Computer: Nano Optical Cables To Replace Copper

Electrical engineers design nano-optical cables that could replace copper wiring on computer chips. The invention of fibre optics revolutionized the way we share information, allowing us to transmit data at volumes and speeds we’d only previously dreamed of. Now, electrical engineering researchers at the University of Alberta are breaking another barrier, designing nano-optical cables small enough to replace the copper wiring on computer chips. This could result in radical increases in computing speeds and reduced energy use by electronic devices. A new step towards the nanocomputer era.
photonics

We’re already transmitting data from continent to continent using fibre optics, but the killer application is using this inside chips for interconnect—that is the Holy Grail,” says Zubin Jacob, an electrical engineering professosr leading the research. “What we’ve done is come up with a fundamentally new way of confining light to the nano scale.
At present, the diameter of fibre optic cables is limited to about one thousandth of a millimetre. Cables designed by graduate student Saman Jahani and Jacob are 10 times smaller—small enough to replace copper wiring still used on computer chips. (To put that into perspective, a dime is about one millimetre thick.)

Source: http://uofa.ualberta.ca/

Cancer: How To Boost Immune Cells

Scientists at Yale University have developed a novel cancer immunotherapy that rapidly grows and enhances a patient’s immune cells outside the body using carbon nanotube-polymer composites; the immune cells can then be injected back into a patient’s blood to boost the immune response or fight cancer.

The researchers used bundled carbon nanotubes (CNTs) to incubate cytotoxic T cells, a type of white blood cell that is important to immune system functions. According to the researchers, the topography of the CNTs enhances interactions between cells and long-term cultures, providing a fast and effective stimulation of the cytotoxic T cells that are important for eradicating cancer.

cancer-helfA high-resolution, scanning electron microscope image of the carbon nanotube-polymer composite. The bundled CNTs appear as spaghetti-like structures.
In repressing the body’s immune response, tumors are like a castle with a moat around it,” says Tarek Fahmy, an associate professor of biomedical engineering and the study’s principal investigator. “Our method recruits significantly more cells to the battle and arms them to become superkillers.”
The findings ae reported Aug. 3 in Nature Nanotechnology.

Source: http://news.yale.edu/

Fast DNA Sequencing Under A Thousand Dollars

Gene-based personalized medicine has many possibilities for diagnosis and targeted therapy, but one big bottleneck: the expensive and time-consuming DNA-sequencing process. Now, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have found that nanopores in the material molybdenum disulfide (MoS2) could sequence DNA more accurately, quickly and inexpensively than anything yet available.
One of the big areas in science is to sequence the human genome for under $1,000, the ‘genome-at-home,’” said Narayana Aluru, a professor of mechanical science and engineering at the U. of I. who led the study. “There is now a hunt to find the right material. We’ve used MoS2 for other problems, and we thought, why don’t we try it and see how it does for DNA sequencing?” As it turns out, MoS2 outperforms all other materials used for nanopore DNA sequencing – even graphene.
A nanopore is a very tiny hole drilled through a thin sheet of material. The pore is just big enough for a DNA molecule to thread through. An electric current drives the DNA through the nanopore, and the fluctuations in the current as the DNA passes through the pore tell the sequence of the DNA, since each of the four letters of the DNA alphabet – A, C, G and T – are slightly different in shape and size.

DNA through nanopores

A DNA molecule passes through a nanopore in a sheet of molybdenum disulfide, a material that researchers have found to be better than graphene at reading the DNA sequence
The ultimate goal of this research is to make some kind of home-based or personal DNA sequencing device,” Barati Farimani said. “We are on the path to get there, by finding the technologies that can quickly, cheaply and accurately identify the human genome. Having a map of your DNA can help to prevent or detect diseases in the earliest stages of development. If everybody can cheaply sequence so they can know the map of their genetics, they can be much more alert to what goes on in their bodies.

Source: http://news.illinois.edu/

New Nanoparticles Destroy Brain Cancer

A “Trojan horse” treatment for an aggressive form of brain cancer, which involves using tiny nanoparticles of gold to kill tumour cells, has been successfully tested by scientists from the University of Cambridge (U.K)

The ground-breaking technique could eventually be used to treat glioblastoma multiforme, which is the most common and aggressive brain tumour in adults, and notoriously difficult to treat. Many sufferers die within a few months of diagnosis, and just six in every 100 patients with the condition are alive after five yearsThe research involved engineering nanostructures containing both gold and cisplatin, a conventional chemotherapy drug. These were released into tumour cells that had been taken from glioblastoma patients and grown in the lab.

Once inside, these “nanospheres” were exposed to radiotherapy. This caused the gold to release electrons which damaged the cancer cell’s DNA and its overall structure, thereby enhancing the impact of the chemotherapy drug.

gold nanoparticle against brain cancer

The combined therapy that we have devised appears to be incredibly effective in the live cell culture,” Professor Welland said. “This is not a cure, but it does demonstrate what nanotechnology can achieve in fighting these aggressive cancers. By combining this strategy with cancer cell-targeting materials, we should be able to develop a therapy for glioblastoma and other challenging cancers in the future”.

The process was so effective that 20 days later, the cell culture showed no evidence of any revival, suggesting that the tumour cells had been destroyed.

Source: http://www.cam.ac.uk/

How To Reset Sleep

Scientists at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies have identified a gene that regulates sleep and wake rhythms.

The discovery of the role of this gene, called Lhx1, provides scientists with a potential therapeutic target to help night-shift workers or jet lagged travelers adjust to time differences more quickly. The results, published in eLife, can point to treatment strategies for sleep problems caused by a variety of disorders.

Every cell in the body has a “clock” – an abundance of proteins that dip or rise rhythmically over approximately 24 hours. The master clock responsible for establishing these cyclic circadian rhythms and keeping all the body’s cells in sync is the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), a small, densely packed region of about 20,000 neurons housed in the brain’s hypothalamus.

pepside in the brain

A peptide responsible for cell communication in the brain, Vip (green) is reduced in the brains of mice that have little or no Lhx1 (right)

No one had ever imagined that Lhx1 might be so intricately involved in SCN function,” says Shubhroz Gill, a postdoctoral researcher and co-first author of the paper. Lhx1 is known for its role in neural development: it’s so important, that mice without the gene do not survive. But this is the first time it has been identified as a master regulator of light-dark cycle genes. “It’s possible that the severity of many dementias comes from sleep disturbances,” says Satchidananda Panda, a Salk associate professor who led the research team. “If we can restore normal sleep, we can address half of the problem.”

Source: http://www.salk.edu/

Less Than One Percent of Nanotubes Pass The Pulmonary Barrier

Having perfected an isotope labeling method allowing extremely sensitive detection
of carbon nanotubes in living organisms, CEA and CNRS  researchers have looked at what happens to nanotubes after one year inside
an animal.
Studies in mice revealed that a very small  percentage (0.75%of  the  initial  quantity of  nanotubes  inhaled  crossed  the pulmonary epithelial barrier  and translocated to the  liverspleen,  and  bone  marrow.

Although  these  results  cannot  be  extrapolated  to  humans,  this  work
highlights  the importance  of  developing  ultrasensitive  methods  for 
assessing
  the  behavior of nanoparticles in animals.

Nanotoxicology

Carbon  nanotubes  are  highly  specific  nanoparticles  with  outstanding mechanical and electronic properties that make them suitable for use in a wide
range of applications, from structural materials to certain electronic components.
Their many present and future uses explain why research teams around the world
are now focusing on their impact on human health and the environment.

The findings  have been published in the journal ACSNano.
CEA and CNRS are located in Paris, France.

Source: http://www2.cnrs.fr/

Cancer Cells Love Soft Beds

 Cancer cells that break away from tumors to go looking for a new home may prefer to settle into a soft bed, according to new findings from researchers at the University of Illinois.
Some particularly enterprising cancer cells can cause a cancer to spread to other organs, called metastasis, or evade treatment to resurface after a patient is thought to be in remission. The Illinois team, along with colleagues in China, found that these so-called tumor-repopulating cells may lurk quietly in stiffer cellular environments, but thrive in a softer space.

metastasis2

What causes relapse is not clear,” said study leader Ning Wang. Wang is the Leonard C. and Mary Lou Hoeft Professor in Engineering and professor of mechanical science and engineering of the U. of I. “Why are there a few cells left that can come back stronger? We thought cancer cells may have some properties in common with stem cells, which allows them to metastasize to different tissues. Normally, if you take a liver cell and put it in your lung, it will die. But an undifferentiated cell will live.

The results appear in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: http://news.illinois.edu/

How To Deliver Medication For One Year In One Shot

Researchers at MIT have refined a technique that could enable pain medication and other drugs to be released directly to specific parts of the body — and in steady doses over a period of up to 14 months.  The method uses biodegradable, nanoscalethin films” laden with drug molecules that are absorbed into the body in an incremental process. About one in four older adults suffers from chronic pain. Many of those people take medication, usually as pills. But this is not an ideal way of treating pain: Patients must take medicine frequently, and can suffer side effects, since the contents of pills spread through the bloodstream to the whole body.

pills2

It’s been hard to develop something that releases [medication] for more than a couple of months,” says Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering at MIT, and a co-author of a  paper on the advance. “Now we’re looking at a way of creating an extremely thin film or coating that’s very dense with a drug, and yet releases at a constant rate for very long time periods.

The method is described in  the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: https://newsoffice.mit.edu/

Video Mapping First Stages Of Brain Development

Researchers at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Research  campus (Loudun, North Virginia)  are using a new type of computer software to track and image how a nervous system develops in unprecedented detail. The new system is able to track individual cells during embryonic development, giving scientists a powerful tool to create a blueprint of how brains form.

Phillip Keller and his fellow researchers at the Janelia Research Campus in Virginia are tracking each of them as they organize into a working brain.

brain synaptic symphony
Clck the image to enjoy the video of  the first stage of brain development in a fruit fly embryo. It’s an unprecedented view — every single dot represents a single cell

We basically want to understand how development happens. What are the fundamental principles that rule the mechanisms of development? How do you actually get from one cell to a complex multicellular organism in a very robust manner?” Answers to those questions have always eluded scientists“, says Jamelia Research campus group leader Phillip Keller: “But now, thanks to new computer software that can process massive amounts of data in near real time, mapping how cells form into a complex nervous system is possible, he added.

Organizing what amounted to terabytes worth of data into visualizations the scientists could study took weeks. The new software can do it in a matter of minutes. Researcher Fernando Amat says the team have also developed a colour system that allows them to track individual cells during brain development.  ”We assign a color, a random color, to each cell at the beginning and then we propagate these colors based on the tracking information. So, what you can see is basically how each single-cell as they divide they go to different parts of the organism. And so, they become kind of colour clusters, so you see basically how each, let’s say, tissue or part of the embryo where it came from. What’s the original cell that it came from“, says Amat.
Source:  http://janelia.org/
AND
http://www.reuters.com/

Cigarette Butts Better Than Graphene To Store Energy

A group of scientists from South Korea have converted cigarette butts into a high-performing material that could be integrated into computers, handheld devices, electrical vehicles and wind turbines to store energy. Presenting their findings today, 5 August 2014, in IOP Publishing’s journal Nanotechnology, the researchers have demonstrated the material’s superior performance compared to commercially available carbon, graphene and carbon nanotubes. It is hoped the material can be used to coat the electrodes of supercapacitors electrochemical components that can store extremely large amounts of electrical energy – while also offering a solution to the growing environmental problem caused by used cigarette filters. It is estimated that as many as 5.6 trillion cigarette butts (equivalent to 766 571 metric tons), are deposited into the environment worldwide every year.

cigarette buttsOur study has shown that used cigarette filters can be transformed into a high-performing carbon-based material using a simple one-step process, which simultaneously offers a green solution to meeting the energy demands of society“, said co-author of the study Professor Jongheop Yi, from Seoul National University. “Numerous countries are developing strict regulations to avoid the trillions of toxic and non-biodegradable used cigarette filters that are disposed of into the environment each year; our method is just one way of achieving this.”

Source: http://www.iop.org/

How Bonds Fracture

Looking at the molecular level, in order to understand how bonds fracture, from airplane wings to dental crowns, this is the purpose of a MIT research team. Materials that are firmly bonded together with epoxy and other tough adhesives are ubiquitous in modern life — from crowns on teeth to modern composites used in construction. Yet it has proved remarkably difficult to study how these bonds fracture and fail, and how to make them more resistant to such failures.
Now researchers at MIT have found a way to study these bonding failures directly, revealing the crucial role of moisture in setting the stage for failure.

airplane wingsThe bonding problem is a general problem that is encountered in many disciplines, especially in medicine and dentistry,” says Buyukozturk, whose research has focused on infrastructure, where such problems are also of great importance. “The interface between a base material and epoxy, for example, really controls the properties. If the interface is weak, you lose the entire system.”
The composite may be made of a strong and durable material bonded to another strong and durable material,” Buyukozturk adds, “but where you bond them doesn’t necessarily have to be strong and durable.”
Their findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in a paper by MIT professors of civil and environmental engineering Oral Buyukozturk and Markus Buehler; research associate Kurt Broderick of MIT’s Microsystems Technology Laboratories; and doctoral student Denvid Lau, who has since joined the faculty at the City University of Hong Kong.
Source: https://newsoffice.mit.edu/

How To Turn ANYTHING Into A Solar Panel

A team of scientists at the University of Sheffield  (U.K.) is the first to fabricate perovskite solar cells using a spray-painting process – a discovery that could help cut the cost of solar electricity.  
Efficient organometal halide perovskite based photovoltaics were first demonstrated in 2012. They are now a very promising new material for solar cells as they combine high efficiency with low materials costs. The spray-painting process wastes very little of the perovskite material and can be scaled to high volume manufacturing – similar to applying paint to cars and graphic printing.

perovskite solar panel

Remarkably, this class of material offers the potential to combine the high performance of mature solar cell technologies with the low embedded energy costs of production of organic photovoltaics“, said  lead researcher Professor David Lidzey.” While most solar cells are manufactured using energy intensive materials like silicon, perovskites, by comparison, requires much less energy to make. By spray-painting the perovskite layer in air the team hope the overall energy used to make a solar cell can be reduced further”. “The best certified efficiencies from organic solar cells are around 10 per cent. “Perovskite cells now have efficiencies of up to 19 per cent. This is not so far behind that of silicon at 25 per cent – the material that dominates the world-wide solar market” , he added.

Source: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/

How To Awake The Immune System Against Cancer

Researchers at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center are exploring ways to wake up the immune system so it recognizes and attacks invading cancer cells. Tumors protect themselves by tricking the immune system into accepting everything as normal, even while cancer cells are dividing and spreading.
The immune therapy methods limit a tumor’s ability to trick the immune system. It helps it to recognize the threat and equip it to effectively attack the tumor with more “soldiercells. These approaches are still early in development in the laboratory or clinical trials.

Immune-CellsLeft: A T-cell (orange) kills a cancer cell (mauve). Right: Scanning electron micrograph of a human T-cell. Memory T-cells respond to fight specific pathogens
Our lab’s approach differs from most in that we use nanoparticles to stimulate the immune system to attack tumors and there are a variety of potential ways that can be done,” said Steve Fiering, PhD, Norris Cotton Cancer Center researcher and professor of Microbiology and Immunology, and of Genetics at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth. “Perhaps the most exciting potential of nanoparticles is that although very small, they can combine multiple therapeutic agents.”
Now that efforts to stimulate anti-tumor immune responses are moving from the lab to the clinic, the potential for nanoparticles to be utilized to improve an immune-based therapy approach is attracting a lot of attention from both scientists and clinicians. And clinical usage does not appear too distant,” said Fiering.

Source: http://cancer.dartmouth.edu/

Self-Assembled Nanofibers Mimic Living Cells Fibers

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have developed a novel method for creating self-assembled protein/polymer nanostructures that are reminiscent of fibers found in living cells. The work offers a promising new way to fabricate materials for drug delivery and tissue engineering applications.

nanofibersCarnegieMellon
The building blocks of the fibers are a few modified green fluorescent protein (GFP) molecules linked together using a process called click chemistry. An ordinary GFP molecule does not normally bind with other GFP molecules to form fibers.
We have demonstrated that, by adding flexible linkers to protein molecules, we can form completely new types of aggregates. These aggregates can act as a structural material to which you can attach different payloads, such as drugs. In nature, this protein isn’t close to being a structural material,” said Tomasz Kowalewski, professor of chemistry in Carnegie Mellon‘s Mellon College of Science.
But when Carnegie Mellon graduate student Saadyah Averick, working under the guidance of Krzysztof Matyjaszewski, Professor of Chemistry, modified the GFP molecules and attached PEO-dialkyne linkers to them, they noticed something strange — the GFP molecules appeared to self-assemble into long fibers. Importantly, the fibers disassembled after being exposed to sound waves, and then reassembled within a few days. Systems that exhibit this type of reversible fibrous self-assembly have been long sought by scientists for use in applications such as tissue engineering, drug delivery, nanoreactors and imaging.
This was purely curiosity-driven and serendipity-driven work,” Kowalewski said. “But where controlled polymerization and organic chemistry meet biology, interesting things can happen“.
The findings were published in the July 28 issue of Angewandte Chemie International Edition.
Source: http://www.cmu.edu/

Thousand Miles Range Electric Car

Imagine owning an electric vehicle that can travel 1,000 miles (1610 km) before needing to be recharged. Now imagine that same vehicle being able to be charged to capacity in less than 5 minutes. Or, imagine owning a smart phone that only needs to be charged once a week and that charge taking less than one minute. Now a little start-up company, HyCarb, led by Sigrid Cottrell, is working to allow that imaginary world to come true. Hyper efficient supercapacitors & batteries are designed by utilizing Nanotechnology and nano-super structure technologies in order to power the next generation of consumer electronics, electric vehicles, military equipment and medical devices. They function as both a battery and a supercapacitor. They provide the long, steady power output comparable to a conventional battery, as well as a supercapacitor’s quick burst of high energy.

2014 Renault

HyCarb, Inc. is a Florida-based, for-profit, small business, headquartered at the UCF Business Incubator in Research Park. The team of researchers has already filed 3 patents protecting the system of processes required to generate a Hy-Carb supercapictor battery develops nanostructured materials using high-throughput combinatorial electrochemical methods and other proprietary techniques.

Nano-engineered battery/super capacitor is lightweight, ultra thin, completely flexible, and geared toward meeting the trickiest design and energy requirements of tomorrow’s gadgets, electric vehicles, implantable medical equipment and any number of other applications. aligned carbon nanotubes, which will give the device its black color. The nanotubes act as electrodes and allow the storage devices to conduct electricity.
The creation of this unique nano-composite surface drew from a diverse pool of disciplines, requiring expertise in materials science, energy storage, and chemistry. Along with use in small handheld electronics, the batteries’ lighter weight could make them ideal for use in automobiles, aircraft, and even boats. The Hy-Carb Supercapicitor could also be manufactured into different shapes, such as a car door, which would enable important new engineering innovations. .
Source: http://www.hy-carb.com/

Very Efficient Dust-Mite Allergy Vaccine

If you’re allergic to dust mites (and chances are you are), help may be on the way.
Researchers at the University of Iowa (UI) have developed a vaccine that can combat dust-mite allergies by naturally switching the body’s immune response. In animal tests, the nano-sized vaccine package lowered lung inflammation by 83 percent despite repeated exposure to the allergens, according to the paper, published in the AAPS (American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists) Journal. One big reason why it works, the researchers contend, is because the vaccine package contains a booster that alters the body’s inflammatory response to dust-mite allergens.
Allergy1
What is new about this is we have developed a vaccine against dust-mite allergens that hasn’t been used before,” says Aliasger Salem, professor in pharmaceutical sciences at the UI and a corresponding author on the paper.
Dust mites are ubiquitous, microscopic buggers who burrow in mattresses, sofas, and other homey spots. They are found in 84 percent of households in the United States, according to a published, national survey. Preying on skin cells on the body, the mites trigger allergies and breathing difficulties among 45 percent of those who suffer from asthma, according to some studies. Prolonged exposure can cause lung damage.
Usual treatment is limited to getting temporary relief from inhalers or undergoing regular exposure to build up tolerance, which is long term and holds no guarantee of success.
Our research explores a novel approach to treating mite allergy in which specially-encapsulated miniscule particles are administered with sequences of bacterial DNA that direct the immune system to suppress allergic immune responses,” says Peter Thorne, public health professor at the UI and a contributing author on the paper. “This work suggests a way forward to alleviate mite-induced asthma in allergy sufferers.”

Source: http://now.uiowa.edu/

Face Recognition Approaches One Hundred Percent Accuracy

A research team at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, led by Professor Xiaoou Tang, announced 99.15% face recognition accuracy achieved in Labeled Faces in the Wild (LFW) database (a database of face photographs designed for studying the problem of unconstrained face recognition).
The technology developed by Xiaoou Chen’s team is called DeepID, which is more accurate than visual identification.

face recognition
LFW is the most widely used face recognition benchmarks. Experimental results show that, if only the central region of the face is given, with the naked eye in the LFW person recognition rate is 97.52%

The three face recognition algorithms developed by Xiaoou Chen’s team now occupies the top three LFW recognition accuracy rate, followed by Facebook’s Deepface.

His lab has been based on the latest technological breakthroughs to produce a complete set of facial image processing system (SDK), including face detection, face alignment of key points, face recognition, expression recognition, gender recognition, age estimation

Xiaoou Tang plans to provide face recognition technology for free to Android, iOS and Windows Phone developers; with the help of this FreeFace-SDK, the developer can develop a variety of applications based on face recognition on the phone.

Source: http://cloud.itsc.cuhk.edu.hk/

Sniffing Out Explosives, Better Than Trained Dogs

Tel Aviv University researchers have built a groundbreaking sensor that detects miniscule concentrations of hazardous materials in the air. Security forces worldwide rely on sophisticated equipment, trained personnel, and detection dogs to safeguard airports and other public areas against terrorist attacks. A revolutionary new electronic chip with nano-sized chemical sensors is about to make their job much easier. The groundbreaking nanotechnology-inspired sensor, devised by Prof. Fernando Patolsky of Tel Aviv University‘s School of Chemistry and Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, and developed by the Herzliya company Tracense, picks up the scent of explosives molecules better than a detection dog’s nose.
Existing explosives sensors are expensive, bulky and require expert interpretation of the findings. In contrast, the new sensor is mobile, inexpensive, and identifies in real time — and with great accuracy explosives in the air at concentrations as low as a few molecules per 1,000 trillion.
explosive detective dog
Using a single tiny chip that consists of hundreds of supersensitive sensors, we can detect ultra low traces of extremely volatile explosives in air samples, and clearly fingerprint and differentiate them from other non-hazardous materials,” said Prof. Patolsky, a top researcher in the field of nanotechnology. “In real time, it detects small molecular species in air down to concentrations of parts-per-quadrillion, which is four to five orders of magnitude more sensitive than any existing technological method, and two to three orders of magnitude more sensitive than a dog’s nose. “This chip can also detect improvised explosives, such as TATP (triacetone triperoxide), used in suicide bombing attacks in Israel and abroad,” Prof. Patolsky added.
Research on the sensor was recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: http://english.tau.ac.il/

Using Nanocarriers, Drugs Attack Acute Lung Injury

Pulmonary inflammation can cause shallow breathing and the lungs to become brittle in patients who experience multiple blood transfusions, sepsis, lung surgery and acute lung trauma. This complication can leave patients on ventilators, which can further traumatize the lungs, and often results in a mortality rate of 30 to 40 percent. To date, no medication has been successful at preventing or mitigating the damage caused by lung inflammation. Now, a multidisciplinary research team led by David Eckmann, MD, PhD, Horatio C. Wood Professor of Anesthesiology at the University of Pennsylvania and professor of Bioengineering in Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, has found that when delivered by a microscopic transporter called a nanocarrier, steroids can access the hard-to-reach lung endothelial cells that need it most and are successful at preventing inflammation in mice. This proof-of-concept study is published in PLOS One.

Acute Lung Injury

This is a treatment that benefits entirely from targeted delivery or it tends not to have any significant therapeutic benefit,” says Eckmann. “That’s part of the challenge with this disorder: we have been uncertain to this point whether it was the medication or its delivery mechanism that wasn’t working. Our results in mouse models show beyond a shadow of a doubt that the drugs can be effective, we just needed to improve delivery,” says Eckmann. Acute lung injury develops as a result of direct or indirect trauma to the lungs. It compromises the hard-to-reach pores that enable gas exchange between the epithelial and endothelial barriers in the lungs.

Source: http://www.uphs.upenn.edu/

How To Embed Semiconductor Crystals Into A Nanowire

Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) (Germany), the Vienna University of Technology (Austria) and the Maria Curie-Skłodowska University Lublin (Poland) have succeeded in embedding nearly perfect semiconductor crystals into a silicon nanowire. With this new method of producing hybrid nanowires, very fast and multi-functional processing units can be accommodated on a single chip (nanocomputer) in the future.
Nano-optoelectronics are considered the cornerstone of future chip technology. Scientists have now come a step closer to both these targets: they integrated compound semiconductor crystals made of indium arsenide (InAs) into silicon nanowires, which are ideally suited for constructing increasingly compact chips.

This integration of crystals was the greatest obstacle for such “hetero-nanowires” until now: beyond the nanometer range, crystal lattice mismatch always led to numerous defects. The researchers have now managed a near-perfect production and embedding of the InAs crystals into the nanowires for the first time.
iridium arsenide

Indium arsenide (green-cyan) is perfectly integrated into the silicon nanowire (blue). (Energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy). The energy-dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (colored pricture) was performed at École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland.

The research results will be published in the journal Nano Research.

Source: https://www.hzdr.de/

How To Extract Molecules From Live Cells

University of Houston (UH) researchers have devised a new method for extracting molecules from live cells without disrupting cell development, work that could provide new avenues for the diagnosis of cancer and other diseases. The researchers used magnetized carbon nanotubes to extract biomolecules from live cells, allowing them to retrieve molecular information without killing the individual cells.

Most current methods of identifying intracellular information result in the death of the individual cells, making it impossible to continue to gain information and assess change over time, said Zhifeng Ren, M.D. Anderson Chair professor of physics and principal investigator at the Center for Superconductivity at UH and lead author of the paper. The work was a collaboration between Ren’s lab and that of Paul Chu, T.L.L. Temple Chair of Science and founding director of the Texas Center for Superconductivity.
Other key researchers on the project included Xiaoliu Zhang, a cancer researcher with the UH Center for Nuclear Receptors and Cell Signaling, and Dong Cai, assistant professor of physics. Chu, a co-author of the paper, said the new technique will allow researchers to draw fundamental information from a single cell.
cell
Now, (most) techniques break up many cells to extract the material inside the cells, so what you get is the average over many cells,” Zhifeng Ren said. “The individual cells may be different, but you cannot see exactly how they function.

A description of the work appears this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: http://www.uh.edu/

How To Detect Alzheimer’s 20 Years Before

Researchers, led by Dr. James Galvin, neurologist at New York University Langone Medical Center. announced the promising results of a study on a new test to pick up on the disease years – if not decades - in advance. And they’re looking for signs in an unusual place: the eye.
These bright dots are proteins called beta amyloids visible in the retina of a patient diagnosed with Alzheimer’s diseases. Beta amyloids are typically found in the brain and have been known to be linked to Alzheimer’s.

Australian researcher Shaun Frost tested 40 people using a liquid form of curcumin, the natural substance that makes curry yellow. Curcumin sticks to beta amyloids, allowing doctors to spot the proteins with a simple eye test. Frost found that the test positively identified 100 percent of the participants who had Alzheimer’s.
Other studies have shown that Smell test may detect early stages of Alzheimer’s.

retina

“What makes it unique is that the retina is actually an extension of the brain and so we think that a lot of the pathology that is occurring in the brain may also be occurring in the retina,” said Dr. Galvin.

Source: http://www.cbsnews.com/

Very Powerful Sensor Can Identify 20 Atoms Molecule

Nanophotonics experts at Rice University have created a unique sensor that amplifies the optical signature of molecules by about 100 billion times. Newly published tests found the device could accurately identify the composition and structure of individual molecules containing fewer than 20 atoms.

The new imaging method, which is described this week in the journal Nature Communications, uses a form of Raman spectroscopy in combination with an intricate but mass reproducible optical amplifier. Researchers at Rice’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) said the single-molecule sensor is about 10 times more powerful that previously reported devices.

molecular sensorRice‘s SECARS molecular sensor contains an optical amplifier made of four gold discs arranged in a diamond-shaped pattern. A two-coherent-laser setup amplifies the optical signatures of molecules in the center of the structure as much as 100 billion times
Ours and other research groups have been designing single-molecule sensors for several years, but this new approach offers advantages over any previously reported method,” said LANP Director Naomi Halas, the lead scientist on the study. “The ideal single-molecule sensor would be able to identify an unknown molecule — even a very small one — without any prior information about that molecule’s structure or composition. That’s not possible with current technology, but this new technique has that potential.”

Source: http://news.rice.edu/

A Nanocomputer 200 Times Smaller Than A Pinhead

The nanocomputer measures 0.3 x 0.03 millimeters (0.009 square millimeters) in size. To compare with a pinhead whose surface is 2 square millimeters. That means the nanocomputer built by the MITRE-Harvard researchers is 200 times smaller than a pinhead.
The interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers from The MITRE Corporation (a non for profit US governmental organization) and Harvard University has taken key steps toward ultra-small electronic computer systems that push beyond the imminent end of Moore’s Law, which states that the device density and overall processing power for computers will double every two to three years. In a paper that has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team describes how they designed and assembled, from the bottom up, a functioning, ultra-tiny control computer that is the densest nanoelectronic system ever built.

In the nanocomputer, nanoswitches are assembled and organized into circuits on severaltiles” (modules). Together, the tiles route small electronic signals around the computer, enabling it to perform calculations and process signals that could be used to control tiny systems, such as miniscule medical therapeutic devices, other tiny sensors and actuators, or even insect-sized robots
Construction of this nanocomputer was made possible by significant advances in processes that assemble with extreme precision dense arrays of the many nanodevices required. These advances also made it possible to manufacture multiple copies.
It was a challenge to develop a system architecture and nanocircuit designs that would pack the control functions we wanted into such a very tiny system,” according to Shamik Das, chief architect of the nanocomputer, who is also principal engineer and group leader of MITRE’s Nanosystems Group. “Once we had those designs, though, our Harvard collaborators did a brilliant job innovating to be able to realize them.”

Source: http://www.mitre.org/

Electronics Enter The Nanocomputer Age

An UAlberta research team is developing atom-scale, ultra-low-power computing devices to replace transistor circuits. In the drive to get small, Robert Wolkow and his lab at the University of Alberta are taking giant steps forward. The digital age has resulted in a succession of smaller, cleaner and less power-hungry technologies since the days the personal computer fit atop a desk, replacing mainframe models that once filled entire rooms. Desktop PCs have since given way to smaller and smaller laptops, smartphones and devices that most of us carry around in our pockets. But as Wolkow points out, this technological shrinkage can only go so far when using traditional transistor-based integrated circuits. That’s why he and his research team are aiming to build entirely new technologies at the atomic scale.
Our ultimate goal is to make ultra-low-power electronics because that’s what is most demanded by the world right now,” said Wolkow, the iCORE Chair in Nanoscale Information and Communications Technology in the Faculty of Science. “We are approaching some fundamental limits that will stop the 30-year-long drive to make things faster, cheaper, better and smaller; this will come to an end soon. “An entirely new method of computing will be necessary.”

Wolkow and his team in the U of A’s physics department and the National Institute for Nanotechnology are working to engineer atomically precise technologies that have practical, real-world applications. His lab already made its way into the Guinness Book of World Records for inventing the world’s sharpest object—a microscope tip just one atom wide at its end.

Source: http://uofa.ualberta.ca/

Transplant New Brain Cells And Forget Alzheimer’s

A new study from the Gladstone Institutes has revealed a way to alleviate the learning and memory deficits caused by apoE4, the most important genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, improving cognition to normal levels in aged mice.

In the study, which was conducted in collaboration with researchers at UC San Francisco and published in the Journal of Neuroscience, scientists transplanted inhibitory neuron progenitors—early-stage brain cells that have the capacity to develop into mature inhibitory neurons—into two mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease, apoE4 or apoE4 with accumulation of amyloid beta, another major contributor to Alzheimer’s. The transplants helped to replenish the brain by replacing cells lost due to apoE4, regulating brain activity and improving learning and memory abilities.

Brain Cells

This is the first time transplantation of inhibitory neuron progenitors has been used in aged Alzheimer’s disease models,” said first author Leslie Tong, a graduate student at the Gladstone Institutes and UCSF. “Working with older animals can be challenging from a technical standpoint, and it was amazing to see that the cells not only survived but affected activity and behavior.

The success of the treatment in older mice, which corresponded to late adulthood in humans, is particularly important, as this would be the age that would be targeted were this method ever to be used therapeutically in people.

Source: http://gladstoneinstitutes.org/

Biological Pacemaker To Save Babies Life

Cardiologists at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute have developed a minimally invasive gene transplant procedure that changes unspecialized heart cells into “biological pacemaker” cells that keep the heart steadily beating. The laboratory animal research, in the journal Science Translational Medicine, publishes results that summarize a dozen years of research with the goal of developing biological treatments for patients with heart rhythm disorders who currently are treated with surgically implanted pacemakers. In the United States, an estimated 300,000 patients receive pacemakers every year.

baby

We have been able, for the first time, to create a biological pacemaker using minimally invasive methods and to show that the biological pacemaker supports the demands of daily life,” said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, who led the research team. “We also are the first to reprogram a heart cell in a living animal in order to effectively cure a disease.”

Babies still in the womb cannot have a pacemaker, but we hope to work with fetal medicine specialists to create a life-saving catheter-based treatment for infants diagnosed with congenital heart block,” Cingolani said. “It is possible that one day, we might be able to save lives by replacing hardware with an injection of genes.”

This work by Dr. Marbán and his team heralds a new era of gene therapy, in which genes are used not only to correct a deficiency disorder, but to actually turn one kind of cell into another type,” said Shlomo Melmed, dean of the Cedars-Sinai faculty.

Source: http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/

Nano Pixels To Produce Synthetic Retinas

A new discovery will make it possible to create pixels just a few hundred nanometres across that could pave the way for extremely high-resolution and low-energy thin, flexible displays for applications such as ‘smartglasses, synthetic retinas, and foldable screens. A team led by Oxford University scientists explored the link between the electrical and optical properties of phase change materials (materials that can change from an amorphous to a crystalline state). They found that by sandwiching a seven nanometre thick layer of a phase change material (GST) between two layers of a transparent electrode they could use a tiny current to ‘draw’ images within the sandwich ‘stack’.

Initially still images were created using an atomic force microscope but the team went on to demonstrate that such tiny ‘stacks‘ can be turned into prototype pixel-like devices. These ‘nano-pixels‘ – just 300 by 300 nanometres in size – can be electrically switchedon and offat will, creating the coloured dots that would form the building blocks of an extremely high-resolution display technology.

nano pix imageStill images drawn with the technology: at around 70 micrometres across each image is smaller than the width of a human hair.

Whilst the work is still in its early stages, realising its potential, the Oxford team has filed a patent on the discovery with the help of Isis Innovation, Oxford University‘s technology commercialisation company. Isis is now discussing the displays with companies who are interested in assessing the technology, and with investors.

A report of the research is published in this week’s Nature.
Source: http://www.ox.ac.uk/

Electric Car: How To Produce Cheap Hydrogen

Rutgers University researchers have developed a technology that could overcome a major cost barrier to make clean-burning hydrogen fuel – a fuel that could replace expensive and environmentally harmful fossil fuels.

The new technology is a novel catalyst that performs almost as well as cost-prohibitive platinum for so-called electrolysis reactions, which use electric currents to split water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. The Rutgers technology is also far more efficient than less-expensive catalysts investigated to-date.
Hydrogen has long been expected to play a vital role in our future energy landscapes by mitigating, if not completely eliminating, our reliance on fossil fuels,” said Tewodros (Teddy) Asefa, associate professor of chemistry and chemical biology in the School of Arts and Sciences. “We have developed a sustainable chemical catalyst that, we hope with the right industry partner, can bring this vision to life”. He and his colleagues based their new catalyst on carbon nanotubesone-atom-thick sheets of carbon rolled into tubes 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.
carbon nanotubes to produce hydrogen

A new technology based on carbon nanotubes promises commercially viable hydrogen production from water

Finding ways to make electrolysis reactions commercially viable is important because processes that make hydrogen today start with methane – itself a fossil fuel. The need to consume fossil fuel therefore negates current claims that hydrogen is a “green” fuel.
Source: http://news.rutgers.edu

Nano Pacemaker To Extend Cardiac Patients Life

A new type of pacemaker developed by a research team from the University of Bath and the Univerity of Bristol – U.K. – could revolutionise the lives of millions people who live with heart failure in the world. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is awarding funding to researchers developing a new type of heart pacemaker that modulates its pulses to match breathing rates. Currently, the pulses from pacemakers are set at a constant rate when fitted which doesn’t replicate the natural beating of the human heart. The normal healthy variation in heart rate during breathing is lost in cardiovascular disease and is an indicator for sleep apnoea, cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
The device works by saving the heart energy, improving its pumping efficiency and enhancing blood flow to the heart muscle itself. Pre-clinical trials suggest the device gives a 25 per cent increase in the pumping ability, which is expected to extend the life of patients with heart failure.


This is a multidisciplinary project with strong translational value. By combining fundamental science and nanotechnology we will be able to deliver a unique treatment for heart failure which is not currently addressed by mainstream cardiac rhythm management devices,” explains Dr Alain Nogaret, Senior Lecturer in Physics at the University of Bath.
One aim of the project is to miniaturise the pacemaker device to the size of a postage stamp and to develop an implant that could be used in humans within five years.
The findings of the research have been published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods.

Source: http://www.bath.ac.uk/

Ninety Nine Percent Of Sunlight May Be Source To Electricity

Rice University scientists have created a one-step process for producing highly efficient materials that let the maximum amount of sunlight reach a solar cell. The Rice lab of chemist Andrew Barron found a simple way to etch nanoscale spikes into silicon that allows more than 99 percent of sunlight to reach the cells’ active elements, where it can be turned into electricity. The more light absorbed by a solar panel’s active elements, the more power it will produce. But the light has to get there. Coatings in current use that protect the active elements let most light pass but reflect some as well. Various strategies have cut reflectance down to about 6 percent, Barron said, but the anti-reflection is limited to a specific range of light, incident angle and wavelength.

Enter black silicon, so named because it reflects almost no light. Black silicon is simply silicon with a highly textured surface of nanoscale spikes or pores that are smaller than the wavelength of light. The texture allows the efficient collection of light from any angle — from sunrise to sunset

Barron and Lu have replaced a two-step process that involved metal deposition and electroless chemical etching with a single step that works at room temperature.

The research by Barron and Rice graduate student and lead author Yen-Tien Lu appears in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
Source: http://news.rice.edu/

Simple Breathalyzer To Detect Lung Cancer

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and partner institutions develop device that spots lung cancer to stop it in its tracks. Lung cancer causes MORE deaths in the U.S. than the next three most common cancers combined (colon, breast, and pancreatic). The reason for the striking mortality rate is simple: poor detection. Lung cancer attacks without leaving any fingerprints, quietly afflicting its victims and metastasizing uncontrollably — to the point of no return. Now a new device developed by a team of Israeli, American, and British cancer researchers may turn the tide by both accurately detecting lung cancer and identifying its stage of progression. The breathalyzer test, embedded with a “NaNosenanotech chip to literally “sniff out” cancer tumors, was developed by Prof. Nir Peled of Tel Aviv University‘s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Hossam Haick (inventor) of the TechnionIsrael Institute of Technology, and Prof. Fred Hirsch of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.
The study, presented at a recent American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago, was conducted on 358 patients who were either diagnosed with or at risk for lung cancer.


The smell of cancer

Lung cancer is a devastating disease, responsible for almost 2,000 deaths in Israel annually — a third of all cancer-related deaths,” said Dr. Peled. “Lung cancer diagnoses require invasive procedures such as bronchoscopies, computer-guided biopsies, or surgery. Our new device combines several novel technologies with a new concept — using exhaled breath as a medium of diagnosing cancer.”
Our NaNose was able to detect lung cancer with 90 percent accuracy even when the lung nodule was tiny and hard to sample. It was even able to discriminate between subtypes of cancer, which was unexpected,” said Dr. Peled.

Source: http://www.aftau.org/

Detecting Tumour Cells, Thanks To The Camel

The use of nanoparticles in cancer research is considered as a promising approach in detecting and fighting tumour cells. The method has, however, often failed because the human immune system recognizes the particles as foreign objects and rejects them before they can fulfil their function. Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and at University College Dublin in Ireland have, along with other partners, developed nanoparticles that not only bypass the body’s defence system, but also find their way to the diseased cells. This procedure uses fragments from a particular type of antibody that only occurs in camels and llamas. The small particles were even successful under conditions which are very similar to the situation within potential patients’ bodies.

With help of proteins, nanoparticles can be produced, which bind specifically to cancer cells, thus making it possible to detect tumours.
At the moment we must overcome three challenges. First, we need to produce the smallest possible nanoparticles. We then need to modify their surface in a way that the proteins in the human bodies do not envelop them, which would thus render them ineffective. In order to ensure, that the particles do their job, we must also somehow program them to find the diseased cells” explains Dr. Kristof Zarschler of the Helmholtz Virtual Institute NanoTracking at the HZDR.

Source: http://www.hzdr.de/

Internet Computer Teaching Itself Everything

Computer scientists from the University of Washington (UW) and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle have created the first fully automated computer program that teaches everything there is to know about any visual concept. Called Learning Everything about Anything, or LEVAN, the program searches millions of books and images on the Web to learn all possible variations of a concept, then displays the results to users as a comprehensive, browsable list of images, helping them explore and understand topics quickly in great detail.

It is all about discovering associations between textual and visual data,” said Ali Farhadi, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering. “The program learns to tightly couple rich sets of phrases with pixels in images. This means that it can recognize instances of specific concepts when it sees them.”

The research team will present the project and a related paper this month at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition annual conference in Columbus, Ohio.
Source: http://www.washington.edu/

Foot: Real-time Measurements Of Each Hit That A Player Endures

American football is a collision sport. And one consequence of repeated collisions between players is concussions. Science is starting to draw a link between these so-called mild brain injuries and the long-term effects they have on the players—namely the onset of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative condition believed to be caused by head trauma and linked to depression and dementia. Recently, the issue has come to a head with the deaths of several former star players and the broadcast of the Frontline report “League of Denial,” which chronicles scientists’ long struggle to convince NFL officials to recognize a link between concussions and CTE.

While the NFL has tried to institute rules aimed at limiting the number of concussions that players suffer, the new regulations don’t seem to have stemmed the tide of brain injuries. Each week, a slew of player concussions are reported.

Another avenue being pursued in the hopes of limiting player concussions is the engineering of better helmets to improve head protection. An IEEE Spectrum article published last year, “Ratings for Football Helmets Help Improve Player Safety—But Not Before Another Tragedy,” reported on efforts to measure the effectiveness of different football helmets in reducing head trauma and categorize them based on their efficacy. Now researchers at Brigham Young University have taken this measurement of helmet impact one step further with immediate, real-time measurements of each hit that a player endures. From those measurements, which are communicated immediately to a hand-held device, coaches know whether a collision is capable of inducing a concussion, even if the player denies any problem.

A coach will know within seconds exactly how hard their player just got hit,” said Jake Merrell, a student at BYU who developed the technology, in a press release. “Even if a player pops up and acts fine, the folks on the sidelines will have data showing that maybe he isn’t OK.”

The heart of the technology is smart foam enabled by nanoparticles, which Merrell has dubbed “ExoNanoFoam.” The nano-enabled foam behaves as a piezoelectric in which pressure on the material produces an electrical voltage. A microcontroller sensor in the helmet reads the electrical voltage produced by the foam, and sends a signal to a handheld tablet equipped with a program that interprets it and delivers real-time information on the seriousness of the hit sustained by the player.

Since the foam is actually in contact with the player’s head, it provides a more accurate measurement of the forces upon the player’s head than the accelerometers that have been used previously to measure these impacts. The drawback with accelerometers is that they measure only of the acceleration or deceleration of the player’s helmet.
Source: http://news.byu.edu/

Sand-based Lithium Ion Batteries That Outperform Standard by 3 times

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have created a lithium ion battery that outperforms the current industry standard by three times. The key material: sand. Yes, sand.

This is the holy grail – a low cost, non-toxic, environmentally friendly way to produce high performance lithium ion battery anodes,” said Zachary Favors, a graduate student working with Cengiz and Mihri Ozkan, both engineering professors at UC Riverside.
The idea came to Favors six months ago. He was relaxing on the beach after surfing in San Clemente, Calif. when he picked up some sand, took a close look at it and saw it was made up primarily of quartz, or silicon dioxide.

His research is centered on building better lithium ion batteries, primarily for personal electronics and electric vehicles. He is focused on the anode, or negative side of the battery. Graphite is the current standard material for the anode, but as electronics have become more powerful graphite’s ability to be improved has been virtually tapped out.
Researchers are now focused on using silicon at the nanoscale, or billionths of a meter, level as a replacement for graphite. The problem with nanoscale silicon is that it degrades quickly and is hard to produce in large quantities.
Findings have been published in in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
Source: http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/

Nano-structured Transportation System

For billions of years, bacteria move along using cilia. These propeling organelles are ubiquitous and they are even found in almost any human cell. Following the natural paragon scientists at the Kiel University constructed molecules that imitate these tiny, hair-like structures. Autonomously moving artificial organelles and a more efficient production of chemical compounds might now be within reach.


Cilia, or ciliated epithelia, cover our respiratory tract like a lawn. In our pharynx and nasal mucosa they are responsible for continuously transporting mucus and particles embedded therein towards our throat. (except for heavy smokers, whose cilia where destroyed by nicotine and tar.) Tobias Tellkamp and Professor Rainer Herges have now come one step closer to their aim of artificially reproducing this biological transport system with switchable molecules.

The researches have been recently published in the scientific journal “European Journal of Organic Chemistry”.

Source: http://www.uni-kiel.de/

Cancer: Radiotherapy 9 Times More Efficient

Nanobiotix, a french company located in Paris, wants to provide a solution to the question of “how to increase the delivered dose to the tumor without increasing it in healthy tissue?” This will lead to a greatly improved efficacy of radiotherapy and most likely increase the overall efficacy of cancer treatment. In this context, Nanobiotix has developed a new, innovative and patented therapeutic approach based on nanoparticles, called ‘NanoXray’. The local treatment of malignant tumors is the cornerstone of cancer treatment, for which standard treatments are surgery and radiotherapy, either used independently or in combination. Radiotherapy has been widely used in most oncology indications for decades. About 60% of cancer patients receive radiotherapy at some point of their treatment regime. Since radiation must first pass through healthy tissues before reaching the tumor target, radiotherapy treatment is currently limited by toxicity resulting from damage to these healthy tissues.

 

 

The figure illustrates the limited therapeutic window concerning  the total dose, governing the use of radiotherapy: the more a t  tumor is radiosensitive, the larger the therapeutic window ;  the more healthy tissue is radiosensitive, the greater the risk  of permanent damage.

 

Source: http://www.nanobiotix.com/

Using Light To Turn Neurons On/Off

The equipment in Ed Boyden’s lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology MIT is nothing if not eclectic. There are machines for analyzing and assembling genes; a 3-D printer; a laser cutter capable of carving an object out of a block of metal; apparatus for cultivating and studying bacteria, plants, and fungi; a machine for preparing ultrathin slices of the brain; tools for analyzing electronic circuits; a series of high-resolution imaging devices. But what Boyden is most eager to show off is a small, ugly thing that looks like a hairy plastic tooth. It’s actually the housing for about a dozen short optical fibers of different lengths, each fixed at one end to a light-emitting diode. When the tooth is implanted in, say, the brain of a mouse, each of those LEDs can deliver light to a different location. Using the device, Boyden can begin to control aspects of the mouse’s behavior.


Mouse brains, or any other brains, wouldn’t normally respond to embedded lights. But Boyden, who has appointments at MIT as eclectic as his lab equipment (assistant professor at the Media Lab, joint professor in the Department of Biological Engineering and the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, and leader of the Synthetic Neurobiology Group), has modified certain brain cells with genes that make light-sensitive proteins in plants, fungi, and bacteria. Because the proteins cause the brains cells to fire when exposed to light, they give Boyden a way to turn the genetically engineered neurons, on and off.

Source: http://www.technologyreview.com/

Super Powerful Electric Car Battery

Chemists at the NIM Cluster at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität (LMU)- Germany – and at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, have now synthesized a new material that could show the way forward to state-of-the-art lithium-sulfur batteries. Whether or not the future of automotive traffic belongs to the softly purring electric car depends largely on the development of its batteries. The industry is currently placing most of its hopes in lithium-sulfur batteries, which have a very high storage capacity. Moreover, thanks to the inclusion of sulfur atoms, they are cheaper to make and less toxic than conventional lithium-ion power packs.
The chemists Professor Thomas Bein (LMU), Coordinator of the Energy Conversion Division of the Nanosystems Initiative Munich, Professor Linda Nazar (University of Waterloo, Waterloo Institute of Nanotechology) and their colleagues have now succeeded in producing a novel type of nanofiber, whose highly ordered and porous structure gives it an extraordinarily high surface-to-volume ratio. Thus, a sample of the new material the size of a sugar cube presents a surface area equivalent to that of more than seven tennis courts.

The lithium-sulfur battery still presents several major challenges that need to be resolved until it can be integrated into cars. For example, both the rate and the number of possible charge-discharge cycles need to be increased before the lithium-sulfur battery can become a realistic alternative to lithium-ion batteries.

The high surface-to-volume ratio, and high pore volume is important because it allows sulfur to bind to the electrode in a finely divided manner, with relatively high loading. Together with its easy accessibility, this enhances the efficiency of the electrochemical processes that occur in the course of charge-discharge cycles. And the rates of the key reactions at the sulfur electrode-electrolyte interface, which involve both electrons and ions, are highly dependent on the total surface area available,” as Benjamin Mandlmeier, a postdoc in Bein’s Institute and a first co-author on the new study, explains.

Source: http://www.en.uni-muenchen.de/

A Near Perfect, Atomically Thin Transistor

For the ever-shrinking transistor, there may be a new game in town. Cornell researchers have demonstrated promising electronic performance from a semiconducting compound with properties that could prove a worthy companion to silicon. New data on electronic properties of an atomically thin crystal of molybdenum disulfide are reported online in Science June 27 by Kin Fai Mak, a postdoctoral fellow at the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science.


Recent interest in molybdenum disulfide for transistors has been inspired in part by similar studies on graphene – one atom-thick carbon in an atomic formation like chicken wire. Although super strong, really thin and an excellent conductor, graphene doesn’t allow for easy switching on and off of current, which is at the heart of what a transistor does.

Molybdenum disulfide, on the other hand, is easy to acquire, can be sliced into very thin crystals and has the needed band gap to make it a semiconductor. It possesses another potentially useful property: Besides both intrinsic charge and spin, it also has an extra degree of freedom called a valley, which can produce a perpendicular, chargeless current that does not dissipate any energy as it flows.

If that valley current could be harnessed – scientists are still working on that – the material could form the basis for a near-perfect, atomically thin transistor, which in principle would allow electronics to dissipate no heat, according to Mak.
Source: http://news.cornell.edu/

How To Fix DNA Knots

Physicists of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) and the Graduate School of Excellence “Materials Science in Mainz” (MAINZ) – Germany – have been able with the aid of computer simulations to confirm and explain a mechanism by which two knots on a DNA strand can interchange their positions. For this, one of the knots grows in size while the other diffuses along the contour of the former. Since there is only a small free energy barrier to swap, a significant number of crossing events have been observed in molecular dynamics simulations, i.e., there is a high probability of such interchange of positions.

We assume that this swapping of positions on a DNA strandmay also happen in living organisms,” explained Dr. Peter Virnau of the JGU Institute of Physics, who performed the computer simulation together with his colleagues Benjamin Trefz and Jonathan Siebert. The scientists expect that the mechanism may play an important role in future technologies such as nanopore sequencing, wherelong DNA strands are sequenced by being pulled though pores.
Nanopore sequencing is a method under development since 1995 for determining the order in which nucleotides occur on a strand of DNA. A nanopore is simply asmall hole, of the order of 1 nanometer in internal diameter.

Source; http://www.uni-mainz.de/

How To Harness The Power Of Sound Waves

The RMIT University - (Australia) researchers have demonstrated how high-frequency sound waves can be used to precisely control the spread of thin film fluid along a specially-designed chip, in a paper recently published in Proceedings of the Royal Society A.

With thin film technology the bedrock of microchip and microstructure manufacturing, the pioneering research offers a significant advance – potential applications range from thin film coatings for paint and wound care to 3D printing, micro-casting and micro-fluidics. Professor James Friend, Director of the MicroNano Research Facility at RMIT, said the researchers had developed a portable system for precise, fast and unconventional micro- and nano-fabrication.


By tuning the sound waves, we can create any pattern we want on the surface of a microchip,” Professor Friend said.

Manufacturing using thin film technology currently lacks precision – structures are physically spun around to disperse the liquid and coat components with thin film. “We’ve found that thin film liquid either flows towards or away from high-frequency sound waves, depending on its thickness.
“We not only discovered this phenomenon but have also unravelled the complex physics behind the process, enabling us to precisely control and direct the application of thin film liquid at a micro and nano-scale,”
he added.

Source: http://www.rmit.edu.au/

Laser + Neuroscience + Nanotechnology To Attack Parkinson’s

Researchers have Combined physics and neurobiology to tackle Parkinson’s Disease. Professor Keshav Dani from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST) – Japan – Graduate University’s Femtosecond Spectroscopy Unit and Neurobiology Research Unit, along with collaborators at the University of Otago, New Zealand are using lasers, nanotechnology and neuroscience to develop a new, versatile drug delivery system. In a new article in Scientific Reports, the researchers describe their work using a laser to release a neurochemical, the function of which is impaired in Parkinson’s Disease, in a controlled and repeatable manner.


Currently, we administer drugs in a systemic way and tissues or organs that do not need the drug receive it, leading to unwanted side effects. A good example of this is in chemotherapy, which is toxic not only to the intended target cancer cells, but also to healthy tissue

An exciting new area of research for a cure or therapy for many diseases is targeted drug delivery. Recent advances in nanotechnology and biology are opening up the possibilities in targeted drug delivery, where researchers can release drugs or compounds in a specific tissue or even individual cells, which would allow the drug to reach only its intended target. In their recent paper, OIST researchers describe a method to encapsulate a drug in a shell of lipids, or fat, called a liposome, and modulate the release of the drug using a pulse from a laser.

Source: http://www.oist.jp/

Nanotechnology: Food And Drug Administration Rules

Today, 3 final guidances and one draft guidance were issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) providing greater regulatory clarity for industry on the use of nanotechnology in FDA-regulated products.
One final guidance addresses the agency’s overall approach for all products that it regulates, while the two additional final guidances and the new draft guidance provide specific guidance for the areas of foods, cosmetics and food for animals, respectively.

Nanotechnology is an emerging technology that allows scientists to create, explore and manipulate materials on a scale measured in nanometers—particles so small that they cannot be seen with a regular microscope. The technology has a broad range of potential applications, such as improving the packaging of food and altering the look and feel of cosmetics.

SILVER NANOPARTICLES

Our goal remains to ensure transparent and predictable regulatory pathways, grounded in the best available science, in support of the responsible development of nanotechnology products,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “We are taking a prudent scientific approach to assess each product on its own merits and are not making broad, general assumptions about the safety of nanotechnology products.”

The 3 final guidance documents reflect the FDA’s current thinking on these issues after taking into account public comment received on the corresponding draft guidance documents previously issued (draft agency guidance in 2011; and draft cosmetics and foods guidances in 2012).

The FDA does not make a categorical judgment that nanotechnology is inherently safe or harmful, and will continue to consider the specific characteristics of individual products.
All 4 guidance documents encourage manufacturers to consult with the agency before taking their products to market. Consultations with the FDA, early in the product development process help to facilitate a mutual understanding about specific scientific and regulatory issues relevant to the nanotechnology product, and help address questions related to safety, effectiveness, public health impact and/or regulatory status of the product.
Source: http://www.fda.gov/

Socializing: Just A Brain Circuit To Stimulate

A team of Stanford University investigators has linked a particular brain circuit to mammals’ tendency to interact socially. Stimulating this circuitone among millions in the brain — instantly increases a mouse’s appetite for getting to know a strange mouse, while inhibiting it shuts down its drive to socialize with the stranger.

The new findings, published June 19 in Cell, may throw light on psychiatric disorders marked by impaired social interaction such as autism, social anxiety, schizophrenia and depression, said the study’s senior author, Karl Deisseroth, MD, PhD, a professor of bioengineering and of psychiatry and behavioral sciences.


People with autism, for example, often have an outright aversion to social interaction,” says Deisseroth, a practicing psychiatrist who sees patients with severe social deficits. They can find socializing — even mere eye contactpainful.

Deisseroth pioneered a brain-exploration technique, optogenetics, that involves selectively introducing light-receptor molecules to the surfaces of particular nerve cells in a living animal’s brain and then carefully positioning, near the circuit in question, the tip of a lengthy, ultra-thin optical fiber (connected to a laser diode at the other end) so that the photosensitive cells and the circuits they compose can be remotely stimulated or inhibited at the turn of a light switch while the animal remains free to move around in its cage.

Source: http://med.stanford.edu/

Computing Gloves Teach You Braille And Piano

Several years ago, Georgia Institute of Technology researchers created a technology-enhanced glove that can teach beginners how to play piano melodies in 45 minutes. Now they’ve advanced the same wearable computing technology to help people learn how to read and write Braille. The twist is that people wearing the glove don’t have to pay attention. They learn while doing something else.


The process is based on passive haptic learning (PHL),” said Thad Starner, a Georgia Tech professor and wearable computer pioneer. “We’ve learned that people can acquire motor skills through vibrations without devoting active attention to their hands.”
In their new study, Starner and Ph.D. student Caitlyn Seim examined how well these gloves work to teach Braille. Each study participant wore a pair of gloves with tiny vibrating motors stitched into the knuckles. The motors vibrated in a sequence that corresponded with the typing pattern of a pre-determined phrase in Braille. Audio cues let the users know the Braille letters produced by typing that sequence. Afterwards, everyone tried to type the phrase one time, without the cues or vibrations, on a keyboard.
Seim is currently in the middle of a second study that uses PHL to teach the full Braille alphabet during four sessions. Of the eight participants so far, 75 percent of those receiving PHL reached perfect typing performance.

The sequences were then repeated during a distraction task. Participants played a game for 30 minutes and were told to ignore the gloves. Half of the participants felt repeated vibrations and heard the cues; the others only heard the audio cues. When the game was over, participants tried to type the phrase without wearing the gloves.
Remarkably, we found that people could transfer knowledge learned from typing Braille to reading Braille,” said Seim. “After the typing test, passive learners were able to read and recognize more than 70 percent of the phrase’s letters.”
Source: http://www.news.gatech.edu/

Nano Pacemaker To Extend Cardiac Patients Life

A new type of pacemaker develped by a research team from the University of Bath and the Univerity of Bristol – U.K. – could revolutionise the lives of millions people who live with heart failure in the world. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) is awarding funding to researchers developing a new type of heart pacemaker that modulates its pulses to match breathing rates. Currently, the pulses from pacemakers are set at a constant rate when fitted which doesn’t replicate the natural beating of the human heart. The normal healthy variation in heart rate during breathing is lost in cardiovascular disease and is an indicator for sleep apnoea, cardiac arrhythmia, hypertension, heart failure and sudden cardiac death.
The device works by saving the heart energy, improving its pumping efficiency and enhancing blood flow to the heart muscle itself. Pre-clinical trials suggest the device gives a 25 per cent increase in the pumping ability, which is expected to extend the life of patients with heart failure.


This is a multidisciplinary project with strong translational value. By combining fundamental science and nanotechnology we will be able to deliver a unique treatment for heart failure which is not currently addressed by mainstream cardiac rhythm management devices,” explains Dr Alain Nogaret, Senior Lecturer in Physics at the University of Bath.
One aim of the project is to miniaturise the pacemaker device to the size of a postage stamp and to develop an implant that could be used in humans within five years.
The findings of the research have been published recently in the Journal of Neuroscience Methods.

Source: http://www.bath.ac.uk/

Ninety Nine Percent Of Sunlight May Be Source To Electricity

Rice University scientists have created a one-step process for producing highly efficient materials that let the maximum amount of sunlight reach a solar cell. The Rice lab of chemist Andrew Barron found a simple way to etch nanoscale spikes into silicon that allows more than 99 percent of sunlight to reach the cells’ active elements, where it can be turned into electricity. The more light absorbed by a solar panel’s active elements, the more power it will produce. But the light has to get there. Coatings in current use that protect the active elements let most light pass but reflect some as well. Various strategies have cut reflectance down to about 6 percent, Barron said, but the anti-reflection is limited to a specific range of light, incident angle and wavelength.

Enter black silicon, so named because it reflects almost no light. Black silicon is simply silicon with a highly textured surface of nanoscale spikes or pores that are smaller than the wavelength of light. The texture allows the efficient collection of light from any angle — from sunrise to sunset

Barron and Lu have replaced a two-step process that involved metal deposition and electroless chemical etching with a single step that works at room temperature.

The research by Barron and Rice graduate student and lead author Yen-Tien Lu appears in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Materials Chemistry A.
Source: http://news.rice.edu/

Simple Breathalyzer To Detect Lung Cancer

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and partner institutions develop device that spots lung cancer to stop it in its tracks. Lung cancer causes MORE deaths in the U.S. than the next three most common cancers combined (colon, breast, and pancreatic). The reason for the striking mortality rate is simple: poor detection. Lung cancer attacks without leaving any fingerprints, quietly afflicting its victims and metastasizing uncontrollably — to the point of no return. Now a new device developed by a team of Israeli, American, and British cancer researchers may turn the tide by both accurately detecting lung cancer and identifying its stage of progression. The breathalyzer test, embedded with a “NaNosenanotech chip to literally “sniff out” cancer tumors, was developed by Prof. Nir Peled of Tel Aviv University‘s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Prof. Hossam Haick (inventor) of the TechnionIsrael Institute of Technology, and Prof. Fred Hirsch of the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver.
The study, presented at a recent American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago, was conducted on 358 patients who were either diagnosed with or at risk for lung cancer.


The smell of cancer

Lung cancer is a devastating disease, responsible for almost 2,000 deaths in Israel annually — a third of all cancer-related deaths,” said Dr. Peled. “Lung cancer diagnoses require invasive procedures such as bronchoscopies, computer-guided biopsies, or surgery. Our new device combines several novel technologies with a new concept — using exhaled breath as a medium of diagnosing cancer.”
Our NaNose was able to detect lung cancer with 90 percent accuracy even when the lung nodule was tiny and hard to sample. It was even able to discriminate between subtypes of cancer, which was unexpected,” said Dr. Peled.

Source: http://www.aftau.org/

Detecting Tumour Cells, Thanks To The Camel

The use of nanoparticles in cancer research is considered as a promising approach in detecting and fighting tumour cells. The method has, however, often failed because the human immune system recognizes the particles as foreign objects and rejects them before they can fulfil their function. Researchers at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) and at University College Dublin in Ireland have, along with other partners, developed nanoparticles that not only bypass the body’s defence system, but also find their way to the diseased cells. This procedure uses fragments from a particular type of antibody that only occurs in camels and llamas. The small particles were even successful under conditions which are very similar to the situation within potential patients’ bodies.

With help of proteins, nanoparticles can be produced, which bind specifically to cancer cells, thus making it possible to detect tumours.
At the moment we must overcome three challenges. First, we need to produce the smallest possible nanoparticles. We then need to modify their surface in a way that the proteins in the human bodies do not envelop them, which would thus render them ineffective. In order to ensure, that the particles do their job, we must also somehow program them to find the diseased cells” explains Dr. Kristof Zarschler of the Helmholtz Virtual Institute NanoTracking at the HZDR.

Source: http://www.hzdr.de/

Cars: NanoMaterial Resists Under Extreme Conditions

Material researchers at the Leibniz Institute for New Materials (INM) – Germany – will be presenting a composite material which prevents metal corrosion in an environmentally friendly way, even under extreme conditions. It can be used wherever metals are exposed to severe weather conditions, aggressive gases, media containing salt, heavy wear or high pressures.
From 7 to 11 April 2014, the researchers of the INM will be presenting this and further results in Hall 2 at the stand C48 of the Hannover Messe in the context of the leading trade fair for R & D and Technology Transfer. This includes new developments of transparent and conducting coatings, CIGS solar cells, antimicrobial coatings as well as grease-free composites with corrosion-resistant properties and printed electronics.

This patented composite exhibits its action by spray application”, explains Carsten Becker-Willinger, Head of the Nanomers Program Division. “The key is the structuring of this layer – the protective particles arrange themselves like roof tiles. As in a wall, several layers of particles are placed on top of each other in an offset arrangement; the result is a self-organized, highly structured barrier”, says the chemical nanotechnology expert. The protective layer is just a few micrometers (1 thousandth of a millimeter) thick and prevents penetration by gases and electrolytes. It provides protection against corrosion caused by aggressive aqueous solutions, including for example salt solutions such as salt spray on roads and seawater, or aqueous acids such as acid rain. The protective layer is an effective barrier, even against corrosive gases or under pressure.

source: http://www.inm-gmbh.de/

Internet Computer Teaching Itself Everything

Computer scientists from the University of Washington (UW) and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence in Seattle have created the first fully automated computer program that teaches everything there is to know about any visual concept. Called Learning Everything about Anything, or LEVAN, the program searches millions of books and images on the Web to learn all possible variations of a concept, then displays the results to users as a comprehensive, browsable list of images, helping them explore and understand topics quickly in great detail.

It is all about discovering associations between textual and visual data,” said Ali Farhadi, a UW assistant professor of computer science and engineering. “The program learns to tightly couple rich sets of phrases with pixels in images. This means that it can recognize instances of specific concepts when it sees them.”

The research team will present the project and a related paper this month at the Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition annual conference in Columbus, Ohio.
Source: http://www.washington.edu/

How To Target Pancreatic Cancer

Short, customized carbon nanotubes have the potential to deliver drugs to pancreatic cancer cells and destroy them from within, according to researchers, led by Andrew Barron, chemist at Rice University and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Pristine nanotubes produced through a new process developed at Rice can be modified to carry drugs to tumors through gaps in blood-vessel walls that larger particles cannot fit through. The nanotubes may then target and infiltrate the cancerous cells’ nuclei, where the drugs can be released through sonication – that is, by shaking them. The next step was to cut the nanotubes down to size. Very long nanotubes are floppy and hard to deal with, Barron said. Enrico Andreoli, a postdoctoral research associate in Barron’s group and lead author of the paper, used a thermal process to chop them to an average length of 50 nanometers. (A human hair is about 100,000 nanometers wide.)

Instead of ending up with a fluffy nanotube powder, we get something that looks like a hockey puck,” Barron said. “It’s not dense – it looks like a spongy puck – but you can cut it with a razor blade. You can weigh it and do accurate chemistry with it.”
Fleming, whose work focuses on improving drug delivery for pancreatic cancer, cautioned that more research is required. ”The next step will be to test this approach in mice that have allografts taken from human tumors,” he said. “The architecture of these tumors will more closely resemble that of human pancreatic cancer.”

The research was reported in the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Journal of Materials Chemistry B.
Source: http://news.rice.edu/

A Glass Of Milk So White…

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) revealed a few weeks ago that there are over 1,600 nanotechnology-based products on the market today — and that the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) lacks the authority to regulate them.Some of these nanotechnological innovations — which refer to particles less than 100 nanometers wide, or approximately 1/800th the diameter of a strand of human hair — are likely harmless, such as embedded silver particles in athletic socks and underwear. According to SmartSilver Anti-Odor Nanotechnology Underwear, the microscopic silver particles are “strongly antibacterial to a wide range of pathogens, absorb sweat, and by killing bacteria help eliminate unpleasant foot odor.”

However, the PEN database also includes 96 nanotechnology-infused items currently stocked on grocery store shelves, and none of these items listed their nanotechnology among their ingredients. Included on the list are Dannon Greek Plain Yogurt, Hershey’s Bliss Dark Chocolate, Kraft’s American Cheese Singles, and Rice Dream Rice Drink, all of which contain nanoparticles of titanium dioxide.

Titanium dioxide — often referred to as “the perfect white” or “the whitest white” — is used as a pigment because its refractive index is extremely high. It has long been present in paints, plastics, paper, toothpaste, and pearlescent cosmetics, but researchers recently discovered the benefits of adding it to skim milk.

According to David Barbano, a professor at Cornell University’s Department of Food Science, “suspension of titanium dioxide in skim milk made the milk whiter, which resulted in improved sensory scores for appearance, creamy aroma, and texture… There is clearly a need to develop a whitener for fat-free milk other than titanium dioxide to provide processors with an ingredient option that would improve sensory properties and provide a nutritional benefit.”

Source: http://www.nanotechproject.org/

Mimicking Onion To Deliver Drugs

One of the defining features of cells is their membranes. Each cell’s repository of DNA and protein-making machinery must be kept stable and secure from invaders and toxins. Scientists have attempted to replicate these properties, but, despite decades of research, even the most basic membrane structures, known as vesicles, still face many problems when made in the lab. They are difficult to make at consistent sizes and lack the stability of their biological counterparts. Now, University of Pennsylvania researchers, led by professor Virgil Percec, of the Department of Chemistry in Penn’s School of Arts & Sciences, have shown that a certain kind of dendrimer, a molecule that features tree-like branches, offers a simple way of creating vesicles and tailoring their diameter and thickness. Moreover, these dendrimer-based vesicles self-assemble with concentric layers of membranes, much like an onion.

By altering the concentration of the dendrimers suspended within, the researchers have shown that they can control the number of layers, and thus the diameter of the vesicle, when the solution is injected in water. Such a structure opens up possibilities of releasing drugs over longer periods of time, with a new dose in each layer, or even putting a cocktail of drugs in different layers so each is released in sequence.
The researchers created “onion” dendrimersomes, which have multiple concentric membranes, each made of two layers of dendrimers
The problem,” Percec said, “is that once you remove the proteins and the other elements of a real biological membrane, they are unstable and don’t last for a long time. It’s also hard to control their permeability and their polydispersity, which is how close together in size they are. The methodologies for producing them are also complicated and expensive.”
If you want to deliver a single drug over the course of 20 days,” Perce said, “you could think about putting one dose of the drug in each layer and have it released over time. Or you might put one drug in the first layer, another drug in the second and so on. Being able to control the diameter of the vesicles may also have clinical uses; target cells might only accept vesicles of a certain size.

The study was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: http://www.upenn.edu/

Cheaper, Lighter Solar Cells

Think those flat, glassy solar panels on your neighbour’s roof are the pinnacle of solar technology? Think again.
Researchers in the University of Toronto’s Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering have designed and tested a new class of solar-sensitive nanoparticle that outshines the current state of the art employing this new class of technology. This new form of solid, stable light-sensitive nanoparticles, called colloidal quantum dots, could lead to cheaper and more flexible solar cells, as well as better gas sensors, infrared lasers, infrared light emitting diodes and more.

The field of colloidal quantum dot photovoltaics requires continued improvement in absolute performance, or power conversion efficiency,” said Sargent. “The field has moved fast, and keeps moving fast, but we need to work toward bringing performance to commercially compelling levels.”.

This research was conducted in collaboration with Dalhousie University, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology and Huazhong University of Science and Technology.
The work, led by post-doctoral researcher Zhijun Ning and Professor Ted Sargent, was published this week in Nature Materials.
Source: http://media.utoronto.ca/

How To Kill Cancerous Cells Instantaneously

The first preclinical study of a new Rice University – developed anti-cancer technology found that a novel combination of existing clinical treatments can instantaneously detect and kill only cancer cells — often by blowing them apart — without harming surrounding normal organs. The work was conducted by researchers from Rice, the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Northeastern University.

The first preclinical study of the anti-cancer technology “quadrapeutics” found it to be 17 times more efficient than conventional chemoradiation therapy against aggressive, drug-resistant head and neck tumors

We address aggressive cancers that cannot be efficiently and safely treated today,” said Rice scientist Dmitri Lapotko, the study’s lead investigator. “Surgeons often cannot fully remove tumors that are intertwined with important organs. Chemotherapy and radiation are commonly used to treat the residual portions of these tumors, but some tumors become resistant to chemoradiation. Quadrapeutics steps up when standard treatments fail. At the same time, quadrapeutics complements current approaches instead of replacing them.”

The research is available in the online journal Nature Medicine.
Source: http://news.rice.edu/

How To Heal Apnea Without Using Mask

Sufferers of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) as well as heavy snorers can now look forward to greater relief and a better quality of life. In order to heal apnea, the Belgian-israeli company Nyxoah is developing a neurostimulation device like no other on the market. Not only will it allow people with OSA to enjoy a full night’s comfortable sleep. It will also achieve this result with a tiny implant that’s minimally invasive, long-lasting and inserted on an outpatient basis. Medical studies have identified Neurostimulation (activating the nerves of the tongue muscles) as being a very promising alternative to CPAP, oral appliances and even the need for surgery. But until now many technical difficulties have surrounded Neurostimulation solutions.


How can the Neurostimulator be made tiny and easily implanted? How can the procedure be done rapidly and without special surgical skills? How can the implant be powered for maximum comfort and minimum inconvenience?

The Nyxoah implant is an ultra-small Neurostimulator, measuring 20mm in diameter and 2.5mm thick. It’s designed to be implanted close to the nerves of the tongue muscle by a single small incision. Since the implant is lodged within its own special delivery tool, surgeons will find it easy and convenient to correctly place it at the right location.
A single surgeon can perform the placement procedure and do so in 15 minutes (compared to implants from other Neurostimulation companies that can take over 3 hours to implant).
The benefits with the Nyxoah solution are not only a shorter and less risky procedure but also far lower surgical expenses.
Note that once placed, the implant does not migrate (move to a different position). It will have a lifetime of at least 12 years, compared to other implants that need replacement after 5 years and therefore require further surgery.

Source: http://www.nyxoah.com/

2016: The End Of Cables, A Completely Wireless PC

Intel‘s Skylake, which is the company’s post-Broadwell next-generation platform, will allow the PC maker to eliminate the need for any cables by 2016. Kirk Skaugen, Intel senior Vice-President , has demonstrated at Taipei’s Computex show wireless capabilities for docking, charging and display, which are the last functions for the PC that still require cables. A completely wireless PC has long been desired, but the idea has faced much difficulty because of the need for connecting cables by PC peripherals, along with the system’s need for power.

Intel is looking to use WiGig, a new protocol that can deliver speeds of up to 7 Gbps, to provide short-range docking for display and connectivity The WiGig instantly connects screens and other peripherals when a tablet or laptop appears within the device’s range, and also instantly disconnects as the tablet or laptop is moved away. Users can project what’s on their computer screen to other computer screens wirelessly.

For power, on the other hand, Intel is looking at using Rezence, which Skaugen demonstrated. Rezence is a charging technology that uses magnetic resonance (The phenomenon of absorption of certain frequencies of radio and microwave radiation by atoms placed in a magnetic field. The pattern of absorption reveals molecular structure). The technology is promoted by Intel-backed group Alliance 4 Wireless Power. It can be placed underneath the surface of a table, with the system’s magnetic resonance able to charge devices through even 2 inches of wood. Also, unlike inductive chargers that can only charge one device at a time, magnetic resonance chargers can charge several devices all at once.

The system was also demonstrated by Skaugen at Computex, using a table installed with Rezence to charge a mobile phone, a headset, a laptop and a tablet simultaneously. Skaugen also announced new member companies of the A4WP, which includes Lenovo, Fujitsu, Dell, Panasonic and Logitech, to work with already partners Toshiba and Asus.

Let’s remind that the company Apple has dabbled into magnetic resonance charging technology in the past, filing a patent for the technology.

Source: http://www.techtimes.com/

How To Replace Bones by Implants Using A 3D Printer

In future, knee and bone implants customised to fit individual patients could be easily made using 3D printers. Additive manufacturing, the technological innovation behind 3-D printing, has revolutionized the way we conceive of and build everything from electronic devices to jewelry to artificial organs. It is not surprising that this field has enjoyed enormous economic returns, which are projected to grow over the coming decade. According to a recent industry report prepared by Wohlers Associates, 3-D printing contributed to more than $2.2 billion in global industry in 2012 and is poised to grow to more than $6 billion by 2017. Compared to traditional manufacturing techniques, in which objects are carved out of a larger block of material or cast in molds and dies, additive manufacturing builds objects, layer by layer, according to precise design specifications. Because there are no dies or molds to be cast, design changes can be made more quickly and at a lower cost than ever before, increasing the level of customization that individuals and businesses can achieve “in house.”
To illustrate the vitality of the sector, The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Additive Manufacturing Centre (NAMC) in Singapore was officially launched thi week. At the launch, NTU also signed a $5 million joint laboratory agreement with SLM Solutions, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of 3D printers.

Named SLM Solutions@NAMC, the lab aims to develop next-generation 3D printers which can print much larger parts than today’s printers and new types of materials. It will also develop platforms that can print multiple materials in one single build.

Although we are a young university, NTU is already leading with two decades of research and development in this field,” said Prof Bertil Andersson, NTU President. “Our new additive manufacturing centre not only aims to collaborate with industry to develop innovative, practical solutions but also brings together the best talents in the field. The new centre is outfitted with the latest 3D printing machines, such as laser-aided machines for printing metal parts for industry and bio-printers which are able to print real human tissue,” he said. Medical devices and tissue printing are among the key research areas that Nanyang Technological University is ramping up on with the launch of its new $30 million 3D printing centre.
Source: http://media.ntu.edu.sg/

Your Jacket Will Be The Power Source

Imagine being able to carry all the juice you needed to power your MP3 player, smartphone and electric car in the fabric of your jacket? Sounds like science fiction, but it may become a reality thanks to breakthrough technology developed at a University of Central Florida research lab. So far electrical cables are used only to transmit electricity. However, nanotechnology scientist and professor Jayan Thomas and his Ph.D. student Zenan Yu have developed a way to both transmit and store electricity in a single lightweight copper wire.

It’s an interesting idea,” Thomas said. “When we did it and started talking about it, everyone we talked to said, Hmm, never thought of that. It’s unique.’” Copper wire is the starting point but eventually, Thomas said, as the technology improves, special fibers could also be developed with nanostructures to conduct and store energy.

More immediate applications could be seen in the design and development of electrical vehicles, space-launch vehicles and portable electronic devices. By being able to store and conduct energy on the same wire, heavy, space-consuming batteries could become a thing of the past. It is possible to further miniaturize the electronic devices or the space that has been previously used for batteries could be used for other purposes. In the case of launch vehicles, that could potentially lighten the load, making launches less costly, Thomas said.

In other words, Thomas and his team created a supercapacitor on the outside of the copper wire. Supercapcitors store powerful energy, like that needed to start a vehicle or heavy-construction equipment.

Although more work needs to be done, Thomas said the technique should be transferable to other types of materials. That could lead to specially treated clothing fibers being able to hold enough power for big tasks. For example, if flexible solar cells and these fibers were used in tandem to make a jacket, it could be used independently to power electronic gadgets and other devices.

Source: http://today.ucf.edu/

Mimic Nature To Build Man-made Molecular Systems

Using molecules of DNA like an architectural scaffold, Arizona State University (ASU) scientists, in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Michigan, have developed a 3-D artificial enzyme cascade that mimics an important biochemical pathway, a major breakthrough for future biomedical and energy applications.


Remaking an artificial enzyme pair in the test tube and having it work outside the cell is a big challenge for DNA nanotechnology. To meet the challenge, they first made a DNA scaffold that looks like several paper towel rolls glued together. Using a computer program, they were able to customize the chemical building blocks of the DNA sequence so that the scaffold would self-assemble. Next, the two enzymes were attached to the ends of the DNA tubes. In the middle of the DNA scaffold, a research team led by ASU professor Hao Yan affixed a single strand of DNA, with the molecule called NAD+ tethered to the end like a ball and string. Yan refers to this as a swinging arm, which is long, flexible and dexterous enough to rock back and forth between the enzymes to carry out a chemical reaction

We look to Nature for inspiration to build man-made molecular systems that mimic the sophisticated nanoscale machineries developed in living biological systems, and we rationally design molecular nanoscaffolds to achieve biomimicry at the molecular level,” Yan said, who holds the Milton Glick Chair in the ASU Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
An even loftier and more valuable goal is to engineer highly programmed cascading enzyme pathways on DNA nanostructure platforms with control of input and output sequences. Achieving this goal would not only allow researchers to mimic the elegant enzyme cascades found in nature and attempt to understand their underlying mechanisms of action, but would facilitate the construction of artificial cascades that do not exist in nature,” said Yan.
The findings were published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Source: https://asunews.asu.edu/

Nanoflowers Deliver Drugs To Cancer Cells

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed daisy-shaped, nanoscale structures that are made predominantly of anti-cancer drugs and are capable of introducing a “cocktail” of multiple drugs into cancer cells. The researchers are all part the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
To make the “nanodaisies,” the researchers begin with a solution that contains a polymer called polyethylene glycol (PEG). The PEG forms long strands that have much shorter strands branching off to either side. Researchers directly link the anti-cancer drug camptothecin (CPT) onto the shorter strands and introduce the anti-cancer drug doxorubicin (Dox) into the solution. Once injected, the nanodaisies float through the bloodstream until they are absorbed by cancer cells. Once in a cancer cell, the drugs are released.

Early tests of the “nanodaisy” drug delivery technique show promise against a number of cancers
We found that this technique was much better than conventional drug-delivery techniques at inhibiting the growth of lung cancer tumors in mice,” says Dr. Zhen Gu, senior author of the paper. “And based on in vitro tests in nine different cell lines, the technique is also promising for use against leukemia, breast, prostate, liver, ovarian and brain cancers.”
Source: http://news.ncsu.edu/

How To Directly Control The Nano-World In Motion

Researchers have announced the first ever method for controlling the growth of metal-crystals from single atoms. Professor Peter Sadler from the University of Warwick, – United Kingdom – Department of Chemistry, commented that “The breakthrough with Nanocrystallometry is that it actually allows us to observe and directly control the nano-world in motion“. Using a doped-graphene matrix to slow down and then trap atoms of the precious metal osmium the researchers were able to control and quantify the growth of metal-crystals. When the trapped atoms come into contact with further osmium atoms they bind together, eventually growing into 3D metal-crystals.


Tailoring nanoscopic objects is of enormous importance for the production of the materials of the future“, says Dr Barry from the University’s Department of Chemistry. “Until now the formation of metal nanocrystals, which are essential to those future materials, could not be controlled with precision at the level of individual atoms, under mild and accessible conditions.”
Prof. Sadler says: Nanocrystallometry‘s significance is that it has made it possible to grow with precision metal-crystals which can be as small as only 0.00000015cm, or 15 ångström, wide. If a nanodevice requires a million osmium atoms then from 1 gram of osmium we can make about 400 thousand devices for every person on this earth. Compared to existing methods of crystal growth Nanocrystallometry offers a significant improvement in the economic and efficient manufacture of precision nanoscopic objects.”

Published in the journal Nature Communications and developed at the University of Warwick, the method, called Nanocrystallometry, allows for the creation of precise components for use in nanotechnology.
Source: http://www2.warwick.ac.uk/
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http://www.eurekalert.org/

How To Map Your Blood System

A new method allows calcified and constricted blood vessels to be visualized with micrometer (one thousandth of a millimeter) precision, and can be used to design containers for targeted drug delivery. Within the project “NO-stress”, materials scientists from the Medical Faculty of the University of Basel combined cutting-edge-imaging techniques to visualize and quantify the constrictions caused by atherosclerosis. Cardiovascular diseases, including atherosclerosis, are associated with plaque formation and the most prevalent cause of death worldwide. Unlike vessels and other soft tissues, the plaque formed provides strong contrast in X-rays, as known from bone. So far, it has therefore been difficult or even impossible to identify soft tissues in the direct neighborhood of calcifications using X-rays.

A team of researchers from laboratories in three European countries, led by Bert Müller (Biomaterials Science Center at University of Basel), has developed a protocol that is based on the combination of hard X-ray tomography and established histology methods, to visualize the vessels constricted by atherosclerosis.

The data about the morphology of the constricted vessels is used to simulate blood flow and determine related shear stresses. The shear stress is significantly enhanced at the constrictions and forms the basis for the development of specialized nano-containers for the targeted and local delivery of vasodilation drugs

Source: http://unibas.ch/

Cancer Detection In Its Earliest Stages

An international team of researchers led by Professor Romain Quidant from The Institute of Photonic Sciences (ICFO ) -Spain -, report on the successful development of a “lab-on-a-chip” platform capable of detecting protein cancer markers in the blood using the very latest advances in plasmonics, nano-fabrication, microfluids and surface chemistry. The device is able to detect very low concentrations of protein cancer markers, enabling diagnoses of the disease in its earliest stages. This cancer-tracking nano-device shows great promise as a tool for future cancer treatments, not only because of its reliability, sensitivity and potential low cost, but also because of its easy carry-on portable properties, which is foreseen to facilitate effective diagnosis and suitable treatment procedures in remote places with difficult access to hospitals or medical clinics.


Although very compact (only a few cm2), the lab-on-a-chip hosts various sensing sites distributed across a network of fluidic micro-channels that enables it to conduct multiple analyses. Gold nano-particles lie on the surface of the chip and are chemically programed with an antibody receptor in such a way that they are capable of specifically attracting the protein markers circulating in blood. When a drop of blood is injected into the chip, it circulates through the micro-channels and if cancer markers are present in the blood, they will stick to the nano-particles located on the micro-channels as they pass by, setting off changes in what is known as the “plasmonic resonance”. The device monitors these changes, the magnitude of which are directly related to the concentration/number of markers in the patient blood thus providing a direct assessment of the risk for the patient to develop a cancer.

Source: http://www.icfo.eu/

Car Waste Heat Transformed Into Electricity

Thermoelectric materials can turn a temperature difference into an electric voltage. Among their uses in a variety of specialized applications: generating power on space probes and cooling seats in fancy cars.

University of Miami physicist Joshua Cohn and his collaborators report new surprising properties of a metal named lithium purple-bronze (LiPB) that may impact the search for materials useful in power generation, refrigeration, or energy detection.

If current efficiencies of thermoelectric materials were doubled, thermoelectric coolers might replace the conventional gas refrigerators in your home,” said Cohn, professor and chairman of the UM Department of Physics in the College of Arts and Sciences and lead author of the study. “Converting waste heat into electric power, for example, using vehicle exhaust, is a near-termgreen’ application of such materials.”
The findings are published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Source: http://www.miami.edu/

World’s Smallest, Fastest Nanomotor

Researchers at the Cockrell School of Engineering at The University of Texas at Austin have built the smallest, fastest and longest-running tiny synthetic motor to date. The team’s nanomotor is an important step toward developing miniature machines that could one day move through the body to administer insulin for diabetics when needed, or target and treat cancer cells without harming good cells.

With the goal of powering these yet-to-be invented devices, UT Austin engineers focused on building a reliable, ultra-high-speed nanomotor that can convert electrical energy into mechanical motion on a scale 500 times smaller than a grain of salt.

Mechanical engineering assistant professor Donglei “Emma” Fan led a team of researchers in the successful design, assembly and testing of a high-performing nanomotor in a nonbiological setting. The team’s three-part nanomotor can rapidly mix and pump biochemicals and move through liquids, which is important for future applications. One amazing arena of application for this nanomotor is the field of nanoelectromechanical systems (NEMS), where such a machine will be able to push forward the frontiers of cheaper and more energy efficient systems.
The team’s study was published in the April issue of Nature Communications.

Source: http://www.engr.utexas.edu/

Bionic Particles To Turn Sunlight Into Fuel

Inspired by fictional cyborgs like Terminator, a team of researchers at the University of Michigan and the University of Pittsburgh has made the first bionic particles from semiconductors and proteins. These particles recreate the heart of the process that allows plants to turn sunlight into fuel.

Human endeavors to transform the energy of sunlight into biofuels using either artificial materials or whole organisms have low efficiency,” said Nicholas Kotov, the Florence B. Cejka Professor of Engineering at the University of Michigan, who led the experiment. A bionic approach could change that. The bionic particles blend the strengths of inorganic materials, which can readily convert light energy to electron energy, with biological molecules whose chemical functions have been highly developed through evolution. The team first designed the particles to combine cadmium telluride, a semiconductor commonly used in solar cells, with cytochrome C, a protein used by plants to transport electrons in photosynthesis. With this combination, the semiconductor can turn a ray from the sun into an electron, and the cytochrome C can pull that electron away for use in chemical reactions that could clean up pollution or produce fuel, for instance. U-M‘s Sharon Glotzer, the Stuart W. Churchill Professor of Chemical Engineering, who led the simulations, compares the self-assembly to the way that the surfaces of living cells form, using attractive forces that are strong at small scales but weaken as the structure grows. Kotov’s group confirmed that the semiconductor particles and proteins naturally assemble into larger particles, roughly 100 nanometers (0.0001 millimeters) in diameter.

We merged biological and inorganic in a way that leverages the attributes of both to get something better than either alone,” Glotzer said. Powered by electrons from the cytochrome C, the enzyme could remove oxygen from nitrate molecules. Like the structures that accomplish photosynthesis in plants, the bionic particles took a beating from handling the energy. Nature constantly renews these working parts in plants, and through self-assembly, the particles may also be able to renew themselves.
Source: http://ns.umich.edu/

Flexible Nanogenerator

Nanogenerators are innovative self-powered energy harvesters that convert kinetic energy created from vibrational and mechanical sources into electrical power, removing the need of external circuits or batteries for electronic devices. This innovation is vital in realizing sustainable energy generation in isolated, inaccessible, or indoor environments and even in the human body. Nanogenerators, a flexible and lightweight energy harvester on a plastic substrate, can scavenge energy from the extremely tiny movements of natural resources and human body such as wind, water flow, heartbeats, and diaphragm and respiration activities to generate electrical signals. The generators are not only self-powered, flexible devices but also can provide permanent power sources to implantable biomedical devices, including cardiac pacemakers and deep brain stimulators.

However, poor energy efficiency and a complex fabrication process have posed challenges to the commercialization of nanogenerators. Keon Jae Lee, Associate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at KAIST – Korea -, and his colleagues have recently proposed a solution by developing a robust technique to transfer a high-quality piezoelectric thin film from bulk sapphire substrates to plastic substrates using laser lift-off (LLO). Applying the inorganic-based laser lift-off (LLO) process, the research team produced a large-area PZT thin film nanogenerators on flexible substrates (2cm x 2cm).

Flexible PZT thin film nanogenerator using inorganic-based laser lift-off process

We were able to convert a high-output performance of ~250 V from the slight mechanical deformation of a single thin plastic substrate. Such output power is just enough to turn on 100 LED lights,” Keon Jae Lee explained.

Source: http://www.kaist.ac.kr/

Lithium-Ion Batteries That Last 3 Times Longer

Using a material found in Silly Putty and surgical tubing, a group of researchers at the University of California, Riverside Bourns College of Engineering have developed a new way to make lithium-ion batteries that will last three times longer between charges compared to the current industry standard.
The team created silicon dioxide (SiO2) nanotube anodes for lithium-ion batteries and found they had over three times as much energy storage capacity as the carbon-based anodes currently being used. This has significant implications for industries including electronics and electric vehicles, which are always trying to squeeze longer discharges out of batteries.

We are taking the same material used in kids’ toys and medical devices and even fast food and using it to create next generation battery materials,” said Zachary Favors, the lead author of a just-published paper online in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

Source: http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/

Massive Injection Of Measles Killed Stacy’s Cancer

A massive injection of the measles virus received by a 50-year-old woman in the United States shrank her tumours and eventually made them disappear.
The trial at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota was carried out on Stacy Erholtz, who was declared free of the disease. She was one of two patients to participate in the trial which did not prove successful with the other volunteer.
The next step will be a similar trial involving a larger group of patients, which is expected to take place in September.
Ms Erholtz of Pequot Lakes, Minnesota has for years suffered from myeloma, a blood cancer that affects bone marrow.
Two stem cell transplants and chemotherapy had proved unsuccessful and her body was riddled with cancer with one tumour growing on her forehead.
Previous trials had shown that a virus can kill cancer in mice, but this was the first time the technique had been used on a human being.
The Mayo experiment was described as a “proof of concept” that a single massive overdose of a virus can overcome a cancer’s natural defences.
In this case it entailed injecting Ms Erholtz with 100 billion units of the measles virus – enough to provide inoculations for 10 million people. However the virus had to be “engineered” before using the therapy.
Within five minutes she was suffering a splitting headache and then as her temperature soared to 105 degrees (40,5 degrees Celsius) she started shaking and vomiting.
But 36 hours later the tumour on her forehead began to shrink, in the weeks that followed it disappeared along with others in her body.

We have a virus that can do that selectively to a tumor without at the same time causing damage to normal tissues in the body,” said Stephen Russell, professor of molecular medicine, who carried out the experiment, and described the successful trial as a landmark..
We’ve known for a long time that we can give a virus intravenously and destroy metastatic cancer in mice. Nobody’s shown that you can do that in people before.”

Source: http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.org/

RNA Silences Genes, Treats Cancer

RNA interference (RNAi), a technique that can turn off specific genes inside living cells, holds great potential for treating many diseases caused by malfunctioning genes. RNA, a nanoparticle, transfers information from DNA to protein-forming system of the cell. However, it has been difficult for scientists to find safe and effective ways to deliver gene-blocking RNA to the correct targets.
Up to this point, researchers have gotten the best results with RNAi targeted to diseases of the liver, in part because it is a natural destination for nanoparticles. But now, in a study appearing in the May 11 issue of Nature Nanotechnology, an MIT-led team reports achieving the most potent RNAi gene silencing to date in nonliver tissues.
Using nanoparticles designed and screened for endothelial delivery of short strands of RNA called siRNA, the researchers were able to target RNAi to endothelial cells, which form the linings of most organs. This raises the possibility of using RNAi to treat many types of disease, including cancer and cardiovascular disease, the researchers say.

MIT engineers designed RNA-carrying nanoparticles (red) that can be taken up
There’s been a growing amount of excitement about delivery to the liver in particular, but in order to achieve the broad potential of RNAi therapeutics, it’s important that we be able to reach other parts of the body as well,” says Daniel Anderson, the Samuel A. Goldblith Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research and Institute for Medical Engineering and Science, and one of the paper’s senior authors.
The paper’s other senior author is Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT and a member of the Koch Institute. Lead authors are MIT graduate student James Dahlman and Carmen Barnes of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.

Source: http://newsoffice.mit.edu/

NanoFiber Mask Against Lethal Diesel Pollution

When a silver grey haze descends upon Hong Kong in springtime, would you wonder if it is harmful to your lungs? Haze is usually composed of pollutants in the form of tiny suspended particles or fine mists/droplets emitted from vehicles, coal-burning power plants and factories. Continued exposure increases the risk of developing respiratory problems, heart diseases and lung cancer. Can we avoid the unhealthy air? A simple face mask which can block out suspended particles has been developed by scientists from the Department of Mechanical Engineering at The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU). The project is led by Professor Wallace Woon-Fong Leung, a renowned filtration expert, who has spent his career understanding these invisible killers.

In Hong Kong, suspended particles PM 10 and PM 2.5 are being monitored. PM 10 refers to particles that are 10 microns (or micrometres) in size or smaller, whereas PM 2.5 measures 2.5 microns or smaller.

The nanofibre filter can capture diesel dust effectively
In my view, nano-aerosols (colloid of fine solid particles or liquid droplets of sub-micron to nano-sizes), such as diesel emissions, are the most lethal for three reasons. First, they are in their abundance by number suspended in the air. Second, they are too small to be filtered out using current technologies. Third, they can pass easily through our lungs and work their way into our respiratory systems, and subsequently our vascular, nervous and lymphatic systems, doing the worst kind of harm”, said Professor Leung, At the forefront of combating air pollution. Leung targets ultra-fine pollutants that have yet been picked up by air quality monitors – particles measuring 1 micron or below, which he perceived to be a more important threat to human health.

Source: http://www.polyu.edu.hk/

Cancer-Killing Time Bomb

Biomedical engineering researchers have developed an anti-cancer drug delivery method that essentially smuggles the drug into a cancer cell before triggering its release. The method can be likened to keeping a cancer-killing bomb and its detonator separate until they are inside a cancer cell, where they then combine to destroy the cell.

This is an efficient, fast-acting way of delivering drugs to cancer cells and triggering cell death,” says Dr. Ran Mo, lead author of a paper on the work and a postdoctoral researcher in the joint biomedical engineering program at North Carolina State University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. “We also used lipid-based nanocapsules that are already in use for clinical applications, making it closer to use in the real world.”

The technique uses nanoscale lipid-based capsules, or liposomes, to deliver both the drug and the release mechanism into cancer cells. One set of liposomes contains adenosine-5’-triphosphate (ATP), the so-called “energy molecule.” A second set of liposomes contains an anti-cancer drug called doxorubicin (Dox) that is embedded in a complex of DNA molecules. When the DNA molecules come into contact with high levels of ATP, they unfold and release the Dox.

Source: http://news.ncsu.edu/

How 2 Drugs Knock Out Aggressive Tumors

MIT researchers have devised a novel cancer treatment that destroys tumor cells by first disarming their defenses, then hitting them with a lethal dose of DNA damage.
In studies with mice, the research team showed that this one-two punch, which relies on a nanoparticle that carries two drugs and releases them at different times, dramatically shrinks lung and breast tumors. The MIT team, led by Michael Yaffe, the David H. Koch Professor in Science, and Paula Hammond, the David H. Koch Professor in Engineering, describe the findings in the online journal Science Signaling.


Differential cell responses to chemotherapy treatment. The photo shows a range of responses of similar cells to the chemotherapeutic drug doxorubicin. The most intensely responding drugs are shown in yellow, many of which will die. Green cells are alive but not dividing. Red cells are continuing to grow and divide. Yaffe and colleagues have figured out how to increase the proprotion of triple negative breast cancer cells that can be killed by a specific time-ordered regiment of growth factor inhibitors and chemotherapy, with direct application to clinical treatment
I think it’s a harbinger of what nanomedicine can do for us in the future,” says Hammond, who is a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. “We’re moving from the simplest model of the nanoparticle — just getting the drug in there and targeting it — to having smart nanoparticles that deliver drug combinations in the way that you need to really attack the tumor.”

Source: http://newsoffice.mit.edu/

Versatile Lab-On-A-Chip Device

Chemists from the University of New South WalesUNSW – in Australia, have invented a new type of tiny lab-on-a-chip device that could have a diverse range of applications, including to detect toxic gases, fabricate integrated circuits and screen biological molecules. The novel technique developed by the UNSW team involves printing a pattern of miniscule droplets of a special solvent onto a gold-coated or glass surface.

We use a class of ‘green’ solvents called ionic liquids, which are salts that are liquid at room temperature. They are non-volatile, so this overcomes one of the main problems in making useful miniaturised devices – rapid evaporation of the solvents on the chip,” says the School of Chemistry Senior Lecturer Dr Chuan Zhao, senior author of the study. “The versatility of our chips means they could have a wide range of prospective functions, such as for use in fast and accurate hand-held sensors for environmental monitoring, medical diagnosis and process control in manufacturing.”

The research is published in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: http://www.chemistry.unsw.edu.au/

DNA, Tool To Detect Cancer At Early Stage

Bioengineers at the University of Rome Tor Vergata and the University of Montreal have used DNA to develop a tool that detects and reacts to chemical changes caused by cancer cells and that may one day be used to deliver drugs to tumor cells.
The researchers’ nanosensor measures pH variations at the nanoscale – –how acidic (a higher pH level) or alkaline (a lower pH level) it is. Many biomolecules, such as enzymes and proteins, are strongly regulated by small pH changes. These changes affect in turn biological activities such as enzyme catalysis, protein assembly, membrane function and cell death. There is also a strong relation between cancer and pH.
Cancer cells often display a lower pH compared to normal cells: the pH level inside cancer cells is higher than it is outside.

DNA-based nanosensor that allows to measure pH variation at the nanoscale

In living organisms, these small pH changes typically occur in tiny areas measuring only few hundred nanometers,” says Prof. Francesco Ricci. “Developing sensors or nanomachines that can measure pH changes at this scale should prove of utility for several applications in the fields of in-vivo imaging, clinical diagnostics and drug-delivery.
DNA represents an ideal material to build sensors or nanomachines at the nanometer scale” adds Prof. Vallée-Bélisle. “By taking advantage of a specific DNA sequences that form pH-sensitive triple helix, we have designed a versatile nanosensor that can be programmed to fluoresce only at specific pH values.” Fluorescence is the emission of radiation, including visible light, caused by an exchange of energy.
This programming ability represents a key feature for clinical applications –we can design a specific sensor to send a fluorescent signal only when the pH reaches a specific value which is, for example, characteristic of a specific disease,” concludes first author Andrea Idili.
In the future, this recently patented nanotechnology may also find applications in the development of novel drug-delivery platforms that release chemio-therapeutic drugs only in the vicinity of tumor cells..

Source: http://www.newswise.com/

Viruses Designed To Destroy Breast Cancer Cells

Rice University scientists have designed a tunable virus that works like a safe deposit box. It takes two keys to open it and release its therapeutic cargo. The Rice lab of bioengineer Junghae Suh has developed an adeno-associated virus (AAV) that unlocks only in the presence of two selected proteases, enzymes that cut up other proteins for disposal. Because certain proteases are elevated at tumor sites, the viruses can be designed to target and destroy the cancer cells.

We were looking for other types of biomarkers beyond cellular receptors present at disease sites,” Suh said. “In breast cancer, for example, it’s known the tumor cells oversecrete extracellular proteases, but perhaps more important are the infiltrating immune cells that migrate into the tumor microenvironment and start dumping out a whole bunch of proteases as well.
“So that’s what we’re going after to do targeted delivery. Our basic idea is to create viruses that, in the locked configuration, can’t do anything. They’re inert,
” she said. When programmed AAVs encounter the right protease keys at sites of disease, “these viruses unlock, bind to the cells and deliver payloads that will either kill the cells for cancer therapy or deliver genes that can fix them for other disease applications.”
The work appears online this week in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Nano.
Source: http://news.rice.edu/

How To Track Proteins In HIV Particle

An interdisciplinary team of scientists from KU Leuven in Belgium has developed a new technique to examine how proteins interact with each other at the level of a single HIV viral particle. The technique allows scientists to study the life-threatening virus in detail and makes screening potential anti-HIV drugs quicker and more efficient. The technique can also be used to study other diseases.


Essentially, we have created a nano test tube out of an HIV virion, inside of which protein interactions can be studied,” says co-author Jelle Hendrix.
Understanding how the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) reproduces itself is crucial in the effort to fight the disease. Upon entering the bloodstream, HIV viral particles, or virions, ‘highjack’ individual immune cells. The virion binds to and then penetrates the immune cell. Once inside, the virion reprograms the genetic material of the immune cell to produce more HIV virions. In this way, HIV disables the disease-fighting ‘bodyguards’ in our blood and turns them into breeding machines for new HIV virions.

Source: http://www.kuleuven.be/

Circuit Board Modeled On The Human Brain

Stanford bioengineers have developed faster, more energy-efficient microchips based on the human brain 9,000 times faster and using significantly less power than a typical PC. This offers greater possibilities for advances in robotics and a new way of understanding the brain. For instance, a chip as fast and efficient as the human brain could drive prosthetic limbs with the speed and complexity of our own actions. The new circuit board modeled on the human brain, is possibly opening up new frontiers in computing. For all their sophistication, computers pale in comparison to the brain. The modest cortex of the mouse, for instance, operates 9,000 times faster than a personal computer simulation of its functions. Not only is the PC slower, it takes 40,000 times more power to run, writes Kwabena Boahen, associate professor of bioengineering at Stanford, in an article for the Proceedings of the IEEE.

The Neurogrid circuit board can simulate orders of magnitude more neurons and synapses than other brain mimics on the power it takes to run a tablet computer

From a pure energy perspective, the brain is hard to match,” says Boahen, whose article surveys how “neuromorphic” researchers in the United States and Europe are using silicon and software to build electronic systems that mimic neurons and synapses.

Source: http://news.stanford.edu/

How To Measure Cancer In Living Cells

Purdue University researchers have developed a way to detect and measure cancer levels in a living cell by using tiny gold particles with tails of synthetic DNA. A team led by Joseph Irudayaraj, professor of agricultural and biological engineering, used gold nanoparticles to target and bind to fragments of genetic material known as BRCA1 messenger RNA splice variants, which can indicate the presence and stage of breast cancer. The number of these mRNA splice variants in a cell can be determined by examining the specific signal that light produces when it interacts with the gold nanoparticles.

A single gold nanoparticle, or monomer, appears green when illuminated (top left), while a pair of gold nanoparticles bound to an mRNA splice variant, or dimer, appears reddish (top right). Monomers and dimers also scatter light differently, as shown in the graph above

This is a simple yet sophisticated technique that can be used to detect cancer in a single cell and determine how aggressive it is,” said Irudayaraj, who is also the deputy director of the Bindley Bioscience Center. “Being able to quantify these genetic molecules could ultimately help clinicians provide better and more individualized treatment to cancer patients.”

The technique also could increase our understanding of cell biology and paves the way for genetic profiling and diagnosis based on a single cell, Irudayaraj said.
Source: http://www.purdue.edu/

Flexible, Paper-Thin Television

Next to the transistors, wiring is one of the most important parts of an integrated circuit. Although today’s integrated circuits (chips) are the size of a thumbnail, they contain more than 20 miles of copper wiring. Junhao Lin, a Vanderbilt University Ph.D. student and visiting scientist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), has found a way to use a finely focused beam of electrons to create some of the smallest wires ever made. The flexible metallic wires are only three atoms wide: One thousandth the width of the microscopic wires used to connect the transistors in today’s integrated circuits. The discovery gives a boost to efforts aimed at creating electrical circuits on mono-layered materials, raising the possibility of flexible, paper-thin tablets and television displays.


This will likely stimulate a huge research interest in monolayer circuit design,” Lin said. “Because this technique uses electron irradiation, it can in principle be applicable to any kind of electron-based instrument, such as electron-beam lithography.”

One of the intriguing properties of monolayer circuitry is its toughness and flexibility. It is too early to predict what kinds of applications it will produce, but “If you let your imagination go, you can envision tablets and television displays that are as thin as a sheet of paper that you can roll up and stuff in your pocket or purse,” commented Sokrates Pandelides, Professor at Vanderbilt University and Lin’s Advisor.
Lin’s achievement is described in an article published online by the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Source: http://news.vanderbilt.edu/

DNA Nanoparticles To Kill Brain Cancer Cells

Working together, Johns Hopkins biomedical engineers and neurosurgeons report that they have created tiny, biodegradablenanoparticles” able to carry DNA to brain cancer cells in mice. The team says the results of their proof of principle experiment suggest that such particles loaded with “death genes” might one day be given to brain cancer patients during neurosurgery to selectively kill off any remaining tumor cells without damaging normal brain tissue.

Biodegradable plastic molecules (orange) self-assemble with DNA molecules (intertwined, black circles) to form tiny nanoparticles that can carry genes to cancer cells
“In our experiments, our nanoparticles successfully delivered a test gene to brain cancer cells in mice, where it was then turned on,” says Jordan Green, Ph.D., an assistant professor of biomedical engineering and neurosurgery at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “We now have evidence that these tiny Trojan horses will also be able to carry genes that selectively induce death in cancer cells, while leaving healthy cells healthy.”

A summary of the research results appeared online in the journal ACS Nano.
Source: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/

New High Capacity Flexible Battery

A Rice University laboratory has flexible, portable and wearable electronics in its sights with the creation of a thin film for energy storage. Rice chemist James Tour and his colleagues have developed a flexible material with nanoporous nickel-fluoride electrodes layered around a solid electrolyte to deliver battery-like supercapacitor performance that combines the best qualities of a high-energy battery and a high-powered supercapacitor without the lithium found in commercial batteries today.
Their electrochemical capacitor is about a hundredth of an inch thick but can be scaled up for devices either by increasing the size or adding layers, said Rice postdoctoral researcher Yang Yang, co-lead author of the paper with graduate student Gedeng Ruan. They expect that standard manufacturing techniques may allow the battery to be even thinner. In tests, the students found their square-inch device held 76 percent of its capacity over 10,000 charge-discharge cycles and 1,000 bending cycles. Tour said the team set out to find a material that has the flexible qualities of graphene, carbon nanotubes and conducting polymers while possessing much higher electrical storage capacity typically found in inorganic metal compounds. Inorganic compounds have, until recently, lacked flexibility, he said.


This is not easy to do, because materials with such high capacity are usually brittle,” he said. “And we’ve had really good, flexible carbon storage systems in the past, but carbon as a material has never hit the theoretical value that can be found in inorganic systems, and nickel fluoride in particular.”

Compared with a lithium-ion device, the structure is quite simple and safe,” Yang said. “It behaves like a battery but the structure is that of a supercapacitor. If we use it as a supercapacitor, we can charge quickly at a high current rate and discharge it in a very short time. But for other applications, we find we can set it up to charge more slowly and to discharge slowly like a battery.
The new work by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour is detailed in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Source: http://news.rice.edu/

Tiny Magnetic DNA Used As Invisible Label

The worldwide need for anti-counterfeiting labels for food is substantial. In a joint operation in December 2013 and January 2014, Interpol and Europol confiscated more than 1,200 tonnes of counterfeit or substandard food and almost 430,000 litres of counterfeit beverages. The illegal trade is run by organised criminal groups that generate millions in profits, say the authorities. The confiscated goods also included more than 131,000 litres of oil and vinegar. A forgery-proof label should not only be invisible but also safe, robust, cheap and easy to detect. To fulfil these criteria ETH researchers – Switzerland – used nanotechnology and nature’s information storehouse, DNA. A piece of artificial genetic material is the heart of the mini-label.
Just a few grams of the new substance are enough to tag the entire olive oil production of Italy. If counterfeiting were suspected, the particles added at the place of origin could be extracted from the oil and analysed, enabling a definitive identification of the producer.

Using magnetic DNA particles, olive oil can be tagged to prevent counterfeiting
The method is equivalent to a label that cannot be removed,” says Robert Grass, lecturer in the Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences at ETH Zurich.
However, DNA also has some disadvantages. If the material is used as an information carrier outside a living organism, it cannot repair itself and is susceptible to light, temperature fluctuations and chemicals. Thus, the researchers used a silica coating to protect the DNA, creating a kind of synthetic fossil. The casing represents a physical barrier that protects the DNA against chemical attacks and completely isolates it from the external environment – a situation that mimics that of natural fossils, write the researchers in their paper, which has been published in the journal ACS Nano.
Source: https://www.ethz.ch/

Smartphones Printed On T-shirts

A new version of “spaser” technology being investigated could mean that mobile phones become so small, efficient, and flexible they could be printed on clothing.
A team of researchers from Monash University – Australia – Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering (ECSE) has modelled the world’s first spaser (surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) to be made completely of carbon.
A spaser is effectively a nanoscale laser or nanolaser. It emits a beam of light through the vibration of free electrons, rather than the space-consuming electromagnetic wave emission process of a traditional laser.
PhD student and lead researcher Chanaka Rupasinghe said the modelled spaser design using carbon would offer many advantages.

Other spasers designed to date are made of gold or silver nanoparticles and semiconductor quantum dots while our device would be comprised of a graphene resonator and a carbon nanotube gain element,” Chanaka said.
The use of carbon means our spaser would be more robust and flexible, would operate at high temperatures, and be eco-friendly.
Because of these properties, there is the possibility that in the future an extremely thin mobile phone could be printed on clothing.”

Source: http://monash.edu/

How To Heat Your House At Night With Sun’s Energy

It’s an obvious truism, but one that may soon be outdated: The problem with solar power is that sometimes the sun doesn’t shine. Now a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT) and Harvard University has come up with an ingenious workaround — a material that can absorb the sun’s heat and store that energy in chemical form, ready to be released again on demand. This solution is no solar-energy panacea: While it could produce electricity, it would be inefficient at doing so. But for applications where heat is the desired output — whether for heating buildings, cooking, or powering heat-based industrial processes — this could provide an opportunity for the expansion of solar power into new realms.

It could change the game, since it makes the sun’s energy, in the form of heat, storable and distributable,” says Jeffrey Grossman, the Carl Richard Soderberg Associate Professor of Power Engineering at MIT, who is a co-author of a paper describing the new process in the journal Nature Chemistry. Timothy Kucharski, a postdoc at MIT and Harvard, is the paper’s lead author.
Source: http://mitei.mit.edu/

Very Cheap, Powerful Solar Cells

Working on dye-sensitized solar cells – researchers from University Malaya (UM) – Indonesia – and National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) – Taiwan – have achieved an efficiency of 1.12 %, at a fraction of the cost compared to those used by platinum devices.
The study carried out in Taiwan took on the challenge of making the technology behind dye-sensitized solar cells more affordable by replacing the costly platinum counter-electrodes with bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) nanosheet arrays.
Using a novel electrolysis process, the group managed to closely manipulate the spacing between individual nanosheets and hence control the thermal and electrical conductivity parameters to achieve the high efficiency of 1.12%, which is comparable to platinum devices, but at only at a fraction of the cost.
The research was led by Prof. Yu-Lun Chueh of the Nanoscience & Nanodevices Laboratory, NTHU, and Alireza Yaghoubi, UM HIR Young Scientist.


In light of the recent report by the United Nations about the irreversible effects of fossil fuels on climate change and as we gradually run out of economically recoverable oil reserves, we think it is necessary to look for a sustainable, yet practical source of energy” Yaghoubi stated.
Meanwhile at University Malaya, Dr. Wee Siong Chiu and colleagues were working on controlling the secondary nucleation and self-assembly in zinc oxide (ZnO), a material which is currently being scrutinized for its potential applications in dye-sensitized solar cells as well as photocatalytic reactions to generate clean electricity by splitting water under sunlight.
This work has been accepted for publication in the journal, Nanoscale published by the Royal Society of Chemistry and has been selected for the front cover of the issue.
Source: http://phys.org/

Measuring DNA Repairs To Predict Cancer

Test analyzing cells’ ability to fix different kinds of broken DNA could help doctors predict cancer risk. Now a research team, led by professor Leona Samson from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) used this approach to measure DNA repair in a type of immortalized human blood cells called lymphoblastoid cells, taken from 24 healthy people. They found a huge range of variability, especially in one repair system where some people’s cells were more than 10 times more efficient than others.
Our DNA is under constant attack from many sources, including environmental pollutants, ultraviolet light, and radiation. Fortunately, cells have several major DNA repair systems that can fix this damage, which may lead to cancer and other diseases if not mended.
The effectiveness of these repair systems varies greatly from person to person; scientists believe that this variability may explain why some people get cancer while others exposed to similar DNA-damaging agents do not. The team of MIT researchers has now developed a test that can rapidly assess several of these repair systems, which could help determine individuals’ risk of developing cancer and help doctors predict how a given patient will respond to chemotherapy drugs.

All of the repair pathways work differently, and the existing technology to measure each of those pathways is very different for each one. It takes expertise, it’s time-consuming, and it’s labor-intensive,” says Zachary Nagel, an MIT postdoc and lead author of the PNAS paper. “What we wanted to do was come up with one way of measuring all DNA repair pathways at the same time so you have a single readout that’s easy to measure.

None of the cells came out looking the same. They each have their own spectrum of what they can repair well and what they don’t repair well. It’s like a fingerprint for each person,” says Samson, who is the Uncas and Helen Whitaker Professor, an American Cancer Society Professor, and a member of MIT’s departments of biological engineering and of biology, Center for Environmental Health Sciences, and Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

The new test, described in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences the week of April 21, can analyze four types of DNA repair capacity simultaneously, in less than 24 hours.
Source: https://newsoffice.mit.edu/

How To Close Deep Wounds In A Few Seconds

A significant breakthrough could revolutionize surgical practice and regenerative medicine. A team led by Ludwik Leibler from the Laboratoire Matière Molle et Chimie (CNRS/ESPCI Paris Tech) and Didier Letourneur from the Laboratoire Recherche Vasculaire Translationnelle (INSERM/Université Paris Diderot and Université Paris 13) – France -, has just demonstrated that the principle of adhesion by aqueous solutions of nanoparticles can be used in vivo to repair soft-tissue organs and tissues.

This easy-to-use gluing method has been tested on rats. When applied to skin, it closes deep wounds in a few seconds and provides aesthetic, high quality healing. It has also been shown to successfully repair organs that are difficult to suture, such as the liver. Finally, this solution has made it possible to attach a medical device to a beating heart, demonstrating the method’s potential for delivering drugs and strengthening tissues.
This work has been published on the website of the journal Angewandte Chemie.
Source: http://www2.cnrs.fr/

Nanorobots Injected Inside Cockroaches

A team of scientists from the the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University has constructed minute robots that can function inside a living animal entity. The nanobots act upon chemical stimuli inside the body; that is, upon receiving a chemical signal, they react, displaying appropriate responses. The robots were made by using DNA. The DNA was packed together into strands, and this is what make up the robots. Upon stimulated by chemicals, the robots would then unravel into the two strands of DNA. The DNA binds and unbinds in different circumstances, and this is the basis of the way the robots operate to be stimulated and to react.

They work at the cellular level, and that is where their extremely small size helps enormously. They might be tiny, but their tininess is what confers on them their herculean potential to tackle tumors and repairing broken tissues. Moreover, the nanobots can act as real computers inside the body. Therefore, they can be programmed to do a certain list of jobs which their makers choose for them.
The cobaye used to test the nanorobots were cockroaches. They – those terribly annoying creatures – could at least be rendered useful, right?! The cockroach species Blaberus discoidalis was used for the insertion of the nanorobots. The robots were crammed with chemicals, which, upon recognising hemolymph cells found in the cockroach, would bind to them. Hemolymph cells are, in fact, the equivalent of white blood cells in the cockroach. Different kinds of robots were made to enter the body of the unsuspecting cockroach.
The next step now would be to use other animals as cobayes before actually marketing these nanorobots in medical institutions for humans.
Source: http://www.islandcrisis.net/
AND
http://www.nano.biu.ac.il/

Super Powerful Batteries To Extend Electric Car Range

Electric vehicles could travel farther and more renewable energy could be stored with lithium-sulfur batteries that use a unique powdery nanomaterial.
Researchers from The Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory added the powder, a kind of nanomaterial called a metal organic framework, to the battery’s cathode to capture problematic polysulfides that usually cause lithium-sulfur batteries to fail after a few charges.

Lithium-sulfur batteries have the potential to power tomorrow’s electric vehicles, but they need to last longer after each charge and be able to be repeatedly recharged,” said materials chemist Jie Xiao of the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. “Our metal organic framework may offer a new way to make that happen.
Today’s electric vehicles are typically powered by lithium-ion batteries. But the chemistry of lithium-ion batteries limits how much energy they can store. As a result, electric vehicle drivers are often anxious about how far they can go before needing to charge. One promising solution is the lithium-sulfur battery, which can hold as much as four times more energy per mass than lithium-ion batteries. This would enable electric vehicles to drive farther on a single charge, as well as help store more renewable energy. The down side of lithium-sulfur batteries, however, is they have a much shorter lifespan because they can’t currently be charged as many times as lithium-ion batteries.

A paper describing the material and its performance was published online April 4 in the American Chemical Society journal Nano Letters.
Source: http://www.pnnl.gov/

How To Deliver 3 Cancer Drugs At A Time.

Chemists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have devised a way to build new nanoparticles, making it much easier to include three or more different drugs. The researchers, under the supervision of Jeremiah Johnson, an assistant professor of chemistry at MIT showed that they could load their particles with three drugs commonly used to treat ovarian cancer.
Such particles could be designed to carry even more drugs, allowing researchers to develop new treatment regimens that could better kill cancer cells while avoiding the side effects of traditional chemotherapy. Johnson set out to create a new type of particle that would enable the loading of any number of different drugs.


We think it’s the first example of a nanoparticle that carries a precise ratio of three drugs and can release those drugs in response to three distinct triggering mechanisms,”.
This is a new way to build the particles from the beginning,” Johnson says.
If I want a particle with five drugs, I just take the five building blocks I want and have those assemble into a particle. In principle, there’s no limitation on how many drugs you can add, and the ratio of drugs carried by the particles just depends on how they are mixed together in the beginning.
Longyan Liao, a postdoc in Johnson’s lab, is the paper’s lead author ot the paper, published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society.

Source: https://newsoffice.mit.edu/

Anyone Can Buy Google Glass April 15

Starting at 9 a.m. ET on April 15 anyone in the US will be able to buy Google Glass for one day. This is the first time the device has been available to the general public. So far, the face-mounted nanocomputers have been sold only to Google “Explorers,” the company’s name for early adopters. At first only developers could buy Glass, but Google slowly expanded the program to include regular people. Some were hand-picked, others applied to be Explorers through Google contests by sharing what cool projects they would do if they had Glass.

Google Glass is a wearable nanocomputer with an optical head-mounted display (OHMD). It was developed by Google with the mission of producing a mass-market ubiquitous nanocomputer.Google Glass displays information in a smartphone-like hands-free format. Wearers communicate with the Internet via natural language voice commands.

Source: http://www.google.com
AND
http://en.wikipedia.org/

Wristwatch Monitoring Your Health Permanently

Dae-Hyeong Kim from the Center for Nanoparticle Research in Seoul (Korea) and his team have created a device the size of a plaster which can monitor patients by tracking their muscle activity before administering their medication.

Methods for monitoring so-called “movement disorders” such as epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease have traditionally included video recordings or wearable devices, but these tend to be bulky and inflexible.
The new gadget, which is worn on the skin, looks like a Band-Aid but uses nanotechnology — in which building blocks as small as atoms and molecules are harnessed to bypass problems of bulkiness and stiffness — to monitor the patient.

Scientists have long hoped to create an unobtrusive device able to capture and store medical information as well as administer drugs in response to the data. This has proved difficult due to the large amount of onboard electronics and storage space required, high power consumption, and the lack of a mechanism for delivering medicine via the skin. But although monitoring helps to track disease progression and allows better treatment, until now the electronics used in the devices have been hard and brittle, and not ideal for an on-the-skin device.

But the team from South Korea and the United States have found the solution in nanomaterials, creating a flexible and stretchable device that resembles an adhesive plaster, about one millimetre (0.04 inches) thick. Still a prototype, the gadget comprises multiple layers of ultrathin nanomembranes and nanoparticles, the creators wrote in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
The team use silicon nanomembranes in the motion sensors, gold nanoparticles in the non-volatile memory and silica nanoparticles, loaded with drugs, in a thermal actuator. This platform overcomes the limitations of conventional wearable devices and has the potential to improve compliance, data quality and the efficacy of current clinical procedures,

Dae-Hyeong Kim from the Center for Nanoparticle Research said that the device currently needs a microprocessor from an external computer, which could be in a wristwatch, to which it is attached with thin wires. “But in the future wireless components will be incorporated,” to make the device independent and fully mobile, he told Agence France Presse (AFP).
Source: http://www.nature.com/
AND from AFP

http://medicalobserverph.com/

Bacterial FM Radio

A team of biologists and engineers at the University of California San Diego (UC San Diego) develop a bacterial “FM Radio”. Objective: Programming living cells to offer the prospect of harnessing sophisticated biological machinery for transformative applications in energy, agriculture, water remediation and medicine. Inspired by engineering, researchers in the emerging field of synthetic biology have designed a tool box of small genetic components that act as intracellular switches, logic gates, counters and oscillators.

Independent genetic circuits are linked within single cells, illustrated under the magnifying glass, then coupled via quorum sensing at the colony level. But scientists have found it difficult to wire the components together to form larger circuits that can function as “genetic programs.” One of the biggest obstacles? Dealing with a small number of available wires.
The team’s breakthrough involves a form of “frequency multiplexing” inspired by FM radio.
This circuit lets us encode multiple independent environmental inputs into a single time series,” said Arthur Prindle, a bioengineering graduate student at UC San Diego and the first author of the study. “Multiple pieces of information are transferred using the same part. It works by using distinct frequencies to transmit different signals on a common channel.”
The findings have been published in this week’s advance online publication of the journal Nature.

Source: http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/

You Will Wear Clothes Made From Sugar

In the future, the clothes you wear could be made from sugar. Researchers at the A*STAR Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) – Singapore – have discovered a new chemical process that can convert adipic acid directly from sugar. Adipic acid is an important chemical used to produce nylon for apparel and other everyday products like carpets, ropes and toothbrush bristles. Commercially, adipic acid is produced from petroleum-based chemicals through the nitric acid oxidation process, which emits large amounts of nitrous oxides, a major greenhouse gas that causes global warming.

In the face of growing environmental concerns over the use of fossil fuels and diminishing natural resources, there is an increasing need for a renewable source for energy and chemicals. We have designed a sustainable and environmentally friendly solution to convert sugar into adipic acid via our patented catalytic process technology,”said IBN Executive Director Professor Jackie Y. Ying

Bio-based adipic acid can be synthesized from mucic acid, which is oxidized from sugar; and the mucic acid can be obtained from fruit peels. Current processes are either performed using multiple steps with low product efficiency and yield, or under harsh reaction conditions using high-pressure hydrogen gas and strong acids, which are costly and unsafe.

This work shows the tremendous potential of developing bio-based adipic acid. We are excited that our new protocol can efficiently convert adipic acid from sugar, bringing us one step closer toward industrialization. To complete this green technology, we are now working on using raw biomass as the feedstock” said Dr Yugen Zhang, IBN Group Leader in green chemistry and energy.

This finding was published recently in the Chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie International Edition.

Source: http://www.a-star.edu.sg/

Light-activated Neurons Restore Paralysed Muscles

A new way to artificially control muscles using light, with the potential to restore function to muscles paralysed by conditions such as motor neuron disease and spinal cord injury, has been developed by scientists at UCL and King’s College London.

The technique involves transplanting specially-designed motor neurons created from stem cells into injured nerve branches. These motor neurons are designed to react to pulses of blue light, allowing scientists to fine-tune muscle control by adjusting the intensity, duration and frequency of the light pulses.

In the study, published this week in Science, the team demonstrated the method in mice in which the nerves that supply muscles in the hind legs were injured. They showed that the transplanted stem cell-derived motor neurons grew along the injured nerves to connect successfully with the paralyzed muscles, which could then be controlled by pulses of blue light.

Following the new procedure, we saw previously paralysed leg muscles start to function,” says Professor Linda Greensmith of the MRC Centre for Neuromuscular Diseases at UCL’s Institute of Neurology, who co-led the study. “This strategy has significant advantages over existing techniques that use electricity to stimulate nerves, which can be painful and often results in rapid muscle fatigue. Moreover, if the existing motor neurons are lost due to injury or disease, electrical stimulation of nerves is rendered useless as these too are lost.”.

Source: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/

How To Force Cancer Cells To Self-Destruct

Using magnetically controlled nanoparticles to force tumour cells to ‘self-destruct’ sounds like science fiction, but could be a future part of cancer treatment, according to research from Lund University in Sweden. The point of the new technique is that it is much more targeted than trying to kill cancer cells with techniques such as chemotherapy.

The clever thing about the technique is that we can target selected cells without harming surrounding tissue. There are many ways to kill cells, but this method is contained and remote-controlled”, said Professor Erik Renström.
Chemotherapy can also affect healthy cells in the body, and it therefore has serious side-effects. Radiotherapy can also affect healthy tissue around the tumour”. Our technique, on the other hand, is able to attack only the tumour cells”, added Enming Zhang, one of the first authors of the study.
The research group at Lund University is not the first to try and treat cancer using supermagnetic nanoparticles. However, previous attempts have focused on using the magnetic field to create heat that kills the cancer cells. The problem with this is that the heat can cause inflammation that risks harming surrounding, healthy tissue. The new method, on the other hand, in which the rotation of the magnetic nanoparticles can be controlled, only affects the tumour cells that the nanoparticles have entered.

Source: http://www.lunduniversity.lu.se/

Nano Paper-Filters Remove Virus

Researchers at the Division of Nanotechnology and Functional Materials, Uppsala University – Sweden – have developed a paper filter, which can remove virus particles with an efficiency matching that of the best industrial virus filters. The paper filter consists of 100 percent high purity cellulose nanofibers, directly derived from nature.

Virus particles are very peculiar objects- tiny (about thousand times thinner than a human hair) yet mighty. Viruses can only replicate in living cells but once the cells become infected the viruses can turn out to be extremely pathogenic. Viruses can actively cause diseases on their own or even transform healthy cells to malignant tumors.

The illustration shows the nanofibers in white and the virus in green
Viral contamination of biotechnological products is a serious challenge for production of therapeutic proteins and vaccines. Because of the small size, virus removal is a non-trivial task, and, therefore, inexpensive and robust virus removal filters are highly demanded’, says Albert Mihranyan, Associate Professor at the Division of Nanotechnology and Functional Materials, Uppsala University, who heads the study.

The research was carried out in collaboration with virologists from the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences/Swedish National Veterinary Institute and is published in the Advanced Healthcare Materials journal.
Source: http://www.uu.se/

Solar Cells Used As Lasers

A relatively new type of solar cell based on a perovskite material – named for scientist Lev Perovski, who first discovered materials with this structure in the Ural Mountains in the 19th century – was recently pioneered by an Oxford research team led by Professor Henry Snaith. Commercial silicon-based solar cells – such as those seen on the roofs of houses across the country – operate at about 20% efficiency for converting the Sun’s rays into electrical energy. It’s taken over 20 years to achieve that rate of efficiency. Latest research finds that the trailblazing ‘perovskite’ material used in solar cells can double up as a laser, strongly suggesting the astonishing efficiency levels already achieved in these cells is only part of the journey. Scientists have demonstrated potential uses for this material in telecommunications and for light emitting devices.

Perovskite solar cells, the source of huge excitement in the research community, already lie just a fraction behind commercial silicon, having reached a remarkable 17% efficiency after a mere two years of research – transforming prospects for cheap large-area solar energy generation.
Now, researchers from Professor Sir Richard Friend’s group at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory – working with Snaith’s Oxford group – have demonstrated that perovskite cells excel not just at absorbing light but also at emitting it. The new findings, recently published online in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters, show that these ‘wonder cells’ can also produce cheap lasers. By sandwiching a thin layer of the lead halide perovskite between two mirrors, the team produced an optically driven laser which proves these cells “show very efficient luminescence” – with up to 70% of absorbed light re-emitted.

Source: http://www.cam.ac.uk/

A Step Towards Invisibility

Controlling and bending light around an object so it appears invisible to the naked eye is the theory behind fictional invisibility cloaks. It may seem easy in Hollywood movies, but is hard to create in real life because no material in nature has the properties necessary to bend light in such a way. Scientists have managed to create artificial nanostructures that can do the job, called metamaterials. But the challenge has been making enough of the material to turn science fiction into a practical reality. The work of Debashis Chanda at the University of Central Florida (UCF), however, may have just cracked that barrier. The cover story in the March edition of the journal Advanced Optical Materials, explains how Chanda and fellow optical and nanotech experts were able to develop a larger swath of multilayer 3-D metamaterial operating in the visible spectral range. They accomplished this feat by using nanotransfer printing, which can potentially be engineered to modify surrounding refractive index needed for controlling propagation of light.

Such large-area fabrication of metamaterials following a simple printing technique will enable realization of novel devices based on engineered optical responses at the nanoscale,” said Chanda, an assistant professor at UCF.


By improving the technique, the team hopes to be able to create larger pieces of the material with engineered optical properties, which would make it practical to produce for real-life device applications. For example, the team could develop large-area metamaterial absorbers, which would enable fighter jets to remain invisible from detection systems.

Source: http://today.ucf.edu/

How To Measure Risks From Nanomaterials In Contact With Cells

Scientists at the Center for Nanotechnology and Nanotoxicology at Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) have discovered a fast, simple, and inexpensive method to measure the effective density of engineered nanoparticles in physiological fluids, thereby making it possible to accurately determine the amount of nanomaterials that come into contact with cells and tissue in culture. The new discovery will have a major impact on the hazard assessment of engineered nanoparticles, enabling risk assessors to perform accurate hazard rankings of nanomaterials using cellular systems. Furthermore, by measuring the composition of nanomaterial agglomerates in physiologic fluids, it will allow scientists to design more effective nano-based drug delivery systems for nanomedicine applications.
Thousands of consumer products containing engineered nanoparticles — microscopic particles found in everyday items from cosmetics and clothing to building materials — enter the market every year. Concerns about possible environmental health and safety issues of these nano-enabled products continue to grow with scientists struggling to come up with fast, cheap, and easy-to-use cellular screening systems to determine possible hazards of vast libraries of engineered nanomaterials. However, determining how much exposure to engineered nanoparticles could be unsafe for humans requires precise knowledge of the amount (dose) of nanomaterials interacting with cells and tissues such as lungs and skin

The biggest challenge we have in assessing possible health effects associated with nano exposures is deciding when something is hazardous and when it is not, based on the dose level. At low levels, the risks are probably miniscule,” said senior author Philip Demokritou, associate professor of aerosol physics in the Department of Environmental Health at HSPH. “The question is: At what dose level does nano-exposure become problematic? The same question applies to nano-based drugs when we test their efficiency using cellular systems. How much of the administered nano-drug will come in contact with cells and tissue? This will determine the effective dose needed for a given cellular response,” Demokritou said.

Source: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/

Cheap Batteries Last 3 Times Longer, Recharge in 10 minutes

Researchers at the University of Southernn California (USC) have developed a new lithium-ion battery design that uses porous silicon nanoparticles in place of the traditional graphite anodes to provide superior performance.

The new batteries — which could be used in anything from cellphones to hybrid cars — hold three times as much energy as comparable graphite-based designs and recharge within 10 minutes. The design, currently under a provisional patent, could be commercially available within two to three years.
On the left, a vial of the silicon nanoparticles; on the right, silicon nanoparticles viewed under magnification
It’s an exciting research. It opens the door for the design of the next generation lithium-ion batteries,” said Chongwu Zhou, professor at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, who led the team that developed the battery.

Zhou worked with USC graduate students Mingyuan Ge, Jiepeng Rong, Xin Fang and Anyi Zhang, as well as Yunhao Lu of Zhejiang University in China. Their research was published in Nano Research in January.

Source: http://news.usc.edu/

Contact Lens To See During Night

The first room-temperature light detector that can sense the full infrared spectrum has the potential to put heat vision technology into a contact lens. Unlike comparable mid- and far-infrared detectors currently on the market, the detector developed by University of Michigan engineering researchers doesn’t need bulky cooling equipment to work. Infrared vision may be best known for spotting people and animals in the dark and heat leaks in houses, but it can also help doctors monitor blood flow, identify chemicals in the environment and allow art historians to see Paul Gauguin’s sketches under layers of paint. Graphene, a single layer of carbon atoms, could sense the whole infrared spectrum — plus visible and ultraviolet light. But until now, it hasn’t been viable for infrared detection because it can’t capture enough light to generate a detectable electrical signal. With one-atom thickness, it only absorbs about 2.3 percent of the light that hits it. If the light can’t produce an electrical signal, graphene can’t be used as a sensor.
To overcome that hurdle, Zhong and Ted Norris, the Gerard A. Mourou Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, worked with graduate students to design a new way of generating the electrical signal.

We can make the entire design super-thin,” said Zhaohui Zhong, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering. “It can be stacked on a contact lens or integrated with a cell phone.
The challenge for the current generation of graphene-based detectors is that their sensitivity is typically very poor.”It’s a hundred to a thousand times lower than what a commercial device would require.” “Our work pioneered a new way to detect light“. “We envision that people will be able to adopt this same mechanism in other material and device platforms” Zhong said.

The device is already smaller than a pinky nail and is easily scaled down. Zhong suggests arrays of them as infrared cameras.

Source: http://www.ns.umich.edu/

Watch Nanoparticles Grow

Danish scientists from Arhus University – Netherlands – , led by Dr. Dipanka Saha, have observed the growth of nanoparticles live. To obtain this result, the team used the DESY’s X-ray light source PETRA III, a German Synchrotron. The study shows how tungsten oxide nanoparticles are forming from solution. These particles are used for example for smart windows, which become opaque at the flick of a switch, and they are also used in particular solar cells.

Left: Structure of the ammonium metatungstate dissolved in water on atomic length scale. The octahedra consisting of the tungsten ion in the centre and the six surrounding oxygen ions partly share corners and edges. Right: Structure of the nanoparticles in the ordered crystalline phase. The octahedra exclusively share corners

The team around lead author Dr. Dipankar Saha from Århus University present their observations in the scientific journal “Angewandte Chemie – International Edition“.
Source: http://www.desy.de/

Flexible E-readers In Your Pocket

Engineers would love to create flexible electronic devices, such as e-readers that could be folded to fit into a pocket. One approach involves designing circuits based on electronic fibers known as carbon nanotubes (CNTs) instead of rigid silicon chips.

But reliability is essential. Most silicon chips are based on a type of circuit design that allows them to function flawlessly even when the device experiences power fluctuations. However, it is much more challenging to do so with CNT circuits.

But now a team at Stanford has developed a process to create flexible chips that can tolerate power fluctuations in much the same way as silicon circuitry.

This is the first time anyone has designed flexible CNT circuits that have both high immunity to electrical noise and low power consumption, ” said Zhenan Bao, a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford.

In principle, CNTs should be ideal for making flexible electronic circuitry. These ultra-thin carbon filaments have the physical strength to take the wear and tear of bending and the electrical conductivity to perform any electronic task.

But until this recent work from the Stanford team, flexible CNT circuits didn’t have the reliability and power-efficiency of rigid silicon chips.

Huiliang (Evan) Wang, a graduate student in Bao’s lab, and Peng Wei, a previous postdoctoral scholar in Bao’s lab, were the lead authors of the paper. Bao’s team also included Yi Cui, an associate professor of materials science at Stanford, and Hye Ryoung Lee, a graduate student in his lab.
The Bao Lab reported its findings in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: http://engineering.stanford.edu/

How To Detect Infections At Extremely Low Cost

Detecting HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other deadly infectious diseases as early as possible helps to prevent their rapid spread and allows for more effective treatments. But current detection methods are cost-prohibitive in most areas of the world. Now a new nanotechnology method—employing common, everyday shrink wrap— may make highly sensitive, extremely low-cost diagnosis of infectious disease agents possible. The research team conducted by co-author Michelle Khine, a biomedical engineering professor at the University of California, Irvine (UC Irvine) found that the shrink wrap’s wrinkles significantly enhanced the intensity of the signals emitted by the biomarkers. The enhanced emission, Khine says, is due to the excitation of localized surface plasmons—coherent oscillations of the free electrons in the metal. When researchers shined a light on their wrinkled creation, the electromagnetic field was amplified within the nanoscale gaps between the shrink wrap’s folds, Khine said. This produced “hotspots”—areas characterized by sudden bursts of intense fluorescence signals from the biomarkers.

Using commodity shrink wrap and bulk manufacturing processes, we can make low-cost nanostructures to enable fluorescence enhancements greater than a thousand-fold, allowing for significantly lower limits of detection,” said Michelle Khine,. “If you have a solution with very few molecules that you are trying to detect—as in the case of infectious diseases — this platform will help amplify the signal so that a single molecule can be detected.The technique should work with measuring fluorescent markers in biological samples, but we have not yet tested bodily fluids,” said Khine, who cautions that the technique is far from ready for clinical use.

The findings have been described in a paper published in The Optical Society’s (OSA) journal Optical Materials Express.

Source: http://www.osa.org/

Use Your Smartphone As A Movies Projector

Imagine that you are in a meeting with coworkers or at a gathering of friends. You pull out your cell phone to show a presentation or a video on YouTube. But you don’t use the tiny screen; your phone projects a bright, clear image onto a wall or a big screen. Such a technology may be on its way, thanks to a new light-bending silicon chip developed by researchers at Caltech.

The chip was developed by Ali Hajimiri, Thomas G. Myers Professor of Electrical Engineering, and researchers in his laboratory. The results were presented at the Optical Fiber Communication (OFC) conference in San Francisco on March 10.

Traditional projectors—like those used to project a film or classroom lecture notes—pass a beam of light through a tiny image, using lenses to map each point of the small picture to corresponding, yet expanded, points on a large screen. The Caltech chip eliminates the need for bulky and expensive lenses and bulbs and instead uses a so-called integrated optical phased array (OPA) to project the image electronically with only a single laser diode as light source and no mechanically moving parts.

Hajimiri and his colleagues were able to bypass traditional optics by manipulating the coherence of light — a property that allows the researchers to “bend” the light waves on the surface of the chip without lenses or the use of any mechanical movement. If two waves are coherent in the direction of propagation — meaning that the peaks and troughs of one wave are exactly aligned with those of the second wave—the waves combine, resulting in one wave, a beam with twice the amplitude and four times the energy as the initial wave, moving in the direction of the coherent waves.


By changing the relative timing of the waves, you can change the direction of the light beam

For example, if 10 people kneeling in line by a swimming pool slap the water at the exact same instant, they will make one big wave that travels directly away from them. But if the 10 separate slaps are staggered—each person hitting the water a half a second after the last — there will still be one big, combined wave, but with the wave bending to travel at an angle, says Hajimiri.

Source: http://www.caltech.edu/

How To Triple Service Life Of Aircraft Engines

Researchers at University West in Sweden have started using nanoparticles in the heat-insulating surface layer that protects aircraft engines from heat. In tests, this increased the service life of the coating by 300%. This is something that interests the aircraft industry to a very great degree, and the hope is that motors with the new layers will be in production within two years.

To increase the service life of aircraft engines, a heat-insulating surface layer is sprayed on top of the metal components. Thanks to this extra layer, the engine is shielded from heat. The temperature can also be raised, which leads to increased efficiency, reduced emissions, and decreased fuel consumption.

The goal of the University West research group is to be able to control the structure of the surface layer in order to increase its service life and insulating capability. They have used different materials in their work.

The ceramic layer is subjected to great stress when the enormous changes in temperature make the material alternately expand and contract. Making the layer elastic is therefore important. Over the last few years, the researchers have focused on further refining the microstructure, all so that the layer will be of interest for the industry to use

The base is a ceramic powder, but we have also tested adding plastic to generate pores that make the material more elastic,” says Nicholas Curry, who has just presented his doctoral thesis on the subject.

We have tested the use of a layer that is formed from nanoparticles. The particles are so fine that we aren’t able to spray the powder directly onto a surface. Instead, we first mix the powder with a liquid that is then sprayed. This is called suspension plasma spray application“.

Source: http://www.hv.se/

Ear: How To Tune In To A Single Voice

Even in a crowded room full of background noise, the human ear is remarkably adept at tuning in to a single voice — a feat that has proved remarkably difficult for computers to match. A new analysis of the underlying mechanisms, conducted by researchers at MIT, has provided insights that could ultimately lead to better machine hearing, and perhaps to better hearing aids as well.

Our ears’ selectivity, it turns out, arises from evolution’s precise tuning of a tiny membrane, inside the inner ear, called the tectorial membrane. The viscosity of this membrane — its firmness, or lack thereof — depends on the size and distribution of tiny pores, just a few tens of nanometers wide. This, in turn, provides mechanical filtering that helps to sort out specific sounds.
This optical microscope image depicts wave motion in a cross-section of the tectorial membrane, part of the inner ear. This membrane is a microscale gel, smaller in width than a single human hair, and it plays a key role in stimulating sensory receptors of the inner ear. Waves traveling on this membrane control our ability to separate sounds of varying pitch and intensity
The new findings are reported in the Biophysical Journal.
Source: http://web.mit.edu/

Solar Cells: Huge Efficiency Boost

In a new study, a team of physicists and chemists at Umeå University – Sweden – have joined forces to produce nano-engineered carbon nanotubes networks with novel properties.
For the first time, the researchers show that carbon nanotubes can be engineered into complex network architectures, and with controlled nano-scale dimensions inside a polymer matrix.
Carbon nanotubes are becoming increasingly attractive for photovoltaic solar cells as a replacement to silicon. Researchers at Umeå University have discovered that controlled placement of the carbon nanotubes into nano-structures produces a huge boost in electronic performance.


Carbon nanotubes, CNTs, are one dimensional nanoscale cylinders made of carbon atoms that possess very unique properties. For example, they have very high tensile strength and exceptional electron mobility, which make them very attractive for the next generation of organic and carbon-based electronic devices
We have found that the resulting nano networks possess exceptional ability to transport charges, up to 100 million times higher than previously measured carbon nanotube random networks produced by conventional methods,” says Dr David Barbero, leader of the project and assistant professor at the Department of Physics at Umeå University.

Their groundbreaking results are published in the prestigious journal Advanced Materials.

Source: http://www.umu.se/

How to Observe Neurons In The Brain

The term a “brighter future” might be a cliché, but in the case of ultra-small probes for lighting up individual proteins, it is now most appropriate. Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have discovered surprising new rules for creating ultra-bright light-emitting crystals that are less than 10 nanometers in diameter. These ultra-tiny but ultra-bright nanoprobes should be a big asset for biological imaging, especially deep-tissue optical imaging of neurons in the brain.

Working at the Molecular Foundry, a DOE national nanoscience center hosted at Berkeley Lab, a multidisciplinary team of researchers led by James Schuck and Bruce Cohen, both with Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division, used advanced single-particle characterization and theoretical modeling to study what are known as “upconverting nanoparticles” or UCNPs. Upconversion is the process by which a molecule absorbs two or more photons at a lower energy and emits them at higher energies.


Researchers at Berkeley Lab’s Molecular Foundry created upconverting nanoparticles (UCNPs) from nanocrystals of sodium yttrium fluoride (NaYF4) doped with ytterbium and erbium that can be safely used to image single proteins in a cell without disrupting the protein’s activity

The widely accepted conventional wisdom for designing bright UCNPs has been that you want to use a high concentration of sensitizer ions and a relatively small concentration of emitter ions, since too many emitters will result in self-quenching that leads to lower brightness, says Schuck, who directs the Molecular Foundry’s Imaging and Manipulation of Nanostructures Facility.

Schuck and Cohen are the corresponding authors of a paper describing this research in Nature Nanotechnology.
Source: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/

Has The Milk Turned Sour?

A color-coded smart tag could tell consumers whether a carton of milk has turned sour or a can of green beans has spoiled without opening the containers, according to researchers. The tag, which would appear on the packaging, also could be used to determine if medications and other perishable products were still active or fresh, they said. This report on the color-changing food deterioration tags was presented today as part of the 247th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS). It is being held at the Dallas Convention Center.

The green smart tag on the bottle above indicates that the product is no longer fresh
This tag, which has a gel-like consistency, is really inexpensive and safe, and can be widely programmed to mimic almost all ambient-temperature deterioration processes in foods,” said Chao Zhang, Ph.D., the lead researcher of the study. Use of the tags could potentially solve the problem of knowing how fresh packaged, perishable foods remain over time, he added. And a real advantage, Zhang said, is that even when manufacturers, grocery-store owners and consumers do not know if the food has been unduly exposed to higher temperatures, which could cause unexpected spoilage, “the tag still gives a reliable indication of the quality of the product.”
Source: http://pubs.acs.org/

Nanoparticles Attack Cervical Cancer

Infection with the human papillomavirus (HPV) is the main risk factor and a necessary cause of cervical cancer. Worldwide, around 275,000 women are estimated to have died from cervical cancer last year. It is rare for young women to die from cervical cancer; almost three-quarters of all cervical cancer deaths occur in women aged 50 and over. To underscore: cervical cancer death rates have decreased by 71% since the early 1970s.
One of the most promising technologies for the treatment of various cancers is nanotechnology, creating drugs that directly attack the cancer cells without damaging other tissues’ development. The Laboratory of Cellular Oncology at the Research Unit in Cell Differentiation and Cancer, of the Faculty of Higher Studies (FES) Zaragoza UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico) developed a therapy to attack cervical cancer tumors.

The treatment, which has been tested in animal models, consists of a nanostructured composition encapsulating a protein called interleukin-2 (IL -2), lethal to cancer cells

According to the researcher Rosalva Rangel Corona, head of the project, the antitumor effect of interleukin in cervical cancer is because their cells express receptors for interleukin-2 that “fit together ” like puzzle pieces with the protein to activate an antitumor response .

The scientist explains that the nanoparticle works as a bridge of antitumor activation between tumor cells and T lymphocytes. The nanoparticle has interleukin 2 on its surface, so when the protein is around it acts as a switch, a contact with the cancer cell to bind to the receptor and to carry out its biological action.

Furthermore, the nanoparticle concentrates interleukin 2 in the tumor site, which allows its accumulation near the tumor growth. It is not circulating in the blood stream, is “out there” in action.

Source: http://www.alphagalileo.org/

Bigger DNA Cages Enclose Drugs

Scientists at the Harvard’s Wyss Institute have built a set of self-assembling DNA cages one-tenth as wide as a bacterium. The structures are some of the largest and most complex ever constructed solely from DNA. DNA is best known as a keeper of genetic information. But scientists in the emerging field of DNA nanotechnology are exploring ways to use it to build tiny structures for a variety of applications. . In the future, scientists could potentially coat the DNA cages to enclose their contents, packaging drugs for delivery to tissues. And, like a roomy closet, the cage could be modified with chemical hooks that could be used to hang other components such as proteins or gold nanoparticles. This could help scientists build a variety of technologies, including tiny power plants, miniscule factories that produce specialty chemicals, or high-sensitivity photonic sensors that diagnose disease by detecting molecules produced by abnormal tissue.

The five cage-shaped DNA polyhedra here have struts stabilizing their legs, and this innovation allowed a Wyss Institute team to build by far the largest and sturdiest DNA cages yet. The largest, a hexagonal prism (right), is one-tenth the size of an average bacterium
Bioengineers interested in advancing the field of nanotechnology need to devise manufacturing methods that build sturdy components in a highly robust manner, and develop self-assembly methods that enable formation of nanoscale devices with defined structures and functions,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. “DNA cages and the methods for visualizing the process in solution represent major advances along this path.”

I see exciting possibilities for this technology,” said Peng Yin, Ph.D., a Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute and Assistant Professor of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School, and senior author of the study.

The findings have been published in the online edition of Science.
Source: http://wyss.harvard.edu/

Purify Blood : A New Easy Cheap Method

A new technique for purifying blood using a nanofiber mesh could prove useful as a cheap, wearable alternative to kidney dialysis.
Kidney failure results in a build up of toxins and excess waste in the body. Dialysis is the most common treatment, performed daily either at home or in hospital. However, dialysis machines require electricity and careful maintenance, and are therefore more readily available in developed countries than poorer nations. Around one million people die each year worldwide from potentially preventable end-stage renal disease.


In addition to this, in the aftermath of disasters such as the Japanese earthquake and tsunami of 2011, dialysis patients are frequently left without treatment until normal hospital services are resumed. With this in mind, Mitsuhiro Ebara and co-workers at the International Center for Materials Nanoarchitectonics (MANA), National Institute for Materials Science in Ibaraki, Japan, have developed a way of removing toxins and waste from blood using a cheap, easy-to-produce nanofiber mesh1. The mesh could be incorporated into a blood purification product small enough to be worn on a patient’s arm, reducing the need for expensive, time-consuming dialysis.
The team made their nanofiber mesh using two components: a blood-compatible primary matrix polymer made from polyethylene-co-vinyl alchohol, or EVOH, and several different forms of zeolites – naturally occurring aluminosilicates. Zeolites have microporous structures capable of adsorbing toxins such as creatinine from blood.

Souce: http://www.nims.go.jp/

Plasmonics: Using Light In Metals To Carry Information

A recently discovered technology called plasmonics marries the best aspects of optical and electronic data transfer. By crowding light into metal structures with dimensions far smaller than its wavelength, data can be transmitted at much higher frequencies such as terahertz frequencies, which lie between microwaves and infrared light on the spectrum of electromagnetic radiation that also includes everything from X-rays to visible light to gamma rays. Metals such as silver and gold are particularly promising plasmonic materials because they enhance this crowding effect.

Using an inexpensive inkjet printer, University of Utah electrical engineers produced microscopic structures that use light in metals to carry information. This new technique, which controls electrical conductivity within such microstructures, could be used to rapidly fabricate superfast components in electronic devices, make wireless technology faster or print magnetic materials.

High-speed Internet and other data-transfer techniques rely on light transported through optical fibers with very high bandwidth, which is a measure of how fast data can be transferred. Shrinking these fibers allows more data to be packed into less space, but there’s a catch: optical fibers hit a limit on how much data they can carry as light is squeezed into smaller and smaller spaces. In contrast, electronic circuits can be fashioned at much smaller sizes on silicon wafers. However, electronic data transfer operates at frequencies with much lower bandwidth, reducing the amount of data that can be carried.

Very little well-developed technology exists to create terahertz plasmonic devices, which have the potential to make wireless devices such as Bluetooth – which operates at 2.4 gigahertz frequency – 1,000 times faster than they are today,” says Ajay Nahata, a University of Utah professor of electrical and computer engineering and senior author of the new study.

The study has been published online in the journal Advanced Optical Materials.
Source: http://unews.utah.edu/

How To Obtain Drinkable Water From Sea Water

Membranes made from graphene oxide could act as perfect molecular sieves when immersed in water, blocking all molecules or ions with a hydrated size larger than 9 Å. This new result, from researchers at the University of Manchester in the UK, means that the laminated nanostructures might be ideal for water filtration and desalination applications.
Graphene is a sheet of carbon just one atom thick in which the atoms are arranged in a honeycomb lattice. Graphene oxide is like ordinary graphene but is covered with molecules such as hydroxyl groups. Graphene-oxide sheets can easily be stacked on top of each other to form extremely thin but mechanically strong membranes. These membranes consist of millions of small flakes of graphene oxide with nanosized empty channels (or capillaries) between the flakes.


Water and small-sized ions and molecules permeate super fast in the graphene-oxide membrane, but larger species are blocked. The size of the membrane mesh can be tuned by adjusting the nanochannel size
According to the team, the membranes could be ideal for removing valuable salts and molecules from contaminated larger molecules – for example during oil spills. “More importantly, our work shows that if we were able to further control the capillary size below 9 Å, we should be able to use these membranes to filter and desalinate water,” says co-team-leader Rahul Nair.
Indeed, the team says that it is now busy looking at ways to control the mesh size of the graphene oxide and reduce it to about 6 Å so that the membranes can filter out even the smallest salts in sea water. “We might achieve this by preventing the graphene-oxide laminates from swelling when they are placed in water,” says Nair.
Our ultimate goal would be to make a filter device from the carbon-based material that allows you to obtain a glass of drinkable water from sea water using a hand-held mechanical pump,” adds team member Irina Grigorieva.
Source: http://physicsworld.com/

Hello Hydrogen, Bye Bye Gasoline

Range: 300 miles (480 km)
Top speed: 100 mph (160 km/h)
Lease terms: $500/month (360 euros); $3000 down (2150 euros)
Free fuel or in other term Free “gas” up
After 36 months you own the car!
The Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell SUV will be the first mass-produced hydrogen car in the U.S. Next month Californians can buy it.
It shows as well that hydrogen electric car may win the competition against cars powered by electric batteries.

Because hydrogen fuel infrastructure is more or less non-existent, Hyundai’s rollout will be small. The car will be available at select dealers in Southern California, all within range of the company’s sources of hydrogen, which include a nearby waste water treatment plant. Local drivers will be able to “gasup for free at any of seven distribution stations. A fill-up takes less than 10 minutes and lasts for up to 300 miles. The company claims that the Tucson charges more quickly and has a longer range than traditional EVs. It’s also clean: The only exhaust is water vapor.

Source: https://www.hyundaiusa.com/

Infrared, A Renewable Energy

Physicists from Harvard University propose a device to capture energy from earth”s infrared emissions to outer space. When the sun sets on a remote desert outpost and solar panels shut down, what energy source will provide power through the night? A battery, perhaps, or an old diesel generator? Perhaps something strange and new.
Physicists at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) envision a device that would harvest energy from Earth’s infrared emissions into outer space. Heated by the sun, our planet is warm compared to the frigid vacuum beyond. Thanks to recent technological advances, the researchers say, that heat imbalance could soon be transformed into direct-current (DC) power, taking advantage of a vast and untapped energy source.

It’s not at all obvious, at first, how you would generate DC power by emitting infrared light in free space toward the cold,” says principal investigator Federico Capasso, the Robert L. Wallace Professor of Applied Physics and Vinton Hayes Senior Research Fellow in Electrical Engineering at Harvard SEAS. “To generate power by emitting, not by absorbing light, that’s weird. It makes sense physically once you think about it, but it’s highly counterintuitive. We’re talking about the use of physics at the nanoscale for a completely new application.”
Their analysis of the thermodynamics, practical concerns, and technological requirements have been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: http://www.seas.harvard.edu/

Solar Power: Less Expensive, More Efficient

University of Cincinnati researchers are reporting early results on a way to make solar-powered panels in lights, calculators and roofs lighter, less expensive, more flexible (therefore less breakable) and more efficient. Fei Yu, a University of Cincinnati doctoral student in materials engineering, will present new findings on boosting the power conversion efficiency of polymer solar cells on March 3, at the American Physical Society Meeting in Denver. Yu is experimenting with adding a small fraction of graphene nanoflakes to polymer-blend bulk-heterojunction (BHJ) solar cells to improve performance and lower costs of solar energy.


There has been a lot of study on how to make plastic solar cells more efficient, so they can take the place of silicon solar cells in the future,” says Yu. “They can be made into thinner, lighter and more flexible panels. However, they’re currently not as efficient as silicon solar cells, so we’re examining how to increase that efficiency.”

Imagine accidentally kicking over a silicon solar-powered garden light, only to see the solar-powered cell crack. Polymers are carbon-based materials that are more flexible than the traditional, fragile silicon solar cells. Charge transport, though, has been a limiting factor for polymer solar cell performance.

Graphene, a natural form of carbon, is a relatively newly discovered material that’s less than a nanometer thin. “Because graphene is pure carbon, its charge conductivity is very high,” explains Yu. “We want to maximize the energy being absorbed by the solar cell, so we are increasing the ratio of the donor to acceptor and we’re using a very low fraction of graphene to achieve that.”

Source: http://www.uc.edu/

A Nanotechnology Corridor in New-York State

With the nanoscale programs at Columbia University and City University of New York , many see a “New York State Nanotechnology Corridor”. Anchored in New York City, traversing north along the Hudson River to Albany and heading west to Utica, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, such a corridor would parallel one of the greatest commercial successes in the history of New York state — the Erie Canal. Fortuitously, Utica is located at the very center of this proposed corridor.


It would surely bring heightened awareness of New York state’s nanotechnology initiatives through comparison to other nationally renowned research regions such as North Carolina’s Research Triangle, California’s Silicon Valley, and Massachusetts’ Boston Route 128. Colleges and universities along this corridor could join a collective state-wide pursuit of excellence in the field of nanotechnology, potentially leading to local and statewide educational and commercial benefits.
Let’s remind that New York state has established the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at Albany. This college was pivotal in attracting multi-billion dollar investments from renowned nanotechnology-based companies around the globe for research and manufacturing in New York state.
Building on this remarkable success story, CNSE paved the way to establish “Nano Utica” and other sites with related missions at Canandaigua, Rochester and Buffalo. The remarkable multi-million state investment in “Nano Utica” was made possible by the cooperative leadership of SUNYIT and Mohawk EDGE. Clearly, this initiative has given great hope to this region when at the end of the last century, it faced an uncertain future.
Source: http://www.uticaod.com/

3D Video Of Virus Entering Cell

Tiny and swift, viruses are hard to capture on video. Now researchers at Princeton University have achieved an unprecedented look at a virus-like particle as it tries to break into and infect a cell. The technique they developed could help scientists learn more about how to deliver drugs via nanoparticles — which are about the same size as viruses — as well as how to prevent viral infection from occurring.


The video reveals a virus-like particle zipping around in a rapid, erratic manner until it encounters a cell, bounces and skids along the surface, and either lifts off again or, in much less time than it takes to blink an eye, slips into the cell’s interior

CLICK HERE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

The challenge in imaging these events is that viruses and nanoparticles are small and fast, while cells are relatively large and immobile,” said Kevin Welsher, a postdoctoral researcher in Princeton’s Department of Chemistry and first author on the study. “That has made it very hard to capture these interactions.”

The problem can be compared to shooting video of a hummingbird as it roams around a vast garden, said Haw Yang, associate professor of chemistry and Welsher’s adviser. Focus the camera on the fast-moving hummingbird, and the background will be blurred. Focus on the background, and the bird will be blurred.

The researchers solved the problem by using two cameras, one that locked onto the virus-like nanoparticle and followed it faithfully, and another that filmed the cell and surrounding environment.

Putting the two images together yielded a level of detail about the movement of nano-sized particles that has never before been achieved, Yang said.

The work was published in Nature Nanotechnology.
Source: http://blogs.princeton.edu/

Drink Coffee To Fight Cancer

A team of researchers from the University of Groningen – Netherlands – and the Université de Bourgogne – France – stated that combining a caffeine-based compound with a small amount of gold could be used as an anticancer agent.
Angela Casini, Ewen Bodio, Michel Picquet and colleagues note that caffeine and certain caffeine-based compounds have recently been in the spotlight as possible anticancer treatments. But drinking gallons of coffee, sodas and energy drinks isn’t the solution. And the regular caffeine in these drinks would start to have negative effects on healthy cells, too, at the levels necessary to kill cancerous ones. Gold also can wipe out cancer cells, but, like caffeine, it can harm healthy cells. So, the research team put the two together into certain configurations to see whether the new caffeine-based gold compounds could selectively stop cancer cells from growing without hurting other cells. They made a series of seven new compounds, called caffeine-based gold (I) N-heterocyclic carbenes, in the laboratory and studied them. The scientists found that, at certain concentrations, one of the compounds of the series selectively killed human ovarian cancer cells without harming healthy cells. In addition, the compound targeted a type of DNA architecture, called “G-quadruplex,” that is associated with cancer.
What we need is to design precisely a compound which will present a maximum of efficiency to destroy cancerous cells without harming healthy tissues“, says Ewen Bodio, from the Université de Bourgogne, one of the co-authors of the study. “We did test in laboratory on tissues and cancerous cells. The next step will be the administration of the compound to mice. If the results are positive, then perhaps after 5 years we will try human tests“.

The findings are published in the ACS journal Inorganic Chemistry .
Source: http://www.acs.org/

How To Create Complex Nanoparticles In One Step

Nanoparticle research is huge. With implications in many avenues of science, from biomedicine to laser research, the study of how to create nanoparticles with desirable properties is becoming increasingly important. Maria Benelmekki from the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST)- Japan – and researchers in Mukhles Sowwan’s Nanoparticles by Design Unit recently made a breakthrough in synthesizing biomedically relevant nanoparticles.
Hybrid nanoparticles with four and three multicomponent cores (Iron-Silver) embedded in a biocompatible shell (Silicon)
Nanoparticles can be used in medicine for imaging during diagnosis and treatment. Other applications include targeted drug delivery and wound healing. However, creating nanoparticles for use in biomedicine presents many challenges. Currently, nanoparticles are primarily made using chemicals, which is a problem when using them for medical purposes because these chemicals may be harmful to the patient. Additional issues are that the fabrication process takes several steps, the size of the particles is difficult to control and the particles can only survive in storage for a relatively short amount of time. Benelmekki and colleagues have created biocompatible ternary nanoparticles, meaning they consist of 3 parts that each exhibit a useful property, and have done it without the use of chemicals. The new method allows for easy manipulation of the size of the particles to tailor-make them for a variety of uses all in one step. The researchers have also developed a method that provides better stability for longer storage.

The findinds have been published in the journal Nanoscale.
Source: http://www.oist.jp/

NanoDiamonds To Fight Glaucoma

By 2020, nearly 80 million people are expected to have glaucoma, a disorder of the eye that, if left untreated, can damage the optic nerve and eventually lead to blindness. Now researchers from the UCLA School of Dentistry have created a drug delivery system that may have less severe side effects than traditional glaucoma medication and improve patients‘ ability to comply with their prescribed treatments. The scientists bound together glaucoma-fighting drugs with nanodiamonds and embedded them onto contact lenses. The drugs are released into the eye when they interact with the patient’s tears. The study, led by Dr. Dean Ho, professor of oral biology and medicine and co-director of the Jane and Jerry Weintraub Center for Reconstructive Biotechnology at the UCLA School of Dentistry, appears online in the peer-reviewed journal ACS Nano.

Even with the nanodiamonds embedded, the lenses still possessed favorable levels of optical clarity. And, although mechanical testing verified that they were stronger than normal lenses, there were no apparent changes to water content, meaning that the contact lenses’ comfort and permeability to oxygen would likely be preserved

Delivering timolol through exposure to tears may prevent premature drug release when the contact lenses are in storage and may serve as a smarter route toward drug delivery from a contact lens.” said Kangyi Zhang, co-first author of the study and a graduate student in Ho’s lab.
In addition to nanodiamonds’ promise as triggered drug-delivery agents for eye diseases, they can also make the contact lenses more durable during the course of insertion, use and removal, and more comfortable to wear,” said Ho.

Previous UCLA studies have shown that nanodiamonds could potentially be used to address other diseases and disorders, including cancer and osteonecrosis of the jaw.
Source: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/

Light Releases Chemotherapy Inside Cancer Cells

Researchers from the cancer nanotechnology and signal transduction and therapeutics programs of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center (JCCC) have developed an innovative technique that can carry chemotherapy safely and release it inside cancer cells when triggered by two-photon laser in the infrared red wave length. Drs. Jeffrey Zink, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Fuyu Tamanoi, professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, and colleagues published their findings in the journal Small online ahead of print on February 20, 2014.
A light-activated drug delivery system is particularly promising, because it can accomplish spatial and temporal control of drug release. Finding ways to deliver and release anticancer drugs in a controlled manner that only hits the tumor can greatly reduce the amount of side effects from treatment, and also greatly increase the cancer-killing efficacy of the drugs. The difficulty of treating cancer often derives from the difficulties of getting anticancer chemotherapy drugs to tumor cells without damaging healthy tissue in the process. Many cancer patients experience treatment side effects that are the result of drug exposure to healthy tissues.
A major challenge in the development of light-activated drug delivery is to design a system that can respond to tissue-penetrating light. Drs. Tamanoi and Zink joined their diverse teams and collaborated with Dr. Jean-Olivier Durand at University of Montpellier, France, to develop a new type of microscopic particles (nanoparticles) that can absorb energy from tissue-penetrating light that releases drugs in cancer cells.

Another feature of the nanoparticles is that they are fluorescent and thus can be tracked in the body with molecular imaging techniques. This allows the researchers to track the progress of the nanoparticle into the cancer cell to insure that it is in its target before light activation.

We have a wonderful collaboration,” said Zink, “when the JCCC brings together totally diverse fields, in this case a physical chemist and a cell signaling scientist, we can do things that neither one could do alone.”
Our collaboration with scientists at Charles Gerhardt Institute (University of Montpellier) was important to the success of this two-photon activated technique,” said Tamanoi, “which provides controls over drug delivery to allow local treatment that dramatically reduces side effects.”

Source: http://www.newswise.com/

Implanted Nano Cyborgs For Monitoring Your Health

The debut of cyborgs who are part human and part machine may be a long way off, but researchers say they now may be getting closer. In a study published in ACS’ journal Nano Letters, they report development of a coating that makes nanoelectronics much more stable in conditions mimicking those in the human body. The advance could also aid in the development of very small implanted medical devices for monitoring health and disease.

Charles Lieber and colleagues note that nanoelectronic devices with nanowire components have unique abilities to probe and interface with living cells. They are much smaller than most implanted medical devices used today. For example, a pacemaker that regulates the heart is the size of a U.S. 50-cent coin, but nanoelectronics are so small that several hundred such devices would fit in the period at the end of this sentence. Laboratory versions made of silicon nanowires can detect disease biomarkers and even single virus cells, or record heart cells as they beat. Lieber’s team also has integrated nanoelectronics into living tissues in three dimensions — creating a “cyborg tissue.” One obstacle to the practical, long-term use of these devices is that they typically fall apart within weeks or days when implanted. In the current study, the researchers set out to make them much more stable.

They found that coating silicon nanowires with a metal oxide shell allowed nanowire devices to last for several months. This was in conditions that mimicked the temperature and composition of the inside of the human body. In preliminary studies, one shell material appears to extend the lifespan of nanoelectronics to about two years.

Source: http://www.acs.org/

Fighting Cancer: Breakthrough In China

Nanoparticles capable of delivering drugs to specifically targeted cancer cells have been created by a group of researchers from China. The multifunctional ‘smartgold nanoshells could lead to more effective cancer treatments by overcoming a major limitation of modern chemotherapy techniques—the ability to target cancer cells specifically and leave healthy cells untouched.

Small peptides situated on the surface of the nanoshells are the key to the improved targeting ability, guiding the nanoshells to specific cancer cells and attaching to markers on the surface of the cells. The acidic environment of the cancer cells then triggers the offloading of the anticancer drugs.

The specific nanostructure of the gold nanoshells could also allow near-infrared light to be absorbed and converted into heat, opening up the possibility of using the nanoshells in targeted hyperthermia treatment — another form of cancer treatment whereby cancer cells are exposed to slightly higher temperatures than usual to destroy them. The researchers, from East China Normal University and Tongji University, used the gold nanoshells as a building block to which they attached the commonly used anticancer drug Doxorubicin (DOX) and a specific peptide known as A54. The gold nanoshells had diameters of around 200 nanometres— more than 50 times smaller than a red blood cell. When tested on human liver cancer cells, the uptake of the nanoshells that had the A45 peptide was three times greater than the uptake of the control nanoshells without the peptide. There was also a significantly reduced uptake of both types of nanoshell by normal healthy cells. The cancer cells were also treated with the gold nanoshells in a heated water bath and were shown to deliver a notable therapeutic effect compared to just the chemotherapy, demonstrating the potential of the hyperthermia treatment.

The therapeutic activity of most anticancer drugs is limited by their systematic toxicity to proliferating cells, including some normal cells. Overcoming this problem remains a great challenge for chemotherapy. In our study we placed a targeting peptide on the nanoshells, which have been demonstrated to be specific to live cancer cells, improving the targeting ability and drug delivery of the gold nanoshells. The next step of our research is to test the ‘smart’ gold nanoshells in vivo on a liver cancer mouse model. We will also examine how the size of the nanoshells changes their efficacy and how efficient the nanoshells are at converting near-infrared light into heat” said lead author of the study Dr Shunying Liu, from East China Normal University.
The first results of the nanoshells’ performance have been published in IOP Publishing’s journal Biomedical Materials.

Source: http://www.iop.org/

Can A NanoSwitch Provoke A Macro Motion?

Researchers of the University of Twente‘s MESA+ research institute – Netherlands – have developed spiral ribbons made of molecules, that are able to convert light into complex macroscopic motion. Therefore, they managed to amplify molecular motion and translate it to the macroscopic world. The research, which was inspired by movement in plants, is published in the journal Nature Chemistry.

NANOSWITCHES CONVERTING LIGHT INTO MACROSCOPIC MOTION
Over the past decades, chemists have constructed various molecular machines, including molecular tweezers and scissors, and even molecular nanocars. However, the motion of molecular machines is generally limited to the nanoworld only. Amplifying the motion of these systems in such a way that they would affect the macroscopic world consequently remains a major contemporary challenge.
Nathalie Katsonis

Researchers of the University of Twente’s MESA+ research institute led by principal researcher Nathalie Katsonis have risen up to this challenge. They developed spiral ribbons containing molecular nanoswitches. These spirals curl, twist, contract or expand under the influence of UV light, and might be used to perform work, for instance by shifting magnets.

Source; http://www.utwente.nl/

How To Locate Blood Vessel Plaques Before Stroke

A team of researchers, led by scientists at Case Western Reserve University, has developed a multifunctional nanoparticle that enables magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to pinpoint blood vessel plaques caused by atherosclerosis. The technology is a step toward creating a non-invasive method of identifying plaques vulnerable to rupture–the cause of heart attack and stroke—in time for treatment.
Currently, doctors can identify only blood vessels that are narrowing due to plaque accumulation. A doctor makes an incision and slips a catheter inside a blood vessel in the arm, groin or neck. The catheter emits a dye that enables X-rays to show the narrowing.
However, Case Western Reserve researchers report online today in the journal Nano Letters that a nanoparticle built from a rod-shaped virus commonly found on tobacco locates and illuminates plaque in arteries more effectively and with a tiny fraction of the dye.
More importantly, the work shows that the tailored nanoparticles home in on plaque biomarkers. That opens the possibility that particles can be programmed to identify vulnerable plaques from stable, something untargeted dyes alone cannot.


From a chemist’s point of view, it’s still challenging to make nanoparticles that are not spherical, but non-spherical materials are advantageous for medical applications” said Nicole F. Steinmetz, assistant professor of biomedical engineering at Case Western Reserve. “Nature is way ahead of us. We’re harvesting nature’s methods to turn them into something useful in medicine.”
Source: http://blog.case.edu/

Hydrogen To Replace Lithium-Ion Battery

The novel concept developed by researchers at RMIT University – Australia -advances the potential for hydrogen to replace lithium as an energy source in battery-powered devices.

The proton flow battery concept eliminates the need for the production, storage and recovery of hydrogen gas, which currently limit the efficiency of conventional hydrogen-based electrical energy storage systems.

Lead researcher Associate Professor John Andrews, from RMIT‘s School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, said the novel concept combined the best aspects of hydrogen fuel cells and battery-based electrical power.

As only an inflow of water is needed in charge mode - and air in discharge mode – we have called our new system the ‘proton flow battery,” Associate Professor Andrews said.

Powering batteries with protons has the potential to be a much more economical device than using lithium ions, which have to be produced from relatively scarce mineral, brine or clay resources”. “Hydrogen has great potential as a clean power source and this research advances the possibilities for its widespread use in a range of applications – from consumer electronic devices to large electricity grid storage and electric vehicles“, he added.

Source: http://www.rmit.edu.au

Electronically Controlled Drugs Minimize Side Effects

Potential side effects of many of today’s therapeutic drugs can be downright frightening — just listen carefully to a drug commercial on TV. These effects often occur when a drug is active throughout the body, not just where and when it is needed. But scientists are reporting progress on a new tailored approach to deliver medicine in a much more targeted way. The study on these new electronically controlled drugs appears in the journal ACS Nano.
Graphene nanosheets in a thin film, with a small jolt of electricity, provide a promising new way to deliver drugs
Xinyan Tracy Cui, Associate Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues note that in the lab, “smart” medical implants can now release drugs on demand when exposed to various cues, including ultraviolet light and electrical current. These advances are largely thanks to developments in nanomaterials that can be designed to carry drugs and then release them at specific times and dosages. Researchers have also experimented with loading anti-cancer drugs on thin, tiny sheets of graphene oxide (GO), which have a lot of traits that are useful in drug delivery.
Source: http://www.acs.org/

Self-healing Polymers

Thanks to new dynamic materials developed at the University of Illinois, removable paint and self-healing plastics soon could be household products.
After the polymer is cut or torn, the researchers press the two pieces back together and let the sample sit for about a day to healno extra chemicals or catalysts required. The materials can heal at room temperature, but the process can be sped up by curing at slightly higher temperatures (37 degrees Celsius, or about body temperature). The polymer bonds back together on the molecular level nearly as strongly as before it was cut. In fact, tests found that some healed samples, stretched to their limits, tore in a new place rather than the healed spot, evidence that the samples had healed completely.

U. of I. materials science and engineering professor Jianjun Cheng, graduate student Hanze Ying and postdoctoral researcher Yanfeng Zhang published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

A close-up of an elastic polymer that was cut in two and healed overnight
The key advantage of using this material is that it’s catalyst-free and low-temperature, and can be healed multiple times,” Cheng said. “These are very nice materials for internal cracks. This can heal the crack before it causes major problems by propagating.”
Source: http://news.illinois.edu/

Solar Panel: Dust Reduces Reflectivity Up to 50%

Soiling — the accumulation of dust and sand — on solar power reflectors and photovoltaic cells is one of the main efficiency drags for solar power plants, capable of reducing reflectivity up to 50 percent in 14 days. Though plants can perform manual cleaning and brushing with deionized water and detergent, this labor-intensive routine significantly raises operating and maintenance costs (O&M), which is reflected in the cost of solar energy for consumers.

Under the sponsorship of the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy SunShot Concentrating Solar Power Program, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is developing a low-cost, transparent, anti-soiling (or self-cleaning) coating for solar reflectors to optimize energy efficiency while lowering O&M costs and avoiding negative environmental impacts.
Solar power reflectors collect dust and sand, reducing their energy efficiency—a challenge ORNL researchers are tackling by developing a low-cost, anti-soiling coating

The coating— which is being designed by members of the Energy and Transportation Science Division, including Scott Hunter, Bart Smith, George Polyzos, and Daniel Schaeffer— is based on a superhydrophobic coating technology developed at ORNL that has been shown to effectively repel water, viscous liquids, and most solid particles. Unlike other superhydrophobic approaches that employ high-cost vacuum deposition and chemical etching to nano-engineer desired surfaces, ORNL’s coatings are deposited by conventional painting and spraying methods using a mixture of organics and particles. In addition to being low-cost, these methods can be deployed easily in the field during repairs and retro-fitting.

Source: http://www.ornl.gov/

Lungs May Be Attacked By Nanoparticles

Nanoparticles are used in all kinds of applications — electronics, medicine, cosmetics, even environmental clean-ups. More than 2,800 commercially available applications are now based on nanoparticles, and by 2017, the field is expected to bring in nearly $50 billion worldwide.
But this influx of nanotechnology is not without risks, say researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology.
There is an urgent need to investigate the potential impact of nanoparticles on health and the environment,” says Yue-Wern Huang, professor of biological sciences at Missouri S&T.
Huang and his colleagues have been systematically studying the effects of transition metal oxide nanoparticles on human lung cells. These nanoparticles are used extensively in optical and recording devices, water purification systems, cosmetics and skin care products, and targeted drug delivery, among other applications.


In their typical coarse powder form, the toxicity of these substances is not dramatic,” says Huang. “But as nanoparticles with diameters of only 16-80 nanometers, the situation changes significantly.
About 80 percent of the cells died in the presence of nanoparticles of copper oxide and zinc oxide,” says Huang. “These nanoparticles penetrated the cells and destroyed their membranes. The toxic effects are related to the nanoparticles’ surface electrical charge and available docking sites.”
Huang says that certain nanoparticles released metal ions — called ion dissolution — which also played a significant role in cell death.

Source: http://news.mst.edu/

Renewable Hydrogen From Water And Sunlight

Researchers at the Institute of Energy Technology (INTE) of the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya· BarcelonaTech (UPC), the University of Auckland (New Zealand), and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Saudi Arabia) have developed a system to produce hydrogen from water and sunlight in a way that is clean, renewable and more cost-effective than other methods. The scientists behind the project have fused the optical properties of three-dimensional photonic crystals (inverse opals of titanium dioxide, TiO2) and 2-3 nm gold nanoparticles to develop a highly active catalyst powder. The research paper has been published in Scientific Reports, the open-access journal of Nature.

This new photocatalyst produces more hydrogen than others developed so far by harnessing the properties of both photonic crystals and nanoparticles of a metal. According to Jordi Llorca, a researcher at the UPC’s Institute of Energy Technology, the process involves “tuning” the two materials to amplify the effect. “You have to choose the right photonic crystal and the right nanoparticles“, he adds.


The new catalyst has great potential for application in industrial processes. According to researcher Jordi Llorca, making the move from the laboratory to an industrial plant would mean designing a reactor to operate outdoors in the sun, and using a solar collector to capture more sunlight.

A conventional plant for the production of hydrogen from natural gas generates about 300 tons of hydrogen a day. With the new catalyst developed at the UPC, researchers have managed to produce 0.025 litres of hydrogen in one hour using one gram of catalyst. Assuming eight hours of sunlight a day, the scientists estimate that an area measuring 10 x 10 km would be needed to produce hydrogen on an industrial scale.
The researchers say they have managed to pass the milestone of converting 5% of solar energy into hydrogen at room temperature, the threshold at which the technology is considered feasible.
Source: http://www.upc.edu/

How To Extend The Range Of Electric Cars

Next-generation lithium-ion batteries made with iron oxide nanoparticles could extend the driving distance of electric cars.
Battery-powered cars offer many environmental benefits, but a car with a full tank of gasoline can travel further. By improving the energy capacity of lithium-ion batteries, a new electrode made from iron oxide nanoparticles could help electric vehicles to cover greater distances. Developed by Zhaolin Liu of the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering, Singapore, and Aishui Yu of Fudan University, China, and co-workers, the electrode material is inexpensive, suitable for large-scale manufacturing and can store higher charge densities than the conventional electrodes used in lithium-ion batteries.

Electric vehicles could travel further when powered by a higher-capacity lithium-ion battery made with inexpensive iron oxide nanoparticles
During the 1st round of charging and discharging, the anodes showed an efficiency of 75–78%, depending on the current density. After ten more cycles, however, the efficiency improved to 98%, almost as high as commercial li-ion batteries.

Source: http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/

Stretchable Electronics Are The Future Of Mobile Phones

According to the University of Delaware‘s Professor Bingqing Wei, stretchable electronics are the future of mobile electronics, leading giants such as IBM, Sony and Nokia to incorporate the technology into their products.
Beyond traditional electronics, potential stretchable applications include biomedical, wearable, portable and sensory devices, such as cyber skin for robotic devices and implantable electronics. All established classes of high-performance electronics exploit single-crystal inorganic materials, such as silicon or gallium arsenide, in forms (i.e., semiconductor wafers) that are fundamentally rigid and planar. The human body is, by contrast, soft and curvilinear. This mismatch in properties hinders the development of devices capable of intimate, conformal integration with biological tissues, for applications ranging from basic measurement of electrophysiological signals, to delivery of advanced therapies, to establishment of human-machine interfaces. One envisioned solution involves the use of organic electronic materials, whose flexible properties have generated interest in them for potential use in paper-like displays, solar cell, and other types of consumer electronic devices.


Advances in soft and stretchable substrates and elastomeric materials have given rise to an entirely new field,” says Wei, a mechanical engineering professor at UD.
But even if scientists can engineer stretchable electronics — what about their energy source?
Rechargeable and stretchable energy storage devices, also known as supercapacitors, are urgently needed to complement advances currently being made in flexible electronics,” explains Wei.
Source: http://rogers.matse.illinois.edu

Ultra-Fast Computer Memory For Smartphones and Tablets

By using electric voltage instead of a flowing electric current, researchers from UCLA‘s Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science have made major improvements to an ultra-fast, high-capacity class of computer memory known as magnetoresistive random access memory, or MRAM.. The UCLA team’s improved memory, which they call MeRAM for magnetoelectric random access memory, has great potential to be used in future memory chips for almost all electronic applications, including smart-phones, tablets, computers and microprocessors, as well as for data storage, like the solid-state disks used in computers and large data centers.
The research team was led by principal investigator Kang L. Wang, UCLA‘s Raytheon Professor of Electrical Engineering, and included lead author Juan G. Alzate, an electrical engineering graduate student, and Pedram Khalili, a research associate in electrical engineering and project manager for the UCLA–DARPA research programs in non-volatile logic.


The ability to switch nanoscale magnets using voltages is an exciting and fast-growing area of research in magnetism,” Khalili said. “This work presents new insights into questions such as how to control the switching direction using voltage pulses, how to ensure that devices will work without needing external magnetic fields, and how to integrate them into high-density memory arrays“.

Source: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/

From Firefly To Nanotechnology

What do fireflies, nanorods and Christmas lights have in common? Someday, consumers may be able to purchase multicolor strings of light that don’t need electricity or batteries to glow. Scientists in Syracuse University's College of Arts and Sciences found a new way to harness the natural light produced by fireflies (called bioluminescence) using nanoscience. Their breakthrough produces a system that is 20 to 30 times more efficient than those produced during previous experiments.
t’s all about the size and structure of the custom, quantum nanorods, which are produced in the laboratory by Mathew Maye, assistant professor of chemistry in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences; and Rabeka Alam, a chemistry Ph.D. candidate. Maye is also a member of the Syracuse Biomaterials Institute.

Firefly light is one of nature’s best examples of bioluminescence,” Maye says. “The light is extremely bright and efficient. We’ve found a new way to harness biology for nonbiological applications by manipulating the interface between the biological and nonbiological components.

Source: http://www.syr.edu/news/articles/2012/fireflies-06-12.html

Carbon Nanotubes for Highly Energy-Efficient Computing

Energy efficiency is the most significant challenge standing in the way of continued miniaturization of electronic systems, and miniaturization is the principal driver of the semiconductor industry. “As we approach the ultimate limits of Moore’s Law , however, silicon will have to be replaced in order to miniaturize further,” said Jeffrey Bokor, deputy director for science at the Molecular Foundry at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Professor at UC-Berkeley.

A team of Stanford engineering professors, doctoral students, undergraduates, and high-school interns, led by Professors Subhasish Mitra  and H.-S. Philip Wong , took on the challenge and has produced a series of breakthroughs that represent the most advanced computing and storage elements yet created. Since nanotube transistors were demonstrated in 1998, researchers imagined a new age of highly efficient, advanced computing electronics. That promise, however, is yet to be realized due to substantial material imperfections inherent to nanotubes that left engineers wondering whether CNTs would ever prove viable. The Stanford design approach has two striking features in that it sacrifices virtually none of CNTs’ energy efficiency and it is also compatible with existing fabrication methods and infrastructure, pushing the technology a significant step toward commercializationThe first CNTs wowed the research community with their exceptional electrical, thermal and mechanical properties over a decade ago, but this recent work at Stanford has provided the first glimpse of their viability to complement silicon CMOS transistors,” said Larry Pileggi, Tanoto Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University..

Source: http://engineering.stanford.edu/news/stanford-engineers-perfecting-carbon-nanotubes-high-energy-efficient-computing

Electric NanoGenerator To Harvest Wasted Energy

Scavenging energy in our living environment is a feasible approach for powering micro/nanodevices and mobile electronics due to their small size, lower power consumption, and special working environment. Nanomaterials have shown unique advantages for energy conversion, including solar cells,  The type of energy to be harvested depends on the applications. For mobile, implantable and personal electronics, solar energy may not be the best choice because solar is not vailable in many cases under which the electronic devices will be utilized. Alternatively, mechanical energy, including vibration, air flow, and human physical motion, is available almost everywhere and at all times, which is called random energy with irregular amplitude and frequencies. Nanogenerator (NG) is a technology that has been developed for harvesting this type of energy using well-aligned nanowire (NW) arrays and sophisticated fabrication procedures,

 
Pr. Zhong Lin Wang from Georgia Tech and his team present a simple, cost-effective, robust, and scalable approach for fabricating a nanogenerator that gives an output power strong enough to continuously drive a commercial liquid crystal display

Sourcehttp://www.nanoscience.gatech.edu/zlwang/paper/2010/10_NL_06.pdf

Rna Nanoparticule To Shutdown Cancerous Genes

Using a technique known as “nucleic acid origami,” chemical engineers have built tiny particles made out of DNA and RNA that can deliver snippets of RNA directly to tumors, turning off genes expressed in cancer cells.To achieve this type of gene shutdown, known as RNA interference, many researchers have tried — with some success — to deliver RNA with particles made from polymers or lipids. However, those materials can pose safety risks and are difficult to target, says Daniel Anderson, an associate professor of health sciences and technology and chemical engineering, and a member of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT

Researchers successfully used this nanoparticle, made from several strands of DNA and RNA, to turn off a gene in tumor cells. 

When you think of metastatic cancer, you don’t want to just stop in the liver,” Anderson says. “You also want to get to more diverse sites.”

Source: http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/rna-interference-lightweight-nanoparticle-0604.html

Expanding DNA Alphabet

Scientists at The Scripps Research Institute suggests that the replication process for DNA — the genetic instructions for living organisms that is composed of four bases (C, G, A and T) — is more open to unnatural letters than had previously been thought. An expanded "DNA alphabet" could carry more information than natural DNA, potentially coding for a much wider range of molecules and enabling a variety of powerful applications, from precise molecular probes and nanomachines to useful new life forms.

We now know that the efficient replication of our unnatural base pair isn't a fluke, and also that the replication process is more flexible than had been assumed,"" said Floyd E. Romesberg, associate professor at Scripps Research, principal developer of the new DNA bases, and a senior author of the new study. The Romesberg laboratory collaborated on the new study with the laboratory of co-senior author Andreas Marx at the University of Konstanz in Germany, and the laboratory of Tammy J. Dwyer at the University of San Diego.
Romesberg and his lab have been trying to find a way to extend the DNA alphabet since the late 1990s. In 2008, they developed the efficiently replicating bases NaM and 5SICS, which come together as a complementary base pair within the DNA helix, much as, in normal DNA, the base adenine (A) pairs with thymine (T), and cytosine (C) pairs with guanine (G).

Source:  http://www.nature.com/nchembio/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/nchembio.966.html

Gene therapy to rejuvenate

Several studies have demonstrated that the average life of organisms, including that of mammals, can be lengthened by acting on different genes. Until now this has included permanent modifications in animal genes starting in the embryonic phase, something which is not intended to be carried out with humans. Researchers at CNIO and CBATEG now have proved it possible to prolong the life of mice using a treatment which acts directly on the genes, but is used in adult animals and is applied only once. This is achieved through gene therapy, a strategy never before used to fight the aging process.

The therapy demonstrated to be safe and effective in mice. Researchers worked with adult mice aged one year and older mice aged two. In both cases the gene therapy had a "rejuvenating" effect. The mice which were treated at one year of age on average lived 24% longer.

This research is led at the Spanish National Cancer Research Centre (CNIO) by director Maria A. Blasco, in collaboration with Eduard Ayuso and Fátima Bosch, of the Centre for Animal Biotechnology and Gene Therapy (CBATEG) at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona UAB, Spain.

Sourcehttp://www.uab.es/servlet/Satellite/latest-news/news-detail/lifespan-of-mice-grows-by-24–1096476786473.html?noticiaid=1337064121411