Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: September 13, 2006
Nanotechnology that's Good For People
Foresight note: The nanoscale research is investigating how nanoparticles interact with our environment in water in respect to heavy metals and contaminants.
Headline: Particle size matters to bacteria ability to immobilize heavy metals
One of the most common bacteria in the Earth, Shewanella oneidensis MR-1, uses oxygen as an energy source for respiration. But in the absence of oxygen, Shewanella uses (oxy)hydroxide minerals. These metal particles may also have adsorbed heavy metals on them. As a result, Shewanella influence the mobility and bioavailability of iron and environmental contaminants like lead, cobalt, and arsenic.
Ph.D. student Saumyaditya Bose and Professor Michael Hochella Jr., both in geosciences in the College of Science at Virginia Tech, and their research colleagues at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), are looking at how the size of iron oxide nano particles influences the bacteria's ability to breathe. This is the first study by any group that couples environmental microbiology and nano-mineralogy.
"This adds to our understanding of how nanoparticles might influence the environment and contaminant metal mobility in our rivers, lakes and other surface waters, as well as groundwater," said Bose.
Foresight note: This article reviews how quantum dots are being employed for early cancer detection and treatment.
Headline: Could quantum dots hold the cure to cancer?
Review of quantum dot technologies for cancer detection and treatment
The worlds of medical and biological research are abuzz with the promises offered by nanoparticles known as semiconductor quantum dots. These Quantum Dots (QDs) have unique optical and electronic properties that make them suitable for breakthrough treatments such as the detection and destruction of cancer cells.
Just released on the nanotechnology website AZoNano, is a comprehensive review of the latest literature and studies into Quantum Dots. The review by Sandeep Kumar Vashist, Rupinder Tewari, Ram Prakash Bajpai, Lalit Mohan Bharadwaj and Roberto Raiteri, researchers from a range of Italian and Indian universities and research organizations, has been released as part of AZoJono*, the open access AZojon (Journal of Nanotechnology Online).
With a focus on the use of QDs in cancer detection and treatment, the review includes a detailed examination of Quantum Dot advantages, their synthesis, properties and applications, toxic effects, use in imaging and analysis plus Quantum Dot drug delivery systems. The paper also outlines some early success in the detection and treatment of breast cancer.
Foresight note: There is a lot of research being done in nanotech on targeted therapeutics and the following is very promising in that area.
Headline: Reusable system could be used to deliver medication on command
Johns Hopkins researchers have devised a way to use a brief burst of electricity to release biomolecules and nanoparticles from a tiny gold launch pad. The technique could someday be used to dispense small amounts of medicine on command from a chip implanted in the body. The method also may be useful in chemical reactions that require the controlled release of extremely small quantities of a material.
The technique was described Sept. 10 in a presentation by Peter C. Searson, a Johns Hopkins professor of materials science and engineering, during the 232nd national meeting of the American Chemical Society in San Francisco. "You can think of the useful biomolecule or nanoparticle as a balloon tethered to a surface," he said. "We use an electrical pulse to cut the tether, and it floats away."
Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet
Foresight note: Nanotech solar energy applications continue to receive attention and funding.
Headline: HelioVolt and NREL extend CRADA to develop non-vacuum deposition for CIGS thin-film PVs
Building on more than two years of collaboration with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) of Golden, CO, USA, HelioVolt Corp of Austin, TX, USA is extending the Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) for research carried out at NREL's facilities to include the development of non-vacuum nanomaterial-based deposition processes optimized for HelioVolt's proprietary FASST manufacturing technology, which is claimed to be the fastest and most efficient way to manufacture thin-film copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS) photovoltaics.
HelioVolt says it is enabling new paths to solar energy marketability by building on its knowledge of the unique characteristics of the CIGS material system. When made under the proper conditions, CIGS spontaneously arranges itself at the nanoscale to create a percolation network that drastically reduces losses, making the material the most efficient and reliable thin-film for photovoltaics, says HelioVolt's founder, Dr B J Stanbery.
By taking maximum advantage of this, HelioVolt's flexible FASST process can be used under both vacuum and atmospheric conditions to print photovoltaic material directly onto traditional construction materials, including architectural glass, steel, roofing and polymers in 80-98% less time than conventional processes, it is claimed. Under the terms of the CRADA, HelioVolt will work with NREL to optimize both conventional vacuum and pioneering non-vacuum deposition processes for FASST manufacturing environments.
Foresight note: Sensors and high speed electronics that quickly refresh are the focus of this research.
Headline: ZnO nanowires may lead to better chemical sensors, high-speed electronics
Devices for detecting dangerous substances can literally be life savers, in situations ranging from soldiers on the battlefield to luggage screeners at airports. Yet chemical sensors now available for such tasks have their drawbacks. They aren't always sensitive enough to detect tiny amounts of a hazardous chemical, for instance. Once exposed it can takes hours until they are ready to sense again.
But research from the nanoworld, where individual molecules become scientific tools for inventing miraculous micro-gadgets, is revealing new and better ways to recognize malicious chemicals.
At the heart of novel detection devices now on the drawing board are threads of metal oxide small enough to fit through they eye of a needle too small to see. These "nanowires" are measured in billionths of a meter, or nanometers. A typical nanowire is about 50 nanometers wide — you could fit 20,000 of them side to side within the eye of a full-sized needle.
Making such nanowires and embedding them in delicate electronic circuitry occupies the creative energy of Jia Grace Lu, one of three new scientists (two of whom are women) to join the USC College physics and astronomy department this year.
Foresight corporate member NaturalNano, Inc., announced that it has filed a U.S. patent application for advances in the production of nanocomposites in the polymers and plastics industry. Natural Nano is a nanotechnology and materials science company that commercializes naturally occurring nanotubes.
"The patent application describes significant improvements for plastics and polymers used in the automotive, military, packaging, electronics, and aerospace industries. These applications require strong, ductile, and high-temperature materials," said Dr. Cathy A. Fleischer, NaturalNano's chief technology officer, a polymer chemist and former R&D Director at Eastman Kodak Company.
Christine Peterson, founder and vice president of Foresight Nanotech Institute, will speak on, "Thinking Longer Term about Technology," at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, on September 15, 2005 at 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.
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.
Call for Abstracts Deadline - 2nd Modern Drug Discovery & Development Summit
2nd Modern Drug Discovery & Development Summit
Human morbidity and mortality are largely dependent on the ever-elusive world of drug discovery and development. Great scientific and clinical advances, both within chemical and biological driven areas, have been achieved in the past few years. Registrants of the 2nd Modern Drug Discovery & Development Summit will have unlimited access to 11 different conferences including Nanobiotechnology in Drug Discovery.
Abstracts for this conference are due on September 15, 2006
Headline: Nanofactory Collaboration
News source: Nanofactory Collaboration website
The long-term goal of the Nanofactory Collaboration is to design, and ultimately to build, a working diamondoid nanofactory — a compact, high quality, extremely low cost and very flexible manufacturing system that could build a diverse selection of large-scale molecularly precise diamondoid products.
Their continuing efforts, and those of others, have produced past and present participants among 23 researchers and other participants (including 16 Ph.D's or Ph.D candidates) at 10 organizations in 4 countries (U.S., U.K., Russia, and Belgium), as of 2006.
Following an internal Roadmap, the greatest research attention is first being concentrated on proving the feasibility of diamond mechanosynthesis. This includes a nascent laboratory effort in experimental mechanosynthesis.
Headline: U.S. Funds Effort To Study Nanotechnology's Effect on Health
News source: US Info.State.Gov
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has extended funding for Texas- based Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN) with a five-year renewal worth $12 million... Because of the small size and unique properties of nanoparticles, more research is needed to find out if nanoparticles in manufactured products can enter the human body, and if so, how long they remain.
Nanotech 2007 - Abstracts Deadline - November 17, 2006
Call for Abstracts
September 27-28, 2006
A process developed by Authentix of Dallas for the synthesis of nanomaterials for security applications is one of the innovative technologies that has been given a Nano 50(TM) Award. The Nano 50 Awards, presented by Nanotech Briefs Magazine, recognize the top 50 technologies, products, and innovators that have significantly impacted, or are expected to impact, the state of the art in nanotechnology.
The exhibition is only one of the exciting exhibits, out of hundreds during nnanoTX' 06.
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.
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 highly enamored by the portability of solutions that nanotechnology can bring to our society. Portable sensor, water filtration, medical diagnostics and energy sources are all possibilities that give me great hope for nanotechnology. This article discusses a portable biodegradable napkin that could detect biohazards.
Thanks for reading.
Biodegradable napkin could quickly detect biohazards
News source: Physorg.com
Detecting bacteria, viruses and other dangerous substances in hospitals, airplanes and other commonly contaminated places could soon be as easy as wiping a napkin or paper towel across a surface, says a researcher from Cornell University.
"It's very inexpensive, it wouldn't require that someone be highly trained to use it, and it could be activated for whatever you want to find," said Margaret Frey, the Lois and Mel Tukman Assistant Professor of Fiber Science and Apparel Design at Cornell. "So if you're working in a meat-packing plant, for instance, you could swipe it across some hamburger and quickly and easily detect E. coli bacteria."
Headline: Fun little movie on green nanotechnology
The Woodrow Wilson Center Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies has a cute short (8:25) movie posted in which Bethany Maynard interviews her dad Dr. Andrew Maynard and Dr. Barbara Karn on nanotech. Worth showing to kids, and even adults may enjoy it. The best part is when Bethany and her brother Alex apply mustard to her dad's "nanotech" necktie to test its stain resistance. Surprisingly, it passes the test, which is pretty amazing if you've ever dealt with a mustard stain.
Andrew Maynard gives a good definition of nanotechnology, focusing on atomic precision — "being able to put atoms exactly where we want them to be" — which is a little confusing since the rest of the movie seems to focus on a broader definition. But we at Foresight like the atomic precision emphasis.
A tweak I would make is to the answer given to Bethany's "If we ever live on Mars, do you think green nanotechnology will help us to have gardens?" The answer given is: "I don't think that any technology will actually be able to replace the gardens and the kind of planet that we have on Earth." Not replace per se, but Bethany is asking whether nanotech could help us have gardens in space. My answer would be "Yes, certainly, and I expect it to happen in your lifetime — ideally even in mine."
— Christine Peterson
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