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What's New in Nanotechnology?

October 05, 2009

Nanotech Europe as organized by a comprehensive consortium of partners, including Agent-D, the coordination group of the Centers of Competence of Nanotechnology in Germany in cooperation with the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Germany) and several international partners.Image Credit: Nanotech Europe

Nanotech Europe, which concluded on September 30th, attracted over 600 participants from 50 countries, as well as 64 companies.  The event brought together entrepreneurial start-ups and innovative corporations, world-class science, and representatives from government and funding bodies to advance the development of nanotechnology. It provided a forum to address critical success factors for nanotechnology including dialogue between organizations and across industry boundaries, directing public and private sector investment to support innovation, and management of complex industry needs.

The event covered a wide range of nanotechnology research and development, including technologies for cancer detection and treatment, high-efficiency solar cells, water purification, high density data storage, novel electronic and photonic devices, and many other life-improving innovations. Nanotech Europe also featured firms in a wide range of industrial sectors discussing their needs from nanotechnology: Nokia, Shell, Daimler, Thales, Fiat, Bayer and many others discussed their activities and how they see nanotechnology affecting their industry.

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Categories : Conference/Events
October 01, 2009

  Brain implants that can more clearly record signals from surrounding neurons in rats have been created at the University of Michigan. The findings could eventually lead to more effective treatment of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease and paralysis. Neural electrodes must work for time periods ranging from hours to years. When the electrodes are implanted, the brain first reacts to the acute injury with an inflammatory response. Then the brain settles into a wound-healing, or chronic, response. It's during this secondary response that brain tissue starts to encapsulate the electrode, cutting it off from communication with surrounding neurons. The new brain implants developed at U-M are coated with nanotubes made of poly(3,4-ethylenedioxythiophene) (PEDOT), a biocompatible and electrically conductive polymer that has been shown to record neural signals better than conventional metal electrodes. U-M researchers found that PEDOT nanotubes enhanced high-quality unit activity (signal-to-noise ratio >4) about 30 percent more than the uncoated sites. They also found that based on in vivo impedance data, PEDOT nanotubes might be used as a novel method for biosensing to indicate the transition between acute and chronic responses in brain tissue. Find out more... 

Categories : University News
September 14, 2009

3D Electron tomography image of a polymer-metal oxide solar cell. The 3D nanoscopic morphology shows the interpenetrating metal oxide network in (yellow) inside a polymer matrix (black).Image Source: Eindhoven University of Technology

Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) have made the first high-resolution 3D images of the inside of a polymer solar cell. This gives them important new insights in the nanoscale structure of a polymer solar cell and the effect on its performance. The research was a joint effort of TU/e-researchers and colleagues at the University of Ulm, Germany. The investigations shed new light on the operational principles of polymer solar cells. This is expected to be very important for the development of better polymer solar cells. Polymer solar cells do not have the high efficiencies of their silicon counterparts yet. Polymer cells, however, can be printed in roll-to-roll processes, at very high speeds, which makes the technology potentially very cost-effective. Added to that, polymer cells are flexible and lightweight, and therefore suitable to be used on vehicles or clothing or to be incorporated in the design of objects. In these hybrid solar cells, a mixture of two different materials, a polymer and a metal oxide are used to create charges at their interface when the mixture is illuminated by the sun.
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Categories : University News
August 28, 2009

Imaging the "anatomy" of a pentacene molecule - 3D rendered view: By using a sharp metal tip terminated with a carbon monoxide molecule, scientists measured in the short-range regime of forces to obtain an image of the inner structure of the molecule. The colored surface represents experimental data.Image courtesy of IBM Research – Zurich

IBM scientists have been able to image the "anatomy" -- or chemical structure -- inside a molecule with unprecedented resolution, using a complex technique known as noncontact atomic force microscopy. The results push the exploration of using molecules and atoms at the smallest scale and could greatly impact the field of nanotechnology, which seeks to understand and control some of the smallest objects known to mankind. "Though not an exact comparison, if you think about how a doctor uses an x-ray to image bones and organs inside the human body, we are using the atomic force microscope to image the atomic structures that are the backbones of individual molecules," said IBM Researcher Gerhard Meyer. "Scanning probe techniques offer amazing potential for prototyping complex functional structures and for tailoring and studying their electronic and chemical properties on the atomic scale."
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Categories : Corporate News
August 19, 2009

POSTECH's research team, led by chemistry professor Kim Kwang-soo, said it has successfully synthesized lenses that are hundreds of times thinner than a single hair. The team discovered a new physics phenomenon. When the size of a lens shrinks to the level of the wavelength of light, it shows the ultra-resolution that thinner things than the half wavelength of light could be distinguished. The half-wavelength of light is theoretically limiting value of diffraction in traditional geometrical optics. Kim's team found that the organic matter Calix Hydro Quinon can shape a nanometer-thin cross-sectioned convex lens. The team found an ultra-refraction for the first time in which a light-wavelength-thin lens makes the light draw a curve through diffraction and interference and makes the nano-lens have a very short focal distance. The team proved the intriguing optical phenomenon of the nano-lens through the precise simulation of electromagnetic waves and established a new physical phenomenon theory. The optical features of a nanometer-thin lens can be used to analyze structures of nano and micro-bio substances, to improve technologies for the development of nano components, and to integrate light that is impossible to observe with traditional optical microscopes. Nanometerthin lenses can be also used for the development of next-generation nano-optical memories and detection components. The success of the research resulted from cooperation between academics in chemistry, physics, and mechanical and electronic engineering.
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Categories : University News
August 17, 2009

IBM scientists are using DNA origami to build tiny circuit boards; in this image, low concentrations of triangular DNA origami are binding to wide lines on a lithographically patterned surface.Credit: IBM

Scientists at IBM Research and the California Institute of Technology have announced a scientific advancement that could be a major breakthrough in enabling the semiconductor industry to pack more power and speed into tiny computer chips, while making them more energy efficient and less expensive to manufacture. They made an advancement in combining lithographic patterning with self assembly – a method to arrange DNA origami structures on surfaces compatible with today’s semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Today, the semiconductor industry is faced with the challenges of developing lithographic technology for feature sizes smaller than 22 nm and exploring new classes of transistors that employ carbon nanotubes or silicon nanowires. IBM’s approach of using DNA molecules as scaffolding  -- where millions of carbon nanotubes could be deposited and self-assembled into precise patterns by sticking to the DNA molecules – may provide a way to reach sub-22 nm lithography. The utility of this approach lies in the fact that the positioned DNA nanostructures can serve as scaffolds, or miniature circuit boards, for the precise assembly of components – such as carbon nanotubes, nanowires and nanoparticles – at dimensions significantly smaller than possible with conventional semiconductor fabrication techniques. This opens up the possibility of creating functional devices that can be integrated into larger structures, as well as enabling studies of arrays of nanostructures with known coordinates.
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Categories : Corporate News
July 18, 2009

Sudipta Seal, materials scientist and engineer at the University of Central Florida, holds a bottle containing billions of ultra-small, engineered nanoceria.Credit: Sudipta Seal, University of Central Florida

Sudipta Seal is enthralled by nanoparticles, particularly those of a rare earth metal called cerium. The particles are showing potential for a wide range of applications, from medicine to energy. Seal is a professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Central Florida (UCF), and several years ago, he and his colleagues engineered nanoparticles of cerium oxide (CeO2), a material long used in ceramics, catalysts, and fuel cells. The novel nanocrystalline form is non-toxic and biocompatible--ideal for medical applications.Since then, the researchers found that cerium oxide nanoparticles have two additional medical benefits: they behave like an antioxidant, protecting cells from oxidative stress, and they can be fine-tuned to potentially deliver medical treatments directly into cells.
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Categories : University News
July 17, 2009

Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC), a university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies, has teamed with the National Science Foundation (NSF) to announce funding of $2 million in new supplemental grants for nanoelectronics research. Researchers at six major NSF centers inside leading U.S. universities will contribute to the goal of finding a replacement for the transistor - the foundational building block of computing technology for decades - and discovering a new digital switching mechanism using nanoelectronics innovation. In electronics, a transistor is a semiconductor device commonly used to amplify or switch electronic signals. A transistor is made of a solid piece of a semiconductor material, with at least three terminals for connection to an external circuit. A voltage or current applied to one pair of the transistor's terminals changes the current flowing through another pair of terminals. Until recently, manufacturers were able to double the number of transistors on a chip at half the power for each transistor by shrinking them smaller and smaller in each new generation of semiconductor technology. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue decreasing the power needed to turn the device off and on, making it difficult to continue the pace of product innovation from scaling alone.
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Categories : Corporate News
June 09, 2009

The London Nanotube was laser etched on low reflective chrome coated glass. The map is just under 2x3 mm and each line around 12.5 micron wide.Image Source: Bio Nano Consulting

Researchers at Bio Nano Consulting (BNC), a specialist bio-nanotechnology product development consultancy, have produced a miniaturized version of the London tube map, measuring only 2x3 mm – about the size of a pinhead. The map was etched using specialised lasers by Dr Richard Winkle, a BNC researcher at Imperial College London, whilst testing the capabilities of an Oxford Lasers micromachining system. The ‘London Nanotube’ was aptly named as nanotubes are an essential building block for nanotechnology. Dr Mike Fisher, Business development Director of Bio Nano Consulting commented, “This version of the London Nanotube is not strictly on the nanoscale, so we are taking on this challenge. Using our state-of-the-art micro and nanofabrication equipment, we believe we can shrink the tube map another 100 times, making it invisible to the naked eye.”
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Categories : Uncategorized
May 19, 2009

The alternating pattern of PE-b-PEO formed on SWNTs with a 12 nm period imaged using transmission electron microscopy. The dark and bright stripes represent the PEO and PE domains, respectively.Image Source: Drexel University

Professor Christopher Li in Drexel University’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering and colleagues are one step closer to making personal electronic devices even smaller.  Their research demonstrates that it is possible to manipulate a carbon nanotube, the building block of nanotechnology applications, for the future miniaturization of electronic devices, including computers, cell phones, and PDAs. Carbon nanotubes, or CNTs -- the diameter of only a few millionths of a human hair -- are favored in nanotechnology research and applications for their unusual properties.  To be able to use CNTs to create ever smaller electronic devices, a nanotube would have to be furnished with multiple transistors. To achieve this goal, one has to be able to fabricate uniform, large-scale, controllable patterns on CNTs at a few tenths of a nanometer scale, a difficult task which to date has not been successfully addressed.  Drexel researchers, led by Professor Li, have now demonstrated that it is possible to create periodic, alternating patterns on carbon nanotubes with a period of 12 nanometers by decorating carbon nanotubes with judiciously selected crystalline block copolymers (in this case polyethylene-block-poly(ethylene oxide)).  Block copolymers are comprised of two chemically different polymer chains that are covalently linked together at one end. The trick is to select two blocks of the copolymer so that one has a strong tendency to crystallize on the carbon nanotube surface and the other block can then be brought to the vicinity of the carbon nanotube. The period of the pattern can be easily controlled to be ~10-100 nanometers by simply varying the molecular weight of the block copolymers.
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Categories : University News

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