Friday, June 11, 2010

This week in nanotechnology - June 11, 2010

In response to the massive oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico, a University of Pittsburgh engineering professor has developed a technique for separating oil from water via a cotton filter coated in a chemical polymer that blocks oil while allowing water to pass through. The researcher reports that the filter was successfully tested off the coast of Louisiana and shown to simultaneously clean water and preserve the oil.



New research describes how nanoparticles formed by very small numbers of silver atoms can protect against the cell damage caused by ethanol. Alcohol has particularly harmful effects on nerve cells. Following application of the silver nanoparticles to ethanol-exposed cells, the actin cytoskeleton shows marked improvements and cell-death does not occur.

In the quest for faster and cheaper computers, scientists have imaged pore structures in insulation materials at sub-nanometer scale for the first time. Understanding these structures could substantially enhance computer performance and power usage of integrated circuits.

A research team has produced the first material made of two-dimensional fullerene layers that acts like a metal. All previous fullerene-containing crystals with metallic properties have been one- or three-dimensional structures and contained metal elements. This new class of compounds could open a route toward novel superconducting materials.

Scientists have discovered a new way to apply nanostructure coatings to make heat transfer far more efficient, with important potential applications to high tech devices as well as the conventional heating and cooling industry. These coatings can remove heat four times faster than the same materials before they are coated, using inexpensive materials and application procedures. The discovery has the potential to revolutionize cooling technology, experts say.

A team has developed methods for synthesizing protein-sized polymer particles with a binding affinity and selectivity comparable to those of natural antibodies by combining molecular imprinting nanoparticle synthesis with a functional monomer optimization strategy. In effect, they have created a plastic antibody, an artificial version of the real thing. They have also demonstrated that it works in the bloodstream of a living animal.