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 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
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.
Courtesy James Tour group
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)
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.
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.
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."
"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.
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
John Hart, a professor at the University of Michigan, has created a super-small tribute to President-elect Obama using 150 million nanotubes. (Each one is less than a millimeter in diameter and can only be seen through a microscope.)
While electronic devices double their capacity every 18 months or so, battery capacity per volume are lucky to double every ten years. A new breakthrough by materials scientists at MIT promises to drastically decrease the size of batteries. In a battery, only the surfaces of the electrodes create electricity. The key to making lighter batteries is to make lots of surfaces but minimize the material under the surface - in other words make the electrodes as thin as possible.
MIT scientists, professors Angela Belcher, Paula Hammond and Yet-Ming Chiang have used genetically engineered living viruses to assemble thin-film nanowires as the anodes and cathodes of a flexible "battery wrap" only 100 nanometers thick. The virus is a derivative the M13 bacteriophage. It is 6 x 880 nanometers in size.
The genetically engineered battery wrap is fabricated by dipping a scaffold into three beakers. The first dip picks up a layer of polyelectrolyte which can be as thin as 100 nanometers. The second dip is into a soup of the 6 x 880 nm viruses. The viruses, which are negatively charged, stick to to the positively charged scaffold kind of like the bristles on a hair brush. These viruses, when dipped into third solution, are genetically engineered to pull cobalt-oxide and gold ions onto their surfaces.
After that, the polyelectrolyte is dried out, and the 6-nm-diameter viruses dehydrate, becoming harmlessly entombed inside a sealed compartment of inorganic cobalt and gold.
"Potentially, when we grow a lithium layer on the other side of the polyelectrolyte for the other cathode, we could use this material to make batteries as thin as 100 nm,"
Thousands of these battery layers could be stacked on top of each other and still be paper thin. Such a battery could store two or three times more energy for its size and weight than conventional batteries today. Its "wrapability" would also allow the batteries to be placed around objects rather than requiring storage compartments.
Source:Living viruses create flexible battery film EE Times
A carbon nanotube composite material called buckypaper promises to be10 times lighter than steel but up to 500 times stronger. Florida Advanced Center for Composite Technologies (FAC2T) under the direction of Ben Wang, is working to develop real-world applications for this super material.
"The U.S. military has shown a keen interest in the military applications of Wang's research; in fact, the Army Research Lab recently awarded FAC2T a $2.5-million grant, while the Air Force Office of Scientific Research awarded $1.2 million." BuckyPaper.com
Buckypaper will most likely first be used in military aircraft and cruise missiles. Its electrical conductivity would provide protection from lightning and electromagnetic interference. When the cost of producing buckypaper comes down its strength to weight ratio will help make everything lighter and stronger. Its ability to dissipate heat will also be useful in computer circuits.
I cannot imagine writing smaller than if the letters are composed by arranging individual atoms.
An Osaka University research team has demonstrated an “atomic pen” that can inscribe nano-sized text on metal by manipulating individual atoms on the surface. PinkTentacle.com
The completed text measures 2 x 2 nanometers. The procedure is described in the October 17 edition of Science magazine; "Complex Patterning by Vertical Interchange Atom Manipulation Using Atomic Force Microscopy"