Friday, June 19, 2009

This week in nanotechnology June 13-19, 2009

Bring out the glue guns! In a further advance of nanofabrication techniques, researchers at New York University have created a method to precisely bind nano- and micrometer-sized particles together into larger-scale structures with useful materials properties. Their work overcomes the problem of uncontrollable sticking, which had been a barrier to the successful creation of stable microscopic and macroscopic structures with a sophisticated architecture.
Scientists in Singapore have scored a breakthrough in nanotechnology by becoming the first in the world to invent a controllable molecular gear of only 1.2 nanometers in size whose rotation can be deliberately controlled.
Nanotechnology structuring of materials with atomic precision takes another step forward by tailoring the properties of nanotubes through deliberately and controllably creating defects in the tubes' carbon atom lattice.
A possible advance in nanoelectronics is the discovery of a "magnetic superatom" – a stable cluster of atoms that can mimic different elements of the periodic table – that one day may be used to create molecular electronic devices for the next generation of faster computers with larger memory storage. The newly discovered cluster, consisting of one vanadium and eight cesium atoms, acts like a tiny magnet.
We saw several interesting reports in the nanomedicine field this past week. One is the discovery of a biological marker for neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness in older adults, which, attached to quantum dots, shows strong potential as a means for both the early detection of the disease and for preventive treatment. Another is a report on specially engineered nanoparticles for cancer therapy, which could someday lead to the end of chemotherapy.
Is nanotechnology going underground? At a conference in Brussels last week it was reported that more and more consumer products drop the "nano" label – while still using nanotechnology – for fear of raising controversy with activist groups. In related news, the highest-ranked health official in the EU executive has hit out at lobby groups who stoke fear of nanotechnology. Robert Madelin, director-general at the European Commission's health and consumer affairs directorate, said it was "irresponsible" to use panic in order to attract attention. Madelin said conflicting messages emanating from NGOs, industry and academia are fueling confusion among the public about nanotechnology.
India sees the launch of its first nanotechnology magazine "Nano Digest", an English language monthly publication.
And finally, gooooooal! Nanosoccer robots are ready to compete in the second annual RoboCup games in Graz, Austria, from June 29 to July 5, 2009.