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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: September 19, 2007

Updated Conference Deadlines

Updated deadlines for Productive Nanosystems Conference, Oct. 9-10
Hotel room cut-off:  Friday, September 21 — in two days
Early rate cut-off:  Monday, September 24
Academic rate cut-off:  Friday, September 28 — save $250+

Top Nano News of the Week

Foresight note: Another example of the unique behavior of graphene that is expected to lead to novel types of nanoelectronics.

Headline: Sheet of carbon atoms acts like a billiard table, physicists find
News source: University of California - Riverside, via AAAS EurekAlert

Physicists at UC Riverside have demonstrated that graphene—a one-atom thick sheet of carbon atoms arranged in hexagonal rings—can act as an atomic-scale billiard table, with electric charges acting as billiard balls.

The finding underscores graphene's potential for serving as an excellent electronic material, such as silicon, that can be used to develop new kinds of transistors based on quantum physics. Because they encounter no obstacles, the electrons in graphene roam freely across the sheet of carbon, conducting electric charge with extremely low resistance.

Science abstract

In this issue:

Health: New nanotech gene therapy system created
Health: Targeting quantum dots to deliver SiRNA therapy
Health: Nanoparticle could help detect many diseases early
Clean energy: Nanoflower improves solar cell
Clean energy: Beyond Batteries: Storing power in a sheet of paper
Space: Nanocomposite goes from strength to strength
Toward Productive Nanosystems: Towards a nanorobotic assembly line (includes video)
Foresight Events: Productive Nanosystems Conference
Foresight Events: 2007 Foresight Vision Weekend
Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology - Join Foresight
Conference – Small Times NanoCon International
Research: Scientists shed light on molecules in living cells
News: More soldiers in nanotechnology labs?
Editor's Pick: Twisting time for AFM
Nanodot: Caltech makes new molecular motor for nanotechnology
Nanodot: Test your nanotechnology IQ
Nanodot: Feynman prize finalist Fraser Stoddart in nanotechnology webcast
Foresight Lectures
Contact Foresight

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: New nanotech gene therapy system created
News source: ScienceDaily

U.S. scientists have developed a technology that might one day deliver gene therapy by using magnetically directed nanoparticles. Children's Hospital of Philadelphia researchers bonded DNA segments to tiny iron-containing nanoparticle spheres. They then used magnetic fields to direct the nanoparticles into arterial muscle cells where the DNA could have a therapeutic effect.

The FASEB Journal abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Targeting quantum dots to deliver SiRNA therapy
News source: National Cancer Institute's Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

Take a quantum dot, add a coating of poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG), and attach a homing peptide and a piece of small interfering RNA (siRNA), and the result is a targeted nanoparticle that can stop the production of a specific protein by a targeted cell. If the homing peptide targets tumor cells and the siRNA molecule shuts down a cancer-related protein, the result could be a new type of anticancer agent that would also double as an imaging agent.

Bioconjugate Chemistry abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Nanoparticle could help detect many diseases early
News source: Georgia Tech

Most people think of hydrogen peroxide as a topical germ killer, but the medicine cabinet staple is gaining steam in the medical community as an early indicator of disease in the body.

Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University researchers are the first to create a nanoparticle capable of detecting and imaging trace amounts of hydrogen peroxide in animals. The nanoparticles, thought to be completely nontoxic, could some day be used as a simple, all-purpose diagnostic tool to detect the earliest stages of any disease that involves chronic inflammation — everything from cancer and Alzheimer's to heart disease and arthritis.

Nature Materials abstract

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Headline: Nanoflower improves solar cell
News source:, written by Belle Dumé (requires free registration)

A flower-shaped photoanode can improve the energy conversion efficiency of dye-sensitised solar cells (DSSCs) by 90% compared with conventional anodes made of rod-shaped structures. The new result comes from researchers at the Institute of Microelectronics and the Nanyang Technological University, both in Singapore. The technique could be used to make flexible DSSCs, says the team.

Applied Physics Letters abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Headline: Beyond Batteries: Storing power in a sheet of paper
News source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a new energy storage device that easily could be mistaken for a simple sheet of black paper.

The nanoengineered battery is lightweight, ultra thin, completely flexible, and geared toward meeting the trickiest design and energy requirements of tomorrow's gadgets, implantable medical equipment, and transportation vehicles.

…the device is completely integrated and can be printed like paper. The device is also unique in that it can function as both a high-energy battery and a high-power supercapacitor, which are generally separate components in most electrical systems. Another key feature is the capability to use human blood or sweat to help power the battery.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Enabling space development

Headline: Nanocomposite goes from strength to strength
News source:, written by Belle Dumé (requires free registration)

A new high-strength material consisting of ultrafine nanograins of aluminium has been made by researchers in Australia. The material has a strength of up to 740 MPa and a Vickers microhardness of 2285 MPa and might suit automobile and aerospace applications in the future.

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Toward Productive Nanosystems

Foresight note: Although they have quite a way to go to get to atomically precise manipulation, these researchers have demonstrated important features of nanorobotic assembly of nanostructures.

Headline: Hands-on nanotechnology: towards a nanorobotic assembly line (includes video)
News source: Nanowerk Spotlight, written by Michael Berger

A group of researchers from Denmark and Germany have now developed the rudimentary beginnings of the nanotechnology equivalent of an assembly line. They have shown 'pick-and-place' assembly of a working device using a silicon gripper—a robotic 'hand' some 10000 times smaller than a human hand. This nanogripper, controlled by a nanorobotic arm, is capable of picking up a carbon nanofiber (CN) and fix it onto the tip of an atomic force microscope cantilever.

"We managed to break off a sturdy carbon nanofiber, mount it at the pyramidal tip of an atomic force cantilever and used it for scanning in a deep groove" Dr. Peter Bøggild explains to Nanowerk. "Now, people have made sharp tipped AFMs before, but this is the first time—we think—a dedicated nanotool has literally snapped off a nanotube from a fixed position and mounted it as a device component—and tested that the device worked."

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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

The full conference program (October 9, October 10) and brochure (PDF 987 KB) are now available.

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

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2007 Foresight Vision Weekend

Mark your calendars for this very special event. Please join us to explore nanotechnology, AI, longevity, social technologies like Prediction Markets, and other coming technologies.

We've learned that you want a highly interactive meeting, so this year we'll be experimenting with a new format including big chunks of time for the Unconference meeting style that is taking the technical world by storm.

We have a firm limit of 200 participants. The website and Wiki are coming soon. Reserve your place now by sending your name and email address to We'll let you know when registration is open!

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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 article "Rolling and carrying molecules across surfaces." Two research teams get molecules on surfaces to do machine-like things. Join Foresight and help steer nanotech in the directions you personally support most!

"Rolling and carrying molecules across surfaces" in Update 58

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:

  • An international audience of more than 400 nanotechnology and MEMS professionals
  • Dynamic conference program, uniquely covering the most critical business and technical commercialization issues
  • Excellent networking events designed to connect you with key decision makers
  • Engaging exhibit floor featuring the leading tools, manufacturing, materials, and service companies

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Nanotech Research

Headline: Scientists shed light on molecules in living cells
News source: Science Daily

Clemson University chemists have developed a method to dramatically improve the longevity of fluorescent nanoparticles that may someday help researchers track the motion of a single molecule as it travels through a living cell.

The chemists are exploiting a process called "resonance energy transfer," which occurs when fluorescent dye molecules are added to the nanoparticles. If scientists could track the motion of a single molecule within a living cell it could reveal a world of information. Among other things, scientists could determine how viruses invade a cell or how proteins operate in the body. Such technology also could help doctors pinpoint the exact location of cancer cells in order to better focus treatment and minimize damage to healthy tissue. Outside the body, the technology could help speed up detection of such toxins as anthrax.

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Nanotech News

Headline: More soldiers in nanotechnology labs?
News source: Nanowerk Spotlight, written by Michael Berger

Flawed government thinking is driving a rapid expansion in the military influence over science and technology, says a new briefing from Scientists for Global Responsibility (SGR). US government spending on military research and development (R&D) is soaring (up 57% since 2001), while the UK government has rolled out two new military technology strategies in the last two years. Factors such as these are contributing to an expansion of military involvement in US and UK universities. As far as nanotechnology is concerned, and as we have reported here before, the military is the largest investor in the U.S. Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).

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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.

Often, what we can accomplish is limited by what tools we have. The atomic force microscope is one of the most useful tools that we have for studying nanoscale structure, so a large improvement in sensitivity and speed is likely to prove quite useful—in ways that are likely to surprise us. An editorial comment in the journal issue in which the research was published noted "…it could function as a delicate 'finger' in future AFM nanorobots for sophisticated tactile sensing that may one day be capable of handling nanoparticles. I am sure we will now see a new generation of atomic force microscopes that are truly capable of feeling matter on the nanoscale."

— Jim

Headline: Twisting time for AFM
News source:, written by Belle Dumé (requires free registration)

A new atomic force microscope (AFM) that can measure the mechanical properties of a material a thousand times faster than conventional AFMs has been developed by researchers in the US. The AFM, made by Ozgur Sahin of Harvard University and colleagues at Stanford University and Veeco Instruments, measures the twisting, or torsional, vibrations from the AFM cantilever. This is possible because the AFM tip is placed at one side of the cantilever, which is quite different to traditional devices where it is placed at the centre.

Nature Nanotechnology abstract

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Nanodot: A sample from Foresight's blog

Headline: Caltech makes new molecular motor for nanotechnology

Caltech nanotechnology researchers have come up with a new way to fuel synthetic molecular motors for nanotech, as described by

"This study provides a proof of principle that DNA hybridization can be used to power autonomous molecular locomotion," said Pierce. "Researchers at the NSF Center for Molecular Cybernetics, of which our team is a part, are now working to develop logical walkers that can work cooperatively and respond to their environment. It is possible that synthetic molecular motors may one day be routinely used in medicine, basic research, and manufacturing."

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Headline: Test your nanotechnology IQ

Our friends over at Nanowerk have put together a light-hearted little nanotechnology IQ test which nanotech trackers might enjoy.

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Headline: Feynman prize finalist Fraser Stoddart in nanotechnology webcast

For your nanotech weekend viewing enjoyment, we bring to your attention a free webcast posted by Institute of Nanotechnology (UK) of a lecture by Sir Fraser Stoddart entitled Chemistry and Molecular Nanotechnology for Tomorrow's World.

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—Nanodot posts by Christine Peterson

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Foresight Lectures

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

October 26, 2007
nanoUtah 2007 Conference
Utah Technology Council
Salt Lake City, Utah
Pearl Chin will give the dinner keynote address.
Click here for conference details

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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:

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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

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

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