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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: January 2, 2008

Top Nano News of the Week

Foresight note: This revolutionary ultrafast electron microscope enables researchers to simultaneously observe the structure and movements of molecular systems. Uses could range from unraveling how complicated systems of biomolecules function inside cells to characterizing molecular complexes for use in productive nanosytems.

Headline: In the niche of time
Unique ultrafast electron imaging tools use time to help elucidate function
News source: Chemical & Engineering News, written by Rachel Petkewich

Imagine being able to see every bit of a chemical reaction as it happens. To observe reactants form fleeting intermediates that seamlessly transform into products. Or to watch a movie of a protein as it folds in a nanosecond. Not a representation, not a model or simulation, but actual pictures showing what molecules, cells, and proteins look like and how they move.

With the ultrafast electron microscope, Caltech researchers gathered frames to create this movie of a channel that opens and closes in crystals of CuTCNQ as electron pulses are turned on and off... [includes movie]

…The results may be valuable for developing molecular nanoswitches, the researchers suggest.

In this issue:

Toward Productive Nanosystems: Artificial virus shells as practical nano containers
Health: Capped carbon nanotubes as chemical couriers
Health: Test-launching multi-stage drug delivery system
Clean energy: Solar cells of the future
Clean energy: Nanowire battery holds 10 times the charge of existing ones
Clean energy: Carbon electrodes could slash cost of solar panels
Information technology: Advances pave way for powerful carbon-based electronics
Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology - Join Foresight
Conference – NanoManufacturing Conference & Exhibits
News: China and Israel build electric cars with nanotechnology batteries
Editor's Pick: New property found in ancient mineral lodestone
Nanodot: BlogTalkRadio: Pearl Chin on nanotechnology
Nanodot: Mapping Israeli nanotechnology
Nanodot: Foresight nanotechnology theme goes to law school
Nanodot: Molecular nanosystems: Where nanotechnology wants to go
Nanodot: Saudi Arabian nanotechnology: it's different
Nanodot: Kinder, gentler molecular machine for nanotechnology
Nanodot: Wall Street considers nanotechnology: audio available
Contact Foresight

Toward Productive Nanosystems

Foresight note: The design strategy simulated in this work shows how atomically precise structures can be made to assemble and disassemble under controlled conditions to create containers larger than fullerenes but smaller than viral capsids. These workers demonstrate that "self-assembling capsids formed from coded subunits can serve as addressable nanocontainers or custom-made structural elements."

Headline: Artificial virus shells as practical nano containers
News source: Nanowerk Spotlight, written by Michael Berger

Many viruses' capsids use icosahedral symmetry to form particles ranging from 20 to 200 nanometers in size. Researchers have now begun to copy Nature's icosahedral-symmetry design principles for molecular containers, which could solve the problem of designing and synthesizing stable molecular containers having very large interior.

"The idea of forming nonprotein molecular containers by total synthesis and assembly of small molecules has a rich history and is an active area of research" Dr. Ehud Keinan explains to Nanowerk. "The field of molecular recognition is rapidly moving not only toward biomedical applications but also toward nanotechnology.

…Together with his team he developed a design that is based on self-assembly of synthetic pentagonal tiles to produce containers that have exterior diameters of [2.5–5.0 nm]…

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences open access article

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Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Capped carbon nanotubes as chemical couriers
News source: Chemical Technology, written by Jon Silversides

US scientists have reported a mild new method for trapping liquids and nanoparticles inside carbon nanotubes.

Alexander Yarin's team at the University of Illinois at Chicago, US, have developed a room-temperature method to fill carbon nanotubes with liquids.

The filling of carbon nanotubes with aqueous solutions can have biomedical uses, as Yarin explained, 'Nanotubes with diameters of the order of 100 nm are possible drug carriers, which can deliver biological payloads to a certain location, such as a tumour.'

Journal of Materials Chemistry abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Nanotechnology pioneer Ferrari test-launching multi-stage drug delivery system
News source: Nanowerk News

Nanomedicine pioneer Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., and colleagues at The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston have developed a new way to get intravenous agents for cancer and other diseases to the parts of the body where they're needed most and to reduce the amount that goes to other areas where unintended injury can occur.

UT-Houston's Mauro Ferrari, Ph.D., has begun preclinical trials on a new nanoscale drug delivery system that could increase efficacy and reduce toxicity.

Their innovative nanoscale drug delivery system uses a multi-stage approach to guide nanocarriers that are about 100 times smaller than a strand of hair through the blood system and to the site of diseased cells where they release a payload of diagnostic agents or medications, or both.

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Headline: Solar cells of the future
News source: University of Copenhagen, via AAAS EurekAlert

A new material, nano flakes, may revolutionise the transformation of solar energy to electricity. If so, even ordinary households can benefit from solar electricity and save money in the future.

If researcher Martin Aagesen's future solar cells meet the expectations, both your economy and the environment will benefit from the research…

We believe that the nano flakes have the potential to convert up to 30 per cent of the solar energy into electricity and that is twice the amount that we convert today, says Martin Aagesen…

Nature Nanotechnology abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Foresight note: The professor cited below won the 2002 Foresight Distinguished Student Award.

Headline: Stanford's nanowire battery holds 10 times the charge of existing ones
News source: Stanford University, via AAAS EurekAlert

Stanford researchers have found a way to use silicon nanowires to reinvent the rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that power laptops, iPods, video cameras, cell phones, and countless other devices…

"It's not a small improvement," [Yi Cui, assistant professor of materials science and engineering] said. "It's a revolutionary development." …

The greatly expanded storage capacity could make Li-ion batteries attractive to electric car manufacturers. Cui suggested that they could also be used in homes or offices to store electricity generated by rooftop solar panels.

Nature Nanotechnology abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Headline: Carbon electrodes could slash cost of solar panels
News source: NewScientist.com news service, written by Tom Simonite

Transparent electrodes created from atom-thick carbon sheets could make solar cells and LCDs without depleting precious mineral resources, say researchers in Germany.

Solar cells, LCDs, and some other devices, must have transparent electrodes in parts of their designs to let light in or out. These electrodes are usually made from indium tin oxide (ITO) but experts calculate that there is only 10 years' worth of indium left on the planet, with LCD panels consuming the majority of existing stocks.

Nano Letters abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: Move over, silicon: Advances pave way for powerful carbon-based electronics
Practical technique shows promise of carbon material called graphene
News source: Princeton University, via AAAS EurekAlert

Bypassing decades-old conventions in making computer chips, Princeton engineers developed a novel way to replace silicon with carbon on large surfaces, clearing the way for new generations of faster, more powerful cell phones, computers and other electronics.

The electronics industry has pushed the capabilities of silicon — the material at the heart of all computer chips — to its limit, and one intriguing replacement has been carbon, said Stephen Chou, professor of electrical engineering. A material called graphene — a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a honeycomb lattice — could allow electronics to process information and produce radio transmissions 10 times better than silicon-based devices.

Nano Letters abstract

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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 review of the book Military Nanotechnology. Jürgen Altmann's book Military Nanotechnology: Potential applications and preventive arms control assesses the implications of both near-term nanotechnology and advanced nanotechnology for military systems and for arms control. Join Foresight and help steer nanotech in the directions you personally support most!

Book Review: Military Nanotechnology in Update 58

To join:

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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.

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Nanotech News

Headline: China and Israel build electric cars with nanotechnology batteries
News source: Nanowerk News

This battery is a technological marvel, developed in recent years through nanotechnology, with properties that make it highly suitable for vehicle motion. It is much more stable than standard lithium-ion batteries, it has a high level of energy compression, it does not cause excess harm to the environment, and it can be charged, theoretically, more than 3,000 times. That is more than enough for the typical 10-year period of car use. Most important of all, it is also supposed to be far cheaper to produce than regular lithium batteries because its electrodes are made from commonly available and cheap materials rather than exotic minerals. Another advantage is that it can be charged very quickly.

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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.

The quote below from the lead researcher expresses why this result is cool better than anything I could add.

— Jim

Headline: New property found in ancient mineral lodestone
Latest nanofabrication methods yield new clues about well-studied mineral
News source: Rice University, via AAAS EurekAlert

Using the latest methods for nanofabrication, a team led by Rice University physicists has discovered a surprising new electronic property in one of the earliest-known and most-studied magnetic minerals on Earth — lodestone, also known as magnetite…

"It's fascinating that we can still find surprises in a material like magnetite that has been studied for thousands of years," said lead researcher Doug Natelson … "This kind of finding is really a testament to what's possible now that we can fabricate electronic devices to study materials at the nanoscale."

Nature Materials abstract

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Nanodot: A sample from Foresight's blog

Headline: BlogTalkRadio: Pearl Chin on nanotechnology

Foresight president Dr. Pearl Chin was interviewed on nanotechnology by Stephen Gordon and PJ Manney on Dec. 16, and the show can now be downloaded for your listening edification…

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Headline: Mapping Israeli nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is booming in Israel, as we learn from Azonano…

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Headline: Foresight nanotechnology theme goes to law school

After 20 years of delivering Foresight's message, we see it popping up everywhere, most recently in law school…

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Headline: Molecular nanosystems: Where nanotechnology wants to go

Enough with the nanoparticles already — we want molecular nanosystems. Los Angeles will be the place to be this January when two powerhouse academic institutions come together to push forward toward this goal. Here's the scoop, in full, as received by email…

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Headline: Saudi Arabian nanotechnology: it's different

Nanotechnology institutes are usually approved by a government research agency, university, or CEO, and funded by that agency, university, or corporation. Not so in Saudi Arabia…

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Headline: Kinder, gentler molecular machine for nanotechnology

From Physorg.com, a description of some theoretical nanotechnology work that could lead to more efficient molecular machines…

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Headline: Wall Street considers nanotechnology: audio available

A recent article in the Small Business (sic) section of The New York Times reports that nanomaterials-based firms are starting to head toward public offerings…

—Nanodot posts by Christine Peterson

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Contact Foresight

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