Friday, June 26, 2009

This week in nanotechnology June 20-26, 2009

Another advance with nanodiamonds in medical applications has been reported: A new study shows a way in which nanodiamonds can be applied towards enhancing water dispersion of otherwise poorly watersoluble therapeutics. This could open the door to broad application of a wide range of important drugs for cancer or regenerative medicine. One more report on cancer-related nanomedicine came out of the University of Massachusetts where Vincent Rotello an his team have developed a a 'chemical nose' array of nanoparticles and polymers that differentiates not only between healthy and cancerous cells but also between metastatic and non-metastatic cancer cells.
Roasted chicken à la nanotech: Scientists in Delaware say they have developed a new hydrogen storage method – carbonized chicken feather fibers – that can hold vast amounts of hydrogen. Chicken feather fibers are mostly composed of keratin, a natural protein that forms strong, hollow tubes. When heated, this protein creates crosslinks, which strengthen its structure, and becomes more porous, increasing its surface area. The net result is carbonized chicken feather fibers, which can absorb as much or perhaps more hydrogen than carbon nanotubes or metal hydrides, two other materials being studied for their hydrogen storage potential. Plus, they are cheap.
A problem with existing gas nanosensors is the cross-interference of other gas analytes such as for instance water vapor (humidity). A team at Duke University has now shown how to manufacture gas nanosensors that can eliminate cross-interference from other gases.
For a long time it has been thought that if the accelerating voltage of electrons could be reduced to 80 kV in an electron microscope, then the electrons would not possess sufficient energy to cause knock-on damage in carbon nanomaterials. A team in Europe shows that this belief is wrong and that under certain circumstances nanotubes can be damaged even at this threshold level.
On the regulators' side, the The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA) has published "Literature Review - Workplace exposure to nanoparticles" which reviews the most recent publications on nanoparticles and focuses on the possible adverse health effects of workplace exposure. The report presents the regulatory background and activities taken to manage this emerging risk.
Speaking about risks, a new survey shows that in the U.S., scientists and public differ on need for nanotechnology regulation. While the public tends to focus on the benefits – rather than potential environmental and health risks – when making decisions about nanotechnology regulation, scientists mainly focus on potential risks and economic values.
Singularity University – the new academic institution with the goal of preparing the next generation of leaders to address "humanity's grand challenges" – has announced the selection of 40 students to represent the inaugural class for the Graduate Summer Program. One of the 10 tracks offered of course deals with nanotechnologies.
The Journal of Consumer Policy is planning a special issue on "Nanotechnologies and the Consumer" and is looking for papers. The objective of this special issue will be to discuss the impact of nanotechnologies on consumer behavior, policy and law. Papers can be submitted until August 15, 2009.
And finally to the fun part: we've posted some amazing images from the nanoworld in one of our posts last week, like these nano teddy bears (they are actually zinc oxide nanostructures):