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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: October 3, 2007

Editor's note: There will be no Weekly News Digest next week because your editor will be attending the Productive Nanosystems Conference. The News Digest will return the following week.

Vision Weekend Unconference registration is now open for newly joining and current Senior Associates. Post your desired discussion topics on the Unconference wiki and join us Nov. 3-4 at Yahoo!

Top Nano News of the Week

Foresight note: Nanosensors were used to identify a biochemical cycle that suppresses the immune response and could thus be involved in both cancer and multiple sclerosis.

Headline: Scientists discover how cancer may take hold
News source: Carnegie Institution

A team, led by researchers at the Carnegie Institution, has found a key biochemical cycle that suppresses the immune response, thereby allowing cancer cells to multiply unabated. The research shows how the biomolecules responsible for healthy T-cells, the body's first defenders against hostile invaders, are quashed, permitting the invading cancer to spread. The same cycle could also be involved in autoimmune diseases such as multiple sclerosis…

The scientists used special molecular "nanosensors" for the work. "We used a technique called fluorescence resonance energy transfer, or FRET, to monitor the levels of, tryptophan, one of the essential amino acids human cells need for viability," explained lead author Thijs Kaper…

"It can be used to identify new drugs that could reduce the ability of cancer cells to uptake tryptophan or their ability to degrade it. We believe that this technology could be a huge boost to cancer treatment."

PLoS Biology (open access) article

In this issue:

Health: Carbon nanotubes have room for multifunctionality
Health: Nanoparticles yield safer light-activated cancer therapy
Information technology: Quantum device traps, detects and manipulates the spin of single electrons
Information technology: C60 transistor breaks new records
Information technology: Two giant steps toward quantum computing
Space: Using nanotubes to detect and repair cracks in structures
Toward Productive Nanosystems: Using catalysts to stamp nanopatterns
Foresight Events: Productive Nanosystems Conference
Foresight Events: Vision Weekend 2007: The Unconference
Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology - Join Foresight
Conference – Small Times NanoCon International
Research: Nanowire generates power by harvesting energy from the environment
Editor's Pick: Doping technique brings nanomechanical devices into the semiconductor world
Nanodot: Artist takes on nanotechnology and privacy
Nanodot: Genius grant goes to Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology winner
Nanodot: Nanotechnology to capture power plant emissions
Nanodot: Nanotechnology innovator on NPR
Foresight Lectures
Contact Foresight

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Carbon nanotubes have room for multifunctionality
News source: National Cancer Institute's Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

In the quest to turn carbon nanotubes from nanoscale wonder into clinically useful drug and imaging agent delivery agents, researchers have often added polymer coatings to the outside of the nanotubes in order to render them biocompatible. Now, researchers at Stanford University have found that even when coated, carbon nanotubes retain the ability to bind extraordinarily large numbers of drug and imaging agent molecules in a stable yet reversible manner.

ACS Nano abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Nanoparticles yield safer light-activated cancer therapy
News source: National Cancer Institute's Alliance for Nanotechnology in Cancer

Photodynamic therapy, in which light activates a chemical known as a photosensitizer, triggering the production of cell-killing reactive oxygen, has proven itself as an effective therapy for a limited number of cancers. Oncologists have long suspected that photodynamic therapy could find broader use if only there was some way to limit the accumulation of photosensitizer molecules to tumors, sparing healthy tissue from unintended damage. Now, using modified silica nanoparticles, a team of investigators at the State University of New York, Buffalo, has developed a photosensitizer delivery method that has the potential to target tumor cells specifically.

Nano Letters abstract

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: Quantum device traps, detects and manipulates the spin of single electrons
News source: University at Buffalo

A novel device, developed by a team led by University at Buffalo engineers, simply and conveniently traps, detects and manipulates the single spin of an electron, overcoming some major obstacles that have prevented progress toward spintronics and spin-based quantum computing.

… "The task of manipulating the spin of single electrons is a hugely daunting technological challenge that has the potential, if overcome, to open up new paradigms of nanoelectronics," said Jonathan P. Bird, Ph.D., professor of electrical engineering in the UB School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and principal investigator on the project. "In this paper, we demonstrate a novel approach that allows us to easily trap, manipulate and detect single-electron spins, in a scheme that has the potential to be scaled up in the future into dense, integrated circuits."

Physical Review Letters paper [PDF]

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: C60 transistor breaks new records
News source: nanotechweb.org, written by Belle Dumé (requires free registration)

High-performance field effect transistors made from fullerene have been successfully developed by scientists at the Georgia Institute of Technology, US. The devices, which are very stable, have electron-mobility values that outperform amorphous silicon, low threshold voltages and large on-off ratios. They can also be fabricated at room temperature, which makes them compatible with any substrate, including flexible plastic.

…the devices could be used for large area, low-cost electronic circuits on flexible substrates in applications such as RFID tags and signage. The team now plans to integrate the single transistors into circuits such as inverters, ring oscillators, logic gates, drivers for active matrix displays and imaging devices.

Applied Physics Letters abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Foresight note: Nanofabricated circuits enabled the demonstration of superconducting qubits and "on-chip, on-demand single-photon" generation—important advances toward quantum computing.

Headline: Yale scientists make 2 giant steps in advancement of quantum computing
News source: Yale University, via AAAS EurekAlert

Two major steps toward putting quantum computers into real practice — sending a photon signal on demand from a qubit onto wires and transmitting the signal to a second, distant qubit — have been brought about by a team of scientists at Yale. The accomplishments are reported in sequential issues of Nature on September 20 and September 27, on which it is highlighted as the cover along with complementary work from a group at the National Institute of Standards and Technologies.

Nature abstract-1, abstract-2, abstract-3

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Foresight Challenge: Enabling space development

Headline: Using nanotubes to detect and repair cracks in aircraft wings, other structures
New technology enables real-time diagnostics and on-site repair
News source: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Adding even a small amount of carbon nanotubes can go a long way toward enhancing the strength, integrity, and safety of plastic materials widely used in engineering applications, according to a new study.

Researchers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have developed a simple new technique for identifying and repairing small, potentially dangerous cracks in high-performance aircraft wings and many other structures made from polymer composites.

… [principal investigator Nikhil A.] Koratkar said. "We've shown that nanoscale science, if applied creatively, can really make a difference in large-scale engineering and structures."

Applied Physics Letters abstract

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Toward Productive Nanosystems

Foresight note: This advance incorporates molecularly tethered catalysts to close the resolution gap between the popular and useful microcontact printing (soft lithography) approach and atomically precise fabrication from about 100 nm to about 2 nm.

Headline: Using catalysts to stamp nanopatterns without ink
News source: Duke University, via AAAS EurekAlert

Using enzymes from E. coli bacteria, Duke University chemists and engineers have introduced a hundred-fold improvement in the precision of features imprinted to create microdevices such as labs-on-a-chip.

"This has a lot of potential, because we don't have the resolution issue," said Robert Clark, a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and dean at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. "The really important part is that with a biological catalyst there's no ink involved," added Duke chemistry professor Eric Toone.

… By using different catalysts in succession, future versions of the inkless technique could be used to build complex nanoscale devices with unprecedented precision, the two predicted.

Journal of Organic Chemistry abstract

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Foresight Events

Productive Nanosystems: Launching the Technology Roadmap

Conference sponsored by Foresight Nanotech Institute and Society of Manufacturing Engineers with support from Battelle
October 9-10, 2007
DoubleTree Crystal City in Arlington, VA

Now, for the first time, the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems will describe the R&D pathways and products resulting from this ultimate technological revolution. Join us as we explore the power of advanced "bottom-up" nanotechnology in this 14th Foresight Conference on Advanced Nanotechnology.

Feynman Prize luncheon on October 9, 2007

The full conference program (October 9, October 10) and brochure (PDF 987 KB) are now available.

Special thanks to The Waitt Family Foundation and Sun Microsystems for financial support of the Roadmap project.

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Foresight Vision Weekend 2007: The Unconference

November 3-4, 2007
Yahoo! HQ in Silicon Valley, CA

This year we are experimenting with the highly popular Unconference format. Special thanks to Yahoo! for donating their conference center as our venue.

Registration is now open for current and newly joining Senior Associates.

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Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology

Do you believe that nanotechnology will give society the ability to tackle the hard challenges facing humanity? What's your priority for nanotechnology: cancer treatments and longevity therapies, sustainable energy, clean water, a restored environment, space development, or "zero waste" manufacturing? Or perhaps there are potential nanotech scenarios you would like to prevent.

If you would like to help influence the direction of this powerful technology, please consider becoming a member of Foresight Nanotech Institute. With your support, Foresight will continue to educate the general public on beneficial nanotechnology and what it will mean to our society.

Members receive the Foresight Nanotech Update newsletter. For a sample from the archives, see the article "Manipulating atoms using atom chips." Update interviews Dr. Ron Folman of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev on the use of the quantum properties of atoms to place atoms where you want them.. Join Foresight and help steer nanotech in the directions you personally support most!

"Manipulating atoms using atom chips" in Update 58

To join:
https://www.foresight.org/forms/php/donate.php

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Foresight Partners

SmallTimes NanoCon International
The Leading Nanotechnology and MEMS Networking Event
November 14-16, 2007
Santa Clara, CA

Attracting hundreds of decision makers from around the world, Small Times NanoCon International is your premier source for business alliances, information exchange and commercial strategy.

Event Highlights:

  • An international audience of more than 400 nanotechnology and MEMS professionals
  • Dynamic conference program, uniquely covering the most critical business and technical commercialization issues
  • Excellent networking events designed to connect you with key decision makers
  • Engaging exhibit floor featuring the leading tools, manufacturing, materials, and service companies

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Nanotech Research

Headline: Nanowire generates power by harvesting energy from the environment
News source: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, via AAAS EurekAlert

…researchers at the University of Illinois have shown that a single nanowire can produce power by harvesting mechanical energy. Made of piezoelectric material, the nanowire generates a voltage when mechanically deformed. To measure the voltage produced by such a tiny wire, however, the researchers first had to build an extremely sensitive and precise mechanical testing stage.

"With the development of this precision testing apparatus, we successfully demonstrated the first controlled measurement of voltage generation from an individual nanowire," said Min-Feng Yu, a professor of mechanical science and engineering, and a researcher at the university's Beckman Institute. "The new testing apparatus makes possible other difficult, but important, measurements, as well."

Nano Letters abstract

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Editor's Pick

We continue our tradition of citing a special story that strikes the Editor as especially cool, but which doesn't fit within the usual editorial categories of the News Digest.

Devices built with this technique might allow nanomechanical manipulations to be controlled by a single electron—a potential that was not apparent before two different technologies were combined.

— Jim

Headline: Doping technique brings nanomechanical devices into the semiconductor world
News source: University of Wisconsin-Madison, via AAAS EurekAlert

With the help of a device capable of depositing metals an atom at a time in the materials used in computer chips, a team of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers has successfully blended modern semiconductor technology and nanomachines.

The work … marks the advent of a new class of nanomechanical devices with implications ranging from improved solar energy cells and light-emitting diodes to highly sensitive probes capable of measuring single biological molecules.

… The ability to confer the properties of a semiconductor onto the submicroscopic machines scientists are now learning how to build opens the door to a host of new tiny mechanical devices that can be manipulated with a single electron or, in the case of a biological application, a single molecule such as a protein.

physica status solidi (RRL) abstract

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Nanodot: A sample from Foresight's blog

Headline: Artist takes on nanotechnology and privacy

Like me, perhaps you normally prefer more traditional art: oil paintings, perhaps. But new art can have an important societal purpose beyond its aesthetic value, and artist Nina Waisman has taken on a key nanotech issue to raise in her work: the relation between nanotechnology, sensing, and privacy…

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Headline: Genius grant goes to Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology winner

Can we pick 'em or what? All of us at Foresight Nanotech are pleased as punch to see that the co-winner of both 2006 Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology (Theory and Experiment) has just won a 2007 MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as a genius grant…

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Headline: Nanotechnology to capture power plant emissions

An EU nanotechnology initiative aims to capture power plant emissions using nanotech…

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Headline: Nanotechnology innovator on NPR

When we give a nanotechnology prize here at Foresight, we like to track what happens to the winner as his/her career unfolds. We've been doing this with Dr. Anita Goel — now President, Scientific Director and CEO of Nanobiosym Labs/ Nanobiosym Diagnostics, Inc. — who won our Distinguish Student Award back in 1999. Most recently she was on NPR, and you can listen to the show…

—Nanodot posts by Christine Peterson

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Foresight Lectures

October 6-7, 2007
7th Alcor Conference on Life Extension
Alcor Life Extension Foundation
Scottsdale, Arizona
Christine Peterson will speak on life extension.
Click here for conference details

October 22-23, 2007
She's Geeky: A Women's Tech (un)Conference
Mountain View, California
Christine Peterson will serve on the Future Technologies panel, covering nanotechnology, open source, and security.
Click here for conference details

October 26, 2007
nanoUtah 2007 Conference
Utah Technology Council
Salt Lake City, Utah
Pearl Chin will give the dinner keynote address.
Click here for conference details

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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. To find out more about membership, follow this link:
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Dr. James Lewis, Research Analyst 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 him with comments about the News Digest, please send an email to editor@foresight.org

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