small plans: nanotechnology for the building industry

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Photosynthetic structure enlightened

For the first time, scientists have obtained a detailed map of one of biology's most important light detectors, a protein known as phytochrome found in many plants. By resolving its three-dimensional structure, scientists can now tease out the secrets of how plants react to light. Their discovery may one day lead to such things as plants whose growth, flowering and death can be precisely manipulated. more @

Have these experts drilled the world's smallest hole?

Experts at Cardiff University have developed machinery so sophisticated that they can drill a hole narrower than a human hair. Researchers at the University's Manufacturing Engineering Centre are drilling holes as small as 22 microns (0.022 mm) in stainless steel and other materials. Such precision has potentially major benefits in medical and electronic engineering. more @

Monday, November 28, 2005

Nano noses into RFID

Radio Frequency Identification tags are replacing Universal Product Code symbol bar codes. Rather than relying on light sensors to read between little black lines, RFID tags consist of integrated circuits connected to a tiny antenna. Nanosys is trying to develop a technology to print both chips and antennas at the same time, eliminating the need to connect them in a separate process. more @

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Nanotube foams flex and rebound with 'super compressibility'

Films of aligned carbon nanotubes can act like a layer of mattress springs, flexing and rebounding in response to a force. But unlike a mattress, which can sag and lose its springiness, these nanotube foams maintain their resilience even after thousands of compression cycles. more @

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Nano-sponges remove toxic metals

Microscopic particles honeycombed with holes only nanometers wide soon could help purify industrial runoff, coal plant smoke, crude oil and drinking water of toxic metals. Chemists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., developed the particles to remove mercury from oil in nuclear facility pumps, and have now broadened the potential applications of the particles and partnered with companies to bring them into greater use. more @

Friday, November 25, 2005

New nanomaterial toxicity study

Researchers have found that exposing human skin cells to multiwalled carbon nanotubes arrests cell cycles and increases cell death. "We are among the first to describe the mechanism for carbon nanomaterial's toxicity at the molecular level," Fanqing Frank Chen of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory said. more @

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

IBM unveils nanotube light source

IBM Research said this week that it has discovered a minuscule light source from carbon nanotubes 1,000 times brighter than previously seen with light-emitting diodes (LEDs).The light could be used for optical probing at the level of single molecules -- which previously was impossible because of the way light diffracts at a small scale. more @

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

UN predicts nanotech-enabled 'internet of things'

Changes brought about by the internet will be dwarfed by those prompted by the networking of everyday objects, says a report released by the International Telecommunications Union at the UN net summit in Tunis. "It would seem that science fiction is slowly turning into science fact in an 'Internet of Things' based on ubiquitous network connectivity," said the report. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), sensors, robotics and nanotechnology will make processing power increasingly available in smaller and smaller packages so that networked computing dissolves into the fabric of things around us. more @

Monday, November 21, 2005

Nanohybrid material enables flexible color-changing devices

The Fraunhofer-Institut Silicatforschung is designing new electrochromic devices that are totally plastic and flexible, capable of changing colour on the simple application of an electric current. The main result of the project will be a new nanohybrid material with great electrochromic efficiency, to be integrated into plastic electrochromic devices with excellent characteristics in terms of cost, durability and range of colours. The end applications of these new electrochromic devices will be electrochromic spectacles as well as various applications in the textile and automotive sectors. more @

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Gold nanparticles reduce toxic waste from petroleum products

Perfumes, paints and cosmetics could be manufactured without producing so much toxic waste. Before petroleum hydrocarbons can be turned into useful household chemicals they have to be oxidized, a process that often relies on heavy-metal oxidants such as manganese or chromium compounds which create toxic waste. Now researchers at Cardiff University, UK, have oxidized perfume using a catalyst made from gold nanoparticles. more @

Friday, November 11, 2005

Nanohairs help geckos walk upside down

Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Metals Research in Stuttgart have succeeded in examining, in the smallest detail, the adhesive mechanisms on the soles of gecko feet – with about a billion nanohairs per foot. These tiny adhesive hairs put the gecko in direct physical contact with its environment, allowing it to stick to just about any ceiling and walk with its feet over its head. more @

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Nanomaterials energize fuel cells

NanoDynamics in Buffalo, N.Y., is developing fuel cells that employ nanotechnology to help supply power for longer times at less weight and size than batteries or conventional fuel cells. One 50-watt solid oxide fuel-cell prototype, roughly the size of a loaf of bread, is composed of roughly 20 percent nanomaterials and can generate some 3,000 watt-hours of electricity from just 5 pounds of propane. A conventional solid oxide fuel cell given that little propane would generate only one-half to one-third as many watt-hours. more @

The latest nanotech device: venetian blinds

A molecule that flips its arms like the slats on a venetian blind might in the future find uses in computer displays, computer memory, or even windows that become tinted at the flick of a switch. more @

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Nanotalk: new book interviews nanoscientists

A new book uses interviews with nanotechnologists to examine the social and ethical implications of their work. Nanotalk: Conversations With Scientists and Engineers About Ethics, Meaning, and Belief in the Development of Nanotechnology, according to author Rosalyn W. Berne, “is a book of conversations and explorations with thirty five nano-research scientists and engineers who share their ideas, experiences, perceptions, and beliefs about their work, humanity, nature, change, and the future of the world with nanotechnology." more @

Nanotechnology center makes flexible solar cell breakthrough

Researchers at Wake Forest University's Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials are working to create flexible, or “conformal,” organic solar cells that can be wrapped around surfaces, rolled up or even painted onto structures. “Imagine a group of hikers with a tent that, when you unrolled the tent and put it up, could generate its own power," said David Carroll, the center’s director. "Imagine if the paint on your car that is getting hot in the sun was instead converting part of that heat to recharge your battery.” more @

Monday, November 07, 2005

Translucent nanosteel blocks heat and UV rays

Parasols sprayed with steel might not sound like functional fashion accessories, but that is what Suzutora Corp. plans to market next summer. The textile processing company sprays approximately one nanometer particles of stainless steel onto polyester cloth to create a parasol that shuts out both heat and ultraviolet rays. The tiny particles can be used even on translucent cloth, which greatly increases the options for fashion designers. more @

IBM closer to replacing electricity with light in electronics

IBM has announced its researchers have created a tiny device that represents a big advance toward the eventual use of light in place of electricity in the connection of electronic components, potentially leading to vast improvements in the performance of computers and other electronic systems. more @

Diamond nanotube composite could save energy

Researchers at Argonne National Laboratory have combined the world's hardest known material – diamond – with the world's strongest structural form – carbon nanotubes. They say a new process for "growing” diamond and carbon nanotubes together opens the way for its use in a number of energy-related applications. The resulting material has potential for use in wear-resistant coatings, high-voltage electronics, low-power, low-energy consumption flat panel displays and hydrogen storage. more @

World’s smallest toothbrush scrubs capillaries clean

Nano-sized toothbrushes that can clean very small surfaces have been developed by researchers. Fabricated out of millions of carbon nanotubes, the minuscule brushes could even paint the inside of capillaries thinner than a human hair. Carbon nanotubes are 30 times stronger than steel, yet five times less dense. They are highly elastic, resistant to heat, have large surface areas and even conduct electricity. more @

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Pitt professor wins prize for 'molecular lego set'

A University of Pittsburgh researcher has been awarded the Foresight Institute’s Feynman Prize for experimental work for his work in developing a "molecular Lego set" that will enable, for the first time, the quick manufacture of sturdy, predictable nanostructures. Christian Schafmeister, assistant professor of chemistry and a researcher in the University's Institute of NanoScience and Engineering, is using his blocks to craft hinged, molecular traps that attract specific molecules, snap shut, and light up. "We're developing a new programming language for matter," he says. more @

Low cost waterproofing process through nanotechnology

Ecology Coatings, Inc. has come up with a breakthrough technology for making ordinary wood pulp-based paper fully waterproof as well as mildew resistant at a much lower cost than the conventional process. The material, combining nano as well as micro particles, contains no water, toxic solvents or other liquid components that need to evaporate for the coating to set; it is cured by ultraviolet light. This eliminates the need for heat in the process, reduces manufacturing line space by 80 per cent and cuts energy consumption by 75 per cent. more @

Friday, November 04, 2005

3D barcodes to identify stolen valuables

A microscopic cubic barcode that stores encrypted information has been developed by a team at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, near London. The cube, made of silicon coated with a 100-nanometre-thick layer of transparent plastic, can be attached to hard surfaces using adhesive, or woven into the canvas of paintings. To create the barcode, an electron-beam lithograph drills 90,000 small squares into the plastic coat of each face at five different depths. The position and depth of each square is unique, so data can be encrypted using a key-based code and stored digitally. more @

E-Ink captures best nanotech company award

E-Ink captured the 2005 Best of Small Tech Company of the Year award at Small Times Magazine's Best of Small Tech Awards ceremony in Chicago this week for its work in display technology. E-Ink developed a screen technology that utilizes power only when its content changes, allowing an image to remain on the screen after the power is cut. more @

Bioactive bone cements use nano-sized titania particles

Researchers at Kyoto University and their colleagues have developed bioactive bone cements containing nano-sized titania particles for use as bone substitutes. Their results show that the osteoconduction of the new material is significantly better than that of the other cements, and that it is a promising material for use as a bone substitute. more @

Carbon nanotube membranes allow super-fast fluid flow

Membranes composed of carbon nanotubes permit a fluid flow nearly 10,000 to 100,000 times faster than conventional fluid flow theory would predict because of the nanotubes' nearly friction-free surface, researchers at the University of Kentucky report in the Nov. 3 issue of Nature. more @

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Nanotech market to top $1 trillion by 2011

A new report from RNCOS, "World Nanotechnology Market - An Industry Update (2005)", predicts that nanotechnology will exceed $1 trillion in the world market by the end of 2010. Government spending on nanotech R&D has increased to over $3 billion per annum, and venture capitalists have increased their investments six times over the previous two years. Companies like Intel, IBM, DuPont, 3M, General Electric, Samsung and Hitachi, for instance, spent $3.8 billion on nanotech in 2004. more @

Soft Machines: unique design principles at the nanoscale

"The theme of my book Soft Machines," says author Richard Jones, "is that the nanomachines of biology operate under quite different design principles from those we are familiar with at the macroscale. These design principles exploit the different physics of the nanoworld, rather than trying to engineer around them." more @

Building nanomachines out of living bacteria

Live bacteria could one day act as reconfigurable components for nanoscale electronic circuits, or even a scaffold for building nanomachines. "Nature has developed these fantastic building blocks," says Robert Hamers of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. "Our approach is to simply grab onto them very gently." His team have been using electrodes to manipulate individual bacterial cells. more @

Nano skyscrapers may precede space elevator

Liftport, a space-infrastucture company, has been among those who support construction of a space elevator, a long thin cable made of carbon nanotubes anchored to a platform or ship at sea and extending out into space. Held in place by the earth's rotation, the space elevator, with the help of robots, would ferry materials to outer space. The carbon nanotube ribbon that is central to building an elevator to space will actually have more practical and immediate applications. more @

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ecology Coatings wins Wall Street Journal 2005 tech award

Ecology Coatings, a leading provider of nano-engineered ultraviolet curable coatings, is the winner of the Silver Award for Innovation in The Wall Street Journal's 2005 Technology Innovation Awards competition. Judges selected the firm's energy efficient industrial coatings for the technology's range of applications and environmental friendliness. more @

Carbon nanotubes used in computer and TV screens

A new kind of computer and TV screen, called a nano-emissive display or NED, is made from two sheets of glass, one covered by a layer of nanotubes standing on end, the other by a layer of blue, red or green phosphors. When charged, the nanotubes direct electrons at the phosphors, making them light up. Because the electrons have only a short distance to travel, an NED would use little power, says maker Motorola. more @