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.
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
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.
Health: Nanoscale dots target and track apoptosis
Headline: Nanoscale dots target and track apoptosis
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
Headline: Self-assembling nanostructures
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.
Headline: Nano-boric acid makes motor oil more slippery
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."
Headline: Tunneling electrons do math
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.
Headline: The long road to molecular electronics could be paved with DNA
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.
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
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.
Productive Nanosystems: Launching the Technology Roadmap
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
Special thanks to The Waitt Family Foundation and Sun Microsystems for financial support of the Roadmap project.
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)
SPIE NanoScience & Engineering
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.
Headline: Nanotechnology development bill introduced in U.S. Congress
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…
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.
Headline: Side-to-side shaking of nanoresonators throws off impurities, researchers find
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
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
August 10, 2007
September 8-9, 2007
October 6-7, 2007
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