Tag Archives | Nanotechnology

Building Up The Immune System — In Plastic

Plastic AntibodiesIra Flatow reports on NPR’s Science Friday Podcast:

Researchers have made plastic nanoparticles that can partially mimic the behavior of natural antibodies in the bloodstream of a living animal. Writing in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, they describe their experiment, in which they treated lab mice with synthetic polymer ‘antibodies’ to the compound melittin, the main toxin in bee venom. Antibody-treated mice had higher rates of survival than non-treated mice when injected with the melittin toxin.

Image, Above Right: Plastic antibodies, such as this cluster of particles viewed under a powerful microscope, may fight a wide range of human diseases, including viral infections and allergies. Credit: Kenneth Shea.

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Tracking The ‘Evolution’ Of Nanoparticles As They Decontaminate Groundwater

Kurt Pfitzer reports that engineers are usimg advanced imaging techniques to examine bimetallic materials that have remediated more than 50 toxic waste sites, for PhysOrg.com:

Iron nanoparticles 1,000 times thinner than a human hair have demonstrated an unprecedented ability to clean contaminated groundwater since they were invented 10 years ago at Lehigh.

The palladium-coated particles have remediated more than 50 toxic waste sites in the U.S. and other countries in one-tenth the time, and at a much greater economy of scale, than traditional “pump and treat” methods.

Now, thanks to Lehigh’s unrivaled electron microscopy and spectroscopy facilities, researchers have gained unmatched insights that could improve the efficiency and extend the applications
of the powerful nanoparticles.

The researchers used scanning transmission electron microscopy (STEM) and X-ray energy dispersive spectroscopy (XEDS) to capture, for the first time, the evolution in the nanostructure of the bimetallic particles as they remove contaminants in water.

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Food Industry Too Secretive Over Nanoparticles

By David Gutierrez for Natural News:

The food industry is being too secretive about the extent to which it has adopted nanotechnology, according to a report by the United Kingdom’s House of Lords Science and Technology Committee.

The industry is “very reluctant to put its head above the parapet and be open about research on nanotechnology,” said study chairperson Lord John Krebs.

“They got their fingers burnt over the use of GM crops and so they want to keep a low profile on this issue. We believe that they should adopt exactly the opposite approach. If you want to build confidence you should be open rather than secretive.”

Nanotechnology refers to the practice of manipulating particles on the scale of one-billionth of a meter. Particles of this size behave in a fundamentally different fashion than they do on the more familiar scale, producing a wide variety of novel applications. Because nanoparticles are not currently regulated any differently than larger particles, they are already making their way into consumer products, from sunscreens and cosmetics to clothing and sporting goods.

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Has a Technological Singularity Already Started?

nanobot“It’s not comfortably decades down the road. It’s right now, right here, in our faces, all we have to do is look around to see it.”

A science writer argues we’re rapidly approaching a day when “we can customize the human body as easily as we can customize our car… an era where the genetic lottery of our inherited DNA will no longer dictate who we chose to be.” There’s already stem cell breast augmentation, making ovaries into testes, 3-D tissue printers and “tissue Legos”, and “then add in who knows how many other recent stem cell breakthroughs have happened in the last year and a half…”

He sees a big picture where “advancing computer science mixed with advancing biotech combine to create a potential future in which trolls and elves could walk down the street side by side with humans.”

“Here’s to hoping I’ll see you on the other side.”

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DNA ‘Spiderbot’ Is On The Prowl

nanobotVia AFP:

Scientists on Wednesday announced they had created a molecular robot made out of DNA that walks like a spider along a track made out of the chemical code for life.

The achievement, reported in the British journal Nature, is a further step in nanoscale experiments that, one day, may lead to robot armies to clean arteries and fix damaged tissues.

The robot is just four nanometres — four billionths of a metre — in diameter.

Milan Stojanovic of New York’s Columbia University, who led the venture, likens the nanobot to “a four-legged spider.”

The beast moves along a track comprising stitched-together strands of DNA that is essentially a pre-programmed course, in the same way that industrial robots move along an assembly line.

The track exploits one of the basic characteristics of DNA. A double-helix molecule, DNA comprises four chemicals which pair in rungs.

By “unzipping” the DNA, one is left with one side of the strand whose rungs can then be paired up with matching rungs.

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Space Colonies And Robots For Everyone

Josh Hall, the chief scientist at Nanorex (and a science author) predicts nanotech could grow "as rapidly as the Internet and cell phone use has over the past couple of decades." And then he makes some remarkable predictions...
  • Robots with human mental capabilities and virtually any physical capabilities...would rapidly become affordable for everyone.
  • Nanofactories, powerful enough "to kick the entire physical economy over into a Moore’s Law-like growth mode, eradicating hunger and poverty in a decade or two."
  • Ocean and space colonization, since nanotech could provide "The modifications to the standard human body necessary to thrive in space."
He concludes that all of these "require more scientific knowledge than we have now, but not more than the current rate of scientific progress human scientists are likely to produce in the next few decades," predicting nanotech could grow "as rapidly as the Internet and cell phone use has over the past couple of decades."...
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Scientists Show Off Real Invisibility Cloak

Although the invisibility cloak can be created on a small scale, it would be impossible to recreate a larger version with the knowledge we have today. Image: Science/AAAS

Although the invisibility cloak can be created on a small scale, it would be impossible to recreate a larger version with the knowledge we have today. Image: Science/AAAS

We’ve reported on real-world invisibility cloaks before, but according to Discovery News such a thing actually exists now, albeit on a very small scale:

European researchers have taken the world a step closer to fictional wizard Harry Potter’s invisibility cloak after they made an object disappear, a study published Thursday in the journal Science showed.

Scientists from Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany and Imperial College London used their cloak, made using photonic crystals with a structure resembling piles of wood, to conceal a small bump on a gold surface, they wrote in Science.

“It’s kind of like hiding a small object underneath a carpet — except this time the carpet also disappears,” they said.
invisible soldier

“We put an object under a microscopic structure, a little like a reflective carpet,” said Nicholas Stenger, one of the researchers who worked on the project.

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Scientists Discover New Way to Generate Electricity

Original hochgeladen von Schwarzm am 30. Aug 2004; Selbst gemacht mit C4D/Cartoonrenderer, GNU FDL

This animation of a rotating carbon nanotube shows its 3D structure. By Schwarzm, made with C4D/Cartoonrenderer, GNU FDL

By Michelle Bryner for TechNewsDaily.com:

Researchers have found a way to produce large amounts of electricity from tiny cylinders made from carbon atoms.

The achievement could replace decades-old methods of generating electricity, such as combustion engines and turbines, the researchers say.

In the future, coated carbon nanotubes crafted from individual atoms could power everything from cell phones to hybrid-electric vehicles. The team envisions such nanotube-based power being available to consumers in the next five years.

Carbon nanotubes are thin sheets of carbon rolled up into teensy tubes each with a diameter about 30,000 times smaller than a strand of hair.

When carbon — one of the most abundant elements on Earth — is rolled up into tubes, it exhibits some extraordinary properties such as high heat conduction, which the team exploited in the new study….

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Under the Weather? Just Swallow A Doctor

Doctor In a PillSteve Connor writes in the Independent:

The day when patients can “swallow their doctor” has come a step closer with the development of a submicroscopic nanoparticle that acts as an intelligent pill to deliver drugs when and where they are needed in the body.

Each nanoparticle is built to target a specific part of the body and to release their drugs in a controlled manner over a given period of time. They are so small that millions of them could be injected into the bloodstream without harming healthy tissues.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge have designed the first nanoparticles designed to target the walls of the arteries around the heart. They bind specifically to the proteins that only stick out from the inner lining of the these blood vessels when they are damaged.

Once the nanoparticles take up position in the diseased arteries they are programmed to release small quantities of drugs over several weeks or months to help cardiovascular patients to recover without exposing other parts of the body to much higher doses of potentially toxic drugs.

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World’s Smallest Robot Can Move Atoms!

Prof. Nadrian "Ned" C. Seeman

Prof. Nadrian "Ned" C. Seeman

A New York professor just built the world’s smallest robot The nano-scopic device is just 150 x 50 x 8 nanometers in size – and over a million of them could fit inside a single red blood cell!

The tiny nanorobotic device has the ability to place specific atoms and molecules wherever scientists want them to. And it can even build nanoscale structures and machines – including a nano-sized walking biped!

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