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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: May 23, 2007

Top Nano News of the Week

Foresight note: Finally, we're starting to see promising nanotech-based cancer treatments being tested on humans—this work should enter clinical trials later this year.

Headline: Targeted nanoparticles incorporating siRNA offer promise for cancer treatment
News source: Study from Caltech, via AAAS EurekAlert

The use of targeted nanoparticles offers promising techniques for cancer treatment. Researchers in the laboratory of Mark E. Davis at the California Institute of Technology have been using small interfering RNA (siRNA), sometimes known as silencing RNA, to "silence" specific genes that are implicated in certain malignancies. One of the primary challenges associated with this type of therapy is delivering the therapeutic agent into the body and then to the tumor in a safe and effective manner. By using targeted nanoparticles, researchers have demonstrated that systemically delivered siRNA can slow the growth of tumors in mice without eliciting the toxicities often associated with cancer therapies.

NSTI Nanotech 2007 Conference abstract

In this issue:

Health: Nanomedicine opens the way for nerve cell regeneration
Information technology: Researchers bring spintronics to silicon
Information technology: Developing rotaxanes for data storage
Foresight Events: Productive Nanosystems Conference
Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology - Join Foresight
Conference – SmallTimes NanoCon International
Research: Nanospears strike at gas detection
Research: Controlled self-assembly of nanocrystals
News: UK publishes report on environmental benefits of nanotechnology
Editor's Pick: Inexpensive 'nanoglue' can bond nearly anything together
Nanodot: Visionary French view of nanotechnology online
Contact Foresight

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Nanomedicine opens the way for nerve cell regeneration
News source: AAAS EurekAlert

The ability to regenerate nerve cells in the body could reduce the effects of trauma and disease in a dramatic way. In two presentations at the NSTI Nanotech 2007 Conference, researchers describe the use of nanotechnology to enhance the regeneration of nerve cells. In the first method, developed at the University of Miami, researchers show how magnetic nanoparticles (MNPs) may be used to create mechanical tension that stimulates the growth and elongation of axons of the central nervous system neurons. The second method from the University of California, Berkeley uses aligned nanofibers containing one or more growth factors to provide a bioactive matrix where nerve cells can regrow.

NSTI Nanotech 2007 Conference abstract 1
NSTI Nanotech 2007 Conference abstract 2

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: UD researchers put 'spin' in silicon, advance new age of electronics
News source: University of Delaware, written by Tracey Bryant

Electrical engineers from the University of Delaware and Cambridge NanoTech have demonstrated for the first time how the spin properties of electrons in silicon—the world's most dominant semiconductor, used in electronics ranging from computers to cell phones—can be measured and controlled.

The discovery could dramatically advance the nascent field of spintronics, which focuses on harnessing the magnet-like "spin" property of electrons instead of solely their charge to create exponentially faster, more powerful electronics such as quantum computers.

Nature abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: CAS reports progress in developing nanotechnology data storage
News source: Nanowerk News

New advancements have been scored by Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) scientists on ultrahigh-density information storage as they successfully carried out the reversible, erasable and rewritable nanorecording on H2 thin films of rotaxane, a supramolecular structure of dumbbell-like molecules trapped within the cavity of macrocycles. According to a recent issue of Journal of the American Chemical Society (JACS), the feat by far gives the most direct evidence for the nanorecording behaviors caused by conductance transition in rotaxane molecules, which indicates a promising future for molecular memories after necessary chemical modifications.

Journal of the American Chemical Society abstract

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Foresight Events

Productive Nanosystems: Launching the Technology Roadmap
Conference sponsored by Foresight Nanotech Institute and Society of Manufacturing Engineers with support from Battelle
October 9-10, 2007
DoubleTree Crystal City in Arlington, VA

Now, for the first time, the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems will describe the R&D pathways and products resulting from this ultimate technological revolution. Join us as we explore the power of advanced "bottom-up" nanotechnology in this 14th Foresight Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology.

Feynman Prize luncheon on October 9, 2007

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Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology

Do you believe that nanotechnology will give society the ability to tackle the hard challenges facing humanity? What's your priority for nanotechnology: cancer treatments and longevity therapies, sustainable energy, clean water, a restored environment, space development, or "zero waste" manufacturing? Or perhaps there are potential nanotech scenarios you would like to prevent.

If you would like to help influence the direction of this powerful technology, please consider becoming a member of Foresight Nanotech Institute. With your support, Foresight will continue to educate the general public on beneficial nanotechnology and what it will mean to our society.

Members receive the Foresight Nanotech Update newsletter. For a sample from the archives, see the interview of Anita Goel, named one of MIT Technology Review's top 35 innovators and an early winner of the Foresight Distinguished Student Award. Says Goel: "I am betting on portable diagnostics. I have already placed my money on and time into it. I believe in it. I want to see this technology delivered to the world." Join Foresight and help steer nanotech in the directions you personally support most!

Goel interview on page 2 of Update 57 (2.1 MB PDF)

To join:

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Foresight Partners

SmallTimes NanoCon International
The Leading Nanotechnology and MEMS Networking Event
November 14-16, 2007
Santa Clara, CA

Attracting hundreds of decision makers from around the world, Small Times NanoCon International is your premier source for business alliances, information exchange and commercial strategy.

Event Highlights:

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Nanotech Research

Headline: Nanospears strike at gas detection
News source: Nanotechweb.org, written by James Tyrrell

Spear-like In-O-N nanostructures created in China could be ideal for gas sensing applications such as NO2 and alcohol detection as well as the measurement of air humidity. Thanks to their high surface area, nanospears have the potential to outperform simpler structures including nanowires, nanobelts and nanotubes say scientists.

"A nanospear offers a fourfold symmetrical structure, a diameter change along the growth axis and a larger morphology surface at the tip as it grows from a nanowire into a nanospear," Baoyu Liu of Liaoning University of Petroleum and Chemical Technology told nanotechweb.org. "The difference in diameter, morphology surface and shape of the tip and the shaft will modify the nanospear's properties and functionality."

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Headline: Lab-in-a-drop—controlled self-assembly of nanocrystals
News source: Nanowerk Spotlight, written by Dr. Igor Nabiev

…the self-assembly of colloidal nanocrystals makes it possible to obtain structures with a high level of ordering and permit construction of patterns to be used in optoelectronics, photonics and biosensing. What makes nanocrystals so attractive to researchers is the fact that the properties essential to allow the arrangement process, including their size, shape, surface protection, stabilization and charge, can be controlled along with the electronic structure of each nanocrystal. As an example, we developed a "lab-in-a-drop" technique where a variety of nanostructures with desired properties may be produced.

The technology which our group at the University of Reims Champagne-Ardenne (URCA) have developed and patented is based on the fact that the nanocrystal properties essential to allow the arrangement process (size, shape, surface protection and charge) can be controlled along with the electronic structure of each nanocrystal.

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Nanotech News

Headline: UK publishes report on environmental benefits of nanotechnology
News source: Nanowerk News

The "Environmentally Beneficial Nanotechnologies: Barriers and Opportunities" (pdf download, 748 KB), a new report by the UK's Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), was published today.

Under this study, five nanotechnological applications were subject to detailed investigation: fuel additives, photovoltaics (solar cells), the hydrogen economy, electricity storage and insulation. In these areas nanotechnology could contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by up to 2 % in the near term and up to 20 % by 2050 with similar reductions in air pollution being realised.

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Editor's Pick

We continue our tradition of citing a special story that strikes the Editor as especially cool, but which doesn't fit within the usual editorial categories of the News Digest.

This invention could be useful in several applications, from nanoelectronics to energy to aerospace.

— Jim

Headline: Inexpensive 'nanoglue' can bond nearly anything together
News source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, via AAAS EurekAlert

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new method to bond materials that don't normally stick together. The team's adhesive, which is based on self-assembling nanoscale chains, could impact everything from next-generation computer chip manufacturing to energy production.

Less than a nanometer—or one billionth of a meter—thick, the nanoglue is inexpensive to make and can withstand temperatures far higher than what was previously envisioned. In fact, the adhesive's molecular bonds strengthen when exposed to heat.

"This could be a versatile and inexpensive solution to connect any two materials that don't bond well with each other," [Rensselaer materials science and engineering professor Ganapathiraman] Ramanath said. "Although the concept is not intuitive at first, it is simple, and could be implemented for a wide variety of potential commercial applications....Our method can definitely be scaled up to meet the low-cost demands of a large manufacturer."

Nature abstract

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Nanodot: A sample from Foresight's blog

Headline: Visionary French view of nanotechnology online

Now we can all explore a French version of the Powers of Ten, produced as part of a nanotechnology exhibit by the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie museum in Paris, brought to our attention by Foresight Senior Associate Gina Miller. Topics covered include Basics, Techniques, Uses, Ethics, "The Debate", and Nanojourney (the powers-of-ten style graphics). From the intro to Amazing Nanoproducts:

"Computer hypermemory, therapeutic nanobots, dirt-proof textiles and intelligent glazing are just some of the products nanotechnology has in store for us."

If you take the Nanojourney, your navigation will be aided by running your cursor over (or clicking on) the suitcase icon, the map icon (route planner) and then the red, green, or blue symbols that indicate different "stages" on the three "routes". Took me a while to figure this out.

Or, skip over the navigation and go straight to the programmable nanodermal display done by Gina Miller and Robert Freitas.

—Nanodot post by Christine Peterson

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Contact Foresight

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Dr. James Lewis, Research Analyst 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 him with comments about the News Digest, please send an email to editor@foresight.org

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