Friday, February 27, 2004

Nanotube Business 101

Another nano news item has me reaching for my notebook today, this one from Intel and Zyvex. Intel is figuring out how to keep computers cool, using carbon nanotube material from Zyvex.

Zyvex CEO Tom Cellucci told me about this impending deal a few weeks ago and discussed the business strategy behind peddling a nanotube process rather than the tubes, themselves.

Cellucci was the guy who was brought on board about a year ago to transform Zyvex from a science project into an actual business. So, the first thing he did was try to figure out what the unsatisfied needs were. The company placed nanotech into three different "buckets" -- "tools, materials and structures."

    We looked at materials and we saw a plethora, in fact too many, carbon nanotube production companies and we made a decision very early on – and stuck with it and glad we have – not to get involved in the production of carbon nanotubes. It's already, quite frankly, commoditylike because everyone's trying to sell it.

    We're interested in the processing of carbon nanotubes to make things like composites and things of this nature, to get closer to the application. That was a good move. And we've produced something called the ZPM, Zyvex Processed Nanotubes, which have done quite well for us."

OK. Write that down, nanobusiness students: Spewing tubes won't get you an appointment anymore, but scraping them up and figuring out who needs them and why just might get you a deal with Intel.


You Click, You Buy

Science and Application of Nanotubes

Science of Fullerenes and Carbon Nanotubes

Carbon Nanotubes

A gem at The Emerald

I couldn't figure out why I liked this column from a student journalist at the Oregon Daily Emerald until I recognized the familiar ring: It sounded a lot like me at my college paper back in 1985. Poor kid. Despite the crankiness beyond his years, he just might make it in the news biz. Here's an excerpt from eager young news cadet Travis Willse:

    For one, given that most students are just beginning their tenures in the arena of public dialogue, unjustifiable zealotry can usually be chalked up to the impetuousness of youth and novelty. Moreover, I naively suggest that students calling for an end to nanotechnology research because it has potential military applications, or for a stop to animal research because they believe it has no material value, do so largely out of concern for the quality of the world around them. (Professors promulgating irresponsible rhetoric don't have this excuse.) But the road to the hell that is philosophical incoherence is paved with good intentions.


Difficult to be dispassionate

A great many people have reacted to my Small Times column from last November, and subsequent NanoBot posts, that used the alleged MMR/autism link to illustrate a larger point about the disconnect between scientists and "consumers" of science. It's an emotional issue, since it involves my child and the children of the parents who have written to me, making it difficult to remain dispassionate. I certainly understand and respect the views of parents who have reached different conclusions than I have. A wide-ranging discussion on the autism/MMR issue can be found here, as well as many other sites.

I've been quoting nanoscientist Carlo Montemagno a great deal these days, but let me go back to my interview with him one more time for some words that I find appropriate. He's talking about the nanoparticles/environment issue -- and I realize the analogy does not work on all levels -- but I found the sentiment appropriate, nontheless.

    Me: How affected are you, if at all, by public perception of nanotechnology – maybe some of the things that you read in the popular press that may be wrong or used to further somebody's agenda?

    Montemagno It does have an effect on me. It always has an effect on me. I work really hard at trying to educate people and also being honest. People are worried about nanoparticles, in Europe mostly now. Immediately what ends up happening is that people who don't know anything, they speculate that it's deadly. Scientists step back and say, 'Oh, that's not a problem at all.'

    You know what the answer is? We don't know. It hasn't been studied and we don't know.

    I think what has to happen is an honest dialogue. Say, 'Look, I don't know the answer. There may be a problem, may not be a problem, we have to study it. We don't know the answers. You going out off the deep end and saying it's a problem without any data is just as wrong as me telling you there is no problem with no data.


You Click, You Buy

Asperger Syndrome or High-Functioning Autism?

Elijah's Cup: A Family's Journey into the Community and Culture of High-Functioning Autism and Asperger's Syndrome

Asperger Syndrome, the Universe and Everything

Asperger's Syndrome: A Guide for Parents & Professionals

Asperger Syndrome: A Practical Guide for Teachers

Eating an Artichoke: A Mother's Perspective on Asperger Syndrome

The Nano Mikado

Libretto for the nano-opera: "Atom and Eve"
By Marc Abrahams

It's elementary.
I know I'm just an atom,
Down in the lowest stratum
Of humblest society.
From what I learned in school
I know I should be bonding.
My parents are desponding
Because I'm not a molecule.
My future seems so, so, so very miniscule.

What if I dream of bigger things?
They will object.
Oh, sorrow!
They say I'm made of tiny strings.
Are they correct?
Oh, sorrow, sorrow!
I feel some larger force
From some enormous source.
I dream of inter--.
Can we connect?
Tomorrow? Tomorrow?

Cryonics running hot and cold

Future Timeline: Futurist Re-animated Today:

    "An influential futurist from the 20th century was re-animated today from cryonic suspension at Alcor per his original request. He is still in critical condition, where nanobots have just completed the repair process, restoring his body back to that of a 25 year old. When asked about his plans for the future he said, 'I plan on living each day as if it were my last'." More

Meanwhile, back in our "when," Alcor celebrates a victory over the state of Arizona. But how can they stay cool in such a dry heat?

Related Posts
Nanodays on Ice
Unfrozen Cave Men


You click, you buy

Cryonics *

Ted Williams/Babe Ruth Autographed 20' x 24' Framed Photo - Autographed By Ted WIlliams

Timothy Leary'S Last Trip (DVD)

Ted Williams Autographed Sports Illustrated Issue (11/25/96)

Inside the Dream: The Personal Story of Walt Disney

The (Nano) Apprentice

The Donald
    "It's crazy," [Donald] Trump says, and that's not an exaggeration. Not that he's shy about exaggeration. In promotional interviews for The Apprentice, he regularly says the contestants have IQs of 200, scores that are so deep into the realm of genius that the contestants would be doing tasks in nanotechnology rather than flea-market and lemonade sales.

You click, you buy

What Jesus Would Say : To: Rush Limbaugh, Madonna, Bill Clinton, Michael Jordan, Bart Simpson, Donald Trump, Murphy Brown

Mister Satan's Apprentice: A Blues Memoir

Star Wars Jedi Apprentice #14: The Ties That Bind

Abstract Cart

  • G-quartets 40 years later: from 5'-GMP to molecular biology and supramolecular chemistry
    Davis JT
    Angew Chem Int Ed Engl. 2004 Jan 30; 43(6): 668-98

      Molecular self-assembly is central to many processes in both biology and supramolecular chemistry. The G-quartet, a hydrogen-bonded macrocycle formed by cation-templated assembly of guanosine, was first identified in 1962 as the basis for the aggregation of 5'-guanosine monophosphate. We now know that many nucleosides, oligonucleotides, and synthetic derivatives form a rich array of functional G-quartets. The G-quartet surfaces in areas ranging from structural biology and medicinal chemistry to supramolecular chemistry and nanotechnology. This Review integrates and summarizes knowledge gained from these different areas, with emphasis on G-quartet structure, function, and molecular recognition. More
  • Paranemic crossover DNA: a generalized Holliday structure with applications in nanotechnology
    Shen Z, Yan H, Wang T, Seeman NC
    J Am Chem Soc. 2004 Feb 18; 126(6): 1666-74

      The key feature of the structure is that the two adjacent parallel DNA double helices form crossovers at every point possible. Hence, reciprocal crossover points flank the central dyad axis at every major or minor groove separation. More


You click, you buy

DNA's Debut

Cracking the Genome: Inside the Race to Unlock Human DNA

News in a NanoSecond


You click, you buy

High Tech Weapons set

Science at the Bar: Law, Science, & Technology in America

Technology Transfer

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Carlo's just a Copycat

I've had Carlo Montemagno on my mind the past couple of days, partly because he made the news recently with his spectacular microcyborg, and partly because I'm working on a Small Times magazine column that incorporates some of his work. I'm in geek heaven when I take the time out from various duties just to go through some of my old interviews with brilliant people like Montemagno who, to paraphrase ZZ Top, not only got knowledge, but know how to use it.

The winner of the 2003 Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology is really just a big copycat. He's obsessed with imitating nature. I can't blame him, really, since nanomachines are all around us, just waiting for magicians like Montemagno to figure out how they work. In addition to his incredible achievement in making a microrobot move by muscle power, Montemagno is working on another project that might not make for such spectacular headlines, but in the long run will make a bigger splash in the world.

I'll roll the tape and give you a peak into Montemagno's mind. Last fall, I gave him my usual prelude about how I try to write to a lay audience, and I thought his answers were beautifully understandable. But I made the mistake of calling him a "science guy," so he quickly interrupted to set me straight:
    Montemagno: I'm not a science guy. I'm an engineer. I look at trying to achieve a device functionality that meets a societal need. So, I focus always on the end game, where it's going to go or how we will use it. I don't do inquiry-driven science unless I come to an intellectual roadblock that requires me to make an advance in that area. So, I'm an engineer, and being an engineer is fundamentally different than being a physicist or biologist.

    Me: So, what's the end game for you?

    Montemagno: My end game is focused on making devices that have embedded intelligence and which, the component pieces, when I put them together, the functionality is greater than the functionality of the individual pieces.

    ... I take all these building blocks and I put them all together and these building blocks, by the interactions with one another, they elicit properties which are not manifest by any individual building blocks. It's the difference between pressure and molecular reaction.

    At the nanoscale, pressure doesn't exist. Right? Molecules bang into one another. In the aggregate, pressure emerges as a result of all these molecules banging together. And there are numerous properties which emerge, particularly in biological systems, as a result of these molecules all interacting together that reveals sophisticated behaviors.

    Me: Can you give me a practical example?

    Montemagno: The example that I'm most focused on right now is making nanosize particles that transport information very much like neurons do. How do I do that? I take a membrane, an engineered membrane which I make, I take some molecules that allow the flow of calcium or potassium, I take another molecule that pumps potassium, and I put them all together. When I put them all together, what happens is collectively they generate an electrical signal. If I do it properly, they'll make an oscillator and they'll keep on pumping the signal.

    But the parts don't do that. It's something that emerges as a result. I see that as a tableau for trying to make embedded materials, or smart materials. The smartness is part of the way the molecules interact with one another.

He told me that he's reached a level in the lab where molecules are sorted and protons pumped. The next stop, and relatively soon, is commercialization. What kind of useful product will come out of this mess-o-molecules? The scientists among you probably already know. But for the rest of you, that's a story for another day ...

Related Posts
The Amazing Montemagno
Driving under the influence of Feynman
Merkle and the case of the Misleading Metaphor
Nano 'crackpots' seem downright respectable


News in a NanoSecond


You click, you buy

Polyoxometalate Chemistry: From Topology via Self-Assembly to Applications

Self-Assembly Monolayer Structures of Lipids and Macromolecules at Interfaces

Troubled Pleasures : Writings on Politics, Gender and Hedonism