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Foresight Nanotech Institute Weekly News Digest: October 18, 2007

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.

Top Nano News of the Week

Foresight note: This year's physics and chemistry Nobel Prizes recognize fundamental advances in nanoscience that have already had major impacts on information technology and on industrial catalysts.

Headline: Physics of hard drives wins Nobel
News source: The New York Times, written by Dennis Overbye

Two physicists who discovered how to manipulate the magnetic and electrical properties of thin layers of atoms to store vast amounts of data on tiny disks, making iPods and other wonders of modern life possible, were chosen as winners of the Nobel Prize in Physics yesterday.

…Experts said the discovery was one of the first triumphs of the new field of nanotechnology, the science of building and manipulating assemblies of atoms only a nanometer (a billionth of a meter) in size.

Headline: German wins Nobel in chemistry
News source: The New York Times, written by John Schwartz

A German scientist whose studies of chemical reactions on solid surfaces have affected agriculture, manufacturing and environmental science won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry today.

…Dr. Ertl focused on the ways that the gases might be absorbed [on surfaces, and] break apart or interact with other captured molecules.

In this issue:

Health: Nanoengineers mine tiny diamonds for drug delivery
Health: Gold nanorods shed light on new approach to fighting cancer
Environment: Catalytic converters go nano
Information technology: IBM attempts to reinvent memory
Information technology: Good vibrations in nanotube research
Toward Productive Nanosystems: Nanotechnology monorail cargo shuttles
Foresight Events: Vision Weekend 2007: The Unconference
Advancing Beneficial Nanotechnology - Join Foresight
Conference – Small Times NanoCon International
Research: Researchers measure carbon nanotube interaction
Editor's Pick: New path for designing novel nanomaterials discovered
Nanodot: David Brin on nanotechnology ethics
Nanodot: Foresight Unconference on nanotechnology, advanced software, future technologies
Nanodot: Check out MIT nanotechnology videos
Nanodot: Nanotechnology insulation to generate electricity
Nanodot: Nanotechnology prizes go to Leigh, Stoddart, Freitas, Ou
Nanodot: Liveblogging the Productive Nanosystems conference on nanotechnology
Nanodot: What to do if you didn't win Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology
Foresight Lectures
Contact Foresight

Nanotechnology that's Good For People

Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Nanoengineers mine tiny diamonds for drug delivery
News source: Northwestern University, via AAAS EurekAlert

Northwestern University researchers have shown that nanodiamonds … are very effective at delivering chemotherapy drugs to cells without the negative effects associated with current drug delivery agents.

Nanodiamonds promise to play a significant role in improving cancer treatment by limiting uncontrolled exposure of toxic drugs to the body. The research team reports that aggregated clusters of nanodiamonds were shown to be ideal for carrying a chemotherapy drug and shielding it from normal cells so as not to kill them, releasing the drug slowly only after it reached its cellular target.

Nano Letters abstract

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Foresight Challenge: Improving health and longevity

Headline: Gold nanorods shed light on new approach to fighting cancer
News source: Purdue University, written by Emil Venere

Researchers have shown how tiny "nanorods" of gold can be triggered by a laser beam to blast holes in the membranes of tumor cells, setting in motion a complex biochemical mechanism that leads to a tumor cell's self-destruction.

Tumor cell membranes often have an abnormally high number of receptor sites to capture molecules of folic acid, or folate, a form of vitamin B that many tumor cells crave. The Purdue researchers attached folate to the gold nanorods, enabling them to target the receptors and attach to the tumor cell membranes.

"The cells are then illuminated with light in the near-infrared range," said Ji-Xin Cheng (pronounced Gee-Shin), an assistant professor in Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering. "This light can easily pass through tissue but is absorbed by the nanorods and converted rapidly into heat, leading to miniature explosions on the cell surface."

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Nanotechnology that's Good For the Planet

Foresight Challenge: Healing and preserving the environment

Headline: Catalytic converters go nano
News source: Chemistry World, written by Ned Stafford

Mazda Motor Corporation has unveiled a new generation of catalytic converters that use 70 to 90 per cent less of the precious metals [that] help to purify exhaust emissions.

The converters rely on nanoparticles of the catalytic metal, each less than five nanometres across, studded onto the surface of tiny ceramic spheres. The Japanese firm claims this is the first time 'a catalyst material has been achieved that features single, nanosized precious metal particles embedded in fixed positions.'

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Foresight note: The scientist cited for this breakthrough in nanowire-based memory was also cited in some articles reporting this year's Nobel Prize for physics, which was awarded to two other scientists for the discovery of giant magnetoresistance, for his work developing the first industrial scale process using the giant magnetoresistance effect.

Headline: IBM attempts to reinvent memory
A new type of memory using nanowires could be simpler, cheaper, denser, faster, and more reliable.
News source: Technology Review, written by Kevin Bullis

A new nanowire-based memory device being developed by researchers at IBM could combine the best qualities of the various types of memory used today, driving down costs and improving performance…

Stuart Parkin, an experimental physicist at IBM's Almaden Research Center, in San Jose, CA, says that the memory, which would pack a hundred bits of data on a single nanowire, could potentially store 10 to 100 times more data than flash—the type of memory used in digital cameras and other small portable devices—while operating at much faster speeds. And because it's solid-state memory, it would be far sturdier than magnetic hard drives, which require mechanical devices to read and write data.

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Foresight Challenge: Making information technology available to all

Headline: Good vibrations in nanotube research
News source: PhysOrg.com

IBM scientists today announced that they have measured the distribution of electrical charges in tubes of carbon that measure less than 2 nanometers in diameter, 50,000 times thinner than a strand of human hair.

This novel technique, which relies on the interactions between electrons and phonons, provides a detailed understanding of the electrical behavior of carbon nanotubes, a material that shows promise as a building block for much smaller, faster and lower power computer chips compared to today's conventional silicon transistors.

"The success of nanoelectronics will largely depend on the ability to prepare well characterized and reproducible nano-structures, such as carbon nanotubes," said Dr. Phaedon Avouris, IBM Fellow and lead researcher for IBM's carbon nanotube efforts. "Using this technique, we are now able to see and understand the local electronic behavior of individual carbon nanotubes."

Nature Nanotechnology abstract

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Toward Productive Nanosystems

Foresight note: During last week's Productive Nanosystems conference, Keith Firman spoke on paths using biological molecular motors. Here Swiss researchers report "a major milestone on the way to directed assembly on the micro- and nanoscale."

Headline: Nanotechnology monorail cargo shuttles
News source: Nanowerk Spotlight, written by Cathy Garber

In molecular shuttles, kinesin proteins propel cargo (such as organelles) along hollow tubes called microtubules. Cells use these motors to transport cargo to highly specific destinations, in order to regulate levels of macromolecules and processes, much like a train along a track. … Researchers in Switzerland have now built nanoscale cargo loading stations and shuttles, an important step towards assembly lines for nanotechnology.

"Imagine you could build machines by assembling single molecules, and use these machines as tools to create complex materials, repair tiny defects on surfaces or in living cells, or to store and retrieve information" says Dr. Viola Vogel. "These nanoscale machines would be totally different from machines like trains, cranes or presses in their appearance, but they would have to perform related functions like transporting things or changing their shape. We are attempting to build a nanoscale train system, complete with tracks, loading docks and a control system."

Free access article in Lab on a Chip

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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.

Registration for the Vision Weekend has traditionally been restricted to Senior Associates of Foresight Nanotech Institute. This year we are experimenting with opening up registration to Weekly Digest readers. Once this group has made their decisions, spaces remaining—if any—will be opened up to the general public.

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 "Anticipating advanced nanotechnology." J. Storrs Hall's book Nanofuture: What's Next for Nanotechnology describes what advanced nanotechnology will be like and how it will transform our lives. Join Foresight and help steer nanotech in the directions you personally support most!

"Anticipating advanced nanotechnology" 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

Foresight note: This research is another step toward more rational design of nanomaterials because it provides a direct comparison between theory and experiment for single molecular interactions with a very important class of nanostructures.

Headline: Researchers measure carbon nanotube interaction
News source: DOE/Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, via AAAS EurekAlert

Carbon nanotubes have been employed for a variety of uses including composite materials, biosensors, nano-electronic circuits and membranes.

While they have proven useful for these purposes, no one really knows much about what's going on at the molecular level. For example, how do nanotubes and chemical functional groups interact with each other on the atomic scale? Answering this question could lead to improvements in future nano devices.

In a quest to find the answer, researchers for the first time have been able to measure a specific interaction for a single functional group with carbon nanotubes using chemical force microscopy — a nanoscale technique that measures interaction forces using tiny spring-like sensors. Functional groups are the smallest specific group of atoms within a molecule that determine the characteristic chemical reactions of that molecule.

Nature Nanotechnology 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.

We are only beginning to appreciate the possibilities afforded by engineering nanomaterials. Here a more complete picture of electronic structure promises new ways to design quantum materials with engineered properties.

— Jim

Headline: New path for designing novel nanomaterials discovered
News source: University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, via Science Daily

A University of Arkansas researcher and his colleagues have found a novel way to "look" at atomic orbitals, and have directly shown for the first time that they change substantially when interacting at the interface of a ferromagnet and a high-temperature superconductor.

This finding opens up a new way of designing nanoscale superconducting materials and fundamentally changes scientific convention, which suggests that only electron spin and atomic charge—not atomic orbitals—influence the properties of superconducting nanostructures. It also has implications for interfaces between other complex oxide materials.

Science abstract

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Nanodot: A sample from Foresight's blog

Headline: David Brin on nanotechnology ethics

Over at the CRN website they have a guest post by author David Brin on nanotechnology ethics…

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Headline: Foresight Unconference on nanotechnology, advanced software, future technologies

Foresight Nanotech Institute will hold its first-ever "Unconference" to explore coming technologies, their impacts, and opportunities to steer them to beneficial outcomes…

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Headline: Check out MIT nanotechnology videos

Some MIT nanotechnology activities are targeted at alumni, but you may be able to get in the door at a higher price…

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Headline: Nanotechnology insulation to generate electricity

[UPDATE: see the comments for some skepticism about this product.] Normally we only expect insulation to save energy, not generate it. Now a nanotechnology-based coating will move the state-of-the-art to the second category, as brought to our attention by Meridian…

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Headline: Nanotechnology prizes go to Leigh, Stoddart, Freitas, Ou

Foresight Nanotech Institute, the leading think tank and public interest organization focused on nanotechnology, awarded prizes to leaders in research, communication and study in the field of nanotechnology at the Productive Nanosystems Conference… These prizes are conferred on individuals whose work in research, communication and study are moving our society towards the ultimate goal of atomically-precise manufacturing…

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Headline: Liveblogging the Productive Nanosystems conference on nanotechnology

Mike Treder brings this to our attention: "Today and tomorrow, CRN is reporting on presentations at an important conference on Productive Nanosystems: Launching the Technology Roadmap. Chris Phoenix is providing live blog coverage for us…

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Headline: What to do if you didn't win Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology

We at Foresight are just returned from this week's Productive Nanosystems Conference where the Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes in Nanotechnology were awarded. Didn't win this year? First, remember to re-apply next year. But you can also go after another nanotech prize…

—Nanodot posts by Christine Peterson

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Foresight Lectures

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:
http://www.foresight.org/members/index.html

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

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

If you would like to browse past issues of the News Digest, follow this link:
http://www.foresight.org/publications/weekly.html

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