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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: January 30, 2008

Top Nano News of the Week

Headline: From here to there: Nanotechnology roadmap
News source: Foresight Nanotech Institute and Battelle unveil a technology roadmap for productive nanosystems

The potential for nanotechnology to "build molecule-by-molecule" has been greatly discussed with one question invariably being asked: How do we get from here to there?

Foresight Nanotech Institute, a leading nanotechnology think tank and public interest organization, and Battelle, a leading global research and development organization, have officially unveiled "Productive Nanosystems: A Technology Roadmap." Productive nanosystems are molecular-scale systems that make other useful materials and devices that are nanostructured.

To download Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems files:

In this issue:

Toward Productive Nanosystems: Scientists make 'perfect' nanowires
Toward Productive Nanosystems: DNA-based artificial nose
Health: Nanomaterials to localize and control drug delivery
Health: Nanoparticles harvest tumor biomarkers
Clean energy: Nanowires hold promise for more affordable solar cells
Information technology: Graphene breaks speed record
Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology - Join Foresight
Conference – NanoManufacturing Conference & Exhibits
Research: Scientists solve problem of quantum dot 'blinking'
Research: Engineering synthetic life for nanotechnology?
Research: Debut of TEAM 0.5, the world's best microscope
Editor's Pick: New technique allows fast printing of microscopic electronics
Nanodot: Nanotechnology to help with hay fever
Nanodot: Nanotechnology: a way of understanding ourselves
Nanodot: Korea sets ambitious nanotechnology goals for 2020
Nanodot: Deloitte predicts environmental benefits from nanotechnology
Nanodot: Steering nanotechnology to beneficial uses
Foresight Lectures
Contact Foresight

Toward Productive Nanosystems

Headline: Scientists make 'perfect' nanowires
News source: PhysOrg.com, written by Laura Mgrdichian

Scientists have created silicon nanowires that are perfect—at least atomically. Down at the single-atom level, the identical wires have no bumps, bends, or other imperfections. They are perfectly crystalline, even more so than bulk silicon. The full array of nanowires is also highly parallel, and each wire is an excellent metallic conductor.

This research may be an important step forward for nanotechnology. Nanowires play a key role in developing nanoelectronics applications, and silicon nanowires are particularly important because of the central function that silicon plays in the semiconductor industry and current technologies. Some scientists believe that silicon nanowires will overtake carbon nanotubes in popularity, and they are being eyed for a variety of electronics applications and even quantum computing.

Therefore, the ability to create straight, identical, parallel, and atomically smooth nanowires could lead to new developments in nanoelectronics.

Nano Letters abstract

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Foresight note: The capability to rapidly produce short DNA sequences that bind specific molecules might also prove very useful in DNA-based paths toward atomically precise manufacturing.

Headline: DNA-based artificial nose
Single-stranded DNA can be used to identify explosives and other airborne compounds.
News source: Technology Review, written by Brendan Borrell

Scientists have found a way to quickly identify which DNA sequences are ideal for detecting a particular odor and turn dried DNA into odor detectors. While many researchers are working on an electronic nose to detect toxins and explosives, this new platform could be used to create a wide array of sensors using existing high-throughput molecular-biology equipment.

PLoS Biology open access paper
PLoS Biology synopsis

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Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Scientists use nanomaterials to localize and control drug delivery
System is invisible to the immune system, preventing response
News source: University of California - Los Angeles, via AAAS EurekAlert

Using nanotechnology, scientists from UCLA and Northwestern University have developed a localized and controlled drug delivery method that is invisible to the immune system, a discovery that could provide newer and more effective treatments for cancer and other diseases.

…The researchers used nanoscale polymer films, about four nanometers per layer, to build a sort of matrix or platform to hold and slowly release an anti-inflammatory drug. The films are orders of magnitude thinner than conventional drug deliver coatings, said Genhong Cheng, a researcher at UCLA's Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center and one of the study's authors…

"Using this system, drugs could be released slowly and under control for weeks or longer," said Cheng, a professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics. "A drug that is given orally or through the bloodstream travels throughout the system and dissipates from the body much more quickly. Using a more localized and controlled approach could limit side effects, particularly with chemotherapy drugs."

ACS Nano abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Nanoparticles harvest tumor biomarkers
News source: National Cancer Institute's Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

The long and challenging effort to find blood-borne markers for cancer and other diseases may soon enter a new realm of success using a new nanoparticle that preferentially and rapidly removes small proteins and other molecules from blood while simultaneously protecting them from degradation…

Extensive tests with these nanoparticles demonstrated that protein capture is both efficient and rapid.

Nano Letters abstract

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Headline: Nanowires hold promise for more affordable solar cells
News source: McMaster University, via AAAS EurekAlert

Millions of nearly invisible wires may hold the answer to making solar cells a more affordable source of alternative energy.

The Department of Engineering Physics at McMaster University, Cleanfield Energy and the Ontario Centres of Excellence (OCE) have formed a partnership to pursue the commercialization of nanowire technology in the production of solar cells.

The particular type of nanowire technology developed at McMaster is able to trap more sunlight and convert it to electricity more efficiently than traditional solar cells.

"One of the biggest obstacles to widespread use of solar cells as a clean source of energy is cost," said Ray LaPierre, assistant professor of engineering physics at McMaster University and project leader for the collaboration. "Our work with nanowire fabrication at this stage shows the potential for greater energy efficiency with less costly materials."

Prof. R. R. LaPierre Research group Web site

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: Graphene breaks speed record
News source: nanotechweb.org, written by Belle Dumé (requires free registration)

An international team of physicists has discovered that electrons move much more easily through graphene than any other known material. Their findings strengthen the belief of some researchers that graphene — which is a 2D sheet of carbon just one atom thick and a semiconductor — might be the best material for making electronic devices of the future.

Physical Review Letters abstract

arXiv.org e-print

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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

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 Research

Headline: Scientists solve problem of quantum dot 'blinking'
News source: PhysOrg.com

Quantum dots—tiny, intense, tunable sources of colorful light—are illuminating new opportunities in biomedical research, cryptography and other fields. But these semiconductor nanocrystals also have a secret problem, a kind of nervous tic. They mysteriously tend to "blink" on and off like Christmas tree lights, which can reduce their usefulness.

Scientists at JILA have found one possible way to solve the blinking problem and have induced quantum dots to emit photons (the smallest particles of light) faster and more consistently. The advance could make quantum dots more sensitive as fluorescent tags in biomedical tests and single-molecule studies and steadier sources of single photons for "unbreakable" quantum encryption.

Nano Letters abstract

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Foresight note: These two reports taken together point toward the possible construction of synthetic life forms programmed to manufacture novel structures.

Headline: In diatom, scientists find genes that may level engineering hurdle
News source: University of Wisconsin-Madison, via AAAS EurekAlert

Denizens of oceans, lakes and even wet soil, diatoms are unicellular algae that encase themselves in intricately patterned, glass-like shells. Curiously, these tiny phytoplankton could be harboring the next big breakthrough in computer chips.

Diatoms build their hard cell walls by laying down submicron-sized lines of silica, a compound related to the key material of the semiconductor industry—silicon. "If we can genetically control that process, we would have a whole new way of performing the nanofabrication used to make computer chips," says Michael Sussman, a University of Wisconsin-Madison biochemistry professor and director of the UW-Madison's Biotechnology Center.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences abstract

Headline: Longest piece of synthetic DNA yet
Scientists have created an entire bacterial genome with off-the-shelf chemicals
News source: Scientific American, written by Coco Ballantyne

Scientists today announced that they have crafted a bacterial genome from scratch, moving one step closer to creating entirely synthetic life forms—living cells designed and built by humans to carry out a diverse set of tasks ranging from manufacturing biofuels to sequestering carbon dioxide.

Alternative source: Scientists take new step toward man-made life
The New York Times, written by Andrew Pollack

Science abstract

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Headline: Debut of TEAM 0.5, the world's best microscope
News source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

TEAM 0.5, the world's most powerful transmission electron microscope — capable of producing images with half-angstrom resolution (half a ten-billionth of a meter), less than the diameter of a single hydrogen atom — has been installed at the Department of Energy's National Center for Electron Microscopy (NCEM) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

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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.

Even though this is not an atomically precise technology, the capability to easily and quickly write 100-nm lines of various substances over large areas might turn out to be useful in unexpected ways.

— Jim

Headline: New technique allows fast printing of microscopic electronics
News source: Princeton University, Engineering School, via AAAS EurekAlert

A new technique for printing extraordinarily thin lines quickly over wide areas could lead to larger, less expensive and more versatile electronic displays as well new medical devices, sensors and other technologies.

Solving a fundamental and long-standing quandary, chemical engineers at Princeton developed a method for shooting stable jets of electrically charged liquids from a wide nozzle. The technique, which produced lines just 100 nanometers wide (about one ten-thousandth of a millimeter), offers at least 10 times better resolution than ink-jet printing and far more speed and ease than conventional nanotechnology.

Physical Review Letters abstract

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Nanodot: A sample from Foresight's blog

Headline: Nanotechnology to help with hay fever

Here at Nanodot and Foresight we tend to focus on more advanced nanotechnology such as devices and systems, but living in the pollen-filled San Francisco Bay Area — where a high percentage of residents have trouble with allergies — we would also appreciate some near-term help with that problem. From Nanowerk on an advance in nanotech from Japan…

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Headline: Nanotechnology: a way of understanding ourselves

We've previously pointed out the usefulness of looking at future-oriented fiction as a way of stimulating thinking about nanotechnology. Now Annalee Newitz's io9 site brings an interview of Kathleen Ann Goonan, who "was writing about nanotech before most people even know it existed." An excerpt…

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Headline: Korea sets ambitious nanotechnology goals for 2020

Korea.net informs us of challenging nanotechnology goals for that country…

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Headline: Deloitte predicts environmental benefits from nanotechnology

Nanowerk brings news that the annual technology predictions (PDF) are out from Deloitte, and nanotechnology is looking green to them…

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Headline: Steering nanotechnology to beneficial uses

Sonia Arrison over at TechNewsWorld takes on the issues of genetic engineering, nanotechnology, and steering innovation toward responsible uses…

—Nanodot posts by Christine Peterson

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Foresight Lectures

February 13, 2008
Stanford Law, Science and Technology Colloquium
Palo Alto, California
Christine Peterson will speak to LLM students on legal, ethical and public policy issues in nanotechnology.

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Contact Foresight

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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 editor@foresight.org

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