Friday, July 17, 2009

This week in nanotechnology July 11-17, 2009

Lots of news in nanoelectronics and nanophotonics this week: Light-based computing took another step forward with the discovery by Yale scientists of a "repulsive" light force that can be used to control components on silicon microchips. Researchers had theorized the existence of both the attractive and repulsive forces since 2005, but the latter had remained unproven until now. These novel repulsive and attractive nanophotonic forces were also reported by a European team.

Computers with no need of cooling? They haven't come into existence yet. However, physicists in Germany are paving the way for them: they demonstrate a semiconductor that transmits electric current without heating up in the process.

Capturing electrons in action – scientists at RIKEN in Japan have developed a way to measure the wavelike properties of ultrafast (attosecond) light pulses—an important step toward being able to probe the dynamics of electrons, atoms and molecules.

Relieving some concerns that nanotechnology manufacturing might be quite a 'dirty' industrial process, Singapore's Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (IBN) has discovered a new environmentally friendly method to synthesize a wide variety of nanoparticles inexpensively.

Moving on to green energy – this week a group of 20 large industrial companies, banks and insurance companies met in Germany to kick of project Desertec that, if realized, will cost 400-500 billion euros ($550-700 bn) and deliver its first energy in about 10 years. The basic idea is to install a huge network of nanotechnology-enabled concentrating solar-thermal power plants in the Sahara desert and build a network of High-Voltage Direct Current (HVDC) transmission lines to carry the electricity to Europe.

Empa in Switzerland has published a brief summary of the main conclusions reached at its third NanoConvention event held last week in Zürich. The aim of the NanoConvention is to establish nanotechnology as a secure and safe motor of innovation for the Swiss economy and society.

NanoTecNexus and the University of California, San Diego NanoTumor Center (NTC) have received the 2009 Bronze Telly Award for the production of a video on approaches to fighting cancer using nanotechnology:

And finally, staying with videos, the American Chemical Society announces its second nanotechnology video contest after the wildly successful winner of the first contest clocked almost half a million YouTube views: