Home > Resources > Publications > Foresight Publications > Weekly News Digest

Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: August 9, 2007

Format change for remainder of August

Starting next week and for the remainder of August the format of the News Digest will change to accommodate Foresight schedule changes this month. During this time our usual news categories will be replaced with Christine Peterson's Nanodot blog posts from the preceding week. Our usual format will return in September.
—Jim Lewis, editor

Top Nano News of the Week

Foresight note: This improvement of a well-known nanoscience technique has achieved unprecedented control of how these building blocks assemble, enabling the preparation of a variety of nanoscale structures from the same basic components and providing a "fundamental new tool for nanotechnology".

Headline: Scientists train nano-'building blocks' to take on new shapes
News source: University of Delaware, written by Tracey Bryant

Researchers from the University of Delaware and Washington University in St. Louis have figured out how to train synthetic polymer molecules to behave—to literally "self-assemble"—and form into long, multicompartment cylinders 1,000 times thinner than a human hair, with potential uses in radiology, signal communication and the delivery of therapeutic drugs in the human body.

Science abstract

In this issue:

Health: Nanoscale dots target and track apoptosis
Clean energy: Self-assembling nanostructures
Clean energy: Nano-boric acid makes motor oil more slippery
Information technology: Tunneling electrons do math
Information technology: Long road to molecular electronics could be paved with DNA
Toward Productive Nanosystems: Automation of nanotech manufacturing
Foresight Events: Productive Nanosystems Conference
Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology - Join Foresight
Conference – SPIE NanoScience & Engineering
News: Nanotechnology development bill introduced in U.S. Congress
Editor's Pick: Shaking of nanoresonators throws off impurities
Nanodot: Nanotechnology explored in new Nanoethics book
Foresight Lectures
Contact Foresight

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Nanoscale dots target and track apoptosis
News source: National Cancer Institute's Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

Apoptosis, or programmed cell death, is a hallmark effect triggered by effective anticancer drugs. Now, researchers in Korea have developed a biocompatible, fluorescent nanoparticle that could provide an early sign that apoptosis is occurring as a result of anticancer therapy. The results of their work… could provide a boost for both clinical oncology and cancer research.

The availability of a real-time assay of apoptosis would provide a critically useful tool for oncologists, who would then have the means to determine whether a given therapeutic approach was working soon after that therapy was started.

Bioconjugate Chemistry abstract

Jump to the top

Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Headline: Self-assembling nanostructures
Researchers find an easy route to complex nanomaterials.
News source: Technology Review, written by Kevin Bullis

Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, have found an easy way to make a complex nanostructure that consists of tiny rods studded with nanocrystals. The new self-assembly synthesis method could lead to intricate nanomaterials for more-efficient solar cells and less expensive devices for directly converting heat into electricity.

In the structures, the quantum dots are all about the same size and are spaced evenly along the rods—a feat that in the past required special conditions such as a vacuum, with researchers carefully controlling the size and spacing of different materials, says Paul Alivisatos, the professor of chemistry and materials science at Berkeley who led the work. In contrast, Alivisatos simply mixes together the appropriate starting materials in a solution; these materials then arrange themselves into the orderly structure.

Science abstract

Jump to the top

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Headline: Nano-boric acid makes motor oil more slippery
News source: Argonne National Laboratory, written by Jared Sagoff

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have begun to combine infinitesimal particles of boric acid — known primarily as a mild antiseptic and eye cleanser — with traditional motor oils in order to improve their lubricity and by doing so increase energy efficiency.

…In laboratory tests, these new boric acid suspensions have reduced by as much as two-thirds the energy lost through friction as heat. The implications for fuel economy are not hard to imagine, [Ali Erdemir, senior scientist in Argonne's Energy Systems Division] said. "You're easily talking about a four or five percent reduction in fuel consumption."

Jump to the top

Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: Tunneling electrons do math
News source: PhysOrg.com, written by Lisa Zyga

Using a novel computing paradigm involving counting single electrons, computer engineers have designed nano-sized circuitry that allows tunneling electrons to perform mathematical division calculations.

While other methods utilizing quantum mechanical behavior have been proposed to increase computing power, these techniques have yet to take full advantage of quantum mechanical properties on the nanoscale—namely, high speed and low power consumption.

Jump to the top

Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: The long road to molecular electronics could be paved with DNA
News source: Nanowerk Spotlight, written by Michael Berger

Scientists today are still struggling with the most basic requirements for molecular electronics, for instance, how to precisely and reliably position individual molecules on a surface. DNA-based nanostructuring is one approach that could lead to promising results. It has already been shown that DNA could be used to structure nanoscale surfaces. Now, a team in Germany has demonstrated that nanoscale objects of very different size can be deposited simultaneously and site-selectively onto DNA-displaying surfaces, based on sequence-specific DNA-DNA duplex formation.

Jump to the top

Toward Productive Nanosystems

Foresight note: With this control program, an atomic force microscope (AFM) was used to precisely replicate a nanometer-scale pattern of silicon oxide on a silicon surface.

Headline: Automation of nanotech manufacturing may be ahead
Engineers apply CAD-CAM to atomic force microscope
News source: Duke University, written by Kendall Morgan

In an assist in the quest for ever smaller electronic devices, Duke University engineers have adapted a decades-old computer aided design and manufacturing process to reproduce nanosize structures with features on the order of single molecules.

"These tools allow you to go from basic, one-off scientific demonstrations of what can be done at the nanoscale to repetitively engineering surface features at the nanoscale," said Rob Clark, Thomas Lord Professor and chair of the mechanical engineering and materials science department at Duke University's Pratt School of Engineering.

Nanotechnology abstract

Jump to the top

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

The full conference program (October 9, October 10) and brochure (PDF 949 KB) are now available.

Special thanks to The Waitt Family Foundation and Sun Microsystems for financial support of the Roadmap project.

Jump to the top

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 review of the book Nanotechnology Applications and Markets by Lawrence Gasman, in which Gasman says: "I am going to take the position that the vast majority of what is today being characterized as nanotech really falls into three areas: nanoelectronics, nanobiotechnology, and nanoenergy." Join Foresight and help steer nanotech in the directions you personally support most!

Book review begins on page 13 of Update 57 (2.1 MB PDF)

To join:

Jump to the top

Foresight Partners

SPIE NanoScience & Engineering
Research & Development on the Nanoscale
August 26-30, 2007
San Diego, California

Plan to attend NanoScience + Engineering, one of the largest and most important technical conferences covering developing technologies at the nanoscale, current and future applications, and the environmental, health, and safety issues that must be addressed.

Jump to the top

Nanotech News

Headline: Nanotechnology development bill introduced in U.S. Congress
News source: Nanowerk News

US Rep. Mike Honda (D-San Jose) today introduced HR 3235, the Nanotechnology Advancement and New Opportunities (NANO) Act, comprehensive legislation to promote the development and responsible stewardship of nanotechnology in the United States. The legislation draws upon the recommendations of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology (BRTFN), a panel of California nanotechnology experts…

Jump to the top

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.

I thought it was cool that such a simple human-scale procedure for getting rid of extraneous material—just shake it off—also works in the detection of nanoscale objects.

— Jim

Headline: Side-to-side shaking of nanoresonators throws off impurities, researchers find
News source: Cornell University, written by Bill Steele

Tiny vibrating silicon resonators are of intense interest in nanotechnology circles for their potential ability to detect bacteria, viruses, DNA and other biological molecules.

Cornell researchers have demonstrated a new way to make these resonators vibrate "in the plane" — that is, side to side — and have shown that this can serve a vital function: shaking off extraneous stuff that isn't supposed to be detected.

Nano Letters abstract

Jump to the top

Nanodot: A sample from Foresight's blog

Headline: Nanotechnology explored in new Nanoethics book

The new book Nanoethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology is now out. From the press release:

"Examining the impact of nanotechnology on society, Nanoethics: The Ethical and Social Implications of Nanotechnology…offers incisive essays on the potential risks and rewards of applications of nanotechnology written by both proponents and critics of this burgeoning technology. Following an introduction to nanotechnology and nanoethics, the book delves into the near-, mid-, and far-term issues related to current and future applications of nantechnology."

There's a list of the better-known contributors, and I was going to joke that I didn't make it, but was surprised to see otherwise, so that joke doesn't work:

"The anthology boasts an industry 'A-List' of contributors from across the globe, including Mihail Roco (National Science Foundation), Ray Kurzweil (Kurzweil Technologies), Christine Peterson (Foresight Nanotech Institute), Richard A.L. Jones (University of Sheffield), Nick Bostrom (University of Oxford), Jean-Pierre Dupuy (Stanford University), David Guston (Arizona State University), James Hughes (Trinity College), Jeroen van den Hoven (Delft University of Technology), Joachim Schummer (Techical University of Darmstadt)."

I hasten to point out that my co-author Jacob Heller did all the heavy-lifting on the piece my name is on. I look forward to seeing what the other folks have to say. Thanks to co-editor Patrick Lin, a Foresight Senior Associate, for inviting us to contribute to the book.

—Nanodot post by Christine Peterson

Jump to the top

Foresight Lectures

August 10, 2007
American Bar Association Annual Meeting
San Francisco, California
Christine Peterson will serve on a panel addressing the role of the legal profession in responsible development of nanotechnology.
Click here for conference details

September 8-9, 2007
Singularity Summit 2007
Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence
San Francisco, California
Christine Peterson will speak on preparing for highly advanced coming technologies such as machine intelligence and nanotechnology.
Click here for conference details

October 6-7, 2007
7th Alcor Conference on Life Extension
Alcor Life Extension Foundation
Scottsdale, Arizona
Christine Peterson will speak on life extension.
Click here for conference details

Jump to the top

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. To find out more about membership, follow this link:

To join:

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

If you would like to browse past issues of the News Digest, follow this link:

Foresight Nanotech Institute
1455 Adams Drive, Suite 2160
Menlo Park, CA 94025 USA
tel +1 650 289.0860
fax +1 650.289.0863

If you were forwarded this email from a friend and would like to subscribe yourself, please follow this link and sign up for our free electronic membership.

Thank you!