Articles from August 2012



‘Nanoresonators’ Improve Cell Phone Performance

Researchers have learned how to mass produce tiny mechanical devices that could help cell phone users avoid the nuisance of dropped calls and slow downloads. The devices are designed to ease congestion over the airwaves to improve the performance of cell phones and other portable devices. “There is not enough radio spectrum to account for everybody’s handheld portable device,” said Jeffrey Rhoads, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.
The overcrowding results in dropped calls, busy signals, degraded call quality and slower downloads. To counter the problem, industry is trying to build systems that operate with more sharply defined channels so that more of them can fit within the available bandwidth.

To do that you need more precise filters for cell phones and other radio devices, systems that reject noise and allow signals only near a given frequency to pass,” said Saeed Mohammadi, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering who is working with Rhoads, doctoral student Hossein Pajouhi and other researchers.
Source: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2012/Q3/nanoresonators-might-improve-cell-phone-performance.html

Nano Machine Shop

A new “nano machine shop” that shapes nanowires and ultrathin films could represent a future manufacturing method for tiny structures with potentially revolutionary properties. The structures might be tuned for applications ranging from high-speed electronics to solar cells and also may have greater strength and unusual traits such as ultrahigh magnetism and “plasmonic resonance,” which could lead to improved optics, computers and electronics. The researchers used their technique to stamp nano– and microgears; form tiny circular shapes out of a material called graphene, an ultrathin sheet of carbon that holds promise for advanced technologies; and change the shape of silver nanowires, said Gary Cheng, an associate professor of industrial engineering at Purdue University.

We do this shaping at room temperature and atmospheric pressure, like a nano-machine shop,” said Cheng, who is working with doctoral students Ji Li, Yiliang Liao, Ting-Fung Chung and Sergey Suslov and physics professor Yong P. Chen.
Source: http://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2012/Q3/nano-machine-shop-shapes-nanowires,-ultrathin-films.html

Detecting Smallest Virus to Cure Cancer Early

Researchers at Polytechnic Institute of New York University (NYU-Poly) have created an ultra-sensitive biosensor capable of identifying the smallest single virus particles in solution, an advance that may revolutionize early disease detection in a point-of-care setting and shrink test result wait times from weeks to minutes. Stephen Arnold, university professor of applied physics and member of the Othmer-Jacobs Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, and researchers of NYU-Poly‘s MicroParticle PhotoPhysics Laboratory for BioPhotonics (MP3L) reported their findings in the most recent issue of Applied Physics Letters, published by the American Institute of Physics.

When the body encounters a foreign agent, it responds by producing massive quantities of antibody proteins, which outnumber the virus. If we can identify and detect these single proteins, we can diagnose the presence of a virus far earlier, speeding treatment,” Arnold said. “This also opens up a new realm of possibilities in proteomics,” he said, referring to the study of proteins. “All cancers generate markers, and if we have a test that can detect a single marker at the protein level, it doesn’t get more sensitive than that.
Source: http://www.poly.edu/press-release/2012/08/28/nyu-poly-researchers-set-record-detecting-smallest-virus-opening-new-possib

How To Analyse Nanometer-sized Devices Without Destroying Them

The nuclear magnetic resonance apparatus – developed by the University of Sheffield – Department of Physics and Astronomy – will allow for further developments and new applications for nanotechnology which is increasingly used in harvesting solar energy, computing, communication developments and also in the medical field. Scientists can now analyse nanostructures at an unprecedented level of detail without destroying the materials in the process, a limitation researchers across the world faced before the Sheffield experts’ breakthrough.

Dr Alexander Tartakovskii, who led a team of researchers, said: “We have developed a new important tool for microscopy analysis of nanostructures”. Development requires careful structural analysis, in order to understand how the nanostructures are formed, and how we can build them to enhance and control their useful properties. Existing structural analysis methods, key for the research and development of new materials, are invasive: a nanostructure would be irreversibly destroyed in the process of the experiment, and, as a result, the important link between the structural and electronic or photonic properties would usually be lost. This limitation is now overcome by our new techniques, which rely on inherently non-invasive nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) probing.”

The results open a new way of nano-engineering, a full characterisation of a new material and new semiconductor nano-device without destroying them meaning more research and development and device fabrication processes.
Source: http://www.shef.ac.uk/news/nr/nanotechnology-nuclear-magnetic-resonance-apparatus-nanostructures-1.203614

Cyborg Era Is Coming

Harvard scientists have created a type of “cyborg” tissue for the first time by embedding a three-dimensional network of functional, biocompatible, nanoscale wires into engineered human tissues.As described in a paper published Aug. 26 in the journal Nature Materials, a research team led by Charles M. Lieber, the Mark Hyman Jr. Professor of Chemistry at Harvard, and Daniel Kohane, a Harvard Medical School professor in the Department of Anesthesia at Children’s Hospital Boston, developed a system for creating nanoscale “scaffolds” that can be seeded with cells that grow into tissue.
The current methods we have for monitoring or interacting with living systems are limited,” said Lieber. “We can use electrodes to measure activity in cells or tissue, but that damages them. With this technology, for the first time, we can work at the same scale as the unit of biological system without interrupting it. Ultimately, this is about merging tissue with electronics in a way that it becomes difficult to determine where the tissue ends and the electronics begin.”

Charles M. Lieber explains: “With this technology, for the first time, we can work at the same scale as the unit of biological system without interrupting it. Ultimately, this is about merging tissue with electronics in a way that it becomes difficult to determine where the tissue ends and the electronics begin.”
Source: http://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2012/08/merging-the-biological-electronic/

How To Reboot The Blood-Flow in Brain

A nanoparticle developed at Rice University and tested in collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) may bring great benefits to the emergency treatment of brain-injury victims, even those with mild injuries.
Combined polyethylene glycol-hydrophilic carbon clusters (PEG-HCC), already being tested to enhance cancer treatment, are also adept antioxidants. In animal studies, injections of PEG-HCC during initial treatment after an injury helped restore balance to the brain’s vascular system. A PEG-HCC infusion that quickly stabilizes blood flow in the brain would be a significant advance for emergency care workers and battlefield medics, said Rice chemist and co-author James Tour.

This might be a first line of defense against reactive oxygen species (ROS) that are always overstimulated during a medical trauma, whether that be to an accident victim or an injured soldier,” said Tour, Rice’s T.T. and W.F. Chao Chair in Chemistry as well as a professor of mechanical engineering and materials science and of computer science. “They’re certainly exacerbated when there’s trauma with massive blood loss.”
Source: http://news.rice.edu/2012/08/23/nanoparticles-reboot-blood-flow-in-brain/

Batteries Made From Graphene for Electric Car

Rechargeable Li-ion batteries are the industry standard for mobile phones, laptop and tablet computers, electric cars, and a range of other devices. While Li-ion batteries have a high energy density and can store large amounts of energy, they suffer from a low power density and are unable to quickly accept or discharge energy. This low power density is why it takes about an hour to charge your mobile phone or laptop battery, and why electric automobile engines cannot rely on batteries alone and require a supercapacitor for high-power functions such as acceleration and braking. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute -Troy, NY-research team, led by nanomaterials expert Nikhil Koratkar, sought to solve this problem and create a new battery that could hold large amounts of energy but also quickly accept and release this energy. Such an innovation could alleviate the need for the complex pairing of Li-ion batteries and supercapacitors in electric cars, and lead to simpler, better-performing automotive engines based solely on high-energy, high-power Li-ion batteries.

Li-ion battery technology is magnificent, but truly hampered by its limited power density and its inability to quickly accept or discharge large amounts of energy. By using our defect-engineered graphene paper in the battery architecture, I think we can help overcome this limitation,” said Koratkar, the John A. Clark and Edward T. Crossan Professor of Engineering at Rensselaer. “We believe this discovery is ripe for commercialization, and can make a significant impact on the development of new batteries and electrical systems for electric automobiles and portable electronics applications.”
Source: http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=3071&setappvar=page(1)

Power Cell Converts and Stores Energy

Researchers have developed a self-charging power cell that directly converts mechanical energy to chemical energy, storing the power until it is released as electrical current. By eliminating the need to convert mechanical energy to electrical energy for charging a battery, the new hybrid generator-storage cell utilizes mechanical energy more efficiently than systems using separate generators and batteries. For instance by harnessing a compressive force, such as a shoe heel hitting the pavement from a person walking, the power cell generates enough current to power a small calculator. A hybrid power cell the size of a conventional coin battery can power small electronic devices – and could have military applications for soldiers who might one day recharge battery-powered equipment as they walked.

People are accustomed to considering electrical generation and storage as two separate operations done in two separate units,” said Zhong Lin Wang, a Regents professor in the School of Materials Science and Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “We have put them together in a single hybrid unit to create a self-charging power cell, demonstrating a new technique for charge conversion and storage in one integrated unit.”

The research was supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, and the Knowledge Innovation Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
See former articles from Nanocomputer.com : http://www.nanocomputer.com/?p=2949 OR http://www.nanocomputer.com/?p=2949
Source: http://gtresearchnews.gatech.edu/

Towards the H-mobil Car

Considered a major a fuel of the future, hydrogen could be used to power buildings, portable electronics and vehicles – but this application hinges on practical storage technology. But for the first time, engineers at the University of New South Wales in Australia have demonstrated that hydrogen can be released and reabsorbed from a promising storage material, overcoming a major hurdle to its use as an alternative fuel source. The researchers from the Materials Energy Research Laboratory in nanoscale (MERLin) at UNSW have synthesised nanoparticles of a commonly overlooked chemical compound called sodium borohydride and encased these inside nickel shells. Their unique “core-shellnanostructure has demonstrated remarkable hydrogen storage properties, including the release of energy at much lower temperatures than previously observed.
No one has ever tried to synthesise these particles at the nanoscale because they thought it was too difficult, and couldn’t be done. We’re the first to do so, and demonstrate that energy in the form of hydrogen can be stored with sodium borohydride at practical temperatures and pressures,” says Dr Kondo-Francois Aguey-Zinsou from the School of Chemical Engineering at UNSW.

Source: https://newsroom.unsw.edu.au/news/science-technology/nano-structures-realise-hydrogen%E2%80%99s-energy-potential

Mimicking Sunflowers To Get More Sun On Solar Panels

It’s a clever bit of natural engineering that inspired imitation from a UW-Madison electrical and computer engineer, who has found a way to mimic the passive heliotropism seen in sunflowers for use in the next crop of solar power systems.
Unlike other “active” solar systems that track the sun‘s position with GPS and reposition panels with motors, electrical and computer engineering professor Hongrui Jiang’s concept leverages the properties of unique materials in concert to create a passive method of re-orienting solar panels in the direction of the most direct sunlight.


His design, published Aug. 1 in Advanced Functional Materials and recently highlighted in Nature, employs a combination of liquid crystalline elastomer (LCE), which goes through a phase change and contracts in the presence of heat, with carbon nanotubes, which can absorb a wide range of light wavelengths.
Source: http://www.news.wisc.edu/20967

1 DNA Milligram encodes every book in the Library of Congress

Our genetic code packs billions of gigabytes into a single gram. A mere milligram of the molecule could encode the complete text of every book in the Library of Congress and have plenty of room to spare. All of this has been mostly theoretical —until now. In a new study, researchers from Harvard University stored an entire genetics textbook in less than a picogram of DNA—one trillionth of a gram— an advance that could revolutionize our ability to save data.


A device the size of your thumb could store as much information as the whole Internet,” said Harvard University molecular geneticist George Church, the project’s senior researcher.

Source: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444233104577593291643488120.html?mod=WSJUK_hpp_MIDDLELSMini

New Nanoparticle Shrinks Tumors

MIT researchers have developed RNA-delivering nanoparticles that allow for rapid screening of new drug targets in mice. In their first mouse study, done with researchers at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and the Broad Institute, they showed that nanoparticles that target a protein known as ID4 can shrink ovarian tumors. The nanoparticle system, described in the online edition of Science Translational Medicine, could relieve a significant bottleneck in cancer-drug development, says Sangeeta Bhatia, the John and Dorothy Wilson Professor of Health Sciences and Technology and a member of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.

In a study of mice with ovarian tumors, the researchers found that treatment with RNAi nanoparticles eliminated most of the tumors.

Source : http://web.mit.edu/newsoffice/2012/new-nanoparticules-shrink-tumors-in-mice-0816.html