Friday, January 29, 2010

This week in nanotechnology - January 29, 2010

Heatable paint for aircraft: Scientists at Battelle have worked for nearly a decade to overcome ice buildup on aircraft. Recently, they developed an environmentally friendly deicing fluid that can be sprayed on planes prior to flight. Now those same scientists have created a technology using carbon nanotubes that will work to prevent ice from forming during in-flight applications that could change the way this problem is solved in the future.

Researchers in the Electro-Optics Center (EOC) Materials Division at Penn State have produced 100 mm diameter graphene wafers, a key milestone in the development of graphene for next generation high-power, high-frequency electronic devices.

This graphene wafer contains more than 22,000 devices and test structures.

This graphene wafer contains more than 22,000 devices and test structures.

As the first group in the world, researchers from Chalmers will build up body parts using nanocellulose and the body's own cells. The researchers will build up a three-dimensional nanocellulose network that is an exact copy of the patient's healthy outer ear and construct an exact mirror image of the ear. It will have sufficient mechanical stability for it to be used as a bioreactor, which means that the patient's own cartilage and stem cells can be cultivated directly inside the body or on the patient, in this case on the head.

Scientists have great expectations that nanotechnologies will bring them closer to the goal of creating computer systems that can simulate and emulate the brain's abilities for sensation, perception, action, interaction and cognition while rivaling its low power consumption and compact size. Researchers in France have now developed a hybrid nanoparticle-organic transistor that can mimic the main functionalities of a synapse.

Power-generating rubber films developed by Princeton University engineers could harness natural body movements such as breathing and walking to power pacemakers, mobile phones and other electronic devices. The material, composed of ceramic nanoribbons embedded onto silicone rubber sheets, generates electricity when flexed and is highly efficient at converting mechanical energy to electrical energy.

Phase transitions -- changes of matter from one state to another without altering its chemical makeup -- are an important part of life in our three-dimensional world. Water falls to the ground as snow, melts to a liquid and eventually vaporizes back to the clouds to begin the cycle anew. Now a team of scientists has devised a new way to explore how such phase transitions function in less than three dimensions and at the level of just a few atoms. They hope the technique will be useful to test aspects of what until now has been purely theoretical physics, and they hope it also might have practical applications for sensing conditions at very tiny scales, such as in a cell membrane.

And finally a reference to an interesting conference where nanotechnology solutions certainly will find a role to play in coming up with answers to the "14 challenges the world must address to ensure the planet's survival".