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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: August 23, 2006

In this issue:

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Supplying clean water globally

Foresight note: This article announces funding for nanotechnology research for desalination filtration as a means to provide clean water.

Headline: Nanotechnology worth its salt
News source: The Engineer Online

Researchers at Flinders University have received funding of AUD$735,000 from the Australian Research Council to investigate using nanotechnology for the desalination of seawater.

Existing methods of desalination remove salts from water by reverse osmosis, a process in which water is passed through a porous membrane. The use of currently available materials, however, requires considerable pressure to be applied to push the water through the membrane.

The costs in terms of energy make this form of reverse osmosis filtration expensive, and it is generally only employed in affluent countries with scant fresh water resources.

If the permeability of the membrane can be improved while still filtering out the saline ions effectively, less pressure and therefore less energy will be needed, reducing energy costs drastically.

One potential approach would use a matrix of carbon nanotubes encased in a polymer matrix to construct a membrane, relying on the diameter of the nanotubes to allow water through but filter out salts.

Foresight Challenge: Supplying clean water globally

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

Foresight note: Nanoparticles are used as a catalyst to open polymer capsules for targeted tumor treatment.

Headline: Microcapsules open in tumor cells
News source: Physorg.com

Medicines are most helpful when they directly affect the diseased organs or cells — for example, tumor cells. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces in Potsdam, Germany, and Ludwig-Maximilian- University in Munich, have come one step closer to that goal: they have intentionally released a substance in a tumor cell...

The scientists mixed together charged metal nanoparticles along with the polymers composing the walls of the vesicle. The tumor cells absorbed the microcapsules and then the scientists aimed an infrared laser at them. Metal nanoparticles are particularly good at absorbing the laser light and transmitting the heat further into their surroundings, heating up the walls. They became so hot that the bonds broke between the polymers and the shell and the capsules eventually opened.

More information about this research

Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Foresight note: Nature once again gives us lessons on the nanoscale to make research more effective.

Headline: Microscopy sheds light on organic solar cells
News source: nanotechweb.org by Darius Nikbin

Scientists at the University of Washington, US, have demonstrated a microscopy technique that could help developers to improve the efficiency of organic solar cells. The new technique, which is based on electrostatic force microscopy (EFM), reveals the relationship between the surface morphology of the photovoltaic film and the cell performance (Nature Materials 10.1038/nmat1712).

"We can now distinguish between efficient and inefficient regions of a nanostructured photovoltaic film," lead researcher David Ginger told optics.org. "The technique we have developed measures photo-induced charge buildup in polymer solar cells with a sufficient spatial resolution of less than 100 nanometers."

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Foresight note: A new way of looking at transistor design results in a nanoscale structure called the Ballistic Deflection Transistor.

Headline: Boffins go ballistic over next-gen transistor design
News source: computing

Computer designers at the US University of Rochester are going ballistic over a "radical" transistor design which they claim will revolutionise semiconductor development.

"Everyone has been trying to make better transistors by modifying current designs, but what we really need is the next paradigm," explained Quentin Diduck, a graduate student at the university who thought up the radical new design.

Instead of running electrons through a transistor as if they were a current of water, the ballistic design bounces individual electrons off deflectors as if playing a game of atomic billiards.

Such a chip would use very little power, create very little heat, be highly resistant to the "noise" inherent in electronic systems, and should be easy to manufacture with current technologies.

Marc Feldman, professor of computer engineering at the university, said: "In addition to myself and Quentin, we have a theoretical physicist, a circuit designer, and an expert in computer architecture.

The team has already had some luck in fabricating a prototype. The Ballistic Deflection Transistor is a nano-scale structure, and all but impossible to engineer just a few years ago.

Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

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Foresight News

Feynman Prize Finalists Announced

Foresight Nanotech Institute is please to announce the finalists for this year's Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes. Named in honor of pioneer physicist Richard Feynman and established in 1993, these prizes are given to researchers whose recent work has most advanced the achievement of Feynman's goal for nanotechnology: the construction of atomically-precise products through the use of molecular machine systems.

The Feynman Prizes are given in two categories, one for experiment and the other for theory in nanotechnology.

The 2006 finalists for the Experimental prize are:

Angela Belcher, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Andrew Ellington, University of Texas at Austin
Kazushi Kinbara and Takuzo Aida, University of Tokyo
James M. Tour, Rice University
Erik Winfree and Paul W.K. Rothemund, California Institute of Technology
Giovanni Zocchi, University of California, Los Angeles

The 2006 Finalists for the Theory prize are:

Robert A. Freitas, Jr., Institute for Molecular Manufacturing
George Schatz, Northwestern University
Erik Winfree and Paul W.K. Rothemund, California Institute of Technology

The winners of this year's prizes will be announced at the Exhibitor Cocktail Reception at nanoTX '06 on September 27, 2006

The Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes winners will present their research the following day, September 28, 2006, at nanoTX '06 at 10 a.m.

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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 nanotechnology future whether you are a student, individual or corporation.

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Foresight Partners

Small Times NanoCon International 2006 - Updated Program

September 20-22, 2006
Mandalay Bay Convention Center
Las Vegas, Nevada

Small Times NanoCon International 2006 brings together more than 700 leading nanotech executives for three days of information exchange, fast-track networking, and new business development.

The conference schedule has been updated and includes presentations on:

Driving Nano Innovation
Nanotechnology: Current Applications and Trends within the Automotive Industry
Building Successful R&D Collaboration between Industry & Institution
Intellectual property issues
Learning from Biotechnology: Insights and Lessons for the coming Nanobiotechnology Revolution
The Sarbanes Oxley Act: Does it Change the Nanotech Funding Environment?

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Nanotech Research

Headline: New methods for screening nanoparticles

News source: Brookhaven National Laboratory Press Release

Brookhaven Lab is currently building a Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN) with state-of-the-art facilities for the fabrication and study of nanomaterials, with an emphasis on atomic-level tailoring of nanomaterials and nanoparticles to achieve desired properties and functions.

"Nanomaterials show great promise, but because of their extremely small size and unique properties, little is known about their effects on living systems," said lead author Barbara Panessa-Warren, a Brookhaven biologist who has been developing a nanoparticle cytotoxicity-screening model for the past five years. "Our experiments may provide scientists with information to help redesign nanoparticles to minimize safety concerns, and to optimize their use in health- related applications. They may also lead to effective screening practices for carbon-based materials."

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Nanotech News

Headline: Experts and consumers convene on nano risks

News source: Foodproductiondaily.com by Sean Roach

The most inclusive assessment of the potential dangers of nanotechnology in the food industry is underway and could impact the technology's wider integration into the common market.

The collection of data is being undertaken by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) and will evaluate the opportunities and risks of nanotechnology as voiced by experts and consumers.

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Nanotech Events

nanoTX' 06: The Promises of Tomorrow, The Business of Nanotechnology - Updated Speaker Line-up

September 27-28, 2006
Dallas Convention Center, Texas

nanoTX'06 will draw the top minds in four vital and interrelated nanotech areas of commerce:

Semiconductors NEMS/MEMS
BioMedical - Health Sciences
Defense - Aerospace - Homeland Security
Energy - Chemical - Environment

There will also be an intense study of Trends/Finance/Investing by leading experts of industry.

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

Also at nanoTX'06, Foresight president Jillian Elliott will present on the International Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems.

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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.

I am continually amazed how computational computer modeling provides us with the means to see things that are not visible with the naked eye. Corporate member, Nanorex, has several models that enable us to see how productive nanosystems could function and what their components could look like. Take a look at the company's gallery. Lots of cool stuff there.

Thanks for reading.

— Judy

Design of the Month: Worm Drive Assembly

News source: Nanorex Website

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Join the Discussion on Nanodot

Join the discussion: Nanodot led by Christine Peterson.

Headline: Bottom-up nanotechnology to be speeded by nanoliter-on-a-chip reactors
News source: Nanodot

Great news in the August 2006 issue of Nano Today in an opinion piece by two UCLA researchers, Guodong Sui and Hsian-Rong Tseng, titled "Reactions in hand: Digitally controlled microreactors are providing chemists with a new layground for discovery."

— Christine

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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.

If you would like to browse past issues of the News Digest.

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