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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: October 25, 2007

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Top Nano News of the Week

Headline: Toward world's smallest radio: nano-sized detector turns radio waves into music
News source: American Chemical Society, via AAAS EurekAlert

Researchers in California … report development of the world's first working radio system that receives radio waves wirelessly and converts them to sound signals through a nano-sized detector made of carbon nanotubes. The "carbon nanotube radio" device is thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair. The development marks an important step in the evolution of nano-electronics and could lead to the production of the world's smallest radio, the scientists say.

…The study demonstrates the feasibility of making other radio components at the nanoscale in the future and may eventually lead to a "truly integrated nanoscale wireless communications system," [the researchers] say. Such a device could have numerous industrial, commercial, medical and other applications.

Nano Letters abstract

In this issue:

Health: Dendrimers: The unpublished story
Health: Nanotechnology to revolutionize point-of-care cardiac testing
Clean energy: Large increase in light emission from nanocomposite
Information technology: Drive advance fuels terabyte era
Information technology: Nanowires hold promise for future CMOS
Toward Productive Nanosystems: Building tomorrow's nanofactory
Foresight Events: Vision Weekend 2007: The Unconference
Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology - Join Foresight
Conference – Small Times NanoCon International
Research: Push-button nanotechnology
Editor's Pick: Fine art gets a nano sponge bath
Nanodot: Nanotechnology plastic as strong as steel
Nanodot: Patent office arms race will hurt nanotechnology
Foresight Lectures
Contact Foresight

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Foresight note: We've reported here many encouraging developments in the use of engineered nanostructures as vehicles for treating cancer and other diseases. How smooth is the road from nanostructure discovery to helping patients? Howard Lovy, 2004 winner of the Foresight Institute Prize in Communication, describes in depth the convoluted history of a promising class of nanostructures called dendrimers, and the issues now dividing former collaborators each trying to move the technology forward in different ways.

Headline: Dendrimers: The unpublished story
News source: Howard Lovy's NanoBot

The tiny dendrimer, nanotechnology's tendriled, tattered and almost forgotten starlet, is at last emerging from nearly 30 years of patent-filing and science-paper purgatory and into the light of real-world products and partnerships. In 2007 alone, dendrimers have attracted about a million dollars in DARPA funds for research into a device that would automatically keep wounded soldiers free from pain on the battlefield; they have come to the apparent rescue of a company that had been having trouble getting its soft-tissue cancer treatment device to stop leaking radiation; and after success as MRI contrast agents, dendrimers are now being taken seriously as a candidate for a long-sought delivery agent for siRNA (gene silencing) therapy.

And by the time the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gives its anticipated 2009 or 2010 approval to the first dendrimer-based pharmaceutical, the former Dow Chemical Co. scientist who invented his pet molecule will have counted 30 years since he first synthesized this "beautiful" (his word) molecule in his Midland, Mich., lab. But Donald Tomalia says he doesn't mind the nearly three decades in the cold. In fact, he says, the pattern for any "disruptive" technology is to first pay its dues for about 20 years before general acceptance. "We're kind of on schedule there when you think about it," Tomalia says.

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Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Nanotechnology to revolutionize point-of-care cardiac testing
News source: Nanowerk News

University of Ulster researchers have teamed up with scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay on a project to develop low-volume whole-blood sensors that could revolutionise point-of-care cardiac testing.

Fast, accurate blood analysis is vital in the treatment of people suffering heart attacks or other life-threatening cardiac events, said Professor Jim McLaughlin, Director of UU's Nanotechnology & Advanced Materials Research Institute, who leads the project team.

…The sensor system under development will use carbon nanotubes to filter out blood cells—preventing them from adhering to the sensor, or distorting the result.

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Providing renewable clean energy

Foresight note: These researchers discovered a way to treat carbon nanotubes used to make composites with organic films to, in the words of the authors' abstract of their research paper "…greatly advance the prospects of utilizing MWCNTs in organic solar cells and electroluminescent devices to improve performance."

Headline: Enhancement of Polymer luminescence by excitation-energy transfer from Multi-Walled Carbon Nanotubes
News source: PhysOrg.Com

Organic based solution processable devices are promising to revolutionise the lighting and photovoltaic industries of the future…

Researchers at the Advanced Technology Institute of the University of Surrey, in collaboration with researchers from China and the USA, have recently demonstrated … a 100-fold increase in the light emission from a nylon polymer sample, by incorporating multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNT).

[One researcher commented that this work] "will now allow us to investigate ways to modify the active material used for solar cells in order to harvest more of the solar spectrum using hybrid mixtures."

Small abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: Drive advance fuels terabyte era
News source: BBC News

A single hard drive with four terabytes of storage (4TB) could be a reality by 2011, thanks to a nanotechnology breakthrough by Japanese firm Hitachi. The company has successfully managed to shrink the read-write head of a hard drive to two thousand times smaller than the width of a human hair. The smaller head can read greater densities of data stored on the disk.

Hitachi News Release

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: Nanowires hold promise for future CMOS
News source: Semiconductor International, written by David Lammers

The semiconductor industry will continue to see performance improvements after CMOS gate scaling runs up against physical limits, said Hiroshi Iwai, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology. Researchers can achieve higher transistor densities by pursuing reduced operating voltages, and nanowire or nanotube-based field-effect transistors (FETs) will eventually play key roles as well, he said.

In a keyote address at the recent Fourth International Symposium on Advanced Gate Stack Technology, Iwai described an interim period coming after the end of CMOS scaling and prior to the introduction of exotic devices based on quantum spin, molecular or other revolutionary forms of logic.

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Toward Productive Nanosystems

Foresight note: This Royal Society of Chemistry article announces the promised funding of the three UK projects produced by the software control of matter "ideas factory" described in Update 58.

Headline: Building tomorrow's nanofactory
News source: Chemistry World, written by Richard Van Noorden

UK scientists have been granted £2.5 million to invent a nanomachine that can build materials molecule by molecule.

Such a robot doesn't—and may never—exist, though it has been imagined for over half a century. But this autumn, researchers across the UK are starting work towards it, following the funding of three research projects by the Engineering and physical sciences research council.

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Foresight Events

Foresight Vision Weekend 2007: The Unconference

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

Registration has just opened to News Digest readers for our very first Unconference, where you control the agenda in real time! This meeting has traditionally been limited to our Senior Associate members, but this year we are experimenting with inviting a broader group interested in nanotech and other coming advanced technologies.

And due to Yahoo's generous donation of their conference center, this year's Vision Weekend is only $95 if you register now.

Join us for fifteen intense hours of mind-blowing creativity: from the biggest picture of tomorrow's Web to the tiniest picture of nanotechnology, from the nearest view of what's important right now, to the longest view of where we're inexorably going in a few decades—and how to steer and benefit from rapid change instead of being run over by it.

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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 "Software control of matter." In the U.K. an "ideas factory" produces three projects aimed at arranging atoms or molecules according to an arbitrary, user-defined blueprint. Join Foresight and help steer nanotech in the directions you personally support most!

"Software control of matter" 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: Push-button nanotechnology
News source: Nanowerk Spotlight, written by Michael Berger

…nanoparticle synthesis is normally quite a tricky process that requires a lot of skill and expertise on the part of the chemist to obtain good quality particles of well controlled size and shape. Researchers in the UK tried to see if they could automate the whole procedure by preparing the nanoparticles in automated chemical reactors under the direct control of a computer.

…The system devised by the Imperial College scientists uses a microfluidic reactor to carry out the synthesis and an in-line spectrometer to monitor the emission spectra of the emergent particles. …the acquired data is fed into a control algorithm which reduces each spectrum to a scalar 'dissatisfaction coefficient' and then intelligently updates the reaction conditions in an effort to minimize this coefficient and so drive the system towards a desired goal.

Free access paper in Lab on a Chip

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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.

The challenges of art restoration furnish another example of the variety of useful and unique applications for even simple nanostructures—in this case magnetic nanoparticles in a polymer network.

— Jim

Headline: Fine art gets a nano sponge bath
Tiny particles help tidy up delicate frescoes
News source: Chemical & Engineering News, written by Bethany Halford

To remove the ravages of time and grime from works of fine art, restoration experts have an entire palette of tools to choose from. Piero Baglioni would like to offer them another option: a sponge.

It's no ordinary sponge though. By enlisting magnetic nanoparticles, Baglioni, a chemistry professor at Italy's University of Florence, has created a material that can soak up cleaning solutions or microemulsions; squeeze them out onto the surface of a painting, fresco, or sculpture; and then reabsorb them without a human hand ever coming into contact with the delicate artwork.

Langmuir abstract

Alternative news source: Nanowerk Spotlight, written by Cathy Garber
Headline: Old world masterpieces may benefit from a nanotechnology cleaning

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Nanodot: A sample from Foresight's blog

Headline: Nanotechnology plastic as strong as steel

MSNBC brings news of a new nanotechnology achievement at University of Michigan:
"By mimicking structures found in seashells, scientists have created a transparent plastic that is as strong as steel…"

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Headline: Patent office arms race will hurt nanotechnology

There's an arms race between government patent offices and patent filers assisted by private law firms. The folks who work for the former get paid a lot less than the those who work for the latter. This leads to a continual drain away from government review of patent applications toward private generation of patent applications. A San Jose Mercury News blog entry explains more of the problem, which will affect all areas of technology but especially new, complex, multidisciplinary ones such as nanotechnology…

—Nanodot posts by Christine Peterson

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Foresight Lectures

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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