Saturday, June 13, 2009

This week in nanotechnology June 6-12, 2009

Exciting new developments on the nanomotor front this week: University of Florida chemists have designed a light-driven single-molecule DNA nanomotor. It is the first fully reversible single-molecule DNA nanomachine driven by photons (i.e. light) without any additional DNA strands as fuel. DNA nanomotor pioneer Ned Seeman at NYU introduced the novel concept for a nanoscale piston – such a reciprocating motion device hadn't been available at the nanoscale yet.
Another nanoelectronics breakthrough from the IBM labs, where scientists have shown they can now measure the charge state of individual atoms. Measuring with the precision of a single electron charge, the researchers succeeded in distinguishing neutral atoms from positively or negatively charged ones.
A company called SolarBotanic has come up with the concept of artificial trees that can harvest the power of the sun and wind. These artificial trees and plant structures are designed to utilize three major types of nano-technologies: photovoltaics, thermovoltaics and piezovoltaic, the result is a commercially viable alternative and/or supplement to other energy generating technologies.
In the nanorisk arena, there was a report that showed how nanoparticles could cause lung damage and how that can be prevented. Another study added to concerns that nanotechnology actually is not "green": the production of nanoparticles and nanomaterials is not only quite inefficient, it also creates potentially toxic waste products.
For you students out there, potentially interested in studying nanosciences, the UAlbany NanoCollege (the first college in the world dedicated to education, research, development, and deployment in the emerging disciplines of nanoscience, nanoengineering, nanobioscience, and nanoeconomics) launches a comprehensive undergraduate degree program in nanoscience.
In nanomedicine, an interesting study demonstrates a nanoparticle that can attack plaque, which is a major cause of cardiovascular disease. The treatment is promising for the eventual development of therapies for cardiovascular disease, which is blamed for one third of the deaths in the United States each year.
And finally, researchers from Universiti Sains Malaysia have developed the world’s first endodontic or root canal treatment sealer using nanotechnology. Just don't expect it yet at your next visit to the dentist.