Currently browsing the Nanotechnology Category

Nanotube-producing Bacteria Show Manufacturing Promise

Genus Shewanella

Nanotube-producing Bacteria Show Manufacturing Promise:

The photoactive arsenic-sulfide nanotubes produced by the bacteria behave as metals with electrical and photoconductive properties. The researchers report that these properties may also provide novel functionality for the next generation of semiconductors in nano- and opto-electronic devices.

In a process that is not yet fully understood, the Shewanella bacterium secretes polysacarides that seem to produce the template for the arsenic sulfide nanotubes, Myung explained. The practical significance of this technique would be much greater if a bacterial species were identified that could produce nanotubes of cadmium sulfide or other superior semiconductor materials, he added.

“This is just a first step that points the way to future investigation,” he said. “Each species of Shewanella might have individual implications for manufacturing properties.”

Related: Self-assembling Nanotechnology in Chip ManufacturingBacteria Engineered to Sprout Conducting NanowiresUsing Bacteria to Carry Nanoparticles Into CellsNanotechnology Breakthroughs for Computer ChipsNanotechnology Research

Most Powerful Anti-matter Beam Yet

NC State Nuclear Reactor Program Celebrates Scientific Breakthrough

Success was two years in the making – the positron project began in 2005 as a collaboration between NC State, the University of Michigan and Oak Ridge National Laboratory with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. “The idea here is that if we create this intense beam of antimatter electrons – the complete opposite of the electron, basically – we can then use them in investigating and understanding the new types of materials being used in many applications,” Hawari said.

Now that the intense beam has been generated, members of NC State’s nuclear engineering program and their collaborators will turn their focus to developing instrumentation such as antimatter spectrometers and potentially long-discussed antimatter microscopes, which would allow for a much more detailed look into materials at the atomic level.

NC State Nuclear Reactor Generates Record Low-Energy Positron Beam

Once the stuff of science fiction, these anti-matter, or positron, beams have a multitude of uses in nanoscience and materials engineering because of the positron’s ability to gravitate toward and trap in defects or pores in a material at sizes as small as a single atom. Positrons are used to detect damage from radiation in nuclear reactors and are impacting the emerging field of nanoengineered materials where nanometer-sized voids control properties such as dielectric constant in microelectronic devices and hydrogen storage in fuel cells.

An intense positron beam means that researchers will have better measurements of a material’s porosity, especially in high-tech thin film applications where traditional techniques falter. This beam will be used in Positron Annihilation Lifetime Spectrometry (PALS) and Doppler Broadening Spectrometry (DBS). Hawari also believes that other positron analysis techniques will become possible. While the spectrometers are not yet built, they are on the books for completion next year.

Nanoengineers Use Tiny Diamonds for Drug Delivery

Nanoengineers Mine Tiny Diamonds for Drug Delivery

Northwestern University researchers have shown that nanodiamonds — much like the carbon structure as that of a sparkling 14 karat diamond but on a much smaller scale — are very effective at delivering chemotherapy drugs to cells without the negative effects associated with current drug delivery agents.

To make the material effective, Ho and his colleagues manipulated single nanodiamonds, each only two nanometers in diameter, to form aggregated clusters of nanodiamonds, ranging from 50 to 100 nanometers in diameter. The drug, loaded onto the surface of the individual diamonds, is not active when the nanodiamonds are aggregated; it only becomes active when the cluster reaches its target, breaks apart and slowly releases the drug. (With a diameter of two to eight nanometers, hundreds of thousands of diamonds could fit onto the head of a pin.)

“The nanodiamond cluster provides a powerful release in a localized place — an effective but less toxic delivery method,” said co-author Eric Pierstorff, a molecular biologist and post-doctoral fellow in Ho’s research group. Because of the large amount of available surface area, the clusters can carry a large amount of drug, nearly five times the amount of drug carried by conventional materials.

Nanotechnology Breakthroughs for Computer Chips

Nano On Off Switch

Photo: Actual scanning tunneling microscopy images of the naphthalocyanine molecule in the “on” and the “off” state. More images

IBM Unveils Two Major Nanotechnology Breakthroughs as Building Blocks for Atomic Structures and Devices

IBM scientists have made major progress in probing a property called magnetic anisotropy in individual atoms. This fundamental measurement has important technological consequences because it determines an atom’s ability to store information. Previously, nobody had been able to measure the magnetic anisotropy of a single atom.

With further work it may be possible to build structures consisting of small clusters of atoms, or even individual atoms, that could reliably store magnetic information. Such a storage capability would enable nearly 30,000 feature length movies or the entire contents of YouTube – millions of videos estimated to be more than 1,000 trillion bits of data – to fit in a device the size of an iPod. Perhaps more importantly, the breakthrough could lead to new kinds of structures and devices that are so small they could be applied to entire new fields and disciplines beyond traditional computing.

In the second report, IBM researchers unveiled the first single-molecule switch that can operate flawlessly without disrupting the molecule’s outer frame — a significant step toward building computing elements at the molecular scale that are vastly smaller, faster and use less energy than today’s computer chips and memory devices.

In addition to switching within a single molecule, the researchers also demonstrated that atoms inside one molecule can be used to switch atoms in an adjacent molecule, representing a rudimentary logic element. This is made possible partly because the molecular framework is not disturbed.

Related: Self-assembling Nanotechnology in Chip ManufacturingMore Microchip BreakthroughsNanotechnology posts

Nanotechnology Investment as Strategic National Economic Policy

We have quite a few posts on the intersection of science, research, economic, investment… such as: Diplomacy and Science Research, Science and Engineering in Global Economics and Engineering the Future Economy. Here is another example, from the Wired Science BlogBeating the United States in the Race for Nanotechnology:

When the United States began the National Nanotechnology Initiative, it became clear to a number of small countries including Singapore, Taiwan, and Israel that it was time to invest heavily in similar frontier areas of science. With a level of decisiveness and determination comparable to the efforts of the United States after the launch of Sputnik, Singapore quickly became a global niche player in nanotechnology.

It’s fascinating to hear a high ranking government official who is so incredibly technology savvy and focused on economic development through investment in science. It makes the current climate in the U.S. look really bad, but on the other hand the other countries followed our lead. Since then, they have sort of outdone us at our own game.

Singapore is doing the right things to invest in a science and engineering economy. 10 minute webcast of Foreign Minister George Yeo at the 3rd International Conference on Bioengineering and Nanotechnology:

Related: Singapore woos top scientists with new labsSingapore Research FellowshipSingapore Supporting Science ResearchersNanotechnology posts

Highly Paid Professor

A Raise for the Record Books:

Under the new agreement, the base state salary for Alain E. Kaloyeros, a professor of nanosciences and vice president and chief administrative officer for the college, rose from $525,000 to roughly $667,000.

That’s in addition to money he earns from his research efforts: In the 2006 fiscal year, he also received $258,701 based on his generation of external grants, contracts, licenses and royalties, which Kaloyeros estimated via e-mail amount to about $250 million per year. (He added in his e-mail that he turns down all offers for consulting, board service, and the like, so does not have any income external to the university).

“Alain has been responsible for bringing in billions of dollars to U Albany for nanotechnology research and development … about $4 billion to date,” said Susan V. Herbst, provost and officer in charge, or acting president, at Albany. Herbst approved the raise, which was subsequently approved by SUNY’s former systemwide chancellor, John R. Ryan. “Certainly in medicine, engineering, the life sciences, the great universities across the country need to pay competitive salaries to keep the very best faculty with them. We are no different.”

Kaloyeros’s salary increase comes with an increase in duties related to economic development, for which a full announcement is pending in a few weeks, Herbst said. She pointed, though, to one major economic development initiative already announced and under way: Kaloyeros’s work to bring the international headquarters for SEMATECH, a consortium of semiconductor manufacturers representing about half the world’s production, to Albany.

Related: Educational Institutions Economic ImpactReport on Faculty SalariesScience Jobs for a Strong EconomyEngineering Economic Success

Using Bacteria to Carry Nanoparticles Into Cells

bacteria nanopartical ferry

Bacteria ferry nanoparticles into cells for early diagnosis, treatment

Researchers at Purdue University have shown that common bacteria can deliver a valuable cargo of “smart nanoparticles” into a cell to precisely position sensors, drugs or DNA for the early diagnosis and treatment of various diseases. The approach represents a potential way to overcome hurdles in delivering cargo to the interiors of cells, where they could be used as an alterative technology for gene therapy, said Rashid Bashir, a researcher at Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center.

The researchers attached nanoparticles to the outside of bacteria and linked DNA to the nanoparticles. Then the nanoparticle-laden bacteria transported the DNA to the nuclei of cells, causing the cells to produce a fluorescent protein that glowed green. The same method could be used to deliver drugs, genes or other cargo into cells.

“The released cargo is designed to be transported to different locations in the cells to carry out disease detection and treatment simultaneously,” said Bashir, a professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. “Because the bacteria and nanoparticle material can be selected from many choices, this is a delivery system that can be tailored to the characteristics of the receiving cells. It can deliver diagnostic or therapeutic cargo effectively for a wide range of needs.”

Harmless strains of bacteria could be used as vehicles, harnessing bacteria’s natural ability to penetrate cells and their nuclei, Bashir said. “For gene therapy, a big obstacle has been finding ways to transport the therapeutic DNA molecule through the nuclear membrane and into the nucleus,” he said. “Only when it is in the nucleus can the DNA produce proteins that perform specific functions and correct genetic disease conditions.”
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Self Healing Plastic

Plastic That Heals Itself

The first self-healing material was reported by the UIUC [University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign] researchers six years ago, and other research groups have created different versions of such materials since then, including polymers that mend themselves repeatedly when subject to heat or pressure. But this is the first time anyone has made a material that can repair itself multiple times without any external intervention, says Nancy Sottos, materials-science and engineering professor at UIUC and one of the researchers who led the work.

the researchers bend it and crack the polymer coating. The crack spreads down through the coating and reaches the underlying microchannel. This prompts the healing agent to “whip through the channels and into the crack,” Sottos says. There, it comes into contact with the catalyst and, in about 10 hours, becomes a polymer and fills in the crack. The system does not need any external pressure to push the healing agent into the crack. Instead, the liquid moves through the narrow channels just as water moves up a straw.

Researchers Create Molecule-Sized Test Tubes

Researchers Create Molecule-Sized Test Tubes

The test tubes are actually bubble-like nanocontainers that are porous to small molecules. Researchers can easily feed needed ions and other chemicals into the ultra-tiny reaction chambers.

Many scientists say that more can be learned about the dynamics of chemical reactions that power biological processes by studying the behavior of individual molecules rather than observing the collective behavior of many molecules, as scientists do now. But techniques for single-molecule studies are limited and often highly specialized. The new nanocontainers, however, will make single-molecule techniques both more accessible and more powerful

The researchers say their technique can be easily applied in other laboratories, to enable scientists to study individual molecular reactions free of the complications of analyzing reactions in bulk solution. The new approach also improves on other methods used for observing the behavior of single molecules. One of the most common methods required that single molecules be tethered to a surface. With nanocontainers, however, the vesicles themselves are attached to a surface, meaning the molecules inside do not have to be. This simplifies analysis, because the effects of the surface on the reaction do not have to be taken into account, the researchers said.

To bad I can’t find the article online: I. Cisse, B. Okumus, C. Joo, T. Ha, “Fueling protein-DNA interactions inside porous nanocontainers”, PNAS. The Howard Hughes Medical Institute is doing great things: $600 Million for Basic Biomedical Research$1 Million Each for 20 Science Educators

Radical Life Extension

The near-term inevitability of radical life extension and expansion by Ray Kurzweil:

It took 15 years to sequence HIV and from that perspective the genome project seemed impossible in 1990. But the amount of genetic data we were able to sequence doubled every year while the cost came down by half each year.

If we think linearly, then the idea of turning off all disease and aging processes appears far off into the future just as the genome project did in 1990. On the other hand, if we factor in the doubling of the power of these technologies each year, the prospect of radical life extension is only a couple of decades away. includes many articles on Kurzweil’s ideas, by him, and others. Major topic areas include: Nanotechnology, Will Machines Become Conscious? and Singularity. The ideas can seem crazy but as Kurzweil discusses the ability to predict with the tremendous increase in the power of technology. I still think many things like radical life extension is unlikely so soon but the ideas presented are interesting and worth thinking about.

Related: Grand VisionsMillennials in our Lifetime?

Self-assembling Nanotechnology in Chip Manufacturing

Read more information about the content of the – IBM Brings Nature to Computer Chip Manufacturing:

the first-ever application of a breakthrough self-assembling nanotechnology to conventional chip manufacturing, borrowing a process from nature to build the next generation computer chips. The natural pattern-creating process that forms seashells, snowflakes, and enamel on teeth has been harnessed by IBM to form trillions of holes to create insulating vacuums around the miles of nano-scale wires packed next to each other inside each computer chip.

In chips running in IBM labs using the technique, the researchers have proven that the electrical signals on the chips can flow 35 percent faster, or the chips can consume 15 percent less energy compared to the most advanced chips using conventional techniques.

Via: IBM Airgap Microprocessors enabled by self assembly