Friday, May 20, 2011

This week in nanotechnology - May 20, 2011

Victims of third-degree burns and other traumatic injuries endure pain, disfigurement, invasive surgeries and a long time waiting for skin to grow back. Improved tissue grafts designed by Cornell scientists that promote vascular growth could hasten healing, encourage healthy skin to invade the wounded area and reduce the need for surgeries.

Looking inside nanomaterials in three dimensions: Most solid materials are composed of millions of small crystals, packed together to form a fully dense solid. The orientations, shapes, sizes and relative arrangement of these crystals are important in determining many material properties. The newly developed technique allows 3D mapping of the crystal structure inside a material down to nanometer resolution, and can be carried out using a transmission electron microscope, an instrument found in many research laboratories.
3D mapping of the crystal structure inside a material down to nanometer resolution
3D mapping of the crystal structure inside a material down to nanometer resolution.

By combining high pressure with high temperature, Livermore researchers have created a nanocyrstalline diamond aerogel that could improve the optics for something as big as a telescope or as small as the lenses in eyeglasses.

A recent study at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) may have revealed the optimal characteristics for a new type of computer memory now under development. The work aims to optimize nanowire-based charge-trapping memory devices, potentially illuminating the path to creating portable computers and cell phones that can operate for days between charging sessions.

It sounds like hype from a late-night infomercial: It can twist and bend without breaking! And wait, there's more: It could someday help you fend off disease! Scientists from several institutions derived atomic-scale resolution structures of the cell's protein-making machine, the ribosome, at key stages of its job. Many antibiotics target the ribosomes of disease-causing microbes at precisely this stage. The high-resolution structures could allow scientists to develop antibiotics that better target this cellular Achilles' heel, perhaps leading to drugs that are less susceptible to resistance.