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“Nanorobotics” book chapter from Northeastern

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 17th, 2005

A book chapter on Nanorobotics, focusing on the molecular level, is available in pdf format: "If all these different components were assembled together they can form nanorobots and nano devices with multiple degrees of freedom, with ability to apply forces and manipulate objects in the nanoscale world, transfer information from the nano- to the macroscale world and even travel in a nanoscale environment…Active control of nanorobots has to be further refined. Hybrid control mechanisms, where in, a molecular computer and external (navigational) control system work in sync to produce the precise results seems very promising." Here's the research group, and the chapter is from The Biomedical Engineering Handbook, 3rd Edition, CRC Press, 2004.

Two European nanofilms: download now or order free DVD

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 17th, 2005

Two award-winning nanotech films from Europe are available for downloading, or you can order free DVDs. The first, "Nanotechnology", is clearly aimed at kids, while the second, "Nano: the next dimension", is for adults and includes Nobel winning chemist Jean-Marie Lehn. Your reviews welcome in the comments.

Silicon Lasers?

Posted by RobertBradbury on February 17th, 2005

It is being reported in multiple sources that Intel has managed to develop "silicon lasers". The buzz is in a report in Nature here and is followed up in the NY Times (registration required) here as well as /. here.

It will be interesting to see how the optical methods play out against Sun's proximity communication.

For those readers who do not actively follow the technologies its about the speed and reliability of the interface between separate processing units (similar to communication between neurons in the brain), CPUs are probably way over the processing capacity of individual neurons (one could of course debate this…), but they are nowhere close to the density neurons achieve and the minimal communication delays between neurons. Laser and/or proximity based communication methods would seem to narrow that gap.

‘Exploring Nanotechnology’ encyclopedia/show

Posted by RobertBradbury on February 17th, 2005

Nanopolis writes "Nanopolis invites instrument manufacturers, nanomaterials users and IP lawyers to participate in the upcoming "Exploring Nanotechnology" encyclopedia & Virtual Show, the first and only multimedia animated space of nanotechnology science and industry.


Artificial molecular-level machine research at Rice

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 16th, 2005

Yinghao Wu (a.k.a. Matthias) from Shanghai, now a grad student in applied physics at Rice who works with rising star Prof. Jianpeng Ma, has posted his slides on Artificial Molecular-Level Machines with special emphasis on rotaxanes and catenanes. His goal is to design an artificial molecular machine for cargo transportation along a molecular track. If you prefer, you can view them as html at Google.

Submit nanotech graphics to 2005 Visualization Challenge

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 16th, 2005

May 31 is the deadline for international entries in the 2005 annual Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge, sponsored by AAAS and the U.S. National Science Foundation. Awards for outstanding examples of the use of visual media to promote understanding of research results and scientific phenomena will be given in five categories: photography, illustration, informational graphics, interactive media, and noninteractive media.

Building Predictable Quantum Dots

Posted by RobertBradbury on February 14th, 2005

Roland Piquepaille writes "Many teams of nanoscientists around the world are using 'quantum dots.' But even if they're able to use them, not a single team has been able to consistently control their quantum mechanical states — or their properties — at the nanoscale. Now, a team from Ohio University claims it found a flaw in quantum dot construction and proposes a solution. And guess what? As it happens often in research, this new finding is based on a very simple fact: an interference between two physical phenomena. Read more for other details, references and a picture showing a quantum dot bombarded with laser light."

Optical microscope may not be dead yet…

Posted by RobertBradbury on February 14th, 2005

Scientists from NIST (noted by SpaceDaily) are reporting that using some clever optical trickery such as a "structured illumination field" and a heap of computer processing to reconstruct what the light is scattering off of they can use visible (violet) light to image features as small as 40nm — well within the nanoscale realm.

Speculation: If they push this a little (using UV wavelengths) they may be able to get down into the 20nm realm. That scale is sufficient to see if your nanorobot subassemblies self-assembled properly…

Nanotubes are carbon crystals!

Posted by RobertBradbury on February 14th, 2005

Spacedaily is reporting that a multinational team with several members from the Georgia Institute of Technology has discovered how carbon nanotubes form.

It turns out that nanotubes are carbon *crystals* that form within supercooled *liquid* carbon drops. The process is similar to experiments that many children do when growing rock candy or crystals from other easily manipulated compounds (copper sulfate, etc.). The only problem is that one has to work at temperatures of 5000 deg. C in order to get the liquid carbon drops…

The world’s fastest oscillating mechanical device

Posted by RobertBradbury on February 13th, 2005

Roland Piquepaille writes "It's an antenna, it's a MEMS device, and it's a macroscopic quantum system. This antenna, made of 50 billion atoms, is so far the largest structure to display quantum mechanical movements. It's also the fastest device of its kind in the world, oscillating about 1.5 billion times per second. Such technology might soon be used in our cell phones. But more importantly, this device bridges classic and quantum physics. Such "mechanical/quantum mechanical hybrids could be used for quantum computing" in the future. Read more for other details, references and a picture showing different views of this world's fastest nanomechanical structure."

Ed. Note: This submission has been edited to correct misleading terms. See first comment.

Nanoethics paper: from dreams and nightmares to balance

Posted by Christine Peterson on February 13th, 2005

At the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology, Bert Gordijn presented a paper titled Nanoethics: From Utopian Dreams and Apocalyptic Nightmares towards a more Balanced View: "Hardly ever has there been such a discrepancy between opposing evaluative judgments as can be observed in the debate on nanotechnology." However, Daniel Moore is not impressed: "This is the completely wrong way to think about ethical issues."

Nano-Probes Allow to See Tumors Through Skin

Posted by RobertBradbury on February 8th, 2005

Roland Piquepaille writes "Nano-sized particles embedded with bright, light-emitting molecules have enabled researchers to visualize a tumor more than one centimeter below the skin surface using only infrared light. An interdisciplinary team from the Universities of Pennsylvania and Minnesota have imaged tumors within living rats by embedding fluorescent materials into cell-like vesicles called polymersomes, which are composed of two layers of self-assembling copolymers. According to the researchers, this imaging process has the potential to go even deeper. And "it should also be possible to use an emissive polymersome vesicle to transport therapeutics directly to a tumor, enabling us to actually see if chemotherapy is really going to its intended target." Read this overview for other details and references, including a picture showing how these nanoparticles are used to image a tumor beneath the skin of a living rat."

Who’s on First?

Posted by RobertBradbury on February 3rd, 2005

There are multiple paths leading to molecular nanotechnology. Two of the more visible are chemistry and physics.

The chemists at U. Michigan (Choi & Baker) have recently combined dendrimers and DNA to allow directed assembly of more complex structures (here). This is an extension of our previous discussion of DNA based directed assembly methods (here). A memorable quote is by Baker, "So it's like having a shelf full of Tinker Toys."

Now at the same time the physicists and electronics engineers at HP (Kuekes, Stewart & Williams with Heath) are publishing significant advances in molecular electronics with a molecular scale crossbar latch (here, here and here). This technology is based on nanoimprint lithography (and here). They hope to combine this with existing semiconductor methods at the 32nm scale by 2013. The capacity of this technology is in the vicinity of a trillion switches per cm2 which is at least 10,000 times the density of current chips. Methods that likely to plug into existing technologies have a significant advantages by providing incremental improvements in existing industries.

Rumors circulate that behind the scenes that patent(s) may be in preparation for an assembly process that could legitimately be called directed mechanosynthesis (vs. self-assembly, directed-assembly or bulk-assembly (i.e. lithography based methods))1. But one has to ask, "What is the state of parallel mechanosynthesis?" For it is the parallelization of mechanosynthesis that could play a large role in it becoming an important manufacturing process. If that cannot be achieved it would appear that self-assembly or directed assembly (even of large molecules or lacking complete precision) would appear to have advantages. The only other alternative would seem to be that mechanosynthesis has to be extremely fast. Some might say that using mechanosynthesis assemblers can assemble themselves (after all this is what happens in biology). But that fails to take into account the amount of time that nature put into the development of the self-replication process. Lacking a complete self-replicating system the only alternative is a bootstrap process.

Finally, there is biotechnology. It provides all of the benefits of molecular nanotechnology with the possible exception high density of covalent bonds per unit volume. But with respect to parallelization and production costs it is way out in front because it can easily take advantage of self-replication. It has atomic precision and assemblers of many types. The costs of production blueprints (genes) in this arena has recently been significantly reduced by technologies for DNA synthesis using microchips (Gulari, Katz, Church, Gao) (here). The only thing it is lacking is the intelligent design of enzymes. But that similar to the hurdle that the semiconductor industry had to overcome with the semi-intelligent design and layout of chips over the last 20-30 years. It is simpler in some respects (enzymes may contain thousands to tens of thousands of atoms while chips have millions to tens of millions of transistors) but more complex in others (enzymes are 3D structures while semiconductor chips are largely 2D structures.

So asking the question of "Who's on First?" is not unreasonable.


Nanotubes that Form ‘Nanocarpets’

Posted by RobertBradbury on January 29th, 2005

Roland Piquepaille writes "By mixing a salt compound with an hydrocarbon, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh have created molecules able to sense their environment. Then they used these molecules to develop self-assembling nanotubes which look like that 'nanocarpets'. These nanostructures can change colors when their environment is modified and can be trained to kill bacteria, such as E. coli. Now, they plan to develop products that would both detect and destroy biological weapons. Read more for selected excerpts about these nanostructures acting as biosensors."

Nanoscale field emission effects

Posted by RobertBradbury on January 25th, 2005

Ok, I'm at a loss. We have a report from U Wis.-Mad. regarding the ability to construct structures someplace between MEMS and MNT. The diagram is looking like things are on the micrometer scale yet the effects seem to be being produced at the nanometer scale. Is this or isn't this nanotechnology?

New Nanomedicine journal

Posted by RobertBradbury on January 23rd, 2005

Nanotechwire is pointing out the forthcoming publication of Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology, and Medicine by Elsevier who claim that it is to be the world's first peer-reviewed journal devoted to nanomedicine. Robert Freitas is supposed to have an article "What is Nanomedicine?" in the first issue. One would hope that will get the journal off in a good direction. Slowly the mainstream science community seems to be acknowledging that nanotechnology and nanomedicine are not fantasies.

NanoWorld Holding AG acquires NanoAndMore GmbH

Posted by RobertBradbury on January 17th, 2005

NanoWorld Group extends radius of action

Schaffhausen/Switzerland, January 7th, 2005 ñ As of January 1st 2005 NanoWorld Holding AG acquired 100% of the German based NanoAndMore GmbH.

This is a first step to extend the NanoWorld Groupís radius of action along the value added chain.

With this acquisition the NanoWorld Group gains access to the greatest end-customer base for Atomic Force Microscope (AFM) related supplies in Europe and benefits even more from the probes supermarket concept that was created and successfully implemented by NanoAndMore GmbH founder and CEO Peer Burshille.

At the same time the acquisition enables the NanoWorld Group to participate more directly in the promising tool business that NanoAndMore successfully started in 2004.

NanoAndMoreís sales expertise and NanoWorld Holdingís strong financial background will enable NanoAndMore to expand the scope of products, service and support.

New nanomedicine journal

Posted by RobertBradbury on January 17th, 2005

From a recent article A new journal with an emphasis on nanomedicine should be available this spring: Nanomedicine: Nanotechnology, Biology and Medicine to launch in March 2005.

The first issue will provide an essay by Robert A. Freitas, Jr., entitled "What Is Nanomedicine?"

Ed. Note. This seems like an excellent opportunity to push nanotechnology into the public mindset. I.e. "What can nanotechnology do for me (or my children), etc.) Why does not each and every child growing up understand the implications of nanotechnology and nanomedicine?

Carbon nanotubes in electronics

Posted by RobertBradbury on January 15th, 2005

Stuart Scott writes "Phaedon Avouris has a good overview of future electronic applications of nanotubes published in IEEE Spectrum. /aug04/0804tube.html"

Ed. Note: We realize this is a bit dated but the information and references are still valid.

Magnetic silicon?

Posted by RobertBradbury on January 15th, 2005

It would appear to be the case that scientists have managed to use Manganese to create magnetic silicon. This offers some interesting future paths with respect to data storage as well as "spintronics". The referencing article is here.

If this can be pushed to the limits then one can imagine a manganese atom within a silicon matrix whose spin state can be regulated. This might result in a memory storage device even more capable than that proposed by Drexler (e.g. Nanosystems Sec. 12.6.4). In part because there is a lot more Mn in the universe than F and so one simply has more memory storage capacity given the materials we have to work with.