small plans: nanotechnology for the building industry

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Micro-organisms may be turned into nano-circuitry

Researchers at Georgia Institute of Technology have found a way to convert the silica encasing diatoms, micro-organisms commonly found floating in oceans, into other materials such as titanium dioxide, which readily conducts electricity. Diatoms can adopt an incredible diversity of shapes, and Kenneth Sandhage and his colleagues hope to exploit this characteristic to develop 3D circuits much more complex and powerful than existing electronics. more @

Snow flea anti-freeze proteins to aid in transplants

Researchers from Queen's University may have discovered a means to prolong the preservation period for organs for transplantation by isolating a novel antifreeze glycine-rich protein from snow fleas. As well as its potential for use in organ transplants, the researchers suggest it could help to increase frost resistance in plants, and inhibit crystallization in frozen foods. more @

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Duke engineers build DNA 'nanotowers'

Duke engineers using an enzyme called TdTase can vertically extend short DNA chains attached to nanometer-sized gold plates. This advance adds new capability to the field of bio-nanomanufacturing. "The process works like stacking Legos to make a tower and is an important step toward creating functional nanostructures out of biological materials," said Ashutosh Chilkoti, associate professor of biomedical engineering at Duke's Pratt School of Engineering. more @

Friday, October 28, 2005

Biotechnology revives Indiana TV assembly plant

Cook Pharmica LLC yesterday opened a $70 million facility in the old RCA/Thomson TV assembly plant in Bloomington. The firm uses bioreactors to produce monoclonal antibodies, the basis of biotech pharmaceutical ingredients that target receptors within cells to deliver therapeutics. "We hope this plant can help spur the start of a mini-Silicon Valley for biotech in Indiana," said Cook Group Chairman Steve Ferguson. more @

Biologically active coatings for dental implants

Spire Corporation has been awarded a grant to develop nanophase calcium phosphate coatings loaded with bone morphogenic proteins. The coatings will be used to improve bone integration into dental implants, leading to more rapid and reliable device fixation. Roger Little, Chairman and CEO of Spire, stated, "This grant will permit Spire to develop a new generation of biologically active coatings for dental implants.” more @

Kurzweil: transcending biology through nanotechnology

When it comes to envisioning the future, Ray Kurzweil follows Daniel Burnham's adage and makes no small plans, even for nanotechnology. In his new book, The Singularity is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, Kurzweil suggests that, "Nanotechnology will make it possible to create virtually any physical product using inexpensive information processes and will ultimately turn even death into a soluble problem." more @

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Raspberry and lotus lead to water-shedding film

Researchers from the Eindhoven University of Technology in the Netherlands have mimicked the structure of the lotus leaf to produce a strongly water-repellent surface. The coating consists of raspberry-like particles made of silica spheres bonded to an epoxy-based polymer film. "Mother Nature is the greatest teacher to mankind," said researcher Weihua (Marshall) Ming. "The dual-size surface roughness on, for instance, the lotus leaf has proven to be very effective in generating superhydrophobicity. Meanwhile, a raspberry fruit naturally demonstrates dual-size morphology. We simply connected the characteristics of these two 'products' - raspberry and lotus leaf - to prepare our superhydrophobic films." more @

Report offers framework for testing nanomaterial toxicity

A new report by the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI) gives scientists a framework for assessing the potential human health effects from exposure to engineered nanomaterials. According to Julie W. Fitzpatrick, ILSI staff scientist and project manager for their Nanomaterial Toxicity Screening Working Group, “While there is little evidence to date that nanomaterials have toxic effects, the world’s scientists, industry, and governments are beginning to take a critical look at nanotechnology and to develop a research agenda for addressing key issues related to the impact of nanotechnology on health and the environment. This report is a necessary beginning to that process.” more @

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

New diamond nanotube composite material created

Argonne researchers have combined the world's hardest known material – diamond – with the world's strongest structural form – carbon nanotubes. A new process for "growing” diamond and carbon nanotubes together opens the way for its use in a number of energy-related applications. more . . .

Expect nanotech in half of materials and processes by 2015

M.C. Roco, chair of the U.S. National Science and Technology Council's subcommittee on nanoscale science, engineering, and technology, sees nanotechnology as the basis of a "new industrial revolution". "By 2015," he says, "I expect at least half of the newly designed advanced materials and manufacturing processes will be built using control at the nanoscale in at least one of the key components." more @ Nanotechnology magazine

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Seashells provide insights for armor design

Understanding the fundamental design principles of natural armor systems like shells may help engineers design improved body armor systems for humans in perilous situations, like soldiers and police officers. At MIT's Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, researchers are studying the structure and mechanics of the tough inner layer of mollusk shells, called nacre, or mother-of-pearl. "The complexity we have observed in nacre at the nanoscale is quite amazing and seems likely to be a critical determinant of the toughness of the material," said Professor Christine Ortiz of the Department of Materials Science and Engineering. more @

Biodesign institute architects foster collaboration by design

Larry Lord, FAIA, principal of Lord, Aeck & Sargent, talks about his architecture firm’s work on the new $74 million Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. The architects crafted vibration control zones using 18-inch concrete floors to stabilize sensitive nanotechnology equipment, and created an open laboratory plan that encourages collaboration between the institute's cross-disciplinary teams in biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information technology. more @

Monday, October 24, 2005

AeroClay wins nanotechnology business ideas competition

AeroClay, a material that is 98% air and 2% clay was one of two winners in the second annual International and North Coast Nanotechnology Business Idea Competition. According to Dr. David Schiraldi, the associate professor in Case Western Reserve University's Department of Macromolecular Science and Engineering who developed it, AeroClay can be used in packaging or can be covered in a polymer to create lightweight materials for automobiles or other products. more @

Companies rated for environmental, social performance

Innovest Strategic Value Advisors has begun a Nanotechnology Index rating companies for environmental, social, and strategic governance issues.“Early testing reveals that some types of engineered nanoparticles may present risk in terms of human health and eco-toxicity,” says Innovest. For investors this could result in ‘perception risks’ that could affect markets for nanomaterials and end products, and which could result in 'product backlash', it adds. more @

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Design magazine reviews nanotechnology

Matter magazine laments the current level of development in nanotechnology, quoting Dr. Ralph Merkle that, "Today’s manufacturing methods are very crude at the molecular level. It’s like trying to make things out of LEGO blocks with boxing gloves on your hands." But they see the promise of nanotubes, nanohorns and nano-test-tubes as well. more @

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Risks of manufacturing nanomaterials studied

Researchers from Rice University, US, Golder Associates, US, and XL Insurance of Switzerland have used insurance-industry techniques to examine the risks of manufacturing five different nanomaterials. While the study did not include the risks of the nanomaterials themselves, it concluded that the manufacturing processes for the nanomaterials presented fewer risks to the environment than industrial processes, such as oil refining. more @

Friday, October 21, 2005

Quantum dots and hybrid LED may replace common light bulb

Take an LED that produces intense, blue light. Coat it with a thin layer of special microscopic beads called quantum dots. And you have what could become the successor to the venerable light bulb. The resulting hybrid LED gives off a warm white light with a slightly yellow cast, similar to that of the incandescent lamp. more @

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ultrathin nanocrystal solar cells developed

Imagine a future in which the rooftops of residential homes and commercial buildings can be laminated with inexpensive, ultra-thin films of nano-sized semiconductors that will efficiently convert sunlight into electrical power and provide virtually all of our electricity needs. This future is a step closer to being realized, thanks to a scientific milestone achieved at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. more . . .

'Buckypaper': stronger than steel, harder than diamonds

Working with a material 10 times lighter than steel - but 250 times stronger - would be a dream come true for any engineer. If this material also had amazing properties that made it highly conductive of heat and electricity, it would start to sound like something out of a science fiction novel. Yet one Florida State University research group, the Florida Advanced Center for Composite Technologies (FAC2T), is working to develop real-world applications for just such a material. more . . .

Nano-implant could help deaf hear music

Scientists are developing a cochlear implant which could allow deaf people to hear music. Existing implants allow people to listen easily to speech, but not music, but a team at the UK's National Physical Laboratory have developed a device with a wider frequency range, which improves musical appreciation. They are working with researchers in the nanotechnology group at Cranfield University in Bedfordshire, UK, to develop a version which is significantly smaller, so it can fit into the cochlear. more . . .

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Design pivotal in top ten nanotechnology applications

Researchers at the Canadian Program on Genomics and Global Health at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics have proposed the top ten nanotechnology applications they believe will help people in developing countries tackle their most urgent problems. Design plays a pivotal role in most of them:
Energy storage, production and conversion
Agricultural productivity enhancement
Water treatment and remediation
Disease diagnosis and screening
Drug delivery systems
Food processing and storage
Air pollution and remediation
Health monitoring
Vector and pest detection and control

more . . .

Underground cities built by nanobots?

John Burch at Nano & Nature thinks nanotechnology could help conserve nature by driving architecure underground. "Instead of skyscrapers that reach 3000 feet," says Burch, "why not bury them and contribute the surface to a local nature conservatory?" more . . .

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Rice U. finds no adverse effects from nanotubes in cells

In some of the first work documenting the uptake of carbon nanotubes by living cells, a team of chemists and life scientists from Rice University and the University of Texas Health Science Center and Houston's Texas Heart Institute suggests that white blood cells showed no adverse effects after incubation in a dilute solution of nanotubes. The nanotubes also retained their unique optical signatures, which may make it possible to track individual cells within the body. more . . .

Army vehicles to sport nano finish

Diamon-Fusion International, Inc. (DFI Nanotechnology), global developer and exclusive licensor of Diamon-Fusion patented hydrophobic nanotechnology, has been tested and approved by the US Army to supply its nanocoating to military vehicles, which will improve safety under the wide range of adverse weathering conditions that such vehicles drive through. “Sand-pitting and erosion under desert-like weather conditions have a very harsh impact on the visibility of military vehicles and Diamon-Fusion substantially improves visibility, as tested by the US Army”, a Senior Official source reported. more . . .

Solar-collecting plastic to wrap or paint on structures

Imagine being able to paint your roof with enough alternative energy to heat and cool your home. While traditional solar panels are made of silicon, which is expensive, brittle and shatters like glass, organic solar cells being developed by a team of scientists from New Mexico State University and Wake Forest University are made of plastic that is relatively inexpensive, flexible, can be wrapped around structures or even applied like paint, said physicist Seamus Curran, head of the nanotechnology laboratory at NMSU. more . . .

Silica nanoparticles create fog-free mirrors and windows

Foggy windows and lenses are a nuisance, and in the case of automobile windows, can pose a driving hazard. Now, a group of scientists at MIT may have found a permanent solution to the problem. The team has developed a unique polymer coating — made of silica nanoparticles — that they say can create surfaces that never fog. The transparent coating can be applied to eyeglasses, camera lenses, ski goggles … even bathroom mirrors, they say. more . . .

Monday, October 17, 2005

Transparent nanotube sheets stronger than steel

University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) nanotechnologists and an Australian colleague have produced transparent carbon nanotube sheets that are stronger than the same-weight steel sheets and have demonstrated applicability for organic light-emitting displays, low-noise electronic sensors, artificial muscles, conducting appliqués and broad-band polarized light sources that can be switched in one ten-thousandths of a second. more . . .

NSF award starts Center for Nanotechnology in Society

The National Science Foundation has awarded $6.2 million to explore the social implications of nanotechnology at the new Center for Nanotechnology in Society at Arizona State University, a second center at University of California-Santa Barbara and additional projects at Harvard University and the University of South Carolina. The network will support research and education on nanotechnology and social change, as well as provide educational and public outreach activities and international collaborations. Center researchers will work side by side with scientists who are making nanotechnology a reality to anticipate and understand the societal consequences of this new area of innovation. more . . .

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Nanogel translucent insulating panel wins award

The Sustainable Buildings Industry Council’s (SBIC) “Best Practice” Sustainability Award has recognized Kalwall for the revolutionary daylighting and energy efficient benefits found in the Kalwall+ Nanogel® translucent aerogel insulated fenestration system. The system offers a panel with thermal resistance up to five times greater than insulating glass systems, museum-quality light with up to 20 percent light transmission, and improved sound attenuation, making it easier for designers to satisfy new stricter building codes. more . . .

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Redesigning plants, harnessing photosynthesis

Scientists in the biomolecular nanotechnology program at Arizona State University and Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation are working to reengineer biological materials and fabricate new devices that will harness solar energy, reduce greenhouse gasses, and bring the power of photosynthesis to everyday objects.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Nanotechnology to accelerate radio frequency ID development

Nanotechnology could help speed the broad adoption of radio transmitters the size of a flake of glitter or smaller in nearly everything a person owns, from clothes to cows, permitting scanners to track those items from manufacture to end user. "RFID tags are poised to become the most far-reaching wireless technology since the cell phone," Cynthia Kuper, chief technology officer for Micromem Technologies in Toronto, told UPI's Nano World. more . . .

Nanotechnology hits the road

After more than a decade of progress in other industrial sectors, the nanotechnology revolution has just begun to impact highway, road, and bridge materials and construction. The feasibility of Cyberliths, or Smart Aggregates, as wireless sensors embedded in concrete or soil is being studied. Concrete ills such as alkali-silica reactivity and delayed ettringite formation — the bane of concrete highways and bridges — are being studied at the molecular level using neutron scattering technology and other processes. more . . .

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Power plastic to fuel power-generating garments

Konarka Technologies, Inc., an innovator in developing and commercializing Power Plastic‘ that converts light to energy, and Textronics, Inc., a pioneer in the field of electronic textiles, today announced a joint development program to create prototype garments and fashion accessories with portable, wearable power-generation capabilities. The technology will utilize Konarka’s light-activated Power Plastic‘ and Textronics’ electronic textile systems to provide renewable, wearable energy sources for personal electronic devices. more . . .

International symposium on nanotechnology in construction

I'll be the closing speaker at this year's International Symposium on Nanotechnology in Construction, to be held Nov. 13-16 in Bilbao, Spain. more . . .

Is there a nanocomposite Ford in your future?

A new process could make nanocomposites feasible for parts such as body panels, according to Ford Motor Co. The technology uses sound waves to increase the compatibility between microscopic reinforcement materials and plastic resin used to make nanocomposite parts. more . . .

Gecko feet hold secerets of nanoadhesives

The interest of University of Akron polymer researchers in the fascinating ability of geckos to climb any surface and hang from just one toe soon could lead to advances in adhesives used in microelectronics and space applications. more . .

Biomaterials repair/replace human bone, tissues

Zimmer Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: ZMH; SWX: ZMH), a worldwide leader in the orthopaedics industry, announced today it has acquired worldwide exclusive distribution rights for genetically engineered xenogeneic tissues for regenerative therapies from Revivicor, Inc., which has an advanced transgenic technology platform for the production of tissues, cells and whole organs for human therapeutic applications. Zimmer initially plans to develop the technologies for orthopaedic applications, including the repair and replacement of damaged tendon, ligament, meniscus, cartilage, bone and spinal nucleus tissues. more . . .

Designer milk

The Food and Drug Administration is expected to rule soon that milk from cloned animals and meat from their offspring are safe to eat, raising the question of whether Americans are ready to welcome one of modern biology's most controversial achievements to the dinner table. more . . .

Magnetic diamonds

Diamonds have always been alluring, but now a team of scientists has made them truly magnetic -- on the nanoscale. Researchers associated with the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute report a technique to make magnetic diamond particles only 4-5 nanometers across. The tiny diamond magnets could find use in fields ranging from medicine to information technology. more . . .