Nanotechnology Extends Our Lives

It has been speculated since long by futurists that nanotechnology will revolutionize virtually every field of our lives, medicine making no exception. Nanotechnology focuses on the engineering of materials and devices at a nanoscale, by using building blocks of atoms and molecules. Medical nanotechnology may be able to extend our lives in two ways. It can repair our bodies at the cellular level, reverse aging and providing a certain version of the fountain of youth, and it can help the medical community to eradicate life-threatening diseases such as stroke, heart attack, HIV or cancer.

By curing life-threatening disease, nanotech can extend the average lifespan far beyond the remarkable achievements of the last century. For instance, the nanotechnology applications in healthcare are likely to minimize the number of deaths from conditions such as heart disease and cancer over the next decade or so. There are already many research programs in place working on these techniques. Curing cancer could finally become reality, thanks to medical nanotech. Targeted chemotherapy methods based on nanotech use nanoparticle to deliver chemotherapy drugs.

gold nanoparticle structureA separate nanoparticle is used to guide the drug carrier directly to the cancer tumor. Gold nanorods can also be introduced in circulation through the bloodstream. Once they accumulate at the tumor site, they would concentrate the heat from an infrared light, heating up the tumor to a level where its cells die with minimal damage to the surrounding healthy cells.

This heat could also be used in order to increase the level of a stress related protein present on the tumor’s surface. Then a drug carrying liposome nanoparticles can be attached to amino acids that bind to this protein. This way, the accumulation of the liposome chemotherapy drug is speeded up by the increased level of protein at the tumor.

Magnetic nanoparticles attaching to cancer cells present in the bloodstream could also allow the removal of cancer cells before they establish new tumors.

Individual research programs like those mentioned above are in place at various private companies and universities. Similar research projects are in place for studying ways of fighting heart disease, another major killer in our time. For example, researchers at the University of Santa Barbara have designed a nanoparticle able to deliver drugs to the wall arteries plaqueExtending the average lifespan by repairing cells is another area of interest for medical nanotech. This is perhaps the most exciting application. Our bodies can be repaired at the cellular level by nanorobots. Such technologies are being under development already at various private companies and universities.

For instance, nanorobots might repair our DNA in our cells when it get damaged by toxins in our bodies or radiation. The Nanomedicine Center for Nucleoprotein Machines is studying protein-based biological machines (nano-robots) able to repair damage in our bodies and assist in DNA replication.

The Nanofactory Collorabation is an international group focused on developing the techniques for nanoscale precise manufacturing, The ability to work at this scale will allow manufacturing of unique materials and devices that will feature improved and novel properties.

Medical nanotech is also behind the new non-drug therapy called hyperthermia, which comes with the advantage of being non-toxic and with no harmful side effects. A 3D printer at nano-scale is able to manufacture new cancer drugs just by drag-and-dropping DNA. And the list of examples may continue for long. All these revolutionary medical advances are possible thanks to the emerging field of nanotechnology. They will change our lives forever.

Source: http://www.sciencetimes.com/

After Graphene, New 2D Materials To Play With

Dozens of new two-dimensional materials similar to graphene are now available, thanks to research from the University of Manchester (U.K.) scientists. These 2D crystals are capable of delivering designer materials with revolutionary new properties. The problem has been that the vast majority of these atomically thin 2D crystals are unstable in air, so react and decompose before their properties can be determined and their potential applications investigated.  By protecting the new reactive crystals with more stable 2D materials, such as , via computer control in a specially designed inert gas chamber environments, these materials can be successfully isolated to a single atomic layer for the first time.
2D materials

The team created devices to stablise 2D materials

Combining a range of 2D materials in thin stacks give scientists the opportunity to control the properties of the materials, which can allow ‘materials-to-order’ to meet the demands of industry.  High-frequency electronics for satellite communications, and light weight batteries for mobile energy storage are just two of the application areas that could benefit from this research. The breakthrough could allow for many more atomically thin materials to be studied separately as well as serve as building blocks for multilayer devices with such tailored properties.

The team, led by Dr Roman Gorbachev, used their unique fabrication method on two particular two-dimensional crystals that have generated intense scientific interest in the past 12 months but are unstable in air: black phosphorus and niobium diselenide. The technique the team have pioneered allows the unique characteristics and excellent electronic properties of these air-sensitive 2D crystals to be revealed for the first time.

The isolation of graphene in 2004 by a University of Manchester team lead by Sir Andre Geim and Sir Kostya Novoselov led to the discovery of a range of 2D materials, each with specific properties and qualities. Dr Gorbachev said: “This is an important breakthrough in the area of 2D materials research, as it allows us to dramatically increase the variety of materials that we can experiment with using our expanding 2D crystal toolbox”. The more materials we have to play with, the greater potential there is for creating applications that could revolutionise the way we live.” Sir Andre Geim added.

Writing in NanoLetters, the University of Manchester team demonstrate how tailored fabrication methods can make these previously inaccessible materials useful.

Source: http://www.manchester.ac.uk/

3D Printed Nano Fish Remove Toxins From Your Body

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego used an innovative 3D printing technology they developed to manufacture multipurpose fish-shaped microrobots — called microfish — that swim around efficiently in liquids, are chemically powered by hydrogen peroxide and magnetically controlled. These proof-of-concept synthetic microfish will inspire a new generation of “smartmicrorobots that have diverse capabilities such as detoxification, sensing and directed drug delivery, researchers said.

3D nanofish3D-printed microfish contain functional nanoparticles that enable them to be self-propelled, chemically powered and magnetically steered. The microfish are also capable of removing and sensing toxins.
The technique used to fabricate the microfish provides numerous improvements over other methods traditionally employed to create microrobots with various locomotion mechanisms, such as microjet engines, microdrillers and microrockets. Most of these microrobots are incapable of performing more sophisticated tasks because they feature simple designs — such as spherical or cylindrical structures — and are made of homogeneous inorganic materials. In this new study, researchers demonstrated a simple way to create more complex microrobots.

By combining Professor Shaochen Chen’s 3D printing technology with Joseph Wang’s expertise in microrobots, the team from the NanoEngineering Department at the UC San Diego was able to custom-build microfish that can do more than simply swim around when placed in a solution containing hydrogen peroxide. Nanoengineers were able to easily add functional nanoparticles into certain parts of the microfish bodies. They installed platinum nanoparticles in the tails, which react with hydrogen peroxide to propel the microfish forward, and magnetic iron oxide nanoparticles in the heads, which allowed them to be steered with magnets.Schematic illustration of the process of functionalizing the microfish. Platinum nanoparticles are first loaded into the tail of the fish for propulsion via reaction with hydrogen peroxide. Next, iron oxide nanoparticles are loaded into the head of the fish for magnetic control.

We have developed an entirely new method to engineer nature-inspired microscopic swimmers that have complex geometric structures and are smaller than the width of a human hair. With this method, we can easily integrate different functions inside these tiny robotic swimmers for a broad spectrum of applications,” said the co-first author Wei Zhu, a nanoengineering Ph.D. student in Chen’s research group at the Jacobs School of Engineering at UC San Diego.
The research, led by Professors Shaochen Chen and Joseph Wang of the NanoEngineering Department at the UC San Diego, was published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Source: http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/

How To Repair Your Teeth Naturally

A trip to the dentist is something many people dread. If they spot a cavity, the usual course of action is an anaesthetic injection followed by the decay being drilled out and replaced with a filling.

smiling-girl
But the problem with that is, once you start in that cycle – fillings don’t last forever – so the fillings will need to be repaired and replaced. And you’re really in that cycle of repair and replacement for the rest of the tooth’s life,” says Dr. Rebecca Moazzez, clinical senior lecturer at  King’s College London.

But a new prototype dental treatment could help break this cycle, reversing the damage that could lead to cavities. British company Reminova have hit upon a way to speed up the process by which teeth naturally repair themselves.

Trying to supercharge a natural process, whereby this process called re-mineralisation that happens in your mouth all the time, and we’ve just found a way to make that a much faster process. Driving healthy calcium and phosphate minerals into your enamel, and through a natural process it will bind on and add to the enamel that’s there“,  explains Jeff Wright, CEO of  Reminova.

The patient’s tooth is first cleaned, and minerals applied to the lesion. A tiny electrical pulse is then applied which pushes the mineral ions into the cavity, triggering remineralisation from the deepest part of the lesion. It takes about as long as having a filling. But with no injections or drilling, the makers say, it’s completely painless. Dentists say it could be a useful tool – though tooth brushing and cleaning are still the best way to prevent cavities. Stopping decay in children’s teeth at an early age is also vital they say.

If you can prevent decay in children then they will become adults with no fillings, so that is a very key market… Also, if children have a better experience of going to the dentist, so they haven’t had necessary drilling and injections for routine fillings, then they’ll be much more positive in later life and probably become much more regular patients“, says Dr. Barry Quinn, consultant at King’s  College London.  Reminova are now looking for further investment before moving into clinical trials and turning their prototype into a device ready for dental surgeries.

Source; http://www.reuters.com/
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Biodegradable Nanoparticles For Harmless Pesticides

In this lab at North Carolina State University the future of keeping crops free of harmful bacteria is taking shape – albeit a very small shape. Researcher Alexander Richter is designing a new type of nanoparticle with lignin, an organic polymer found in almost all plants and trees, at its core. Currently, silver based nanoparticles are used in a wide range of pesticides to treat crops, but while silver has strong anti-microbial properties, its use is controversial.

nanoparticle

Their post-application activity when released into the environment was actually seen as a potential concern by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. This is because the particles may stay active after the application, they may translocate after the application, they may kill good bacteria in the environment, which is undesired” says Alexander Tichter.

Dr. Orlin Velev, Professor of  chemical and biomolecular engineering adds: “So the problem is how do you potentially remove that danger from engineered nanomaterials?” The answer was to use less silver and replace the metallic core with lignin, making the newly engineered particles biodegradable but still an effective weapon in tackling dangerous bacteria like e-coli.
Our idea, or our approach, was to see if we can, if this is the problem, we replace the metallic core, which doesn’t participate in microbial action, with a biodegradable core. And by doing so, we could actually make the nanoparticles keep their functionality but make them degradable while also reducing the amount of the silver core in the nanoparticle system“, explains Richter.  And that equates to safer fruits and vegetables that are treated with less with chemicals as they grow.
“We believe that this can lead to a new generation of agricultural treatment products, that they’re going to be more efficient, that they’re going to use less chemicals, and that they’re going to be more friendly toward the environment” says Dr. Yelev.
The team has started a company to take their research to the next level with the hopes of perfecting the technology, scaling it up, and preparing it for commercialization.

Source:  http://www.reuters.com/

How To Kill Intractable Pain

A team of scientists at Kyoto University‘s Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) in Japan, has developed a novel technique using tiny gold rods to target pain receptors.

Gold nanorods are tiny rods that are 1-100 nanometers wide and long. In comparison, a human hair is 100,000 nanometers wide. The team coated gold nanorods with a special type of protein that transports fat within the body known as a lipoprotein. This allowed the nanorods to bind efficiently to nerve cell membranes bearing a pain receptor called TRPV1 (transient receptor potential vanilloid type 1). Near-infrared light was then applied to the nanorod-coated pain receptors. The nanorods heated up, activating the pain receptors to allow an influx of calcium ions through the membrane. Prolonged activation of TRPV1 is known to subsequently lead to their desensitization, bringing pain relief. Importantly, heating the gold nanorods enabled safe activation of the TRPV1 pain receptors alone, without affecting the membrane in which they lie.

Previous studies had shown that magnetic nanoparticles (tiny particles in the nano-range made out of magnetic materials) are also able to activate TRPV1 receptors by applying a magnetic field. The target cells in this method, however, require genetic modification for it to work. Using lipoprotein-coated gold nanorods does not require genetic modification of the target cells. Also, the nanorods were found to have at least 1,000 times greater efficiency than magnetic nanoparticles in heat generation and in activating TRPV1 receptors.

pain killerThe gold nanorods can be retained in the body for a prolonged period,” says Tatsuya Murakami, the principal investigator of this study. “Local injection of our gold nanorods might enable repetitive and on-demand treatment for people experiencing intractable pain because prior genetic engineering of the target cells is unnecessary.”

The study was published in Angewandte Chemie International Edition on August 6th, 2015.

Source: http://www.icems.kyoto-u.ac.jp/

Black Phosphorus Instead Of Silicon

Silicon Valley in Northern California got its nickname from the multitude of computer chip manufacturers that sprung up in the surrounding area in the 1980’s.  Despite its ubiquity as a chip building material, silicon may be facing some competition from a new version of an old substance.

Researchers working at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS) Center for Integrated Nanostructure Physics at Sungkyunkwan University (SKKU) in South Korea, led in part by Director Young Hee Lee, have created a high performance transistor using black phosphorus (BP) which has revealed some fascinating results.

Transistors are made up of materials with semiconducting properties, which come in two varieties: n-type (excess electrons) and p-type (excess holes). With the BP crystal, researchers have discovered that they can change its thickness and/or the contact metals and that will determine if it is high performance n-type, p-type, or ambipolar (function as both n- or p-type) material.

Atomic structure of black phosphorus monolayer

Sibplicon has to be extrinsically doped (inserting another element into its crystal structure) to make it n-type or p-type in order for it to work in a semiconductor chip.   The BP crystals can operate as both n-type and p-type or something in between, but don’t require extrinsic doping.  This means that instead of having to fabricate a silicon-arsenic crystal sandwiched between silicon-boron crystals, a transistor can have a single, lightweight, pure black phosphorus logic chip — no doping required.

Additionally, changing the metals used to connect the chip to the circuit has an influence on whether BP will be n- or p-type.  Instead of doping to make an n- and p-type material, both n- and p-type BP can be put all together on one chip just by changing its thickness and the contact metal used.

Source: http://www.ibs.re.kr/

How To Remove Greenhouse Gas From the Air

Finding a technology to shift carbon dioxide (CO2), the most abundant anthropogenic greenhouse gas, from a climate change problem to a valuable commodity has long been a dream of many scientists and government officials. Now, a team of chemists says they have developed a technology to economically convert atmospheric CO2 directly into highly valued carbon nanofibers for industrial and consumer products.

carbon nanofibers

We have found a way to use atmospheric CO2 to produce high-yield carbon nanofibers,” says Stuart Licht, Ph.D., who leads a research team at George Washington University. “Such nanofibers are used to make strong carbon composites, such as those used in the Boeing Dreamliner, as well as in high-end sports equipment, wind turbine blades and a host of other products.

Previously, the researchers had made fertilizer and cement without emitting CO2, which they reported. Now, the team, which includes postdoctoral fellow Jiawen Ren, Ph.D., and graduate student Jessica Stuart, says their research could shift COfrom a global-warming problem to a feed stock for the manufacture of in-demand carbon nanofibers.

Licht calls his approach “diamonds from the sky.” That refers to carbon being the material that diamonds are made of, and also hints at the high value of the products, such as the carbon nanofibers that can be made from atmospheric carbon and oxygen.

A press conference on this topic will be held Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 9:30 a.m. Eastern time in the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center. Reporters may check-in at Room 153B in person, or watch live on YouTube. To ask questions online, sign in with a Google account.
Source: http://www.acs.org/
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http://home.gwu.edu/

How To Stay Dry Underwater For Months

Imagine staying dry underwater for months. Now Northwestern University engineers have examined a wide variety of surfaces that can do just that — and, better yet, they know why. The research team is the first to identify the ideal “roughness” needed in the texture of a surface to keep it dry for a long period of time when submerged in water. The valleys in the surface roughness typically need to be less than one micron in width, the researchers found. That’s really small — less than one millionth of a meter — but these nanoscopic valleys have macroscopic impact. Understanding how the surfaces deflect water so well means the valuable feature could be reproduced in other materials on a mass scale, potentially saving billions of dollars in a variety of industries, from antifouling surfaces for shipping to pipe coatings resulting in lower drag. That’s science and engineering, not serendipity, at work for the benefit of the economy.

Dry underwater

The trick is to use rough surfaces of the right chemistry and size to promote vapor formation, which we can use to our advantage,” said Neelesh A. Patankar, a professor of mechanical engineering in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science, who led the research. “When the valleys are less than one micron wide, pockets of water vapor or gas accumulate in them by underwater evaporation or effervescence, just like a drop of water evaporates without having to boil it. These gas pockets deflect water, keeping the surface dry,” he said.

In a study published today (Aug. 18) by the journal Scientific Reports, Patankar and his co-authors explain and demonstrate the nanoscale mechanics behind the phenomenon of staying dry underwater.

-Source: http://www.northwestern.edu/

Colon Cancer: 4 Coffees a Day Divide By 2 Death Rate

Colon cancer patients who were heavy coffee drinkers had a far lower risk of dying or having their cancer return than those who did not drink coffee, with significant benefits starting at two to three cups a day, a new study found. Patients who drank four cups of caffeinated coffee or more a day had half the rate of recurrence or death than noncoffee drinkers. But, the researchers caution, cancer patients should not start ordering extra tall coffees. The study, the first to report such findings, does not prove a cause-and-effect relationship between coffee drinking and a lower risk of colon cancer recurrence. As other experts note, there may be differences between heavy coffee drinkers and abstainers that the research was not able to account for.

In recent years, many studies have pointed to coffee’s health benefits, suggesting coffee may protect against Type 2 diabetes, reduce overall deaths and perhaps even help protect against dementia. Other studies have suggested coffee may reduce the risks of certain cancers, including colon cancer. The benefits are generally attributed to coffee’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. But as with many studies about diet, proving a link between coffee consumption and protection against cancer recurrence is difficult.

cup of coffee

Think about it: People who drink a lot of coffee tend to be high stress, high pressure, intense and compulsive,” said Dr. Alfred Neugut, a professor of cancer research, medicine and epidemiology at Columbia University and a director of NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital’s Cancer Prevention Center. “If they have cancer, they’re going to be more obsessive about following all the rules and doing all the things they’re supposed to do. So it may be that coffee itself is playing a physiological role, but it may also be a surrogate marker for you being a compulsive health-conscious good behaver.”

 

Source: http://jco.ascopubs.org/
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http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/

Graphene Nanoribbons Boost Electronics

Graphene, an atom-thick material with extraordinary properties, is a promising candidate for the next generation of dramatically faster, more energy-efficient electronics. However, scientists have struggled to fabricate the material into ultra-narrow strips, called nanoribbons, that could enable the use of graphene in high-performance semiconductor electronics.

Now, University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers have discovered a way to grow graphene nanoribbons with desirable semiconducting properties directly on a conventional germanium semiconductor wafer. This advance could allow manufacturers to easily use graphene nanoribbons in hybrid integrated circuits, which promise to significantly boost the performance of next-generation electronic devices. The technology could also have specific uses in industrial and military applications, such as sensors that detect specific chemical and biological species and photonic devices that manipulate light.

In a paper published Aug. 10 in the journal Nature Communications, Michael Arnold, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at UW-Madison, Ph.D. student Robert Jacobberger, and their collaborators describe their new approach to producing graphene nanoribbons. Importantly, their technique can easily be scaled for mass production and is compatible with the prevailing infrastructure used in semiconductor processing.

graphene nanoribbonsProgressively zoomed-in images of graphene nanoribbons grown on germanium. The ribbons automatically align perpendicularly and naturally grow in what is known as the armchair edge configuration.

 

 

Graphene nanoribbons that can be grown directly on the surface of a semiconductor like germanium are more compatible with planar processing that’s used in the semiconductor industry, and so there would be less of a barrier to integrating these really excellent materials into electronics in the future,” Arnold says.

Source: http://news.wisc.edu/

Solar Power: Nanorods-based Perovskite Module

Research teams from the Universiti Malaysia Pahang and University of Rome ‘Tor Vergata’, Italy, have jointly developed a nanorod-based perovskite solar module. The scientists claimed that it is the world’s first such solar module, as the perovskite solar modules are not only more efficient but also showed remarkable and improved shelf life.

perovskite solar panelThe nanostructuring of the photoelectrode, the researchers say, brings about great improvement in stability compared with those cells without a scaffold layer. The nanorod-based solar modules retained their original efficiency values even after 2,500 hours of shelf-life investigation.

At the same time, devices employing a conventional TiO2 nanoparticle material showed nearly 60 percent of original performance, and planar devices employing a compact TiO2 layer showed under 5 percent of original performance. The three types of electron transport layers were measured under similar experimental conditions.

The team have determined that the peculiar conformation of nanorods facilitated a stable perovskite phase due to their inherent stability and macroporous nature.

Rajan Jose, the team leader from University Malaysia Pahang is a professor of physics in the Faculty of Industrial Science & Technology and has been working on nanomaterials for energy applications since 2008. He calls the findings a significant milestone in the field of nanotechnology.

According to Rajan, his team has solved a technology bottleneck for large-scale application of the technology by applying “precise laser treatment and via interfacial engineering”.

The team has  published the findings in the  online edition of ACS Nano,  titled Vertical TiO2 Nanorods as a Medium for Stable and High-Efficiency Perovskite Solar Modules.

Source: http://www.greentechlead.com/

 

Engineered Cells Cure Spinal Cord Injuries

Iranian researchers produced a laboratorial sample of cell culture scaffold in their research to cure spinal cord injury (SCI).. Many people across the world suffer from injuries on their spinal cord due to diseases or accidents. Neural cell tissues are not able to recover the injury by themselves. Therefore, it is necessary to produce cellular engineered structures to cure neural injuries.

spinal cord 2

This research tries to study the ability of mesenchymal stem cells of human bone marrow to convert into cells similar to motor nerve cells. Motor nerve cells transfer movement order from the spinal cord to the muscles.

Nano-sized electrospun gelatin has been used in this study as a scaffold to culture stem cells. Gelatin is considered as an appropriate option in tissue engineering for the treatment of neural injuries due to its structural similarity to in-vivo matrix protein parts.

Results showed that mesenchymal stem cells turn into cells similar to motor nerve cells on electrospun gelatin, and they express the unique properties of these cells on the surface of gene and protein.

The achievement of the research proves that the engineered cellular structure is a good choice to be transplanted into animal sample to study the treatment of spinal cord injury. Therefore, studies are being carried out at the moment on injured animal samples to use the scaffold containing stem cells.

Results of the research have been published in Journal of Molecular Neuroscience.

Source: http://english.farsnews.com/

How To Prevent Babies Bronchiolitis

A vaccine containing virus-like nanoparticles, or microscopic, genetically engineered particles, is an effective treatment for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), according to researchers at Georgia State University.

Respiratory syncytial (sin-SISH-uhl) virus, or RSV, is a respiratory virus that infects the lungs and breathing passages. Healthy people usually experience mild, cold-like symptoms and recover in a week or two. But RSV can be serious, especially for infants and older adults. In fact, RSV is the most common cause of bronchiolitis (inflammation of the small airways in the lung) and pneumonia in children younger than 1 year of age in the United States. In addition, RSV is being recognized more often as a significant cause of respiratory illness in older adults.

baby-grandmother-

Recombinant engineered nanoparticle vaccines might be developed to prevent highly contagious respiratory pathogens such as RSV, as reported in this study,” said Dr. Sang-Moo Kang, a professor in the Institute for Biomedical Sciences at Georgia State.

In the study, mice were vaccinated with either 1) FG VLPs or virus-like nanoparticles expressing RSV fusion (F) and attachment glycoproteins (G) or 2) FI-RSV or formalin-inactivated RSV, which failed clinical vaccine trials in the 1960s because it caused severe vaccine-enhanced respiratory disease. The mice were infected with live RSV pathogen one year later after vaccination.

Mice vaccinated with FG VLPs showed no obvious sign of severe pulmonary disease in tissue examinations upon RSV infection and significantly lower levels of eosinophils, T-cell infiltration and inflammatory cytokines, but higher levels of antibodies and interferon-g antiviral cytokine, which are correlated with protection against RSV disease.

Their findings, have been published in the International Journal of Nanomedicine, and suggest this vaccine induces long-term protection against RSV. There is no licensed RSV vaccine.

Source; http://news.gsu.edu/

Artificial Blood Vessels Resistant To Thrombosis

Scientists from ITMO University (Russia) developed artificial blood vessels that are not susceptible to blood clot formation. The achievement was made possible by a new generation of drug-containing coating applied to the inner surface of the vesselSurgery, associated with cardiovascular diseases, such as ischemia, often require the implantation of vascular graftsartificial blood vessels, aimed at restoring the blood flow in a problematic part of the circulatory system. A serious disadvantage of vascular grafts is their tendency to get blocked due to clot formation, which results in compulsory and lifelong intake of anticoagulants among patients and sometimes may even require an additional surgical intervention.

In the study, a research team led by Vladimir Vinogradov, head of the International Laboratory of Solution Chemistry of Advanced Materials and Technologies at ITMO University proposed a solution to the problem. The team managed to synthesize a thin film made of densely packed aluminum oxide nanorods blended with molecules of a thrombolytic enzyme (urokinase-type plasminogen activator). Adhered to the inner surface of a vascular graft, the film causes the parietal area of the graft to get filled with a stable concentration of a substance, called plasmin, which is capable of dissolving the appearing clots. Yulia Chapurina, laboratory researcher and first author of the paper, set up several in vitro experiments that helped demonstrate just how effective the film is.

 

artificial blood vessel

In order to test how our improved vascular graft worked, we grew an artificial clot made of blood plasma mixed with thrombin and placed it inside the graft. The results of the experiment amazed us”, she explains. “Very soon the clot started to dissolve and leak through the graft. In reality, our coating would destroy clots at the stage of formation, constantly ensuring an unobstructed blood flow in the graft.

The results of the study were published in the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry.

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

Revolutionary Treatment Against Blood Clots

Australian researchers funded by the National Heart Foundation are a step closer to a safer and more effective way to treat heart attack and stroke via nanotechnology. The research is jointly lead by Professor Christoph Hagemeyer, Head of the Vascular Biotechnology Laboratory at Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute (Australia) and Professor Frank Caruso, from the University of Melbourne. Professor Hagemeyer said this latest step offers a revolutionary difference between the current treatments for blood clots and what might be possible in the future. This life saving treatment could be administered by paramedics in emergency situations without the need for specialised equipment as is currently the case.

nanoparticles against heart attack

We’ve created a nanocapsule that contains a clot-busting drug. The drug-loaded nanocapsule is coated with an antibody that specifically targets activated platelets, the cells that form blood clots,” Professor Hagemeyer said. “Once located at the site of the blood clot, thrombin (a molecule at the centre of the clotting process) breaks open the outer layer of the nanocapsule, releasing the clot-busting drug. We are effectively hijacking the blood clotting system to initiate the removal of the blockage in the blood vessel,” he added.

Professor Frank Caruso from the Melbourne School of Engineering said the targeted drug with its novel delivery method can potentially offer a safer alternative with fewer side effects for people suffering a heart attack or stroke. “Up to 55,000 Australians experience a heart attack or suffer a stroke every year. About half of the people who need a clot-busting drug can’t use the current treatments because the risk of serious bleeding is too high,” he said.

The findings has been published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Source: http://newsroom.melbourne.edu/

How To Diagnose Pancreatic Cancer At Early Stage

Treating Cancer at very early stage is crucial to prevent a deadly end. This is especially true with the pancreatic cancer.  Now a research team from the Queen Mary University of London has shown that  a three-protein ‘signature’ can both identify the most common form of pancreatic cancer when still in its early stagesand distinguish between this cancer and the inflammatory condition chronic pancreatitis, which can be hard to tell apart.

Scientists looked at 488 urine samples: 192 from patients known to have pancreatic cancer, 92 from patients with chronic pancreatitis and 87 from healthy volunteers.  A further 117 samples from patients with other benign and malignant liver and gall bladder conditions were used for further validation.

Around 1500 proteins were found in the urine samples, with approximately half being common to both male and female volunteers. Of these, three proteinsLYVE1, REG1A and TFF1 – were selected for closer examination, based on biological information and performance in statistical analysis.

Patients with pancreatic cancer were found to have increased levels of each of the three proteins when compared to urine samples from healthy patients, while patients suffering from chronic pancreatitis had significantly lower levels than cancer patients. When combined, the three proteins formed a robust panel that can detect patients with stages III pancreatic cancer with over 90 per cent accuracy.

With few specific symptoms even at a later stage of the disease, more than 80 per cent of people with pancreatic cancer are diagnosed when the cancer has already spread. This means they are not eligible for surgery to remove the tumour – currently the only potentially curative treatment.

The five-year survival rate for pancreatic cancer is the lowest of any common cancer, standing at 3 per cent. This figure has barely improved in 40 years.

pancreas

 

We’ve always been keen to develop a diagnostic test in urine as it has several advantages over using blood. It’s an inert and far less complex fluid than blood and can be repeatedly and non-invasively tested”, said lead researcher, Dr Tatjana Crnogorac-Jurcevic of Queen Mary University of London. ” It took a while to secure proof of principle funding in 2008 to look at biomarkers in urine, but it’s been worth the wait for these results. This is a biomarker panel with good specificity and sensitivity and we’re hopeful that a simple, inexpensive test can be developed and be in clinical use within the next few years.

Source: http://www.qmul.ac.uk/

Electric Cars: How To Improve Batteries

One big problem faced by electrodes in rechargeable batteries, as they go through repeated cycles of charging and discharging, is that they must expand and shrink during each cycle — sometimes doubling in volume, and then shrinking back. This can lead to repeated shedding and reformation of its “skin” layer that consumes lithium irreversibly, degrading the battery’s performance over time.

Image with 2014 Renault

Image with 2014 Renault

Now a team of researchers at MIT and Tsinghua University in China has found a novel way around that problem: creating an electrode made of nanoparticles with a solid shell, and a “yolk” inside that can change size again and again without affecting the shell. The innovation could drastically improve cycle life, the team says, and provide a dramatic boost in the battery’s capacity and power.

The new findings, which use aluminum as the key material for the lithium-ion battery’s negative electrode, or anode, are reported in the journal Nature Communications, in a paper by MIT professor Ju Li and six others. The use of nanoparticles with an aluminum yolk and a titanium dioxide shell has proven to be “the high-rate champion among high-capacity anodes,” the team reports.

Source: https://newsoffice.mit.edu/

How To Measure Nanoparticles In Cosmetics

Cosmetics increasingly contain nanoparticles. One especially sensitive issue is the use of the miniscule particles in cosmetics, since the consumer comes into direct contact with the products. Sunscreen lotions for example have nanoparticles of titanium oxide. They provide UV protection: like a film made of infinite tiny mirrors, they are applied to the skin and reflect UV rays. But these tiny particles are controversial. They can penetrate the skin if there is an injury, and trigger an inflammatory reaction. Its use in spray-on sunscreens is also problematic. Scientists fear that the particles could have a detrimental effect on the lungs when inhaled. Even the effect on the environment has not yet been adequately researched. Studies indicate that the titanium oxide which has seeped into public beaches through sunscreens can endanger environmental balance. Therefore, a labeling requirement has been in force since July 2013, based on an EU Directive on cosmetics and body care products. If nano-sized ingredients are used in a product, the manufacturer must make this fact clear by adding “nano-” to the listed ingredient name. Due to requirements imposed by the legislature, the need for analysis methods is huge.

sunscreen

The light diffusion process and microscopy are not selective enough for a lot of studies, including toxicological examinations,” says Gabriele Beck-Schwadorf, scientist at the Fraunhofer Institute for Interfacial Engineering and Biotechnology IGB in Stuttgart (Germany). The group manager and her team have advanced and refined an existing measurement method in a way that allows them to determineResearchers measure individual particles by single particle, inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (or SP-ICP-MS). “With this method, I determine mass. Titanium has an atomic mass of 48 AMUs (atomic mass units). If I set the spectrometer to that, then I can target the measurement of titanium,” explains Katrin Sommer, food chemist at IGB.

Source: http://www.fraunhofer.de/

Nanotechnology: The Brillant Future Of CubeSats

To understand why CubeSats could be the next big thing in the study of comets and asteroids, consider the story of Philae, the European Space Agency (ESA) probe that recently made history with the first-ever landing on the surface of a comet. The idea was to get close enough to the comet to analyze its composition in situ—what scientists call “ground truthing.” You can only learn so much about small bodies by studying them from Earth, so scientists built and launched the first spacecraft to sample a comet directly. Trouble is, Philae cost around $240 million, and we almost lost it. Harpoons designed to help the lander grab on to the comet in the low gravity failed to deploy. Another smidgeon of velocity in its bounce, and that $240 million would have been drifting uselessly in the comet’s wake. Philae was lucky; after another bounce it finally came to rest on the surface. But comet landings remain an inherently risky business. That’s where CubeSats—which can cost in the tens of thousands rather than the hundreds of millions of dollars—start to look appealing.
cubesats
Because CubeSat is low-cost, one can afford to tolerate more risks,” says USC’s Joseph Wang, who has been working on CubeSat engineering for the past several years. In theory, low cost means that scientists can afford to explore more small bodies, more often. The challenge is designing small, light instruments with enough capability to do serious science.

Source: http://www.airspacemag.com/

Perfect Image Of Brain Synaptic System

The human brain contains more synapses than there are galaxies in the observable universe (to put a number on it, there are perhaps 100 trillion synapses versus 100 billion galaxies), and now scientists can see them all – individually. A new imaging tool promises to open the door to all sorts of new insights about the brain and how it works. The tool can generate images at a nanoscale resolution, which is small enough to see all cellular objects and many of their sub-cellular components (so for the biology-literate, that’s stuff like neurons and the synapses that permit them to fire, plus axons, dendrites, glia, mitochondria, blood vessel cells, and so on).

 

brain-imaging-tool-nanoscale-resolution-1

Developed by researchers at the Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard University, the imaging method employs an automated tape-collecting device equipped with a diamond knife to obtain ultra-thin brain sections, which are then scanned under an electron microscope. Different colors are used to identify different cellular objects using software developed by study co-author Daniel Berger.

To demonstrate their new tool the researchers peered inside the brain of an adult mouse. They imaged a very small piece of a mouse’s neocortex at a resolution that made individual synaptic vesicles visible (these are tiny spheres of less than 40 nm diameter that store neurotransmitters, or chemical signals, for release from a synapse into a “target” neuron). The specific area they imaged is involved in receiving sensory information from mouse whiskers, which are much more sensitive than human fingertips.

Source: http://www.cell.com/
AND
http://www.gizmag.com/

Fuel Cell Electrodes 7 Times More Efficient

A new fabrication technique that produces platinum hollow nanocages with ultra-thin walls could dramatically reduce the amount of the costly metal needed to provide catalytic activity in such applications as fuel cells. The technique uses a solution-based method for producing atomic-scale layers of platinum to create hollow, porous structures that can generate catalytic activity both inside and outside the nanocages. The layers are grown on palladium nanocrystal templates, and then the palladium is etched away to leave behind nanocages approximately 20 nanometers in diameter, with between three and six atom-thin layers of platinum. Use of these nanocage structures in fuel cell electrodes could increase the utilization efficiency of the platinum by a factor of as much as seven, potentially changing the economic viability of the fuel cells.
platinum-nanocages

A transmission electron microscope image shows a typical sample of platinum cubic nanocages

We can get the catalytic activity we need by using only a small fraction of the platinum that had been required before,” said Younan Xia, a professor in the Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering at Georgia Tech and Emory University. Xia also holds joint faculty appointments in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech. “We have made hollow nanocages of platinum with walls as thin as a few atomic layers because we don’t want to waste any material in the bulk that does not contribute to the catalytic activity.
The research – which also involved researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Arizona State University and Xiamen University in China – was reported in the July 24 issue of the journal Science.

Source: http://www.news.gatech.edu/

Water-Repellent Paint

Late night revellers and heavy drinkers may think nothing of relieving themselves in public. But now walls are fighting back against the disgusting habit. Walls in San Francisco have been coated with water-repellent paint so that desperate drinkers get a nasty surprise if they urinate on them.

nanotechnology for coatings

Nine walls around the Mission and Soma districts have been treated with hydrophobic Ultra-Ever Dry paint, so that if someone wees on them, their urine sprays back over their legs and shoes, hopefully deterring them from urinating in public again. The nanotechnology spray can be applied to almost any material. It turns into a super hydrophobic shield when applied, so that breeze blocks can be made non-porous, walls hydrophobic and gloves completely dry even when submerged in water, for example. When liquid is sprayed onto a surface treated with Ultra-Ever Dry, the droplets remain almost spherical, so they can bounce off a surface.

Source: http://thenextweb.com/
AND
http://www.ultraeverdrystore.com/

How To Make Solar Energy Conversion More Efficient

When it comes to installing solar cells, labor cost and the cost of the land to house them constitute the bulk of the expense.  The solar cells – made often of silicon or cadmium telluride – rarely cost more than 20 percent of the total costSolar energy could be made cheaper if less land had to be purchased to accommodate solar panels, best achieved if each solar cell could be coaxed to generate more power.

A huge gain in this direction has now been made by a team of chemists at the University of California, Riverside (UCR) that has found an ingenious way to make solar energy conversion more efficientThe researchers report in Nano Letters that by combining inorganic semiconductor nanocrystals with organic molecules, they have succeeded in “upconvertingphotons in the visible and near-infrared regions of the solar spectrum.

 

Solar-panels UCRChemists at the University of California, Riverside have found an ingenious way to make solar energy conversion more efficient

The infrared region of the solar spectrum passes right through the photovoltaic materials that make up today’s solar cells,” explained Christopher Bardeen, a professor of chemistry. The research was a collaborative effort between him and Ming Lee Tang, an assistant professor of chemistry. “This is energy lost, no matter how good your solar cell.  The hybrid material we have come up with first captures two infrared photons that would normally pass right through a solar cell without being converted to electricity, then adds their energies together to make one higher energy photon.  This upconverted photon is readily absorbed by photovoltaic cells, generating electricity from light that normally would be wasted.”

Source: http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/

Ultrathin Electronics At Nano Scale

Semiconductors, metals and insulators must be integrated to make the transistors that are the electronic building blocks of your smartphone, computer and other microchip-enabled devices. Today’s transistors are miniscule—a mere 10 nanometers wide—and formed from three-dimensional (3D) crystals.

But a disruptive new technology looms that uses two-dimensional (2D) crystals, just 1 nanometer thick, to enable ultrathin electronics. Scientists worldwide are investigating 2D crystals made from common layered materials to constrain electron transport within just two dimensions. Researchers had previously found ways to lithographically pattern single layers of carbon atoms called graphene into ribbon-like “wires” complete with insulation provided by a similar layer of boron nitride. But until now they have lacked synthesis and processing methods to lithographically pattern junctions between two different semiconductors within a single nanometer-thick layer to form transistors, the building blocks of ultrathin electronic devices. Now for the first time, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ONRL) have combined a novel synthesis process with commercial electron-beam lithography techniques to produce arrays of semiconductor junctions in arbitrary patterns within a single, nanometer-thick semiconductor crystal.

scalable arrays of semiconductor junctions

We can literally make any kind of pattern that we want,” said Masoud Mahjouri-Samani, who co-led the study with David Geohegan. Geohegan, head of ORNL’s Nanomaterials Synthesis and Functional Assembly Group at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, is the principal investigator of a Department of Energy basic science project focusing on the growth mechanisms and controlled synthesis of nanomaterials.
Millions of 2D building blocks with numerous patterns may be made concurrently, Mahjouri-Samani added. In the future, it might be possible to produce different patterns on the top and bottom of a sheet.

Source: http://www.ornl.gov/

Solar Panels: Perovskites Better Than Silicon

In the solar power research community, a new class of materials called perovskites is causing quite a buzz, as scientists search for technology that has a better “energy payback time” than the silicon-based solar panels currently dominating the market. Now, a new study by scientists at Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory reports that perovskite modules are better than any commercially available solar technology when products are compared on the basis of energy payback time.

Solar panels are an investment — not only in terms of money, but also energy. It takes energy to mine, process and purify raw materials, and then to manufacture and install the final product. Energy payback time considers the energy that went into creating the product and is a more comprehensive way to compare solar technology than conversion efficiency. The research team reports the energy payback time for solar panel technology made with perovskites could be as quick as two to three months, easily beating silicon-based panels, which typically need about two years to return the energy investment.

perovskite solar panel

People see 11 percent efficiency and assume it’s a better product than something that’s 9 percent efficient,” said Fengqi You, corresponding author on the study and assistant professor of chemical and biological engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. “But that’s not necessarily true. One needs to take a broad perspective when evaluating solar technology.”

In what’s called a cradle-to-grave life cycle assessment, You and his colleagues traced a product from the mining of its raw materials until its retirement in a landfill. They determined the ecological impacts of making a solar panel and calculated how long it would take to recover the energy invested.

The findings have been published in the journal Energy & Environmental Science .

Source: http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/

Smart Windows

Researchers in the Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin are one step closer to delivering smart windows with a new level of energy efficiency, engineering materials that allow windows to reveal light without transferring heat and, conversely, to block light while allowing heat transmission, as described in two new research papers. By allowing indoor occupants to more precisely control the energy and sunlight passing through a window, the new materials could significantly reduce costs for heating and cooling buildings.

In 2013, chemical engineering professor Delia Milliron and her team became the first to develop dual-band electrochromic materials that blend two materials with distinct optical properties for selective control of visible and heat-producing near-infrared light (NIR). The team now has engineered two new advancements in electrochromic materials — a highly selective cool mode and a warm mode — not thought possible several years ago.

The cool mode material is a major step toward a commercialized product because it enables control of 90 percent of NIR and 80 percent of the visible light from the sun and takes only minutes to switch between modes. The previously reported material could require hours. To achieve this high performance, Milliron and a team, including Cockrell School postdoctoral researcher Jongwook Kim and collaborator Brett Helms of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, developed a new nanostructured architecture for electrochromic materials that allows for a cool mode to block near-infrared light while allowing the visible light to shine through. This could help reduce energy costs for cooling buildings and homes during the summer. The researchers reported the new architecture in Nano Letters.

smart windows

We believe our new architected nanocomposite could be seen as a model material, establishing the ideal design for a dual-band electrochromic material,” Milliron said. “This material could be ideal for application as a smart electrochromic window for buildings.”

Source: http://news.utexas.edu/

Bionic Eye Against Loss Of Vision

Surgeons in Manchester have performed the first bionic eye implant in a patient with the most common cause of sight loss in the developed world. Ray Flynn, 80, has dry age-related macular degeneration which has led to the total loss of his central vision. He is using a retinal implant which converts video images from a miniature video camera worn on his glasses.

central vision loss

He can now make out the direction of white lines on a computer screen using the retinal implant. Mr Flynn said he was “delighted” with the implant and hoped in time it would improve his vision sufficiently to help him with day-to-day tasks like gardening and shopping.

CLICK to enjoy the video

 

bionic_eye

 

The bionic eye implant receives its visual information from a miniature camera mounted on glasses worn by the patient. The images are converted into electrical pulses and transmitted wirelessly to an array of electrodes attached to the retina. The electrodes stimulate the remaining retina’s remaining cells which send the information to the brain.

 

Source: http://www.bbc.com/

Nanotechnology Prevents Acne

Researcher and dermatologist, Adam Friedman, M.D., and colleagues from the George Washington University Medical Center, find that the release of nitric oxide over time may be a new way to treat and prevent acne through nanotechnology. This research, published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, identified that the nanoparticles were effective at killing Proprionobacterium acnes, the gram positive bacteria associated with acne, and even more importantly, they inhibited the damaging inflammation that result in the large, painful lesions associated with inflammatory acne.

Acne nanoparticleOur understanding of acne has changed dramatically in the last 15-20 years,” said Friedman, associate professor of dermatology at the GW School of Medicine and Health Sciences and co-author of the study. “Inflammation is really the driving force behind all types of acne. In this paper, we provide an effective a way to kill the bacterium that serves as a stimulus for Acne without using an antibiotic, and demonstrate the means by which nitric oxide inhibits newly recognized pathways central to the formation of a pimple, present in the skin even before you can see the acne.”

Source: http://www.nature.com/

How To Construct Innovative Nanoforms From DNA Origami

DNA, the molecular foundation of life, has new tricks up its sleeve. The four bases from which it is composed snap together like jigsaw pieces and can be artificially manipulated to construct endlessly varied forms in two and three dimensions. The technique, known as DNA origami, promises to bring futuristic microelectronics and biomedical innovations to market. Hao Yan, a researcher at Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute (ASU), has worked for many years to refine the technique. His aim is to compose new sets of design rules, vastly expanding the range of nanoscale architectures generated by the method. In new research, a variety of innovative nanoforms are described, each displaying unprecedented design control. Yan directs the  Biodesign’s Center for Molecular Design and Biomimetics. In the current study, complex nano-forms displaying arbitrary wireframe architectures have been created, using a new set of design rules.

DNA ORIGAMI


The images show the scaffold-folding paths for
A) star shape
B) 2-D Penrose tiling
C) 8-fold quasicrystalline 2-D pattern
D) waving grid.
E) circle array.
F) fishnet pattern
G) flower and bird design
The completed nanostructures are seen in the accompanying atomic force microscopy images.

 

Earlier design methods used strategies including parallel arrangement of DNA helices to approximate arbitrary shapes, but precise fine-tuning of DNA wireframe architectures that connect vertices in 3D space has required a new approach,” Yan says. Yan has long been fascinated with Nature’s seemingly boundless capacity for design innovation. The new study describes wireframe structures of high complexity and programmability, fabricated through the precise control of branching and curvature, using novel organizational principles for the designs. (Wireframes are skeletal three-dimensional models represented purely through lines and vertices.) The resulting nanoforms include symmetrical lattice arrays, quasicrystalline structures, curvilinear arrays, and a simple wire art sketch in the 100-nm scale, as well as 3D objects including a snub cube with 60 edges and 24 vertices and a reconfigurable Archimedean solid that can be controlled to make the unfolding and refolding transitions between 3D and 2D.

The research appears in the advanced online edition of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Source: https://biodesign.asu.edu/

Solar Fuel Cell For Hydrogen Electric Car

Why not a solar cell that that produces fuel rather than electricity? Researchers at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) (Netherlands) and FOM Foundation today present a very promising prototype of this in the journal Nature Communications. The material gallium phosphide enables their solar cell to produce the clean fuel hydrogen gas from liquid water. Processing the gallium phosphide in the form of very small nanowires is novel and helps to boost the yield by a factor of ten. And does so using ten thousand times less precious material.


hydrogen electric car
The electricity produced by a solar cell can be used to set off chemical reactions. If this generates a fuel, then one speaks of solar fuels – a hugely promising replacement for polluting fuels. One of the possibilities is to split liquid water using the electricity that is generated (electrolysis). Among oxygen, this produces hydrogen gas that can be used as a clean fuel in the chemical industry or combusted in fuel cells – in cars for example – to drive engines.

To connect an existing silicon solar cell to a battery that splits the water may well be an efficient solution now but it is a very expensive one. Many researchers are therefore targeting their search at a semiconductor material that is able to both convert sunlight into an electrical charge and split the water, all in one; a kind of ‘solar fuel cell’. Researchers at TU/e and FOM see their dream candidate in gallium phosphide (GaP), a compound of gallium and phosphide that also serves as the basis for specific colored leds.

GaP
has good electrical properties but the drawback that it cannot easily absorb light when it is a large flat surface as used in GaP solar cells. The researchers have overcome this problem by making a grid of very small GaP nanowires, measuring five hundred nanometers (a millionth of a millimeter) long and ninety nanometers thick. This immediately boosted the yield of hydrogen by a factor of ten to 2.9 percent. A record for GaP cells, even though this is still some way off the fifteen percent achieved by silicon cells coupled to a battery.

According to research leader and TU/e professor Erik Bakkers, it’s not simply about the yield – where there is still a lot of scope for improvement he points out: “For the nanowires we needed ten thousand less precious GaP material than in cells with a flat surface. That makes these kinds of cells potentially a great deal cheaper,” Bakkers says. “In addition, GaP is also able to extract oxygen from the water – so you then actually have a fuel cell in which you can temporarily store your solar energy. In short, for a solar fuels future we cannot ignore gallium phosphide any longer.”

Source: https://www.tue.nl/

How To Wireless Control Neurons

National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded scientists developed an ultra-thin, minimally invasive device for controlling brain cells with drugs and light.

A study showed that scientists can wirelessly determine the path a mouse walks with a press of a button. Researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, and University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, created a remote controlled, next-generation tissue implant that allows neuroscientists to inject drugs and shine lights on neurons deep inside the brains of mice. The revolutionary device is described online in the journal Cell. Its development was partially funded by the National Institutes of Health.

brain implantScientists used soft materials to create a brain implant a tenth the width of a human hair that can wirelessly control neurons with lights and drugs.
“It unplugs a world of possibilities for scientists to learn how brain circuits work in a more natural setting.” said Michael R. Bruchas, Ph.D., associate professor of anesthesiology and neurobiology at Washington University School of Medicine and a senior author of the study.

The Bruchas lab studies circuits that control a variety of disorders including stress, depression, addiction, and pain. Typically, scientists who study these circuits have to choose between injecting drugs through bulky metal tubes and delivering lights through fiber optic cables. Both options require surgery that can damage parts of the brain and introduce experimental conditions that hinder animals’ natural movements.

To address these issues, Jae-Woong Jeong, Ph.D., a bioengineer formerly at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, worked with Jordan G. McCall, Ph.D., a graduate student in the Bruchas lab, to construct a remote controlled, optofluidic implant. The device is made out of soft materials that are a tenth the diameter of a human hair and can simultaneously deliver drugs and lights.

“We used powerful nano-manufacturing strategies to fabricate an implant that lets us penetrate deep inside the brain with minimal damage,” said John A. Rogers, Ph.D., professor of materials science and engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a senior author. “Ultra-miniaturized devices like this have tremendous potential for science and medicine.”

Source: http://www.nih.gov/

How To Fight Thrombotic Disease

Future Science Group (FSG) today announced the publication of a new article in Future Science OA, covering the use of nanocarriers and microbubbles in drug delivery for thrombotic disease.

Ischemic heart disease and stroke caused by thrombus formation are responsible for more than 17 million deaths per year worldwide. Molecules with thrombolytic capacities have been developed and some of them are in clinical practice. However, some patients treated with these molecules develop lethal intracranial hemorrhages. Furthermore, these molecules are rapidly degraded in the blood stream, and therefore large amounts of drugs are needed to be efficacious.

Research has focused on protecting thrombolytic molecules and enhancing their accumulation in clots. In this context, nanoparticles are interesting tools as the drugs can be loaded onto them and are thus protected from degradation in the body. Moreover, thrombus-targeting peptides have been used to concentrate the nanoparticles loaded with thrombolytic molecules into the thrombus.
nanoparticle against brain cancerWith millions of deaths per year resulting from thrombosis, it is important to improve drug delivery and the subsequent outcomes,” commented Francesca Lake, Managing Editor. “This review provides an excellent overview of where we stand thus far with utilizing nanoscale technology to solve this issue.”

Source:  http://www.future-science-group.com/

Yarns that store and release electrical power

Wearable electronic devices for health and fitness monitoring are a rapidly growing area of consumer electronics; one of their biggest limitations is the capacity of their tiny batteries to deliver enough power to transmit data. Now, researchers at MIT and in Canada have found a promising new approach to delivering the short but intense bursts of power needed by such small devices. The key is a new approach to making supercapacitors — devices that can store and release electrical power in such bursts, which are needed for brief transmissions of data from wearable devices such as heart-rate monitors, computers, or smartphones, the researchers say. They may also be useful for other applications where high power is needed in small volumes, such as autonomous microrobots.

The new approach uses yarns, made from nanowires of the element niobium, as the electrodes in tiny supercapacitors (which are essentially pairs of electrically conducting fibers with an insulator between). The concept is described in a paper in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces by MIT professor of mechanical engineering Ian W. Hunter, doctoral student Seyed M. Mirvakili, and three others at the University of British Columbia.

Nanotechnology researchers have been working to increase the performance of supercapacitors for the past decade. Among nanomaterials, carbon-based nanoparticles — such as carbon nanotubes and graphene — have shown promising results, but they suffer from relatively low electrical conductivity, Mirvakili says.

In this new work, he and his colleagues have shown that desirable characteristics for such devices, such as high power density, are not unique to carbon-based nanoparticles, and that niobium nanowire yarn is a promising an alternative.

MIT-Nanowires-1Yarn made of niobium nanowires, seen here in a scanning electron microscope image (background), can be used to make very efficient supercapacitors, MIT researchers have found. Adding a coating of a conductive polymer to the yarn (shown in pink, inset) further increases the capacitor’s charge capacity. Positive and negative ions in the material are depicted as blue and red spheres.

Imagine you’ve got some kind of wearable health-monitoring system,” Hunter says, “and it needs to broadcast data, for example using Wi-Fi, over a long distance.” At the moment, the coin-sized batteries used in many small electronic devices have very limited ability to deliver a lot of power at once, which is what such data transmissions need.

Long-distance Wi-Fi requires a fair amount of power,” says Hunter, the George N. Hatsopoulos Professor in Thermodynamics in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, “but it may not be needed for very long.” Small batteries are generally poorly suited for such power needs, he adds.

We know it’s a problem experienced by a number of companies in the health-monitoring or exercise-monitoring space. So an alternative is to go to a combination of a battery and a capacitor,” Hunter says: the battery for long-term, low-power functions, and the capacitor for short bursts of high power. Such a combination should be able to either increase the range of the device, or — perhaps more important in the marketplace — to significantly reduce size requirements.

Source: https://newsoffice.mit.edu/

3D Printers For Food Manufacturing

The use of 3D printers has the potential to revolutionize the way food is manufactured within the next 10 to 20 years, impacting everything from how military personnel get food on the battlefield to how long it takes to get a meal from the computer to your table, according to a July 12th symposium at IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago.

The price of 3D printers has been steadily declining, from more than $500,000 in the 1980s to less than $1,000 today for a personal-sized device, making them increasingly available to consumers and manufacturers Although they are not widely used in food manufacturing yet, that availability is fueling research into how they can be used to customize foods or speed delivery of food to consumers.
3D pinting for food
No matter what field you are in, this technology will worm its way in,” said Hod Lipson, Ph.D., a professor of engineering at Columbia University and a co-author of the book Fabricated: The New World of 3D Printing. ”The technology is getting faster, cheaper and better by the minute. Food printing could be the killer app for 3D printing.”

Lipson, addressing the conference by video, said 3D printing is a good fit for the food industry because it allows manufacturers to bring complexity and variety to consumers at a low cost. Traditional manufacturing is built on mass production of the same item, but with a 3D printer, it takes as much time and money to produce a complex, customized product that appeals to one person as it does to make a simple, routine product that would be appealing to a large group.

For example, Lipson said, users could choose from a large online database of recipes, put a cartridge with the ingredients into their 3D printer at home, and it would create the dish just for that person. The user could customize it to include extra nutrients or replace one ingredient with another.

Source: http://www.ift.org/

How To Clean Up Cigarette Smoke

The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) research team has developed a nano-catalyst for air cleaning in a smoking room that removes 100% of acetaldehyde, the first class carcinogen, which accounts for the largest portion of the gaseous substances present in cigarette smoke.

Air Cleaning DeviceFor the performance evaluation test, the research team made an air cleaning equipment prototype using the nano-catalyst filter. The equipment was installed in an actual smoking room in the size of 30 square meters (with processing capacity of 4 CMM). About 80% of cigarette smoke elements were processed and decomposed to water vapor and carbon dioxide, within 30 minutes, and 100% of them within 1 hour. The test condition is based on the processing capacity which could circulate the air inside the entire 30 square meter smoking room once every 15 mns.

The nano-catalyst filter uses a technology that decomposes elements of cigarette smoke using oxygen radical, which is generated by decomposing ozone in the air on the surface of the manganese-oxide-based nano-catalyst filter. An evaluation test with total volatile organic compounds (TVOC), such as acetaldehyde, nicotine and tar, which account for the largest volume of gaseous materials in cigarette smoke, is conducted to evaluate the performance of the newly-developed catalyst. The results show that the new catalyst decomposes over 98% of the aforementioned harmful substances.

Source: http://eng.kist.re.kr/

Electric Planes Cross The Channel

Airbus Group  Friday completed its first-ever flight of an electric plane across the English Channel as the European plane maker seeks to spark interest in less polluting aircraft.

E fan

Airbus’s two-seat E-Fan demonstrator plane powered exclusively by lithium-batteries took 36 minutes to fly from Lydd in southern England to Calais, France, on the historic hop. It came soon after the single-seat Solar Impulse 2 flew from Japan to Hawaii in the longest-ever solar-powered flight as part of an around-the-world journey.

Just as cars are moving from burning fossil fuels to battery power, aircraft makers are exploring a similar shift to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. “It’s a big steppingstone,” said Jean Botti, chief technical officer at Airbus.

Private pilot Hugues Duval beat Airbus to the bragging rights of completing the first-ever Channel crossing in an electric plane when he traversed the body of water on Thursday in his single-seat Cri-Cri plane.

Airbus, better known for making airliners seating more than 100 passengers, plans to start delivering two-seat production versions of the E-Fan in 2017 through its VoltAir subsidiary.

A four-seat E-Fan 4.0 could follow 18 months later. It would introduce hybrid technology that could provide a springboard to building regional planes carrying 100 passengers, Mr. Botti said.

Source: http://www.airbusgroup.com/

 

Graphene Doubles Battery Life Of Your Phone

A team of researches affiliated with Samsung’s Advanced Institute of Technology, along with colleagues from other institutions in Korea has found a way to greatly extend lithium-ion battery life.

Consumers want their phone batteries to last longer—that is no secret, and battery life has been extended, but mostly due to improved efficiency of the electronics that depend on it. Researchers at and elsewhere have been working hard to find a way to get more power out of the same size battery but have to date, not made much progress. In this new effort, the researchers looked to silicon and graphene for a better battery.


graphene4
The team started by using silicon as the material for their anode, rather than the traditional graphite—it is denser and therefore can hold more charge—and is something other researchers have tried before. The problem has always been that in order to charge it, lithium must be added, which causes the anode to expand, a deal breaker for small electronic devices. To circumvent that problem, the researches grew carbide-free graphene (to keep it from forming they developed a process which included using a mild oxidant) on its surface creating a protective and restrictive coating. In addition to preventing expansion, the graphene also helped prevent the silicon from breaking down over time (which occurs due to constant expanding and contracting).

Testing showed that the arrangement resulted in a battery that had an initial energy density that was 1.8 times that of conventional batteries, and held steady at 1.5 times after repeated use. Translated to the real world that would mean a battery that at least initially, would last nearly twice as long as conventional batteries.

In their paper published in the journal Nature Communications, the team describes their new technique and the results they achieved using it.

Source: http://phys.org/

Train Of The Future

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies says it’s about to break ground on a full scale test track for it’s revolutionary future travel means, the Hyperloop, which will take passengers through steel tubes at speeds potentially up to 760mph (1223 km/h). For those that dream of the future, even this might have seemed a long way off.

hyperloop

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

Imagine a capsule filled with people that’s hovering inside the tube. Inside the tube you create a low pressure environment very similar to an airplane that’s at high altitudes. So now the capsule travelling inside the tubes doesn’t encounter as much resistance, and so therefore can travel really fast with very little energy“, says Hyperloop Transportation Technologies CEO, Dirk Ahlborn.

No accidents, environmentally friendly and tickets that cost next to nothing: This was once an idea drawn out by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, but it’s Dirk Ahlborn that’s also trying to make it a reality. Musk’s SpaceX are planning a track and asking others to design the pods that will carry passengers. But Ahlborn and his company Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT) are about to build their own in California.  HTT are about to break ground on the test track next year in Quay Valley. But that, he says, is just the beginning: “So do we need a ticket? Are there other ways of creating revenue? The pylons are just out of concrete – so you can have concrete that cleans the air, you can have gardens in them, you could have bee hives inside those concrete pylons, different energy solutions, so there’s lots of things that we can do to create a new cutting edge technology.”

It’s not just the technology that Ahlborn is pioneering either. He and his team of around 360 people at HTT have been able to push forward so quickly by crowdsourcing talent and labour. That means they could be carrying passengers in just a couple of years. “Quay Valley going to be full scale, we’re going to move around 10 million people a year, it’s going to be opening up in 2018,” says Ahlborn.

That could mean tucking into your starter in Vienna and polishing off your dessert in London. A once distant dream that now looks closer than ever to reality.

Source: http://hyperlooptech.com/

Electric Car: Water Is The Future Fuel

Canadelectrochim, a non profit research and development Canadian company, have discovered a new non-platinum and nano-sized catalyst for the fuel cell based on Mother Nature which mimics the plant leaf.  The Polymer electrolyte membrane or proton exchange membrane fuel cell (PEMFC) as an optimal solution for the future energy economy.
hydrogen fuel cellsThe PEMFC, where chemical energy is directly converted to electrical energy, provides a highly efficient alternative to a standard internal combustion engine. High power density, clean emissions (water), low temperature operation, rapid start-up and shutdown, and ability to use fuels from renewable sources are several reason why fuel cells such as PEMFC have attracted attention for large market applications, such as transportation. With these unique features, PEMFC will revolutionize the future energy economy.
PEMFC will indirectly make water our future fuel. Hydrogen and oxygen generated by splitting water using photosynthesis can be used as a fuel for PEMFC. PEMFC are leading candidates to power the space shuttle and other mobile applications even down to mobile phones, however, there are still some important issues that must be resolved in order for PEMFC to be commercially competitive. It is known that splitting a hydrogen molecule at the anode of fuel cell using platinum is relatively easy. Unfortunately however, splitting the oxygen molecule at the cathode of fuel cell (oxygen reduction reaction (, ORR)) is more difficult and this causes significant polarization losses (lowers efficiency of the fuel cell). An appropriate catalyst for this process has not been discovered and as of yet platinum is the best option. In the direction of operating the fuel cell using a cost effective and non-platinum based catalyst, is the work of Canadelectrochim.

Source: http://www.canadelectrochim.net/

How To Kill Cancer Stem Cells To Avoid Recurrence

Nanoparticles packed with a clinically used chemotherapy drug and coated with an oligosaccharide derived from the carapace of crustaceans might effectively target and kill cancer stem-like cells, according to a recent study led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

Cancer stem-like cells have characteristics of stem cells and are present in very low numbers in tumors. They are highly resistant to chemotherapy and radiation and are believed to play an important role in tumor recurrence. This laboratory and animal study showed that nanoparticles coated with the oligosaccharide called chitosan and encapsulating the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin can target and kill cancer stem-like cells six times more effectively than free doxorubicin.

chitosancoat

Our findings indicate that this nanoparticle delivery system increases the cytotoxicity of doxorubicin with no evidence of systemic toxic side effects in our animal model,” says principal investigator Xiaoming (Shawn) He, PhD, associate professor of Biomedical Engineering and a member of the OSUCCC – James Translational Therapeutics Program.

We believe that chitosan-decorated nanoparticles could also encapsulate other types of chemotherapy and be used to treat many types of cancer”.

This study, reported in the journal ACS Nano, showed that chitosan binds with a receptor on cancer stem-like cells called CD44, enabling the nanoparticles to target the malignant stem-like cells in a tumor.

Source: http://cancer.osu.edu/

Fly With Your Own Jetpack

It’s the world’s first commercial jetpack and could be yours for 150,000 USD. Three decades of research has gone into the Martin Jetpack, which in tests flew at more than 1,000 metres above ground, at up to 74 miles per hour (120 km/h). This simulator gave Paris Airshow visitors a taste of what flying a real jetpack might feel like.

Martin JetpackCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

It actually flies the same as the jetpack, so it’s an opportunity for members of the public to see what that experience is all about,” said Peter Coker, chief executive of the New Zealand based company Martin Jetpack. The jetpack is totally safe: “We have safety built into the actual structure itself. Very similar to a Formula One racing car, and finally what we actually have is a new ballistic parachute that is the basis of recognising the way that we can be as safe as we possibly can. It opens at very low altitude and actually saves both the aircraft and the pilot in an emergency“.

The newest, P12 version, runs on a petrol engine that drives two ducted fans and can carry a commercial payload of 120 kilograms. Although it will interest rich thrill-seekers, it’s aimed primarily at emergency responders in hard to reach areas, and search and rescue missions. Vertical Take-off and Landing means the P12 can land on rooftops covered with aerials and wires, and fly into tightly confined areas. It can stay in the air for 30 minutes and the firm calls it a practical alternative to helicopters. Chinese aerospace group Kuang-Chi Science has committed 40 million dollars of funding. Chairman Dr Ruopeng Liu is keen to try one for himself. “For sure, I would fly it by myself and I will even buy one for myself. It’s one of the finest machines I’ve ever seen in the world and people will love it,” says Dr Ruopeng Liu. First deliveries of the jetpack are scheduled for late 2016. Its makers are sure that sales will soar.

Source: http://www.martinjetpack.com/

 

Printing With Nanomaterials

Researchers at Binghamton University are focusing on printed electronics: using inkjet technology to print electronic nanomaterials onto flexible substrates. When compared to traditional methods used in microelectronics fabrication, the new technology conserves material and is more environmentally friendly.

Think of inkjet printing and you’ll likely picture an old printer in an office. Not so if you’re Timothy Singler, director of graduate studies and professor of mechanical engineering at Binghamton University. In the Transport Sciences Core at the Innovative Technologies Complex, Singler is collaborating with Paul Chiarot and Frank Yong, assistant professors of mechanical engineering, to study inkjet printing of functional materials.

Functional materials are categorized in terms of the actions they can perform rather than on the basis of their origins. Solution-processed materials may have electrical, optical, chemical, magnetic, thermal or other functionalities. For example, silver is strongly electrically conductive and can be formulated into nanoparticle ink. However, Singler explains that printing with solution-processed nanomaterials instead of traditional inks is significantly more complex.

3D printing “One really has to study how nanomaterials deposit on a substrate — what structures they form, how you can control them — because you’re dispersing the nanomaterials into a liquid so you can print them, and that liquid volatilizes, leaving only the material on the substrate. But the evaporation process and capillarity cause very complex flows that transport the material you’re trying to deposit in nonintuitive ways,” Singler says. “These flows have to be controlled to achieve an optimal functional structure at the end.”

Source: http://www.binghamton.edu/

Perfect Artificial Skin For Robots

A pioneering new technique to produce high-quality, low cost graphene could pave the way for the development of the first truly flexibleelectronic skin’, that could be used in robots.

Researchers from the University of Exeter (UK) have discovered an innovative new method to produce the wonder material Graphene significantly cheaper, and easier, than previously possible.

The research team, led by Professor Monica Craciun, have used this new technique to create the first transparent and flexible touch-sensor that could enable the development of artificial skin for use in robot manufacturing. Professor Craciun, from Exeter’s Engineering department, believes the new discovery could pave the way for “a graphene-driven industrial revolution” to take place.

robot female

The vision for a ‘graphene-driven industrial revolution’ is motivating intensive research on the synthesis of high quality and low cost graphene. Currently, industrial graphene is produced using a technique called Chemical Vapour Deposition (CVD). Although there have been significant advances in recent years in this technique, it is still an expensive and time consuming process, ”she said.

The Exeter researchers have now discovered a new technique, which grows graphene in an industrial cold wall CVD system, a state-of-the-art piece of equipment recently developed by UK graphene company Moorfield.

This so-called nanoCVD system is based on a concept already used for other manufacturing purposes in the semiconductor industry. This shows to the semiconductor industry for the very first time a way to potentially mass produce graphene with present facilities rather than requiring them to build new manufacturing plants. This new technique grows graphene 100 times faster than conventional methods, reduces costs by 99 % and has enhanced electronic quality.

These research findings are published in the journal Advanced Materials.

Source: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/

Electric Car: Nanogenerator Harvests Power From Rolling Tires

A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison engineers and a collaborator from China have developed a nanogenerator that harvests energy from a car’s rolling tire friction.

An innovative method of reusing energy, the nanogenerator ultimately could provide automobile manufacturers a new way to squeeze greater efficiency out of their vehicles. Xudong Wang, the Harvey D. Spangler fellow and an associate professor of materials science and engineering at UW-Madison, and his PhD student Yanchao Mao have been working on this device for about a year.

The nanogenerator relies on the triboelectric effect to harness energy from the changing electric potential between the pavement and a vehicle’s wheels. The triboelectric effect is the electric charge that results from the contact or rubbing together of two dissimilar objects.

Wang says the nanogenerator provides an excellent way to take advantage of energy that is usually lost due to friction.

Tesla-Model-S

The friction between the tire and the ground consumes about 10 percent of a vehicle’s fuel,” he says. “That energy is wasted. So if we can convert that energy, it could give us very good improvement in fuel efficiency.”

The researchers reported their development, which is the first of its kind, in a paper published May 6, 2015, in the journal Nano Energy.

Source: http://www.news.wisc.edu/

Full-Color, Flexible, Skin-like Display

Imagine a soldier who can change the color and pattern of his camouflage uniform from woodland green to desert tan at will. Or an office worker who could do the same with his necktie. Is someone at the wedding reception wearing the same dress as you? No problem – switch yours to a different color in the blink of an eye.

A breakthrough in a University of Central Florida (UCF) lab has brought those scenarios closer to reality. A team led by Professor Debashis Chanda of UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center and the College of Optics and Photonics (CREOL) has developed a technique for creating the world’s first full-color, flexible thin-film reflective display.

Chanda’s research was inspired by nature. Traditional displays like those FLEXIon a mobile phone require a light source, filters and a glass plates. But animals like chameleons, octopuses and squids are born with thin, flexible, color-changing displays that don’t need a light source – their skin.

Switch-color-world-first-full-color-flexible-skin-like-display

All manmade displays – LCD, LED, CRT – are rigid, brittle and bulky. But you look at an octopus, they can create color on the skin itself covering a complex body contour, and it’s stretchable and flexible,” Chanda said. “That was the motivation: Can we take some inspiration from biology and create a skin-like display?”

As detailed in the cover article of the June issue of the journal Nature Communications, Chanda is able to change the color on an ultrathin nanostructured surface by applying voltage. The new method doesn’t need its own light source. Rather, it reflects the ambient light around it.

Source: http://today.ucf.edu/

Nanorobots Swim Through Blood To Deliver Drugs

Someday, treating patients with nanorobots could become standard practice to deliver medicine specifically to parts of the body affected by disease. But merely injecting drug-loaded nanoparticles might not always be enough to get them where they need to go. Now scientists are reporting in the ACS journal Nano Letters the development of new nanoswimmers that can move easily through body fluids to their targets.
nanorobots to deliver drugsCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

Tiny robots could have many benefits for patients. For example, they could be programmed to specifically wipe out cancer cells, which would lower the risk of complications, reduce the need for invasive surgery and lead to faster recoveries. It’s a burgeoning field of study with early-stage models currently in development in laboratories. But one of the challenges to making these robots work well is getting them to move through body fluids, which are like molasses to something as small as a nanorobot. Bradley J. Nelson, Salvador Pané, from ETH Zürich (Switzerland), Yizhar Or from Technion (Israel)  and colleagues wanted to address this problem. The researchers strung together three links in a chain about as long as a silk fiber is wide. One segment was a polymer, and two were magnetic, metallic nanowires. They put the tiny devices in a fluid even thicker than blood. And when they applied an oscillating magnetic field, the nanoswimmer moved in an S-like, undulatory motion at the speed of nearly one body length per second. The magnetic field also can direct the swimmers to reach targets.

Source; http://pubs.acs.org/

How To Store Solar Energy Up To Several Weeks

The materials in most of today’s residential rooftop solar panels can store energy from the sun for only a few microseconds at a time. A new technology developed by chemists at UCLA is capable of storing solar energy for up to several weeks — an advance that could change the way scientists think about designing solar cells.

The new design is inspired by the way that plants generate energy through photosynthesis.
bundle of polymers

The scientists devised a new arrangement of solar cell ingredients, with bundles of polymer donors (green rods) and neatly organized fullerene acceptors (purple, tan).
Biology does a very good job of creating energy from sunlight,” said Sarah Tolbert, a UCLA professor of chemistry and one of the senior authors of the research. “Plants do this through photosynthesis with extremely high efficiency.” “In photosynthesis, plants that are exposed to sunlight use carefully organized nanoscale structures within their cells to rapidly separate charges — pulling electrons away from the positively charged molecule that is left behind, and keeping positive and negative charges separated,” Tolbert said. “That separation is the key to making the process so efficient.

To capture energy from sunlight, conventional rooftop solar cells use silicon, a fairly expensive material.  There is currently a big push to make lower-cost solar cells using plastics, rather than silicon, but today’s plastic solar cells are relatively inefficient, in large part because the separated positive and negative electric charges often recombine before they can become electrical energy.

Modern plastic solar cells don’t have well-defined structures like plants do because we never knew how to make them before,” Tolbert said. “But this new system pulls charges apart and keeps them separated for days, or even weeks. Once you make the right structure, you can vastly improve the retention of energy.”

The findings are published June 19 in the journal Science.

 

Source: http://newsroom.ucla.edu/

Therapy Stops Atherosclerosis

In what may be a major leap forward in the quest for new treatments of the most common form of cardiovascular disease, scientists at Johns Hopkins report they have found a way to halt and reverse the progression of atherosclerosis in rodents by loading microscopic nanoparticles with a chemical that restores the animals’ ability to properly handle cholesterol.


cholesterol2Cholesterol
is a fatty substance that clogs, stiffens and narrows the blood vessels, greatly diminishing their ability to deliver blood to the heart muscle and the brain. The condition, known as atherosclerotic vessel disease, is the leading cause of heart attacks and strokes that claim some 2.6 million lives a year worldwide, according to the World Health Organization.

A report on the work, published online in the journal Biomaterials, builds on recent research by the same team that previously identified a fat-and-sugar molecule called GSL as the chief culprit behind a range of biological glitches that affect the body’s ability to properly use, transport and purge itself of vessel-clogging cholesterol.

That earlier study showed that animals feasting on high-fat foods remained free of heart disease if pretreated with a man-made compound, D-PDMP, which works by blocking the synthesis of the mischievous GSL. But the body‘s natural tendency to rapidly break down and clear out D-PDMP was a major hurdle in efforts to test its therapeutic potential in larger animals and humans. The newly published report reveals the scientists  have cleared that hurdle by encapsulating D-PDMP into tiny molecules, which are absorbed faster and linger in the body much longer. In this case, the researchers say, their experiments show that when encapsulated that way, D-PDMP’s potency rose ten-fold in animals fed with it. Most strikingly, the team reports, the nano version of the compound was potent enough to halt the progression of atherosclerosis. As well, the nano-packaged drug improved physiologic outcomes among animals with heart muscle thickening and pumping dysfunction, the hallmarks of advanced disease.

Our experiments illustrate clearly that while content is important, packaging can make or break a drug,” says lead investigator Subroto Chatterjee, Ph.D., a professor of medicine and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and a metabolism expert at its Heart and Vascular Institute.In our study, the right packaging vastly improved the drug’s performance and its ability not merely to prevent disease but to mitigate some of its worst manifestations.”

Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/

Wood Added With Carbon Nanotubes Printed In 3D

Paul Gatenholm, professor in Polymer TA group of researchers at Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden)  have managed to print and dry three-dimensional objects made entirely by cellulose for the first time with the help of a 3D-bioprinter. They also added carbon nanotubes to create electrically conductive material. The effect is that cellulose and other raw material based on wood will be able to compete with fossil-based plastics and metals in the on-going additive manufacturing revolution, which started with the introduction of the 3D-printer.

3D printing is a form of additive manufacturing that is predicted to revolutionise the manufacturing industry. The precision of the technology makes it possible to manufacture a whole new range of objects and it presents several advantages compared to older production techniques. The freedom of design is great, the lead time is short, and no material goes to wastePlastics and metals dominate additive manufacturing. However, a research group at Chalmers University of Technology have now managed to use cellulose from wood in a 3D printer.

wood computer chipCombing the use of cellulose to the fast technological development of 3D printing offers great environmental advantages,” says Paul Gatenholm, professor of Biopolymer Technology at Chalmers and the leader of the research group. “Cellulose is an unlimited renewable commodity that is completely biodegradable, and manufacture using raw material from wood, in essence, means to bind carbon dioxide that would otherwise end up in the atmosphere.”

The breakthrough was accomplished at Wallenberg Wood Science Center, a research center aimed at developing new materials from wood, at Chalmers University of Technology.

 

Source: http://www.chalmers.se/

Graphene Boosts By 30 Percent Chips Speeds

A typical computer chip includes millions of transistors connected with an extensive network of copper wires. Although chip wires are unimaginably short and thin compared with household wires, both have one thing in common: in each case the copper is wrapped within a protective sheath. For years a material called tantalum nitride has formed a protective layer around chip wires.

Now Stanford-led experiments demonstrate that a different sheathing material, graphene, can help electrons scoot through tiny copper wires in chips more quickly.

Graphene is a single layer of carbon atoms arranged in a strong yet thin lattice. Stanford electrical engineer H.-S. Philip Wong says this modest fix, using graphene to wrap wires, could allow transistors to exchange data faster than is currently possible.  And the advantages of using graphene could become greater in the future as transistors continue to shrink.

graphene Stanford

“Researchers have made tremendous advances on all of the other components in chips, but recently there hasn’t been much progress on improving the performance of the wires,” he said.

Wong, the Willard R. and Inez Kerr Bell Professor in the School of Engineering, led a team of six researchers, including two from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, who will present their findings at the Symposia of VLSI Technology and Circuits in Kyoto, Japan, a leading venue for the electronics industry. Ling Li, a graduate student in electrical engineering at Stanford and first author of the research paper, will explain why changing the exterior wrapper on connecting wires can have such a big impact on chip performance.

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

How to Make Carbon Nanoparticles In Your Kitchen

Researchers led by University of Illinois bioengineering professors Dipanjan Pan and Rohit Bhargava, have found an easy way to produce carbon nanoparticles that are small enough to evade the body’s immune system, reflect light in the near-infrared range for easy detection, and carry payloads of pharmaceutical drugs to targeted tissues. Unlike other methods of making carbon nanoparticles – which require expensive equipment and purification processes that can take days – the new approach generates the particles in a few hours and uses only a handful of ingredients, including store-bought molasses.


nanoparticles-300x225

If you have a microwave and honey or molasses, you can pretty much make these particles at home,” Pan said. “You just mix them together and cook it for a few minutes, and you get something that looks like char, but that is nanoparticles with high luminescence. This is one of the simplest systems that we can think of. It is safe and highly scalable for eventual clinical use.

These “next-generation” carbon spheres have several attractive properties, the researchers found. They naturally scatter light in a manner that makes them easy to differentiate from human tissues, eliminating the need for added dyes or fluorescing molecules to help detect them in the body.

The nanoparticles are coated with polymers that fine-tune their optical properties and their rate of degradation in the body. The polymers can be loaded with drugs that are gradually released.
The nanoparticles also can be made quite small, less than eight nanometers in diameter (a human hair is 80,000 to 100,000 nanometers thick).

Our immune system fails to recognize anything under 10 nanometers,” Pan said. “So, these tiny particles are kind of camouflaged, I would say; they are hiding from the human immune system.

The researchers report their findings in the journal Small.

Source: http://news.illinois.edu/

3D-Printed Steel Bridge In Amsterdam

From low-cost housing to life-saving implants, 3D printing technology is having a growing influence on our lives, and the latest innovation to be announced is a full-sized 3D-printed bridge.

Industry experts MX3D are planning to create a steel bridge in Amsterdam in the Netherlands using independent robot arms. These arms will start on one side of the river and cross over to the other bank, building the structure as they go.

Software studio Autodesk and construction firm Heijmans are two of the partners working with MX3D on the eye-catching project, which is scheduled to start in September once a final location has been chosen. The robotic 3D printers are going to construct their own supports as they go, heating the metal to 1,500 degrees Celsius (2,732 Fahrenheit) before melding it into place.

The site is set to be a tourist attraction even before it’s completed, with a visitor centre in the pipeline that will provide running updates on the bridge’s process.

3D-Printed-Steel-Bridge-Amsterdam-What distinguishes our technology from traditional 3D printing methods is that we work according to the ‘printing outside the box’ principle,” MX3D Chief Technology Officer Tim Geurtjens says on the project site.

By printing with 6-axis industrial robots, we are no longer limited to a square box in which everything happens. Printing a functional, life-size bridge is of course the ideal way to showcase the endless possibilities of this technique.”

The printing arms have been through several iterations to get them ready for the task: MX3D engineers say they’ve seen machines explode, get clogged up and lose their bearings along the way, but now the final version of the hardware is ready to launch into action. A small-scale test run has already taken place, producing a bridge a few feet across that could take the weight of a human being.

The style of the bridge has been sketched out by Dutch designer and artist Joris Laarman. “I strongly believe in the future of digital production and local production, in ‘the new craft’,” he says. “This bridge will show how 3D printing finally enters the world of large-scale, functional objects and sustainable materials while allowing unprecedented freedom of form. The symbolism of the bridge is a beautiful metaphor to connect the technology of the future with the old city, in a way that brings out the best of both worlds.

Source: http://mx3d.com/
AND
http://www.sciencealert.com/

Hydrogen Batteries Power Airliners Galley

Fuel cells hidden inside trolleys used to serve passengers their in-flight drinks could generate enough additional energy to power an airliner’s entire galley, according to German researchers. Passengers on airliners are used to their in-flight snacks coming from the flight attendant’s trolley. In the future, that trolley could provide enough power to cook a plane-load of meals. German researchers have been showcasing their portable fuel cell at the Paris Air show.

air attendantCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

What you see here is an energy generation system with a tank, a reformer, a fuel cell and a battery. The fuel cell hybrid system produces enough power for one galley and if I put it in, you can see the galley is now powered by the trolley,” said  Ronny Knepple, head of energy systems at developer Diehl Aerospace. Diehl‘s humble-looking trolley houses a tank filled with liquid propylene glycol which provides the hydrogen – the fuel source for the battery.

“The propylene glycol from the tank is evaporated and here in the reformer at high temperature the hydrogen is extracted from the propylene glycol,” explains Professor Gunther Kolb from Fraunhofer Institute for Chemical Technology (Germany)  and one of the power unit’s designers.
A catalytic converter in the trolley transforms the toxic by-products of the reaction into carbon dioxide and water. And the compact unit is lighter and smaller than conventional energy systems.
We have used here our special plate heat exchanger technology, which allows us to reduce weight and especially the size of the system considerably. In some cases here, we could save 90 percent of the space required by conventional technology,” adds Prof. Kolb. Planes in service for decades are often refurbished with power-hungry new technology in their galleys. Diehl and its collaborators hope their system will provide an independent power source for increased energy demands. The prototype lighting up the galley in Paris could be seen on airliners within 2 years.

Source: http://www.diehl.com/

Nano In The Walls And Roofs Made Of Solar Cells

It isn’t cars and vehicle traffic that produce the greatest volumes of climate gas emissions – it’s our own homes. But new research will soon be putting an end to all that!  The building sector is currently responsible for 40% of global energy use and climate gas emissions. This is an under-communicated fact in a world where vehicle traffic and exhaust emissions get far more attention.

In the future, however, we will start to see construction materials and high-tech systems integrated into building shells that are specifically designed to remedy this situation. Such systems will be intelligent and multifunctional. They will consume less energy and generate lower levels of harmful climate gas emissions. With this objective in mind, researchers at SINTEF, a scientific institute located in Norway,  are currently testing microscopic nanoparticles as insulation materials, applying voltages to window glass and facades as a means of saving energy, and developing that prevent the accumulation of snow and ice. SINTEF researcher Bente Gilbu Tilset is sitting in her office  in Oslo. She and her colleagues are looking into the manufacture of super-insulation materials made up of microscopic nanospheres.


3D printed anal-house-by-DUS-Architects

Our aim is to create a low thermal conductivity construction material “, says Tilset. “When gas molecules collide, energy is transferred between them. If the pores in a given material are small enough, for example less than 100 nanometres in diameter, a molecule will collide more often with the pore walls than with other gas molecules. This will effectively reduce the thermal conductivity of the gas. So, the smaller the pores, the lower the conductivity of the gas“, she says.

While standard insulation materials such as mineral wools have conductivities in the region of 35 milliwatts per metre, nanospheres may exhibit values as low as about 20 mW/m. This is lower than the thermal conductivity of air. At present, these spheres are only available as a powder, but our dream is to aggregate them to form flexible mats.

In the future, nano-insulation materials such as these will enable us to reduce existing thicknesses. The mats will probably be more expensive than current products such as ‘Glava’, but will offer a better option in situations where space is at a premium such as in protected buildings where there are restrictions on making modifications to facades. They also work well as insulation materials for oil pipelines and industrial tanks.

 

Solar cells installed in panels fixed to our roofs and walls will be a thing of the past. Instead, they will be integrated into the roof tiles and external wall panelling materials. This will save on and construction costs, and will reduce electricity bills.

“In spite of Norway’s long, dark, winter nights, we are exposed to just as much daylight as Germany or the UK. A colder climate is in fact an advantage because solar cells are more effective in the cold. We reckon that this will become part of the Norwegian building tradition“, says physicist and SINTEF researcher Tore Kolås. Researchers are planning to look into how we can utilise solar cells as integral housing construction components, and how they can be adapted to Norwegian daylight and climatic conditions.

Source: http://phys.org/
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http://www.sintef.com/

Walking Again After Spinal Cord Injuries

Scientists at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL)  in Switzerland proved in 2012 that electrical-chemical stimulation of the spinal cord could restore lower body movement in paralysed rats. Now they’re a step closer to making this a possibility for humans with spinal injuries. By applying so-called ‘surface implants‘ directly to the spinal cord, any movement or stretching of the nerve tissues could cause inflammation and, ultimately, rejection of the implant. This is their solution. Called e-Dura, it’s a soft and stretchy implant that can be bent and deformed similar to the living tissue that surrounds it.

EPFL SPINAL CORD REPAIRCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

One important aspect of our studies is that we design the implant so that it could, one day, be used in a therapeutical context. So we wanted an implant that could stay for quite some time in vivo without inducing any detrimental effect. And so the first question we asked was: is soft making a difference?“, said Professor Stephanie Lacour, co-author of the study at EPFL.
E-Dura has a small tube through which neuro-transmitting drugs can be administered to the injured tissue to reanimate nerve cells. Built by on-site engineers, the device is made from silicon substrate covered with stretchable gold electric conducting tracks. Researchers found that when the prototype was implanted into rats’ spinal cords it caused neither damage nor rejection, even after two months. They concede, however, there is one significant hurdle to overcome.

There’s no link at the moment between the brain; so the motor command between the brain and the actual stimulation pattern on the spinal cord. So we now also have to find a way to link the two so that the person will think about moving and, indeed, the stimulation will be synchronised“, comments Prof. Lacour.
The team has set its sights on human clinical trails, and sees potential new therapies for e-Dura to treat conditions such as epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and pain management.

Source: http://actu.epfl.ch/

Wind Turbines Generate Electricity Without Rotating

A suspension bridge in the United States stretching – and collapsing – in high winds in 1940… …inspires a silent, swaying new-look wind turbine in Spain today. The bladeless turbine generates power from a single conewobbling‘ in the wind. It’s just like an opera singer hitting the high notes and shattering glass, says the developer.

wind turbineCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

We have all seen how a soprano who sings at a glass, by matching the tone of the voice to the glass, can breaking it. This type of resonance is a great way to transmit energy. What we do is, instead of using sound waves, is use the swirls, the vortices that are generated by a structure with wind“, says David Yanez, who co-founded the Spanish start-up, Vortex Bladeless.
The six-metre windmill, made from fibreglass and carbon fibre, uses those wind vortices to create patterns of movement that can be converted into energy. The magnets at the base of the cone-shaped blade allow its movements to adjust according to the wind speed.

What we have is a mast, which is the top piece, and acts as a blade, it’s constructed from the same material as a conventional generator, and what it does is oscillate transmitting its oscillation to a conventional alternator which by its own oscillation converts the wind’s energy into electric energy.” Vortex says its turbine will cost around 40 percent less than conventional three-bladed windmills, with a smaller carbon footprint and much lower maintenance costs. And it’s much safer for passing birds. Encouraged by the results so far, Vortex is testing a smaller prototype for domestic use in developing countries.
What we are trying to do now is develop a very small energy distribution sample that is less than three metres high and can be set up on the rooftops of homes“, adds David Yanez.

Vortex‘s new turbine could prove a boost for renewable energy after Spain’s financial crisis hit the industry hard. With investment, the start-up hopes generating energy from wind will be a breeze.
Source: https://www.indiegogo.com/
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https://www.youtube.com/

Children Learn To Write By Teaching Robots

The CoWriter Project aims at exploring how a robot can help children with the acquisition of handwriting, with an original approach: the children are the teachers who help the robot to better write! This paradigm, known as learning by teaching, has several powerful effects: it boosts the children’ self-esteem (which is especially important for children with handwriting difficulties), it get them to practise hand-wrtiing without even noticing, and engage them into a particular interaction with the robot called the Protégé effect: because they unconsciously feel that they are somehow responsible if the robot does not succeed in improving its writing skills, they commit to the interaction, and make particular efforts to figure out what is difficult for the robot, thus developing their metacognitive skills and reflecting on their own errors. Séverin Lemaignan, one of the authors of the study, said the research was based on a recognized principle in pedagogy known as ‘the protégé effect‘. The prototype system, called CoWriter, was developed by researchers at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne  (EPFL) (Switzerland). A humanoid robot, designed to be likeable and interact with humans, is presented with a word that the child spells out in plastic letters. The robot recognizes the word and tries to write it, with its attempt appearing on a tablet. The child then identifies and corrects the robot’s errors by re-writing the word or specific letters.

Children teach a robot

The robot is facing difficulties to write. So the child as a teacher tends to commit itself to help the robot. And this is what we call in psychology ‘the protégé effect'; the child will try to protect this robot and help him to progress. And it’s a pretty well known fact that if the robot fails and keeps on failing and not improve its handwriting, the child will feel responsible for that. And by just relying on this effect we can really engage the children into a sustained interaction with the robot,” explained Lemaignan.
The team hopes their research will be the basis for an innovative use for robotics which addresses a widespread challenge in education.

Source: http://chili.epfl.ch/

Ultrasensitive Biosensor Detects Cancer Very Early

Two young researchers working at the MIPT Laboratory of Nanooptics and Plasmonics (Russia), Dmitry Fedyanin and Yury Stebunov, have developed an ultracompact highly sensitive nanomechanical sensor for analyzing the chemical composition of substances and detecting biological objects, such as viral disease markers, which appear when the immune system responds to incurable or hard-to-cure diseases, including HIV, hepatitis, herpes, and many others. The sensor will enable doctors to identify tumor markers, whose presence in the body signals the emergence and growth of cancerous tumors.

The sensitivity of the new device is best characterized by one key feature: according to its developers, the sensor can track changes of just a few kilodaltons  in the mass of a cantilever in real time. One Dalton is roughly the mass of a proton or neutron, and several thousand Daltons are the mass of individual proteins and DNA molecules. So the new optical sensor will allow for diagnosing diseases long before they can be detected by any other method, which will pave the way for a new-generation of diagnostics.

biosensor

We’ve been following the progress made in the development of micro- and nanomechanical biosensors for quite a while now and can say that no one has been able to introduce a simple and scalable technology for parallel monitoring that would be ready to use outside a laboratory. So our goal was not only to achieve the high sensitivity of the sensor and make it compact, but also make it scalabile and compatibile with standard microelectronics technologies,” the researchers said.

Unlike similar devices, the new sensor has no complex junctions and can be produced through a standard CMOS process technology used in microelectronics. The sensor doesn’t have a single circuit, and its design is very simple. It consists of two parts: a photonic (or plasmonic) nanowave guide to control the optical signal, and a cantilever hanging over the waveguide.

The device, described in an article published in the journal Scientific Reports, is an optical or, more precisely, optomechanical chip.

Source: https://mipt.ru/

Nanoelectronics Injected Directly Into The Brain

It’s a notion that might have come from the pages of a science-fiction novel — an electronic device that can be injected directly into the brain, or other body parts, and treat everything from neurodegenerative disorders to paralysis.

Led by Charles Lieber, Professor of Chemistry at Harvard University,  an international team of researchers has developed a method of fabricating nanoscale electronic scaffolds that can be injected via syringe. The scaffolds can then be connected to devices and used to monitor neural activity, stimulate tissues, or even promote regeneration of neurons.

brain synaptic symphonyI do feel that this has the potential to be revolutionary,” Lieber said. “This opens up a completely new frontier where we can explore the interface between electronic structures and biology. For the past 30 years, people have made incremental improvements in micro-fabrication techniques that have allowed us to make rigid probes smaller and smaller, but no one has addressed this issue — the electronics/cellular interface — at the level at which biology works.”

In an earlier study, scientists in Lieber’s lab demonstrated that cardiac or nerve cells grown with embedded scaffolds could be used to create “cyborgtissue. Researchers were then able to record electrical signals generated by the tissue, and to measure changes in those signals as they administered cardio– or neuro-stimulating drugs.

We were able to demonstrate that we could make this scaffold and culture cells within it, but we didn’t really have an idea how to insert that into pre-existing tissue,” Lieber said. “But if you want to study the brain or develop the tools to explore the brain-machine interface, you need to stick something into the body. When releasing the electronic scaffold completely from the fabrication substrate, we noticed that it was almost invisible and very flexible, like a polymer, and could literally be sucked into a glass needle or pipette. From there, we simply asked, ‘Would it be possible to deliver the mesh electronics by syringe needle injection?’

Though not the first attempt at implanting electronics into the braindeep brain stimulation has been used to treat a variety of disorders for decades — the nanofabricated scaffolds operate on a completely different scale.

Existing techniques are crude relative to the way the brain is wired,” Lieber said. “Whether it’s a silicon probe or flexible polymers … they cause inflammation in the tissue that requires periodically changing the position or the stimulation. But with our injectable electronics, it’s as if it’s not there at all. They are one million times more flexible than any state-of-the-art flexible electronics and have subcellular feature sizes. They’re what I call ‘neuro-philic’ — they actually like to interact with neurons.

The research is reported in Nature Nanotechnology.

Source: http://news.harvard.edu/

Smart Clothes Maintain The Confortable Temperature

Imagine a fabric that will keep your body at a comfortable temperature—regardless of how hot or cold it actually is. That’s the goal of an engineering project at the University of California, San Diego, funded with a $2.6M grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E). Wearing this smart fabric could potentially reduce heating and air conditioning bills for buildings and homes.

The project, named ATTACH (Adaptive Textiles Technology with Active Cooling and Heating), is led by Joseph Wang, distinguished professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego.

By regulating the temperature around an individual person, rather than a large room, the smart fabric could potentially cut the energy use of buildings and homes by at least 15 percent, Wang noted.

T-shirt with printed electrodes

Garment-based printable electrodes developed in the lab of Joseph Wang, distinguished professor of nanoengineering at UC San Diego, and lead principal investigator of ATTACH

In cases where there are only one or two people in a large room, it’s not cost-effective to heat or cool the entire room,” said Wang. “If you can do it locally, like you can in a car by heating just the car seat instead of the entire car, then you can save a lot of energy.”

93° F (33,9° Celsius) is the average comfortable skin temperature for most people,” added Renkun Chen, assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at UC San Diego, and one of the collaborators on this project.

Chen’s contribution to ATTACH is to develop supplemental heating and cooling devices, called thermoelectrics, that are printable and will be incorporated into specific spots of the smart fabric. The thermoelectrics will regulate the temperature on “hot spots”—such as areas on the back and underneath the feet—that tend to get hotter than other parts of the body when a person is active.

This is like a personalized air-conditioner and heater,” said Chen. “With the smart fabric, you won’t need to heat the room as much in the winter, and you won’t need to cool the room down as much in the summer. That means less energy is consumed. Plus, you will still feel comfortable within a wider temperature range,” he added.

The researchers are also designing the smart fabric to power itself.

Source: http://www.jacobsschool.ucsd.edu/

How To Boost Battery Performance

Stanford University scientists have created a new carbon material that significantly boosts the performance of energy-storage technologies.
designer-carbon-300x200
A new ”designer carbon” invented by Stanford scientists significantly improved the power-delivery rate of this supercapacitor

We have developed a ‘designer carbon’ that is both versatile and controllable,” said Zhenan Bao, the senior author of the study and a professor of chemical engineering at Stanford. “Our study shows that this material has exceptional energy-storage capacity, enabling unprecedented performance in lithium-sulfur batteries and supercapacitors.”

According to Bao, the new designer carbon represents a dramatic improvement over conventional activated carbon, an inexpensive material widely used in products ranging from water filters and air deodorizers to energy-storage devices.

A lot of cheap activated carbon is made from coconut shells,” Bao said. “To activate the carbon, manufacturers burn the coconut at high temperatures and then chemically treat it.

The findings are featured on the cover of the journal ACS Central Science.

Source: http://news.stanford.edu/

Continuous And Remote Pregnancy Monitoring

Pregnancy can be a worrying time for mothers-to-be. But Israeli medical experts say they have developed a revolutionary wearable monitoring device to allay their fears The PregSense monitor collects data on the health of the mother and foetus, transmitting it to a smartphone via bluetooth.

pregnancy beltCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO
It connects me a lot more with the foetus, I’ll hear the foetus whenever I want and it will be easier for me. I also won’t have to be dependent on a doctor, at any given time I’ll be able to connect, to see and hear“, says a woman in week 32 of her pregnancy.

Tel Aviv-based Nuvo Group say their monitor will allow doctors to respond to complications in pregnancy far sooner.   “It’s the first time that you have a huge amount of data of women and babies together about heart rate, kickings, position for foetus etc and we will be able to analyze this data to predict about events of pregnancy, like preterm labour like pre-eclampsia and more and we will be able to intervene in the right time“, says Doctor Varda Shalev, medical informatics expert. Shalev advises the Nuvo Group board

Women experiencing difficulties in late pregnancy are usually monitored in hospital using ultrasonic doppler devices. But the PregSense developers say they will no longer be tied to one place. Oren Oz,  Nuvo‘s chief executive. explains: “The immediate impact, the immediate benefit to doctors is that we are replacing the bulky CTG machines which are heavy and connected to the wall with the light weight mobility and continuous monitoring.Nuvo says the sensors woven into the elastic harness are safer than ultrasound scans, which can cause tissue damage. The consumer version of the device costs $250 and is due for launch at the end of the year.
Source: http://www.nuvo-group.com/

Brain Waves Control Robotic Hand’s Fingers

Easton LaChappelle was 14 when he first started taking apart toasters. Five years on, he’s being touted as a global leader in robotics, for his range of low-cost Anthromod robotic hands developed in his bedroom. Some can be controlled by a user’s mind.
CLRobotic handICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO
A good example is we actually had an amputee use the wireless brainwave headset to control a hand, and he was able to fluently control the robotic hand in right around about 10 minutes, so the learning curve is hardly a learning curve anymore.” LaChappelle taught himself how to design, make and code his creations. Using a device that picks up on electrical impulses coming from the brain, he can manipulate his robotic hand’s fingers“, explains LaChapelle.
We actually track patterns and try and convert that into movement. So with this I’m actually able to change grips, grip patterns, based on facial gestures, and then use the raw actual brainwaves and focus to actually close the hand or open the clamp or hand.” LaChappelle’s robotics aren’t the first to be controlled by brainwave frequencies – scientists in Austria fitted a truck driver with something similar in 2010. But that’s not where the magic ends.
3D printing allows you to create something that’s human-like, something that’s extremely customised, again for a very low cost, which for certain applications such as prosthetics, is a really big part of it.” The hands cost as little as 600 dollars to make. LaChappelle wants others to use his work as a platform to create customised versions for themselves; he’s made his software open source. That could eventually mean robots being sent in to control search and rescue missions, as well as improving the lives of amputees globally.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/

How To Improve Efficency Of Power Plants

Most of the world’s electricity-producing power plants — whether powered by coal, natural gas, or nuclear fission — make electricity by generating steam that turns a turbine. That steam then is condensed back to water, and the cycle begins again.
But the condensers that collect the steam are quite inefficient, and improving them could make a big difference in overall power plant efficiency.
Now, a team of researchers at MIT has developed a way of coating these condenser surfaces with a layer of graphene, just one atom thick, and found that this can improve the rate of heat transfer by a factor of four — and potentially even more than that, with further work. And unlike polymer coatings, the graphene coatings have proven to be highly durable in laboratory tests.
The findings are reported in the journal Nano Letters by MIT graduate student Daniel Preston, professors Evelyn Wang and Jing Kong, and two others. The improvement in condenser heat transfer, which is just one step in the power-production cycle, could lead to an overall improvement in power plant efficiency of 2 to 3 percent based on figures from the Electric Power Research Institute, Preston says — enough to make a significant dent in global carbon emissions, since such plants represent the vast majority of the world’s electricity generation. “That translates into millions of dollars per power plant per year,” he explains.
MIT-Graphene-Coating
An uncoated copper condenser tube (top left) is shown next to a similar tube coated with graphene (top right). When exposed to water vapor at 100 degrees Celsius, the uncoated tube produces an inefficient water film (bottom left), while the coated shows the more desirable dropwise condensation (bottom right)
We thought graphene could be useful,” Preston says, “since we know it is hydrophobic by nature.”
They found that the single-atom-thick coating of graphene did indeed improve heat transfer fourfold compared with surfaces where the condensate forms sheets of water, such as bare metals. Further calculations showed that optimizing temperature differences could boost this improvement to 5 to 7 times. The researchers also showed that after two full weeks under such conditions, there was no measurable degradation in the graphene’s performance.

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

Super-Efficient Light-Based Nanocomputers

Stanford electrical engineer Jelena Vuckovic wants to make computers faster and more efficient by reinventing how they send data back and forth between chips, where the work is done.

In computers today, data is pushed through wires as a stream of electrons. That takes a lot of power, which helps explain why laptops get so warm.

Several years ago, my colleague David Miller carefully analyzed power consumption in computers, and the results were striking,” said Vuckovic, referring to David Miller, the W.M. Keck Foundation Professor of Electrical Engineering. “Up to 80 percent of the microprocessor power is consumed by sending data over the wires – so-called interconnects.”

In a Nature Photonics article whose lead author is Stanford graduate student Alexander Piggott, Vuckovic, a professor of electrical engineering, and her team explain a process that could revolutionize computing by making it practical to use light instead of electricity to carry data inside computers.

infrared lightIn essence, the Stanford engineers want to miniaturize the proven technology of the Internet, which moves data by beaming photons of light through fiber optic threads

Optical transport uses far less energy than sending electrons through wires,” Piggott said. “For chip-scale links, light can carry more than 20 times as much data.”

Theoretically, this is doable because silicon is transparent to infrared light – the way glass is transparent to visible light. So wires could be replaced by optical interconnects: silicon structures designed to carry infrared light.
Source: http://engineering.stanford.edu/

Nanotechnology Prevents Bone Infection

Leading scientists at the University of Sheffield (UK) have discovered nanotechnology could hold the key to preventing deep bone infections, after developing a treatment which prevents bacteria and other harmful microorganisms growing.

The pioneering research, led by the University of Sheffield’s School of Clinical Dentistry, showed applying small quantities of antibiotic to the surface of medical devices, from small dental implants to hip replacements, could protect patients from serious infection.

Scientists used revolutionary nanotechnology to work on small polymer layers inside implants which measure between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm) – a human hair is approximately 100,000 nm wide.

bone infectionLead researcher Paul Hatton, Professor of Biomaterials Sciences at the University of Sheffield, said: “Microorganisms can attach themselves to implants or replacements during surgery and once they grab onto a non-living surface they are notoriously difficult to treat which causes a lot of problems and discomfort for the patient.

“By making the actual surface of the hip replacement or dental implant inhospitable to these harmful microorganisms, the risk of deep bone infection is substantially reduced.

“Our research shows that applying small quantities of antibiotic to a surface between the polymer layers which make up each device could prevent not only the initial infection but secondary infection – it is like getting between the layers of an onion skin.”

Bone infection affects thousands of patients every year and results in a substantial cost to the NHS.

Source: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/

Thoughs Control Bionic Leg

Gummi Olafsson doesn’t have to think about how his foot moves. That’s despite sporting a bionic prosthethic leg. He felt the new sense of control over his bionic limb almost instantly.  “As soon as I put my foot on, it took me about 10 minutes to get control of it. I could stand up and just walk away.” It’s all thanks to tiny sensors in his remaining leg muscle picking up the brain’s signals to nerve-endings and linked to a receiver in his prosthesis.

bionic legCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

We put sensors into the muscles, and the muscles would pick up the signals, and the signals move their way into the prosthetics, and then the prosthetics react as your brain wants,” says Thorvaldur Ingvarsson,  Director of Research and orthopaedic surgeon,  from the company Ossur (Iceland).
Ossur, a prosthetics specialist, uses implanted myoelectric sensors developed in the United States combined with its own bionic limbs.

The Icelandic company says it’s the first time amputees have ever been able to control lower-limb prostheses subconsciously. Patients will soon be able to ‘upgrade‘ existing prosthetics and control them using their minds. In the future, the sensors could be developed to react to the environment.
Our ultimate goal is to replace the function of the lost limb. The next step might be to get sensing from the environment so you have a feedback loop,” adds Ingvarsson.

For now, Gummi’s body is still adapting to the responsive prosthetic.  Gummi comments: “Everyday if you are using it, you’re always getting more and more control over what you’re doing with your foot, so in a way, everyday you’re learning more about how to walk properly with the foot, how to use it to go downhill, uphill, downstairs, upstairs, even sitting down and standing up from a chair.
The company plans to extend trials of their mind-controlled bionic limb beyond Gummi and a second patient. They say it brings amputees a step closer to truly integrating their prostheses with their bodies.

Source: http://www.reuters.com/
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http://www.ossur.com/

Barcelona, The Sun And Wind City

Barcelona‘s beach is being lit up with new-look street lights. The six innovative lamp posts are each fitted with two solar panels, a wind turbine and a battery. As a result, the environmentally-friendly lights generate enough energy to run for ten hours overnight. The new product has been designed by the company Eolgreen with the collaboration of a research team from the Universitat Politecnica de Catalunya (UPC).

Eolgreen

click on the image to enjoy the video

Compared to a traditional street lighting system, these six street lights that we have set up emit two tonnes less CO2 per year than sodium vapour or mercury vapour bulbs we see in conventional systems,” says Pedro Montes leads research at developers Eolgreen. The company also says its lights are 20 percent cheaper to run than conventional lights because they use LED technology and are independent from the electricity grid. While solar-powered LED street lighting is used elsewhere, Eolgreen‘s system is unique because its graphene turbines turn with even a gentle breeze.

Ramon Bargallo, researcher at the UPC, who helped  design the independently-powered lights adds:  “It was a big challenge as generators often need high speed winds to turn, between 1500 rpm and 3000 rpm. But we needed a generator able to work with only four or five rpm. Also generators are normally more efficient the higher the wind speed and less efficient at low wind speeds, so we had to design it in the opposite way.” Barcelona’s planners aim to roll out the new lighting system across the whole city. It’s part of their drive to achieve energy self-sufficiency in the next 40 years. Eolgreen intends to ramp up production to 700 streetlights by the end of the year. While the sustainable energy developers continue to improve efficiency, they hope their system will soon be brightening streets all over Spain.

Source: http://www.upc.edu/
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http://www.eolgreen.com/

Nanotherapy Against Myeloma

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed a nanotherapy that is effective in treating mice with multiple myeloma, a cancer of bone marrow immune cells.
Multiple myeloma is a cancer that affects plasma cells. These cells are part of the immune system, manufacturing antibodies that fight off infection. But in multiple myeloma, plasma cells grow out of control in the bone marrow, crowding out healthy cells. While treatments exist, only about 50 percent of patients with the disease survive five years past diagnosis.
Targeted specifically to the malignant cells, these new nanoparticles protect their therapeutic cargo from degradation in the bloodstream and greatly enhance drug delivery into the cancer cells. These are longtime hurdles in the development of this class of potential cancer drugs.

Plasmacytoma“We’re excited about our results because there was no guarantee the nanotherapy would increase survival,” said oncologist Michael H. Tomasson, MD, associate professor of medicine. “We injected the nanoparticles intravenously, and they found the tumors throughout the body, whether they were in the bone marrow, the spleen or elsewhere.”

The nanoparticles carry a drug compound that blocks a protein called Myc that is active in many types of cancer, including multiple myeloma. So-called Myc inhibitors are extremely potent in a petri dish. But when injected into the blood, they degrade immediately. Consequently, the prospect that Myc inhibitors could be a viable treatment in patients has been problematic because past research in animals has shown that the compounds degrade too quickly to have any effect against cancer.

The new study is the first to show that Myc inhibitors can be effective in animals with cancer, as long as the drugs have a vehicle to protect and deliver them into cancer cells. When injected into mice with multiple myeloma, the targeted nanoparticles carrying the Myc inhibitor increased survival to 52 days compared with 29 days for mice receiving nanoparticles not carrying the drug.

The study appears online in the journal Molecular Cancer Therapy.

Source: https://news.wustl.edu/

First Truly Electronic Textile

Ground-breaking research has successfully created the world’s first truly electronic textile, using the wonder material Graphene. An international team of scientists, including Professor Monica Craciun from the University of Exeter (United Kingdom) , have pioneered a new technique to embed transparent, flexible graphene electrodes into fibres commonly associated with the textile industry. The discovery could revolutionise the creation of wearable electronic devices, such as clothing containing computers, phones and MP3 players, which are lightweight, durable and easily transportable.

The international collaborative research, which includes experts from the Centre for Graphene Science at the University of Exeter, the Institute for Systems Engineering and Computers, Microsystems and Nanotechnology (INESC-MN) in Lisbon, the Universities of Lisbon and Aveiro in Portugal and the Belgian Textile Research Centre (CenTexBel), is published in the leading scientific journal Scientific Reports.

mode2015

This is a pivotal point in the future of wearable electronic devices. The potential has been there for a number of years, and transparent and flexible electrodes are already widely used in plastics and glass, for example. But this is the first example of a textile electrode being truly embedded in a yarn. The possibilities for its use are endless, including textile GPS systems, to biomedical monitoring, personal security or even communication tools for those who are sensory impaired.  The only limits are really within our own imagination,” said Professor Monica Craciun, co-author of the research.

At just one atom thick, graphene is the thinnest substance capable of conducting electricity. It is very flexible and is one of the strongest known materials. The race has been on for scientists and engineers to adapt graphene for the use in wearable electronic devices in recent years.

This new research has identified that ‘monolayer graphene’, which has exceptional electrical, mechanical and optical properties, make it a highly attractive proposition as a transparent electrode for applications in wearable electronics. In this work graphene was created by a growth method called chemical vapour deposition (CVD) onto copper foil, using a state-of-the-art nanoCVD system recently developed by Moorfield.

The collaborative team established a technique to transfer graphene from the copper foils to a polypropylene fibre already commonly used in the textile industry.

electronic clothingDr Helena Alves who led the research team from INESC-MN and the University of Aveiro, and researcher at Exeter explains: “The concept of wearable technology is emerging, but so far having fully textile-embedded transparent and flexible technology is currently non-existing. Therefore, the development of processes and engineering for the integration of graphene in textiles would give rise to a new universe of commercial applications. We are surrounded by fabrics, the carpet floors in our homes or offices, the seats in our cars, and obviously all our garments and clothing accessories. The incorporation of electronic devices on fabrics would certainly be a game-changer in modern technology. “All electronic devices need wiring, so the first issue to be address in this strategy is the development of conducting textile fibres while keeping the same aspect, comfort and lightness. The methodology that we have developed to prepare transparent and conductive textile fibres by coating them with graphene will now open way to the integration of electronic devices on these textile fibres.”

Dr Isabel De Schrijver, an expert of smart textiles from CenTexBel said: “Successful manufacturing of wearable electronics has the potential for a disruptive technology with a wide array of potential new applications”.

Professor Saverio Russo, co-author and also from the University of Exeter, added: “This breakthrough will also nurture the birth of novel and transformative research directions benefitting a wide range of sectors ranging from defence to health care. “

Source: http://www.exeter.ac.uk/

How To Inhibit Breast Cancer Metastasis

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University combined finely crafted nanoparticles with one of nature’s potent disrupters to prevent the spread of triple-negative breast cancer in mouse models. The highly aggressive cancer subtype is difficult to manage and, currently, the FDA has no approved targeted treatments. But striking results from a new study, published in the journal Cancer Research make the researchers optimistic they have a potential game-changer for triple negative cancer and more.


breast cancer

There are multiple targets within a cell,” said William Schiemann, professor of oncology at the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine and the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center, and a leader of the research. “With this technology, we can target any gene or any location, for other cancers, more diseases—potentially even immunology-based diseases.”

Regular injections of nanoparticles carrying siRNA,  silenced the gene that regulates expression of the protein β3 integrin. Expression of β3 integrin in the cell-development process called the endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT), is essential for the cancer to spread from its primary tumor.

Nearly 15 percent of breast cancers in the United States are triple negative, and the subtype is most prevalent among African-American women in their 20s and 30s. According to the National Cancer Institute, the five-year survival rate for women whose cancer is discovered early and contained to a primary tumor is 98 percent. But, the survival rate for those diagnosed with distant metastases plummets to less than 25 percent.

To try to tackle metastasis, Schiemann teamed with Zheng-Rong Lu, the M. Frank and Margaret Domiter Rudy Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Case Western Reserve, Jenny Parvani, now a postdoctoral investigator, PhD student Maneesh Gujrati and undergraduate student Margaret Mack. Lu’s lab has been developing lipid-based nanoparticles to deliver medicines to specific targets in the body for a decade. Lipids include fats and oils, but these organic molecules are also building blocks in cell structures and functions.

In this study, five mice with a mouse version of triple-negative breast cancer were injected with particles every five days for 14 weeks. Compared to control mice, the treated mice’s tumors shrunk significantly, but more importantly, the treatment significantly inhibited metastasisFour weeks after treatment was stopped, the treated mice remained tumor free while cancer continued to grow in untreated controls. No significant difference in body weight across treatment groups and controls were found, indicating low toxicity of the treatments.

Source: http://blog.case.edu/

How To Produce Massively Nanofibers

Researchers at the University of Georgia (UGA) have developed an inexpensive way to manufacture extraordinarily thin polymer strings commonly known as nanofibers. These polymers can be made from natural materials like proteins or from human-made substances to make plastic, rubber or fiber, including biodegradable materials. The new method, dubbed “magnetospinning” by the researchers, provides a very simple, scalable and safe means for producing very large quantities of nanofibers that can be embedded with a multitude of materials, including live cells and drugs. Many thousands of times thinner than the average human hair, nanofibers are used by medical researchers to create advanced wound dressings—and for tissue regeneration, drug testing, stem cell therapies and the delivery of drugs directly to the site of infection. They are also used in other industries to manufacture fuel cells, batteries, filters and light-emitting screens.

nanofibersCarnegieMellon
The process we have developed makes it possible for almost anyone to manufacture high-quality nanofibers without the need for expensive equipment,” said Sergiy Minko, study co-author and the Georgia Power Professor of Polymers, Fibers and Textiles in UGA‘s College of Family and Consumer Sciences. “This not only reduces costs, but it also makes it possible for more businesses and researchers to experiment with nanofibers without worrying too much about their budget.”

Currently, the most common nanofiber manufacturing technique—electrospinning—uses high-voltage electricity and specially designed equipment to produce the polymer strings. Equipment operators must have extensive training to use the equipment safely.

In contrast to other nanofiber spinning devices, most of the equipment used in our device is very simple,” Minko said. “Essentially, all you need is a magnet, a syringe and a small motor.”

Source: http://news.uga.edu/

Printing 3-D Graphene For Tissue Engineering

Ever since single-layer graphene burst onto the science scene in 2004, the possibilities for the promising material have seemed nearly endless. With its high electrical conductivity, ability to store energy, and ultra-strong and lightweight structure, graphene has potential for many applications in electronics, energy, the environment, and even medicine.

Now a team of Northwestern University researchers has found a way to print three-dimensional structures with graphene nanoflakes. The fast and efficient method could open up new opportunities for using graphene printed scaffolds regenerative engineering and other electronic or medical applications.
Led by Ramille Shah, assistant professor of materials science and engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and of surgery in the Feinberg School of Medicine, and her postdoctoral fellow Adam Jakus, the team developed a novel graphene-based ink that can be used to print large, robust 3-D structures.

3D-Printed-cell-structure-597x264
People have tried to print graphene before,” Shah said. “But it’s been a mostly polymer composite with graphene making up less than 20 percent of the volume.

With a volume so meager, those inks are unable to maintain many of graphene’s celebrated properties. But adding higher volumes of graphene flakes to the mix in these ink systems typically results in printed structures too brittle and fragile to manipulate. Shah’s ink is the best of both worlds. At 60-70 percent graphene, it preserves the material’s unique properties, including its electrical conductivity. And it’s flexible and robust enough to print robust macroscopic structures. The ink’s secret lies in its formulation: the graphene flakes are mixed with a biocompatible elastomer and quickly evaporating solvents

It’s a liquid ink,” Shah explained. “After the ink is extruded, one of the solvents in the system evaporates right away, causing the structure to solidify nearly instantly. The presence of the other solvents and the interaction with the specific polymer binder chosen also has a significant contribution to its resulting flexibility and properties. Because it holds its shape, we are able to build larger, well-defined objects.
An expert in biomaterials, Shah said 3-D printed graphene scaffolds could play a role in tissue engineering and regenerative medicine as well as in electronic devices. Her team populated one of the scaffolds with stem cells to surprising results. Not only did the cells survive, they divided, proliferated, and morphed into neuron-like cells.

Source:  http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/

Black Silicon Solar Cells Efficiency Jump

Researchers from Aalto University (Finland) together with colleagues from Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (Spain) have obtained the record-breaking efficiency of 22.1% on nanostructured silicon solar cells as certified by Fraunhofer ISE CalLab. An almost 4% absolute increase to their previous record is achieved by applying a thin passivating film on the nanostructures by Atomic Layer Deposition, and by integrating all metal contacts on the back side of the cell.black_silicon_solar_cell_hele_savin_aalto_university_en

The surface recombination has long been the bottleneck of black silicon solar cells and has so far limited the cell efficiencies to only modest values. The new record cells consists of a thick back-contacted structure that is known to be highly sensitive to the front surface recombination. The certified external quantum efficiency of 96% at 300nm wavelength demonstrates that the increased surface recombination problem no longer exists and for the first time the black silicon is not limiting the final energy conversion efficiency. The energy conversion efficiency is not the only parameter that we should look at, explains Professor Hele Savin from Aalto University, who coordinated the study. Due to the ability of black cells to capture solar radiation from low angles, they generate more electricity already over the duration of one day as compared to the traditional cells.

The results were published online 18.5.2015 in Nature Nanotechnology.
Source: http://www.aalto.fi/

Artificial Synapses Operate Image Classification

In what marks a significant step forward for artificial intelligence, researchers at UC Santa Barbara have demonstrated the functionality of a simple artificial neural circuit. For the first time, a circuit of about 100 artificial synapses was proved to perform a simple version of a typical human task: image classification.

“It’s a small, but important step,” said Dmitri Strukov, a professor of electrical and computer engineering. With time and further progress, the circuitry may eventually be expanded and scaled to approach something like the human brain’s, which has 1015 (one quadrillion) synaptic connections.

For all its errors and potential for faultiness, the human brain remains a model of computational power and efficiency for engineers like Strukov and his colleagues, Mirko Prezioso, Farnood Merrikh-Bayat, Brian Hoskins and Gina Adam. That’s because the brain can accomplish certain functions in a fraction of a second what computers would require far more time and energy to perform.

What are these functions? Well, you’re performing some of them right now. As you read this, your brain is making countless split-second decisions about the letters and symbols you see, classifying their shapes and relative positions to each other and deriving different levels of meaning through many channels of context, in as little time as it takes you to scan over this print. Change the font, or even the orientation of the letters, and it’s likely you would still be able to read this and derive the same meaning.

artificial synapses

In the researchers’ demonstration, the circuit implementing the rudimentary artificial neural network was able to successfully classify three letters (“z”, “v” and “n”) by their images, each letter stylized in different ways or saturated with “noise”. In a process similar to how we humans pick our friends out from a crowd, or find the right key from a ring of similar keys, the simple neural circuitry was able to correctly classify the simple images.

While the circuit was very small compared to practical networks, it is big enough to prove the concept of practicality,” said Merrikh-Bayat. According to Gina Adam, as interest grows in the technology, so will research momentum.

And, as more solutions to the technological challenges are proposed the technology will be able to make it to the market sooner,” she said.

The researchers’ findings are published in the journal Nature.

Source: http://www.news.ucsb.edu/

How To Produce Massively And Easily Solar Panels

Nanoscale materials feature extraordinary, billionth-of-a-meter qualities that transform everything from energy generation to data storage. But while a nanostructured solar cell may be fantastically efficient, that precision is notoriously difficult to achieve on industrial scales. The solution may be self-assembly, or training molecules to stitch themselves together into high-performing configurations.

Now, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory have developed a laser-based technique to execute nanoscale self-assembly with unprecedented ease and efficiency.

solarPanelWe design materials that build themselves,” said Kevin Yager, a scientist at Brookhaven’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN). “Under the right conditions, molecules will naturally snap into a perfect configuration. The challenge is giving these nanomaterials the kick they need: the hotter they are, the faster they move around and settle into the desired formation. We used lasers to crank up the heat.”

Source: http://www.bnl.gov/

Remote-Controlled Cyborg Beetles

Hard-wiring beetles for radio-controlled flight turns out to be a fitting way to learn more about their biology. Cyborg insect research led by engineers at UC Berkeley and Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) is enabling new revelations about a muscle used by beetles for finely graded turns.

Research video showing remote-controlled steering of a giant flower beetle flying untethered. By strapping nanocomputers and wireless radios onto the backs of giant flower beetles and recording neuromuscular data as the bugs flew untethered, scientists determined that a muscle known for controlling the folding of wings was also critical to steering. The researchers then used that information to improve the precision of the beetles’ remote-controlled turns.

This study, published in the journal Current Biology, showcases the potential of wireless sensors in biological research. Research in this field could also lead to applications such as tools to aid search-and-rescue operations in areas too dangerous for humans.
cyborg beetle
CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO
What things would you have to strip out in terms of genes or in terms neurosystems to be left with a chassis that is effectively a flyable chassis. Why is an insect not a flying robot, because it has stuff in there that you would like to knock out and then get yourself a chassis“, says Michele Maharbiz, an associate professor in UC Berkeley’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences and the study’s principal investigator.. A chassis like you would find in a car. But while cars were designed with the sole purpose of driving, evolution has hardwired beetles for multiple functions, like mating and eating. All of these need to taken into account when developing a remote controlled beetle. The researchers have made much progress over the years. They have proven they can control the beetles with stimulation to both the brain and muscles. Maharbiz thinks a combination of both techniques will probably be needed to create an ideal cyborg beetle. “At a short term practical level I think that we could stand to build controlled flyers at very small scales this way, in other words using the best of electronics and the best of the natural world,“, adds Maharbiz.
Source: http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/

Computers That Learn Just As The Brain Does

Scientists working towards mapping and modelling the human brain, have taken the first step by implanting a simplified mouse brain inside its virtual body. This virtual mouse, they say, could one day replace live mice in lab testing – letting them performing mock experiments with the same degree of accuracy. When certain stimuli are applied to the virtual mouse‘s whiskers and skin, for example, the corresponding parts of its brain are activated.

Image converted using ifftoany

Image converted using ifftoany

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO

That allows us at least in a simplified way to have muscles and senses distributed on the body, like touch is distributed across the entire body surface. And simple models of a peripheral nervous system that would allow us to control muscles, and then interface between the brain and these other parts, so that we get basically the whole animal reconstructed,” explains Neurorobotics scientist Marc-Oliver Gewaltig (Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne EPFL), part of the Human Brain Project (HBP) in Switzerland.
Scientists around the world mapped the position of the mouse brain’s 75 million neurons and the connections between different regions. The virtual brain currently consists of just 200,000 neurons – though this will increase along with computing power. Gewaltig says applying the same meticulous methods to the human brain, could lead to computer processors that learn, just as the brain does. In effect, artificial intelligence.
If you look at the neurobotics platform, if you want to control robots in a similar way as organisms control their bodies; that’s also a form of artificial intelligence, and this is probably where we’ll first produce visible outcomes and results“, he added.. The EU-funded Human Brain Project is scheduled to run until 2023. Among its ambitions, they hope to map diseases of the brain to help diagnose people objectively and develop new, truly personalised therapies.
Source: http://bluebrain.epfl.ch/

3D Printed Nerve Cells

The printer looks like a toaster oven with the front and sides removed. Its metal frame is built up around a stainless steel circle lit by an ultraviolet light. Stainless steel hydraulics and thin black tubes line the back edge, which lead to an inner, topside box made of red plastic. In front, the metal is etched with the red Bio Bot logo. All together, the gray metal frame is small enough to fit on top of an old-fashioned school desk, but nothing about this 3D printer is old school. In fact, the tissue-printing machine is more like a sci-fi future in the flesh — and it has very real medical applications.
Researchers at Michigan Technological University hope to use this newly acquired 3D bioprinter to make synthesized nerve tissue. The key is developing the right “bioink” or printable tissue. The nanotechnology-inspired material could help regenerate damaged nerves for patients with spinal cord injuries, says Tolou Shokuhfar, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering at Michigan Tech.

tolou2We wanted to target a big issue,” Shokuhfar says, explaining that nerve regeneration is a particularly difficult biomedical engineering conundrum. “We are born with all the nerve cells we’ll ever have, and damaged nerves don’t heal very well.
Other facilities are trying to address this issue as well. Many feature large, room-sized machines that have built-in cell culture hoods, incubators and refrigeration. The precision of this equipment allows them to print full organs. But innovation is more nimble at smaller scales. “We can pursue nerve regeneration research with a simpler printer set-up,” says Shayan Shafiee, a PhD student working with Shokuhfar.

Source: http://www.mtu.edu/

How To Diagnose Heart Attacks With A Thermometer

Diagnosing a heart attack can require multiple tests using expensive equipment. But not everyone has access to such techniques, especially in remote or low-income areas. Now scientists have developed a simple, thermometer-like device that could help doctors diagnose heart attacks with minimal materials and cost. The report on their approach appears in the ACS journal Analytical Chemistry.
thermometer to diagnose heart attacks
Sangmin Jeon from Pohang University of Science and Technology (Korea), and colleagues note that one way to tell whether someone has had a heart attack involves measuring the level of a protein called troponin in the person’s blood. The protein’s concentration rises when blood is cut off from the heart, and the muscle is damaged. Today, detecting troponin requires bulky, expensive instruments and is often not practical for point-of-care use or in low-income areas. Yet three-quarters of the deaths related to cardiovascular disease occur in low- and middle-income countries. Early diagnosis could help curb these numbers, so Jeon’s team set out to make a sensitive, more accessible test.

Inspired by the simplicity of alcohol and mercury thermometers, the researchers created a similarly straightforward way to detect troponin. It involves a few easy steps, a glass vial, specialized nanoparticles, a drop of ink and a skinny tube. When human serum with troponin — even at a minute concentration — is mixed with the nanoparticles and put in the vial, the ink climbs up a protruding tube and can be read with the naked eye, just like a thermometer.

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

New PainKiller Lasts 5 Times Longer

Medications have long been used to treat pain caused by injury or chronic conditions. Unfortunately, most are short-term fixes or cause side effects that limit their use. Researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) have discovered a new compound that offers longer lasting painkilling effects, and shows promise as an alternative to current anesthetics.
pain killerBecause of its versatility and effectiveness at quickly numbing pain in targeted areas, lidocaine has been the gold standard in local anesthetics for more than 50 years,” said George Kracke, PhD, associate professor of anesthesiology and perioperative medicine at the MU School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “While lidocaine is effective as a short-term painkiller, its effects wear off quickly. We developed a new compound that can quickly provide longer lasting relief. This type of painkiller could be beneficial in treating sports injuries or in joint replacement procedures.”

Painkillers work by interfering with the nervous system’s transmission of nerve signals that the body perceives as pain. Lidocaine is used as an injectable pain reliever in minor surgical or dental procedures, or as a topical ointment or spray to relieve itching, burning and pain from shingles, sunburns, jellyfish stings and insect bites. The new compound developed at MU, boronicaine, could potentially serve many of those same functions as an injectable or topical painkiller.
National Academy of Sciences member M. Frederick Hawthorne, PhD, director of MU’s International Institute of Nano and Molecular Medicine and a pioneer in the field of boron chemistry, synthesized boronicaine as a derivative of lidocaine. By changing aspects of the chemical structure of lidocaine, the researchers found that the new compound provided pain relief that lasted five times longer than lidocaine.
Boronicaine could have distinct advantages over existing painkilling medications,” said Hawthorne, who also serves as the Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Radiology at MU. “We’re conducting more research into the side effects of the compound, but in time it could very well become a useful material to use as an anesthetic.”
The research was recently published in the medicinal chemistry journal ChemMedChem.
Source: http://medicine.missouri.edu/

Super Repellant Paint

Watching paint dry isn’t everyone’s idea of fun. But for University College London (UCL) researcher Yao Lu, the super water repellant properties of this paint could lead to new tough, self-cleaning surfaces. Yao says the chemistry was inspired by nature, such as the water repelling properties of lotus leaves.
hydrophobic coatingCLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE VIDEO
I am quite interested in self-cleaning coatings in nature, such as plants. We put water on superhydrophobic plants, water wouldn’t wet them. Instead the water will form drops and then roll off or just bounce away and leave the surface dry and clean,” Yao Lu says.

Superhydrophobic surfaces aren’t anything new, but the researchers at UCL have devised a way to make them extra tough. Professor of Inorganic Chemistry Claire Carmalt (pron. Car-Malt) says adding an adhesive renders the paint effective even after being scratched, scuffed or exposed to oil.
I think the improvement is the fact that we get this very resistant coating, so generally these superhydrophobic coatings are very mechanically weak, so can be easily rubbed off over time, whereas by applying this spray adhesive we’ve managed to get very resistant coatings that are resistant to, as I say, rubbing or scratching and with sandpaper and so on.“, explains Claire Carmalt.
The surface of the paint is rough, rather than smooth, thanks to two different sizes of titanium dioxide nanoparticles. Adding a hydrophobic chemical called fluorosilane makes the surface waxy. The effect is that water forms near spherical droplets that pick up dirt as they roll off – acting like a miniature vacuum. Such a paint could be applied to a variety of surfaces; including clothes, paper, glass and steel. The team say it could easily be scaled up for industrial use, such as a paint for cars. The self-cleaning properties, they say, could even be used in antimicrobial coatings to combat hospital infections.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Solar Cell: How To Boost Perovskites Performance

One of the fastest-growing areas of solar energy research is with materials called perovskites. These promising light harvesters could revolutionize the solar and electronics industries because they show potential to convert sunlight into electricity more efficiently and less expensively than today’s silicon-based semiconductors. These superefficient crystal structures have taken the scientific community by storm in the past few years because they can be processed very inexpensively and can be used in applications ranging from solar cells to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) found in phones and computer monitors.
A new study published online in the journal Science by University of Washington (UW) and University of Oxford researchers demonstrates that perovskite materials, generally believed to be uniform in composition, actually contain flaws that can be engineered to improve solar devices even further.
peroskite solar cell
Perovskites are the fastest-growing class of photovoltaic material over the past four years,” said lead author Dane deQuilettes, a UW doctoral student working with David Ginger, professor of chemistry and associate director of the UW Clean Energy Institute.

In that short amount of time, the ability of these materials to convert sunlight directly into electricity is approaching that of today’s silicon-based solar cells, rivaling technology that took 50 years to develop,” deQuilettes said. “But we also suspect there is room for improvement.”

Perovskite solar cells have so far have achieved efficiencies of roughly 20 percent, compared to about 25 percent for silicon-based solar cells. The team found “dark” or poorly performing regions of the perovskite material at intersections of the crystals. In addition, they discovered that they could “turn on” some of the dark areas by using a simple chemical treatment.
Source: http://www.washington.edu/

Energy Storage for a Sustainable Home

The electric car maker Tesla has devised a new electric home battery, the PowerWall. Current generation home batteries are bulky, expensive to install and expensive to maintain. In contrast, Powerwall’s lithium ion battery inherits Tesla’s proven automotive battery technology to power your home safely and economically. Completely automated, it installs easily and requires no maintenance. The home battery charges using electricity generated from solar panels, or when utility rates are low, and powers your home in the evening. It also fortifies your home against power outages by providing a backup electricity supply. Automated, compact and simple to install, Powerwall offers independence from the utility grid and the security of an emergency backup.
Tesla PowerWall
Solar Powered Day and Night
The average home uses more electricity in the morning and evening than during the day when solar energy is plentiful. Without a home battery, excess solar energy is often sold to the power company and purchased back in the evening. This mismatch adds demand on power plants and increases carbon emissions. Powerwall bridges this gap between renewable energy supply and demand by making your home’s solar energy available to you when you need it.

Powerwall comes in 10 kWh weekly cycle and 7 kWh daily cycle models. Both are guaranteed for ten years and are sufficient to power most homes during peak evening hours. Multiple batteries may be installed together for homes with greater energy need, up to 90 kWh total for the 10 kWh battery and 63 kWh total for the 7 kWh battery.
Common household electricity consumption: Flat Screen TV, 0.1 kWh /hr. Lights Per Room, 0.1 kWh /hr. Laptop, 0.05 kWh /hr. Refrigerator, 4.8 kWh /day. Clothes Washer: 2.3 kWh each use. Clothes Dryer: 3.3 kWh each use.
Source: http://www.teslamotors.com/

Run A Car With Water And Air

The German automaker Audi announced it has created the first batch of liquid “e-diesel” at a research facility in Dresden. The clear fuel is produced through a “power to liquid” process, masterminded by the German clean tech company and Audi partner Sunfire.

The process uses carbon dioxide, the most common greenhouse gas, which can be captured directly from air. Carbon dioxide is created largely by burning fossil fuels and contributes to global warming. Now Sunfire said it can recycle the gas to make a more efficient, carbon-neutral fuel.
Unlike conventional fossil fuels, the “e-diesel” doesn’t contain sulphur and other contaminants.
audi e-diesel
The engine runs quieter and fewer pollutants are being created,” Sunfire‘s Christian von Olshausen said.
The fuel is produced in three steps. First, the researchers heat up steam to very high temperatures to break it down into hydrogen and oxygen. This process requires temperatures of over 800 degrees Celsius (1,472 Fahrenheit) and is powered by green energy such as solar or wind power.
Second, they mix the hydrogen with carbon dioxide under pressure and at high temperature to create so-called blue crude. Lastly, the blue crude is refined into fuels in a similar way fossil crude oil is refined into gasoline.
Audi (AUDVF) said its lab tests have shown the “e-diesel” can be mixed with fossil fuels or used as a fuel on its own.
At this stage the e-diesel cost 40 % more than the regular gasoline per liter to produce.
Source: http://www.sunfire.de/
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http://money.cnn.com/

3D Hologram From Pop-Up Floating Display

Moving holograms like those used in 3D science fiction movies such as Avatar and Elysium have to date only been seen in their full glory by viewers wearing special glasses.
Now researchers at Swinburne University of Technology (Australia) have shown the capacity of a technique using graphene oxide and complex laser physics to create a pop-up floating display without the need for 3D glasses. Graphene is a two dimensional carbon material with extraordinary electronic and optical properties that offers a new material platform for next-generation nanophototonic devices.

Through a photonic process without involving heat or a change in temperature, the researchers were able to create nanoscale pixels of refractive index – the measure of the bending of light as it passes through a medium – of reduced graphene oxide. This is crucial for the subsequent recording of the individual pixels for holograms and hence naked eye 3D viewing.
3D graphene
If you can change the refractive index you can create lots of optical effects,” Director of Swinburne’s Centre for Micro-Photonics, Professor Min Gu, said.
Our technique can be leveraged to achieve compact and versatile optical components for controlling light. We can create the wide angle display necessary for mobile phones and tablets.

Source: http://www.nature.com/

Use Your Smartphone To Analyze DNA

Fluorescence microscopes use technology that enables them to accomplish tasks not easy to achieve with normal light microscopes, including imaging DNA molecules to detect and diagnose cancer, nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, and drug resistance in infectious diseases.These microscopes work by labeling the samples with fluorescent molecules that are “excited” with a laser. This process gives off different colored light that the microscope detects and uses to build images of fluorescently labeled samples, visualizing objects that are 100 to 1000 times smaller than the diameter of human hair. These fluorescent microscopes are expensive, bulky and relatively complicated, typically making them available only in high-tech laboratories.

Now researchers from UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have reported the first demonstration of imaging and measuring the size of individual DNA molecules using a lightweight and compact device that converts an ordinary smartphone into an advanced fluorescence microscope. Led by Aydogan Ozcan, associate director of the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute , the research team will present the device from 16:30 – 18:30, Thursday, 14 May 2015, in meeting room 212 A/C, San Jose Convention Center, San Jose, California, USA.
DNA analyzer
The mobile microscopy unit is an inexpensive, 3-D-printed optical device that uses the phone’s camera to visualize and measure the length of single-molecule DNA strands. The device includes an attachment that creates a high-contrast, dark-field imaging set-up using an inexpensive external lens, thin-film interference filters, a miniature dovetail stage and a laser diode that excites the fluorescently labeled DNA molecules. The device also includes an app that connects the smartphone to a server at UCLA, which measures the lengths of the individual DNA molecules. The molecules are labeled and stretched on disposable chips that fit in the smartphone attachment. The application transmits the raw images to the server, which rapidly measures the length of each DNA strand. The results of DNA detection and length measurement can be seen on the mobile phone and on remote computers linked to the UCLA server.

The ability to translate these and other existing microscopy and sensing techniques to field-portable, cost-effective and high-throughput instruments can make possible myriad new applications for point-of-care medicine and global health,” said Ozcan, who is also an HHMI Professor with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. He went on to say that these devices could have far-reaching positive impact on research and educational efforts in developing countries or resource-limited institutions, helping democratize advanced scientific instruments and measurement tools.

Media Registration: A media room for credentialed press and analysts will be located on-site in the San Jose Convention Center, 11-14 May 2015. Media interested in attending the event should register on the CLEO website media center.

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

Motorbike Runs On Its Own Generated Energy

Mexican students in Oaxaca City design a motorbike that runs on its own generated energy, without using any combustion. They say their prototype model is a breakthrough invention for eco-friendly motorbikes. What if you could harvest the energy of a moving vehicle to continue to power it? That is the question asked by students of this technical high school college in Oaxaca, Mexico, one year ago. It resulted in this prototype motorcycle called R-Walker created by 17-year-old Victor Garcia.
R-Walker
The project is a prototype that generates its own energy as it goes along: As it goes faster and covers longer distances, it generates more energy. In that way, you don’t have to charge the battery every 6-8 hours,” says Garcia. He calls the process “auto-sustainability.” It’s based on the principle of converting energy through speed and distance travelled; the engine becomes self-sustaining, generating more than 2,000 revolutions per minute. A battery is used to spark ignition, and afterwards without using any combustion the vehicle can carry up to 110 kilograms and travel at more than 60 kilometers per hour.

Co-designer Raul Grajales said R-Walker could bring huge savings for motorcycle users, as well as the environment. “With this, we have reduced the use of 200 batteries a day and seventy percent of pollution, because it does not contaminate and has zero emissions and we use one battery every 5-10 years“, assures Grajales. They built the eco-friendly motorbike from recycled materials, bringing its final price tag to around $200 – a comparatively small sum when considering its potential benefits.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Brain Waves Command Drones Flight

Researchers demonstrate technology that allows unmanned aircraft to be controlled from the ground using only signals from the pilot’s brain.
An impressive example of mind control – a drone in the air, flown using the power of human thought. Portuguese tech company Tekever uses a special EEG cap to turn pilot’s brainwaves into commands for the drone. CEO Pedro Sinogas explains. “The brain approach that Tekever is using is based on collecting the signals from the brain, then a set of algorithms process all the brain signals and transform them into actual controls to multiple devices,” says Sinoga.
brain wavesWhile the pilot controls the drone’s flight path Tekever‘s researchers determine the mission before take-off. Tekever‘s Chief Operations Officer Ricardo Mendes is keen to apply the technology to commercial aviation – although this could take a while. “What we want to do is to get the technology more mature, prove it on the ground, work with the authorities to bring it to the aerospace and to the aviation world and that will take something like 10 years probably.” he says. And the Brainflight technology could have uses beyond flying. “If you have this technology available to you, you can enter your home and connect and disconnect devices with your mind or if you are a disabled person, for example you would be able to control your wheelchair by only using your mind, that’s our goal,” Mendes adds.Tekever engineers say their project will eventually allow pilots to free up their brains and bodies while flying a plane. In the future, pilotless planes could be more than just a flight of fancy.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

How To Heal Diabetic Skin Wounds

A new high-tech but simple ointment applied to the skin may one day help diabetic patients heal stubborn and painful ulcers on their feet, Northwestern University researchers report.

Scientist and dermatologist Amy S. Paller and chemist Chad A. Mirkin are the first to develop a topical gene regulation technology that speeds the healing of ulcers in diabetic animals. They combined spherical nucleic acids (SNAs, which are nanoscale globular forms of RNA) with a common commercial moisturizer to create a way to topically knock down a gene known to interfere with wound healing.

Type 2 diabetes and its enormous associated costs are on the rise in the United States. More than one-fifth of the 27 million type 2 diabetics in the country have chronic, non-healing skin wounds, and many undergo amputation. The Northwestern discovery offers a possible solution to this serious problem.
northwestern
Finding a new way to effectively heal these resistant diabetic wounds is very exciting,” said Dr. Paller, director of Northwestern’s Skin Disease Research Center. “But, in addition, this study further proved that SNAs — in nothing but common moisturizer — can penetrate the skin barrier, a challenge that other therapies have been unable to conquer.

Source: http://www.northwestern.edu/

Clean Your Teeth With Ions Instead Of Toothpaste

Japanese designer Kosho Ueshima has designed a nanotech toothbrush that cleans your teeth without toothpaste. The Misoka toothbrush, created in collaboration with Osaka technology company Yumeshokunin (Japan), features bristles coated in nano-sized mineral ions measuring one billionth of a metre in diameter. The ions pass from the bristles to the teeth during brushing, removing stains and forming a protective coating on the enamel.
toothbrush-cleans-your-teeth-with-nanotechnology
The toothbrush features bristles that measure just 0.178 millimetres in thickness, and which are tapered at the ends. This allows them to clean in the gaps between the teeth.

Even without toothpaste, your teeth stay as shiny and clean as though you just walked out of a teeth-cleaning session at the dentist’s,” said the designers.

Source: http://www.dezeen.com/

Nanoparticle Drug Reverses Parkinson’s

As baby boomers age, the number of people diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease is expected to increase. Patients who develop this disease usually start experiencing symptoms around age 60 or older. Currently, there?s no cure, but scientists are reporting a novel approach that reversed Parkinson’s-like symptoms in rats. Their results, published in the journal ACS Nano, could one day lead to a new therapy for human patients.
parkinson's
Rajnish Kumar Chaturvedi, Kavita Seth, Kailash Chand Gupta and colleagues from the CSIRIndian Institute of Toxicology Research note that among other issues, people with Parkinson’s lack dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a chemical messenger that helps nerve cells communicate with each other and is involved in normal body movements. Reduced levels cause the shaking and mobility problems associated with Parkinson’s. Symptoms can be relieved in animal models of the disease by infusing the compound into their brains. But researchers haven’t yet figured out how to safely deliver dopamine directly to the human brain, which is protected by something called the blood-brain barrier that keeps out pathogens, as well as many medicines.
The researchers packaged dopamine in biodegradable nanoparticles that have been used to deliver other therapeutic drugs to the brain. The resulting nanoparticles successfully crossed the blood-brain barrier in rats, released its dopamine payload over several days and reversed the rodents’ movement problems without causing side effects.

Source: http://www.acs.org/

EV: A Thin Film That Produces Oxygen and Hydrogen

A cobalt-based thin film serves double duty as a new catalyst that produces both hydrogen and oxygen from water to feed fuel cells, according to scientists at Rice University. This discovery may lower the cost of future hydrogen electric car.  The inexpensive, highly porous material invented by the Rice lab of chemist James Tour may have advantages as a catalyst for the production of hydrogen via water electrolysis. A single film far thinner than a hair can be used as both the anode and cathode in an electrolysis device.

The researchers led by Rice postdoctoral researcher Yang Yang reported their discovery  in Advanced Materials.

They determined their cobalt film is much better at producing hydrogen than most state-of-the-art materials and is competitive with (and much cheaper than) commercial platinum catalysts. They reported the catalyst also produced an oxygen evolution reaction comparable to current materials.

CATALYST

A side view of a porous cobalt phosphide/phosphate thin film created at Rice University. The robust film could replace expensive metals like platinum in water-electrolysis devices that produce hydrogen and oxygen for fuel cells. The scale bar equals 500 nanometers.

It is amazing that in water-splitting, the same material can make both hydrogen and oxygen,” Tour said. “Usually materials make one or the other, but not both.”

The researchers suggested applying alternating current from wind or solar energy sources to cobalt-based electrolysis could be an environmentally friendly source of hydrogen and oxygen.

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

Androids Interpret Real Humans Expressions

Meet Han, a humanoid robot that can smile, frown, wink, or even act drunk, all at the push of a button. Wowing crowds at an electronics fair in Hong Kong, Han’s myriad of facial expressions are controlled by 40 motors. These are covered with a unique human-like skin called “Frubber,” short for “Flesh Rubber“. The ultra-realistic android can also recognise and interpret the expressions of real humans it comes into contact with.

robot Han

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So he has cameras on his eyes and on his chest, which allow him to recognize people’s face, not only that, but recognize their gender, their age, whether they are happy or sad,” says Grace Copplestone, Product Manager of  Hanson Robotics.  

Han is even able to hold simple conversations thanks to voice recognition software.  “I think you are perfect man for my wife.” said a visitor and  Han answered : “I don’t have to do whatever you say. I have my own free will.

Hanson Robotics says human-like robots could serve a range of functions, especially where face-to-face communication is important. These include behind hotel reception desks and in entertainment venues such as museums and casinos. They also see the technology helping with medical training and as interactive care robots for the elderly. “We believe a human face on a robot makes it far more approachable, and efficient, and effective in caring for older people,” comments Copplestone. Han, however, won’t be the robot to get the job. Instead, the technology is being commercialised on ‘Eva‘ – a more approachable female robot – with plans to produce hundreds of models this year.

Source: http://www.hansonrobotics.com/
AND
http://www.reuters.com/

Solar Power From Space

Collecting solar energy to convert to electricity is not a new concept. However, there are significant advantages to space solar power compared to ground solar power. Solar energy in space is seven times greater per unit area than on the ground. The collection of solar space energy is not disrupted by nightfall and inclement weather, thus avoiding the need for expensive energy storage.

Now  researchers from the University of Waterloo in Canada report a novel design for electromagnetic energy harvesting based on the “full absorption concept.” This involves the use of metamaterials that can be tailored to produce media that neither reflects nor transmits any power—enabling full absorption of incident waves at a specific range of frequencies and polarizations.

SpaceSolarStation

The growing demand for electrical energy around the globe is the main factor driving our research,” said Thamer Almoneef, a Ph.D. student. “More than 80 percent of our energy today comes from burning fossil fuels, which is both harmful to our environment and unsustainable as well. In our group, we’re trying to help solve the energy crisis by improving the efficiency of electromagnetic energy-harvesting systems.”

Since the inception of collecting and harvesting electromagnetic energy, classical dipole patch antennas have been used. “Now, our technology introduces ‘metasurfaces’ that are much better energy collectors than classical antennas,” explained Omar M. Ramahi, professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Metasurfaces are formed by etching the surface of a material with an elegant pattern of periodic shapes. The particular dimensions of these patterns and their proximity to each other can be tuned to provide “near-unity” energy absorption. This energy is then channeled to a load through a conducting path that connects the metasurface to a ground plane. The key significance of the researchers’ work is that it demonstrates for the first time that it’s possible to collect essentially all of the electromagnetic energy that falls onto a surface. Conventional antennas can channel electromagnetic energy to a load—but at much lower energy absorption efficiency levels,” said Ramahi. “We can also channel the absorbed energy into a load, rather than having the energy dissipate in the material as was done in previous works.

As you can imagine, this work has a broad range of applications. Among the most important is space solar power, an emerging critical technology that can significantly help to address energy shortages. It converts solar rays into microwaves—using conventional photovoltaic solar panels—and then beams the microwave’s energy to microwave collector farms at designated locations on Earth. Japan is way out in front of rest of the world in this realm, with plans to begin harvesting solar power from space by 2030.

Source: http://www.aip.org/

Super Bendable Screen

From smartphones and tablets to computer monitors and interactive TV screens, electronic displays are everywhere. As the demand for instant, constant communication grows, so too does the urgency for more convenient portable devices — especially devices, like computer displays, that can be easily rolled up and put away, rather than requiring a flat surface for storage and transportation. A new Tel Aviv University (TAU) study, published recently in Nature Nanotechnology, suggests that a novel DNA-peptide structure can be used to produce thin, transparent, and flexible screens. The research, conducted by Prof. Ehud Gazit and doctoral student Or Berger of the Department of Molecular Microbiology at TAU‘s Faculty of Life Sciences, harnesses bionanotechnology to emit a full range of colors in one pliable pixel layer — as opposed to the several rigid layers that constitute today’s screens.
flexiblescreens
Researchers tested different combinations of peptides: short protein fragments, embedded with DNA elements which facilitate the self-assembly of a unique molecular architecture. Peptides and DNA are two of the most basic building blocks of life. Each cell of every life form is composed of such building blocks. In the field of bionanotechnology, scientists utilize these building blocks to develop novel technologies with properties not available for inorganic materials such as plastic and metal.

Our material is light, organic, and environmentally friendly,” said Prof. Gazit. “It is flexible, and a single layer emits the same range of light that requires several layers today. By using only one layer, you can minimize production costs dramatically, which will lead to lower prices for consumers as well.”
Once we discovered the DNA-like organization, we tested the ability of the structures to bind to DNA-specific fluorescent dyes,” said Berger. “To our surprise, the control sample, with no added dye, emitted the same fluorescence as the variable. This proved that the organic structure is itself naturally fluorescent.“.
Source: https://www.aftau.org/

How To Clean Oil Spills For $1Per Square Foot

The unassuming piece of stainless steel mesh in a lab at The Ohio State University doesn’t look like a very big deal, but it could make a big difference for future environmental cleanups. Water passes through the mesh but oil doesn’t, thanks to a nearly invisible oil-repelling coating on its surface. In tests, researchers mixed water with oil and poured the mixture onto the mesh. The water filtered through the mesh to land in a beaker below. The oil collected on top of the mesh, and rolled off easily into a separate beaker when the mesh was tilted.
The mesh coating is among a suite of nature-inspired nanotechnologies under development at Ohio State and described in two papers in the journal Nature Scientific Reports. Potential applications range from cleaning oil spills to tracking oil deposits underground.

mesh captures oil
If you scale this up, you could potentially catch an oil spill with a net,” said Bharat Bhushan, Ohio Eminent Scholar and Howard D. Winbigler Professor of mechanical engineering at Ohio State.

The work was partly inspired by lotus leaves, whose bumpy surfaces naturally repel water but not oil. To create a coating that did the opposite, Bhushan and postdoctoral researcher Philip Brown chose to cover a bumpy surface with a polymer embedded with molecules of surfactant — the stuff that gives cleaning power to soap and detergent. They sprayed a fine dusting of silica nanoparticles onto the stainless steel mesh to create a randomly bumpy surface and layered the polymer and surfactant on top.
The silica, surfactant, polymer, and stainless steel are all non-toxic and relatively inexpensive, said Brown. He estimated that a larger mesh net could be created for less than a dollar per square foot.

Source: https://news.osu.edu/

Discovery Of Two Proteins That Suppress Cancer

A new study by researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology could hold one key to control cancer cell growth and development. In a paper published in the April 9, 2015 edition of CELL, the team conducted by Profesor Aron Ciechanover reports on the discovery of two cancer-suppressing proteins.

The heretofore-undiscovered proteins were found during ongoing research on the ubiquitin system, an important and vital pathway in the life of the cell, which is responsible for the degradation of defective proteins that could damage the cell if not removed. The ubiquitin system tags these proteins and sends them for destruction in the cellular complex known as the proteasome. The system also removes functional and healthy proteins that are not needed anymore, thereby regulating the processes that these strong>proteins control.

Usually, the proteins that reach the proteasome are completely broken down, but there are some exceptions, and the current line of research examined p105, a long precursor of a key regulator in the cell called NF-κB. It turns out that p105 can be broken down completely in certain cases following its tagging by ubiquitin, but in other cases it is only cut and shortened and becomes a protein called p50.
Ubiquitin-MoleculeThe ubiquitin molecule within all living cells

NF-κB has been identified as a link between inflammation and cancer. The hypothesis of the connection between inflammatory processes and cancer was first suggested in 1863 by German pathologist Rudolph Virchow, and has been confirmed over the years in a long series of studies. Ever since the discovery (nearly 30 years ago) of NF-κB, numerous articles have been published linking it to malignant transformation. It is involved in tumors of various organs (prostate, breast, lung, head and neck, large intestine, brain, etc.) in several parallel ways, including: inhibition of apoptosis (programmed cell death) normally eliminates transformed cells; acceleration of uncontrolled division of cancer cells; formation of new blood vessels (angiogenesis), which are vital to tumor growth; and increased resistance of cancerous cells to irradiation and chemotherapy.
The research was conducted in the laboratory of Distinguished Professor Aaron Ciechanover, of the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine. The team was led by research associate Dr. Yelena Kravtsova-Ivantsiv and , included additional research students and colleagues, as well as physicians from the Rambam, Carmel and Hadassah Medical Centers, who are studying tumors and their treatment.
Source: http://www.technion.ac.il/
AND
http://www.cell.com/

How To convert Your Waste Heat Into Electricity

A mathematical model of heat flow through miniature wires could help develop thermoelectric devices that efficiently convert heat — even their own waste heat — into electricity.

Developed at A*STAR (Singapore), the model describes the movement of vibrations called phonons, which are responsible for carrying heat in insulating materials. Phonons typically move in straight lines in nanowires — threads barely a few atoms wide. Previous calculations suggested that if parts of a nanowire contained random arrangements of two different types of atoms, phonons would be stopped in their tracks. In actual alloy nanowires, though, atoms of the same element might cluster together to form short sections composed of the same elements.

phononsPhonons (vibrations) are typically responsible for carrying heat along a nanowire. A*STAR researchers have used a numerical model to calculate the effects of short-range ordering on phonon behaviour.

Now, Zhun-Yong Ong and Gang Zhang of the A*STAR Institute of High Performance Computing in Singapore have calculated the effects of such short-range order on the behavior of phonons1. Their results suggest that heat conduction in a nanowire does not just depend on the relative concentrations of the alloy atoms and the difference in their masses; it also depends on how the atoms are distributed.

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

New Electric Car Is Powered By Saltwater

What if the future of the car industry is the saltwater? Prof. Jens Ellermann, President of the Board of Directors of the company nanoFlowcell AG , has presented 2 cars powered by saltwater at the Motor Show in Geneva. With the QUANT F and the QUANTiNO, the company based in Liechtenstein has provoked a huge curiosity with the QUANT product family powered by nanoFlowcell.
In the same time in the United States, GE Global Research is working on flow batteries, in collaboration with Berkeley Lab.

quant FThe Quant F car claimed 370 miles on a charge, zero to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds, and a top speed of 218 mph. Under the hood were four three-phase electric motors and in place of a fuel cell or conventional battery was an experimental salt water flow battery.
Flow cell technology has finally become instilled in the automobile industry’s collective consciousness” says Ellerman.
The GE/Berkeley team is developing a water-based, flow battery capable of more than just traditional, stationary energy storage. The chemistries GE scientists are developing will enable a flow battery that derives its power from a novel electrochemical reaction that all resides safely in a bath of water.
The proposed flow battery uses water-based solutions of inorganic chemicals that are capable of transferring more than one electron, providing high-energy density. Discharge and recharge of such flow batteries occur in electrochemical cells separated from energy storing tanks, which makes them safer.
The new battery could be just one-fourth the cost of comparable car batteries on the market today and have a driving range of 240 miles. That’s three times the current range. The GE/Berkeley team is working on an ARPA-E RANGE project to develop affordable energy storage solutions.
In addition to offering significant advantages in terms of cost and range, the flow battery GE is researching would offer safety improvements over batteries used in cars today, and could be easily integrated into current car designs; both stated goals of ARPA-E’s RANGE program.
Source: http://www.geglobalresearch.com/
AND
http://www.nanoflowcell.com/

Mimicking Nature’s Tiniest Patterns

Our world is full of patterns, from the twist of a DNA molecule to the spiral of the Milky Way. New research from Carnegie Mellon (CMU) chemists has revealed that tiny, synthetic gold nanoparticles exhibit some of nature’s most intricate patterns.
Unveiling the kaleidoscope of these patterns was a Herculean task, and it marks the first time that a nanoparticle of this size has been crystallized and its structure mapped out atom by atom.
gold nanoparticle structure
The x-ray crystallographic structure of the gold nanoparticle is shown.
Gold atoms = magenta;
sulfur atoms = yellow;
carbon atoms = gray;
hydrogen atoms = white.

As you broadly think about different research areas or even our everyday lives, these kinds of patterns, these hierarchical patterns, are universal,” said Rongchao Jin, associate professor of chemistry. “Our universe is really beautiful and when you see this kind of information in something as small as a 133-atom nanoparticle and as big as the Milky Way, it’s really amazing.”
Gold nanoparticles, which can vary in size from 1 to 100 nanometers, are a promising technology that has applications in a wide range of fields including catalysis, electronics, materials science and health care. But, in order to use gold nanoparticles in practical applications, scientists must first understand the tiny particles’ structure.
Structure essentially determines the particle’s properties, so without knowing the structure, you wouldn’t be able to understand the properties and you wouldn’t be able to functionalize them for specific applications,” said Jin, an expert in creating atomically precise gold nanoparticles.
With this latest research, Jin and his colleagues, including graduate student Chenjie Zeng, have solved the structure of a nanoparticle, Au133, made up of 133 gold atoms and 52 surface-protecting molecules — the biggest nanoparticle structure ever resolved with X-ray crystallography.
The researchers report their work in the March 20 issue of Science Advances.
Source: http://www.cmu.edu/

Liquid-Metal Alloys For “Soft Robots”

New research shows how inkjet-printing technology can be used to mass-produce electronic circuits made of liquid-metal alloys for “soft robots” and flexible electronics. Elastic technologies could make possible a new class of pliable robots and stretchable garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes. However, new manufacturing techniques must be developed before soft machines become commercially feasible, said Rebecca Kramer, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.
liquid robot
“We want to create stretchable electronics that might be compatible with soft machines, such as robots that need to squeeze through small spaces, or wearable technologies that aren’t restrictive of motion,” she said. “Conductors made from liquid metal can stretch and deform without breaking.

A new potential manufacturing approach focuses on harnessing inkjet printing to create devices made of liquid alloys.

inkjet pritingThis artistic rendering depicts electronic devices created using a new inkjet-printing technology to produce circuits made of liquid-metal alloys for “soft robots” and flexible electronics. Elastic technologies could make possible a new class of pliable robots and stretchable garments that people might wear to interact with computers or for therapeutic purposes.

This process now allows us to print flexible and stretchable conductors onto anything, including elastic materials and fabrics,” Kramer said.

Liquid metal in its native form is not inkjet-able,” he underscores. “So what we do is create liquid metal nanoparticles that are small enough to pass through an inkjet nozzle“.

After printing, the nanoparticles must be rejoined by applying light pressure, which renders the material conductive.
A research paper about the method will appear on April 18 in the journal Advanced Materials.
Source: http://www.purdue.edu/

Body Armour: Non-Newtonian Liquid Better Than Kevlar

A liquid could change the way future body armour is made. Manufacturers Moratex (Poland) remain tightlipped about the Shear Thickening Fluid‘s ingredients. But when fitted in a vest it stops bullets fired at 450 metres per second…and prevents the often lethal ricochets that can occur whilst wearing similar protection.
moratex
Even in cases when there is no penetration through the protective layer, the user can lose their life, or be badly injured. Thanks to the liquid’s properties, we eliminate one hundred percent of this threat because we’ve reduced the deflection from four centimetres to one centimetre,” says Marcin Struszczyk, deputy research director at Moratex, the Polish institute which created it.
It’s a non-Newtonian liquid, meaning it doesn’t dissipate when struck at force. Instead the liquid hardens, dispersing energy over a large area.
This liquid is different from others in that its viscosity changes with the increase in applied force. This viscosity increases thanks to the subordination of the particles in the liquid structure. Therefore they form a barrier against an external penetrating factor“, underscores project co-ordinator Karolina Olszewska.
Moratex say the liquid-based solution is safer than traditional, mostly Kevlar-based, creations. Ballistic tests proved its resistance to a wide range of projectiles. Moratex say it won’t be long before police and military forces can purchase their liquid-based product. Other possible uses for the fluid include sportswear, car bumpers, and road barriers.

Source: http://www.moratex.eu/
AND
http://www.reuters.com/

1$ Cancer Test Provides Result in 3 minutes

The simple test developed by University of Central Florida (UCF) scientist Qun “Treen” Huo holds the promise of earlier detection of one of the deadliest cancers among men, the prostate cancer. It would also reduce the number of unnecessary and invasive biopsies stemming from the less precise PSA test that’s now used.

It’s fantastic,” said Dr. Inoel Rivera, a urologic oncologist at Florida Hospital Cancer Institute, which collaborated with Huo on the recent pilot studies. “It’s a simple test. It’s much better than the test we have right now, which is the PSA, and it’s cost-effective.”
prostateCANCERcells
When a cancerous tumor begins to develop, the body mobilizes to produce antibodies. Huo’s test detects that immune response using gold nanoparticles about 10,000 times smaller than a freckle.

When a few drops of blood serum from a finger prick are mixed with the gold nanoparticles, certain cancer biomarkers cling to the surface of the tiny particles, increasing their size and causing them to clump together.

Among researchers, gold nanoparticles are known for their extraordinary efficiency at absorbing and scattering light. Huo and her team at UCF’s NanoScience Technology Center developed a technique known as nanoparticle-enabled dynamic light scattering assay (NanoDLSay) to measure the size of the particles by analyzing the light they throw off. That size reveals whether a patient has prostate cancer and how advanced it may be.

And although it uses gold, the test is cheap. A small bottle of nanoparticles suspended in water costs about $250, and contains enough for about 2,500 tests.

What’s different and unique about our technique is it’s a very simple process, and the material required for the test is less than $1,” Huo said. “And because it’s low-cost, we’re hoping most people can have this test in their doctor’s office. If we can catch this cancer in its early stages, the impact is going to be big.”
Huo also is researching her technique’s effectiveness as a screening tool for other tumors.

Potentially, we could have a universal screening test for cancer,” she said. “Our vision is to develop an array of blood tests for early detection and diagnosis of all major cancer types, and these blood tests are all based on the same technique and same procedure.”

The results of the pilot studies were published recently in ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
Source; http://today.ucf.edu/

How To Prevent Tooth Decay

Therapeutic agents intended to reduce dental plaque and prevent tooth decay are often removed by saliva and the act of swallowing before they can take effect. But a team of researchers has developed a way to keep the drugs from being washed away.
Dental plaque is made up of bacteria enmeshed in a sticky matrix of polymers — a polymeric matrix — that is firmly attached to teeth. The researchers, led by Danielle Benoit at the University of Rochester and Hyun Koo at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine, found a new way to deliver an antibacterial agent within the plaque, despite the presence of saliva.

dental-biofilm

We had two specific challenges,” said Benoit, an assistant professor of biomedical engineering. “We had to figure out how to deliver the anti-bacterial agent to the teeth and keep it there, and also how to release the agent into the targeted sites.

To deliver the agent—known as farnesol—to the targeted sites, the researchers created a spherical mass of particles, referred to as a nanoparticle carrier. They constructed the outer layer out of cationic — or positively charged—segments of the polymers. For inside the carrier, they secured the drug with hydrophobic and pH-responsive polymers.
The positively-charged outer layer of the carrier is able to stay in place at the surface of the teeth because the enamel is made up, in part, of HA (hydroxyapatite), which is negatively charged. Just as oppositely charged magnets are attracted to each other, the same is true of the nanoparticles and HA. Because teeth are coated with saliva, the researchers weren’t certain the nanoparticles would adhere. But not only did the particles stay in place, they were also able to bind with the polymeric matrix and stick to dental plaque.

Since the nanoparticles could bind both to saliva-coated teeth and within plaque, Benoit and colleagues used them to carry an anti-bacterial agent to the targeted sites. The researchers then needed to figure out how to effectively release the agent into the plaque. They find that the nanoparticles release the drug when exposed to cavity-causing eating habits.
The findings have been published in the journal ACS Nano.
Source: http://www.rochester.edu/

Laser Pen Seals And Heals Wounds

Not much has changed in the last 2,000 years when it comes to suturing together cuts and wounds. Even with microsurgery techniques, infection and permanent scarring remain major concerns. To minimize these dangers, doctors tried using a carbon dioxide laser to seal wounds, but without the ability to control the heat of the laser, the technique created even greater risks. Until now.
Using carbon dioxide lasers to seal wounds inside the body and out with a technique known as “laser welding,” a team of Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers have perfected a new device to heat body tissue in a precisely controlled manner. The work of the research team, headed by Prof. Abraham Katzir from TAU’s Applied Physics Group at Tel Aviv University, could change the way surgeons bond cuts on the surface of our skin and inside our bodies during surgery. With the new device, if the laser begins to overheat and risks burning the tissue, laser power is reduced, and if the temperature is too low to complete a closure, laser power in increased appropriately.

laser pen
Controlling the temperature of the laser is important. Over 65 degrees celsius and tissue is damaged. Below 50 degrees and the tissue is not bonded“.

But the researchers can now heat incisions to the optimal 60 degrees with the crucial addition of collagen. Opthalmic Surgeon David Versano says the result beats traditional methods. “We can get bonding to be probably much stronger than with sutures. We hope that the scarring will also be less than with sutures and eventually we get the safety of the procedure to be better,” he says. So far the team has tested their fibre on corneal incisions in eyes taken from pigs and cows, achieving a permanent, watertight bond with minimal tissue damage. In the future, the technique could be used for plastic surgery or microscopic repairs to internal blood vessels.
Source: http://www2.tau.ac.il/ AND  http://www.reuters.com/

3D Printed Homes Are The Future Of Construction

This Amsterdam building site is a little different. The Europe’s first 3D-printed house is being constructed here. It’s being made from a bio-plastic mix, containing 75 percent plant oil reinforced with microfibres. DUS Architects co-founder Hans Vermeulen says the house won’t be perfect, but an important staging post to a sustainable, eco-friendly, future for construction.
3D printed anal-house-by-DUS-Architects
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The building industry is a little bit more conservative at the moment but digitalisation can totally transform that industry into a more agile industry as well where you can actually share online and upgrade your neighbourhood online, and share world-wide good ideas and then send it to the machine“, he added.  Vermeulen calls traditional construction polluting and inefficient. 3D-printing homes will reduce waste and transportation costs, creating homes that can be taken down and reconstructed if the owners wants to leave town. He says the technology offers endless design possibilities. “Digital fabrication allows us and allows customers to tweak designs into their own personal needs,” he concluded. Last year Chinese firm WinSun displayed a five-storey apartment building it said it 3D-printed using recycled materials. But the technology remains in its infancy. Vermeulen’s 13-room complex should be ready by 2017.

Source: http://www.dusarchitects.com/

NanoRobots Cross The Blood-Brain Barrier

Magnetic nanoparticles can open the blood-brain barrier and deliver molecules directly to the brain, say researchers from the University of Montreal, Polytechnique Montréal, and CHU Sainte-Justine. This barrier runs inside almost all vessels in the brain and protects it from elements circulating in the blood that may be toxic to the brain. The research is important as currently 98% of therapeutic molecules are also unable to cross the blood-brain barrier.

aktive nervenzelle

The barrier is temporary opened at a desired location for approximately 2 hours by a small elevation of the temperature generated by the nanoparticles when exposed to a radio-frequency field,” explained first author and co-inventor Seyed Nasrollah Tabatabaei. “Our tests revealed that this technique is not associated with any inflammation of the brain. This new result could lead to a breakthrough in the way nanoparticles are used in the treatment and diagnosis of brain diseases,” explained the co-investigator, Hélène Girouard. “At the present time, surgery is the only way to treat patients with brain disorders. Moreover, while surgeons are able to operate to remove certain kinds of tumors, some disorders are located in the brain stem, amongst nerves, making surgery impossible,” added collaborator and senior author Anne-Sophie Carret.

The technology will be soon tested in humans and  the researchers are confident that future research will enable its use in people. “ This technology proposes a modern version of the vision described almost 40 years ago in the movie Fantastic Voyage, where a miniature submarine navigated in the vascular network to reach a specific region of the brain,” said principal investigator Sylvain Martel. In earlier research, Martel and his team had managed to manipulate the movement of nanoparticles through the body using the magnetic forces generated by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines.

Source: http://www.nouvelles.umontreal.ca/

Under Attack Robots Dance To Stay On Feet

It’s another day of abuse for this poor robot named Atrias. If not being kicked around, Atrias spends hours being pummelled by balls. But, remarkably, through the abuse, the robot stays on its feet. Unlike most bipedal robots which are designed to move like humans, researchers at Oregon State University modelled Atrias after a bird, creating what’s basically a robotic ostrich that conserves energy while maximizing agility and balance.
atrias CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENJOY THE ROBOT DANCE
Atrias is fitted with two constantly moving pogo stick-like legs made of carbon fiber. Fiberglass springs store the mechanical energy produced while the robot makes unsuccessful attempts to avoid the punishment it receives from its creators. The researchers say that with a few more tweaks, the robots bird-like design will allow it to become the fastest two-legged robot ever built.
Atrias is funded by the U.S. Defense Department’s research arm, DARPA, who hope the robot will one day be able to work in hazard zones too dangerous for humans. But until that day comes – Atrias will just have to keep on taking the abuse — all in the name of science.
Source: http://mime.oregonstate.edu/

Cheap Batteries For Hydrogen Electric Car

Electrochemical devices are crucial to a green energy revolution in which clean alternatives replace carbon-based fuels. This revolution requires conversion systems that produce hydrogen from water or rechargeable batteries that can store clean energy in cars. Now, Singapore-based researchers have developed improved catalysts as electrodes for efficient and more durable green energy devices.

Electrochemical devices such as batteries use chemical reactions to create and store energy. One of the cleanest reactions is the conversion from water into oxygen and hydrogen. Using energy from the sun, water can be converted into those two elements, which then store this solar energy in gaseous form. Burning hydrogen leads to a chemical explosion that produces water.

For technical applications, the conversion from hydrogen and oxygen into water is done in fuel cells, while some rechargeable batteries use chemical reactions based on oxygen to store and release energy. A crucial element for both types of devices is the cathode, which is the electrical contact where these reactions take place. The research team, which included Zhaolin Liu and colleagues from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering with colleagues from Nanyang Technological University and the National University of Singapore, combined nanometer-sized crystals of this material with sheets of carbon or carbon nanotubes.

oxyde-carbon compositesOxide/carbon composites could power green metal-air batteries

The cost is estimated to be tens of times cheaper than the platinum/carbon composites used at present,” says Liu. Because platinum is expensive, intensive efforts are being made to find alternative materials for batteries.

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

Smart Bandage

Engineers at UC Berkeley are developing a new type of bandage that does far more than stanch the bleeding from a paper cut or scraped knee.

Associate professor Michel Maharbiz explains how the smart bandage works to detect bedsores. (UC Berkeley video by Roxanne Makasdjian and Phil Ebiner)
Thanks to advances in flexible electronics, the researchers, in collaboration with colleagues at UC San Francisco, have created a new “smart bandage” that uses electrical currents to detect early tissue damage from pressure ulcers, or bedsores, before they can be seen by human eyes – and while recovery is still possible.
The researchers exploited the electrical changes that occur when a healthy cell starts dying. They tested the thin, non-invasive bandage on the skin of rats and found that the device was able to detect varying degrees of tissue damage consistently across multiple animals.

smartbandage The smart bandage is fabricated by printing gold electrodes onto a thin piece of plastic. This flexible sensor uses impedance spectroscopy to detect bedsores that are invisible to the naked eye
We set out to create a type of bandage that could detect bedsores as they are forming, before the damage reaches the surface of the skin,” said Michel Maharbiz, a UC Berkeley associate professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences and head of the smart-bandage project. “We can imagine this being carried by a nurse for spot-checking target areas on a patient, or it could be incorporated into a wound dressing to regularly monitor how it’s healing.
The findings, published in the journal Nature Communications, could provide a major boost to efforts to stem a health problem that affects an estimated 2.5 million U.S. residents at an annual cost of $11 billion.

Source: http://newscenter.berkeley.edu/

How To process Graphene To Produce Solar Cells

A new technique invented at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) to produce graphene — a material made up of an atom-thick layer of carbon, at room temperature, could help pave the way for commercially feasible graphene-based solar cells and light-emitting diodes, large-panel displays, and flexible electronics.

With this new technique, we can grow large sheets of electronic-grade graphene in much less time and at much lower temperatures,” says Caltech staff scientist David Boyd, who developed the method. Boyd is the first author of a new study, published in the journal Nature Communications, detailing the new manufacturing process and the novel properties of the graphene it produces.

graphene2014
Graphene revolutionizes a variety of engineering and scientific fields due to its unique properties, which include a tensile strength 200 times stronger than steel and an electrical mobility that is two to three orders of magnitude better than silicon. The electrical mobility of a material is a measure of how easily electrons can travel across its surface. However, achieving these properties on an industrially relevant scale has proven to be complicated. Existing techniques require temperatures that are much too hot — 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, or 1,000 degrees Celsius — for incorporating graphene fabrication with current electronic manufacturing. Additionally, high-temperature growth of graphene tends to induce large, uncontrollably distributed strain—deformation—in the material, which severely compromises its intrinsic properties.

Previously, people were only able to grow a few square millimeters of high-mobility graphene at a time, and it required very high temperatures, long periods of time, and many steps,” says Caltech physics professor Nai-Chang Yeh, the Fletcher Jones Foundation Co-Director of the Kavli Nanoscience Institute and the corresponding author of the new study. “Our new method can consistently produce high-mobility and nearly strain-free graphene in a single step in just a few minutes without high temperature. We have created sample sizes of a few square centimeters, and since we think that our method is scalable, we believe that we can grow sheets that are up to several square inches or larger, paving the way to realistic large-scale applications.”

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

Nanoparticles Destroy Acne

Acne, a scourge of adolescence, may be about to meet its ultra high-tech match. By using a combination of ultrasound, gold-covered particles and lasers, researchers from UC Santa Barbara (UCSB) and the private medical device company Sebacia have developed a targeted therapy that could potentially lessen the frequency and intensity of breakouts, relieving acne sufferers the discomfort and stress of dealing with severe and recurring pimples.

“Through this unique collaboration, we have essentially established the foundation of a novel therapy,” said Samir Mitragotri, professor of chemical engineering at UCSB.

The new technology builds on Mitragotri’s specialties in targeted therapy and transdermal drug delivery. Using low-frequency ultrasound, the therapy pushes gold-coated silica particles through the follicle into the sebaceous glands. Postdoctoral research associate Byeong Hee Hwang, now an assistant professor at Incheon National University, conducted research at UCSB.

Acne nanoparticleThe particles are delivered into the sebaceous gland by the ultrasound, and are heated by the laser. The heat deactivates the gland

The unique thing about these particles is that when you shine a laser on them, they efficiently convert light into heat via a process called surface plasmon resonance,” said Mitragotri. This also marks the first time ultrasound, which has been proved for years to deliver drugs through the skin, has been used to deliver the particles into humans.
Source: http://www.news.ucsb.edu/

How To Split Water At Low Cost To Produce Hydrogen

UNSW (Australia) scientists have developed a highly efficient oxygen-producing electrode for splitting water that has the potential to be scaled up for industrial production of clean energy fuel, hydrogen. This breaktrough is important for the future development of hydrogen electric cars (H mobil). The new technology is based on an inexpensive, specially coated foam material that lets the bubbles of oxygen escape quickly. Inefficient and costly oxygen-producing electrodes are one of the major barriers to the widespread commercial production of hydrogen by electrolysis, where the water is split into hydrogen and oxygen using an electrical current.

watersplitting Electrode

Our electrode is the most efficient oxygen-producing electrode in alkaline electrolytes reported to date, to the best of our knowledge,” says Associate Professor Chuan Zhao, of the UNSW School of Chemistry. “It is inexpensive, sturdy and simple to make, and can potentially be scaled up for industrial application of water splitting.”

The research, by Associate Professor Zhao and Dr Xunyu Lu, is published in the journal Nature Communications.

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

Electric Car Race: The Rise Of Formula E

Downtown Miami has been converted into a race track. Cement blocks, fencing and grandstands are all in place for the first electric car race ever held on U.S. soil. Miami is the fifth of ten cities around the world to host during the inaugural year of the Formula E Championship, a fully electric race car series. Teams of mechanics are preparing their electric cars for Saturday’s race. Mark Schneider from Team Audi ABT says Formula E is in many ways similar to Formula 1. The cars are fast, the suspense on race day is high, but instead of the roar of a gasoline powered engines, these electric cars let out a high pitched hum as they barrel down the track. Schneider says pits stop are a bit different as well.
mazda-kaan-electric-car2
We do a pit stops like other racing series but when formula 1 changes tires we change cars. So we have two cars for each driver and after roughly half an hour the driver gets into the pits, jumps out of the car, jumps into another car and goes out again“, says Mark Schneider. Each car is powered by a massive lithium ion battery that makes up a third of the cars overall weight. Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag says with time those batteries will become more efficient and smaller allowing them to power a single car for an entire race. He says the concept behind formula E is to drive research and development in the electric automotive space to new heights.

Formula 1, Indy Car, NASCAR are places where new technologies have been developed that then have been used on road cars and we want Formula E to be the place that happens for the electric car,” he noticed. Along with innovations on the track, Agag says he wants to attract young fans to Formula E by utilizing technology off the track as well. He says plans are in the works to develop an interactive virtual track that will allow people to compete on race day from their homes. He concludes: “So if you are a kid at home you can play with the virtual car, a shadow car, against the real racers in real time.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

How To Print Solar Cells Massively

Flexible optoelectronic devices that can be produced roll-to-roll – much like newspapers are printed – are a highly promising path to cheaper devices such as solar cells and LED lighting panels. Scientists from “TREASORES” European project present prototype flexible solar cell modules as well as novel silver-based transparent electrodes that outperform currently used materials.

printes solar cells
A flexible organic solar cell from TREASORES project undergoing mechanical testing: the cell is repeatedly flexed to a 25 mm radius whilst monitoring its performance. Such cells have shown lifetimes in excess of 4000 hours

In order to make solar energy widely affordable scientists and engineers all over the world are looking for low-cost production technologies. Flexible organic solar cells have a huge potential in this regard because they require only a minimum amount of (rather cheap) materials and can be manufactured in large quantities by roll-to-roll (R2R) processing. This requires, however, that the transparent electrodes, the barrier layers and even the entire devices be flexible. With these «ultra-flat» electrodes record efficiencies of up to 7% were obtained for organic solar cells using commercially available materials for light harvesting.
Source: http://www.empa.ch/

Electric Car: How To Increase the Batteries Life-Span

Drexel University (Philadephia) researchers, along with colleagues at Aix-Marseille University in France, have discovered a high performance cathode material with great promise for use in next generation lithium-sulfur batteries that could one day be used to power mobile devices and electric cars.

Lithium-sulfur batteries have recently become one of the hottest topics in the field of energy storage devices due to their high energy density — which is about four times higher than that of lithium-ion batteries currently used in mobile devices. One of the major challenges for the practical application of lithium-sulfur batteries is to find cathode materials that demonstrate long-term stability.

An international research collaboration led by Drexel’s Yury Gogotsi, PhD, professor in the College of Engineering and director of its Nanomaterials Research Group, has created a two-dimensional carbon/sulfur nanolaminate that could be a viable candidate for use as a lithium-sulfur cathode.
Tesla-Model-S One of the major challenges for the practical application of lithium-sulfur batteries is to find cathode materials that demonstrate long-term stability.

The carbon/sulfur nanolaminates synthesized by Gogotsi’s group demonstrate the same uniformity as the infiltrated carbon nanomaterials, but the sulfur in the nanolaminates is uniformly deposited in the carbon matrix as atomically thin layers and a strong covalent bonding between carbon and sulfur is observed. This may have a significant impact on increasing the life-span of next generation batteries.

In a paper they recently published in the chemistry journal Angewandte Chemie, Gogotsi, along with his colleagues at Aix-Marseille University explain their process for extracting the nanolaminate from a three-dimensional material called a Ti2SC MAX phase.
Source: http://drexel.edu

“Indolent” Or Deadly Prostate Cancer ?

A Northwestern University-led study in the emerging field of nanocytology could one day help men make better decisions about whether or not to undergo aggressive prostate cancer treatments.

Technology developed by Northwestern University researchers may help solve that quandary by allowing physicians to identify which nascent cancers are likely to escalate into potentially life-threatening malignancies and which ones will remainindolent,” or non-aggressive.

The prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test was once the recommended screening tool for detecting prostate cancer, but there is now disagreement over the use of this test because it can’t predict which men with elevated PSA levels will actually develop an aggressive form of the disease.
prostate cancer
If we can predict a prognosis with our technology, then men will know if their cancer is dangerous and if they should seek treatment,” said Vadim Backman, senior author of the study. “Right now there is no perfect tool to predict a prognosis for prostate cancer. Our research is preliminary, but it is promising and proves that the concept works.”

Backman is a professor of biomedical engineering at Northwestern’s McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science.

The study, which includes researchers from Northwestern, NorthShore University HealthSystem (NorthShore) and Boston Medical Center, was published online in PLOS ONE.
source: http://www.northwestern.edu/

Graphene Fights Cavities and Gum Disease

Dental diseases, which are caused by the overgrowth of certain bacteria in the mouth, are among the most common health problems in the world. Now scientists have discovered that a material called graphene oxide is effective at eliminating these bacteria, some of which have developed antibiotic resistance. They report the findings in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces.
smiling-girl
Zisheng Tang and colleagues at Shanghai Jiao Tong University point out that dentists often prescribe traditional antibiotics to get rid of bacteria that cause tooth decay or gum disease. But with the rise in antibiotic resistance, new approaches are needed to address these problems, which can lead to tooth loss. Previous studies have demonstrated that graphene oxide — carbon nanosheets studded with oxygen groups — is a promising material in biomedical applications. It can inhibit the growth of some bacterial strains with minimal harm to mammalian cells. Tang’s team wanted to see if the nanosheets would also stop the specific bacteria that cause dental diseases.

In the lab, the researchers tested the material against three different species of bacteria that are linked to tooth decay and gum disease. By destroying the bacterial cell walls and membranes, graphene oxide effectively slowed the growth of the pathogens. The researchers conclude that the nanosheets could have potential uses in dental care.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), oral health is essential to general health and quality of life.

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

Cell Reprogramming

In 1953 Watson and Crick first published the discovery of the double helix structure of the DNA. They were able to visualize the DNA structure by means of X-Ray diffraction. Techniques, such as electron microscopy, allowed scientists to identify nucleosomes, the first and most basic level of chromosome organisation. Until now it was known that our DNA is packaged by regular repeating units of those nucleosomes throughout the genome giving rise to chromatin. However, due to the lack of suitable techniques and instruments, the chromatin organisation inside a cell nucleus could not be observed in a non-invasive way with the sufficient resolution. Now, for the first time, a group of scientists at the Center for Genomic Regulation CRG and ICFO in Barcelona (Spain), have been able to visualise and even count the smallest units which, packaged together, form our genome. This study was possible thanks to the use of super-resolution microscopy, a new cutting-edge optical techniquethat received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2014. In combination with innovative quantitative approaches and numerical simulations, they were also able to define the genome architecture at the nano-scale. Most importantly, they found that the nucleosomes are assembled in irregular groups across the chromatin and nucleosome-free-DNA regions separate these groups.
Genome Sequencing

By using the STORM technique, a new super-resolution microscopy method, we have been able to view and even count nucleosomes across the chromatin fibers and determine their organisation. STORM overcomes the diffraction limit that normally restricts the spatial resolution of conventional microscopes and enables us to precisely define the chromatin fibre structure”, states Prof. Melike Lakadamyali, group leader at ICFO.This enabling technique allowed the researchers to go deeper and, by comparing stem cells to Differentiated cells (specialised cells that have already acquired their role), they observed key differences in the chromatin fibre architectures of both cells.

We found that stem cells have a different chromatin structure than somatic (specialised) cells. At the same time, this difference correlates with the level of pluripotency. The more pluripotent a cell is, the less dense is its packaging. It gives us new clues to understand the stem cells functioning and their genomic structure, which will be helpful for example, in studying cell reprogramming”, explains Pia Cosma, group leader and ICREA research professor at the CRG.
Source: http://www.crg.eu/en/

Boosted Lithium Sulfur Batteries For Electric Car

Lithium-sulfur batteries have been a hot topic in battery research because of their ability to produce up to 10 times more energy than conventional batteries, which means they hold great promise for applications in energy-demanding electric vehicles.
However, there have been fundamental road blocks to commercializing these sulfur batteries. One of the main problems is the tendency for lithium and sulfur reaction products, called lithium polysulfides, to dissolve in the battery’s electrolyte and travel to the opposite electrode permanently. This causes the battery’s capacity to decrease over its lifetime.
Researchers in the Bourns College of Engineering at the University of California, Riverside have investigated a strategy to prevent this “polysulfide shuttling” phenomenon by creating nano-sized sulfur particles, and coating them in silica (SiO2), otherwise known as glass.
Bourns College
Ph.D. students in Cengiz Ozkan’s and Mihri Ozkan ‘s research groups have been working on designing a cathode material in which silica cages “trap” polysulfides having a very thin shell of silica, and the particles’ polysulfide products now face a trapping barrier – a glass cage. The team used an organic precursor to construct the trapping barrier.

Our biggest challenge was to optimize the process to deposit SiO2 – not too thick, not too thin, about the thickness of a virus”, Mihri Ozkan said.
The work is outlined in the journal Nanoscale.
Source: http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/

Cloth That Produces Electricity

Fully flexible, foldable nanopatterned wearable triboelectric nanogenerator (WTNG) with high power-generating performance and mechanical robustness have been designed by researchers from the SKKU Advanced Institute of Nanotechnology (SAINT) (Korea). Triboelectric is an electrical charge produced by friction between two objects that are nonconductive. Very high voltage and current outputs with an average value of 170 V were obtained from a four-layer-stacked WTNG. The researchers created a novel tribo electric nano generator fabric out of a silvery textile coated with nanorods and a silicon-based organic material.
nanogenerator3
When they stacked four pieces of the cloth together and pushed down on the material, it captured the energy generated from the pressure. The material immediately pumped out that energy, which was used to power light-emitting diodes, a liquid crystal display and a vehicle’s keyless entry remote. The cloth worked for more than 12,000 cycles.

Source: http://pubs.acs.org/

Quantum Radar Can See The Invisible

A prototype quantum radar that has the potential to detect objects which are invisible to conventional systems has been developed by an international research team led by a quantum information scientist at the University of York (U.K.). The new breed of radar is a hybrid system that uses quantum correlation between microwave and optical beams to detect objects of low reflectivity such as cancer cells or aircraft with a stealth capability. Because the quantum radar operates at much lower energies than conventional systems, it has the long-term potential for a range of applications in biomedicine including non-invasive NMR scans.

radarA conventional radar antenna emits a microwave to scan a region of space. Any target object would reflect the signal to the source but objects of low reflectivity immersed in regions with high background noise are difficult to spot using classical radar systems. In contrast, quantum radars operate more effectively and exploit quantum entanglement to enhance their sensitivity to detect small signal reflections from very noisy regions.
Dr Stefano Pirandola, leader of the research team at the University’s Department of Computer Science said that while quantum radars were some way off, they would have superior performance especially at the low-photon regime.
Such a non-invasive property is particularly important for short-range biomedical applications. In the long-term, the scheme could be operated at short distances to detect the presence of defects in biological samples or human tissues in a completely non-invasive fashion, thanks to the use of a low number of quantum-correlated photons“.
“Our method could be used to develop non-invasive NMR spectroscopy of fragile proteins and nucleic acids. In medicine, these techniques could potentially be applied to magnetic resonance imaging, with the aim of reducing the radiation dose absorbed by patients.

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

Hybrid Patch Instead Of A Heart Transplant

Because heart cells cannot multiply and cardiac muscles contain few stem cells, heart tissue is unable to repair itself after a heart attack. Now Tel Aviv University (TAU) researchers are literally setting a new gold standard in cardiac tissue engineering.

Dr. Tal Dvir and his graduate student Michal Shevach of TAU‘s Department of Biotechnology, Department of Materials Science, and Center for Nanoscience , have been developing sophisticated micro- and nanotechnological tools — ranging in size from one millionth to one billionth of a meter — to develop functional substitutes for damaged heart tissues. Searching for innovative methods to restore heart function, especially cardiac “patches” that could be transplanted into the body to replace damaged heart tissue, Dr. Dvir literally struck gold. He and his team discovered that gold particles are able to increase the conductivity of biomaterials. In a study published by Nano Letters, Dr. Dvir’s team presented their model for a superior hybrid cardiac patch, which incorporates biomaterial harvested from patients and gold nanoparticles.

heart
Our goal was twofold,” said Dr. Dvir. “To engineer tissue that would not trigger an immune response in the patient, and to fabricate a functional patch not beset by signalling or conductivity problems.”
We now have to prove that these autologous hybrid cardiac patches improve heart function after heart attacks with minimal immune response,” said Dr. Dvir. “Then we plan to move it to large animals and after that, to clinical trials.
Source: http://www.aftau.org/

The First Nanomaterials Assembly Line

Researchers from ETH – Switzerland – have realised a long-held dream: inspired by an industrial assembly line, they have developed a nanoscale production line for the assembly of biological molecules. Cars, planes and many electronic products are now built with the help of sophisticated assembly lines. Mobile assembly carriers, on to which the objects are fixed, are an important part of these assembly lines. In the case of a car body, the assembly components are attached in various work stages arranged in a precise spatial and chronological sequence, resulting in a complete vehicle at the end of the line.

nano machine shop
On the nano assembly line, tiny biological tubes called microtubules serve as transporters for the assembly of several molecular objects
It would enable us to assemble new complex substances or materials for specific applications,” says Professor Viola Vogel, head of the Laboratory of Applied Mechanobiology at ETH Zurich. Vogel has been working on this ambitious project together with her team and has recently made an important step. In a paper published in the latest issue of the Royal Society of Chemistry’s Lab on a Chip journal, the ETH researchers presented a molecular assembly line featuring all the elements of a conventional production line: a mobile assembly carrier, an assembly object, assembly components attached at various assembly stations and a motor (including fuel) for the assembly carrier to transport the object from one assembly station to the next.
Source: https://www.ethz.ch/

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/

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/

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

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/