Stories tagged nanotechnology

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?

Sep
27
2009

Carbon nanotubes as energy storage
Carbon nanotubes as energy storageCourtesy ghutchis

Carbon nanotube springs may be better than batteries

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.

1000 times the energy density of a steel spring

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.

Lots of basic research and engineering challenges remain

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.

Sources:

Sep
06
2009

Nano technology makes detecting lung cancer easy and affordable

Breathalyzer
BreathalyzerCourtesy 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

How lung cancer detectors work

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.

Learn more

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.

Growing computers with DNA

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

Billion year memory chips

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)

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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.

Mar
15
2009

Nanoballs speed up battery recharge

"Nanoball" batteries charge in seconds
"Nanoball" batteries charge in secondsCourtesy 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.

Electric vehicles recharge in minutes

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.

When? "2 or 3 years"

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

Source
'Nanoball' batteries could recharge car in minutes New Scientist

Mar
15
2009

DNA origami
DNA origamiCourtesy Richard Wheeler

Nano robot uses two hands to twist molecules

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

Mar
15
2009

MOF-74: hydrogen storage tank: MOF-74 resembles a series of tightly packed straws comprised mostly of carbon atoms (white balls) with columns of zinc ions (blue balls) running down the walls. Heavy hydrogen molecules (green balls) adsorbed in MOF-74 pack into the tubes more densely tha
MOF-74: hydrogen storage tank: MOF-74 resembles a series of tightly packed straws comprised mostly of carbon atoms (white balls) with columns of zinc ions (blue balls) running down the walls. Heavy hydrogen molecules (green balls) adsorbed in MOF-74 pack into the tubes more densely thaCourtesy NIST

Chemistry happens where molecules touch

Chemical interactions happen only when molecules "touch". To maximize these interactions simply maximize the surface area of the material.

More than an acre of surface in each gram

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.

New material breaks surface area record

"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

Learn more
New Nanoporous Material Has Highest Surface Area Yet
More Solid than Solid: A Potential Hydrogen-Storage Compound

Nanotube catalyst: 10,000 X smaller than human hairs
Nanotube catalyst: 10,000 X smaller than human hairsCourtesy St Stev

Solving the carbon dioxide problem

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.

Learn more:
Sun-powered device converts CO2 into fuel New Scientist

When you're building nanostructures, the position of each and every atom counts. After all, that's one of the factors that determines, for example, whether a material will be a semiconductor or an insulator, or whether it will start up a process or stop it. But our current imaging techniques aren't precise enough yet to give us full control over nanomaterials. Researchers are working to combine tools we have with new approaches to the data they yield to develop atom maps. Pretty cool.