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Nanotechnology Articles

NANO-TV: Boosting Memory Chips

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As part of the NANO-TV project, in which the Institute of Nanotechnology is a partner, a series of 14 short films on FP6 and FP7 research results have been produced. This video, 'Boosting Memory Chips', shows how within the EU research project REALISE synthetic chemists, materials scientists, electronic engineers and commercial project partners from all over Europe developed together an optimized process for nano scale deposition for semiconductor manufacturing.

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NANO-TV: The Magic Touch

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As part of the NANO-TV project, in which the Institute of Nanotechnology is a partner, a series of 14 short films on FP6 and FP7 research results are being produced. In this video, 'The Magic Touch', a new prosthetic hand gives hope to amputees to regain hand mobility and touch feeling.

The 'nano wrap' that is being developed to be fitted around an amputee’s upper arm nerve bundle is the ambitious other part of the Smarthand's robotic hand project. Technically speaking, it is called a 'cuff electrode': in practice, it’s a neural interface that will need to be surgically implanted and connected wireless to the hi-tech prosthesis. This nano/invasive/long-term scenario is still being tested. The non-nano/non invasive/short term option, which is featured in this film, has already scored a spectacular success in an experiment that was recently carried out at the University of Lund, in Sweden.

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NANO-TV: Nano Filtered Water

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As part of the NANO-TV project, in which the Institute of Nanotechnology is a partner, a series of 14 short films on FP6 and FP7 research results are being produced. The latest video, 'Nano Filtered Water', is now available.

The video shows how scientists have developed a new filter to obtain ultra pure water which consists only of H2O molecules. All minerals, carbon compounds or gas molecules are filtered out by this special membrane. The filter could be used to recycle sewage on a space station, but the main focus is the use of ultra pure water in the fabrication of semiconductors.

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Nanotechnology and food

Nanotechnology and food image

Nanotechnology holds tremendous potential for use in the food and beverage industry. This article, written by by Ottilia Saxl (Nano Magazine) and Douglas K Robinson (teQnode), offers an overview of current and future uses as well as the challenges remaining to its more extensive implementation.


Nanotechnology's 4,500-Year Health Record

Nanotechnology's 4,500-Year Health Record image

Scott E. Rickert, Chief Executive Officer of Nanofilm Ltd offers an historical perspective to The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fact sheet newly released, entitled Working Safety with Nanomaterials.


Supporting international cooperation in environmental nanotechnology

Supporting international cooperation in environmental nanotechnology image

Article written by Dr Ineke Malsch,, MalschTechnoValuation


The ICPC-NanoNet project can support international research cooperation in environmental nanotechnology between the European Union and International Cooperation Partner Countries to the EU (emerging economies and developing countries). This article focuses on the case of nanotechnology for water purification.


Interview: Harold Craighead

Interview: Harold Craighead image

Harold Craighead, head of the Nanobiotechnology Center at Cornell, is considered to be one of the great international figures of the nanoscience revolution. He talks to Ottilia Saxl of NANO Magazine about Cornell’s early vision for supporting nanoscience research, his own role in realizing a netwokd of national centres to support nanoscience research, his particular commitment to using nanofabrication techniques to support Nan bioscience research, and how this has led to exciting new research directions.


Thin Films and Nanotechnology applications

Thin Films and Nanotechnology applications image

People comment that nano is all hype and hot air, and ask what has happened to the promised wave of applications that have been widely heralded over the last decade. This latest issue of NANO magazine aims to dispel the fallacy that nanomaterials are a technology in waiting. Thin films - we can’t see them but we can’t live without them! Frank Placido of the prestigious Thin Film Centre in Paisley writes about the astonishingly diverse applications of thin films - from anticounterfeiting to better medical implants to smart packaging to improved solar energy collection efficiency.


Perform, protect, improve

Perform, protect, improve image

The science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke formulated three ‘laws’ of prediction. According to the Third Law, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. This is often a problem for nano-scale technologies: it’s hard for ordinary people to understand the benefits they provide, especially when the underlying mechanisms are imperceptible to the naked eye.


Nanotechnology in Food & Drink

Nanotechnology in Food & Drink image

Food companies need to produce products that are different from those of their competitors, and nanotechnology is increasingly a key means of achieving this. For example, product differentiation may be achieved through some foods having specific nanoencapsulated nutrients or flavours, or by being wrapped in packaging containing nanoparticles that will kill bacteria and thus extend the shelf life. Other nano novelties could include foods that taste ‘fatty”, but are not, for the treatment of obesity; and sports foods and drinks containing nanoscale supplements that speed absorption into the bloodstream.


Commercial Success with Nanomaterials

Commercial Success with Nanomaterials image

Professor Helmut Schmidt, nanomaterials expert and entrepreneur, describes how commercial success can be achieved through enhancing existing products.

Nanotechnology is already making a major impact on the development of new materials. Many market forecasts show a dramatic increase in commercial pro-ducts based on materials whose properties are derived from the nanoscale. Two major areas of growth have been identified - medical technologies and functional materials, plus also some structural materials like nanoparticle reinforced polymers. However, looking at the industrial and commercial reality, there still is a big gap between the advantages of nanomaterials, and their commercial application. In the case of medical applications, there may be a long, and in many cases an unpredictable time to market; in the case of functional and structural materials, the payback mechanisms and times can be very complex and require specific industrial structures.


Nanotechnology and Textiles

Nanotechnology and Textiles image

Textiles are changing thanks to nanotechnology. Better healthcare systems, protective clothing and integrated electronics are just some of the applications. But could such technologies be exploited to steal information or cheat in sporting events? As nanotechnology techniques and applications become more sophisticated, we are likely to see a whole new variety of textiles with integrated electronics, special self-cleaning abilities, resistance to fire, protection from ultraviolet light, and a range of other features. There is currently a huge amount of research and development being conducted across the globe from universities to global corporations to design and create the next generation textiles. Venture Development Corporation (VDC) estimates that consumption in the smart and interactive textiles market is today worth about US$720 million.


Targeting drugs at the Nanoscale

Targeting drugs at the Nanoscale image

Richard Moore looks at some further innovative nanoscale drug delivery vehicles In the first part of this article, printed in the previous issue of NANO, several challenges for drug delivery were outlined and a number of novel nanotechnology-based drug delivery systems were described. In the second part of this two-part article, Richard Moore looks at some further innovative nanoscale drug delivery vehicles and examines some of the challenges in bringing these technologies to the market.


Targeting drugs at the Nanoscale

Targeting drugs at the Nanoscale image

In the first part of this two-part article, Richard Moore describes some of the challenges faced in delivering the right quantity of a drug to its target site in the human body and some of the ingenious ways in which nanotechnology is being applied to provide new, patient-friendly solutions. Significant challenges The delivery of drugs to the intended target site in the body in the right dose at the right time presents a number of important challenges. Drugs may often have a limited solubility, may suffer breakdown before they reach their target tissues, may suffer poor pharmacokinetics or distribution or may unintentionally damage healthy tissues. Overcoming these challenges occupies a large part of the research time in pharmaceutical development and costs a great deal of money.


Nanomedicine, why is it different?

Nanomedicine, why is it different? image

In this article, Richard Moore examines some of the characteristics that make nanomedicine different to conventional approaches and potentially exciting in opening up new treatment opportunities. What benefits could a nanotechnology-based approach to medicine bring? Medicine based on the exploitation of properties of materials at the nanoscale differs from conventional medicine in a number of significant ways.


Interview: James Gimzewski

Interview: James Gimzewski image

Professor James Gimzewski was one of the first scientists to image molecules with the scanning tunneling microscope and holds a Guinness World Record for creating the world’s smallest calculator. Today his research interests span science and art. Ottilia Saxl speaks to professor Gimzewski about his mission to achieve the impossible.


Knowledge Society

Knowledge Society image

Education has never been restricted to geographical or geopolitical boundaries. Today, as the merits and demerits of globalisation are vehemently debated, science and technology is silently witnessing an unprecedented increase in collaboration across the world. And, the domain of nanoscience and nanotechnology is not an exception. Kshitij Aditeya Singh provides a glimpse of education and research collaborations across developing and developed countries.


Squeezing the medical laboratory onto a chip

Squeezing the medical laboratory onto a chip image

Having early access to accurate and reliable diagnostic information is a crucial part of medical treatment; it can improve the prognosis for patients by identifying diseases or conditions at a much earlier and more treatable stage; it can provide information on the ongoing effectiveness of therapies; and it can reduce the costs for increasingly cash-strapped healthcare systems by reducing the time spent in expensive hospital stays. For many patients, for example those with conditions like diabetes, it can be an important part of daily routine and essential self-testing. In-vitro diagnostic devices (IVDs) in many ways lend themselves to the application of nanotechnology. The devices are normally remote from the patient and any utilized nanomaterials, that otherwise might require extensive biological safety testing, do not come into direct contact with the body. The application of nanotechnology can come from the use of such materials, from the ability to engineer at the nanoscale and from the combination of different nanoscale disciplines in an integrated manner.


Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon Nanotubes image

Imagine a cable, almost 36 thousand kilometres long, extending from the surface of the earth and capable of transporting payloads and people into space. Carbon nanotubes, considered as the wonder material of the 21st century, are a potential candidate material in this revolutionary concept of the Space elevator. Kshitij Aditeya Singh explores the range of applications carbon nanotubes will offer and provides a perspective on the emerging nanomaterials marketplace.


Keeping things in perspective

Keeping things in perspective image

Many scientists claim that nanotechnology is a rather artificial term and that it is only “…what we have been doing for ages” …whether in physics, chemistry or biology. On the other hand, there is a huge hype and fuss about “nanotechnology” and the appearance of the “nano“ prefix on a wide range of consumer products from skin cream to personal electronic devices and automotive products to stone cleaners. So why has “nano” become such a buzzword for some, whilst raising scepticism in others? For clues we perhaps need to look back to the early days of nanotechnology.



Nanomedicine image

In this article, Richard Moore argues that the application of nanotechnology to medicine may result in more that just improvements to materials, diagnosis and treatments. It could carry the potential to completely change how we look at medicine, disease and wellbeing. Medicine is going through a period of great change. Not only is the science of medicine constantly evolving but our understanding of what a “disease” is and patients’ perceptions and expectations of what medicine can and should deliver is continually changing. The latest impact on this evolving scenario is the application of nanotechnology to the practice of medicine, and it is likely that this new technology will affect our understanding of medicine in radically new ways.


Medical nanotechnology and Governance

Medical nanotechnology and Governance image

In our regular series on issues linked to medical nanotechnology, Richard Moore examines the notion of "governance", what it may mean to different stakeholders and how it may affect medical nanotechnology, especially on a European level. The term “governance” derives from the Latin suggesting a notion of “steering”. This sense of ”steering” a society can be contrasted with the traditional ”top-down” approach of a government ”driving” society or the distinction between ”power to” in contrast to a government’s ”power over”. However, the term “governance” may be taken to mean different things by different people and groups in society. It is therefore important to define a common understanding of the term “governance” in order to avoid considerable confusion. Taking the differing types of interpretation into account, the International Risk Governance Council (IRGC) decided to address the question of governance in relation to nanotechnology in a white paper in June 2006.


Medical Nanotechnology

Medical Nanotechnology image

In this new series of articles, Richard Moore looks at some of the key challenges that are facing the emerging new area of medical nanotechnology and examines some of the hurdles that will have to be overcome in order to bring new medical technology products. Incorporating nanotechnology features in some form or other, to the market and into healthcare systems for the benefit of patients.


A healthy future for NanoMedicine

A healthy future for NanoMedicine image

In recent years there has been a massive growth in interest in nanotechnology leading to vastly improved medical treatments. Whether for targeted drug delivery, improved diagnosis, better materials for devices and implants, nanotechnology seems set to have a tremendous impact across the whole field of medicine. This short review will not only look at a few of these new areas of development but also examine the challenges that must be overcome in order to introduce these technologies in a safe and effective way.


‘Nano’ versus nano

‘Nano’ versus nano image

Like so many areas of research, nanotechnology can be discussed quite easily with people who understand it, but can effortlessly mutate into a perfect nightmare when explaining it to people who do not. At some time or another, many of us will have been placed in a position where it was necessary to explain our professions and areas of research to people who may not understand them. On many occasions, such people seem keen yet are completely dumbfounded by colourful explanations. There is a sense of dismay as they and others ‘misinterpret’ descriptions, ask seemingly unrelated questions, and generally find endeavours at explanation incomprehensible and bewildering. In the main, people are quite genuinely either oblivious to nanotechnology, or have a decidedly skewed notion of ‘what it does’. This chasm within public understanding can be quite easily filled by other means, and the real difficulty is when that chasm becomes filled by marketing communications, rather than fact.


Sustainability: What can nano do for your car?

Sustainability: What can nano do for your car? image

In this feature Lesley Tobin, of the Institute of Nanotechnology, reviews the impact that nanotechnology is having on the development of electric vehicles.

Motor vehicles are the single biggest source of atmospheric pollution, accountable for almost 15% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel burning - a percentage that is progressively increasing 1.

It is estimated that by 2020 more than 1 billion vehicles will be competing for road space. The average car releases a concoction of at least 1,000 pollutants that contribute to a range of bronchial and respiratory diseases, as well as cancer, lead-poisoning and acid rain 2.


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