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Clever uses of bionanotech in medicine

Posted by RobertBradbury on April 20th, 2005

Betterhmans is reporting on progress of scientists at USC in combining several nanoscale technologies (transferrin based transport vehicles with small interfering RNA segments (siRNAs)) to effectively combat cancer, in this case Ewing's sarcoma, a type of cancer which impacts children. Interfering RNAs are small RNA strands which preferentially bind to complementary messenger RNA (mRNA). This activates cellular processes, presumably evolved to defend against double stranded RNA viruses, that destroy the double stranded RNA effectively reducing or eliminating the activity of the protein normally produced by the specific mRNA targeted by the siRNA.

The article with links to background information is here. There is significant potential for using this type of therapy to combat other types of cancer where the overexpression of a specific gene or protein is the primary cause of the disease.

While this is not diamondoid molecular nanotechnology it it can legitimately be considered molecular nanotechnology because it is nanoscale, it is based on precision activity at the nanoscale level and takes advantage of molecular processes and machinery normally found in cells.

Porphyrin nanotubes that produce hydrogen

Posted by RobertBradbury on April 15th, 2005

Sandia is reporting that porphyrin nanotubes coated with gold on the inside and platinum on the outside may be able to use sunlight to split water and produce hydrogen. The tubes are actual nanoscale devices having diameters from 50-70nm and tube walls 20nm thick. Scientists indicated that the tubes may be able to use the ultraviolet part of the solar spectrum as well as the visible which would likely make them more efficient than solar cells unable to do this.

This fits well with recent articles discussing energy production as one key application of nanotechnology.

Yet another nanotech journal: Small from Wiley

Posted by Christine Peterson on April 14th, 2005

Check out the new journal Small from Wiley Interscience, publisher of the book Nanosystems. Sample article from the first issue: "Powering a Supramolecular Machine with a Photoactive Molecular Triad" and from issue 3: "DNA Nanodevices". Most articles are on nanostructures which are not atomically precise, such as from issue 5: "Halloysite Nanotubes as Biomimetic Nanoreactors". (OK, maybe that last title is a bit jargony…) A problem: many articles have no free abstract.

Bent Nanotubes

Posted by RobertBradbury on April 12th, 2005

In some rather stunning work, Joseph AuBuchon, a graduate student in Sungho Jin's group at UCSD, has demonstrated how to make *bent* nanotubes. PhysOrg has a report here. (Check out the pictures!) They also claim to be able to make T and Y shapes out of nanotubes.

This could be a potential start towards methods that might be used to construct subcomponents for a real molecular assembler. That would allow one to bypass the chicken and egg problem we now face.

New Nanomaterial Catches Sun Invisible Rays

Posted by RobertBradbury on April 11th, 2005

Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers at the University of Toronto (U of T) have designed an infrared-sensitive material made of nanocrystals so small they were able to tune them to catch the Sun's invisible rays. In "Nanotechnologists' new plastic can see in the dark," you'll discover that it's the first time that a light-sensitive material works in the invisible light spectrum. This opens the way to a broad range of applications, from clothing to digital cameras that work in the dark. But the real breakthrough is that it will permit to catch five more times energy from the Sun, up to 30 percent from the 6 percent achieved today by the best plastic solar cells. Hats off to these researchers… This overview contains more details, comments and references."

DNA based Cellular Automata

Posted by RobertBradbury on April 10th, 2005

Erik Winfree's group at CALTECH, led by Paul Rothemund, is reporting in PLOS that they have successfully implemented DNA based cellular automata. It is uses two-dimensional self-assembly of DNA tiles to produce Sierpinski triangles. Technology Research News has a summary article and Slashdot may have additional discussion.

The World’s Fastest Nano-Optical Shutter

Posted by RobertBradbury on April 9th, 2005

Roland Piquepaille writes " Physicists from several U.S. labs have clocked the transition of vanadium dioxide nanoparticles from a transparent to a reflective, mirror-like state, at less than 100 femtoseconds (a tenth of a trillionth of a second). According to this Vanderbilt University report, this effect has a size limit: "it does not occur in particles that are smaller than about 20 atoms across (10 nanometers)." This opens the door — if I can say so — to windows that are transparent at low temperatures and block out sunlight when the temperature rises. But other applications are possible, such as nanosensors which could measure the temperature at different locations within human cells, or "ultrafast" optical switches which could be used in communications and optical computing. Read this overview for more details, references and a surprising nanoscale image of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza."

Nano-Probes Allow Mapping Inside of Cell Nuclei

Posted by RobertBradbury on April 9th, 2005

Scientists at LBL and LLNL are reporting that using a clever method of attaching quantum dots to the protein used by the SV40 virus to target it to the cell nucleus they can get quantum dots inside the nucleus. If this were combined with Sangamo Biosciences method of using its engineered zinc fingers to target specific chromosome locations one could use quantum dots to provide information about *where* those chromosomes are within the nucleus as well as perhaps whether or not the genes are active.

This could potentially be much faster than current chemical methods for determining cellular gene activity. Or how living cells respond to different signals in succession (something which is more difficult to do with chemical methods).

Real Molecular Nanotechnology

Posted by RobertBradbury on April 8th, 2005

For those of you who have been waiting for "real" molecular nanotechnology to arrive I would suggest that you might want to visit the highlights documenting the work of the Zettl Research Group at UCB. It has movies associated with their recent papers on a Nanoelectromechanical relaxation oscillator, a Nanoscale mass conveyor and a Synthetic Rotational Nanomotor.

I don't know how they constructed these devices but my impression is — this group is *good*!

European Nanotechnology Trade Association

Posted by RobertBradbury on April 1st, 2005

The following press release points out the development of the European Nanotechnology Trade Association for purpose of "representing the industry's interests in Europe".

Now of course one might ask at this point in time "What industry?". But one must understand ramp-up strategies. And there must be organizations that support that process. So support for the groups that support the development of the companies that will work in the "industry" is justified.

Liquid metal?

Posted by RobertBradbury on April 1st, 2005

New Scientist is reporting on the development of "liquid metals". Particularly Liquidmetal is pushing forward with these. These are almost "anti-nanotechnology" as they are not based on a high covalent bond density and do not depend on precise atomic structures. This raises significant questions from materials science perspectives. The concept of nanotechnology has been in large part built upon the concept that high covalent bond density (i.e. diamondoid) is "it". But is it "it"? Are we now a a point in chemical and materials science where there are other "its"? And do they produce significantly different visions for paths of development?

Shape-Shifting Robot Pyramid for Nanotech Swarms

Posted by RobertBradbury on March 31st, 2005

Roland Piquepaille writes "NASA is testing a shape-shifting robot called "TETwalker" for tetrahedral walker, because it looks like a flexible pyramid. It has been tested in the lab and at the McMurdo station in Antarctica to test it under conditions more like those on Mars. Now, it is on the way to be — really — miniaturized by using micro- and nano-electro-mechanical systems. These robots will eventually join together to form "autonomous nanotechnology swarms" (ANTS). When it's done, in about thirty years, these nanotech swarms will "alter their shape to flow over rocky terrain or to create useful structures like communications antennae and solar sails." So in 2034, nanotechnology will land on Mars. Read more for other details and references about the TETwalker and the ANTS project."

Molecular Manufacturing: Step by Step

Posted by RobertBradbury on March 31st, 2005

Mike Treder writes

Center for Responsible Nanotechnology
Chris Phoenix, Director of Research 1-305-387-5583)
Mike Treder, Executive Director (1-718-398-7272)

March 31, 2005

Molecular Manufacturing: Step by Step

Advanced nanotechnology — molecular manufacturing — will bring benefits and risks, both on an unprecedented scale. A new paper published by the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology suggests that development of molecular manufacturing can be an incremental process from today's capabilities, and may not be as distant as many believe.

"Molecular manufacturing has always had great promise, but as a single challenge, it has seemed intimidating. Breaking the problem down into stages shows that it can be achieved step by step," says Chris Phoenix, CRN?s Director of Research and author of the paper, "Developing Molecular Manufacturing."

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Posted by RobertBradbury on March 30th, 2005

Keven Kelleher from has a good piece here discussing nanohype. Tim Harper had an interesting comment regarding whether people "know the difference between a macrophage and a macromolecule?" Neither of these is strictly about nanotechnology but his question and the answers it might prompt would be illuminating.

Readers might offer better questions to determine "Is or is not someone nanoliterate?"

Nano-Probes Stay Inside a Cell’s Nucleus for Days

Posted by RobertBradbury on March 29th, 2005

Roland Piquepaille writes "Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBL) have developed fluorescent and stable nano-probes which can stay inside a cell's nucleus for hours or even days. According to this LBL news release, this will help biologists to better understand nuclear processes that evolve slowly, such as DNA replication, genomic alterations, and cell cycle control. This research was partially based on previous investigations about quantum dots. Now, the researchers want to tailor their quantum dots, which emit different colors depending on their sizes, to check specific chemical reactions inside nuclei, such as how proteins help repair DNA after irradiation. Read more for other details and references and to see how a nano-sized probe is entering a cell's nucleus."

Nanotechnology projections

Posted by RobertBradbury on March 28th, 2005

The Prime Minister's council working party predicts (registration required) that in 10 years, nanotechnology could have as much impact as the discovery of electricity or the development of the computer microchip.

AZoNano Online Journal

Posted by RobertBradbury on March 18th, 2005

The AZoNano Online Journal of Nanotechnology

The Online Journal of Nanotechnology is based on a free access publishing model, coupled with what is believed to be a unique development in the field of scientific publishing — the distribution of journal revenue between the authors, peer reviewers and site operators.

The revenue received from the journal related advertising and sponsorship will be distributed according to the following general criteria: – Authors receive a revenue share of 50%, – Peer reviewers receive a revenue share of 20%, – The site administrators receive a revenue share of 30%, – This revenue share will apply throughout the online published life of the individual article or paper.

The Online Journal of Nanotechnology will publish high quality articles and papers on all aspects of nanotechnology and related scientific, social and ethical issues. All the contributions will be reviewed by a world class panel of founding editors who are experts in a wide spectrum of nanotechnology science.

Journal papers will benefit from being hosted on the website and database platform as they will take advantage of existing search tools and be available to a monthly audience of over 130,000 visitor sessions. The unique AZoNano search tools also make it very easy for site visitors to locate nanotech information that relates directly to their research areas, applications and industrial sectors.

Nanopolicy journal available

Posted by RobertBradbury on March 18th, 2005

The first issue of the News From the Bottom is available.

Open source self-replication?

Posted by RobertBradbury on March 18th, 2005

It would appear that Adrian Bower, a lecturer at the University of Bath, is promoting an open source project for a "Replicating Rapid-Prototyper" that can reproduce not only itself but other macroscale objects.

More on self-replication…

Free Nanotech Seminar

Posted by RobertBradbury on March 16th, 2005


Join HORIBA Jobin Yvon for a free seminar on nanotechnology applications in 10 cities across the United States. Explore how Ellipsometry, Fluorescence, Raman and Glow Discharge Spectroscopy are being used to develop and understand the properties of smart surfaces, nanotubes, nanofilms, nanocolloidal metallic films, quantum dots and self-assembled monolayers. Applications below will be presented in detail."

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