[extropy-chat] The Nanogirl News~

Gina Miller nanogirl at halcyon.com
Sat Apr 24 05:48:36 UTC 2004

The Nanogirl News
April 23, 2004

Eric Drexler (author of Engines of Creation and Nanosystems) has provided us with a website full of crucial nanotechnology information and images. http://www.e-drexler.com

Harnessing Nanotechnology. As field develops, scientists gather to take stock and look to the future. The field of nanotechnology is getting a lot of attention these days. Many scientists and policymakers are excited over the potential impact of this field on areas such as energy, public health, and the environment. But despite this bright future, it's the potentially harmful implications of the science as detailed by some media outlets and science-fiction literature that is garnering the interest of the general public. Creating an environment that recognizes and addresses public concern, while encouraging continued research and development, is a key challenge facing the nascent field. That challenge was a major topic of discussion at a recent nanotechnology conference. Held in Washington, D.C., in early April, the meeting, called National Nanotechnology Initiative: From Vision to Commercialization, brought together approximately 400 scientists from academia, industry, and the government to assess the state of the field and discuss its future direction.  (C&E 4/21/04) http://pubs.acs.org/cen/nlw/8216gov1.html

Are Nanobots Fiction or Reality? (By Chris Phoenix of CNR). As far as we know, nanoscale machinery is possible, and we could see molecular manufacturing within a decade. Nanotechnology is a diverse collection of fields. It promises many things that haven't been built yet, such as molecular electronic computers, new kinds of medicine, and nanobots. As far as we know, nanobots are quite possible-no more "fictional" than the others. However, nanobots are special for three reasons: They were the first kind of nanotech to be called "nanotechnology"; they can be used for general-purpose manufacturing, including building more manufacturing capability; and they're associated with scary ideas, so a lot of nano bureaucrats like to claim they're impossible. (Betterhumans 4/21/04)

Nanoscale beads sniff tough-to-find toxins. A biosensor that uses nanoshells - nanoscale hollow beads - may provide the long-sought technology U.S. homeland security officials have sought to sense arbitrary biotoxins. Researchers at the University of Arizona have continued the pioneering work of a colleague to create the biosensors. Made from cell membrane material with embedded ion channels, the biosensors transduce fluorescence in the presence of nearly any agent, from biotoxins to proteins to other difficult-to-sense organics, even those inside a living cell. (EETimes 4/9/04)

Ultra-fast laser allows efficient, accessible nanoscale machining. Think of a microscopic milling machine, capable of cutting just about any material with better-than-laser precision, in 3-D---and at the nanometer scale. In a paper published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, University of Michigan researchers explain how and why using a femtosecond pulsed laser enables extraordinarily precise nanomachining. The capabilities of the ultra-fast or ultra-short pulsed laser have significant implications for basic scientific research, and for practical applications in the nanotechnology industry. (Eurekalert 4/20/04) http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2004-04/uom-ula042004.php

Carbon nanotubes break small record. Researchers from Meijo University in Japan and Research Centre Jülich in Germany have made what they say is the smallest stable carbon nanotube. The tube, just 3 Angstroms in diameter, grew inside a multiwalled carbon nanotube during a hydrogen arc discharge process. (nanotechweb 4/20/04) http://nanotechweb.org/articles/news/3/4/10/1

Will nanotech save the world or is it mostly hype? While its benefits are still years away from reaching the public, scientists hope nanotechnology -- the manipulation of atoms as raw materials -- will eventually live up to the hype it's received for its potential to advance medicine, electronics and manufacturing. From helping diagnose diseases more accurately to keeping computers running more smoothly, the manipulation of atoms is a challenge with a whole new set of rules. The scientists who work with these tiniest of raw materials see a world just as mesmerizing as those who study the farthest reaches of outer space. (CNN 4/21/04)

Carbon Nanofoam is the First Pure-Carbon Magnet. Discovered a few years ago, carbon nanofoam is the fifth known allotrope of carbon, the others being graphite, diamond, fullerene (e.g., C-60 molecules), and carbon nanotubes. The foam is, along with aerogel, one of the lightest known solid substances (with a density of ~2 mg/cm3). But at this week's APS March Meeting in Montreal, physicists announced an even more interesting property: though made entirely from carbon atoms that are normally considered nonmagnetic, the foam nevertheless can act like a ferromagnet. 
(Physics News Update 3/26/04) http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/2004/split/678-1.html

A buckyball toxicity study that spawned considerable debate inside and outside the nanotech industry last week has been published in an environmental journal. The journal Environmental Health Perspectives this week published Manufactured Nanomaterials Induce Oxidative Stress in Brain of Juvenile Largemouth Bass, written by Southern Methodist University environmental toxicology lecturer Eva Oberdorster. The peer-reviewed study, conducted by Oberdorster and her students, is believed to be the first to show that uncoated fullerenes can cause brain damage in aquatic species. (SmallTimes 4/8/04) http://www.smalltimes.com/document_display.cfm?document_id=7695

Friday Forward: A chat with futurist John Smart. Every Friday, I post a new E-mail chat with a forward-looking thinker about the road ahead. Today, our prescient Friday Forward prognosticator is John Smart, president of the Institute for Accelerating Change a nonprofit futurist community based in San Pedro, Calif., that conducts research and holds conferences on the future of technology and the accelerating pace of technological change. IAC's major conference in September, for instance, will explore the increasing connectivity of physical space, the increasing accuracy of simulation space, and the increasing intelligence of our physical-virtual and human-machine interfaces. Next News: What tech trends do you see developing over the next 10 to 25 years that the average person today has little awareness of? Smart: A surprising number of today's technologies, like most nanotechnology and biotechnology, will be much less powerful in the next several decades than many futurists presently realize. (USANews 4/23/04) http://www.usnews.com/usnews/tech/nextnews/nexthome.htm

Enzyme "Ink" Shows Potential For Nanomanufacturing. Experiment uses biomolecules to write on a gold substrate. Duke University engineers have demonstrated that enzymes can be used to create nanoscale patterns on a gold surface. Since many enzymes are already commercially available and well characterized, the potential for writing with enzyme "ink" represents an important advance in nanomanufacturing. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation through a Nanotechnology Interdisciplinary Research Initiative (NIRT) grant. (Innovations-report 4/23/04)

Nanosys, the reigning celebrity of the nanotechnology market, filed preliminary documents Thursday for an initial public offering with the Security and Exchange Commission, in what will likely be a closely watched saga. Nanosys specializes in designing molecules that could conceivably lead to better solar panels, flexible screens or dense computer memory. (Cnet 4/23/04) http://news.com.com/2100-7337-5198913.html

Research and Markets: Nanotechnology and Government Strategies Worldwide. The Worldwide Nanotechnology Research and Development Investment has increased five times in the last five years and worldwide annual industrial production in the nanotech sectors is estimated to exceed $1 trillion in 10 - 15 years from now. Research and Markets (http://www.researchandmarkets.com) has announced the addition of Nanotechnology and Government Strategies Worldwide to their offering. Link to the contents provided at the bottom. (tmcnet 4/23/04) http://www.tmcnet.com/usubmit/2004/Apr/1034683.htm

Meet the Public Face of U.S. Nano; You'll be Seeing More of Him. When nano meets the general public, it isn't always pretty. That's why Clayton Teague has both a tough and rewarding job ahead of him. As director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, it's his job to handle "public outreach" for the U.S. government's nanotechnology program. As the public becomes more aware of nanotechnology, Teague's job turns even more challenging. One day the general-interest media are hyping the wonders of nanotech, the next day it's denigrated as a polluter that preys on lab rats and fish. I spoke to Teague recently at the National Nanotechnology Initiative's annual conference in Washington, where nanotech's public image was very much on everybody's mind. Here's an edited excerpt from our discussion. (Smalltimes 4/23/04)

Getting Molecules To Do The Work. The era of nano-manufacturing is being born in hundreds of labs that are racing to perfect a technique called self-assembly. If you just listen casually to a description of what Sandia National Laboratories has been working on, you would think it had wasted its time reinventing the wheel: It has developed a robot that can walk and pick up and deliver loads of cargo. In an age of advanced assembly and landings on Mars, that hardly sounds impressive -- except that Sandia's robot is a molecule. Called a motor protein, it has two little feet on one end and a tail that can grab things on the other. Once a special chemical is added to the solution in which it resides, the protein begins moving along strands of fiber that are one-fifth the width of a human hair, says Bruce Bunker, a Sandia researcher who's in charge of the project. (Business Week Online special report 4/22/04) http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/04_18/b3881609.htm
First book on Nanophotonics. Like any emerging technology, nanophotonics -- the science behind light and matter interacting on the nanoscale -- is ripe for all kinds of claims ranging from the sublime to the far-fetched. So it is an opportune time for the publication of Nanophotonics (John Wiley & Sons, March 2004), the first book to comprehensively cover nanophotonics, both as a fundamental phenomenon and as the origin of technologies and devices that will impact fields ranging from information technology to drug delivery. Authored by Paras N. Prasad, Ph.D., SUNY Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry in the College of Arts and Sciences at the University at Buffalo and executive director of UB's Institute for Lasers, Photonics and Biophotonics, Nanophotonics is written so that it can be understood by established scientists and advanced undergraduates alike. (Azonano 4/22/04) http://www.azonano.com/news.asp?newsID=125

(Comics & Nano) "Magnus, Robot Fighter" Fights his Way back into Comics. In the early 1960s, comic fans became enamored with the superheroic offerings made by DC Comics and Marvel Comics...The 1990s saw the return of Magnus when Valiant Comics, and later Acclaim Comics, offered up all news tale based on the character, but since then no new material has been published and those classic Russ Manning issues have remained out of print. Things are looking up for the hero, though. New robot-fighting tales are planned for Magnus as well as collections of the original Russ Manning issues...We intend to honor the Russ Manning vision of man and robot," said Preiss, "but to add layers of complexity that evolve from nanotechnology, Asimovian thought and the world of personal computing and artificial intelligence which did not exist when the character was invented. Personally, I would like to get rid of the red shorts and the 'M' on the belt, but that is not decided. We certainly will update the costume. (Comicbookresources 4/20/04) http://www.comicbookresources.com/news/newsitem.cgi?id=3556

Nano-refrigeration firm takes a Cool look at wafers. Cool Chips is starting to manufacture prototypes of a heat-removal system based on wafer-shaped electrodes. Cool Chips, a company that wants to bring refrigeration into the nanotechnology era, has opened a prototype manufacturing facility, a crucial step in the long road to commercial deployment. The Gibraltar-based company is promoting one of the more novel approaches to cooling industrial equipment and computer parts. Cool Chips takes two wafer-shaped electrodes and spaces them about 10 nanometres apart in a very thin sandwich. (ZDnet 4/23/04) http://news.zdnet.co.uk/0,39020330,39152409,00.htm

A Rose By Any Other Name? Nanotechnology may be the next big thing, but the sweet smell of success is being used to promote nearly worthless stocks, charges Asensio & Co. The New York City-based investment banking firm has asked New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to investigate misuse of the nano label. Asensio charges that nanotechnology "has become a favorite, and successful, term among America's most fraudulent stock promoters." The firm has reason to want to stop such hype: It makes money by publishing critical reports on stocks that it believes are overvalued and "short selling" them-betting that they will drop in price. (C&Enews 4/19/04)
Pentagon official says nanotechnology a high priority. The U.S. military expects advances in nanotechnology to impact every major weapons system and is spending hundreds of millions of dollars annually on various research programs, a senior military science adviser said Thursday at a meeting of nanotechnology specialists. "Nanotechnology is one of the highest priority science and technology programs in the Defense Department," said Clifford Lau, the senior science adviser in the Pentagon's office of basic research. Lau, who also serves as president of the nanotechnology council at the engineering group IEEE, said research is being coordinated across the military branches, and plans are in place to transition the technology from basic research to deployment. (GovExec 4/19/04) http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0404/041904td1.htm

China Sunday successfully sent into space Nano-satellite I, the first nanotechnology-based satellite ever developed by the country, Xinhua reports. The successful launch made China the world's fourth country capable of launching nano-satellites after Russia, the US and Britain, Chinese space experts said. (India Kerala News 4/18/04) http://www.newkerala.com/news-daily/news/features.php?action=fullnews&id=12524

Spray-on electronics move closer to reality. If recent research projects bear fruit, it won't be too many years before magazines play videos and semiconductors roll out of inkjet printers. Workers at Xerox and TDA Research independently unveiled methods this week for making transistors out of plastic rather than silicon, in ways that could be commercially viable. Such a shift in materials could drastically reduce the cost of computer displays because chipmakers would not have to build multibillion dollar factories to make semiconductors to power these devices. Just as important, it could greatly expand the range of objects that connect to the Internet, because electronic connections would be handled by a thin film or moldable material, rather than rigid chips. A thin screen could be bound into a magazine, for instance, and connect wirelessly to a Web site, or plastic soda bottles could transmit signals to inventory devices. (Cnet 4/19/04)

Nanotech's Chemotherapy Cure (Josh Wolfe). In the world of modern medicine there are few more imprecise and drastic measures than chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer. In most cases the process involves poisoning a patient's system with toxic chemicals in an effort to kill malignant cancer cells. Anyone who has personally suffered through chemo or seen a loved one suffer can attest to its destructive and debilitating side effects. Unfortunately, one of the causes of these severe side effects comes not from the anti-cancer drugs themselves, but from the solutions used to dissolve them. When a drug won't dissolve in water, another solvent is often used in its place; occasionally the side effects of the solvent cause more discomfort than the cancer-killing agent. Scientific researchers working with nanoparticles, 1/100th the size of a red blood cell, may have discovered a solution to chemo's "solution" problem. (Forbes 4/15/04)

Gina "Nanogirl" Miller
Nanotechnology Industries
Personal: http://www.nanogirl.com
Foresight Senior Associate http://www.foresight.org
Nanotechnology Advisor Extropy Institute  http://www.extropy.org
Tech-Aid Advisor http://www.tech-aid.info/t/all-about.html
Email: nanogirl at halcyon.com
"Nanotechnology: Solutions for the future."
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