Nanotechnology is the ability to create and manipulate atoms and molecules on the smallest of scales. Will this emerging science revolutionize the world we live in?
Courtesy NeilsPhotography Engineers are trying to design machines that can "think for themselves" when on surveillance or search and rescue missions. Somehow the machines has to look at its environment and decide what to do.
Have you ever tried to catch a fly? They are pretty good at seeing your hand and knowing just how to escape your grasp.
Can we figure out how a fly is able see, and find food, and escape from our fly swatters? With today's super microscopes, I am sure that we can visualize and model every nerve connection, muscle fiber, and eye facet.
David O’Carroll, a computational neuroscientist who studies insect vision at Australia’s University of Adelaide has been studying the optical flight circuits of flies, measuring their cell-by-cell activity. In a paper published in Public Library of Science Computational Biology, O’Carroll and fellow University of Adelaide biologist Russell Brinkworth describe an
algorithm composed of a series of five equations through which data from cameras can be run. Each equation represents tricks used by fly circuits to handle changing levels of brightness, contrast and motion, and their parameters constantly shift in response to input.
“It’s amazing work,” said Sean Humbert, who builds miniaturized, autonomous flying robots,
“For traditional navigational sensing, you need lots of payload to do the computation. But the payload on these robots is very small — a gram, a couple of Tic Tacs. You’re not going to stuff dual-core processors into a couple Tic Tacs.
Secret Math of Fly Eyes Could Overhaul Robot Vision Wired Science
Robust Models for Optic Flow Coding in Natural Scenes Inspired by Insect Biology Computational Biology
We have constructed a full model for motion processing in the insect visual pathway incorporating known or suspected elements in as much detail as possible. We have found that it is only once all elements are present that the system performs robustly, with reduction or removal of elements dramatically limiting performance. The implementation of this new algorithm could provide a very useful and robust velocity estimator for artificial navigation systems.
What does a mousetrap have in common with a wind-up clock? A spring. A spring can provide energy to run a clock for days. A mouse trap spring can deliver a quick, deadly energy burst. Unlike batteries, energy stored in a spring can last hundreds of years and is usually not diminished by extreme cold or heat.
MIT scientist, Carol Livermore, "did a combination of mathematical analysis and small-scale laboratory testing to determine the potential of carbon nanotubes to be used as springs for energy storage" MITnews.
The nanospring concept is sound in theory and may even be patented. Working out the details to provide a working device using carbon-nano-tubes to store and re-deliver energy will require plenty of additional basic research, followed by engineering work.
Courtesy mrjorgen The breath of people who have lung cancer is different than those who don't. For years scientists have been perfecting techniques that determines what exactly is different.
Expensive and complicated tools like gas chromatographs and mass spectrometers were used to identify and measure 42 volatile organic compounds that represent lung cancer biomarkers. Sensors were designed to react to four of these compounds.
Gang Peng of the Israel Institute of Technology in Haifa and colleagues have now developed what they say is an inexpensive, portable sensor technology that can quickly distinguish between the breath of lung cancer patients and healthy people. New York Times
Tiny gold nano size beads were coated with organic compounds that would react with the four lung cancer biomarkers. The particles were deposited as a thin film between two electrodes. The breath of someone with lung cancer reacts with the chemicals in the gold beads, changing their electrical resistance.
Physics World has a more complete explanation of how gold nano beads sense lung cancer.
The abstract of the research paper titled "Diagnosing lung cancer in exhaled breath using gold nanoparticles can be found in Nature Nanotechnology.
Scientists from California Institute of Technology and IBM have for the first time coaxed components made from DNA to self organize in a way that could serve as a template upon which additional components like wires and switches could attach.
This technique, which "grows" nano circuits rather than "tooling" them, could result in smaller circuits and save millions of dollars.
Learn more at SiliconValley.com:
IBM scientists take big step toward DNA microchips
Graphene is again proving to be the super material. Micro ribbons of graphene are out performing copper wires, both in current carrying capacity and in heat dissipation.
In widths as narrow as 16 nanometers, graphene has a current carrying capacity approximately a thousand times greater than copper – while providing improved thermal conductivity. Georgia Tech
Berkeley Lab researchers have created a unique ultra-high density memory storage medium that can preserve digital data for a billion years. The new technology also has the potential to pack thousands of times more data into one square inch of space than today's chips.The technology could be on the market within the next two years.
Source: A Billion Year Ultra-Dense Memory Chip (Berkeley Lab)
The video shows an iron nanoparticle, approximately 1/50,000th the width of a human hair, that in the presence of a low voltage electrical current can be shuttled back and forth inside a hollow carbon nanotube with remarkable precision.
Courtesy fdecomite Byoungwoo Kang and Gerbrand Ceder at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have revealed an experimental battery that charges about 100 times faster than normal lithium ion batteries.
To increase the rate, the battery's surface area was increased by making the cathode out of tiny balls of lithium iron phosphate, each just 50 nanometers across.
The researchers calculate that if cellphone batteries can be made using this material, they could charge in 10 seconds. Bigger batteries for plug-in hybrid electric cars could charge in just 5 minutes - compared with about 8 hours for existing batteries.
How long until we can buy these batteries?
Because there are relatively few changes to the standard manufacturing process, Professor Ceder believes the new battery material could make it to market within two to three years. BBC News
'Nanoball' batteries could recharge car in minutes New Scientist
Courtesy Richard Wheeler
A two-armed nanorobotic device built from DNA can manipulate molecules, twisting them into new shapes with 100 % accuracy.
With this capability, it has the potential to develop new synthetic fibers, advance the encryption of information, and improve DNA-scaffolded computer assembly.
The device was described recently in the journal Nature Nanotechnology; Dynamic patterning programmed by DNA tiles captured on a DNA origami substrate.
Read more in Science Daily
The new, two-armed device employs DNA origami, a method unveiled in 2006 that uses a few hundred short DNA strands to direct a very long DNA strand to form structures that adopt any desired shape. These shapes, approximately 100 nanometers in diameter, are eight times larger and three times more complex than what could be created within a simple crystalline DNA array. Science Daily
Chemical interactions happen only when molecules "touch". To maximize these interactions simply maximize the surface area of the material.
Scientists are now creating materials so porous that one gram of material (smaller than a pea) has more surface area than a football field (~4000 sq. meters).
MOF-74 (pictured) can soak up more unpressurized hydrogen than if the hydrogen were compressed into a solid. Until recently the threshold for surface area was 3,000 square meters per gram. Then in 2004, a U-M team reported development of a material known as MOF-177 (metal-organic frameworks) that has the surface area of a football field.
"Pushing beyond that point has been difficult," Matzger said, but his group achieved the feat with the new material, UMCM-2 (University of Michigan Crystalline Material-2), which has a record-breaking surface area of more than 5,000 square meters per gram. J of Amer Chem
Courtesy St Stev
Burning fuel releases carbon dioxide and water vapor. A breakthrough process can reverse this reaction. The carbon dioxide and water vapor can be joined into molecules of methane, ethane, or propane by using sunlight as an energy source. The secret to doing this efficiently requires a particular catalyst with a large surface area.
(A) team (at Pennsylvania State University) found it could enhance the catalytic abilities of titanium dioxide by forming it into nanotubes each around 135 nanometres wide and 40 microns long to increase surface area. Coating the nanotubes with catalytic copper and platinum particles also boosted their activity.
Sun-powered device converts CO2 into fuel New Scientist