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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: November 8, 2006

In this issue:

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Supplying clean water globally

Foresight note: This nanotechnology research uses "water loving" nanoparticles to improve upon current desalination processes.

Headline: Engineers develop revolutionary nanotech water desalination membrane
News source: Physorg.com

Researchers at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science today announced they have developed a new reverse osmosis (RO) membrane that promises to reduce the cost of seawater desalination and wastewater reclamation.

Reverse osmosis desalination uses extremely high pressure to force saline or polluted waters through the pores of a semi-permeable membrane. Water molecules under pressure pass through these pores, but salt ions and other impurities cannot, resulting in highly purified water.

The new membrane, developed by civil and environmental engineering assistant professor Eric Hoek and his research team, uses a uniquely cross-linked matrix of polymers and engineered nanoparticles designed to draw in water ions but repel nearly all contaminants. These new membranes are structured at the nanoscale to create molecular tunnels through which water flows more easily than contaminants.

Unlike the current class of commercial RO membranes, which simply filter water through a dense polymer film, Hoek's membrane contains specially synthesized nanoparticles dispersed throughout the polymer — known as a nanocomposite material.

"The nanoparticles are designed to attract water and are highly porous, soaking up water like a sponge, while repelling dissolved salts and other impurities," Hoek said. "The water-loving nanoparticles embedded in our membrane also repel organics and bacteria, which tend to clog up conventional membranes over time."

Foresight Challenge: Supplying clean water globally

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

Foresight note: This team of researchers is moving towards a nontoxic dye that kills specific cancer cells.

Headline: Nanoparticles for two-photon photodynamic therapy in living cells
News source: News-Medical.Net

Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses a combination of ultraviolet or visible light and a light-sensitive chemical, or photosensitizer, to kill cancer cells using reactive oxygen.

PDT has become an important option for treating or relieving the symptoms of esophageal cancer and non-small cell lung cancer, but its wider use in cancer therapy is limited by a number of factors, including the toxicity of the photosensitizer dyes. But now, using a biocompatible polymer nanoparticle, researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a nontoxic photodynamic dye that appears to be particularly lethal to brain cancer cells.

Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

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Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

Foresight note: This research is aimed at improving the cancer-treating drug payload in nanoparticles.

Headline: Self-assembling nanoparticle releases drug into cell cytoplasm
News source: Nanotechwire.com

A growing body of research leaves no doubt that nanoparticles can transport drugs into cancer cells, but what is less clear is that the drug payload can exit the tiny endosomes that pull nanoparticles into cells. As a result, there is still some concern that only a small portion of a nanoparticle's drug payload will actually get into the cell's cytoplasm and attack its intended intracellular molecular target.

Researchers at the University of Ulsan College of Medicine in Seoul, Korea, have developed a self-assembling nanoparticle that can sense the low pH of endosomes and fall apart. The disintegration of these nanoparticles not only releases their drug payload but enables it to exit the endosomes. Yong Woo Cho, Ph.D., led this project, the results of which are reported in the Journal of Controlled Release.

Foresight Challenge: Increasing health and longevity

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Foresight note: An RPI team has made progress on a tough technical challenge for nanotubes.

Headline: New nanotube technologies created
News source: Monsters & Critics

U.S. scientists say they have developed two techniques for placing carbon nanotube patterns on metal surfaces of nearly any shape or size.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., say their findings could help overcome some of the key hurdles to using carbon nanotubes in computer chips, displays, sensors, and many other electronic devices.

"Carbon nanotubes offer promising applications in fields ranging from electronics to biotechnology," said Saikat Talapatra, a postdoctoral research associate at the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center and lead author of the study. But, he said, since many applications are based on the superior conductivity of carbon nanotubes, good contact between nanotubes and conducting metal components is essential.

Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

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Foresight Member News - NaturalNano

Foresight corporate member NaturalNano, Inc., a nanotechnology and materials science company that commercializes naturally occurring nanotubes, announced that Dr. Cathy A. Fleischer has been promoted to President of the Company.

Dr. Fleischer was named Chief Technology Officer of NaturalNano in July, 2006, and will also continue to serve in that position. She is a highly recognized scientist and manager, and her extensive experience in leading organizations and technical development teams will be instrumental in guiding the Company to enter the nanocomposite market in the coming year.

Prior to joining NaturalNano, Dr. Fleischer was the Research and Development Director for the Polarizer film division at Eastman Kodak. She holds eleven patents and has numerous publications in the fields of polymer materials science, composites, adhesion, and surface science. She received a doctorate degree in Polymer Science from the University of Connecticut and a master's degree in Chemical Engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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Become a member of Foresight

If you are interested in advancing responsible and beneficial nanotechnology, please consider becoming a member. With your support, Foresight will continue to be a 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 corporate representative.

Join Foresight Online

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Foresight Partners

NSTI Nanotech 2007 - Abstract Deadline is November 17, 2006

The tenth annual NSTI Nanotech 2007 Call for Papers is open. Scheduled for May 20-24, 2007 in Santa Clara, California, NSTI is expanding the event to highlight how nanoscience and nanotechnology research is having an impact on R&D in the Fortune 500 and is collaborating with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in presenting a Symposium on Nanotechnology in Health, Environment & Society.

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Nanotech Research

Headline: Nanotechnology - lessons from mother nature

News source: Chemistry International by Alan Smith

In an earlier Chemistry International article, Alan Smith asked "Does Nanotechnology Have a Sporting Chance?" and reviewed briefly the hype surrounding the field. In this article, Smith illustrates how lessons from Mother Nature are resulting in the design of new nanotechnology applications. These applications, which relate to our everyday life, provide excellent examples that children and adults can relate to, and should be used to promote good science.

Over the last hundred years Nobel Prizes have been awarded in medicine, chemistry, and physics for work that would nowadays be described as nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is certainly not new; Mother Nature has been the best exponent since creation!

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Nanotech News

Headline: Rncos: Government Funds to Boost UK Nanotechnology Industry

News source: SmallTimes

UK is all set to get an initial government grant of almost GBP18m for assignments pertaining to high-tech micro and nanotechnology, in an attempt to establish itself as a hub of new technological innovation.

This will help various Nanotechnology Firms to exploit UK's outstanding scientific achievements in this field and grab a piece of the growing Nanotechnology Market. The new venture is also attracting further industry and territorial expenditure, projected to overstep to give an encouragement to the prospective innovative Nanotechnology Market in the UK.

These are the initial fundings allotted from the Government's GBP90m micro and nanotechnology production projects grants for both, Nanotechnology applied research programs and new nanotechnology installations throughout the country. Additional fundings will be distributed in the following five years to accomplish the project.

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Toward Productive Nanosystems

Headline: Step-By-Step Surface Assembly

News source: Chemical & Engineering News by Bethany Halford

Atomic force microscope attaches reactive polymer chain to a surface, one reaction at a time

Molecular manufacturing's ultimate goal of assembling molecular machines atom by atom may be a long way off, but a research team in Europe has come a step closer to assembling structures molecule by molecule. In an elegant meeting of chemistry and mechanics at the single-molecule level, Anne-Sophie Duwez, a materials scientist at Belgium's University of Lige, and colleagues use an atomic force microscope (AFM) to covalently attach individual molecules to a surface, making and breaking each bond individually (Nat. Nanotechnol., DOI: 10.1038/nnano.2006.92).

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Nanotech Events

2nd Modern Drug Discovery & Development Summit

2nd Modern Drug Discovery & Development Summit
December 4-6, 2006
Sponsored by GTCbio
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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.

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Second Symposium Showcasing University Graduate Research - Nanotech: Imagine the Possibilities! 2006

Second Symposium Showcasing University Graduate Research - Nanotech: Imagine the Possibilities!
November 21, 2006
Sponsored by IEEE San Francisco Bay Area Nanotechnology Council
Noon - 5:30 p.m.
SEMI World Headquarters
San Jose, California

The Second Symposium Showcasing University Graduate Research, Nanotech: Imagine the Possibilities, will feature pre-publication briefs of university graduate research topics in nanotechnology. The event will give ample opportunity for networking.

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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 a clear, quick reading tutorial on Buckyballs in layperson's terms. I thought several readers might find it useful.

— Judy

Headline: BuckyBalls - A Nanotechnology Building Block, How To Make Them, History, Properties and Applications

News source: AZoNano

Just as the key building block to life on earth is the carbon atom, carbon is the key to one of the most promising branches of nanotechnology. Much of the current research and commercialisation of nanotechnology relies on tubes, wires and balls made from carbon atoms. All are known by a number of names. The carbon based tubes can be carbon nanotubes, buckytubes and very long tubes are often referred to as nanowires. The balls are known as fullerines or buckyballs.

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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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