Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: December 6, 2006
Nanotechnology that's Good For People
Foresight note: This research could increase the efficiency of solar harvesting as a source of energy.
Headline: Nanotechnology advances the efforts to achieve artificial photosynthesis
Artificial photosynthesis, using solar energy to split water generating hydrogen and oxygen, is often considered a 'Holy Grail' of chemistry which can offer a clean and portable source of energy supply as durable as the sunlight. It takes about 2.5 volts to break a single water molecule down into oxygen along with negatively charged electrons and positively charged protons. It is the extraction and separation of these oppositely charged electrons and protons from water molecules that provides the electric power.
Foresight note: This nanoscale research is working on imaging and treating cancer cells at the same time.
Headline: Multifunctional nanoparticles image and treat brain tumors
Combining two promising approaches to diagnosing and treating cancer, a multidisciplinary research team at the University of Michigan has created a targeted multifunctional polymer nanoparticle that successfully images and kills brain tumors in laboratory animals. This work was conducted as part of the National Cancer Institute's Unconventional Innovations Program, an effort that first showed the promise of nanotechnology for diagnosing and treating cancer.
Foresight note: An implant containing nanoparticles may be able to monitor for specific substances including cancer treatment effectiveness
Headline: Nano-implant measures tumor growth, treatment
A tiny implant now being developed at MIT could one day help doctors rapidly monitor the growth of tumors and the progress of chemotherapy in cancer patients. The implant contains nanoparticles that can be designed to test for different substances, including metabolites such as glucose and oxygen that are associated with tumor growth.
It can also track the effects of cancer drugs: Once inside a patient, the implant could reveal how much of a certain cancer drug has reached the tumor, helping doctors determine whether a treatment is working in a particular patient.
"You really want to have some sort of rapid measure of whether it's working or not, or whether you should go on to the next (drug)," said Michael Cima, the Sumitomo Electric Industries Professor of Engineering in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, and the leader of the research team.
Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet
Foresight note: More carbon nanotube manipulation to meet the needs of future electronics.
Headline: How to shrink a carbon nanotube
A research group has devised a way to control the diameter of a carbon nanotube down to essentially zero nanometers. This useful new ability, designed by scientists from the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, may help carbon nanotubes become more easily incorporated into new technologies.
"One of the biggest hurdles in working with carbon nanotubes has been lack of control over their size," said UC Berkeley physicist Tom Yuzvinsky, the study's lead author, to Physorg.com. "Now that we can precisely set the diameter of carbon nanotubes, we can tailor individual nanoscale devices to meet our needs."
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Nanotech Investing Forum
Nanotech Investing Forum
The IBF Nanotech Investing Forum — where VCs, corporate investors and nanotech CEOs unite. This conference provides investors with leading-edge information to profit from nanotech innovation.
This conference will address:
Headline: Silica particle sparks life in protein
News source: Physorg.com
Tiny formless particles in water solution take on a well-ordered and functional structure as soon as they come into contact with nanoparticles of silica. A unique breakthrough by researchers at Linkoping University in Sweden creates new potential in medicine and biochemistry and at the same time provides a new piece of the puzzle in theories about the origins of life.
Normally, inorganic materials like silica are unwelcome in biological systems, since they disrupt the form and function of proteins. "We wanted to reverse the thinking and try to design proteins that take on their function only after encountering an inorganic surface," says Bengt-Harald Jonsson, professor of molecular biotechnology.
News source: AZoNano
ASTM International Committee E56 on Nanotechnology has approved its first standard, E 2456, Terminology for Nanotechnology. The new standard is under the jurisdiction of Subcommittee E56.01 on Terminology and Nomenclature. Because of the great need for a terminology document that is globally recognized and because of the cooperation of several organizations in making the document a reality, Terminology E 2456 will be available free of charge from the ASTM International Web site.
Developing a globally relevant nanotechnology terminology standard driven by multiple stakeholder needs has been an early priority for ASTM Committee E56, which was formed in 2005. Research into the properties, synthesis, and applications of nanostructures has been growing at an exponential rate, and has outpaced the development of a language to describe the chemical compositions and physical forms of these new materials.
Without a precise and widely accepted terminology, communications about nanotechnology's risks and benefits are riddled with overgeneralizations. For example, the term 'carbon nanoparticles' often is used to describe in one phrase a range of very diverse nanomaterials such as carbon-60, single-walled carbon nanotubes, and even diesel exhaust. Documents such as the E56 terminology document define more precisely the language for nanotechnology, and thus ensure effective technical communication within the myriad fields involved in nanotechnology, as well as outreach to the public at large as products containing nanomaterials enter the marketplace.
Headline: US Science Advisor Says Nanotechnology has The Potential to Revolutionize All Other Technologies
News source: AZoNano
"Nanoscale science and engineering promise to be as important as the steam engine, the transistor, and the Internet, and have the potential to revolutionize all other technologies" according to Neal Lane, former science advisor to U.S. President Bill Clinton. "But that outcome is not guaranteed...
"A recent poll by the Project for Emerging Nanotechnologies shows that while public awareness of nanotechnology is increasing, fully 69 percent of Americans have heard little or nothing about nanotechnology," said Lane. "More young people are seeing nanotechnology in advertisements for MP3 players than are learning about nanotechnology in schools."
News source: NanoWerk
The largest and most comprehensive survey of public perceptions of nanotechnology products finds that U.S. consumers are willing to use specific nano-containing products — even if there are health and safety risks — when the potential benefits are high. The study also finds that U.S. consumers rate nanotechnology as less risky than everyday technologies like herbicides, chemical disinfectants, handguns and food preservatives.
The study, which was conducted by researchers at Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN), University College London (UCL) and the London Business School, is the largest survey yet conducted on public willingness to use commercial nanotechnology products. It appears in the December issue of Nature Nanotechnology.
"By some estimates, products containing nanotechnology already account for more than $30 billion in annual global sales, but there is concern that the public's fixation with nanotechnology's risks — either real or imagined — will diminish consumers' appetite for products," said lead researcher Steven Currall, a management and entrepreneurship expert who conducted the research while a faculty member at Rice and while at UCL and London Business School, where he currently holds academic appointments.
"Measuring public sentiment toward nanotechnology lets us both check the pulse of the industry right now, and chart the growth or erosion of public acceptance in the future."
2007 Small Tech Business Directory - Listing Deadline - January 17, 2007
The Small Times 2007 Small Tech Business Directory will be published in February 2007. The directory is distributed to over 25,000 buyers and referenced throughout the year and is a comprehensive listing of microsystems & nanotechnologies companies, tool, and equipment and service providers.
This directory, offered in both a hardcopy directory and online, includes 3,500 listings, organizations from over 45 countries, and hundreds of small tech service providers.
Public Meeting on Nanorisks - January 4, 2007
The National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO), on behalf of the Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) Subcommittee of the Committee on Technology, National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), will hold a public meeting on January 4, 2007, to receive input on research needs related to the environmental, health, and safety aspects of engineered nanoscale materials.
Specifically, the NSET Subcommittee is seeking comment on the research needs and prioritization criteria for the research that were identified in the NSET Subcommittee document Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Needs for Engineered Nanoscale Materials, which was released on September 15, 2006.
The public meeting will be held on Thursday, January 4, 2007, beginning at 8:30 a.m. at the FDIC Training Center, 3501 North Fairfax Drive, Arlington, VA 22226. A schedule will be published prior to the meeting.
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.
The concerns about nanomaterials and their impact on our environment continue to make the headlines. This article written by Foresight Senior Associate, Scott E. Rickert, discusses how the nanotech industry should actively figure out what regulation may mean in the future. As President & CEO of Nanofilm, Scott has a solid understanding of the issues.
Headline: Taking the nanopulse -- Nanotechnology in 2007 -- no ostriches allowed
"Did you see the headlines Thanksgiving Day? EPA to review safety of products made with silver 'nanoparticles.'" What does it mean? Well, it's going to assure an interesting 2007 for the burgeoning nanotechnology-enabled industry. And if you'll excuse the wordplay, I hope Turkey Day doesn't spawn nanotechnology ostriches who are going to hide their heads in the regulatory sand...
"So what does this really mean to nano-industry? Specifically, we're not sure yet. It will take several months for the final rules to be detailed in the Federal Register. But some of the early responses have me scratching my head."
Headline: Facing up to military nanotechnology
News source: Nanodot
A new book by German physicist Jurgen Altmann of Dortmund University looks at Military Nanotechnology: Potential Applications and Preventive Arms Control (Routledge, 2006). Both near-term and long-term applications are examined. From the abstract:
"NT applications will likely pervade all areas of the military..By using NT to miniaturize sensors, actuators and propulsion, autonomous systems (robots) could also become very small, principally down to below a millimeter - fully artificial or hybrid on the basis of e.g. insects or rats. Satellites and their launchers could become small and cheap, to be used in swarms for earth surveillance, or for anti-satellite attack. Whereas no marked change is expected concerning nuclear weapons, NT may lead to various new types of chemical and biological weapons that target specific organs or act selectively on a certain genetic or protein pattern. On the other hand, NT will allow cheap sensors for chemical or biological warfare agents as well as materials for decontamination. Most of these applications are ten or more years away.
"The concept of "molecular NT" would be characterized by universal molecular assemblers, self-replicating nano-robots, super-human artificial intelligence. Applied for military purposes, fast exponential growth of armaments would become possible, with weapons on all size scales, acting against all kinds of targets, selectively or for mass destruction. In this still hypothetical scenario, even human control would be at risk...
"As the leader in military NT R&D, the USA has a crucial role. Since the most dangerous military NT applications in the hands of opponent states or terrorists could threaten also the USA, preventive limits could be in its enlightened national interest.
"In the long term, preventing misuse of NT and associated powerful technologies will require very intense inspection rights and criminal law, calling for strengthening civil-society elements in the international system."
Sounds right to me. I'll be requesting a review copy so we can let you know more about this possibly important book.
Is this a topic that Foresight should more actively take on at this time? We will at some point: the question is when. Currently we have the Foresight Guidelines, and are working with the IRGC to bring the topic to greater prominence. Your views welcome.
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