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

Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: November 28, 2007

Top Nano News of the Week

Toward Productive Nanosystems

Foresight note: As Eric Drexler pointed out more than 20 years ago, it would be advantageous to be able to engineer robust covalent bond formation in the necessary spatial configurations to build strong, rigid nanostructures.

Headline: Covalent assembly of molecular building blocks
News source: Foresight Nanotech Institute

Now researchers have succeeded in rationally assembling building blocks on a surface using covalent bonds probably formed by carbon radicals—very reactive species envisioned by Drexler for use in advanced molecular manufacturing systems. Prior to this achievement, many workers had self-assembled supramolecular structures on surfaces by engineering noncovalent interactions, but no one had succeeded in assembling covalent molecular networks.

…This paper reports a promising avenue toward building covalent atomically precise structures on surfaces.

In this issue:

Foresight Challenge Grant
Health: Oral insulin - key studies completed for trial
Clean energy: Nano enables practical, portable fuel cells
Clean energy: Thermoelectric materials are one key to energy savings
Clean energy: 'Wiring up' enzymes for producing hydrogen in fuel cells
Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology - Join Foresight
Conference – NanoManufacturing Conference & Exhibits
Research: Spinning out stronger nanotubes
Research: Carbon nanotubes to be replaced by MoSIx nanowires?
News: Nanotech's health, environment impacts worry scientists
Editor's Pick: Gold particles get to work on sensitive teeth
Nanodot: Second Life gets Nanotechnology Island
Nanodot: And the winner for oddest nanotechnology ad goes to…
Nanodot: $40K Nanotechnology Challenge Grant: Watch our progress
Contact Foresight

Foresight Challenge Grant

pie chart

Help us meet our $40,000 Challenge — your donation is doubled!

Will we reach our goal in time? Watch our progress at:

Jump to the top

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Apollo's oral insulin - key studies completed for trial
News source: Medical News Today

Apollo Life Sciences (ASX: AOP) has completed a number of key process optimisation and validation studies as it prepares to move into the Phase I trial of its oral insulin product.

… the technology has the characteristics needed to protect insulin molecules from the harsh conditions of the gastrointestinal tract and deliver a therapeutic dose of insulin across the wall of the intestine into the bloodstream…

The pre-trial studies demonstrated that Apollo's research has unlocked some of the key obstacles to the oral delivery of insulin; notably the (1) efficient incorporation of insulin molecules in protective nanoparticles, and (2) production of nanoparticles of consistent size…

ChemMedChem abstract

Jump to the top

Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Foresight note: This brief overview shows that several approaches to nano- and micro-engineering portable fuel cells appear promising.

Headline: Nano enables practical, portable fuel cells
A variety of approaches to nano- and micro-engineering have begun to yield portable fuel cells—with dramatic cost and size advantages—for niche markets
News source: Small Times, written by Paula Doe

A host of start-ups say that radical new approaches to the basic nanoscale process of running fuel through membrane—to separate out hydrogen electrons and generate electricity—look likely to finally, and significantly, reduce size and costs over the next several years.

Some of the initial commercial portable fuel cells improve conventional methanol polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel-cell technology with nanostructured catalytic layers and MEMS-based micro reformers. Other prototypes now being tested by the military and big consumer electronics companies use designed molecules that self-assemble into membranes with target properties and engineered membranes to passively control fluid flows, or have even replaced the membranes altogether with laminar flow boundaries in microchannels.

Jump to the top

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Headline: MIT: Thermoelectric materials are 1 key to energy savings
Researchers jumpstart old field with new approach
News source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, via AAAS EurekAlert

Breathing new life into an old idea, MIT Institute Professor Mildred S. Dresselhaus and co-workers are developing innovative materials for controlling temperatures that could lead to substantial energy savings by allowing more efficient car engines, photovoltaic cells and electronic devices.

Novel thermoelectric materials have already resulted in a new consumer product: a simple, efficient way of cooling car seats in hot climates. The devices, similar to the more-familiar car seat heaters, provide comfort directly to the individual rather than cooling the entire car, saving on air conditioning and energy costs.

Dresselhaus and colleagues are now applying nanotechnology and other cutting-edge technologies to the field.

Jump to the top

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Foresight note: This demonstration of a good electrical connection between hydrogenase enzymes and carbon nanotubes might lead to replacing expensive platinum catalysts.

Headline: 'Wiring up' enzymes for producing hydrogen in fuel cells
News source: PhysOrg.com

Researchers in Colorado are reporting the first successful "wiring up" of hydrogenase enzymes. Those much-heralded proteins are envisioned as stars in a future hydrogen economy where they may serve as catalysts for hydrogen production and oxidation in fuel cells. Their report [describes] a successful electrical connection between a carbon nanotube and hydrogenase…

Nano Letters abstract

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 article "Manipulating atoms using atom chips". Update interviews Dr. Ron Folman of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on the use of the quantum properties of atoms to place atoms where you want them. Join Foresight and help steer nanotech in the directions you personally support most!

"Manipulating atoms using atom chips" in Update 58

To join:

Jump to the top

Foresight Partners

NanoManufacturing Conference & Exhibits
Sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME)
April 22 - 23, 2008
Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Looking to understand what nanotechnology means for you? Need to understand how and why nanotechnology can improve your products, process, and may even cut costs? Interested in learning about the latest applications and trends in top-down fabrication and bottom-up assembly techniques? Then this event is for you!

This conference will highlight the current, near-term, and future applications of nanotechnology and how they are transforming the way we manufacture products. Peer networking, information sharing, and technology exchange among the world's nanomanufacturing leaders will be a key feature of the event.

Jump to the top

Nanotech Research

Foresight note: This advance in spinning carbon nanotube fibers produces a material much closer in strength to perfect, individual carbon nanotubes than were the products of previous efforts.

Headline: Spinning out stronger nanotubes
News source: Chemistry World, written by Lewis Brindley

Scientists at the University of Cambridge, UK, have devised a new way to make super-strength carbon nanotube fibres. Although individual carbon nanotubes have impressive properties at the nano-scale, it has been challenging to transform the tubes into useful materials.

The new fibres can be woven into body armour or twisted into cables that rival the properties of those used today. Alan Windle, who led the project, told Chemistry World: 'We have demonstrated that perfect carbon nanotube fibres have exceptional strength and stiffness, making them an outstandingly promising material.'

Science abstract

Jump to the top

Nanotech Research

Headline: Carbon nanotubes to be replaced by MoSIx nanowires in high-tech devices says new study
Structural and physical properties of Mo6SxI9-x molecular nanowires
News source: AZoNetwork, via AAAS EurekAlert

Carbon nanotubes have long been touted as the wonder material of the future. Applications cited for carbon nanotubes range from super fast computers and ultra small electronics through to materials that are lightweight yet super strong and tougher than diamond.

Several techniques have been devised for producing carbon nanotubes, but getting these materials and devices from the laboratory to the marketplace is obstructed by one inherent problem. Scaling up laboratory production techniques to produce commercial quantities of high quality, high purity carbon nanotubes is a difficult process. But this is set to change with another type of recently discovered nanotube currently under investigation.

This promising new material is molybdenum-sulfur-iodine nanowires. Researchers from Jozef Stefan Institute have investigated the atomic and electronic structure of molybdenum-sulfur-iodine molecular nanowires as well as their basic transport, optical and mechanical properties.

AZoJono open access article

Jump to the top

Nanotech News

Headline: Nanotech's health, environment impacts worry scientists
News source: University of Wisconsin-Madison, via AAAS EurekAlert

The unknown human health and environmental impacts of nanotechnology are a bigger worry for scientists than for the public…

The new report was based on a national telephone survey of American households and a sampling of 363 leading U.S. nanotechnology scientists and engineers. It reveals that those with the most insight into a technology with enormous potential — and that is already emerging in hundreds of products — are unsure what health and environmental problems might be posed by the technology.

"Scientists aren't saying there are problems," says the study's lead author Dietram Scheufele, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of life sciences communication and journalism. "They're saying, 'we don't know. The research hasn't been done.'"

The new findings are in stark contrast to controversies sparked by the advent of technologies of the past such as nuclear power and genetically modified foods, which scientists perceived as having lower risks than did the public.

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.

Even near-term nanotechnology can offer unanticipated solutions to a surprising variety of life's problems—large and small.

— Jim

Headline: Gold particles get to work on sensitive teeth
News source: nanotechweb.org, written by James Tyrrell (requires free registration)

Brushing gold nanoparticles over the surface of a tooth and then zapping the area with a laser could provide a long-lasting treatment for sensitive teeth, according to the work of scientists in Taiwan. …the method may be ready for testing on living teeth in as little as 12–24 months.

"We believe that our technique is a promising route to providing a long-term cure for dentine hypersensitivity," C R Wang ... told nanotechweb.org. "Our current focus is to improve the metal-to-ceramic binding and to increase the fill-in depth of the gold nanoparticles."

Nanotechnology abstract

Jump to the top

Nanodot: A sample from Foresight's blog

Headline: Second Life gets Nanotechnology Island

On October 8, some of us were in the air on our way to the Productive Nanosystems Conference (pdf). Others — specifically, UgoTrade.com — were blogging about the new Nanotechnology Island in Second Life…

Jump to the top

Headline: And the winner for oddest nanotechnology ad goes to…

As we move into a long holiday weekend here in the U.S., it's time to indulge in a lighter moment in nanotech.

Being suspicious of a sponsored link by Target on a "nanotechnology" search results page, I clicked on it to find this page of four highlighted products…

Jump to the top

Headline: $40K Nanotechnology Challenge Grant: Watch our progress

Foresight Nanotech Institute has received a large Challenge Grant, but to fulfill the challenge we need to raise $40K in matching gifts. You can watch our progress on the pie chart as we work toward our goal…

—Nanodot posts by Christine Peterson

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!