Quantum Radar Can See The Invisble

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/

New Cheap Catalyst For Hydrogen Electric Car

Graphene nanoribbons formed into a three-dimensional aerogel and enhanced with boron and nitrogen are excellent catalysts for fuel cells, used in hydrogen electric car, even in comparison to platinum, according to Rice University researchers. The reactions in most current fuel cells are catalyzed by platinum, but platinum’s high cost has prompted the search for alternative. A team led by materials scientist Pulickel Ajayan and chemist James Tour made metal-free aerogels from graphene nanoribbons and various levels of boron and nitrogen to test their electrochemical properties. In tests involving half of the catalytic reaction that takes place in fuel cells, they discovered versions with about 10 percent boron and nitrogen were efficient in catalyzing what’s known as an oxygen reduction reaction, a step in producing energy from feedstocks like methanol.
Ajayan’s Rice lab has excelled in turning nanostructures into macroscopic materials, like the oil-absorbing sponges invented in 2012 or, more recently, solid nanotube blocks with controllable densities and porosities.

hydrogen-electric car
The key to developing carbon-based catalysts is in the doping process, especially with elements such as nitrogen and boron,” he said. “The graphitic carbon-boron-nitrogen systems have thrown many surprises in recent years, especially as a viable alternative to platinum-based catalysts.”. The Rice process is unique, he said, because it not only exposes the edges but also provides porous conduits that allow reactants to permeate the material.
The research appeared in the American Chemical Society journal Chemistry of Materials.

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

Graphene Attacks Cancer Stem Cells

University of Manchester scientists have used graphene to target and neutralisecancer stem cells while not harming other cells. Writing in the journal Oncotarget, the team of researchers led by Professor Michael Lisanti and Dr Aravind Vijayaraghavan has shown that graphene oxide , a modified form of graphene, acts as an anti-cancer agent that selectively targets cancer stem cells (CSCs).
In combination with existing treatments, this could eventually lead to tumour shrinkage as well as preventing the spread of cancer and its recurrence after treatment. However, more pre-clinical studies and extensive clinical trials will be necessary to move this forward into the clinic to ensure patient benefit.

graphene interacts with cellGraphene oxide flakes interacting with cell membranes

Cancer stem cells possess the ability to give rise to many different tumour cell types. They are responsible for the spread of cancer within the body – known as metastasis- which is responsible for 90% of cancer deaths“, explains Professor Lisanti, the Director of the Manchester Centre for Cellular Metabolism within the University’s Institute of Cancer Sciences.
They also play a crucial role in the recurrence of tumours after treatment. This is because conventional radiation and chemotherapies only kill the ‘bulk’ cancer cells, but do not generally affect the CSCs.”

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


Newly developed tiny antennas, likened to spotlights on the nanoscale, offer the potential to measure food safety, identify pollutants in the air and even quickly diagnose and treat cancer, according to the Australian scientists who created them. The new antennas are cubic in shape. They do a better job than previous spherical ones at directing an ultra-narrow beam of light where it is needed, with little or no loss due to heating and scattering, they say.

In a paper published in the Journal of Applied Physics, from AIP Publishing, Debabrata Sikdar of Monash University in Victoria, Australia, and colleagues describe these and other envisioned applications for their nanocubes in “laboratories-on-a-chip.” The cubes, composed of insulating, rather than conducting or semiconducting materials as were the spherical versions, are easier to fabricate as well as more effective, he says.

Sikdar’s paper presents analysis and simulation of 200-nanometer dielectric (nonconductive) nanoncubes placed in the path of visible and near-infrared light sources. The nanocubes are arranged in a chain, and the space between them can be adjusted to fine-tune the light beam as needed for various applications. As the separation between cubes increases, the angular width of the beam narrows and directionality improves, the researchers say.

Unidirectional nanoantennas induce directionality to any omnidirectional light emitters like microlasers, nanolasers or spasers, and even quantum dots,” Sikdar said in an interview. Spasers are similar to lasers, but employ minute oscillations of electrons rather than light. Quantum dots are tiny crystals that produce specific colors, based on their size, and are widely used in color televisions. “Analogous to nanoscale spotlights, the cubic antennas focus light with precise control over direction and beam width,” he said.
Source: http://www.aip.org/

Solar Film: How To Increase The Absorption Of Sunlight

A biological structure in mammalian eyes has inspired a team headed by Silke Christiansen to design an inorganic counterpart for use in solar cells. With the help of conventional semiconductor processes, they etched micron-sized vertical funnels shoulder-to-shoulder in a silicon substrate. Using mathematical models and experiments, they tested how these kind of funnel arrays collect incident light and conduct it to the active layer of a silicon solar cell. Their result: this arrangement of funnels increases photo absorption by about 65% in a thin-film solar cell fitted with such an array and is reflected in considerably increased solar cell efficiency, among other improved parameters. This closely packed arrangement of cones has now inspired the team headed by Prof. Silke Christiansen to replicate something similar in silicon as a surface for solar cells and investigate its suitability for collecting and conducting light. Christiansen heads the Institute for Nanoarchitectures for Energy Conversion at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and a research team at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Light (MPL) – Germany..

solar funnelThe simulation shows how the concentration of light (red = high concentration, yellow= low concentration) rises in the funnels with declining diameter of the lower end of the funnel
We’ve shown in this work that the light funnels absorbs considerably more light than other optical architectures tested over the last while”, says Sebastian Schmitt, one of the two first authors of the publication that has appeared in journal Nature Scientific Reports.

Source: http://www.helmholtz-berlin.de/

Invisible Drum Kit To Stay On Good Terms With Neighbours

What you’re seeing is not a trick … this is an invisible drum kit. Aerodrums uses real-time motion-tracking technology to accurately translate the movements of the drummer into sounds. But unlike a traditional drum kit, this one is small enough to carry in a bag and – when used with headphones – won’t annoy the neighbours. Bright light illuminates retro-reflective markers on the drum sticks and feet, with a high speed camera tracking the motion.
A drummer himself since he was nine, co-inventor Richard Lee said complex algorithms make the Aerodrums experience realistic.
aerodrumsCLICK on the image to enjoy the video
It’s very velocity sensitive, so if you hit quiet you get very quiet sounds, if you hit loud, you hear loud sounds. It’s very responsive. It took a lot of research to get the latency as low as possible because that’s the thing that kind of breaks the illusion of ‘aerodrumming‘. If there’s any latency at all then drummers can perceive it and it doesn’t feel right“, says Richard Lee.
If you were back stage and warming up before you want out and played; you could choose those. If you were in a hotel room, you can just put your headphones on. And it’s great, it’s a great tool“, adds Professional drummer Mike Dolbear, who has been performing and teaching the drums for 35 years. Here, he tries out Aerodrums for the first time… The makers have toyed with idea of Aerodrums gloves for playing hand drums and even combining a virtual reality headset. But co-inventor Yann Morvan said their priority was making Aerodrums a viable alternative for drummers, and not a novelty.
We didn’t want Aerodrums to be a fad. We didn’t want it to be the gadget of the year and then it’s forgotten. We wanted it to be a proper musical instrument, that is introducing air drumming as a legitimate way to drum. And keeps going, keeps improving until it’s fine to air drum live, it’s fine to record using air drums because it’s a real musical instrument.”
Traditional drummers may take some convincing before they make the switch. But for those without the space, or who want to stay on good terms with their neighboursAerodrums could hit the spot.
Source: http://aerodrums.com/

How To Dissolve Blood Clots A Thousand Times Faster

By loading magnetic nanoparticles with drugs and dressing them in biochemical camouflage, Houston Methodist researchers say they can destroy blood clots 100 to 1,000 times faster than a commonly used clot-busting technique.

The finding, reported in Advanced Functional Materials, is based on experiments in human blood and mouse clotting models. If the drug delivery system performs similarly well in planned human clinical trials, it could mean a major step forward in the prevention of strokes, heart attacks, pulmonary embolisms, and other dire circumstances where clots — if not quickly busted – can cause severe tissue damage and death.

blood clot2
Each nanoparticle is composed of an iron oxide core (red squares) that is swathed in albumin (grey) and the anti-clotting agent tPA (green). The iron oxide cubes are about 20 nm on a side
We have designed the nanoparticles so that they trap themselves at the site of the clot, which means they can quickly deliver a burst of the commonly used clot-busting drug tPA where it is most needed,” said Paolo Decuzzi, Ph.D., the study’s co-principal investigator.

Decuzzi leads the Houston Methodist Research Institute Dept. of Translational Imaging.
Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/

3D Printer-Scanner Revolutionizes Additive Manufacturing

Nanyang Technological University’s (NTU) start-up Blacksmith Group (Singapore) today launched the world’s first compact 3D printer that can also scan items into digitised models. Named the Blacksmith Genesis, this user-friendly device allows users without much knowledge of 3D software to scan any item, then edit the digitised model on the computer and print it out in 3D. The all-in-one 3D printer and scanner whose production was financed through a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo.com, was unveiled at the American Association Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in San Jose, California.
The first batch is now ready to be shipped out in March to early adopters who supported Blacksmith Group’s crowdfunding campaign.

Housed in a black aluminium casing, the high-tech device weighing 6 kilograms features a 2-inch LCD display, Wi-Fi, an integrated SD-card reader and a USB connection for instant printing. Blacksmith Genesis uses an innovative rotary platform for its printing and scanning, unlike other commercial 3D printers. This patent-pending revolving platform allows for true 360-degrees scanning, and can print items up to 6,650 cm3 (about 6.5 litres), twice the size of those printed by other similar-sized 3D printers in the market.

With a fine resolution of 50 micrometres, the reproductions will be twice as detailed compared to other compact 3D printers. Likewise, scanning of objects with its 5 megapixel camera takes only 6 minutes, twice as fast as other 3D scanners in the market. Blacksmith Genesis is also the first to feature remote live monitoring and automatic error detection thanks to its in-built camera. This allows users to monitor and control the printing process on their smartphone from anywhere in the world through the Internet.
3D printerWith a fine resolution of 50 micrometres, the reproductions will be twice as detailed compared to other compact 3D printers. Likewise, scanning of objects with its 5 megapixel camera takes only 6 minutes, twice as fast as other 3D scanners in the market. Blacksmith Genesis is also the first to feature remote live monitoring and automatic error detection thanks to its in-built camera. This allows users to monitor and control the printing process on their smartphone from anywhere in the world through the Internet

We designed Blacksmith Genesis with the average hobbyist in mind. Most 3D printers sold on the market now are not really user-friendly as their 3D models and blueprints usually have to be designed from scratch on the computer”, said the Blacksmith team. “However, with our device, 3D printing will be fuss-free as users won’t need to design an original work from scratch as they can just use our Blacksmith Sorcerer 3D software. By scanning any physical item, they can immediately copy and print the item or use the digitised object as a base to form their own 3D object.

The device is the brainchild of Blacksmith Group’s founders, NTU engineering graduate Dr Alex Pui Tze Sian and Mr Fang Kok Boon. Mr Fang, CEO of Blacksmith Group, said their aim is to make 3D printing easy and accessible to the average consumers.
Source: http://www.blacksmith-group.com/

How To Boost Electric Vehicle Batteries

Researchers from the Professor Mihri Ozkan lab at the University of California, Riverside’s Bourns College of Engineering have developed a novel paper-like material for lithium-ion batteries. It has the potential to boost by several times the specific energy, or amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the battery.
This paper-like material is composed of sponge-like silicon nanofibers more than 100 times thinner than human hair. It could be used in batteries for electric vehicles and personal electronics.

electric carThe problem with silicon is that is suffers from significant volume expansion, which can quickly degrade the battery. The silicon nanofiber structure created in the Ozkan’s labs circumvents this issue and allows the battery to be cycled hundreds of times without significant degradation. This technology also solves a problem that has plagued free-standing, or binderless, electrodes for years: scalability. Free-standing materials grown using chemical vapor deposition, such as carbon nanotubes or silicon nanowires, can only be produced in very small quantities (micrograms). However, the team was able to produce several grams of silicon nanofibers at a time even at the lab scale.

The nanofibers were produced using a technique known as electrospinning, whereby 20,000 to 40,000 volts are applied between a rotating drum and a nozzle, which emits a solution composed mainly of tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS), a chemical compound frequently used in the semiconductor industry. The nanofibers are then exposed to magnesium vapor to produce the sponge-like silicon fiber structure.

The findings were just published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.
Source: http://www.mse.ucr.edu/

NanoDrones Destroy Fat In Arteries

Nanometer-sized “drones” will deliver a special type of healing molecule to fat deposits in arteries. This is new approach to prevent heart attacks caused by atherosclerosis, according to a study in pre-clinical models by scientists at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) and Columbia University Medical Center.

Although current treatments have reduced the number of deaths from atherosclerosis-related disease, atherosclerosis remains a dangerous health problem: Atherosclerosis of the coronary arteries is the #1 killer of women and men in the U.S., resulting in one out of every four deaths. In the study, targeted biodegradable nanodrones’ that delivered a special type of drug that promotes healing (‘resolution‘) successfully restructured atherosclerotic plaques in mice to make them more stable. This remodeling of the plaque environment would be predicted in humans to block plaque rupture and thrombosis and thereby prevent heart attacks and strokes.
nanodronesNanometer-sized ‘drones’ that deliver a special type of healing molecule to fat deposits in arteries could become a new way to prevent heart attacks caused by atherosclerosis
This is the first example of a targeted nanoparticle technology that reduces atherosclerosis in an animal model,” said co-senior author Omid Farokhzad, MD, associate professor and director of the Laboratory of Nanomedicine and Biomaterials at BWH and Harvard Medical School (HMS). “Years of research and collaboration have culminated in our ability to use nanotechnology to resolve inflammation, remodel and stabilize plaques in a model of advanced atherosclerosis.”

These findings are published in the February 18th online issue of Science Translational Medicine.
Source: http://www.brighamandwomens.org/

Gold Nanotubes Attack Cancer Cells

Scientists have shown that gold nanotubes have many applications in fighting cancer: internal nanoprobes for high-resolution imaging; drug delivery vehicles; and agents for destroying cancer cells.
Study lead author Dr Sunjie Ye, who is based in both the School of Physics and Astronomy and the Leeds Institute for Biomedical and Clinical Sciences at the University of Leeds, said: “High recurrence rates of tumours after surgical removal remain a formidable challenge in cancer therapy. Chemo- or radiotherapy is often given following surgery to prevent this, but these treatments cause serious side effects. Gold nanotubes – that is, gold nanoparticles with tubular structures that resemble tiny drinking straws – have the potential to enhance the efficacy of these conventional treatments by integrating diagnosis and therapy in one single system.”

The researchers say that a new technique to control the length of nanotubes underpins the research. By controlling the length, the researchers were able to produce gold nanotubes with the right dimensions to absorb a type of light called ‘near infrared’.

gold nanotubes
Human tissue is transparent for certain frequencies of light – in the red/infrared region. This is why parts of your hand appear red when a torch is shone through it”, said the Professor Steve Evans, from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds and who is the study’s corresponding author. When the gold nanotubes travel through the body, if light of the right frequency is shone on them they absorb the light. This light energy is converted to heat, rather like the warmth generated by the Sun on skin. Using a pulsed laser beam, we were able to rapidly raise the temperature in the vicinity of the nanotubes so that it was high enough to destroy cancer cells.”

The study, published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials, details the first successful demonstration of the biomedical use of gold nanotubes in a mouse model of human cancer.

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

Silicon Valley Made in Sweden

A production facility for start-ups in the field of nanotechnology may be built in the Science Village in Lund, a world-class research and innovation village that is also home to ESS, the European Spallation Source.
The project originates from the successful research into nanowires at Lund University, which has resulted in nanotechnology companies like Glo AB and Sol Voltaics AB. Glo was forced to move to Silicon Valley, however, to launch large-scale mass production.

The infrastructure would be intended for companies and researchers in the whole of Sweden who want to develop products with industry standards without needing to invest in expensive equipment themselves.
nano industry
With this new facility, we want to create the conditions to enable new companies to develop from the R&D phase to full production, without needing to leave Sweden,” says Lars Samuelson, Professor of Nanophysics at Lund University.

Samuelson sees more business opportunities for nanowires. In addition to Glo’s light-emitting diodes and Sol Voltaicssolar cells, Lars Samuelson believes there is potential for new companies focused on applications within electronics, UV light-emitting diodes and biomedicine.

Alongside this project, Lund University is working to extend the Lund Nano Lab which is a pure research laboratory for research on nanowires. This is run by Lund University, whereas the industrial facility is a project outside the University. Together, these two initiatives constitute a way of generating the whole value chain from research to market.

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

How To Produce Graphene Massively

With properties that promise faster computers, better sensors and much more, graphene has been dubbed the ‘miracle material’. But progress in producing it on an industrial scale without compromising its properties has proved elusive. University of Groningen (Netherlands) scientists may now have made a breakthrough.

Graphene is a special material with crystals that are just one atom thick. Electrons pass through it with hardly any resistance at all, and despite being very flexible, it is stronger than any metal. The discoverers of graphene, Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, famously made it by peeling graphite with Scotch tape until they managed to isolate a single atomic layer: graphene. It won them the 2010 Nobel Prize in Physics.

The challenge is to find a substrate that not only preserves the properties of graphene, but also enables scalable production’, says Stefano Gottardi, PhD student at the University of Groningen Zernike Institute for Advanced Materials. A good candidate is chemical vapour deposition. Here heat is used to vaporize a carbon precursor like methane, which then reacts with a catalytically active substrate to form graphene on its surface. A transition metal is normally used as the substrate. However, not only does the transition metal act as a support, but it also tends to interact with the graphene and modify – or even deteriorate – its outstanding properties. To restore these properties after growth on the metal, the graphene has to be transferred to a non-interacting substrate. Gottardi and his colleagues have managed to successfully grow graphene on copper oxide. This achievement together with an in-depth characterization of graphene’s properties will be published in Nano Letters.

Source: http://www.rug.nl/

How To Read DNA Sequences In One Second

Despite having a diameter tens of thousands of times smaller than a human hair, nanopores could be the next big thing in DNA sequencing. By zipping DNA molecules through these tiny holes, scientists hope to one day read off genetic sequences in the blink of an eye. Now, researchers from Brown University have taken the potential of nanopore technology one step further. They have combined a nanopore with a tiny cage capable of trapping and holding a single DNA strand after it has been pulled through the pore. While caged, biochemical experiments can be performed on the strand, which can then be zipped back through the nanopore to look at how the strand has changed.

Nanopore1How the nanoscale cage works? An electrical field draws a strand of DNA in by the smaller hole, bottom, but the curled DNA cannot exit through the larger hole, top. After experimental procedures, a reversed electrical field draws the DNA strand back out of the lower hole, allowing before and after comparison

We see this as a very interesting enabling technique,” said Derek Stein, associate professor of physics and engineering at Brown, who helped develop the technology with his graduate students. “It allows you for the first time to look at the same molecule before and after any kind of chemical reaction that may have taken place.”

A paper describing the device is published in Nature Communications.

Source: https://news.brown.edu/

Li-Ion Batteries Mimick Shells To Last Longer

Scientists are using biology to improve the properties of lithium ion batteries. Researchers at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) have isolated a peptide, a type of biological molecule, which binds strongly to lithium manganese nickel oxide (LMNO), a material that can be used to make the cathode in high performance batteries. The peptide can latch onto nanosized particles of LMNO and connect them to conductive components of a battery electrode, improving the potential power and stability of the electrode.

Biology provides several tools for us to solve important problems,” said Evgenia Barannikova, a graduate student at UMBC. Barannikova works in the lab of Mark Allen and studies how biological molecules in general can improve the properties of inorganic materials in batteries.

Biology provides several tools for us to solve important problems,” said Evgenia Barannikova, a graduate student at UMBC. Barannikova works in the lab of Mark Allen and studies how biological molecules in general can improve the properties of inorganic materials in batteries.
By providing a new nanoscale architecture for lithium-ion batteries, the researchers say that the approach could improve the power and cycling stability of lithium-ion batteries.
The researchers will present their results at the 59th annual meeting of the Biophysical Society, held Feb. 7-11 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Source: http://phys.org/

Ultra Bendable Electronics

Electronic devices have shrunk rapidly in the past decades, but most remain as stiff as the same sort of devices were in the 1950s — a drawback if you want to wrap your phone around your wrist when you go for a jog or fold your computer to fit in a pocket. Researchers from South Korea have taken a new step toward more bendable devices by manufacturing a thin film that keeps its useful electric and magnetic properties even when highly curved.

nanoparticles od bismuth
This electron microscope image shows tiny nanoparticles of bismuth ferrite embedded in a polymer film. The film enhances the unique electric and magnetic properties of bismuth ferrite and preserves these properties even when bent
Bulk bismuth ferrite has crucial problems for some applications, such as a high leakage current which hinders the strong electric properties,” said YoungPak Lee, a professor at Hanyang University in Seoul, South Korea. Mixing nanoparticles of bismuth ferrite into a polymer improved the current-leakage problem, he said, and also gave the film flexible, stretchable properties.

Flexible multiferrorics could enable new wearable devices such as health monitoring equipment or virtual reality attire, Lee said. The multiferroric materials could be used in high-density, energy efficient memory and switches in such devices, he said.
The researchers describe the film in a paper published in the journal Applied Physics Letters, from AIP Publishing.

Source: http://www.aip.org/

Bionic Worker

Forget wearable technology, Swedish office worker Lin Kowalska is having it implanted under her skin. A microchip – about the size of a grain of rice - is injected into her hand. Lin comments: “It felt pretty scary, but at the same time it felt very modern, very 2015.” Instead of ID cards or passcodes, workers who sign up for the implant can now open doors with the wave of a hand. The chip also currently lets workers swap contact details via a smartphone and operate a photocopier. Patrick Mesterton, co-founder of the Epicenter tech hub in central Stockholm, sees plenty of future applications for the implant.
bionic woman
Some of the future areas of use I think, like anything today where you would use a pin code or a key or a card, so payments I think is one area. I think also for health care reasons that you can sort of communicate with your doctor and you can data on what you eat and what your physical status is,” says Patrick Mesterton, co-founder and CEO of EPICENTER OFFICE.
The radio-frequency identification chip is made from pyrex glass and contains an antenna and microchip, with no need for batteries. While some workers may feel uneasy at the prospect of literally taking their work home with them, the designers say the chip is completely safe and secure. “You have your own identification code and you’re sending that to something else which you have to grant access to, so there’s no one else that can sort of follow you on your ID so to say. It’s you who decides who gets access to that ID,” added Mesterton. The chip is in no way mandatory, and the limited benefits the implant currently offers may put many people off. But with wearable tech becoming more ubiquitous, the merging of biology and technology could represent a growing trend.
Source: https://epicenterstockholm.com/

Shower Of The Future Reduces Water Use Drastically

This shower is so futuristic, it could be from Mars. Its creators say the OrbSys recycled water shower could reduce water use by 90 percent, and save energy. But although its design was inspired by NASA‘s mission to the red planet, Orbital System‘s shower is for use on earth. CEO Mehrdad Mahdjoubi was inspired after a stint at the United States space agency. The shower works on a closed loop system - water falls from the showerhead to the drain where it’s purified to drinking water standard by a patented capsule. It’s then pumped back out of the showerhead.
shower2What began as a collaboration project between Lund University and NASA‘s Johnson Space Centre, Houston, made me question the possibility of recycling water on earth, like has been done in space. The shower of the future is a water-recycling shower, thus enabling water savings up to 90 percent, energy savings up to 80 percent, at the same time increasing comfort and hygiene.

After the water is collected in the drain, analysed and the shower pump shoots it through our purification system, which consists of a micro-capsule that takes away the larger particles, then it goes to the nano-capsule, which takes away all of the smaller contaminants, making sure that the water that reaches the user from the recycling loop always is crystal clear and nice to shower in,” says Mehrdad Mahdjoubi.
The space-age technology means long showers won’t be a thing of the past, despite greater pressure on water resources.
What we are actually doing is we are changing the way that we humans relate to domestic water consumption. With the shower of the future…you can live a greener lifestyle without compromising on comfort,” he added. The shower has been tested at the Ribersborgs open-air baths in the south of Sweden. The company says it saved 100,000 litres of water over four months there. And after testing it all over Sweden. the OrbSys shower is ready for launch word-wide. Its developers say the purification technology could be used in taps and drinking fountains in developing countries, where water-related illness is rife.

Source: http://showerofthefuture.com/

How To Design and Print Your Cellphone At Home

Ever wanted a truly unique cellphone handset?…. well now you can have one, thanks to London start-up OwnFone. Its new PrintFone Kit allows you to print a 2D or 3D handset at home, says inventor Tom Sunderland. “It’s a developer’s kit that enables someone to print their own phone at home, either on a standard inkjet printer or a 3D printer. You get the phone components that you need to do that, the software, and really it gives people total freedom to create whatever they want“.
“After printing the phone’s Skin on an inkjet printer, users simply attach it to the front and back of a seed handset. Once programmed via USB with OwnFone’s FoneBuilder App, it’s a working cell phone. Users with 3D printers can then print a shell around the phone to change its shape and size. OwnFone say an endless variety of designs can be printed.

Users can also visit OwnFone’s London store to have a phone made while they wait. And to add an even more personal touch, OwnFone’s DrawFone tool allows users to draw their own handset. “So simply what you do is draw your phone. So here’s the app, you choose a four button image phone and draw whatever you want on it…….Once you’ve finished we then take your design and we print it for you straight away and then you walk out with the phone that you’ve just drawn that is ready to use“, says Sunderland. He added that OwnFone aims not to replace the smartphone, but to complement it. The phones are designed primarily for talking and their ultra-simple, personalised handset design could prove popular among children and the elderly. A Kickstarter campaign has been launched across Europe and the United States….OwnFone are sure it will draw huge interest.
Source : http://www.ownfone.com/

How To Fight Brain Cancer

Despite improvements in the past few decades with surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy, a predictably curative treatment for glioma (brain and spine cancer) does not yet exist. New insights into specific gene mutations that arise in this often deadly form of brain cancer have pointed to the potential of gene therapy, but it’s very difficult to effectively deliver toxic or missing genes to cancer cells in the brain. Now, Johns Hopkins researchers report they have used nanoparticles to successfully deliver a new therapy to glioma cells in the brains of rats, prolonging their lives.
Previous research on mice found that nanoparticles carrying genes can be taken up by brain cancer cells, and the genes can then be turned on. However, this is the first time these biodegradable nanoparticles have effectively killed brain cancer cells and extended survival in animals.
For their studies, the Johns Hopkins team designed and tested a variety of nanoparticles made from different polymers, or plastics. When they found a good candidate that could deliiver genes to rat brain cancer cells, they filled the nanoparticles with DNA encoding an enzyme, a potent therapy that kills brain cancer cells. When combined with the compound, called ganciclovir, these loaded nanoparticles were 100 percent effective at killing glioma cells grown in laboratory dishes.
brain cancer
We then evaluated the system in rats with glioma and found that our nanoparticles could penetrate completely throughout the tumor following a single injection,” says Jordan Green, Ph.D, associate professor of biomedical engineering, neurosurgery and ophthalmology at Johns Hopkins and a member of the Institute for NanoBioTechnology. “When combined with systemic administration of ganciclovir, rats with malignant glioma lived significantly longer than rats that did not receive this treatment.”
A draft of the study has been published on the website of the journal ACS Nano.
Source: http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/

One-Atom-Thin Silicon Transistors For NanoComputer

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin‘s Cockrell School of Engineering have created the first transistors made of silicene, the world’s thinnest silicon material. Their research holds the promise of building dramatically faster, smaller and more efficient computer chips.

Made of a one-atom-thick layer of silicon atoms, silicene has outstanding electrical properties but has until now proved difficult to produce and work with. Deji Akinwande, an assistant professor in the Cockrell School’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and his team, including lead researcher Li Tao, solved one of the major challenges surrounding silicene by demonstrating that it can be made into transistors —semiconductor devices used to amplify and switch electronic signals and electrical power.

The first-of-their-kind devices developed by Akinwande and his team rely on the thinnest of any semiconductor material, a long-standing dream of the chip industry, and could pave the way for future generations of faster, energy-efficient computer chips.

Buckled honeycomb lattice structure of silicene

Apart from introducing a new player in the playground of 2-D materials, silicene, with its close chemical affinity to silicon, suggests an opportunity in the road map of the semiconductor industry,” Akinwande said. “The major breakthrough here is the efficient low-temperature manufacturing and fabrication of silicene devices for the first time.”

Despite its promise for commercial adaptation, silicene has proved extremely difficult to create and work with because of its complexity and instability when exposed to air. To work around these issues, Akinwande teamed with Alessandro Molle at the Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems in Agrate Brianza, Italy, to develop a new method for fabricating the silicene that reduces its exposure to air. In the near-term, Akinwande will continue to investigate new structures and methods for creating silicene, which may lead to low-energy, high-speed digital computer chips.

The research work has been published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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

Smart Glasses For Visually Impaired

It might look like a cartoon, but this could change the lives of those with sight problems. Images like these are seen by wearers of Oxford University‘s new smart-glasses. The smart-glasses are designed to help people with serious visual impairments see. Developed by Stephen Hicks and his research team, they use cameras to augment vision. Hicks says they even work for those registered blind, by improving their depth perception.

smart glasses
When you go blind, you generally have some sight remaining, and using a combination of cameras and a see-through display, we’re able to enhance nearby objects to make them easier to see for obstacle avoidance and also facial recognition,” says neuroscience researcher, Stephen Hicks, from Oxford University. The glasses use three-dimensional cameras that can detect the structure and position of nearby objects. Software then uses that information to block out the background and highlight only what’s nearest to the user. “We turn that into a high contrast cartoon that we then present on the inside of a see-through pair of glasses, and then we can add the person’s normal vision to the enhanced view that you can show here, and allow the person to use their remaining site as the generally would have done to see the world in a better way” added Hicks. More than 360,000 people in the UK are registered as blind, according to a British sight charity. Hicks says the glasses are different to other products – depth perception a unique facet of the smart-glasses technology. Google helping fund the research after it won an award. After testing the glasses outside a laboratory setting, the final challenge before production will be to make them smaller.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

How To Grow High-Efficiency Perovskite Solar Cells

Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers reveal a new solution-based hot-casting technique that allows growth of highly efficient and reproducible solar cells from large-area perovskite crystals.
State-of-the-art photovoltaics using high-purity, large-area, wafer-scale single-crystalline semiconductors grown by sophisticated, high temperature crystal-growth processes are seen as the future of efficient solar technology. Solar cells composed of organic-inorganic perovskites offer efficiencies approaching that of silicon, but they have been plagued with some important deficiencies limiting their commercial viability. It is this failure that the Los Alamos technique successfully corrects.

The researchers fabricated planar solar cells from pervoskite materials with large crystalline grains that had efficiencies approaching 18%, among the highest reported in the field of perovskite-based light-to-energy conversion devices.
peroskite solar cell

These perovskite crystals offer promising routes for developing low-cost, solar-based, clean global energy solutions for the future,” said Aditya Mohite, the Los Alamos scientist leading the project.
Characterization and modeling attribute the improved performance to reduced bulk defects and improved charge-carrier mobility in large-grain pervoskite materials,” said Mohite, “and we’ve demonstrated that the crystalline quality is on par with that observed for high-quality semiconductors like silicon and gallium arsenides.

The resuls have been published in the journal Science,

Source: http://www.lanl.gov/

How To Bend Acoustic and Elastic Waves

Sound waves passing through the air, objects that break a body of water and cause ripples, or shockwaves from earthquakes all are considered “elasticwaves. These waves travel at the surface or through a material without causing any permanent changes to the substance’s makeup. Now, engineering researchers at the University of Missouri (MU) have developed a material that has the ability to control these waves, creating possible medical, military and commercial applications with the potential to greatly benefit society.
acoustic waves
Methods of controlling and manipulating subwavelength acoustic and elastic waves have proven elusive and difficult; however, the potential applications — once the methods are refined—are tremendous,” said Guoliang Huang, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the College of Engineering at MU. “Our team has developed a material that, if used in the manufacture of new devices, could have the ability to sense sound and elastic waves. By manipulating these waves to our advantage, we would have the ability to create materials that could greatly benefit society—from imaging to military enhancements such as elastic cloaking — the possibilities truly are endless.
Source: http://munews.missouri.edu/

Doubling The Electrical Output Of Solar Cells

One challenge in improving the efficiency of solar cells is that some of the absorbed light energy is lost as heat. So scientists have been looking to design materials that can convert more of that energy into useful electricity. Now a team from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Brookhaven National Laboratory and Columbia University has paired up polymers that recover some of that lost energy by producing two electrical charge carriers per unit of light instead of the usual one.

solar cell
Critically, we show how this multiplication process can be made efficient on a single molecular polymer chain,” said physicist Matthew Sfeir, who led the research at Brookhaven Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), a DOE Office of Science User Facility. Having the two charges on the same molecule means the light-absorbing, energy-producing materials don’t have to be arrayed as perfect crystals to produce extra electrical charges. Instead, the self-contained materials work efficiently when dissolved in liquids, which opens the way for a wide range of industrial scale manufacturing processes, including “printingsolar-energy-producing material like ink.

The research is published as an Advance Online Publication in Nature Materials, January 12, 2015.

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

300 Colors Rainbow Polymer May Detect Disease

University at Buffalo (UB) engineers have developed a one-step, low-cost method to fabricate a polymer with extraordinary properties: When viewed from a single perspective, the polymer is rainbow-colored, reflecting many different wavelengths of light.
Used as a filter for light, this material could form the basis of handheld multispectral imaging devices that identify the “true color” of objects examined.
Such portable technology could have applications in a wide range of fields, from home improvement, like matching paint colors, to biomedical imaging, including analyzing colors in medical images to detect disease,” said UB Vice President for Research and Economic Development Alexander N. Cartwright, one of the UB researchers who led the study.
The ease of producing the polymer could make it feasible to develop small devices that connect with cell phones to conduct multispectral imaging, said Qiaoqiang Gan, a UB assistant professor of electrical engineering and another member of the research team.
rainbowA rainbow-colored grating, about 25 millimeters wide, under sunlight. Enlarged microscope images show the graded surface, with the black bars indicating a length of 10 micron

Our method is pretty low-cost, and because of this and the potential cell phone applications, we feel there is a huge market for improving clinical imaging in developing countries,” Gan said.
Because the colors of the rainbow filter are produced as a result of the filter’s surface geometry, and not by some kind of pigment, the colors won’t fade over time. (It’s the same principle that gives color to the wings of butterflies and feather of peacocks.)
Cartwright and Gan’s team reported on their polymer fabrication technique online in Advanced Materials.
Source: http://www.buffalo.edu/

Liver Cancer: NanoDiamonds Eliminate Resistant Stem Cells

A study led by the National University of Singapore (NUS) found that attaching chemotherapy drug Epirubicin to nanodiamonds effectively eliminates chemoresistant cancer stem cells. The findings were first published online in ACS Nano, the official journal of the American Chemical Society.
liver cancer

The research team, led by Assistant Professor Edward Chow, Junior Principal Investigator at the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI Singapore) at NUS, demonstrated the use of nanotechnology to repurpose existing chemotherapy drugs as effective agents against chemoresistant cancer stem cells. Chemoresistance, which is the ability of cancer cells to escape chemotherapy treatment, is a primary cause of treatment failure in cancer. Cancer stem cells, a type of cancer cell which initiates the formation of tumours, are commonly found to be more resistant to chemotherapy than the rest of the bulk tumour, which can lead to cancer recurrence following chemotherapy treatment. As such, there is intense interest in developing new drugs or treatment strategies that overcome chemoresistance, particularly in cancer stem cells.

In this study, widely-used chemotherapy drug Epirubicin was attached to nanodiamonds, carbon structures with a diameter of about five nanometres, to develop a nanodiamond-Epirubicin drug delivery complex (EPND). The researchers found that while both standard Epirubicin as well as EPND were capable of killing normal cancer cells, only EPND was capable of killing chemoresistant cancer stem cells and preventing secondary tumour formation in xenograft models of liver cancer.

Source: http://news.nus.edu.sg/

Super Smart Keyboard Replaces Passwords

By analyzing such parameters as the force applied by key presses and the time interval between them, a new self-powered non-mechanical intelligent keyboard could provide a stronger layer of security for computer users. Designed by the Professor Zhong Lin Wang and his team from Georgia Tech, the self-powered device generates electricity when a user’s fingertips contact the multi-layer plastic materials that make up the device.

By analyzing such parameters as the force applied by key presses and the time interval between them, a new self-powered non-mechanical intelligent keyboard could provide a stronger layer of security for computer users
“This intelligent keyboard changes the traditional way in which a keyboard is used for information input,” said Zhong Lin Wang, a Regents professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “Every punch of the keys produces a complex electrical signal that can be recorded and analyzed.

Conventional keyboards record when a keystroke makes a mechanical contact, indicating the press of a specific key. The intelligent keyboard records each letter touched, but also captures information about the amount of force applied to the key and the length of time between one keystroke and the next. Such typing style is unique to individuals, and so could provide a new biometric for securing computers from unauthorized use.

Source: http://www.news.gatech.edu/

Anti reflective Solar Cells Boost Energy Output

Reducing the amount of sunlight that bounces off the surface of solar cells helps maximize the conversion of the sun’s rays to electricity, so manufacturers use coatings to cut down on reflections. Now scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory show that etching a nanoscale texture onto the silicon material itself creates an antireflective surface that works as well as state-of-the-art thin-film multilayer coatings. The surface nanotexture … drastically cut down on reflection of many wavelengths of light simultaneously.
Their method, described in the journal Nature Communications and submitted for patent protection, has potential for streamlining silicon solar cell production and reducing manufacturing costs. The approach may find additional applications in reducing glare from windows, providing radar camouflage for military equipment, and increasing the brightness of light-emitting diodes.

antireflection square of siliconA closeup shows how the nanotextured square of silicon completely blocks reflection compared with the surrounding silicon wafer
For antireflection applications, the idea is to prevent light or radio waves from bouncing at interfaces between materials,” said physicist Charles Black, who led the research at Brookhaven Lab’s Center for Functional Nanomaterials (CFN), a DOE Office of Science User Facility.
The issue with using such coatings for solar cells,” he said, “is that we’d prefer to fully capture every color of the light spectrum within the device, and we’d like to capture the light irrespective of the direction it comes from. But each color of light couples best with a different antireflection coating, and each coating is optimized for light coming from a particular direction. So you deal with these issues by using multiple antireflection layers. We were interested in looking for a better way.”

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

Artificial Heart: Patient Came Back Home For A New Life

Five months after his surgery in Nantes, the second French patient who received CARMAT artificial heart is in good health, after he came back home.

For the first time, we are not talking only of survival but of a “new life“, says the Dr Carpentier in charge of the recovery. The second patient who received an artificial heart on 5 August in Nantes, returned to his family, free of his movements. He just needs to carry a bag of three pounds, similar to a laptop and has to charge its batteries every 4 to 5 hours.
artificial heart CARMAT
This is good news even to the father of the French artificial heart – Professor Carpentier – who speaks of “miracle” in front of a man walking better than he does. In late October, Prof. Carpentier indicated that his patient could already exercise on a bike. Return to a “normal” life, autonomous, that is the final purpose and this is why the artifical heart has been designed.
Source: http://www.carmatsa.com/

Bionic Arm At Low Price

Stella Azambullo lost her right arm in an industrial accident. Now after years of limited dexterity, she’s testing this low-cost bionic arm which helps her perform everyday tasks.

bionic arm 2The flexible claw-like hand has a thumb, index and middle finger. Covered in a skin-like glove, it looks indistinguishable from Stella’s real arm. Sensors in the bionic limb detect electric signals from moving muscles. The signal is relayed to a motor that opens and closes the hand. Project engineer Luciana Joliat teaches patients like Stella how to use the device

I work directly with the patient and the stump to look for the strongest myoelectric signals before voluntary contractions. I train the patient to activate two muscle groups to activate the opening and closing sensors, to direct the prosthetic and make open and close, says Luciana Joliat, bioengineer in charge of the patient. Stella can now perform tasks that were impossible with her clunkier mechanical prostheses.
I’m doing very well. I’m happy to be able to do lots of things again, mainly things around the house, and also I’m happy aesthetically. Being able to go back to work has really helped me. I feel good and can move forward and start doing what I used to do“, comments Stella.
Developers from the company Bioparx Health Technology (Argentina) underscore that it is Latin America’s first budget bionic arm with sensors that respond to nerve impulses. Bioparx director and enginneer, Ricardo Rodriguez says the device is more affordable than others on the market.”We’ve achieved a cost around 50 percent less compared to similar models that we’re competing with“.

Source: http://www.bioparx.com/

Super Battery For Electric Vehicles

An ultra-thin nanomaterial is at the heart of a major breakthrough by scientists from the University of Waterloo (Canada) who are in a global race to invent a cheaper, lighter and more powerful rechargeable battery for electric vehicles. Chemistry Professor Linda Nazar and her research team in the Faculty of Science at the University of Waterloo have announced a breakthrough in lithium-sulphur battery technology in a recent issue of Nature Communications.

Their discovery of a material that maintains a rechargable sulphur cathode helps to overcome a primary hurdle to building a lithium-sulphur (Li-S) battery. Such a battery can theoretically power an electric car three times further than current lithium-ion batteries for the same weight – at much lower cost.
Sulphur as a battery material is extremely abundant, relatively light, and very cheap.

electric car
This is a major step forward and brings the lithim-sulphur battery one step closer to reality,” said Nazar, who also holds the Canada Research Chair in Solid State Energy Materials.
You have to focus on the a fundamental understanding of the phenomenon before you can develop new, advanced materials,” said Nazar.

They found that the oxygenated surface of the ultrathin MnO2 nanosheet chemically recycles the sulphides in a two-step process involving a surface-bound intermediate, polythiosulfate. The result is a high-performance cathode that can recharge more than 2000 cycles.

Source: https://uwaterloo.ca

How To Extract Tumor Cells From Blood

An international group led by scientists at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute has developed a new method for effectively extracting and analyzing cancer cells circulating in patients’ blood. Circulating tumor cells are cancer cells that break away from tumors and travel in the blood, looking for places in the body to start growing new tumors called metastases. Capturing these rare cells would allow doctors to detect and analyze the cancer so they could tailor treatment for individual patients. In his laboratory at the UCLA California NanoSystems Institute, Hsian-Rong Tseng, a professor of molecular and medical pharmacology, used a device he invented to capture circulating tumor cells from blood samples.

The device, called the NanoVelcro Chip, is a postage-stamp–sized chip with nanowires that are 1,000 times thinner than a human hair and are coated with antibodies that recognize circulating tumor cells. When 2 milliliters of blood are run through the chip, the tumor cells stick to the nanowires like Velcro.
Now Tseng and his colleagues have developed a thermoresponsive NanoVelcro purification system, which enables them to raise and lower the temperature of the blood sample to capture (at 37 degrees Celsius) and release (at 4 degrees Celsius) circulating tumor cells at their optimal purity.

capture cancer cells

With our new system, we can control the blood’s temperature — the way coffeehouses would with an espresso machine — to capture and then release the cancer cells in great purity, ” said Tseng, who is also a member of UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

The study, which was published online by the journal ACS Nano, brought together an interdisciplinary team from the U.S., China, Taiwan and Japan.

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

How To Early Detect Heart Attacks

NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering professors have been collaborating with researchers from Peking University on a new test strip that is demonstrating great potential for the early detection of certain heart attacks.

Kurt H. Becker, a professor in the Department of Applied Physics, and WeiDong Zhu, a research associate professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, are helping develop a new colloidal gold test strip for cardiac troponin I (cTn-I) detection. The new strip uses microplasma-generated gold nanoparticles (AuNPs) and shows much higher detection sensitivity than conventional test strips. The new cTn-I test is based on the specific immune-chemical reactions between antigen and antibody on immunochromatographic test strips using AuNPs.
gold heart
Compared to AuNPs produced by traditional chemical methods, the surfaces of the gold nanoparticles generated by the microplasma-induced liquid chemical process attract more antibodies, which results in significantly higher detection sensitivity.

Source: http://engineering.nyu.edu/

Cancer: If It Glows, Cut It Out Or Kill It !

Researchers at Oregon State University (OSU) have developed a new way to selectively insert compounds into cancer cells – a system that will help surgeons identify malignant tissues and then, in combination with phototherapy, kill any remaining cancer cells after a tumor is removed. It’s about as simple as, “If it glows, cut it out.” And if a few malignant cells remain, they’ll soon die.
Technology such as this, scientists said, may have a promising future in the identification and surgical removal of malignant tumors, as well as using near-infrared light therapies that can kill remaining cancer cells, both by mild heating of them and generating reactive oxygen species that can also kill them.
Scientists have developed a a new method that sees cancer cells glow, potentially allowing for more accurate surgeries
This is kind of a double attack that could significantly improve the success of cancer surgeries,” said Oleh Taratula, an assistant professor in the OSU College of Pharmacy.
With this approach, cancerous cells and tumors will literally glow and fluoresce when exposed to near-infrared light, giving the surgeon a precise guide about what to remove,” Taratula said. “That same light will activate compounds in the cancer cells that will kill any malignant cells that remain. It’s an exciting new approach to help surgery succeed.”

The findings, published in the journal Nanoscale, have shown remarkable success in laboratory animals. The concept should allow more accurate surgical removal of solid tumors at the same time it eradicates any remaining cancer cells. In laboratory tests, it completely prevented cancer recurrence after phototherapy.

Source: http://oregonstate.edu/

How To Produce Warmth? Focus On People !

Scientists have developed a novel nanowire coating for clothes that can both generate heat and trap the heat from our bodies better than regular clothes.The technology could help us reduce our reliance on conventional energy sources, researchers said. Yi Cui from Stanford University and colleagues note that nearly half of global energy consumption goes towards heating buildings and homes. But this comfort comes with a considerable environmental cost. Scientists and policymakers have tried to improve insulation to keep fuel-generated warmth inside. Cui’s team wanted to take a different approach and focus on people.

warm cloth

Heat-based images show a conventional cloth glove (top) lets warmth escape while a nanowire glove traps it.

The researchers developed lightweight, breathable mesh materials that are flexible enough to coat normal clothes. When compared to regular clothing material, nanowire cloth trapped body heat far more effectively. They can also be actively warmed with an electricity source.

Scientists calculated that their thermal textiles could save about 1,000 kilowatt hours per person every year.

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

Teixobactin, New King of Antibiotics

North­eastern Uni­ver­sity Pro­fessor Kim Lewis and his team have pre­sented a new antibi­otic that kills pathogens without encoun­tering any detectable resis­tance.
This new antibi­otic, called teixobactin,the first dis­covery of an antibi­otic to which resis­tance by muta­tions of pathogens have not been iden­ti­fied. It also presents a promising oppor­tu­nity to building upon these find­ings and ulti­mately develop drugs that can treat chronic infec­tions in humans caused by staphy­lo­coccus aureus, or MRSA, that are highly resis­tant to antibi­otics, as well as tuber­cu­losis, which involves a com­bi­na­tion of ther­a­pies with neg­a­tive side effects.
growing bacteriaA novel method for growing bacteria has finally yielded a promising new antibiotic which could be a major breakthrough ending a decades-long drought in antibiotic discovery.

Lewis and his col­leagues say pathogens’ resis­tance to antibi­otics is causing a public health crisis, one in which infec­tions have for years remained one step ahead of researchers. But he and North­eastern biology pro­fessor Slava Epstein devel­oped a novel method for growing uncul­tured bacteria — a pre­vi­ously untapped source of antibi­otics beyond those cre­ated by syn­thetic means. Their approach involves the iChip, a minia­ture device that can iso­late and help grow single cells in their nat­ural envi­ron­ment. Their inno­v­a­tive method to bring the envi­ron­ment into the lab holds great promise in helping to combat this health crisis.
Source: http://www.northeastern.edu/

Inhalable Vaccines For Influenza, Pneumonia

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and North Carolina State University have uncovered a novel approach to creating inhalable vaccines using nanoparticles that shows promise for targeting lung-specific diseases, such as influenza, pneumonia and tuberculosis.

The work, led by Cathy Fromen and Gregory Robbins, members of the DeSimone and Ting labs, reveals that a particle’s surface charge plays a key role in eliciting immune responses in the lung. Using the Particle Replication in Nonwetting Templates (PRINT) technology invented in the DeSimone lab, Fromen and Robbins were able to specifically modify the surface charge of protein-loaded particles while avoiding disruption of other particle features, demonstrating PRINT’s unique ability to modify particle attributes independently from one another.
When delivered through the lung, particles with a positive surface charge were shown to induce antibody responses both locally in the lung and systemically in the body. In contrast, negatively charged particles of the same composition led to weaker, and in some cases undetectable, immune responses, suggesting that particle charge is an important consideration for pulmonary vaccination.
The findings, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, also have broad public health implications for improving the accessibility of vaccines. An inhalable vaccine may eliminate the need for refrigeration, which can not only improve shelf life, but also enable distribution of vaccines to low-resource areas, including many developing countries where there is significant need for better access to vaccines.

Source: http://uncnews.unc.edu/

SiO2 Nanoparticles Cause Cardiovascular Disease

Nanoparticles, extremely tiny particles measured in billionths of a meter, are increasingly everywhere, and especially in biomedical products. Their toxicity has been researched in general terms, but now a team of Israeli scientists has for the first time found that exposure nanoparticles> (NPs) of silicon dioxide (SiO2) can play a major role in the development of cardiovascular diseases when the nanoparticles cross tissue and cellular barriers and also find their way into the circulatory system.
Environmental exposure to nanoparticles is becoming unavoidable due to the rapid expansion of nanotechnology,” says the study’s lead author, Prof. Michael Aviram, of the Technion Faculty of Medicine, “This exposure may be especially chronic for those employed in research laboratories and in high tech industry where workers handle, manufacture, use and dispose of nanoparticles. Products that use silica-based nanoparticles for biomedical uses, such as various chips, drug or gene delivery and tracking, imaging, ultrasound therapy, and diagnostics, may also pose an increased cardiovascular risk for consumers as well.”

The study has been published in the December 2014 issue of Environmental Toxicology.
The research team was comprised of scientists from the Technion Rappaport Faculty of Medicine, Rambam Medical Center, and the Center of Excellence in Exposure Science and Environmental Health (TCEEH).
Source: http://www.ats.org/

Teeth: How To Rebuild Worn Enamel

Scientists are developing a new biomaterial that can potentially rebuild worn enamel and reduce tooth sensitivity for an extended period. They describe the material, which they tested on dogs, in the journal ACS Nano.
Chun-Pin Lin and colleagues note that tooth sensitivity is one of the most common complaints among dental patients. Not only does it cause sharp pains, but it can also lead to more serious dental problems. The condition occurs when a tooth’s enamel degrades, exposing tiny, porous tubes and allowing underlying nerves to become more vulnerable to hot and cold.

white-teeth-woman-smilingA new material could treat tooth sensitivity by re-covering exposed tubules when enamel wears away.The researchers made a novel paste based on the elements found in teeth, namely calcium and phosphorus. They applied the mixture to dogs’ teeth and found that it plugged exposed tubes more deeply than other treatments. This depth could be the key, the researchers conclude, to repairing damaged enamel and providing longer-lasting relief from tooth sensitivity.
Current treatments, including special toothpastes, work by blocking the openings of the tubes. But the seal they create is superficial and doesn’t stand up to the wear-and-tear of daily brushing and chewing. Lin’s team wanted to find a more durable way to address the condition.

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

Nanotechnology To Heal Pets

Modern medicine is evolving quickly. Now, with the introduction of bioengineering, doctors can have tissue made for their patients and veterinarians are having great success using nanotechnology in our pets.
Dr. Jed Johnson has a PhD in engineering and his firm engineers body tissue. He explains: “The part that I focus on is tissue engineering, where we are basically focusing and building or engineering new tissue for the body.”
Their nanotechnology is an integral part of regenerative medicine.
We’ve all seen regeneration. We’ve all had cuts on our hands, right? And those cuts heal. So, our body is capable of healing, but we have to provide the right environment,” , said the Dr. Hutchinson, from Animal General in Cranberry.
Enter nanofibers.
It takes a hundred of the microscopic fibers laid side-by-side to be as wide as a human hair.
Weave them together, and they provide a framework for healing.
Cells and tissue can’t move across open space, they have to crawl on something, and this is really the key aspect to having a scaffold is it allows those cells to have a highway to move on to refill that wound, regenerate that native tissue,” Dr. Johnson said.
You can’t do that synthetically. I mean, we can’t do that without the help of what someone like Dr. Johnson’s doing with nanofibers,” Dr. Mike Hutchinson said.
Dr. Hutchinson uses nanofibers in combination with stem cells to speed up the healing.
They will do a lot of good for as long as they stay, but we would like to keep them there longer in that damaged environment. So, they have made some nanowhiskers, if you will, that we mix with the stem cells before we inject them in, and they will hold them there. They will give them something to grow on or to hug to and keep them there longer,” Dr. Hutchinson said.

Source: http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/

How To Beat Winter Blues, Jet Lag

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, around one third of Americans aren’t getting enough shuteye. Jet lag, night shifts and seasonal mood disorder can disrupt sleep patterns. But psychologist Leon Lack at Australia’s Flinders University believes he has the answer. It’s called Re-Timer and uses light therapy to regulate our circadian rhythm, which tells the body when to sleep and when to wake. And though light therapy is not new, Lack says the Re-Timer‘s innovation is its portability. The breakthrough in the research was the small, light-emitting diode.
It just occurred to us that light-emitting diodes (LED), that are very small devices, very efficiently convert electricity into light and if they were mounted closer to the eyes, they would get enough light into the eyes and serve the purpose of the light therapy device.” , says Leon Lack, Co-developer of the RE-TIMER, from Flinders University.
Worn like a regular pair of spectacles, Re-Timer is adjustable and mimics the effects of sunlight using a UV-free, green light. Lack says the color choice was based on decade-long research.
That’s shown that the blue and blue/green and green area of the spectrum, those colors, are the most effective at changing the body clock timing.” Re-Timer has been a life changer for Michael Sakuma, a professor from Long Island in New York. For years Sakuma typically didn’t fall asleep until around 3 a.m. and would wake around 11 a.m. He says this late-to-bed and late-to-rise cycle severely impacted his choices. “It affected the professions I chose, because I could not choose a profession that would require me to get up at seven, 6 o’clock, the way the rest of the world seems to work. My life has been trying to move around this sleep problem and I think that the Re-Timer has really helped me in that“, he reports. Sakuma has been using his Re-Timer for about two years and says it has become part of his life: “I would like to see a day when I didn’t have to use the Re-Timer. I guess it’s because I’ve had this problem now for about 30 years, that it feels like it’s part of me and so I can’t imagine a time when I wouldn’t use it.The Re-Timer retails for around 300 U.S. dollars and with regular use of his pair, Sakuma gets to bed at a more conventional hour and catches some much-needed slumber.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Nanostructures For Hip and Knee Implants.

Scientists from the Research Center for Advanced Materials (CIMAV) in Mexico look for nanostructures that allow compatibility between metal, human bone tissues. Various scientific projects performed at the Cimav, Unit Monterrey, in the north of Mexico, aimed at one goal: conducting research and apply the knowledge in the development of biomedical implants, since the ones existing in the domestic market come generally from foreign manufacture. Currently this center, part of the National Council for Science and Technology (CONACYT) and located at the Park of Research and Technological Innovation (PIIT), works on the study of novel materials, coating systems and specific properties to use in the manufacture of hip and knee implants, and, in the future, of dental parts. It is the combination of research focused on nanostructured materials with biocompatible and antibacterial properties. In this regard, Ana Maria Arizmendi Morquecho, Cimav scholar, explains that the challenge is to find appropriate measures to improve the compatibility of a metal structure with the chemical composition of bone tissue and human bone’s nanostructures.
ceramic material compatible with the boneWe use a ceramic material which is compatible with the bone, in this case hydroxyapatite, which is used as a matrix and nanoparticles from other materials are used to reinforce it and provide improvements to the bicompatibility, joint wear and mechanical properties” , explains Arizmendi Morquecho
The biocompatibility is the ability of a material to be in contact with a living being without adverse effects, therefore represents one of the most important properties in the manufacture of a biomedical implant. Currently the knee and hip implants are complex systems made of titanium alloy substrates, which require a coating compatible with bone tissue and physiological fluids using nanotechnology; to achieve this intermediate coating deposition techniques of new synthesized materials are used”.

Source: http://www.cimav.edu.mx/

Ligament Rupture Healed By Nanotechnology

Connecting the femur to the tibia, the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) rupture is one of the most devastating injuries in sports. No other injury has sidelined more athletes for a season or even the rest of a career. And ACL sprains and tears affect more people than just the pros. According to the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, more than geries are performed annually in the United States, totaling up to more than 250,000 ACL surgeries are performed annually in the United States, totaling up to more than $500 million in health care costs each year.

Not only is the ACL inelastic and prone to popping, it is incapable of healing itself, causing surgeons to rely on autografts for reconstruction. Most common is the bone-patellar tendon-bone (BPTB) graft, in which the surgeon removes part of the patellar tendon to replace the damaged ACL.
BPTB autografts have a high incidence of knee pain and discomfort that does not go away,” said Guillermo Ameer, professor of biomedical engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering and professor of surgery at the Feinberg School of Medicine. “By saving the patient’s patellar tendon and using an off-the-shelf product, one may have a better chance of preserving the natural biomechanics of the knee.

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

Smart Skin For Robots Simulating Sense Of Touch

It’s soft, warm, and can sense pressure, heat and humidity – just like human skin. This is ‘smartartificial skin and it’s the first to simulate the sense of touch. Its developers at South Korea’s Seoul National University say they aimed to create a material as close to human skin as possible.
prosthetic smart skin
We developed the synthetic skin which has the sense of feeling that exactly copies human skin. The skin can feel pressure, temperature, strain, humidity. Also it is soft, just like human skin, and embedded with heating elements that can make itself warm,” says Professor Kim Dae-Hong from the School of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Seoul National University. The warm prosthetic skin matches the temperature of the human body. And its layers give it its sense of touch.
The bottom layer of skin is rubbery material that can express the softness of human skin. Above the rubber layer, there is ultra thin polyimide and then silicon, which acts as sensors“, he adds. Researchers have combined their stretchy skin with a prosthetic hand and found it can be used for complex operations. Hand-shaking, keyboard-tapping and ball-grasping are all possible. And its humidity sensors mean it can even tell the difference between a dry diaper and a wet one. The researchers hope the ultra-thin skin will be able to send sensory signals to the brain. At the moment, this has only been demonstrated in small animals. But Professor Kim has high hopes for the future of his team’s prosthetic skin: “I hope a robotic limb with this synthetic skin can be used by disabled people. For industrial uses, it can be applied to various types of robots, like a humanoid robot“, he says. The developers envisage the synthetic skin being used by amputees. But a diaper-changing robot could also come in handy.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

Artificial Protein Carries Atoms Across Membranes

Human cells are protected by a largely impenetrable molecular membrane. Now Gevorg Grigoryan, an assistant professor of computer science at Dartmouth College, and researchers from other institutions have built the first artificial transporter protein that carries individual atoms across membranes, opening the possibility of engineering a new class of smart molecules with applications in fields as wide ranging as nanotechnology and medicine.

transport protein 2
Each human cell is surrounded by a lipid membrane, a molecular barrier that serves to contain the cellular machinery and protect it from the surrounding elements. This cellular “skin” is impenetrable to most biological molecules but also presents a conundrum: if chemicals can’t get in or out, how is a cell to receive nutrients (food) and remove unwanted products of metabolism (trash)?

Nature has come up with an elegant solution to this logistical problem — transporter proteins (or transporters). These molecular machines are embedded in the cellular membrane and serve as gatekeepers, allowing specific chemicals to shuttle in and out when needed. Though biologists have known about transporters for many decades, their precise mechanism of action has been elusive.

The study, which has been published in the journal Science, is a milestone in designing and understanding membrane proteins (a PDF is available upon request). The study was conducted by researchers from Dartmouth College, the University of California-San Francisco, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and National Institute of Science Educational and Research in India.

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

Send Men Above Venus, NASA ‘s New Dream

To send an astronauts team around Venus is easier than to Mars. Why? Mainly because Venus is much closer to the Sun and due to continuous progress in the solar panel technology, any spaceship will benefit from an inexhaustible source of solar energy. The atmosphere of Venus is, as well, an exciting destination for both further scientific study and future human exploration. A lighter-than-air vehicle can carry either a host of instruments and probes, or a habitat and ascent vehicle for a crew of two astronauts to explore Venus for up to a month. The mission requires less time to complete than a crewed Mars mission, and the environment at 50 km is relatively benign, with similar pressure, density, gravity, and radiation protection to the surface of Earth. A recent internal NASA study of a High Altitude Venus Operational Concept (HAVOC) led to the development of an evolutionary program for the exploration of Venus, with focus on the mission architecture and vehicle concept for a 30 day crewed mission into Venus’s atmosphere.
NASA_HAVOCKey technical challenges for the mission include performing the aerocapture maneuvers at Venus and Earth, inserting and inflating the airship at Venus, and protecting the solar panels and structure from the sulfuric acid in the atmosphere. With advances in technology and further refinement of the concept, missions to the Venusian atmosphere can expand humanity’s future in space.

Source: http://sacd.larc.nasa.gov/

Nano Filters Clean Dirty Industry

Prototypes of nano-cellulose based filters with high purification capacity towards environmentally hazardous contaminants from industrial effluents eg. process industries, have been developed by researchers at Luleå University of Technology (Sweden). The research, conducted in collaboration with Imperial College in the UK has reached a breakthrough with the prototypes and they will now be tested on a few industries in Europe.

- The bio-based filter of nano-cellulose is to be used for the first time in real-life situations and tested within a process industry and in municipal wastewater treatment in Spain. Other industries have also shown interest in this technology and representatives of the mining industry have contacted me and I have even received requests from a large retail chain in the UK, says Aji Mathew Associate Professor, Division of Materials Science at Luleå University.
nano filter

Researchers have combined a cheap residue from the cellulose industry, with functional nano-cellulose to prepare adsorbent sheets with high filtration capacity. The sheets have since been constructed to different prototypes, called cartridges, to be tested. They have high capacity and can filter out heavy metal ions from industrial waters, dyes residues from the printing industry and nitrates from municipal water. Next year, larger sheets with a layer of nano-cellulose can be produced and formed into cartridges, with higher capacity.

- Each such membrane can be tailored to have different removal capability depending on the kind of pollutant, viz., copper, iron, silver, dyes, nitrates and the like.

Source: http://www.ltu.se/

How To Design New Materials With Simple Computer Simulations

Scientists from the University College London (UCL ) have shown how advanced computer simulations can be used to design new composite materials. Nanocomposites, which are widely used in industry, are revolutionary materials in which microscopic particles are dispersed through plastics. But their development until now has been largely by trial and error.
The ‘virtual lab’, developed using supercomputer simulations by UCL’s James Suter, Deren Groen and Peter Coveney greatly improves our understanding of how composite materials are built on a molecular level. They allow the properties of a new material to be predicted based simply on its structure and the way it is manufactured – a holy grail of materials science.

SuperComputer ARCHER
The ARCHER supercomputer, one of several used in this study

“Developing composite materials has been a bit of a trial-and-error process until now,” says James Suter (UCL Chemistry), the first author of the study. “It typically involves grinding and mixing the ingredients and hoping for the best. Of course we test the properties of the resulting materials, but our understanding of how they are structured and why they have the properties they have, is quite limited. Our work means we can now predict how a new nanocomposite will perform, based only on their chemical composition and processing conditions.

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

How To Detect Alzheimer’s Disease Early

No methods currently exist for the early detection of Alzheimer’s disease, which affects one out of nine people over the age of 65. Now, an interdisciplinary team of Northwestern University scientists and engineers has developed a noninvasive MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) approach that can detect the disease in a living animal. And it can do so at the earliest stages of the disease, well before typical Alzheimer’s symptoms appear.

Led by neuroscientist William L. Klein and materials scientist Vinayak P. Dravid, the research team developed an MRI probe that pairs a magnetic nanostructure (MNS) with an antibody that seeks out the amyloid beta brain toxins responsible for onset of the disease. The accumulated toxins, because of the associated magnetic nanostructures, show up as dark areas in MRI scans of the brain. This ability to detect the molecular toxins may one day enable scientists to both spot trouble early and better design drugs or therapies to combat and monitor the disease. And, while not the focus of the study, early evidence suggests the MRI probe improves memory, too, by binding to the toxins to render them “handcuffed” to do further damage.
Fluorescent amyloid beta oligomers (green), bound to cultured hippocampal neurons, were detected with greater than 90 percent accuracy by the magnetic nanostructure probe (red)
We have a new brain imaging method that can detect the toxin that leads to Alzheimer’s disease,” said Klein, who first identified the amyloid beta oligomer in 1998. He is a professor of neurobiology in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “Using MRI, we can see the toxins attached to neurons in the brain,” Klein said. “We expect to use this tool to detect this disease early and to help identify drugs that can effectively eliminate the toxin and improve health.
Source: http://www.northwestern.edu/

How To Purify Water

A new catalyst could have dramatic environmental benefits if it can live up to its potential, suggests research from Singapore. A*STAR researchers have produced a catalyst with gold-nanoparticle antennas that can improve water quality in daylight and also generate hydrogen as a green energy source. This water purification technology was developed by He-Kuan Luo, Andy Hor and colleagues from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE).


Any innovative and benign technology that can remove or destroy organic pollutants from water under ambient conditions is highly welcome,” explains Hor, who is executive director of the IMRE and also affiliated with the National University of Singapore.

Photocatalytic materials harness sunlight to create electrical charges, which provide the energy needed to drive chemical reactions in molecules attached to the catalyst’s surface. In addition to decomposing harmful molecules in water, photocatalysts are used to split water into its components of oxygen and hydrogen; hydrogen can then be employed as a green energy source.
To demonstrate the efficiency of these catalysts, the researchers studied how they decomposed the dye rhodamine B in water. Within four hours of exposure to visible light 92 per cent of the dye was gone, which is much faster than conventional catalysts that lack gold nanoparticles.
Source: http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/

RadioGenetics Remotely Control Cells, Genes

It’s the most basic of ways to find out what something does, whether it’s an unmarked circuit breaker or an unidentified geneflip its switch and see what happens. New remote-control technology may offer biologists a powerful way to do this with cells and genes. A team at Rockefeller University and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is developing a system that would make it possible to remotely control biological targets in living animals — rapidly, without wires, implants or drugs.
The team describes in the journal Nature Medicine, how it succeeded using electromagnetic waves to turn on insulin production to lower blood sugar in diabetic mice. Their system couples a natural iron storage particle, ferritin, to activate an ion channel called TRPV1 such that when the metal particle is exposed to a radio wave or magnetic field it opens the channel, leading to the activation of an insulin producing gene. Together, the two proteins act as a nano-machine that can be used to trigger gene expression in cells.

Tied together: Researchers experimented with different configurations for their remote control system, and they found the best relies on an iron nanoparticle (blue), which is tethered by a protein (green) to an ion channel (red). Above, all three appear within cell membranes.

The method allows one to wirelessly control the expression of genes in a living animal and could potentially be used for conditions like hemophilia to control the production of a missing protein. Two key attributes are that the system is genetically encoded and can activate cells remotely and quickly,” says Jeffrey Friedman, Marilyn M. Simpson Professor head of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics at Rockefeller. “We are now exploring whether the method can also be used to control neural activity as a means for noninvasively modulating the activity of neural circuits.” Friedman and his Rensselaer colleague Jonathan S. Dordick were co-senior researchers on the project.

Source: http://newswire.rockefeller.edu/

How To Harvest More of the Sun’s Energy

As solar panels become less expensive and capable of generating more power, solar energy is becoming a more commercially viable alternative source of electricity. However, the photovoltaic cells now used to turn sunlight into electricity can only absorb and use a small fraction of that light, and that means a significant amount of solar energy goes untapped.

A new technology created by researchers from Caltech, and described in a paper published online in Science Express, represents a first step toward harnessing that lost energy.

Sunlight is composed of many wavelengths of light. In a traditional solar panel, silicon atoms are struck by sunlight and the atoms’ outermost electrons absorb energy from some of these wavelengths of sunlight, causing the electrons to get excited. Once the excited electrons absorb enough energy to jump free from the silicon atoms, they can flow independently through the material to produce electricity. This is called the photovoltaic effect—a phenomenon that takes place in a solar panel‘s photovoltaic cells.

Although silicon-based photovoltaic cells can absorb light wavelengths that fall in the visible spectrum—light that is visible to the human eye—longer wavelengths such as infrared light pass through the silicon. These wavelengths of light pass right through the silicon and never get converted to electricity — and in the case of infrared, they are normally lost as unwanted heat.

An ultra-sensitive needle measures the voltage that is generated while the nanospheres are illuminated

The silicon absorbs only a certain fraction of the spectrum, and it’s transparent to the rest. If I put a photovoltaic module on my roof, the silicon absorbs that portion of the spectrum, and some of that light gets converted into power. But the rest of it ends up just heating up my roof,” says Harry A. Atwater, Professor of Applied Physics at the Resnick Sustainability Institute, who led the study. Now, Atwater and his colleagues have found a way to absorb and make use of these infrared waves with a structure composed not of silicon, but entirely of metal.

The new technique they’ve developed is based on a phenomenon observed in metallic structures known as plasmon resonance. Plasmons are coordinated waves, or ripples, of electrons that exist on the surfaces of metals at the point where the metal meets the air. While the plasmon resonances of metals are predetermined in nature, Atwater and his colleagues found that those resonances are capable of being tuned to other wavelengths when the metals are made into tiny nanostructures in the lab.

Normally in a metal like silver or copper or gold, the density of electrons in that metal is fixed; it’s just a property of the material,” Atwater says. “But in the lab, I can add electrons to the atoms of metal nanostructures and charge them up. And when I do that, the resonance frequency will change.”

We’ve demonstrated that these resonantly excited metal surfaces can produce a potential“—an effect very similar to rubbing a glass rod with a piece of fur: you deposit electrons on the glass rod. “You charge it up, or build up an electrostatic charge that can be discharged as a mild shock,” he says. “So similarly, exciting these metal nanostructures near their resonance charges up those metal structures, producing an electrostatic potential that you can measure.” This electrostatic potential is a first step in the creation of electricity, Atwater says. “If we can develop a way to produce a steady-state current, this could potentially be a power source.” He envisions a solar cell using the plasmoelectric effect someday being used in tandem with photovoltaic cells to harness both visible and infrared light for the creation of electricity.

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

Nano Sponges Cut Greenhouse Gases

In the fight against global warming, carbon capture – chemically trapping carbon dioxide before it releases into the atmosphere – is gaining momentum, but standard methods are plagued by toxicity, corrosiveness and inefficiency. Using a bag of chemistry tricks, Cornell materials scientists have invented low-toxicity, highly effective carbon-trapping “sponges” that could lead to increased use of the technology. A research team led by Emmanuel Giannelis, Professor of Engineering, has invented a powder that performs as well or better than industry benchmarks for carbon capture.
The researchers have been working on a better, safer carbon-capture method . Their latest consists of a silica scaffold, the sorbent support, with nanoscale pores for maximum surface area. They dip the scaffold into liquid amine, which soaks into the support like a sponge and partially hardens. The finished product is a stable, dry white powder that captures carbon dioxide even in the presence of moisture.

A scanning electron microscopy image of a pristine silica support, before the amine is added
We have made great strides in sustainability, particularly in the energy supply areas of alternative energy sources, and the demand side areas of energy conservation and building design standards,” KyuJung Whang, Cornell’s vice president for facilities services said.

A paper with their results, co-authored by postdoctoral associates Genggeng Qi and Liling Fu, appeared in Nature Communications.
Source: http://news.cornell.edu/

Control Google Glass Directly By Your Mind

The british company This Place wants to change the future of usability for everyone. As a digital design agency, they are acutely aware of the importance of accessibility and potential for digital technologies to enhance the lives of millions of people who live with disabilities. In order to make a difference, the company focus on cutting out the need for a high level of dexterity to operate computers, and instead focus on utilising the power of the mind. Basically the device called MindRDR read brain waves in your mind.


Do you want to take a pic and to send it to your friends through Twitter? MindRDR will read the waves of your mind and operates the internet commands for you using your Google Glass.


Next step: control a computer remotely just with your mind, or just as you use an imaginary keyboard to control your computer

The mindRDR and the NeuroSky MindWave system could be great news for all humans stuck paralyzed in wheel chairs.

Source: http://www.thisplace.com/

How To Make Drinking Water From Air Humidity

Understanding how a desert beetle harvests water from dew could help to improve drinking water collection in dew condensers mimicking the nanostructure of the beetle’s back

Insects are full of marvels—and this is certainly the case with a beetle from the Tenebrionind family, found in the extreme conditions of the Namib desert. Now, a team of scientists from ESPCI Paristech – France – has demonstrated that such insects can collect dew on their backs—and not just fog as previously thought. This is made possible by the wax nanostructure on the surface of the beetle’s elytra. These findings by José Guadarrama-Cetina,and colleagues were recently published in EPJ E. They bring us a step closer to harvesting dew to make drinking water from the humidity in the air. This, the team hopes, can be done by improving the water yield of man-made dew condensers that mimick the nanostructure on the beetle’s back.
desert beerle
It was not clear from previous studies whether water harvested by such beetles came from dew droplets, in addition to fog.

Guadarrama-Cetina and colleagues also performed an image analysis of dew drops forming on the insect’s back on the surface of the elytra, which appears as a series of bumps and valleys. Dew primarily forms in the valleys endowed with a hexagonal microstructure, they found, unlike the smooth surface of the bumps. This explains how drops can slide to the insect’s mouth when they reach a critical size.
Source: http://epjb.epj.org/

Trojan Horse Nanoparticles To Kill Cancer

Scientists at Brunel University London have found a way of targeting hard-to-reach cancers and degenerative diseases using nanoparticles, but without causing the damaging side effects the treatment normally brings. In a huge step forward in the use of nanomedicine, the research helped discover proteins in the blood that disguise nanoparticles so they are absorbed into cells without causing inflammation and destroying healthy cells. Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) triggered a chain reaction in the complement system, which is part of the innate immune system and is responsible for clearing pathogens and toxins. The team, led by Dr Uday Kishore of the Centre for Infection, Immunity and Disease Mechanisms, found the entire complement system was activated, from C1 at the start to C5 at the end. This in turn activated the cell-killing membrane attack complex. In principle, this should have caused an acute allergic, inflammatory reaction. However the opposite was true.

Using the data from this study, carbon nanoparticles coated with genetically- engineered proteins are being used to target glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain tumour
By using a protein recognised by the immune system to effectively disguise carbon nanoparticles, we will be able to deploy these tiny particles to target hard-to- reach areas without damaging side effects to the patient. This is a big step forward. It is like understanding how to use penicillin safely and could be as revolutionary to modern medicine as its twentieth century predecessor”, said Dr Uday Kishore, from Brunel University London’s College of Health and Life Sciences,

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

Blinds Wear Sensors To ‘Illuminate’ Surroundings

Marek Zwolenkiewicz lost his sight 15 years ago and normally uses a white cane to help navigate his surroundings. Now, he’s testing a new wearable device – nicknamed ‘Torch‘ – that its designers from a Polish high school hope will improve his mobility. ‘Torch‘ uses infrared sensors worn on the person’s chest and head. When the wearer moves close to an obstacle, the device emits an audible or vibrating warning. Like a car sensor, the bleeps or vibrations increase as they get closer. For Marekz, ‘Torch’ has been genuinely illuminating.
There was a time when I could see very well and whenever I was in a dark room and found a source of light I was relieved, I was saved because I could see. Right now this device is similar for me, when I move my head I find an obstacle – it’s as if I was using a torch to light a spot“, says Marek. The students have filed for a patent of their device. Krzysztof Smyczek, the teacher overseeing the project, says the next prototype will have improved ultrasonic sensors, like those used in cars. Smyczek explains: “We are still working to improve this torch. Currently, after tests, we want to replace the infrared sensors with ultrasound sensors, because we noticed that in rooms with white walls or in snow the sensors work with some kind of interference. And that’s what we intend to eliminate by using ultrasound.” The students also want to reduce the size of the device, making it more comfortable to wear and unobtrusive for the user. And while rigourous safety testing will be needed before it can go into production, the inventors hope ‘Torch‘ will one day be a shining light for the blind.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

S Hawking: highly intelligent machines, the “worst mistake in history”

Dismissing the implications of highly intelligent machines could be humankind’s “worst mistake in history“, write astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, computer scientist Stuart Russell, and physicists Max Tegmark and Frank Wilczek in the Independent. “Self-awaremachines have received the Hollywood treatment in the Johnny Depp film Transcendence, but the subject should receive serious consideration, they say.

Successfully creating artificial intelligence would be “the biggest event in human history“, they write, and the possible benefits for everyday human life are enormous. There could come a time, however, when machines outpace human achievement. If and when that day arrives, they wonder, will the best interest of humans still factor into their calculations?
One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand,” they write. “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.”

And what are we humans doing to address these concerns, they ask. Nothing.

All of us should ask ourselves what we can do now to improve the chances of reaping the benefits and avoiding the risks,” they conclude.

A while back, we wondered about the implications of machine journalists. But maybe we should just be thankful that at least something will be around to write long-form essays on the last days of humankind.

Source: http://www.bbc.com/

Injectable 3D Vaccine Fights Cancer and HIV

One of the reasons cancer is so deadly is that it can evade attack from the body’s immune system, which allows tumors to flourish and spread. Scientists can try to induce the immune system, known as immunotherapy, to go into attack mode to fight cancer and to build long lasting immune resistance to cancer cells. Now, researchers at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) show a non–surgical injection of programmable biomaterial that spontaneously assembles in vivo into a 3D structure could fight and even help prevent cancer and also infectious disease such as HIV. Their findings are reported in Nature Biotechnology.

dentritic cells
A microscope image shows many of the immune system’s dendritic cells that were collected from a 3D scaffold three days after in vivo injection. The 3D scaffold effectively recruits and activates the dendritic cells to trigger an immune response against specific cells, such as cancerous cells

We can create 3D structures using minimally–invasive delivery to enrich and activate a host’s immune cells to target and attack harmful cells in vivo,” said the study’s senior author David Mooney, Ph.D., who is a Wyss Institute Core Faculty member and the Robert P. Pinkas Professor of Bioengineering at Harvard SEAS. “Nano–sized mesoporous silica particles have already been established as useful for manipulating individual cells from the inside, but this is the first time that larger particles, in the micron–sized range, are used to create a 3D in vivo scaffold that can recruit and attract tens of millions of immune cells,” said co-lead author Jaeyun Kim, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering at Sungkyunkwan University (Korea) and a former Wyss Institute Postdoctoral Fellow.
Source: http://wyss.harvard.edu/

Spray-on Solar Power

Pretty soon, powering your tablet could be as simple as wrapping it in cling wrap. Illan Kramer and colleagues from the University of Toronto (U of T) have just invented a new way to spray solar cells onto flexible surfaces using miniscule light-sensitive materials known as colloidal quantum dots (CQDs)—a major step toward making spray-on solar cells easy and cheap to manufacture. Solar-sensitive CQDs printed onto a flexible film could be used to coat all kinds of weirdly shaped surfaces, from patio furniture to an airplane’s wing. A surface the size of your car’s roof wrapped with CQD-coated film would produce enough energy to power three 100-Watt light bulbs — or 24 compact fluorescents. He calls his system sprayLD, a play on the manufacturing process called ALD, short for atomic layer deposition, in which materials are laid down on a surface one atom-thickness at a time.
In two recent papers in the journals Advanced Materials and Applied Physics Letters, Kramer showed that the sprayLD method can be used on flexible materials without any major loss in solar-cell efficiency. Kramer built his sprayLD device using parts that are readily available and rather affordable—he sourced a spray nozzle used in steel mills to cool steel with a fine mist of water, and a few regular air brushes from an art store.
spray-on solar cells
My dream is that one day you’ll have two technicians with Ghostbusters backpacks come to your house and spray your roof,” said Kramer, a post-doctoral fellow with The Edward S. Rogers Sr. Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Toronto and IBM Canada’s Research and Development Centre.
This is something you can build in a Junkyard Wars fashion, which is basically how we did it,” said Kramer.

“As quantum dot solar technology advances rapidly in performance, it’s important to determine how to scale them and make this new class of solar technologies manufacturable,” said Professor Ted Sargent (ECE), vice dean, research in the Faculty of Applied Science & Engineering at University of Toronto and Kramer’s supervisor. “We were thrilled when this attractively manufacturable spray-coating process also led to superior performance devices showing improved control and purity.”

Source: http://news.engineering.utoronto.ca/

Graphene soaks up Carbon, Cause of Global Warming

Chemists and engineers at Oregon State University (OSU) have discovered a fascinating new way to take some of the atmospheric carbon dioxide that’s causing the greenhouse effect and use it to make an advanced, high-value material for use in energy storage products.This innovation in nanotechnology won’t soak up enough carbon to solve global warming, researchers say. However, it will provide an environmentally friendly, low-cost way to make nanoporous graphene for use in “supercapacitors” – devices that can store energy and release it rapidly. Such devices are used in everything from heavy industry to consumer electronics.

greenhouse gas2
There are other ways to fabricate nanoporous graphene, but this approach is faster, has little environmental impact and costs less,” said Xiulei (David) Ji, an OSU assistant professor of chemistry in the OSU College of Science and lead author on the study. “The product exhibits high surface area, great conductivity and, most importantly, it has a fairly high density that is comparable to the commercial activated carbons. “And the carbon source is carbon dioxide, which is a sustainable resource, to say the least,” Ji said. “This methodology uses abundant carbon dioxide while making energy storage products of significant value.”

The findings were just published in Nano Energy by scientists from the OSU College of Science, OSU College of Engineering, Argonne National Laboratory, the University of South Florida and the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Albany, Ore. The work was supported by OSU.

Source: http://oregonstate.edu/

Rewritable Paper 20 Times

First developed in China in about the year A.D. 150, paper has many uses, the most common being for writing and printing upon. Indeed, the development and spread of civilization owes much to paper’s use as writing material.
According to some surveys, 90 percent of all information in businesses today is retained on paper, even though the bulk of this printed paper is discarded after just one-time use.
Such waste of paper (and ink cartridges) — not to mention the accompanying environmental problems such as deforestation and chemical pollution to air, water and land — could be curtailed if the paper were “rewritable,” that is, capable of being written on and erased multiple times.

Chemists at the University of California, Riverside have now fabricated in the lab just such novel rewritable paper, one that is based on the color switching property of commercial chemicals called redox dyes. The dye forms the imaging layer of the paper. Printing is achieved by using ultraviolet light to photobleach the dye, except the portions that constitute the text on the paper. The new rewritable paper can be erased and written on more than 20 times with no significant loss in contrast or resolution.
Rewritable-paper-Yadong Yin’s lab at the University of California, Riverside has fabricated novel rewritable paper, one that is based on the color switching property of commercial chemicals called redox dyes
This rewritable paper does not require additional inks for printing, making it both economically and environmentally viable,” said Yadong Yin, a professor of chemistry, whose lab led the research. “It represents an attractive alternative to regular paper in meeting the increasing global needs for sustainability and environmental conservation.
Study results appear online in Nature Communications.

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

Nanoparticle Kills Bacteria Associated With Gastric Cancer

The bacterium Helicobacter pylori is strongly associated with gastric ulcers and cancer. To combat the infection, researchers at University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and Jacobs School of Engineering developed LipoLLA, a therapeutic nanoparticle that contains linolenic acid, a component in vegetable oils. In mice, LipoLLA was safe and more effective against H. pylori infection than standard antibiotic treatments.
Helicobacter pylori
Current H. pylori treatments are facing a major challenge — antibiotic resistance,” said Liangfang Zhang, PhD, professor in the UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center and Department of Nanoengineering. “Our goal was to develop a nanotherapeutic that can tolerate the harsh gastric environment, kill H. pylori and avoid resistance.” Zhang and Marygorret Obonyo, PhD, assistant professor in the Moores Cancer Center and Department of Medicine, are co-senior authors of the study.

The results are published online Nov. 24 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Source: http://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/

Graphene: Extraordinary Potential As Body Armour

Graphene’s great strength appears to be determined by how well it stretches before it breaks, according to Rice University scientists who tested the material’s properties by peppering it with microbullets.
The two-dimensional carbon honeycomb discovered a decade ago is thought to be much stronger than steel. But the Rice lab of materials scientist Edwin “Ned” Thomas didn’t need even close to a pound of graphene to prove the material is on average 10 times better than steel at dissipating kinetic energy.
While other labs have looked extensively at graphene’s electronic properties and tensile strength, nobody had taken comprehensive measurements of its ability to absorb an impact, Thomas said. His lab found graphene’s ability to simultaneously be stiff, strong and elastic gives it extraordinary potential for use as body armor or for shielding spacecraft.
In 2012, they first used an earlier version of LIPIT to determine the properties of multiblock copolymers that could not only stop microbullets but also completely encase them. In every case, the 3.7-micron spheres punctured the graphene. But rather than a neat hole, the spheres left a fractured pattern of “petals” around the point of impact, indicating the graphene stretched before breaking.

bullet against graphene
We started writing about the petals, but as we went along, it became evident that wasn’t really the story,” said Thomas, the William and Stephanie Sick Dean of Rice’s George R. Brown School of Engineering. “The bullet’s kinetic energy interacts with the graphene, pushes forward, stretches the film and is slowed down.”

The researchers report in the latest edition of Science that firing microscopic projectiles at multilayer sheets of graphene allowed the scientists to determine just how hard it is to penetrate at the nano level – and how strong graphene could be in macroscopic applications.

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

Eternal Stain-Free T-Shirt for 55 Dollars

Threadsmiths is a clothing technology company based in Melbourne, Australia, pioneering a new era of performance apparel. The team try to create better apparel solutions by leveraging technology, fashion and design.

The Cavalier Hydrophobic T-ShirtClick on the picture to enjoy the Cabernet-Sauvignon Test

Our vision is it’s the first all-natural hydrophobic clothing technology,” says Lewis Pitchford, co-founder of Threadsmiths, . “Essentially it’s a 100% cotton T-shirt at the moment that has a natural application that mimics the waterproof elements of a lotus leaf. It repels all water.”

In a YouTube demonstration, red wine is poured onto the T-shirt only for the fabric to remain stain-free and completely dry.
Now you can buy through the company’s website your T-shirt that stays clean for ever.

Source: http://www.threadsmiths.com.au/

How To Reduce Side Effects From Chemotherapy

Wichita State University (WSU) researchers are working on a new system that could decrease the negative effects of cancer drugs on patients.

WSU professors Ramazan Asmatulu, Paul Wooley and Shang-You Yang – along with several graduate students – are collaborating on research that involves the use of nanotechnology in helping patients undergoing cancer treatment.

Nanotechnology is the creation and application of nanoscale materials. One nanoparticle is about 100,000 times smaller than a strand of hair.

With that technology, the group has created nanomaterials and developed a magnetic-targeted drug delivery system with the goal of localizing as much as possible the cancer drugs to the tumor sites and therefore decreasing the negative effects of the drugs on the body. They’ve targeted their research on patients with skin and breast cancer.
Skin and breast cancer patients will be exposed with the lesser amount of cancer drugs, which have too many side effects,” Asmatulu says.

So far, they have seen positive results in both “in vitro” studies (using petri dishes and test tubes) and “in vivo” studies (using mice). The group is in the final stages of receiving a patent from the study. In the future, they plan to apply the technology to humans.

Source: http://www.wichita.edu/

Solar Panels Covering Car Parks Produce Cheap Energy

The world is full of car parks. And one British start-up wants us to be using them to produce green energy. Founder of the Solar Cloth Company, Perry Carroll, says his flexible solar panels can be placed on structures that can’t take the weight of traditional glass panels. Like this car park in Cambridge.
solar roof
There are enough car parking spaces in Great Britain that if we covered with solar, we would end up without having an energy problem at all in Great Britain. Now, we don’t have to cover farming fields, we don’t have to cover roofs, we don’t have to cover, if you wish to call it, new areas. This is existing infrastructure that people use“, says Perry Carroll, the founder of the Solar Cloth Company. The company’s Innovation Director Christopher Jackson says the lightweight, flexible panels can also be used on non-load bearing commercial roof space.

Roofs which you would never see otherwise can now be turned into sources of electricity. And that means you don’t have to have any impact on the environment, there are no concerns to take into account of planning. It’s an elegant solution to turn an otherwise unused space into a source of electricity“, Jackson adds. And the company also has iconic buildings such as the 02 Arena in London in its sights.
Perry Carroll concludes: “Imagine that powering itself, because it’s been covered in a flexible solar tensile structure. Imagine looking at things like the Sydney Opera House, imagine looking at sporting stadia where basically the ground is completely covered with a solar solution that allows you to one, appreciate the artistic merits of the design of the stadium, but it also allows you to create energy for its needs.”

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

Janus Nanoparticles Infiltrate, Kill Cancer Cells From Within

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC) have devised nanoparticles that target and treat early stage cancer cells by killing them with heat, delivered from inside the cell itself. Normal cells are thus left unaffected by the treatment regimen.
In contrast to conventional cancer therapy, the team has developed several novel designs for iron-oxide based nanoparticles that detect, diagnose and destroy cancer cells using photo-thermal therapy (PTT). PTT uses the nanoparticles to focus light-induced heat energy only within the tumor, harming no adjacent normal cells.

The UC study used the living cells of mice to successfully test the efficacy of their two-sided nanoparticle designs (one side for cell targeting and the other for treatment delivery) in combination with the PTT. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has now approved the use of iron-oxide nanoparticles in humans. That means the photo-thermal effect of iron-oxide nanoparticles may show, in the next decade, a strong promise in human cancer therapy, likely with localized tumors.
cancer cells
The results of the UC work will be presented at the Materials Research Society Conference in Boston (Nov. 30-Dec. 5) by Andrew Dunn, doctoral student in materials science engineering in UC’s College of Engineering.

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

Low-Cost, Ultra Fast DNA Reader

A team of scientists from Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and IBM’s T.J. Watson Research Center have developed a prototype DNA reader that could make whole genome profiling an everyday practice in medicine.
DNA readerOur goal is to put cheap, simple and powerful DNA and protein diagnostic devices into every single doctor’s office,” said Stuart Lindsay, an ASU physics professor and director of Biodesign’s Center for Single Molecule Biophysics. Such technology could help usher in the age of personalized medicine, where information from an individual’s complete DNA and protein profiles could be used to design treatments specific to their individual makeup.

The device is sensitive enough to distinguish the individual chemical bases of DNA (known by their abbreviated letters of A, C, T or G) when they are pumped past the reading head.

Proof-of-concept was demonstrated, by using solutions of the individual DNA bases, which gave clear signals sensitive enough to detect tiny amounts of DNA (nanomolar concentrations), even better than today’s state-of-the-art, so called next-generation DNA sequencing technology. Making the solid-state device is just like making a sandwich, just with ultra high-tech semiconductor tools used to slice and stack the atomic-sized layers of meats and cheeses like the butcher shop’s block. The secret is to make slice and stack the layers just so, to turn the chemical information of the DNA into a change in the electrical signal.

Source: http://www.biodesign.asu.edu/

Nanoprobe Lightens Up Tumors

Researchers from A*STAR (Singapore) have developed a hybrid metal––polymer nanoparticle that lights up in the acidic environment surrounding tumor cells. Nonspecific probes that can identify any kind of tumor are extremely useful for monitoring the location and spread of cancer and the effects of treatment, as well as aiding initial diagnosis.

Cancerous tumors typically have lower than normal pH levels, which correspond to increased acidity both inside the cells and within the extracellular microenvironment surrounding the cells. This simple difference between tumor cells and normal cells has led several research groups to develop probes that can detect the low pH of tumors using optical imaging, magnetic resonance and positron emission tomography.

Most of these probes, however, target the intracellular pH, which requires the probes to enter the cells in order to work. A greater challenge has been to detect the difference in extracellular pH between healthy tissue and tumor tissue as the pH difference is smaller. Success would mean that the probes are not required to enter the cells.

nanoprobe lightens up tumors
Intravenous administration of a hybrid metal–polymer nanoprobe causes tumor tissue to fluoresce

Our aim is to address the challenge of illuminating tumors universally,” says Bin Liu from the A*STAR Institute of Materials Research and Engineering. Liu’s team, together with colleagues from the National University of Singapore, based their new probe on polymers that self-assemble on gold nanoparticles.
Source: http://www.research.a-star.edu.sg/

Nanotechnology Revolutionizes Jeweler’s Craft

The creation and manipulation of nanoparticles can result in unique optical properties often of no value in the fields where the particles are most commonly used. Sofie Boons, a London-based jewelry designer accustomed to working with gold, has applied these rare effects to beads used in jewelry.

When I first heard about gold nanoparticles, I thought they would have a gold or a dark gold color,” said Ms. Boons, a recent postgraduate of London’s Royal College of Art. “Instead, they were purple, brown, blue or sometimes even edging on green. It doesn’t look like gold at all.”

The color of objects is usually determined by the absorption of light by the dye or pigment within the particular material. This color stays the same no matter which way the object is viewed or broken apart. Gold and silver nanoparticles create color differently. If a gold nanoparticle is broken apart, it turns into a new color. In collaboration with Jodie Melbourne, 26, a nanotechnology doctoral candidate at Imperial College London, Ms. Boons, 25, created a range of round beads to be incorporated in necklaces, earrings and rings. Using the color effect of gold and silver nanoparticles, the beads cast contrasting hues as the wearer adjusts their surroundings.
If you have no light going through the bead, there will appear one color,” said Ms. Boons. “When you shine a light through the bead, its shadow will have another color. Then, when you hold the bead to the light, the light shining through will appear another color.”
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/

Virtual Reality Will Help Autistic Children At Home

Autistic children can quickly lose interest in conventional therapy techniques. But in the 3D cave at Poland’s Silesian University Of Technology that’s not the case. Scientists led by Piotr Wodarski created this virtual world, similar to combat simulators used to train soldiers.

A child entering our application activates certain motion sequences which allow the optical system to measure where the individual segments of the body are, and on this basis calculate the appropriate modules of the application so that they match the location of the objects with the reach of a palm or the position of the head of the person in our system,” says Piotr Wodarski, researcher at the Silesian University of Technology. Therapeutic activities, like moving colourful blocks around, are programmed into the system. Professor Marek Gzik says it’s helping both children with autism and Down’s Syndrome focus better on their therapy. Autistic patients, in particular, can find human interaction difficult.
Getting through to these children can be difficult. But thanks to this technology they open up and we can diagnose their problems properly, in detail, objectively, measuring the mobility in their joints for instance, and then see which methods of rehabilitation are most efficient,” says Professor Marek Gzik. Engineers are tweaking the system to meet children’s varying levels of physical and mental development. They hope that children could soon use the program at home with virtual reality headsets.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

A Billion Holes Make a Postage Stamp Battery

Researchers at the University of Maryland (UMD) have invented a single tiny structure that includes all the components of a battery that they say could bring about the ultimate miniaturization of energy storage components.
A billion nanopores could fit on a postage stamp
The structure is called a nanopore: a tiny hole in a ceramic sheet that holds electrolyte to carry the electrical charge between nanotube electrodes at either end. The existing device is a test, but the bitsy battery performs well. First author Chanyuan Liu, a Ph.D. student in materials science, says that it can be fully charged in 12 minutes, and it can be recharged thousands of time.

Many millions of these nanopores can be crammed into one larger battery the size of a postage stamp. One of the reasons the researchers think this unit is so successful is because each nanopore is shaped just like the others, which allows them to pack the tiny thin batteries together efficiently.The space inside the holes is so small that the space they take up, all added together, would be no more than a grain of sand.
Now that the scientists have the battery working and have demonstrated the concept, they have also identified improvements that could make the next version 10 times more powerful. The next step to commercialization: the inventors have conceived strategies for manufacturing the battery in large batches.

A team of UMD chemists and materials scientists collaborated on the project: Gary Rubloff, director of the Maryland NanoCenter, Sang Bok Lee, a professor in the Department of Chemistry and seven of their Ph.D. students.
Source: http://www.umdrightnow.umd.edu/

Tick Saliva To Combat Cancer

Brazilian doctors hope a compound found in a common blood-sucking tick can be used to break down cancerous tumours in humans after successful results in laboratory animals.
It’s not a pleasant sight; ticks having their saliva extracted. But according to researchers at the Butantan Institute in Brazil, the arachnid’s spit could be extremely valuable in fighting cancer. Project coordinator, Ana Marisa Chudzinski-Tavassi, says her team originally explored the anti blood-clotting properties of tick saliva. But they soon found that one particular molecule, Ambyomin-X, also kills malignant cells. Tests on mice and rabbits not only reduced cancerous tumours, but did so without damaging healthy cells.
tick saliva
Usually with chemotherapy, though it has a bigger effect on tumour cells than on normal cells, normal cells are also always harmed. And what we’ve seen here, even with 42 days of treatment in animals, is that we aren’t reaching normal cells. So the idea is that side effects will be far fewer“, says Doctor Ana Marisa Chudzinski-Tavassi, from the Instituto Butantan (Brazil). The tick saliva compound has successfully treated animals with cancers of the skin, pancreas, kidneys and metastases in the lungs. And Chudzinski-Tavassi says she hopes Brazil’s National Health Surveillance Agency will soon approve human clinical trials. She says these could prove an important breakthrough in the fight against cancer and put Brazil on the biotechnology map.

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

How To Stanch The Free Flow of Blood From An Injury

Stanching the free flow of blood from an injury remains a holy grail of clinical medicine. Controlling blood flow is a primary concern and first line of defense for patients and medical staff in many situations, from traumatic injury to illness to surgery. If control is not established within the first few minutes of a hemorrhage, further treatment and healing are impossible.

At the University of California Santa Barbara (UC Santa Barbara), researchers in the Department of Chemical Engineering and at Center for Bioengineering (CBE) have turned to the human body’s own mechanisms for inspiration in dealing with the necessary and complicated process of coagulation. By creating nanoparticles that mimic the shape, flexibility and surface biology of the body’s own platelets, they are able to accelerate natural healing processes while opening the door to therapies and treatments that can be customized to specific patient needs.
Synthetic Platelets
This is a significant milestone in the development of synthetic platelets, as well as in targeted drug delivery,” said Samir Mitragotri, CBE director, who specializes in targeted therapy technologies. Results of the researchers’ findings appear in the current issue of the journal ACS Nano.

Source: http://www.news.ucsb.edu/

Solar-powered Bike Path Could Cover A Fifth of The Netherlands

SolaRoad isn’t your average bicycle path? Now, for the first in the world a bike path is fitted with embedded solar panels. Dutch finance minister Henk Kamp got in the saddle to launch the 70 metre stretch of a busy Amsterdam commuter road and made a comment: “This is not economically feasible but we will make it economically feasible and we are working on it very hard.
Co-inventor Sten de Wit says SolaRoad consists of rows of miniscule crystalline silicon solar cells, encased within concrete and covered with a translucent layer of tempered glass.
solar-powered bike path

The top layer is the main innovation of this road, because it has to combine a number of functions: it has to be transparent, because the sunlight has to go through the top layer to the solar cells that are underneath, but it also has to be sufficiently skid-resistant, sufficiently rough.” Because the path can’t be adjusted to the sun’s position, it produces 30 percent less energy than solar roof panels, says Sten De Wit. But he added that it’s suitable for up to a fifth of Dutch roads, and could eventually be used to power traffic lights and electric cars. “If in the future we could put that electricity from the road into electric cars that drive over the road, then we could make a huge step towards sustainable mobility system.” De Wit’s colleagues at the TNO research institute say they’ll have a commercially viable product within five years…once this initial trial gets into gear.

Source: http://www.reuters.com

Artificial Retina

The loss of eyesight, often caused by retinal degeneration, is a life-altering health issue for many people, especially as they age. But a new development toward a prosthetic retina could help counter conditions that result from problems with this crucial part of the eye. Scientists, led by Yael Hanein from Tel Aviv University (TAU) published their research on a new device, which they tested on tissue from laboratory animals, in the ACS journal Nano Letters.
artificial retina

Yael Hanein and colleagues point out that a growing range of medical devices has become available to treat conditions, including visual impairment, that involve sending sensory signals to the brain. Patients with one type of eye disorder called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), for example, could potentially benefit from such a device, they say. AMD usually affects people age 60 or older who have damage to a specific part of the retina, limiting their vision. Scientists are trying different approaches to develop an implant that can “seelight and send visual signals to a person’s brain, countering the effects of AMD and related vision disorders. But many attempts so far use metallic parts, cumbersome wiring or have low resolution.
The researchers, an interdisciplinary team from Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Centers for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology and Newcastle University, (UK) wanted to make a more compact device.

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

Nano-Fibers Prevent HIV/AIDS Transmission

Scientists have developed a novel topical microbicide loaded with hyaluronic acid (HA) nanofibers that could potentially prevent transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through the vaginal mucosa. This research is being presented at the 2014 American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists (AAPS) Annual Meeting and Exposition, the world’s largest pharmaceutical sciences meeting, in San Diego, Nov. 2-6. HIV is an infectious virus that attacks T lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that prevents infections and disease. Over time, HIV dramatically depletes the body’s T cell population, leaving the body defenseless against opportunistic pathogens. HIV is transmitted through direct contact with blood, semen, pre-seminal fluid, vaginal fluids, rectal fluids, or breast milk from an infected person. To date, there is no functional cure for HIV infection/AIDS. Currently available anti-HIV drug delivery methods are formulated as gels and suppositories, but can lack appropriate vaginal retention, are prone to medicine leakage, and may cause uncomfortable wetness.
To address these issues, Bi-Botti Youan, Ph.D and his colleagues from University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Pharmacy developed an anti-HIV drug loaded onto a mucoadhesive hyaluronic acid (HA) nanofiber delivery system.

The success of vaginal drug delivery systems depends on the length of time that the drug-containing formulation remains at the site of administration (ex. vagina, rectum). The mucoadhesive nanofibers developed in this study could be beneficial by causing much less discomfort and reducing the dosing frequency simultaneously due to their prolonged retention at the target site,” said Youan.

The nanofiber-based formulation offers various potential advantages in vaginal drug delivery, including the ability to adapt delivery systems for different medical needs, with no leakage or messiness after their application.
Source: http://www.eurekalert.org/

How To Fight Counterfeiting using Inkjet Printing

From water marks to colored threads, governments are constantly adding new features to paper money to stay one step ahead of counterfeiters. Now a longhorn beetle has inspired yet another way to foil cash fraud, as well as to produce colorful, changing billboards and art displays. In the journal ACS Nano, researchers report a new kind of ink that mimics the beetle’s color-shifting ability in a way that would be long-lasting and difficult to copy.
longhorn beetlecolor-changing ink
Zhongze Gu, Zhuoying Xie, Chunwei Yuan and colleagues from SouthEast University (China) explain that some U.S. bills have color-changing features to help thwart attempts by counterfeiters to make fake money. But these features based on the chemical structural changes of dyes, pigments or polymers tend to fade when exposed to light and air. Researchers have been developing a new set of color-changing materials known as colloidal photonic crystals that are bleach resistant. The methods that use these crystals remain expensive, however. Inkjet printing is a fast, precise and low-cost alternative, but until now, researchers had not developed the right inks for making such color-changing and complex patterns. For inspiration, Gu’s team turned to Tmesisternus isabellae, a longhorn beetle that can shift from gold to red and back again, depending on the humidity.
Source: http://www.acs.org/

Electric Car Batteries Charged In A Few Minutes For 500 km Range

A car powered by its own body panels could soon be driving on our roads after a breakthrough in nanotechnology research by a team from the Queensland Institute of Technology (QUT) in Australia. Researchers have developed lightweight and cheap “supercapacitors” that can be combined with regular batteries to dramatically boost the power of an electric car.
The discovery was made by Dr Jinzhang Liu, Professor Nunzio Motta and PhD researcher Marco Notarianni, from QUT, and fellows from Rice University in Houston, in the United States.
The supercapacitors – a “sandwich” of electrolyte between two all-carbon electrodes – were made into a thin and extremely strong film with a high power density.
The film could be embedded in a car’s body panels, roof, doors, bonnet and floorstoring enough energy to turbocharge an electric car’s battery in just a few minutes.
ElectricCARSAfter one full charge this car should be able to run up to 500km (310 miles) – similar to a petrol-powered car and more than double the current limit of an electric car
Supercapacitors offer a high power output in a short time, meaning a faster acceleration rate of the car and a charging time of just a few minutes, compared to several hours for a standard electric car battery.”
In the future, it is hoped the supercapacitor will be developed to store more energy than a Li-Ion battery while retaining the ability to release its energy up to 10 times faster – meaning the car could be entirely powered by the supercapacitors in its body panels, Mr Notarianni said.

The findings, published in the Journal of Power Sources and the Nanotechnology journal, mean a car partly powered by its own body panels could be a reality within five years, Mr Notarianni said.
Source; https://www.qut.edu.au/

How To Read DNA At High-Speed

Berkeley Researchers Create Unique Graphene Nanopores with Optical Antennas for DNA Sequencing.
High-speed reading of the genetic code should get a boost with the creation of the world’s first graphene nanoporespores measuring approximately 2 nanometers in diameter – that feature a “built-inoptical antenna. Researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California (UC) Berkeley have invented a simple, one-step process for producing these nanopores in a graphene membrane using the photothermal properties of gold nanorods.
graphene nanopore
Schematic drawing of graphene nanopore with self-integrated optical antenna (gold) that enhances the optical readout signal (red) of DNA as it passes through a graphene nanopore

With our integrated graphene nanopore with plasmonic optical antenna, we can obtain direct optical DNA sequence detection,” says Luke Lee, the Arnold and Barbara Silverman Distinguished Professor at UC Berkeley. “We believe our approach opens new avenues for simultaneous electrical and optical nanopore DNA sequencing and for regulating DNA translocation,” says Zettl, who is also a member of the Kavli Energy Nanoscience Institute (Kavli ENSI).

Source: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/

Fuel Cells For Hydrogen-powered Car

University of Utah engineers developed the first room-temperature fuel cell that uses enzymes to help jet fuel produce electricity without needing to ignite the fuel. These new fuel cells can be used to power portable electronics, off-grid power and sensors.

Fuel cells convert energy into electricity through a chemical reaction between a fuel and an oxygen-rich source such as air. If a continuous flow of fuel is provided, a fuel cell can generate electricity cleanly and cheaply. While batteries are used commonly to power electric cars and generators, fuel cells also now serve as power generators in some buildings, or to power fuel-cell vehicles such as prototype hydrogen-powered cars (See: http://nanocomputer.com/).

Tucson fuel cell
The major advance in this research is the ability to use Jet Propellant-8 (JP-8) directly in a fuel cell without having to remove sulfur impurities or operate at very high temperature,” says the study’s senior author, Shelley Minteer, a University of Utah professor of materials science and engineering, and also chemistry. “This work shows that JP-8 and probably others can be used as fuels for low-temperature fuel cells with the right catalysts.” Catalysts are chemicals that speed reactions between other chemicals.
A study of the new cells appears online today in the American Chemical Society journal ACS Catalysis.

Source: http://unews.utah.edu/

Hydrogen Catalysts Efficient After Twenty-Thousand Cycles

Rice University scientists who want to gain an edge in energy production and storage report they have found it in molybdenum disulfide. The Rice lab of chemist James Tour has turned molybdenum disulfide’s two-dimensional form into a nanoporous film that can catalyze the production of hydrogen or be used for energy storage. The versatile chemical compound classified as a dichalcogenide is inert along its flat sides, but previous studies determined the material’s edges are highly efficient catalysts for hydrogen evolution reaction (HER), a process used in fuel cells to pull hydrogen from water.
Tour and his colleagues have found a cost-effective way to create flexible films of the material that maximize the amount of exposed edge and have potential for a variety of energy-oriented applications. Molybdenum disulfide isn’t quite as flat as graphene, the atom-thick form of pure carbon, because it contains both molybdenum and sulfur atoms. When viewed from above, it looks like graphene, with rows of ordered hexagons.

thin filmThe Rice lab built supercapacitors with thin films; in tests, they retained 90 percent of their capacity after 10,000 charge-discharge cycles and 83 percent after 20,000 cycles.

So much of chemistry occurs at the edges of materials,” said Tour. “A two-dimensional material is like a sheet of paper: a large plain with very little edge. But our material is highly porous. What we see in the images are short, 5- to 6-nanometer planes and a lot of edge, as though the material had bore holes drilled all the way through.”

The Rice research appears in the journal Advanced Materials.

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

NanoRobots Manufacture Devices At NanoScale

What does it take to fabricate electronic and medical devices tinier than a fraction of a human hair? Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego recently invented a new method of lithography in which nanoscale robots swim over the surface of light-sensitive material to create complex surface patterns that form the sensors and electronics components on nanoscale devices. Their research, published recently in the journal Nature Communications, offers a simpler and more affordable alternative to the high cost and complexity of current state-of-the-art nanofabrication methods such as electron beam writing.
Led by distinguished nanoengineering professor and chair Joseph Wang, the team developed nanorobots, or nanomotors, that are chemically-powered, self-propelled and magnetically controlled. Their proof-of-concept study demonstrates the first nanorobot swimmers able to manipulate light for nanoscale surface patterning. The new strategy combines controlled movement with unique light-focusing or light-blocking abilities of nanoscale robots.

nanorobotNanoengineers have invented a spherical nanorobot made of silica that focuses light like a near-field lens to write surface patterns for nanoscale devices. In this image, the red and purple areas indicate where the light is being magnified to produce a trench pattern on light-sensitive material

All we need is these self-propelled nanorobots and UV light,” said Jinxing Li, a doctoral student at the Jacobs School of Engineering and first author. “They work together like minions, moving and writing and are easily controlled by a simple magnet.

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

Lung Cancer Detected Years Before

Lung cancer is one of the most lethal cancers. According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), one-year survival among these patients is 44%, and 5-year survival only 16%. Only 15% of these cancers are presently diagnosed at a stage where the disease is localised. Early detection could both improve patient survival and help to improve health economics. COPD is the 3rd leading cause of deaths in the USA, and is mainly caused by smoking.
Now a team of researchers from Inserm – France – led by Paul Hofman (Inserm Unit 1081/University of Nice) has just made a significant advance in the area of early diagnosis of invasive cancers. In a study which has just been published in the journal Plos One, the team shows that it is possible to detect, in patients at risk of developing lung cancer, early signs, in the form of circulating cancer cells, several months, and in some cases several years, before the cancer becomes detectable by CT scanning. This warning could play a key role in early surgical intervention, thereby making it possible to attempt the early eradication of the primary cancer site.
lung cancerThe team of researchers led by Paul Hofman used a blood test developed during French research, which isolates all types of tumour cells from the bloodstream, without any loss, leaving them intact. The team studied a group of 245 people without cancer, including 168 patients at risk of later developing lung cancer because they had Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). Participants systematically underwent the blood test and standard diagnostic imaging tests. Using the blood test, circulating cancer cells were identified in 5 patients (3%), whereas imaging did not show any nodules in the lungs. In these 5 patients, a nodule became detectable 1-4 years after detection of circulating cancer cells by the blood test. They immediately underwent surgery, and analysis of the nodule confirmed the diagnosis of lung cancer. Monitoring of the patients for a minimum of one year after surgery showed no sign of recurrence in the 5 patients, leading one to hope that the cancer had been eradicated. At the same time, no nodules were detected during monitoring of subjects who did not have circulating cancer cells, and no cancer cells were detected in the bloodstream of “control” subjects without COPD.

Source: http://presse-inserm.fr/

DNA-based NanoComputer

DNA-based programmable circuits can be more sophisticated, cheaper and simpler to make. In a new research paper published in Nature Nanotechnology, an international group of scientists announced the most significant breakthrough in a decade toward developing DNA-based electrical circuits. The central technological revolution of the 20th century was the development of computers, leading to the communication and Internet era. The main measure of this evolution is miniaturization: making our machines smaller. A computer with the memory of the average laptop today was the size of a tennis court in the 1970s. Yet while scientists made great strides in reducing of the size of individual computer components through microelectronics, they have been less successful at reducing the distance between transistors, the main element of our computers. These spaces between transistors have been much more challenging and extremely expensive to miniaturize – an obstacle that limits the future development of computers.

molecular electronics2Molecular electronics, which uses molecules as building blocks for the fabrication of electronic components, was seen as the ultimate solution to the miniaturization challenge. Nevertheless, so far no one has been able to demonstrate reliably and quantitatively the flow of electrical current through long DNA molecules.
Now, an international group led by Prof. Danny Porath, the Etta and Paul Schankerman Professor in Molecular Biomedicine at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, reports reproducible and quantitative measurements of electricity flow through long molecules made of four DNA strands, signaling a significant breakthrough towards the development of DNA-based electrical circuits.

Source: http://new.huji.ac.il/


Solar Power: Ninety Percent Of Captured Light Converted Into Heat

A multidisciplinary engineering team at the University of California, San Diego developed a new nanoparticle-based material for concentrating solar power plants designed to absorb and convert to heat more than 90 percent of the sunlight it captures. The new material can also withstand temperatures greater than 700 degrees Celsius and survive many years outdoors in spite of exposure to air and humidity. Their work, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program, was published recently in two separate articles in the journal Nano Energy. By contrast, current solar absorber material functions at lower temperatures and needs to be overhauled almost every year for high temperature operations.


We wanted to create a material that absorbs sunlight that doesn’t let any of it escape. We want the black hole of sunlight,” said Sungho Jin, a professor in the department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering. Jin, along with professor Zhaowei Liu of the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering professor Renkun Chen, developed the Silicon boride-coated nanoshell material. They are all experts in functional materials engineering.

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

Google NanoPills To Find Cancer

Detecting cancer could be as easy as popping a pill in the near future. Google’s head of life sciences, Andrew Conrad, took to the stage at the Wall Street Journal Digital conference to reveal that the tech giant’s secretive Google[x] lab has been working on a wearable device that couples with nanotechnology to detect disease within the body.


We’re passionate about switching from reactive to proactive and we’re trying to provide the tools that make that feasible,” explained Conrad. This is a third project in a series of health initiatives for Google[x]. The team has already developed a smart contact lens that detects glucose levels for diabetics and utensils that help manage hand tremors in Parkinson’s patients.

The plan is to test whether tiny particles coated “magnetized” with antibodies can catch disease in its nascent stages. The tiny particles are essentially programmed to spread throughout the body via pill and then latch on to the abnormal cells. The wearable device then “calls” the nanoparticles back to ask them what’s going on with the body and to find out if the person who swallowed the pill has cancer or other diseases. Think of it as sort of like a mini self-driving car,” Conrad simplified with a clear reference to Google[x]‘s vehicular project. “We can make it park where we want it to.” Conrad went on with the car theme, saying the body is more important than a car and comparing our present healthcare system as something that basically only tries to change our oil after we’ve broken down. “We wouldn’t do that with a car,” he added.

Source: http://techcrunch.com/

Solar Plant produces twice more Than Nuclear Power Plant

A solar energy project in the Tunisian Sahara aims to generate enough clean energy by 2018 to power two million European homes. Called the TuNur project; developers, including renewable investment company Low Carbon and solar developer Nur Energie, say the site will produce twice as much energy as the average nuclear power plant. But instead of using typical photovoltaic cells that only generate power during the day; they’re using Concentrated Solar Power. Using a vast array of mirrors to concentrate and  reflect the intense Saharan sun to a central tower, water or molten salt is heated to over 500 degrees Celsius. The steamced powers a turbine which in turn generates electricity. This, says Nur Energie‘s CEO Kevin Sara, means the plant will produce electricity even when the sun is down.


solar power plant

 ”The technology that you can deploy in the desert is baseload renewable power; that means you can actually replace fossil fuel power plants because we can generate 24-7 using solar power,” says Kevin Sara, CEO of Nur Energie. Transmission lines will take the electricity to the Tunisian coast where a dedicated undersea cable will connect it to the European grid via a hub in northern Italy. Over ten millions euros has already gone into identifying the best location in the Tunisian Sahara to harness the intense solar radiation. “It’s quite large; it’s 10,000 hectares – a hundred square kilometres. But there’s nothing there, it’s just sand and a few bushes.

With energy security a big concern, Sara says the project has the potential to help end Europe’s reliance on fossil fuels using ‘desert power‘. “We believe that this is really opening a new energy corridor. This could be the first of many projects, and we could gradually de-carbonise the European grid using desert power, using this solar energy with storage from the Sahara desert and linked to Europe with high-voltage DC cables which are very, very low in their losses.” Sara added.
Tunisia is seeking to bolster its stability following the 2011 uprising, with lack of jobs and growth contributing to the unrest. The team behind the TuNur project hope the Saharan sunshine will be a shining light not only for renewable energy, but for the future of Tunisia.

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

How Bipolar Disorders Affect The Brain

A nano-sized discovery by Northwestern Medicine® scientists helps explain how bipolar disorder affects the brain and could one day lead to new drug therapies to treat the mental illness.

Scientists used a new super-resolution imaging method — the same method recognized with the 2014 Nobel Prize in chemistry – to peer deep into brain tissue from mice with bipolar-like behaviors. In the synapses (where communication between brain cells occurs), they discovered tiny “nanodomain” structures with concentrated levels of ANK3 — the gene most strongly associated with bipolar disorder risk. ANK3 is coding for the protein ankyrin-G.


We knew that ankyrin-G played an important role in bipolar disease, but we didn’t know how,” said Northwestern Medicine scientist Peter Penzes, corresponding author of the paper. “Through this imaging method we found the gene formed in nanodomain structures in the synapses, and we determined that these structures control or regulate the behavior of synapses.”

High-profile cases, including actress Catherine Zeta-Jones and politician Jesse Jackson, Jr., have brought attention to bipolar disorder. The illness causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks. About 3 percent of Americans experience bipolar disorder symptoms, and there is no cure. Recent large-scale human genetic studies have shown that genes can contribute to disease risk along with stress and other environmental factors. However, how these risk genes affect the brain is not known.

Penzes is a professor in physiology and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. The results were published Oct. 22 in the journal Neuron.

source:  http://www.northwestern.edu/


World’s First Band To Play With 3D Instruments

Students from Lund University‘s Malmo Academy of Music – Sweden – are believed to be the world’s first band to all use 3D printed instruments. The guitar, bass guitar, keyboard and drums were built by Olaf Diegel, professor of product development, who says 3D printing allows musicians to design an instrument to their exact specifications.
3D guitar
The band love their new instruments. Lead guitarist Mikel Morueta Holme is particularly enamoured with his Steam Punk inspired design

Every instrument I make is unique; it’s made specially for the musician. And that’s something you can’t do with traditional manufacturing…..if the musician says ‘I want something more neck-heavy like a Gibson SG‘, we can digitally shift the weight around to give them exactly the balance they want for example. Or if they want to scallop here to fit their arm better. And that’s the beauty of 3D printing, you can just change as you go along, hit print and eleven or twelve hours later you’ve got the next version ready to go,” says Olaf Diegel.
Source: http://www.reuters.com/

How To Triple The Production Of Biogas

Researchers of the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2), and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) have developed the new BiogàsPlus, a technology which allows increasing the production of biogas by 200% with a controlled introduction of iron oxide nanoparticles to the process of organic waste treatment.

The development of BiogàsPlus was carried out by the ICN2‘s Inorganic Nanoparticle group, led by ICREA researcher Víctor Puntes, and by the Group of Organic Solid Waste Composting of the UAB School of Engineering, directed by Antoni Sánchez. The system is based on the use of iron oxide nanoparticles as an additive which “feeds” the bacteria in charge of breaking down organic matter. This additive substantially increases the production of biogas and at the same time transforms the iron nanoparticles into innocuous salt.

iron Oxyd nanoparticle
We believe we are offering a totally innovative approach to the improvement of biogas production and organic waste treatment, since this is the first nanoparticle application developed with this in mind. In addition, it offers a significant improvement in the decomposition of organic waste when compared to existing technologies”, explains Antoni Sánchez.

According to researchers, today’s biogas production is not very efficient – only 30 to 40 per cent of organic matter is converted into biogas - when compared to other energy sources. “The first tests conducted with BiogàsPlus demonstrated that product increases up to 200% the production of this combustible gas. This translates into a profitable and sustainable solution to the processing of organic waste, thus favouring the use of this renewable source of energy”, affirms Eudald Casals, ICN2 researcher participating in the project.
Source: http://www.uab.cat/

Paralyzed Man Walks After Cells Transplant

A man who was paralysed from the chest down following a knife attack can now walk using a frame, following a pioneering cell transplantation treatment developed by scientists at UCL and applied by surgeons at Wroclaw University Hospital, Poland. The technique involved using specialist cells from the nose, called olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs), in the spinal cord. These allow the nerve cells that give us a sense of smell to grow back when they are damaged.
paralyzed man walksThe 38-year-old patient, Darek Fidyka, was paralysed after suffering stab wounds to the back in 2010, leaving an 8mm gap in his spinal cord. He described the ability to walk again using a frame as “an incredible feeling”, and added: “when you can’t feel almost half your body, you are helpless, but when it starts coming back it’s as if you were born again.”
Professor Geoff Raisman fron UCL says: It is immensely gratifying to see that years of research have now led to the development of a safe technique for transplanting cells into the spinal cord. I believe we stand on the threshold of a historic advance and that the continuation of our work will be of major benefit to mankind“.

The research is published in the journal Cell Transplantation. The UK research team was led by Professor Geoff Raisman, Chair of Neural Regeneration at the UCL Institute of Neurology.
Source: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/

Ebola: Drop Of Blood Tested in Fifteen Minutes

The Comissariat à l’Energie Atomique (CEA), France, has developed a rapid diagnostic test for Ebola. The immediate production phase starts with the assistance of the company VEDALAB, European leader in rapid diagnosis. This test has just received the technical validation of the high security Microbiological Laboratory P4 Jean Mérieux (Inserm), the french entity that has in charge studies of the Ebola strain outbreak in West Africa.

test ebolaCEA has developed a rapid test for the diagnosis of Ebola particularly suited to the current health emergency. Called Ebola eZYSCREEN with a similar size than pregnancy tests, the device will be used in the field, without special equipment, from a drop of blood, plasma or urine. He is able to give an answer in less than 15 minutes for any patient with symptoms of the disease.

Current tests based on genetic testing of the virus, are very sensitive, but require dedicated devices, taking 2:15 to 2:30 and should be performed only in the laboratory. The rapid test has the advantage of an initial diagnosis of patients closer to the affected populations. It aims to facilitate the supply chain and decision necessary to guide people on the ground. It would particularly reduce the number of analyzes to be performed in a dedicated laboratory.
Source: http://www.cea.fr/

3D Printing: How To Control the Structure of Metal

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) have demonstrated an additive manufacturing method to control the structure and properties of metal components with precision unmatched by conventional manufacturing processes. Ryan Dehoff, staff scientist and metal additive manufacturing lead at the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL, presented the research this week in an invited presentation at the Materials Science & Technology 2014 conference in Pittsburgh.

3D prining metalORNL researchers have demonstrated the ability to precisely control the structure and properties of 3-D printed metal parts during formation. The electron backscatter diffraction image shows variations in crystallographic orientation in a nickel-based component, achieved by controlling the 3-D printing process at the microscale

We can now control local material properties, which will change the future of how we engineer metallic components,” Dehoff said. “This new manufacturing method takes us from reactive design to proactive design. It will help us make parts that are stronger, lighter and function better for more energy-efficient transportation and energy production applications such as cars and wind turbines.”
We’re using well established metallurgical phenomena, but we’ve never been able to control the processes well enough to take advantage of them at this scale and at this level of detail,” said Suresh Babu, the University of Tennessee-ORNL Governor’s Chair for Advanced Manufacturing. “As a result of our work, designers can now specify location specific crystal structure orientations in a part.”

Source: http://www.ornl.gov

The Nanoparticle Perfect Size To Kill Cancer

Nanomedicines consisting of nanoparticles for targeted drug delivery to specific tissues and cells offer new solutions for cancer diagnosis and therapy. Understanding the interdependency of physiochemical properties of nanomedicines, in correlation to their biological responses and functions, is crucial for their further development of as cancer-fighters. Now A research team from the College of Engineering at the University of Illinois has determine the optimal particle size for anticancer nanomedicines.

tumorThe nanomedicine (red) with the optimal size shows the highest tumor tissue (blue) retention integrated over time, which is the collective outcome of deep tumor tissue penetration, efficient cancer cell internalization as well as slow tumor clearance
To develop next generation nanomedicines with superior anti-cancer attributes, we must understand the correlation between their physicochemical properties—specifically, particle size—and their interactions with biological systems,” explains Jianjun Cheng, an associate professor of materials science and engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
In a recent study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Cheng and his collaborators systematically evaluated the size-dependent biological profiles of three monodisperse drug-silica nanoconjugates at 20, 50 and 200 nm.

Source: http://engineering.illinois.edu/

Nano Light Consumes Hundred Times Less Than A LED

Scientists from Tohoku University in Japan have developed a new type of energy-efficient flat light source based on carbon nanotubes with very low power consumption of around 0.1 Watt for every hour‘s operation — about a hundred times lower than that of an LED. Electronics based on carbon, especially carbon nanotubes (CNTs), are emerging as successors to silicon for making semiconductor materials, And they may enable a new generation of brighter, low-power, low-cost lighting devices that could challenge the dominance of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in the future and help meet society’s ever-escalating demand for greener bulbs.
nanolightPlane-lighting homogeneity image of a planar light source device through a neutral density filter
Our simple ‘diode’ panel could obtain high brightness efficiency of 60 Lumen per Watt, which holds excellent potential for a lighting device with low power consumption,” said Norihiro Shimoi, the lead researcher and an associate professor of environmental studies at the Tohoku University. “We have found that a cathode with highly crystalline single-walled carbon nanotubes and an anode with the improved phosphor screen in our diode structure obtained no flicker field emission current and good brightness homogeneity,” Shimoi said.
Source: http://www.aip.org/

Electric Car: Hydrogen Fuel Cells 40 Times Cheaper

Researchers from Umea University – Sweden – and chinese collegues show how a unique nano-alloy composed of palladium nano-islands embedded in tungsten nanoparticles creates a new type of catalysts for highly efficient oxygen reduction, the most important reaction in hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cell systems represent a promising alternative for low carbon emission energy production. Traditional fuel cells are however limited by the need of efficient catalysts to drive the chemical reactions involved in the fuel cell. Historically, platinum and its alloys have frequently been used as anodic and cathodic catalysts in fuel cells, but the high cost of platinum, due to its low abundance, motivates researchers to find efficient catalysts based on earth-abundant elements. The explanation for the very high efficiency is the unique morphology of the alloy. It is neither a homogeneous alloy, nor a fully segregated two-phase system, but rather something in between.

hydrogen fuel cellsCaption: A schematic model of the unique morphology of the alloy. The Pd-islands (light-brown spheres) are embedded in an environment of tungsten (blue spheres). Oxygen are represented by red spheres, and hydrogen by white spheres.

In our study we report a unique novel alloy with a palladium (Pd) and tungsten (W) ratio of only one to eight, which still has similar efficiency as a pure platinum catalyst. Considering the cost, it would be 40 times lower,” says Thomas Wågberg, Senior lecturer at Department of Physics, Umeå University.
The unique formation of the material is based on a synthesis method, which can be performed in an ordinary kitchen micro-wave oven purchased at the local supermarket. If we were not using argon as protective inert gas, it would be fully possible to synthesize this advanced catalyst in my own kitchen! ,” says Thomas Wågberg.
The findings are published in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

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

Electric Car Batteries Recharge in Two Minutes

Scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU Singapore) have developed a new battery that can be recharged up to 70 per cent in only 2 minutes. The battery will also have a longer lifespan of over 20 years.
Electric vehicles are currently inhibited by long recharge times of over 4 hours and the limited lifespan of batteries.
This next generation of lithium-ion batteries will enable electric vehicles to charge 20 times faster than the current technology. With it, electric vehicles will also be able to do away with frequent battery replacements. The new battery will be able to endure more than 10,000 charging cycles20 times more than the current 500 cycles of today’s batteries.
NTU Singapore‘s scientists replaced the traditional graphite used for the anode (negative pole) in lithium-ion batteries with a new gel material made from titanium dioxide, an abundant, cheap and safe material found in soil.
Invented by Associate Professor Chen Xiaodong from the School of Materials Science and Engineering at NTU Singapore, the science behind the formation of the new titanium dioxide gel was published in the latest issue of Advanced Materials.

2014 Renault

While the cost of lithium-ion batteries has been significantly reduced and its performance improved since Sony commercialised it in 1991, the market is fast expanding towards new applications in electric mobility and energy storage,” said Prof Yazami.
There is still room for improvement and one such key area is the power density — how much power can be stored in a certain amount of space — which directly relates to the fast charge ability. Ideally, the charge time for batteries in electric vehicles should be less than 15 minutes, which Prof Chen’s nanostructured anode has proven to do.“.
Source: http://news.asiaone.com

Hybrid Bio-Electronics

Scientists from the University of Leeds have taken a crucial step forward in bio-nanotechnology, a field that uses biology to develop new tools for science, technology and medicine. The study, published in the journal Nano Letters, demonstrates how stable ‘lipid membranes’ – the thin ‘skin’ that surrounds all biological cells – can be applied to synthetic surfaces. Importantly, the new technique can use these lipid membranes to ‘draw’ – akin to using them like a biological ink – with a resolution of 6 nanometres (6 billionths of a meter), which is much smaller than scientists had previously thought was possible.
This is smaller than the active elements of the most advanced silicon chips and promises the ability to position functional biological molecules – such as those involved in taste, smell, and other sensory roles – with high precision, to create novel hybrid bio-electronic devices,” said Professor Steve Evans, from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds and a co-author of the paper.
The ability to controllablywrite’ and ‘position’ lipid membrane fragments with such high precision was achieved by Mr George Heath, a PhD student from the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Leeds and the lead author of the research paper.
Mr Heath said: “The method is much like the inking of a pen. However, instead of writing with fluid ink, we allow the lipid molecules – the ink – to dry on the tip first. This allows us to then write underwater, which is the natural environment for lipid membranes. Previously, other research teams have focused on writing with lipids in air and they have only been able to achieve a resolution of microns, which is a thousand times larger than what we have demonstrated. “
source: http://www.leeds.ac.uk/

Nanoparticles Ten Times More Efficient To Penetrate Skin

Scientists at the University of Southampton – United Kingdom – have identified key characteristics that enhance a nanoparticle’s ability to penetrate skin, in a milestone study which could have major implications for the delivery of drugs. Nanoparticles are up to 100,000 times smaller than the thickness of a human hair and drugs delivered using them as a platform, can be more concentrated, targeted and efficient than those delivered through traditional means. Although previous studies have shown that nanoparticles interact with the skin, conditions in these experiments have not been sufficiently controlled to establish design rules that enhance penetration. Now a multidisciplinary team from the University of Southampton has explored changes in the surface charge, shape and functionality (controlled through surrounding molecules of gold nanoparticles to see how these factors affect skin penetration.
human skin

By creating nanoparticles with different physicochemical characteristics and testing them on skin, we have shown that positively charged nanorod shaped, nanoparticles are two to six times more effective at penetrating skin than others,” says lead author Dr Antonios Kanaras. “When the nanoparticles are coated with cell penetrating peptides, the penetration is further enhanced by up to ten times, with many particles making their way into the deeper layers of the skin (such as the dermis).”

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

No More Sore Eyes Thanks To Nanoparticles

For the millions of sufferers of dry eye syndrome, their only recourse to easing the painful condition is to use drug-laced eye drops three times a day. Now, researchers from the University of Waterloo – Canada – have developed a topical solution containing nanoparticles that will combat dry eye syndrome with only one application a week.

The eye drops progressively deliver the right amount of drug-infused nanoparticles to the surface of the eyeball over a period of five days before the body absorbs them. One weekly dose replaces 15 or more to treat the pain and irritation of dry eyes.

The nanoparticles, about 1/1000th the width of a human hair, stick harmlessly to the eye’s surface and use only five per cent of the drug normally required.
You can’t tell the difference between these nanoparticle eye drops and water,” said Shengyan (Sandy) Liu, a PhD candidate at Waterloo‘s Faculty of Engineering, who led the team of researchers from the Department of Chemical Engineering and the Centre for Contact Lens Research. “There’s no irritation to the eye.”
Source: https://uwaterloo.ca/

How To Stop Pain After Cancer Chemotherapy

Karen Safranek is a survivor. Thirteen years ago, she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but after intensive chemotherapy treatment, was declared cancer free. It was good news..but while the cancer was gone, the treatment had triggered a severe case of peripheral neuropathy, a debilitating condition that causes chronic pain. “On a scale of 1 to 10 it was like a 12. It was excruciating pain. Like my feet and legs were on fire and, it’s so hard to describe, because they felt so painful and yet they were numb“says Karen. And it’s a condition that won’t go away. Dr. Charles Loprinzi of the Mayo clinic says peripheral neuropathy occurs when the brain sends pain signals to damaged nerves in a constant cycle. He says it’s a common side-effect of chemotherapy that’s difficult to treat.
It’s a major problem from a number of chemotherapy drugs, probably the most prominent problem we have these days. For some it limits the amount of chemotherapy we can give and for some that get the chemotherapy it gets better afterwards, but for some it stays there and can be a persistent problem for years.” That was the case for Karen Safranek. For her, the pain was so severe she could barely walk. But then learned of a clinical trial at the Mayo Clinic that was testing a new device called the Scrambler, and she signed on without hesitation.. The machine, which resembles a large car battery, is designed break the pain cycle. , said DR. Charles Loprinzi, Professor of Breast Cancer research at Mayo clinic.
You put electrodes on those nerves and you give them different electrical signals and those different electrical signals kind of re-train the brain and say really this isn’t pain“, he added. After her first treatment Karen says scrambler therapy started working. After four treatments, the pain she had endured for more than a decade was gone.
It was so incredible that I hadn’t felt pain free for so many years that I guess I didn’t expect it to last. It’s working right now but I don’t know if it will be this way tomorrow.” confirms Karen Safranek.
It’s been a year since her scrambler therapy and Karen says the pain has not returned. Dr. Loprinzi says the Scrambler will not work for everyone, and that broader testing needs to be done…but eventually he says, it could be the key for many people, like Karen Safranek, to a life free of pain.
Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

Stealth Nanoparticles Vaccines To Attack Cancer

Cancer vaccines have recently emerged as a promising approach for killing tumor cells before they spread. But so far, most clinical candidates haven’t worked that well. Now, scientists from Department of Immuno-Gene Therapy, Mie University – Japan – have developed a new way to deliver vaccines that successfully stifled tumor growth when tested in laboratory mice. And the key, they report in the journal ACS Nano, is in the vaccine’s unique stealthy nanoparticles. Hiroshi Shiku, Naozumi Harada and colleagues explain that most cancer vaccine candidates are designed to flag down immune cells, called macrophages and dendritic cells, that signal “killerT cells to attack tumors.

immuneCellsGetting immune cells (blue) to kill cancer cells (yellow) could require a stealthy approach.
The problem is that approaches based on targeting these generally circulating immune cells have not been very successful. But recent research has suggested that a subset of macrophages only found deep inside lymph nodes could play a major role in slowing cancer. But how could one get a vaccine to these special immune cells without first being gobbled up by the macrophages and dendritic cells circulating in the body? Shiku’s team wanted to see if stealthy nanoparticles they had developed and clinically tested in patients might hold the answer.
Source: http://www.acs.org/

New Portable Detector of Ebola Virus

One of the big problems hindering containment of Ebola is the cost and difficulty of diagnosing the disease when a patient is first seen. Conventional fluorescent label-based virus detection methods require expensive lab equipment, significant sample preparation, transport and processing times, and extensive training to use. One potential solution may come from researchers at the College of Engineering and the School of Medicine of the Boston University (BU), who have spent the past five years advancing a rapid, label-free, chip-scale photonic device that can provide affordable, simple, and accurate on-site detection. The device could be used to diagnose Ebola and other hemorrhagic fever diseases in resource-limited countries.
EbolaDetectorJohn Connor, a MED associate professor of microbiology, and Selim Ünlü, a College of Engineering professor and associate dean for research and graduate programs, have developed a rapid chip-scale photonic device that can detect viruses, including Ebola, on site
Leveraging expertise in optical biosensors and hemorrhagic fever diseases, our collaborative research effort has produced a highly sensitive device with the potential to perform rapid diagnostics in clinical settings,”says Ünlü, who led the research group, referring to typical biological samples that may have a mix of viruses, bacteria, and proteins. “By minimizing sample preparation and handling, our system can reduce potential exposure to health care workers,” says Connor, a researcher at the University’s National Emerging Infectious Diseases Laboratories (NEIDL). “And by looking for multiple viruses at the same time, patients can be diagnosed much more effectively.
Source : http://www.bu.edu/

Nanodevice To Detect Cancer At Extremely Early Stage

Extremely early detection of cancers and other diseases is on the horizon with a supersensitive nanodevice being developed at The University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) in collaboration with The Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) in Greensboro, NC. The device is ready for packaging into a lunchbox-size unit that ultimately may use a cellphone app to provide test results.
Uah team
We are submitting grant applications with our collaborator Dr. Jianjun Wei, an associate professor at the JSNN, to the National Institutes of Health to fund our future integration work,” says Dr. Yongbin Lin, a research scientist at UAH‘s Nano and Micro Devices Center who has been working on the nanodevice at the core of the diagnostic unit for about five years. “In the future, we will do an integration of the system with everything inside a box. If we get funding support, I think that within three to five years it may be realized.” “The most significant aspect of the device medically is that it can detect trace levels of cancer biomarkers in the blood,” says UAH senior Molly Sanders of Huntsville.

The sensitivity of the equipment holds promise for finding cancer at a very early stage, even while it is at the small cluster of cells level, says Dr. Lin. “At that stage, it is easier to treat.”
Source: http://www.uah.edu/

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.

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/

How To Detect Pancreatic Cancer Years Before

Treating Cancer at very early stage is crucial to prevent a deadly end. This is especially true with the pancreatic cancer. Now biologists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology ( MIT) have found an early sign of cancer. Years before they show any other signs of disease, pancreatic cancer patients have very high levels of certain amino acids in their bloodstream, according to a new study from MIT, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and the Broad Institute.
This finding, which suggests that muscle tissue is broken down in the disease’s earliest stages, could offer new insights into developing early diagnostics for pancreatic cancer, which kills about 40,000 Americans every year and is usually not caught until it is too late to treat.
The study, which appears in the journal Nature Medicine, is based on an analysis of blood samples from 1,500 people participating in long-term health studies. The researchers compared samples from people who were eventually diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and samples from those who were not. The results were dramatic: People with a surge in amino acids known as branched chain amino acids were far more likely to be diagnosed with pancreatic cancer within one to 10 years.
Pancreatic-Cancer_0Pancreatic cancer, even at its very earliest stages, causes breakdown of body protein and deregulated metabolism. What that means for the tumor, and what that means for the health of the patient — those are long-term questions still to be answered,” says Matthew Vander Heiden, an associate professor of biology, a member of MIT’s Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, and one of the paper’s senior authors.
Source: http://newsoffice.mit.edu/

Towards The Bionic Brain

RMIT University (Australia) researchers have brought ultra-fast, nano-scale data storage within striking reach, using technology that mimics the human brain. The researchers have built a novel nano-structure that offers a new platform for the development of highly stable and reliable nanoscale memory devices, useful for nanocomputers. Project leader Dr Sharath Sriram, co-leader of the RMIT Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group, said the nanometer-thin stacked structure was created using thin film, a functional oxide material more than 10,000 times thinner than a human hair.

Brain Cells
The thin film is specifically designed to have defects in its chemistry to demonstrate a ‘memristive‘ effect – where the memory element’s behaviour is dependent on its past experiences,” Dr Sriram said. “With flash memory rapidly approaching fundamental scaling limits, we need novel materials and architectures for creating the next generation of non-volatile memory. “The structure we developed could be used for a range of electronic applications – from ultrafast memory devices that can be shrunk down to a few nanometers, to computer logic architectures that replicate the versatility and response time of a biological neural network. “While more investigation needs to be done, our work advances the search for next generation memory technology can replicate the complex functions of human neural system - bringing us one step closer to the bionic brain.

The pioneering work will be published in the journal Advanced Functional Materials (11 November).

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

How To Produce Massively Nanoparticles In One-Step

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Materials Science and Technology Division have developed a novel one-step process using, for the first time in these types of syntheses, potassium superoxide (KO2) to rapidly form oxide nanoparticles from simple salt solutions in water. An important advantage of this method is the capability of creating bulk quantities of materials. NRL has demonstrated that large quantities (over 10 grams) of oxide nanoparticles can be prepared in a single step, which is approximately four orders of magnitude higher yield than many other methods.
oxidenanoparticleOxide nanoparticles are crucial components in numerous applications to include electronic and magnetic devices, energy storage and generation, and medical applications such as magnetic nanoparticles for use in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In all of these applications, particle size is critical to the utility and function of oxide nanoparticle
Typically, the synthesis of oxide nanoparticles involves the slow reaction of a weak oxidizing agent, such as hydrogen peroxide, with dilute solutions of metal salts or complexes in both aqueous and non-aqueous solvent systems,” said Dr. Thomas Sutto, NRL research chemist. One exciting aspect of this technique is that it can also be used to produce blends of nanoparticles. This has been demonstrated by preparing more complex materials, such as lithium cobalt oxide — a cathode material for lithium batteries.

Source: http://www.nrl.navy.mil/

Cheap Hydrogen Fuel

The race is on to optimize solar energy’s performance. More efficient silicon photovoltaic panels, dye-sensitized solar cells, concentrated cells and thermodynamic solar plants all pursue the same goal: to produce a maximum amount of electrons from sunlight. Those electrons can then be converted into electricity to turn on lights and power your refrigerator.
hydrogen-electric car At the Laboratory of Photonics and Interfaces from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) – Switzerland -, led by Michael Grätzel, where scientists invented dye solar cells that mimic photosynthesis in plants, they have also developed methods for generating fuels such as hydrogen through solar water splitting. To do this, they either use photoelectrochemical cells that directly split water into hydrogen and oxygen when exposed to sunlight, or they combine electricity-generating cells with an electrolyzer that separates the water molecules.

By using the latter technique, Grätzel’s post-doctoral student Jingshan Luo and his colleagues were able to obtain a performance spectacular: their device converts into hydrogen 12.3 percent of the energy diffused by the sun on perovskite absorbers – a compound that can be obtained in the laboratory from common materials, such as those used in conventional car batteries, eliminating the need for rare-earth metals in the production of usable hydrogen fuel. This high efficiency provides stiff competition for other techniques used to convert solar energy. But this method has several advantages over others:
Both the perovskite used in the cells and the nickel and iron catalysts making up the electrodes require resources that are abundant on Earth and that are also cheap,” explained Jingshan Luo. “However, our electrodes work just as well as the expensive platinum-based models customarily used.”
The research is being published today in the journal Science.
Source: http://actu.epfl.ch/

Extremely Bendable Electronics

As tech company LG demonstrated this summer with the unveiling of its 18-inch flexible screen, the next generation of roll-up displays is tantalizingly close. Researchers are now reporting in the journal ACS Nano a new, inexpensive and simple way to make transparent, flexible transistors — the building blocks of electronics — that could help bring roll-up smartphones with see-through displays and other bendable gadgets to consumers in just a few years.
Yang Yang and colleagues note that transistors are traditionally made in a multi-step photolithography process, which uses light to print a pattern onto a glass or wafer. Not only is this approach costly, it also involves a number of toxic substances. Finding a greener, less-expensive alternative has been a challenge. Recently, new processing techniques using metal oxide semiconductors have attracted attention, but the resulting devices are lacking in flexibility or other essential traits. Now Yang’s team developed inks that create patterns on ultrathin, transparent devices when exposed to light.
transparent transistorsThis transparent transistor, which functions even when wrapped around a thin pen, could help make flexible electronics widely accessible.
The main application of our transistors is for next-generation displays, like OLED or LCD displays,” said Yang. “Our transistors are designed for simple manufacturing. We believe this is an important step toward making flexible electronics widely accessible.
Source: http://www.acs.org/

Nanotechnology Is Moving Too Fast

The Pentagon’s advanced research agency tries to fill up the gap between the permanent advances in technologies and the mass production needed for military purposes. Solving that problem is the task of those behind the Atoms To Product (A2P) project at the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s Defense Sciences Office). DARPA is open to proposals for how researchers can further advance and leverage nanotechnology.

Stephanie Tompkins, director of the Defense Sciences Office, said the project fits into two of the office’s main focal points: finding ways to adapt to a growing market of globally available technology and incorporating it into military systems. Currently, technology is moving too fast and the adoption costs are unsustainable for military systems. DARPA hopes the A2P project will provide a cheaper way to integrate new technology on a variety of scales.
Darpa assembly strategy
Ultimately, what better way to better deal with complexity if we can actually both predict and control what we are making,” Tompkins said in a webinar released Thursday. “Then we don’t have to worry about non-linear actions and unpredictable effects and uncertainty when we are building the final systems.

Source: https://www.fbo.gov

How To Target Healing Stem Cells

Researchers at the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute infused antibody-studded iron nanoparticles into the bloodstream to treat heart attack damage. The combined nanoparticle enabled precise localization of the body’s own stem cells to the injured heart muscle. Although stem cells can be a potent weapon in the fight against certain diseases, simply infusing a patient with stem cells is no guarantee the stem cells will be able to travel to the injured area and work collaboratively with the cells already there.
Infusing stem cells into arteries in order to regenerate injured heart muscle can be inefficient,” said Eduardo Marbán, MD, PhD, director of the Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute, who led the research team. “Because the heart is continuously pumping, the stem cells can be pushed out of the heart chamber before they even get a chance to begin to heal the injury.”

stem cellsTo target healing stem cells to the injury, researchers coated iron nanoparticles with 2 kinds of antibodies, proteins that recognize and bind to stem cells and to injured cells in the body. After the nanoparticles were infused into the bloodstream, they tracked to the injured area and initiated healing.

The result is a kind of molecular matchmaking,” Marbán said. “Through magnetic resonance imaging, we were able to see the iron-tagged cells traveling to the site of injury where the healing could begin. Furthermore, targeting was enhanced even further by placing a magnet above the injured heart.”
The study, which focused on laboratory rats, was has been published in the journal Nature Communications.
Source; http://www.cedars-sinai.edu/

Distrophy: How To Repair Muscles

A potential way to treat muscular dystrophy directly targets muscle repair instead of the underlying genetic defect that usually leads to the disease. Muscular dystrophies are a group of muscle diseases characterized by skeletal muscle wasting and weakness. Mutations in certain proteins, most commonly the protein dystrophin, cause muscular dystrophy in humans and also in mice. A University of Michigan (U-M) team led by cell biologist Haoxing Xu, discovered that mice missing a critical calcium channel inside the cell, called TRPML1, showed similar muscle defects as those present in muscular dystrophy patients. Though these mice did not have the defect in dystrophin, they still developed muscular dystrophy-like muscle characteristics. When researchers increased the activity of the calcium channel in the muscular dystrophic mice, it improved muscle membrane repair and restored muscle function.

muscles-distrophyMice missing a calcium channel TRPML1 develop muscular dystrophy and muscle damage (damaged muscle cells accumulate red-colored Evan Blue dye).
The hope is that the same calcium channel will work in people with muscular dystrophy,” Xu said. The long-term plan is to develop clinical trials of a drug that would provide the extra activity of TRPML1.

The findings has been published in Nature Medicine. Xiping Cheng, U-M Department of Molecular, is first author on the paper.

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

Electric Car: New Battery Eight Times More Powerful

Researchers from the General Motors Global Research & Development Center in Warren (Michigan), have replaced the metal oxide with cheaper and lighter sulfur, to make Li-S batteries. Theorically, this new batteries pack five to eight times the energy of existing technology.
2014 Renault
One of the main problems with the sulfur approach, however, is that Li-S compounds escape from where they’re supposed to be, which causes the battery to lose charge quickly. The team set out to find a way to contain the problem.
The study appears in the ACS journal Nano Letters.
Source: http://pubs.acs.org/

Exquisite Wines Thanks To NanoScience

One sip of a perfectly poured glass of wine leads to an explosion of flavours in your mouth. Researchers at Aarhus University – Denmark – have now developed a nanosensor that can mimic what happens in your mouth when you drink wine. The sensor measures how you experience the sensation of dryness in the wine.
The sensor makes it possible for wine producers to control the development of astringency during wine production because they can measure the level of astringency in the wine right from the beginning of the process. This can currently only be achieved when the wine is ready and only by using a professional tasting panel – with the associated risk of human inaccuracy. Using the sensor, producers can work towards the desired sensation of dryness before the wine is ready.


We don’t want to replace the wine taster. We just want a tool that is useful in wine production. When you produce wine, you know that the finished product should have a distinct taste with a certain level of astringency. If it doesn’t work, people won’t drink the wine,” says PhD student Joana Guerreiro, first author of the scientific article in ACS NANO, which presents the sensor and its prospects.

Source: http://scitech.au.dk/

How To See Below The Surface Of Walls

Researchers have developed a light detector that could revolutionise chemical sensing and night vision technology. The team of researchers at Monash University, the University of Maryland in the US, and the US Naval Research Laboratory, have created the light detector based on graphene – a single sheet of interconnected carbon atoms.The detector is capable of detecting light over an unusually broad range of wavelengths, included in this are terahertz waves – between infrared and microwave radiation, where sensitive light detection is most difficult.

Professor Michael Fuhrer, School of Physics at Monash, said the research could lead to a generation of light detectors that could see below the surface of walls and other objects.
We have demonstrated light detection from terahertz to near-infrared frequencies, a range about 100 times larger than the visible spectrum,” Professor Fuhrer said.

Detection of infrared and terahertz light has numerous uses, from chemical analysis to night vision goggles, and body scanners used in airport security.”.
The findings have been published in In the latest issue of Nature Nanotechnology,
Source: http://monash.edu/

Stronger Microbes To Clean Up Nuclear Waste

A microbe developed to clean up nuclear waste and patented by a Michigan State University (MSU)researcher has just been improved. In earlier research, Gemma Reguera, MSU microbiologist, identified that Geobacter bacteria’s tiny conductive hair-like appendages, or pili, did the yeoman’s share of remediation. By increasing the strength of the pili nanowires, she improved their ability to clean up uranium and other toxic wastes. In new research, published in the current issue of Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Reguera has added an additional layer of armor to her enhanced microbes. The microbes also use the pili to stick to each other and grow a film on just about any surface, similar to the bacterial film that forms on teeth. The Geobacter biofilm, encased by a network of nanowires and slime, gives the bacteria a shield and increases their ability to neutralize even more uranium. The improvement also allows the bacteria to survive longer even when exposed to higher concentrations of the radioactive material. Geobacter immobilizing uranium can be described as nature’s version of electroplating. The beefed-up microbes engulf the uranium and turn it into a mineral, preventing the toxic material from leaching into groundwater.
nucelar waste
The results surpassed our most optimistic predictions,” Reguera said. “Even thin biofilms immobilized uranium like sponges. They reduced it to a mineral, all while not suffering any damage to themselves, for prolonged periods of time.
Source: http://msutoday.msu.edu/

3D Printed Electric Car In Two Days

The world’s first 3D printed electric car — named Strati, Italian for “layers”– took its first test drive at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
Less than 50 parts are in this car,” said Jay Rogers from the american company Local Motors.
Roger’s company is part of the team that developed the engineering process to manufacture an entire car with carbon fiber plastic and print it with a large 3D printer set up at McCormick Place by Cincinnati Incorporated.


You could think of it like Ikea, mashed up with Build-A-Bear, mashed up with Formula One,” Rogers told us.
The concept of Strati began just six months ago, before being brought to the showroom floor of the International Manufacturing Technology Show.

The car has been printed layer by layer over a 44-hour period. Then, the non-printable parts, like the engine, lights and glass windshield were added.

The top speed of the Strati is 40mph and a range of 120 miles on one charge.

Rogers says the initial retail cost will start at $18,000 and go upwards of $30,000. However, when it comes time for a change, many of the parts can be reused.

Because you can literally print the car any way you want, if your family goes from two people to three–with a child, you trade in and recycle the center part of your car and all the components that outfit the family. Whatever you can imagine is what this process can entail,” said Rogers.

Rogers believes Local Motors could start manufacturing vehicles by 2015, with initial use on city streets, before getting approval for highway use down the road.
Oakridge National Laboratory also collaborated on the concept that could bring custom printed cars to the marketplace next year.

Source: https://localmotors.com/

How to “Grow” Billions Of Light Dots Directly On Chips

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), in collaboration with the DARPA, succeeded to grow lasers directly on microchips, a breaktrhrough that will enable the mass-production of inexpensive and robust microsystems that exceed the performance capabilities of current technologies.

Defense systems for instance, such as radar, communications, imaging and sensing payloads rely on a wide variety of microsystems devices. These diverse devices typically require particular substrates or base materials and different processing technologies specific to each application, preventing the integration of such devices into a single fabrication process. Integration of these technologies, historically, has required combining one microchip with another, which introduces significant bandwidth and latency limitations as compared to microsystems integrated on a single chip. Although many photonic components can now be fabricated directly on silicon, realizing an efficient laser source on silicon has proven to be very difficult.
Now, the engineers at UCSB showed it was possible to “grow” or deposit successive layers of indium arsenide material directly on silicon wafers to form billions of light-emitting dots known as “quantum dots.” This method of integrating electronic and photonic circuits on a common silicon substrate promises to eliminate wafer bonding, and has application in numerous military and civilian electronics where size, weight, power and packaging/assembly costs are critical.
laser on chipsDARPA’s Electronic-Photonic Heterogeneous Integration (E-PHI) program has successfully integrated billions of light-emitting dots on silicon to create an efficient silicon-based laser. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is an agency of the United States Department of Defense responsible for the development of new technologies for use by the military.
This method of integrating electronic and photonic circuits on a common silicon substrate promises to eliminate wafer bonding, and has application in numerous military and civilian electronics where size, weight, power and packaging/assembly costs are critical“.“It is anticipated that these E-PHI demonstrator microsystems will provide considerable performance improvement and size reduction versus state-of-the-art technologies,” said Josh Conway, DARPA program manager for E-PHI. “Not only can lasers be easily integrated onto silicon, but other components can as well, paving the way for advanced photonic integrated circuits with far more functionality than can be achieved today.

Source: http://www.darpa.mil/

Air-cleansing Poem Eradicates 20 Cars Pollution

Simon, Professor of Poetry at the University of Sheffield, – U.K. -and Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Science Professor Tony Ryan, have collaborated to create a catalytic poem called In Praise of Air - printed on material containing a formula invented at the University which is capable of purifying its surroundings. Writing is on the wall for air pollution thanks to air-cleansing poem.
This cheap technology could also be applied to billboards and advertisements alongside congested roads to cut pollution.
PoemIn Praise of Air: Poem displayed on the University’s Alfred Denny Building
This is a fun collaboration between science and the arts to highlight a very serious issue of poor air quality in our towns and cities. “The science behind this is an additive which delivers a real environmental benefit that could actually help cut disease and save lives. “This poem alone will eradicate the nitrogen oxide pollution created by about 20 cars every day,” said Professor Ryan, who came up with the idea of using treated materials to cleanse the air.

He added: “If every banner, flag or advertising poster in the country did this, we’d have much better air quality. It would add less than £100 to the cost of a poster and would turn advertisements into catalysts in more ways than one. The countless thousands of poster sites that are selling us cars beside our roads could be cleaning up emissions at the same time.”

The 10m x 20m piece of material which the poem is printed on is coated with microscopic pollution-eating particles of titanium dioxide which use sunlight and oxygen to react with nitrogen oxide pollutants and purify the air.

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

First Worker Sick From Nanoparticles Manipulation

A 26-year-old female chemist formulated polymers and coatings usually using silver ink particles. When she later began working with nickel nanoparticle powder weighed out and handled on a lab bench with no protective measures, she developed throat irritation, nasal congestion, “post nasal drip,” facial flushing, and new skin reactions to her earrings and belt buckle which were temporally related to working with the nanoparticles. Subsequently she was found to have a positive reaction to nickel on the T.R.U.E. patch test, and a normal range FEV1 that increased by 16% post bronchodilator. It was difficult returning her to work even in other parts of the building due to recurrence of symptoms.
nickel nanoparticle
This incident triggered the company to make plans for better control measures for working with nickel nanoparticles. In conclusion, a worker developed nickel sensitization when working with nanoparticle nickel powder in a setting without any special respiratory protection or control measures.
Nanotechnology has blossomed into a $20 billion business, with a huge presence in manufacturing. Now there’s new evidence suggesting that the use of nanoparticles on the production line might be causing serious health effects in workers.

The report has been published in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine by physicians and toxicologists Shane Journeay and Rose Goldman. Journeay, who is also chief executive officer and president of Nanotechnology Toxicology Consulting & Training, believes it holds long-term implications for the use of nanoparticles, both in manufacturing and consumer goods.

Source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/

Cannabis And The New Medecine

Revolutionary nanotechnology method could help improve the development of new medicine and reduce costs. Researchers from the Nano-Science Center and the Department of Chemistry at the University of Copenhagen – Denmark – have developed a new screening method that makes it possible to study cell membrane proteins that bind drugs, such as cannabis and adrenaline, while reducing the consumption of precious samples by a billion times. About 40% of all medicines used today work through the so-called “G protein-coupled receptors”. These receptors react to changes in the cell environment, for example, to increased amounts of chemicals like cannabis, adrenaline or the medications we take and are therefore of paramount importance to the pharmaceutical industry.

There is a lot of attention on research into “G protein-coupled receptors“, because they have a key role in recognizing and binding different substances. Our new method is of interest to the industry because it can contribute to faster and cheaper drug development”, explains Professor Dimitrios Stamou, who heads the Nanomedicine research group at the Nano-Science Center, where the method has been developed.
The new method is described in the journal Nature Methods.
Source: http://nano.ku.dk/

Handheld Scanner To Remove Brain Tumor

Cancerous brain tumors are notorious for growing back despite surgical attempts to remove them — and for leading to a dire prognosis for patients. But scientists are developing a new way to try to root out malignant cells during surgery so fewer or none get left behind to form new tumors. The method, reported in the journal ACS Nano, could someday vastly improve the outlook for patients.
laser pointerA handheld device that resembles a laser pointer could someday help surgeons remove all of the cells in a brain tumor
Moritz F. Kircher and colleagues at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center point out that malignant brain tumors, particularly the kind known as glioblastoma multiforme (GBM), are among the toughest to beat. Although relatively rare, GBM is highly aggressive, and its cells multiply rapidly. Surgical removal is one of the main weapons doctors have to treat brain tumors. The problem is that currently, there’s no way to know if they have taken out all of the cancerous cells. And removing extra material “just in case” isn’t a good option in the brain, which controls so many critical processes. The techniques surgeons have at their disposal today are not accurate enough to identify all the cells that need to be excised. So Kircher’s team decided to develop a ew method to fill that gap.

The researchers used a handheld device resembling a laser pointer that can detectRaman nanoprobes” with very high accuracy. These nanoprobes are injected the day prior to the operation and go specifically to tumor cells, and not to normal brain cells. Using a handheld Raman scanner in a mouse model that mimics human GBM, the researchers successfully identified and removed all malignant cells in the rodents’ brains. Also, because the technique involves steps that have already made it to human testing for other purposes, the researchers conclude that it has the potential to move readily into clinical trials. Surgeons might be able to use the device in the future to treat other types of brain cancer, they say.

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

Second Artificial Heart Implant

French media report that doctors have implanted an artificial heart made by the company CARMAT for a second time. The shares of the company Carmat, in which trading was initially halted, were up 14 percent this morning after opening up nearly 19 percent.

Apparently, everything went well but we know nothing about that patient,” French daily Liberation reported on Friday about the surgery, adding that it had not been able to get an official confirmation from the company itself. The news was also reported by French radio station France Inter. Nobody was immediately available for comment at Carmat.

Carmat‘s device is designed to replace the real heart for as long as five years, mimicking nature‘s work using biological materials and sensors. It aims to extend life for thousands of patients who die each year while awaiting a donor.

In July, Carmat shares rose sharply after the company said it could resume clinical tests of its artificial heart.

Patient enrollment had been put on hold in March after the first person to be implanted with the device, a 76-year-old man, died two-and-a-half months after his operation.

Before he was fitted with the device, the man was suffering from terminal heart failure and was said to have only a few weeks, or even days, to live.
Developed by a team of engineers from Airbus company, the Carmat devices – using the last strong>nanotechnologies expected to cost 150,000 euros ($193,600) eachmimic heart muscle contractions with two micro pumps, one for each ventricle or heart chamber. The device moves blood to the lungs and into the body. The new design uses cutting-edge biopolymer materials that promise to reduce the formation of dangerous blood clots—a persistent problem with early artificial hearts—and may even spare patients from needing to use nettlesome anticoagulant drugs. Around 5.7 million people in the U.S. have heart failure at any given time, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In these patients, the heart’s pumping abilities have grown so weak that it cannot deliver enough oxygen and nutrients to the body.
source: http://www.reuters.com/

Carbon NanoTubes Solar Cells Twice More Efficient

Lighter, more flexible, and cheaper than conventional solar-cell materials, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have long shown promise for photovoltaics. But research stalled when CNTs proved to be inefficient, converting far less sunlight into power than other methods.

Now a research team led by Mark Hersam, professor of materials science and engineering at the McCormick School of Engineering, Northwestern University, has created a new type of CNT solar cell that is twice as efficient as its predecessors. It is also the first CNT solar cell to have its performance certified by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

solar cells
The field had been hovering around 1 percent efficiency for about a decade; it had really plateaued,.” Hersam said. “But we’ve been able to increase it to over 3 percent. It’s a significant jump
The problem is that each nanotube chirality only absorbs a narrow range of optical wavelengths,” Hersam said. “If you make a solar cell out of a single chirality carbon nanotube, you basically throw away most of the solar light.”

Hersam’s team made a mixture of polychiral, or multiple chirality, semiconducting nanotubes. This maximized the amount of photocurrent produced by absorbing a broader range of solar-spectrum wavelengths. The cells significantly absorbed near-infrared wavelengths, a range that has been inaccessible to many leading thin-film technologies.
The research is described in the article “Polychiral Semiconducting Carbon Nanotube-Fullerene Solar Cells” in the August 7 issue of Nano Letters.
Source: http://www.mccormick.northwestern.edu/

Multi-Tasking Nanoparticle to Kill Cancer

Kit Lam and colleagues from UC Davis and other institutions have created dynamic nanoparticles (NPs) that could provide an arsenal of applications to diagnose and treat cancer. Built on an easy-to-make polymer, these particles can be used as contrast agents to light up tumors for MRI and PET scans or deliver chemo and other therapies to destroy tumors. In addition, the particles are biocompatible and have shown no toxicity.
multitask_nanoparticles (1
These are amazingly useful particles,” noted co-first author Yuanpei Li, a research faculty member in the Lam laboratory. “As a contrast agent, they make tumors easier to see on MRI and other scans. We can also use them as vehicles to deliver chemotherapy directly to tumors; apply light to make the nanoparticles release singlet oxygen (photodynamic therapy) or use a laser to heat them (photothermal therapy) – all proven ways to destroy tumors.”
Jessica Tucker, program director from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, said the approach outlined in the study has the ability to combine both imaging and therapeutic applications in a single platform, which has been difficult to achieve, especially in an organic, and therefore biocompatible, vehicle.

This is especially valuable in cancer treatment, where targeted treatment to tumor cells, and the reduction of lethal effects in normal cells, is so critical,” she added.
The study was published online today in Nature Communications.
Source: http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/

3D Printed House

The Chinese construction company Winsun is building houses that can be mass-produced using a 3D printer. Using a mixture of cement and construction waste, the houses can be produced for under $5,000 (£2,970). The walls and structure of the house are printed layer by layer using a process that allows up to 10 complete houses to be printed in one day.

3d-printed-housesSmall home constructed from 3D-printed building blocks

This small home may look plain, but it represents a significant achievement in rapid construction. The giant 3D printer by rapidly constructing 10 houses in less than 24 hours. Built from predominantly recycled materials, these homes cost less than US$5,000 and could be rolled out en masse to ease housing crises in developing countries.

If you’ve been to a major city in China recently, you’ll have noticed a theme. Construction is absolutely rampant, with skyscraper after skyscraper going up as cities scramble to deal with a massive population that’s urbanizing at an unprecedented rate.

Outside the major urban centers, there’s still a vast need for quick, cheap housing, and Suzhou-based construction materials firm Winsun has stepped forward with a very impressive demonstration of rapid construction by using 3D printing techniques to build 10 small houses in 24 hours. The printer is 6.6 m (22 ft) tall, 10 m (33 ft) wide and 32 m (105 ft) long. Its print head looks somewhat like a baker’s piping gun as it lays out the building mix.

Each small house takes very little labor to assemble, and costs as little as US$4,800. Winsun hopes to make them available for low income housing projects.
Source: http://blogs.wsj.com/

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/

Could Nanotechnology Kill Ebola?

The Ebola virus out­break in West Africa has claimed more than 1200 lives since Feb­ruary and has infected thou­sands more. Coun­tries such as Nigeria and Liberia have declared health emer­gen­cies, while the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion dis­cuss ways to battle the outbreak. There is no known vac­cine, treat­ment, or cure for Ebola, which is con­tracted through the bodily fluids of an infected person or animal. But that doesn’t mean there’s not hope. In fact, Chem­ical Engi­neering Chair Thomas Webster’s lab (NorthEastern University) is cur­rently working on one pos­sible solu­tion for fighting Ebola and other deadly viruses: nanotechnology.
It has been very hard to develop a vac­cine or treat­ment for Ebola or sim­ilar viruses because they mutate so quickly,” explained Web­ster, the editor-​​in-​​chief of the Inter­na­tional Journal of Nanomed­i­cine. “In nan­otech­nology we turned our atten­tion to devel­oping nanopar­ti­cles that could be attached chem­i­cally to the viruses and stop them from spreading.
One par­ticle that is showing great promise is gold. According to Web­ster, gold nanopar­ti­cles are cur­rently being used to treat cancer. Infrared waves, he explained, heat up the gold nanopar­ti­cles, which, in turn, attack and destroy every­thing from viruses to cancer cells, but not healthy cells.

Rec­og­nizing that a larger sur­face area would lead to a quicker heat-​​up time, Webster’s team cre­ated gold nanos­tars. “The star has a lot more sur­face area, so it can heat up much faster than a sphere can,” Web­ster said. “And that greater sur­face area allows it to attack more viruses once they absorb to the par­ti­cles.” In addi­tion to the gold nanos­tars, Webster’s lab is also gen­er­ating a nanopar­ticle that would serve as a “virus decoy,” chem­i­cally attracting the virus to attack it rather than healthy cells.

Source: http://www.northeastern.edu/

Liver Cancer: Hope Is Coming From Plants

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the second leading cause of cancer-associated death worldwide. Also called malignant hepatoma, HCC is the most common type of liver cancer. Most cases of HCC are secondary to either a viral hepatitis infection (hepatitis B or C) or cirrhosis (alcoholism being the most common cause of hepatic cirrhosis). These regrettably poor prognoses are due to the difficulty in treating this cancer using conventional chemotherapeutic drugs such as doxorubicin, epirubicin, cisplatin, 5-fluorouracil, etoposide or combinations therein. This may be attributed to that the conventional medicines are not able to reach in a sufficient concentration in the liver tumor cells at levels that are not harmful to the rest of the body.

Now a team of scientists, led by Prof. Taeghwan Hyeon at the Institute for Basic Science (IBS)/Seoul National University and Prof. Kam Man Hui at the National Cancer Center Singapore, has screened a library containing hundreds of natural products against a panel of HCC cells to search a better drug candidate. The screen uncovered a compound named triptolide, a traditional Chinese medicine isolated from the thunder god vine (Tripterygium wilfordii (Latin) or lei gong teng (Chinese)) which was found to be far more potent than current therapies. Studies from other researchers corroborate the findings as triptolide has also found to be very effective against several other malignant cancers including; pancreatic, neuroblastoma and cholangiocarcinoma. However this excitement was tempered when the drug was administered to mice as the increased potency was coupled with increased toxicity as well. Prof. Hyeon et al. endeavoured to alleviate the toxic burden by increasing the specific delivery of the drug to the tumor using a nanoformulation. The designed formulation was a pH-sensitive nanogel coated with the nucleotide precursor, folate.
Source: http://www.ibs.re.kr/

Defect-Free Graphene For Electric Car Batteries

Researchers at from Korea’s KAIST institute developed a new method to fabricate defect-free graphene. Using this graphene, they developed a promising high-performance anode for Li-Ion batteries. Graphene has already been demonstrated to be useful in Li-ion batteries, despite the fact that the graphene used often contains defects. Large-scale fabrication of graphene that is chemically pure, structurally uniform, and size-tunable for battery applications has so far remained elusive. Now in a new study, scientists have developed a method to fabricate defect-free graphene (df-G) without any trace of structural damage. Wrapping a large sheet of negatively charged df-G around a positively charged Co3O4 creates a very promising anode for high-performance Li-ion batteries.
electric car

The research groups of Professor Junk-Ki Park and Professor Hee-Tak Kim from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and Professor Yong-Min Lee’s research group from Hanbat National University, all in Daejeon, South Korea, have published their paper on the new fabrication method in a recent issue of Nano Letters.

Source: http://phys.org/

Medical Nanorobots

Researchers from the Institute of General Physics, the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry (Russia, Academy of Sciences) and MIPT have made an important step towards creating medical nanorobots. They discovered a way of enabling nano- and microparticles to produce logical calculations using a variety of biochemical reactions.
biological nanorobotsThe scientists draw on the idea of computing using biomolecules. In electronic circuits, for instance, logical connectives use current or voltage (if there is voltage, the result is 1, if there is none, it’s 0). In biochemical systems, the result can a given substance. For example, modern bioengineering techniques allow for making a cell illuminate with different colors or even programming it to die, linking the initiation of apoptosis to the result of binary operations.

Scientists say logical operations inside cells to be a way of controlling biological processes and creating nano-robots, which can deliver drugs on schedule. Calculations using biomolecules inside cells, a.k.a. biocomputing, are a very promising and rapidly developing branch of science, according to the leading author of the study, Maxim Nikitin, a 2010 graduate of MIPT’s Department of Biological and Medical Physics. Biocomputing uses natural cellular mechanisms.

The study paves the way for a number of biomedical technologies and differs significantly from previous works in biocomputing binary operations in DNA, RNA and proteins for over a decade now, but Maxim Nikitin and his colleagues were the first to propose and experimentally confirm a method to transform almost any type of nanoparticle or microparticle into autonomous biocomputing structures that are capable of implementing a functionally complete set of Boolean logic gates (YES, NOT, AND and OR) and binding to a target (such as a cell) as result of a computation.

The prefix “nano” in this case is not a fad or a mere formality. A decrease in particle size sometimes leads to drastic changes in the physical and chemical properties of a substance. The smaller the size, the greater the reactivity; very small semiconductor particles, for example, may produce fluorescent light. The new research project used nanoparticles (i.e. particles of 100 nm) and microparticles (3000 nm or 3 micrometers).

The new work was published on the website of the journal Nature Nanotechnology.
Source: http://mipt.ru/

Sunblocks Are Toxic For Aquatic Life

The sweet and salty aroma of sunscreen and seawater signals a relaxing trip to the shore. But scientists from the Université Aix-Marseille, France, are now reporting that the idyllic beach vacation comes with an environmental hitch. When certain sunblock ingredients wash off skin and into the sea, they can become toxic to some of the ocean’s tiniest inhabitants, which are the main course for many other marine animals.

Antonio Tovar-Sanchez and David Sánchez-Quiles (IMERAUniversité Aix Marseille) point out that other than staying indoors, slathering on sunscreen is currently the best way to protect skin from the sun’s harmful rays. But when sunbathers splash into the ocean to cool off, some of their lotions and creams get rinsed into the water. The problem is that titanium dioxide and zinc oxide nanoparticles, which are common ingredients in sunblock, can react with ultraviolet light from the sun and form new compounds, such as hydrogen peroxide, that could be toxic. High amounts of hydrogen peroxide can harm phytoplankton, the microscopic algae that feed everything from small fish to shrimp to whales. The scientists wanted to figure out just how serious of an impact beachgoers could be having on life in coastal waters.

To investigate the matter, they hit the beach. They went to Majorca Island’s Palmira beach on the Mediterranean along with about 10,000 beachgoers, a small portion of the more than 200 million tourists that flock to Mediterranean shores every year. Based on lab tests, seawater sampling and tourism data, the researchers concluded that titanium dioxide from sunblock was largely responsible for a dramatic summertime spike in hydrogen peroxide levels in coastal waters — with potentially dangerous consequences for aquatic life.

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

How To Inhibit Cancer Cells Growth

Small RNA molecules, including microRNAs (miRNAs) and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), offer tremendous potential as new therapeutic agents to inhibit cancer-cell growth. However, delivering these small RNAs to solid tumors remains a significant challenge, as the RNAs must target the correct cells and avoid being broken down by enzymes in the body. To date, most work in this area has focused on delivery to the liver, where targeting is relatively straightforward.
This week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, researchers at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT report that they have successfully delivered small RNA therapies in a clinically relevant mouse model of lung cancer to slow and shrink tumor growth. Their research offers promise for personalized RNA combination therapies to improve therapeutic response.This mouse model reflects many of the hallmarks of human lung cancer and is often used in preclinical trials. It was originally developed in the laboratory of Koch Institute Director Tyler Jacks, the David H. Koch Professor of Biology, who is co-senior author of the research paper. This early example of RNA combination therapy demonstrates the potential of developing personalized cancer treatments. With efficient delivery of therapeutic RNA, any individual small RNA or combination of RNAs could be deployed to regulate the genetic mutations underlying a given patient’s cancer.

nanoparticles deliver RNAMIT engineers designed nanoparticles that can deliver short strands of RNA (green) into cells (nuclei are stained blue).
RNA therapies are very flexible and have a lot of potential, because you can design them to treat any type of disease by modifying gene expression very specifically,” says James Dahlman, a graduate student in Anderson’s and Langer’s laboratories who, along with senior postdoc Wen Xue of Jacks’ laboratory, is co-first author of the paper. “We took the best mouse model for lung cancer we could find, we found the best nanoparticle we could use, and for one of the first times, we demonstrate targeted RNA combination therapy in a clinically relevant model of lung cancer.”

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

How Cancer Cells Invade The Body

Using a nanocomputer that acts as an obstacle course for cells, researchers from the Brown School of Engineering have shed new light on a cellular metamorphosis thought to play a role in tumor cell invasion throughout the body.

The epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a process in which epithelial cells, which tend to stick together within a tissue, change into mesenchymal cells, which can disperse and migrate individually. EMT is a beneficial process in developing embryos, allowing cells to travel throughout the embryo and establish specialized tissues. But recently it has been suggested that EMT might also play a role in cancer metastasis, allowing cancer cells to escape from tumor masses and colonize distant organs.

For this study, published in the journal Nature Materials, the researchers were able to image cancer cells that had undergone EMT as they migrated across a device that mimics the tissue surrounding a tumor.
emt pillarsBenign cancer cells that had been induced to become malignant made their way slowly around microscopic obstacles. About 16 percent of the cells moved much more rapidly across the microchip
People are really interested in how EMT works and how it might be associated with tumor spread, but nobody has been able to see how it happens,” said lead author Ian Wong, assistant professor in the Brown School of Engineering and the Center for Biomedical Engineering, who performed the research as a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital. “We’ve been able to image these cells in a biomimetic system and carefully measure how they move.”

Source: http://www.brown.edu/

Computer: Nano Optical Cables To Replace Copper

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

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

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

Cancer: How To Boost Immune Cells

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

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

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

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

Fast DNA Sequencing Under A Thousand Dollars

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

DNA through nanopores

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

Source: http://news.illinois.edu/

New Nanoparticles Destroy Brain Cancer

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

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

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

gold nanoparticle against brain cancer

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

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

Source: http://www.cam.ac.uk/

How To Reset Sleep

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

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

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

pepside in the brain

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

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

Source: http://www.salk.edu/

Less Than One Percent of Nanotubes Pass The Pulmonary Barrier

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

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


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

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

Source: http://www2.cnrs.fr/

Cancer Cells Love Soft Beds

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


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

The results appear in the journal Nature Communications.

Source: http://news.illinois.edu/

How To Deliver Medication For One Year In One Shot

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


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

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

Video Mapping First Stages Of Brain Development

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

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

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

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

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

Cigarette Butts Better Than Graphene To Store Energy

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

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

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

How Bonds Fracture

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

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

How To Turn ANYTHING Into A Solar Panel

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

perovskite solar panel

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

Source: http://www.sheffield.ac.uk/

How To Awake The Immune System Against Cancer

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

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

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

Self-Assembled Nanofibers Mimic Living Cells Fibers

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

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

Thousand Miles Range Electric Car

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

2014 Renault

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

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

Very Efficient Dust-Mite Allergy Vaccine

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

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

Face Recognition Approaches One Hundred Percent Accuracy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sniffing Out Explosives, Better Than Trained Dogs

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

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

Using Nanocarriers, Drugs Attack Acute Lung Injury

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

Acute Lung Injury

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

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

How To Embed Semiconductor Crystals Into A Nanowire

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

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

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

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

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

How To Extract Molecules From Live Cells

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

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

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

How To Detect Alzheimer’s 20 Years Before

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

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


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

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

Very Powerful Sensor Can Identify 20 Atoms Molecule

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

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

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

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

A Nanocomputer 200 Times Smaller Than A Pinhead

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

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

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

Electronics Enter The Nanocomputer Age

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

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

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

Transplant New Brain Cells And Forget Alzheimer’s

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

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

Brain Cells

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

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

Source: http://gladstoneinstitutes.org/

Biological Pacemaker To Save Babies Life

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


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

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

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

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

Nano Pixels To Produce Synthetic Retinas

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

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

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

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

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

Electric Car: How To Produce Cheap Hydrogen

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

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

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

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

Nano Pacemaker To Extend Cardiac Patients Life

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

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

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

Ninety Nine Percent Of Sunlight May Be Source To Electricity

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

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

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

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

Simple Breathalyzer To Detect Lung Cancer

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

The smell of cancer

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

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