Friday, July 16, 2010

This week in nanotechnology - July 16, 2010

Nanotechnology wound dressing automatically detects and treats infection. Researchers in the UK have conducted experiments that explored the elementary question of what it is that makes some bacteria pathogenic, and some not? Based on their findings, they have demonstrated that a simple vesicle (nanocapsule) system can be used as a 'nano-Trojan horse' for controlling bacterial growth and infection. Integrated into wound dressings, this novel material can automatically detect infection by pathogenic bacteria and respond to this by releasing an antibiotic into the wound, and changing color to alert medical staff.

A team of researchers from Delft University of Technology announces a new type of nanopore device that may significantly impact the way we screen DNA molecules, for example to read off their sequence. They report a novel technique to fabricate tiny holes in a layer of graphene (a carbon layer with a thickness of only 1 atom) and they managed to detect the motion of individual DNA molecules that travel through such a hole.

Adding a bit of graphene to battery materials could dramatically cut the time it takes to recharge electronics. Researchers at the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have demonstrated that small quantities of graphene — an ultra-thin sheet of carbon atoms — can dramatically improve the power and cycling stability of lithium-ion batteries, while maintaining high energy storage capacity. The pioneering work could lead to the development of batteries that store larger amounts of energy and recharge quickly.

New solar-powered process removes CO2 from the air and stores it as solid carbon. Researchers have now presented the first experimental evidence of a new solar conversion process, combining electronic and chemical pathways, for carbon dioxide capture in what could become a revolutionary approach to remove and recycle CO2 from the atmosphere on a large scale. Rather than trying to sequester or hide away excess carbon dioxide, this new method allows it to be stored as solid carbon or converted in useful products ranging from plastics to synthetic jet fuel.

Rice University scientists have found the "ultimate" solvent for all kinds of carbon nanotubes, a breakthrough that brings the creation of a highly conductive quantum nanowire ever closer. Nanotubes have the frustrating habit of bundling, making them less useful than when they're separated in a solution. The researchers have found that chlorosulfonic acid can dissolve half-millimeter-long nanotubes in solution, a critical step in spinning fibers from ultralong nanotubes.

New research confirms that a revolutionary technology developed at Wake Forest University will slash years off the time it takes to develop drugs – bringing vital new treatments to patients much more quickly. Lab-on-Bead uses nanoscopic beads studded with "pins" that match a drug to a disease marker in a single step, so researchers can test an infinite number of possibilities for treatments all at once. When Lab-on-Bead makes a match, it has found a viable treatment for a specific disease – speeding up drug discovery by as much as 10,000 times and cutting out years of testing and re-testing in the laboratory.