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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: July 19, 2006

In this issue:

Nanotechnology That's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight Note: Here is a nanoscience discovery that may result in better ways to treat motor neuron diseases.

Headline: Agile molecular protein motors found
News source: United Press International

U.S. researchers say their discovery about how certain proteins function as molecular motors might lead to treatments for some neurological maladies.

Penn State researchers Dr. Yale Goldman, director of the Pennsylvania Muscle Institute, and Physiology Professor Erika Holzbaur say their finding specifically might result in better ways to treat motor neuron diseases — a group of progressive neurological disorders that destroy cells that control voluntary muscles for such activities as speaking, walking, breathing and swallowing.

When motor neurons die, the muscle itself atrophies. A well-known motor neuron disease is amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

The scientists detailed their findings in a recent issue of the journal Nature Cell.

Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

Foresight Note: Researchers have developed a quantum dot for medical imaging that does not require an external light source.

Headline: Self-illuminating quantum dots for "In Vivo" imaging
News source: National Cancer Institute's Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

Quantum dots have already proven themselves as powerful imaging probes that can enable researchers to track disease-related molecules inside cells and even within the body. In response to illumination with near infrared light, these semiconductor nanocrystals shine so brightly it is possible to spot individual quantum dots inside cells.

Now, however, investigators at the Center for Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence (CCNE) Focused on Therapy Response, based at Stanford University, have developed a self-illuminating quantum dot that can reveal its presence without an external light source. This team was able to create this novel quantum dot using a new method they developed for adding proteins to the quantum dot surface. This work was reported in the journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Jianghong Rao, Ph.D., a member of the Stanford CCNE, and Sanjiv Gambhir, M.D., Ph.D., principal investigator there, led the team that developed a generalized method for creating a uniform protein coating on the surface of quantum dots. This method uses a commercially available, genetically engineered enzyme known as a HaloTag protein, that forms a strong chemical bond between itself and a small organic molecule — the HaloTag ligand — that is easily coated onto a quantum dot surface. Furthermore, the HaloTag protein itself can be linked to other proteins, providing an easy method for adding such proteins to a quantum dot surface.

Foresight Challenge: Increasing the health and longevity of human life

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Nanotechnology That's Good For The Planet

Foresight Challenge: Healing and preserving the environment

Foresight Note: This new research laboratory will focus on using nanotech to reduce contamination of groundwater.

Headline: New lab tackles tainted groundwater with nanotechnology
News source: Laboratory Product News

A new research facility at the University of Western Ontario will help researchers improve groundwater through the use of technologies developed on the nanoscale.

"There is considerable interest in pumping nanomaterials into the ground where they can flow with groundwater to a contaminated region and convert hazardous chemicals into benign products like ethane and butane," says Denis O'Carroll, professor of civil and environmental engineering. "Current remediation technologies are rarely able to reduce contaminant concentrations below drinking water limits, but nanomaterials hold significant promise in achieving these goals, he adds.

Foresight Challenge: Healing and preserving the environment

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Foresight Challenge: Making powerful information technology available everywhere

Foresight Note: This research has invented a thin-film semiconductor that is flexible, transferable to other surfaces and has several potential applications.

Headline: Team invents fast, flexible computer chips on plastic
News source: Science Daily

New thin-film semiconductor techniques invented by University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers promise to add sensing, computing and imaging capability to an amazing array of materials.

Historically, the semiconductor industry has relied on flat, two-dimensional chips upon which to grow and etch the thin films of material that become electronic circuits for computers and other electronic devices. But as thin as those chips might seem, they are quite beefy in comparison to the result of a new UW-Madison semiconductor fabrication process detailed in the current issue of the Journal of Applied Physics.

A team led by electrical and computer engineer Zhenqiang (Jack) Ma and materials scientist Max Lagally have developed a process to remove a single-crystal film of semiconductor from the substrate on which it is built. This thin layer (only a couple of hundred nanometers thick) can be transferred to glass, plastic or other flexible materials, opening a wide range of possibilities for flexible electronics. In addition, the semiconductor film can be flipped as it is transferred to its new substrate, making its other side available for more components. This doubles the possible number of devices that can be placed on the film.

Foresight Challenge: Making powerful information technology available everywhere

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Become a member of Foresight

If you are interested in advancing beneficial nanotechnology, please consider becoming a member of Foresight. With your support, Foresight will continue to be the leading public interest voice for nanotechnology that will focus on using this powerful technology to improve the health and well being of people and the planet.

We have membership levels designed for inclusion of all who are interested in our collective nanotechnology future whether you are a student, individual or corporation.

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Foresight Partners

The Next Industrial Revolution: Nanotechnology & Manufacturing

August 23-24, 2006
Sponsored by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers
Pollard Technology Conference Center, Oak Ridge, TN USA

Nanotechnology promises to usher in the next Industrial Revolution and replace our entire manufacturing base with a new, radically precise, less expensive, and more flexible way of making products. These pervasive changes in manufacturing will leave virtually no product, process, or industry untouched. Nanotechnology has the potential to disrupt entire industries while leading to the creative destruction of current business models.

SME's two-day day conference will highlight the current, near-term, and future applications of nanotechnology and how they are transforming the way we manufacture products using innovative top-down fabrication and bottom-up assembly techniques. This event will also provide a forum for peer networking, information sharing, and technology exchange among the world's leading researchers and developers of nanomanufacturing processes, systems, and tools.

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Nanotech Research

Headline: Scientists develop piezoresponse force microscopy
News source: News-Medical.Net

A seminal early event in the history of nanotechnology was the development of the atomic force microscope (AFM), which used a nanoscale cantilever to image solid materials at the atomic level.

The insights gained from AFM studies provided a dramatic increase in our understanding of materials at the nanoscale, and while atomic force microscopy has been used in biomedical research, its applicability in biomedical research has been limited by the fact that AFM does not work well in water.

Now, a team of investigators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, led by Sergei Kalinin, Ph.D., have developed what it calls piezoresponse force microscopy, or PFM. This new approach to molecular-scale imaging relies on the piezoelectric phenomenon that translates electrical energy into mechanical movement in certain types of materials. Quartz crystals, as well as many biological polymers, such as enzymes and DNA, have the ability to generate piezoelectric responses. The researchers report their work in the journal Physical Review Letters.

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Nanotech News

Headline: Nano risk blueprint proposed
News source: Physorg.com

Instead of a general call for more federal research into the risks of nanotechnology, a new strategy proposes a move beyond to recommend how these investigations should get prioritized and implemented, experts tell UPI's Nano World.

Estimates from the National Nanotechnology Initiative suggest nearly $40 million is currently devoted by federal agencies into the risks of nanotechnology. However, as little as $11 million of the more than $1 billion a year the U.S. government currently spends in nanotechnology research and development is actually highly relevant to concerns over what is safe and what is not, according to Andrew Maynard, chief science adviser for the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

"With over $32 billion worth of products incorporating nanotechnology sold in 2005, the question of whether nanotechnology products and applications are safe is one that is not going away," said Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Director David Rejeski.

"Nanotechnology is an emerging technology that offers us an opportunity to 'get it right' from the start," Rejeski said. "But action is needed now. Many of the same novel properties that give nanotechnologies the capacity to transform medicines, materials, and consumer products, may also present novel risks."

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Headline: Nanotechnology: changing the face of national security
News source: The Heritage Foundation by James Jay Carafano. Ph. D., and Andrew Gudgel

On March 29, 2006, the Heritage Foundation held an event titled "Nanotechnology: Changing the Face of National Security." The event, part of the 2006 Competitive Technology for National Security Policy series, brought together researchers and members of government to discuss nanotechnology and its role in national security.

There are different scale sizes among different technologies. Nano-structures measure from one Angstrom (1×10-10m) to 100 nanometers (1 nanometer=1×10-9m), and many larger devices, such as nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS) are in the several hundred nanometer range.

Dr. John Parmentola, Director for Research and Laboratory Management, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology) discussed transformational nanotechnologies for the Army. The Army wants to use the advantages of nanotechnology to create improved networks, more precise strikes, better signature management of equipment, and faster "Identify Friend or Foe" devices.

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Nanotech Events

nanoTX' 06

September 27-28, 2006
The Promises of Tomorrow, The Business of Nanotechnology
Dallas Convention Center, Texas

Nanotech 101 - An Overview of Nanotechnology for Non-techies taught by Austin Community College will be free for business and other professionals at the Dallas Convention Center September 26, the day before nanoTX'06 conference and trade expo opens. Concurrent classes will be held at 12:30p to 2:30p, and 3:00p to 5:00p

This seminar is designed to give conference participants who have little or no knowledge of nanotechnology a broad overview of the field. Attending this seminar is expected to enhance the participant's conference experience by explaining, in a non-technical way, what nanotechnology is and how it will affect business and industry, and all of us, in the near and long-term.

The 2006 Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes will also be presented at nanoTX' 06 on September 27, 2006 at the Exhibitors Reception.

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Editor's Pick

Dear readers – When reviewing news for this digest, I often read about something that I think is cool, but it doesn't fit within the usual editorial categories of the News Digest. This section highlights a nanotech advance, event or idea that I think is especially cool.

This is an article that ran in The San Jose Mercury News about a future-thinking real estate broker who has been researching what nanotechnology companies will need in facilities. This article is prompted by the fact that NanoSolar is planning to manufacture in Silicon Valley. I think this article is cool because it shows how other industries are thinking ahead of the curve to meet the needs of our nanotech future.

— Judy

Headline: Spaces and Places: Broker hopes to attract nanotech firms to valley
News source: San Jose Mercury News by Katherine Conrad

When Chief Executive Martin Roscheisen of NanoSolar announced plans to open the nation's largest solar cell manufacturing facility in the Bay Area, commercial real estate brokers took note. After all, it's been a while since a factory opened around here, and nanotechnology has been touted as the "next big thing."

For Robert Badagliacco, a broker with Trammel Crow in Palo Alto, it was the news he had been waiting three years to hear. Since 2003, Badagliacco has boned up on nanotech believing the industry was on the verge of taking off. And when it did, he wanted to know how to house it — in other words, the type of buildings needed.

"This is not a traditional real estate deal," noted Jeff Hardy, a managing director with Trammel Crow. "Its needs are very specific. That's why Nanosolar is going to the cities to find what space they have and what incentives there might be."

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Join the Discussion on Nanodot

Join the discussion: Nanodot led by Christine Peterson.

Discussion at nanodot about Carnegie Mellon's NanoRobotics Laboratory in Pittsburgh prompted by an article by PC Magazine

Headline: Carnegie Mellon pursues top-down path to nanorobots News source: PC Magazine by John Brandon

"Tiny robots will someday crawl up your spine-literally. These microscopic critters, currently in a development phase at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, are biomimetic (that is, based on biological principles), have bacteria motors attached to their near-invisible bodies, and can slither through water canals and probe deep into blood vessels to stop disease and administer medicine.

"One day, these nanobots could even transport microscopic cameras into your brain to help scan for abnormalities or cancerous cells, which is a kind of early detection that's not possible with current imaging technology. Like the spiders in Minority Report, they'll also aid in homeland security, deep-space exploration, and environmental monitoring (read: global warming research) — except that no one will ever see them or even give them credit.

"Of course, if you ask Carnegie Mellon professor Metin Sitti about nanobots, he will sing their praises. Working at CMU's NanoRobotics Laboratory in Pittsburgh, Sitti is a nanotechnology pioneer..."

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.

Judy Conner, Director of Communications 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 her with comments about the News Digest, please send an email to: editor@foresight.org.

Special thanks to Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges Research Volunteer Michelle Hubbard, MSc Candidate, Department of Biology, University of Saskatchewan

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