Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: September 20, 2006
Nanotechnology that's Good For People
Foresight note: This article announces a new patent being awarded for a nanofiltration system developed by a municipality.
Headline: Desalination patent awarded to CA city
Nearly a decade of work has paid off for the City of Long Beach's Water Department, which was awarded a Notice of Allowance for Patent Protection earlier this month by the US Patent Office for its unique two-stage desalination technology, according to a city press release.
Dubbed the "Long Beach Method," the desalination technique uses 20 to 30 percent less energy than traditional reverse osmosis (RO) desalination methods by sending seawater through two nanofiltration membranes — one at 525 pounds per square inch (psi) and a second at 250 psi — the water department said.
According to the release, engineers found the first filter blocked all but 12 percent of the smallest salt molecules, while the second blocked nearly all the remaining salts, and the process was more energy-efficient than traditional desalination, which pushed seawater at 1,000 psi.
Foresight note: The following research is very promising in using nanotechnology to help those who are brain damaged or who have suffered heart attacks.
Headline: Nanotechnology Propels Advances In Regenerative Medicine Research
Subhead: Nanotubes help adult stem cells morph into neurons in brain-damaged rats.
Carbon nanotubes — 80,000 times thinner than a human hair — enhance the ability of adult stem cells to differentiate into healthy neurons in stroke-damaged rat brains, according to American and South Korean researchers.
Thomas J. Webster, Ph.D., of Brown University in Providence, R.I, and colleagues at Yonsei University in Seoul mixed nanotubes with adult rat stem cells and then implanted the mixture into brain-damaged areas of three rats that had suffered strokes. In six other rats that had strokes, they implanted either adult stem cells or nanotubes — but not both — into brain-damaged areas.
After following the animals for up to eight weeks, the researchers concluded that neither nanotubes nor adult stem cells alone triggered regeneration or repair in the brain-damaged regions. In fact, when used alone, adult stem cells migrated to healthy areas of the brain. But when combined with nanotubes, adult stem cells not only remained in the brain-damaged regions, they began to differentiate into functioning neurons. The finding could have important implications for the treatment of Alzheimer's, Parkinson's disease and other neurological disorders, Webster says.
Subhead: Nanostructures promote formation of blood vessels, bolster cardiovascular function after heart attack
Injecting nanoparticles into the hearts of mice that suffered heart attacks helped restore cardiovascular function in these animals, according to Samuel I. Stupp, Ph.D., chemist and director of the Institute of Bionanotechnology in Medicine at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.
The finding is an important research advance that one day could help rapidly restore cardiovascular function in people who have heart disease, Stupp says. The self-assembling nanoparticles — made from naturally occurring polysaccharides and molecules known as peptide amphiphiles — boost chemical signals to nearby cells that induce formation of new blood vessels and this may be the mechanism through which they restore cardiovascular function. One month later, the hearts of the treated mice were capable of contracting and pumping blood almost as well as healthy mice.
Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet
Foresight note: This basic research could lead to greater control of catalysts for fuels and other chemical compounds.
Headline: Uniform tungsten trimers stand and deliver
Like tiny nano-soldiers on parade, the cyclic tungsten trioxide clusters line up molecule-by-molecule on the titanium dioxide platform. One tungsten atom from each cluster is raised slightly, holding forth the potential to execute catalytic reactions.
The nanostructures constitute a new model system, a simplified version of a catalyst that would be used in an application. Such models reveal to chemists the exact structure and reaction mechanisms of metal oxides...
"Commercial catalysts are like a gravel pile with many sizes of rocks. Some rocks are purple; some are blue. Some do one thing; some do another. But, our system has all the same size rocks," [UT professor Mike] White said.
Foresight note: This article discusses nanoscience research that is copying nature to bring remote power to nanodevices.
Headline: Ferns provide model for tiny motors powered by evaporation
Scientists looked to ferns to create a novel energy scavenging device that uses the power of evaporation to move itself — materials that could provide a method for powering micro and nano devices with just water or heat.
"We've shown that this idea works," said Michel Maharbiz, assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science and principal investigator in the group that built the device. "If you build these things they will move. The key is to show that you can generate electricity from this."
As often happens, the research started while doctoral student Ruba Borno was exploring another idea entirely. Borno was interested in mimicking biological devices, specifically microchannels that plants use to transport water, so Maharbiz gave her a book on plants.
But something else in the book caught her attention — the section on how ferns spread their spores.
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Annual Tech Transfer Investing
4th Annual Tech Transfer Investing
This conference facilitates commercial collaboration & investing between research labs, venture capitalists and corporations. Venture capitalists and corporations are identifying promising technologies in research labs in universities, medical centers, and government agencies for spinouts and commercialization.
The conference is focused on starting, building and financing technology based spinouts from universities, national labs and corporations. The event is different from annual association meetings because the event unites tech transfer executives, venture capitalists and corporations for open and honest dialogue on investing opportunities, term structures and deal partnerships.
Headline: Switchable lotus effect: Material bcomes super water-repellent with the flick of a light
News source: Physorg.com
Lotus blossoms are beautiful, and always immaculately clean. Water drops bead up and roll off of their water-repellent surface, washing away every speck of dust. This type of self-cleaning surface would be very useful to us as well: no more carwash, no soiled facades on houses — the potential uses are endless. To date, however, technology has not been able to duplicate nature's success. Researchers led by Kingo Uchida and Shinichiro Nakamura have now synthesized a compound in the diarylethene family whose surface becomes super-water-repellent on command.
The diarylethene molecule is made of three five-membered rings hooked together. UV light sets off a rearrangement within the molecule (isomerization). This results in a ring closure, which leads to formation of a fourth ring. The isomer with the closed fourth ring crystallizes in the form of needles, which grow out of the crystals of the isomer with the open ring as soon as a certain concentration is reached. Light in the visible range of the spectrum sets off the reverse reaction: the ring re-opens, and the needles disappear.
News source: Webwire
The Israeli government will increase funding for Israeli universities over the next 5 years to $82 million in order to strengthen their advanced research centers in nanoscience and nanotechnology, it was announced today.
Israel's National Nanotechnology Initiative (INNI) director Dan Vilenski announced the funding increase at the 10th annual Journey 2006 technology conference, noting that the increase resulted in large part from the success of a similar matching fund model developed for the Russell Berrie Nanotechnology Institute at Israel's Technion Institute of Technology in 2005.
Headline: Public awareness of nano grows - majority remain unaware
Research findings released from the first major national poll on nanotechnology in more than two years indicate that while more Americans are now aware of the emerging science, the majority of the public still has heard little to nothing about it. The poll also finds that the public looks to the federal government and independent parties to oversee nanotechnology research and development. These results, according to experts, necessitate increased education and stronger oversight as a means to increase public confidence in nanotechnology.
The poll, a telephone survey of 1,014 U.S. adults, was commissioned by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and conducted by independent research firm Peter D. Hart Research Associates in August 2006.
Findings reveal that one in 10 Americans have heard a lot about nanotechnology and 20% say they have heard some — nearly double the number of Americans aware of the technology in 2004. But, 42% of Americans have no awareness of it at all. Older Americans and women, the groups most likely to use consumer products containing nanotechnology materials such as skin-care products and cosmetics, are the least informed about nanotechnology. Importantly, those individuals with an awareness of nanotechnology are more likely to believe the benefits of this emerging technology outweigh the potential risks — supporting experts' assertions that open discourse and information about nanotechnology is crucial in establishing positive sentiment among the American public.
News source: Yahoo.com
Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrance Association (CTFA) announced today that it has filed comprehensive comments with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the science and regulation of nanoparticles in personal care products. CTFA comments specifically address issues raised in a petition filed with the FDA earlier this year on the use of nanotechnology in personal care products, in particular, sunscreen products.
"Nanoparticles in sunscreens are very small particles that have been reviewed and approved by FDA. They have been used safely and effectively by consumers for decades to protect from harmful UV rays and to prevent skin cancer," said John Bailey, executive vice president for science at CTFA and former FDA official. "These ingredients have properties that provide a greater degree of protection from the sun, are transparent when applied and aesthetically pleasing, and therefore encourage greater consumer acceptance."
British Royalty to Address Major US Nanotechnology Conference
News source: Nanotechnology Now
The British Consulate-General Houston and the UK Trade & Investment, major sponsors of NanoTX '06, will host a ranking member of the British Royal Family at the event.
It has been announced that His Royal Highness The Duke of York, KG, KCVO, ADC, will address the conference on the second day. The Duke of York, Prince Andrew is the third child and second son of Queen Elizabeth, and whose older brother is Prince Charles, the Duke of Wales.
"I am honoured to have his Royal Highness attend and speak at nanoTX '06," said Kelly Kordzik, President of the Texas Nanotechnology Initiative that is presenting the event. "His presence first shows how important nanotechnology has become to the future of our society, and second shows how important of a role the UK expects for Texas to play in the nanotechnology revolution."
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 read about these three scientists in the Bay Area that recently received the prestigious MacArthur Foundation fellowship. One of them — Benetech's Jim Fruchterman, a longtime ally of Foresight — gave a quote that I hope doesn't hold true for all social problems. As mentioned in past news digests, I have great hopes that nanotechnology can solve several critical problems facing humanity, but I am also aware that technology investment goes where there is the potential to make money.
Thanks for reading.
3 of region's brightest win 'genius' fellowships, $500,000 each in grants from the MacArthur Foundation
News source: San Francisco Chronicle by Sabin Russell
"Techies love technology and solving problems, and social problems are often the coolest ones," said Jim Fruchterman. "They just don't make you any money."
Headline: Nanotechnology video from SME: Nanomanufacturing
The Society of Manufacturing Engineers, who've done two conferences focusing in part on molecular nanotech, now have a video on nanomanufacturing. The script is free, and so is a video clip with some images, so if the cost is an issue for you ($99 SME members/$280 nonmembers), you can get quite a bit just from those.
Includes Foresight members Mark Sims of Nanorex, Jim Von Ehr of Zyvex, and Tihamer Toth-Fejel of General Dynamics. If you'd like to be in such a video someday, you might want to join Foresight!
— Christine Peterson
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