an EHS (environmental, health and safety) roadmap, to be prepared by the National Academy of Sciences.

Organizations and companies participating in the call were: Air Products & Chemicals, Inc., Altair Nanotechnologies Inc., Arkema, Inc., BASF Corporation, Bayer, Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc., Degussa, DuPont, Environmental Defense, Foresight Nanotech Institute, Houston Advanced Research Center, Lux Research, Inc., NanoBusiness Alliance, Natural Resources Defense Council, PPG Industries, Inc., Sasol North America, Union of Concerned Scientists.

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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