Articles from June 2011

Eternity for your phone batteries thanks to nano

A simple tap from your finger may be enough to charge your portable device thanks to a discovery made at the RMIT University at Melbourne (Australia) and the Australian National University (ANU).

Let your fingers do the charging. Photo by James Giggacher.
Let your fingers do the charging. Photo by James Giggacher.

Dr Simon Ruffell from ANU  Research School of Physics and Engineering and Dr Madhu Bhaskaran and Dr Sharath Sriram from RMIT University have used nanotechnology to convert mechanical pressure into electricity.

The breakthrough was made by combining piezoelectrics, materials capable of turning pressure into electricity, with thin film technology, the basis of microchip manufacturing.

The use of piezoelectrics means that portable devices with touch screens like iPads and iPhones could be recharged through everyday activities like typing. It also means that in future pacemakers could be powered by an individual wearer’s blood pressure.


Nanocomputer in spy drone

The pictured Nano Hummingbird spy drone might be just what the U.S. Department of Defense needs to deflect enemy attentions while it’s quietly swooping about snapping invaluable intelligence footage from afar.

click on the picture to enjoy video

The pictured Nano Hummingbird spy drone might be just what the U.S. Department of Defense needs to deflect enemy attentions while it’s quietly swooping about snapping invaluable intelligence footage from afar.

Developed by the tech researchers at AeroVironment Unmanned Aircraft Systems under contract from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the highly manoeuvrable drone boasts authentic flapping wings, the ability to hover, clockwise and anticlockwise rotation, and can be controlled remotely by a human pilot.

Capable of withstanding side-wind gusts of up to five miles per hour and remaining airborne for eight minutes per flight, the little camera-equipped Hummingbird can sustain a speed of 11 miles per hour and is unlikely to attract unwanted attention thanks to a lifelike wingspan of just 6.5 inches.



How to disable used nanoparticules?

This is an important issue for the future of the nanocomputers and other nanotechnologies. What will happen with all the nanoparticules which will become one day useless for the human activity?  What kind of  know-how do we really need to manage the new substances now found in everything from our clothes to cosmetics and electronics? Are nanoparticles harmful to the environment – or are these invisible particles safer than we think?

These are just some of the questions to which SINTEF researcher and environmental chemist Andy Booth wants to find the answers. He has in fact initiated a new nanotechnology knowledge transfer network called SafeNano Norway, linked to Health, Safety and Environmental  (acronym: HSE) issues. “Traditionally, there has never been any close collaboration between the fields of HSE and nanotechnology, but we are now seeing a clear need for this”, says Booth, who usually works as a researcher into the influence of nanoparticles on the marine environment. Booth hopes that this work will also enhance the general public’s confidence in practical nanoproducts.


Contacts: Andy Booth


Self-assembling Electronic Nano-components

Magnetic storage media such as hard drives have revolutionized the handling of information: We are used to dealing with huge quantities of magnetically stored data while relying on highly sensitive electronic components. And hope to further increase data capacities through ever smaller components. Together with experts from Grenoble and Strasbourg, researchers of KIT’s Institute of Nanotechnology (INT) have developed a nano-component based on a mechanism observed in nature.

“Self-organization” of nano-devices:
Magnetic molecules (green) arrange on a carbon nanotube (black) to build an electronic component (Photo: C. Grupe, KIT).


Researchers could  “teach” the individual parts to self-assemble into the desired product. For fabrication of an electronic nano-device, a team of INT researchers headed by Mario Ruben adopted a trick from nature: Synthetic adhesives were applied to magnetic molecules in such a way that the latter docked on to the proper positions on a nanotube without any intervention. In nature, green leaves grow through a similar self-organizing process without any impetus from subordinate mechanisms. The adoption of such principles to the manufacture of electronic components is a paradigm shift, a novelty.

Source: Nature Materials, July 2011

Link Nature Article:

Patents in nano

Patenting is one tool for measuring efforts in various countries to develop the nanotechnologies.  J. Steven Rutt has reported a system to value the number of patents registered in the field of nanotechs for each country.

Following the United States, Japan clearly leads the pack with 2,360 points in our counting system. S. Korea is a distant second with 665 points, and Germany comes in at number three with 565 points. A second group was Taiwan (323 points), France (294 points), Canada (277 points), and Great Britain (174 points). The third group with the fewest included China (146), Italy (94), and Australia (55).

For a snapshot “reality check,” 17 new nanotech 977 patents issued this week. Based on review of the inventorship and assignee listing, the U.S. had nine of the 17. S. Korea had four, and Japan had two.

Some judgment is needed, of course, in patent counting. Country contributions can show up in both inventor and assignee searching. For purposes of this blog, the 977 patents were searched for inventor country and also searched separately for assignee country. One point was given for a hit in each search. For example, Japan had 1187 hits based on inventor searching and 1173 for assignee searching (giving total points of 2,360). This data was taken from the USPTO Web page. Other countries should also be searched, but for now, we focused on these 10.


‘Nanoscope’ makes live viruses visible for first time

The CNET reports a major step to fight viruses with a new kind of nanoscope. Viruses are small. Very small. There are millions of types, and the 5,000 or so that have been studied in detail are typically between 10 and 300 nanometers  (one-billionth of a meter) in diameter.

These microspheres collect evanescent waves to form virtual images that can be captured by a conventional lens.

(Credit: University of Manchester)

The “microsphere nanoscope” developed by scientists at the University of Manchester’s School of Mechanical, Aerospace, and Civil Engineering in the U.K. and described in the journal Nature Communications is remarkable on two counts: It breaks the world record of direct imaging under normal lights by 20 times, viewing objects as small as 50 nm wide, and what’s more, the tech behind it imposes no theoretical limit in the size of feature that can be seen.

This incredible jump in capacity could allow humans to see inside human cells and even live viruses for the first time, which in turn could give us many new insights into their structures and behaviors.

“This is a world record in terms of how small an optical microscope can go by direct imaging under a light source covering the whole range of optical spectrum,” says Professor Lin Li, who initiated and led the research with academics at the National University and Data Storage Institute of Singapore.

Source: CNET (


Collaboration IBM/University ETH in Switzerland gets stronger

Last month in Zurich (Switzerland) the Binnig and Rohrer Nanotechnology Center opened at IBM Research.  ETH Zurich, a European science and engineering university, and IBM have collaborated for 10 years on nanoscience. Now, the Center will allow scientists from IBM and the university to research novel nanoscale structures and devices to advance energy and information technologies.

The Center is named for Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer, two IBM scientists and Nobel Laureates (1986) who invented the scanning tunneling microscope at the Zurich Research Lab in 1981, thus enabling researchers to see atoms on a surface for the first time. Their work on microscopy tools has allowed researchers to visualize the nanoscale.


Where to get a degree in nanotechnology?


Experts in Nanotechnoly come from different disciplines, including engineering, physics, materials science and chemistry, so a valuable  postgraduate programme in nanotechnology must accommodate students from a wide range of backgrounds. Although progress in the subject is often technology-led, experts in nano-technology always need a detailed knowledge of the underpinning science, and postgraduate nanotechnology masters courses are a well-recognised means of gaining experience in state-of-the-art techniques and achievements.

Most postgraduate nanotechnology masters degrees lead to the award of an MSc and comprise a taught component corresponding to 120 credits (60 ECTS) as in Great Britain or France and a summer research project which provides the remaining 60 credits (30 ECTS).

See in the pages of the list of universities which provide courses in nanotechnology (you can enrich the list with new informations):

USA: 73% of the nano researchers are foreign-born

Research results concluded that the prevalence of foreign-born authors in nanotechnology publications exceeded that of the general population and the U.S. scientific community. Besides the U.S. (47 scientists), significant contributions came from China (21 scientists), India (eight scientists), and Germany (five scientists), and foreign-born contributions have steadily increased from 38 percent in 1999 to 73 percent in 2009.


Hao Yan, Harvard/Mitre research team, who produced the first nanoprocessor



These findings point to the significance of non-native researchers in promoting U.S. nanotechnology innovation and indicate significant globalization within the American scientific and engineering communities. Study made at the Center for Nanotechnology in Society at the University of California, Santa Barbara.


Nanoparticles to carry anti-cancer drugs in the blood


A research team  at the University of California in  San Diego have developed a new method of disguising nanoparticles as red blood cells, which  enable them to evade the body’s immune system and deliver cancer-fighting drugs straight to a tumor.


The size of  nanoparticles are less than 100 nanometers , the same size as a virus. Red blood cells live in the body for up to 180 days and, as such, are “nature’s long-circulation delivery vehicle,” said Zhang’s student Che-Ming Hu, a UCSD Ph.D. candidate in bioengineering, and author on the paper.

Stealth nanoparticles are already used successfully in clinical cancer treatment to deliver chemotherapy drugs. In Zhang’s study, nanoparticles coated in the membranes of red blood cells circulated in the bodies of laboratory  mice for two days.

Nanotech goes east

Russia, South Korea and Singapore signed a cooperation deal on developing nanotechnology.

A  M.O.U. (memorandum of understanding) has been signed  through the Asia Nanotechnology Fund, which was set up last September by the Russian Corporation of Nanotechnology (RUSNANO), the Singaporean Economic Development Board (EDB) and Singapore-based investment group 360ip.

The nanotechnology cooperation fund, to be based in South Korea as a limited partnership, is expected to start with a capitalization of 100 million U.S. dollars.

(Night in Seoul, South Korea)

“The fund is a mechanism for finding promising technologies in Russia and Asia alike,” RUSNANO CEO and chairman Anatoly Chubais said. “This strategic partnership will help us promote Russian high-tech products in international markets.”

Source: Xinhua

How will look a nanocomputer?

This is not the good question. The right one is to  know how powerful will be a nanocomputer. As the nanoprocessor inside the nanocomputer will be at molecular scale, that means any artefact or object could embedded several nanocomputers.

The power of the next generation of computers will be unlimited, inimaginable for the common sens. Perhaps the size of a smartphone  would be suitable, because we can put it on our pocket and go mobile.