Archive for the ‘nanotech’ Category

‘Nanofabrics’ repel germs and pollution

October 11, 2007

The approach of flu season sends many people scurrying for vaccinations and vitamins.

But what if you could avoid the flu and other viruses simply by getting dressed?

That’s the idea behind two garments that are part of the “Glitterati” clothing line designed by Olivia Ong, a senior design major at Cornell University.

The two-tone gold dress and metallic jacket made their debut at the Cornell Design League fashion show on April 21.

It’s not the casually stylish appearance of the dress and jacket that has attracted attention from clothing manufacturers, tech blogs and even military research labs, but rather something that can’t be seen: a sprinkling of nanoparticles intended to protect the wearers of these garments from invisible threats to their health.

The upper part of the dress is made from cotton coated with silver nanoparticles that deactivate bacteria and viruses. The jacket’s hood, sleeves and pockets contain palladium nanoparticles that act like tiny catalytic converters to break down harmful components of air pollution.

Full article:  Popular Science

Could Nano-Food Be the Next Wheaties? It’s close

September 29, 2007

A poll earlier this month showed that only 7 percent of Americans would purchase food enhanced with nanotechnology, but a new study makes one thing clear: You can feed carbon nanotubes to fruit flies, and they still grow up big and strong.

Scientists at Rice University in Houston raised their fruit flies on a diet of yeast-and-nanotube paste, and then used an infrared camera to watch the progress of the tubes as they passed through the flies’ digestive systems, and in some cases were absorbed into the flies’ organs. The study found that nanotube-fed flies grew just as big and lived just as long as flies fed plain yeast, adding another data point to a simmering debate.

Some previous studies have found that inhaling nanotubes causes inflamed tissue in mice and rats, and causes cell death in lab tests. But other tests have found no evidence of toxicity, leading to claims of faulty experimental design on both sides.

Source:  Popular Mechanics

Nanotech Breakthroughs Point To Future Building Blocks

September 2, 2007

IBM researchers this week announced they’ve made major strides in nanotechnology by studying how to build storage and other computing devices out of components no bigger than a few atoms or molecules.

Researchers at the company’s Almaden Research Center in San Jose, Calif., report in Science that magnetic anisotropy could eventually be used to store information in individual atoms, paving the way to pack as much as 150 trillion bits of data per square inch, 1,000 times more than current data storage densities.

In other words, the ability to store data in individual atoms could lead to devices capable of storing the equivalent of 30,000 movies in a device the size of an iPod.

Source:  Scientific American

Spider-Man suit may allow people to scurry up buildings

August 28, 2007

A suit that began life on the pages of a Marvel comic might soon make its debut in the real world, according to scientists who have worked out how to make a sticky Spider-Man type outfit.

The researchers say it is possible to make clothing that mimics the natural stickiness employed by spiders and geckos, which would allow a person to scurry up the side of a building or hang upside down from the ceiling.

The key, they said, is a type of microscopic Velcro capable of adhering to even smooth surfaces such as concrete or glass, but which can be easily detached, allowing the wearer to move around.

They believe microscopic hollow fibres called carbon nanotubes might be used to make the suit. “There are many interesting applications for our theory, from space exploration and defence to designing gloves and shoes for window cleaners of big skyscrapers,” said Prof Pugno, whose research appears in Condensed Matter, the Institute of Physics journal.

Source:  Guardian

Harvard set to license 50-plus nanotech patents

June 4, 2007

Harvard University, in one of its largest technology transfer deals ever, is set to disclose today that it has licensed a portfolio of more than 50 nanotechnology patents to a Cambridge start-up that is working with manufacturers and the Pentagon to commercialize the technology.

As part of the deal, which has been in the works for more than a year but was finalized only last month, Harvard will take “a significant equity position” in the licensee, Nano-Terra LLC, said Isaac T. Kohlberg , Harvard’s chief technology development officer.

Harvard will also receive royalties from industrial applications of the intellectual property, developed over a decade in the university’s Whitesides Laboratory, said Kohlberg , who is also senior associate provost, managing Harvard’s Office of Technology Development. The parties did not disclose other financial details of the agreement.

Source:  Boston Globe

Self-assembling nanotech becomes reality

May 4, 2007

This photo, taken with an electron microscope, shows holes in a processing chip. The gaps insulate the chip's wiring, improve processing speed and lowering energy consumption. IBM has found a way to use the designs of nature in building the next generation of powerful computer chips.

The breakthrough marks the first time chips have been made with a self-assembling nanotechnology, using the same process that forms seashells and snowflakes, company officials said in interviews Wednesday in San Francisco.

IBM referred to that as a self-assembly, because the holes form on their own, in much the same way that the crystals form on a snowflake, or the lines form on a seashell.

But it’s not any kind of step toward a machine reproducing itself.  It assembles itself “in the same sense that a seashell assembles itself,” Brookwood said. “But the science fiction notion of a machine that’s thinking, ‘If I put another nut here, I’ll be better’ — we’re a long way from that.”

Source:  San Francisco Chronicle

Student designer creates a nano dress that prevents colds

May 3, 2007

Fashion designers and fiber scientists at Cornell have designed a garment that can prevent colds and flu and never needs washing, and another that destroys harmful gases and protects the wearer from smog and air pollution.

The two-toned gold dress and metallic denim jacket contain cotton fabrics coated with nanoparticles that give them functional qualities never before seen in the fashion world.

Dipping the positively charged cotton into the negatively charged silver nanoparticle solution resulted in the particles clinging to the cotton fibers.  Silver possesses natural antibacterial qualities that are strengthened at the nanoscale, thus giving the dress the ability to deactivate many harmful bacteria and viruses.

One drawback may be the garments’ price: one square yard of nano-treated cotton would cost about $10,000.

Source:  Cornell University

Nanotechnology could be basis of future cures

April 23, 2007

To illustrate nanotechnology’s potential in medicine, Northwestern University researcher Samuel Stupp today will present results showing paralyzed lab mice that have regained mobility through nanomaterial treatments.

In Stupp’s research, material designed to self-assemble was injected by syringe into mice with severed spinal cords. The nanomaterial grew into nanofibers that repaired damaged neurons, enabling the mice to again use their hind legs about 1 1/2 months after initial treatments.

In his book, “The Singularity is Near,” Ray Kurzweil, an inventor, entrepreneur and writer, argues that nano-based therapies to regenerate failing tissue will help extend the lives of Baby Boomers so most may live until more advances will enable them, essentially, to avoid traditional death altogether.

Stupp said he thinks that Kurzweil’s optimism has some basis.

Source:  Chicago Tribune

Russia to invest $1B in nanotechnology

April 20, 2007

Russia will pour over $1 billion into equipment for nanotechnology research over the next three years as it uses massive oil and gas export earnings to diversify an economy now heavily dependent on raw materials, First Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov said.

“(Nanotechnology) is a very promising scientific and technical field, capable of fundamentally changing the model of the Russian economy … from a fuel economy to an economy of the future,” Ivanov said after a meeting Wednesday at the Kurchatov nuclear and scientific research institute, which was attended by President Vladimir Putin.

Nanotechnology is an emerging field that works with microscopic particles the size of atoms.

Ivanov predicted that 90 percent of nanotechnology developments would be used for civilian purposes and 10 percent for military purposes.

Source:  Business Week

‘Smart dust’ to explore planets

April 18, 2007

European Space AgencyTiny “smart” devices that can be borne on the wind like dust particles could be carried in space probes to explore other planets, UK engineers say.

The devices would consist of a computer chip covered by a plastic sheath that can change shape when a voltage is applied, enabling it to be steered.

Details were presented at the National Astronomy Meeting in Preston.

Dr. John Barker, from the University of Glasgow, said the particles could use wireless networking to form swarms.

The idea of using millimetre-sized devices to explore far-flung locations is nothing new, but Dr Barker and his colleagues are starting to look in detail at how it might be achieved.

Source:  BBC News