Friday, February 19, 2010

This wek in nanotechnology - Feb 19, 2010

In research that gives literal meaning to the term 'power suit', University of California, Berkeley, engineers have created energy-scavenging nanofibers that could one day be woven into clothing and textiles. These nano-sized generators have piezoelectric properties that allow them to convert into electricity the energy created through mechanical stress, stretches and twists.

By creating diamond-based nanowire devices, a team at Harvard has taken another step towards making applications based on quantum science and technology possible. The new device offers a bright, stable source of single photons at room temperature, an essential element in making fast and secure computing with light practical. The finding could lead to a new class of nanostructured diamond devices suitable for quantum communication and computing, as well as advance areas ranging from biological and chemical sensing to scientific imaging.

Welding uses heat to join pieces of metal in everything from circuits to skyscrapers. But Rice University researchers have found a way to beat the heat on the nanoscale. They have discovered that gold wires between 3 and 10 nanometer wide weld themselves together quite nicely - without heat.

One of the difficulties of fighting cancer is that drugs often hit other non-cancerous cells, causing patients to get sick. But what if researchers could sneak cancer-fighting particles into just the cancer cells? Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Ovarian Cancer Institute are working on doing just that. They developed a method that uses hydrogels - less than 100 nanometers in size - to sneak a particular type of small interfering RNA (siRNA) into cancer cells.

Life would sometimes be so much easier if we were quantum particles. For example, if we were trying to find our way out of a strange town allowing chance telling us which way to go at every intersection. As objects of classical physics, this would mean becoming more and more lost in the centre of the road network. If we were particles that obeyed the laws of quantum mechanics, we would sooner or later find our way to the edge of town on the randomly-chosen route. An international team has now proven this experimentally. They have used polarized light - light waves which oscillate in a particular plane - to design a simple model for a quantum physical random walk. Their experiments could provide new insights into statistical processes such as photosynthesis, and help to accelerate search algorithms.