Articles from September 2011

Graphene against Carbon nanotubes

Graphene and its compounds are increasingly used to make transistors that show extremely good performance – a progress that comes with new cheaper production processes for the raw material. The former candidate for producing transistors, the Carbon nanotubes (CNTs), have not yet met commercial expectations from a decade ago. Graphene  is  the remarkable form of carbon that’s only one atom thick. According to IDTechEx, the biggest opportunity for both materials is in printed and potentially printed electronics.Flexible, see-through displays may be the one application that finally puts graphene into the commercial spotlight.

Combined with other flexible, transparent electronic components being developed at Rice University and elsewhere, the breakthrough could lead to computers and solar cells that wrap around just about anything. IDTechEx predicts a market volume of over $25 billion in 2021 for OLED displays and PV alone, some of which will use graphene.

New computer memory technology

 Researchers at  Purdue’s Birck Nanotechnology Center are developing a new type of computer memory that could be faster than the existing commercial memory and use far less power than flash memory devices. The technology combines silicon nanowires with a “ferroelectric” polymer, a material that switches polarity when electric fields are applied, making possible a new type of ferroelectric transistor.
The FeTRAMs are similar to state-of-the-art ferroelectric random access memories, FeRAMs, which are in commercial use but represent a relatively small part of the overall semiconductor market. Both use ferroelectric material to store information in a nonvolatile fashion, but unlike FeRAMS, the new technology allows for nondestructive readout, meaning information can be read without losing it. This nondestructive readout is possible by storing information using a ferroelectric transistor instead of a capacitor, which is used in conventional FeRAMs. A patent application has been filed for the concept.
Source: By Emil Venere, Purdue University

Detecting flu fast with accuracy

Fast or accurate? Those are typically your choices for flu diagnosis. But a new biophotonics approach offers both speed and accuracy, and low cost as well—all things that are supremely helpful during outbreaks, especially because antiviral drugs are most effective in the early stages of disease. Gold nanoparticles—coated with antibodies that bind to specific strains of flu virus—form the foundation of the approach.

By measuring how the particles scatter laser light, University of Georgia researchers have been able to detect influenza in minutes at less than a penny per exam. “We’ve known for a long time that you can use antibodies to capture viruses and that nanoparticles have different traits based on their size,” said Ralph Tripp, Georgia Research Alliance Eminent Scholar in Vaccine Development in the UGA College of Veterinary Medicine.What we’ve done is combine the two.”

Self-powered nano-devices

Researchers at the University of Georgia Tech  have shown  that a  nanogenerator could be  integrated onto a tire’s inner surface and scavenges mechanical energy from deformation of the tire during its motion. A liquid crystal display (LCD) screen is lit directly by the nanogenerator. The possibility of scale-up is demonstrated and the potential to use the nanogenerator a self-powered tire pressure sensor and speed detector in mobile vehicles is shown.


This self-powered technology makes the periodic battery replacement or recharging no longer necessary;  this technology is very attractive for portable or inaccessible devices (like pacemakers).

Graphene kit to detect explosives

Long-wavelength terahertz light is invisible – it’s at the farthest end of the far infrared – but it’s useful for everything from detecting explosives at the airport to designing drugs to diagnosing skin cancer.

Now, for the first time, scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California at Berkeley have demonstrated a microscale device made of graphene – the remarkable form of carbon that’s only one atom thick – whose strong response to light at terahertz frequencies can be tuned with exquisite precision. This is  the first tool in a kit for putting terahertz light to work.



The future of the hydrogen electric car

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute are working to optimize a promising new nanomaterial called nanoblades for use in hydrogen storage. During their testing of the new material, they have discovered that it can store and release hydrogen extremely fast and at low temperatures compared to similar materials. Another important aspect of the new material is that it is also rechargeable. These attributes could make it ideal for use in onboard hydrogen storage for next-generation hydrogen storage. Hydrogen storage is one of the major problem to resolve when engineers try to imagine the future hydrogen electric car.

Nanoparticules in colors to observe cancer

Engineers at Ohio State University,  have invented polymeric nanoparticles stuffed with even smaller particles of semiconductors (called “quantum dots“) that shine with different colours depending on the molecules they are attached to. The resulting complex nanoparticles can glow red, yellow and green, allowing scientists to track the movements of, say, a range of molecules in a cancer cell under a microscope.

Scientists could use these nanoparticles to observe the development of a cancer at the molecular level, giving them key insights into how to stop or treat the disease.

Nanotechnology is sparkling

The pace of nanotechnology progress is fast. In the last six months, giant steps have been made towards the first nanocomputer: the world’s first programmable nanoprocessor has been developed and demonstrated by an interdisciplinary collaboration between teams of scientists and engineers working at The MITRE Corporation and Harvard University. Meanwhile chemists at Tufts University have developed the world’s first single molecule electric motor, which may potentially create a new class of devices. If you provide electricity to a single molecule,  you will get it to do something that’s not just random.


Speaking of electricity, let’s remind that researchers have discovered a way to capture and harness energy transmitted by such sources as radio and television transmitters, cell phone networks and satellite communications systems. By scavenging this ambient energy from the air around us, the technique could provide a new way to power networks of wireless sensors, microprocessors and communications chips. Unless you use  simple taps from your finger,  enough to charge your portable device thanks to a discovery made at the RMIT University at Melbourne (Australia) and the Australian National University (ANU).
In the medicine field,  nanotechnologies have to offer more and more, especially scout nano cells to fight cancer. The car industry will benefit from discoveries that make batteries twice smaller or photovoltaic panels a hundred time more efficient. Alarming,  the Defense industry  is very concerned with nanotechs and finance a lot of programs.  The list is endless and each day brings new successful ideas.

Molecular signals spur hair growth

Yale researchers have discovered the source of signals that trigger hair growth, an insight that may lead to new treatments for baldness. The researchers identified stem cells within the skin’s fatty layer and showed that molecular signals from these cells were necessary to spur hair growth in mice, according to research published in the Sept. 2 issue of the journal Cell, published in the Sept 2 issue of the journal.

Samson could have recovered his powerIf we can get these fat cells in the skin to talk to the dormant stem cells at the base of hair follicles, we might be able to get hair to grow again” said Valerie Horsley, assistant professor of molecular, cellular and developmental biology and senior author of the paper.



Iran is fan of nanotechnology

Findings of a newly-released investigation by researchers with California University showed that Iran ranked 4th in a 2010 world’s ranking which indicates the portion of nanotech-related scientific articles (out of total scientific publications) published by the researchers of a country.

The study also reported that about 12% of the international journal papers of Iranian researchers are connected to nanotechnology. On another investigation which assessed countries by the total number of nanotech scientific published articles, Iran managed to rank 14th.

Take a look at the official site in nanotechnology of  this islamic Republic:

Eternity for your phone battery

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.

Drawing nano superconductors

Researchers from the Physics Department of Sapienza University of Rome and the London Centre for Nanotechnology have discovered a technique to ‘draw‘ superconducting shapes using anX-ray beam. This ability to create and control tiny superconducting structures has implications for a completely new generation of electronic devices. Superconductivity is a special state where a material conducts electricity with no resistance, meaning absolutely zero energy is wasted. They now have the tools to write and erase with high precision, in very few simple steps and without the chemicals ordinarily used in device fabrication. This ability to re-arrange the underlying structure of a material in turn has wider applications to similar compounds containing metal atoms and oxygen, ranging from fuel cells to catalysts.

Illuminating with X-rays causes a small scale re-arrangement of the oxygen atoms in their material, resulting in high temperature superconductivity, of the type originally discovered for such materials 25 years ago by IBM scientists. The X-ray beam is then used like a pen to draw shapes in two dimensions.
Source: Nature materials.