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?

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
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)

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.


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

'Nanoball' batteries could recharge car in minutes New Scientist


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


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.

Nano car is molecular in size: 1/20,000th the size of a hair
Nano car is molecular in size: 1/20,000th the size of a hairCourtesy James Tour group

Nanocar is too small to see

James Tour, a professor of chemistry at Rice University, won the Foresight Institute Feynman Prize for experimental nanotechnology for his nanocar, which is four nanometers across and includes a chassis with an engine, a pivoting suspension and rotating axles attached to rolling buckyball wheels, each made of 60 carbon atoms. (click link in red to learn more about smallest car in the world)


Graphene memory is smaller

Graphene transistors: Graphene is an atomic-scale chicken wire made of carbon atoms.
Graphene transistors: Graphene is an atomic-scale chicken wire made of carbon atoms.Courtesy Carbophiliac
Computer memory devices become cheaper, faster, and smaller every year. A team of researchers at Rice University led by James Tour has found a method of creating a new type of memory from a strip of graphite only 10 atoms thick. Individual memory bits smaller than 10 nanometers that have only two terminals will allow super thin sheets of memory to be stacked in layers, multiplying the storage capacity.

Graphene memory is resistant to heat and cold

The graphene memory is able to operate in a very wide temperature range. The researchers have tested the system to minus 75 to over 200 degrees Celsius.

Graphene memory is faster and lasts longer

Researchers say that the new switches are faster than the lab's testing equipment can measure and they promise long life as well.

"We’ve tested it in the lab 20,000 times with no degradation,” said Tour. “Its lifetime is going to be huge, much better than flash memory."

Graphene memory is cheap and easy to produce

"The processes uses graphene deposited on silicon via chemical vapor deposition making for easy construction that can be done in commercial volumes with methods already available," says Tour.

Abstract of Rice University article in Nature

Here, we report that two-terminal devices consisting of discontinuous 5–10 nm thin films of graphitic sheets grown by chemical vapour deposition on either nanowires or atop planar silicon oxide exhibit enormous and sharp room-temperature bistable current–voltage behaviour possessing stable, rewritable, non-volatile and non-destructive read memories with on/off ratios of up to 107 and switching times of up to 1 mus (tested limit). Nature Materials

Source: Rice University News