Friday, February 4, 2011

This week in nanotechnology - February 4, 2011

Windshields that shed water so effectively that they don't need wipers. Ship hulls so slippery that they glide through the water more efficiently than ordinary hulls. These are some of the potential applications for graphene, one of the hottest new materials in the field of nanotechnology. Researchers have now figured out how to create a freestanding film of graphene oxide and alter its surface roughness so that it either causes water to bead up and run off or causes it to spread out in a thin layer.

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham's School of Engineering have created a three-dimensional electrospun scaffold on the nanoscale that more effectively and efficiently facilitates cell and tissue growth in the laboratory.

Using a concept called DNA origami, Arizona State University researchers are trying to pave the way to produce the next generations of electronics products. They have discovered a way to use DNA to effectively combine top-down lithography with chemical bonding involving bottom-up self-assembly. Enabling various molecules to attach to the DNA produces smaller nanostructure configurations – thus opening the way to construction of smaller electronic device components.
DNA origami nanotubes
DNA origami nanotubes can be efficiently aligned between gold islands with various interisland distances and relative locations. This development represents progress toward the goal of bridging bottom-up and top-down assembly approaches.

A new type of thin solar cell based on a honeycomb pattern of nanoscale dimples could offer a new direction for the field. Researchers at Stanford University succeeded in harnessing plasmonics to more effectively trap light within thin solar cells to improve performance and push them one step closer to daily reality.

University of Maryland researchers have made a breakthrough in the use of visible light for making tiny integrated circuits. They introduced a technique called RAPID lithography that makes it possible to use visible light to attain lithographic resolution comparable to (and potentially even better than) that obtained with shorter wave length radiation. Though their advance is probably at least a decade from commercial use, they say it could one day make it possible for companies like Intel to continue their decades long tread of making ever smaller, faster, and cheaper computer chips.

For almost two decades, cardiologists have searched for ways to see dangerous blood clots before they cause heart attacks. Now, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis report that they have designed nanoparticles that find clots and make them visible to a new kind of X-ray technology. These nanoparticles will take the guesswork out of deciding whether a person coming to the hospital with chest pain is actually having a heart attack.