Friday, November 28, 2008

Achieving NanoBliss

The Nanobama story made the big time a couple of weeks ago, but I failed to do justice to the University of Michigan's John Hart, who brought us this politically well-timed piece of nanotube sculpture. (Just as an aside, I wonder whether the EPA under Obama will decide whether carbon nanotubes are toxic?)

Aside from his page devoted to his little president-elects, you should also check out nanobliss, where he highlights more of his work, including the carbon-nanotube scramble you see above.

Those tubes, by the way, are said to be self-organized. If so, then they have much in common with the way I seem to organize my own life. Nanotubes: Me, you, same.

Hart writes:

The visualizations and the underlying fabrication techniques are new media for art, science, and architecture; and for promoting popular awareness and education about nanomaterials and related technologies. Forms under development include museum/gallery exhibitions and laboratory experiments, and advertising and informational pieces in scientific and popular literature. More here

Backgrounder
Nanotubes gerrymandered into 'Nanobama'
Nanotube interconnects and hot Indian babes
Nanotubes and nanotox? Maybe not
Nanotubes and the tale of the rats
Nantero sings a happy tune
An armchair nanotube quarterback

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Nanotech in Turkey

New nanotech centre attracts researchers back to Turkey

To mark the launch of the Turkish National Nanotechnology Research Centre (UNAM), a team of Bilkent University scientists presented the country's Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, with the world's smallest Turkish flag. The lines on the flag are 100 nm thick (about 50 thousandths of human hair) and 2 nm high. More here

Emerging Turkish nanotech reverses brain drain

Advances in the Turkish nanotechnology industry have drawn a number of young scientists who studied in Turkey and are doing research abroad, mainly in the United States, back to the country. More here

DFI signs Agreement with Sampas Nano Expanding EU Market into Turkey

Diamon-Fusion International, Inc. (DFI Nanotechnology), global developer and exclusive licensor of patented hydrophobic nanotechnologies, announced on 22 February the execution of a sales representation agreement with Sampas Nanotechnology, a reputable and innovative Turkish nanotech consulting company. More here

Industrialists To Benefit From Nanotech Lubricants Produced By A Turkish Company

The NNT Nanotechnology Boron Company of Turkey has been producing "BOR POWER", the first nanotech lubricant of the world. More here

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mad Russians

Photographer Mike Rogoff posted this picture on Flickr, with the caption:

Christian fanatics picketing against nanotechnology, next to Marx monument, Moscow. I was nearly beaten by them as they were angry with me shooting. Crazy :) More here

Mike posted this interesting picture back in August. I lost touch with the nano news world last summer, so I don't know what this protest was all about.

I'm assuming they used the usual religious-fanatic logic about man "playing God?" Perhaps one of my Russian readers could translate the sign in the background.

Backgrounder
The Case Of God v. Nanotech
Playing God with Monsters
A new wrinkle for Eddie Bauer

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Big Three Are Dead; Long Live The Little

Commenting on my post, Nano Powering The Auto Revolution, Dexter Johnson at IEEE Spectrum writes:

The long-time nanotechnology blogger Howard Lovy at Nanobot presents some possibilities for how nanotechnology is fueling innovation in the auto industry. While it is good to have Mr. Lovy blogging again, and he is certainly someone who is uniquely qualified to write on both nanotechnology and the auto industry, I am hard pressed to extend his optimism for the automobile to the innovative sensibilities of Detroit automakers.

...

The problem is that the examples he cites in the article involve GE (while quite a large multi-national, it is not an automaker), A123Systems, and the all electric Tesla, the product of one man with a vision. All these companies are quite different than Detroit’s big three automakers. More here

First of all, thank you, Dexter. It's good to be back after taking five months off. You wouldn't believe the summer and autumn I've had.

I took time off for an experience that was eye-opening and life-changing. Even here in Michigan, in the heart of the Rust Belt, where we are being hit first and hit hardest by the worldwide economic slump, the poor just don't have a chance. They are cycled and recycled through a legal system where justice is for sale and only the rich, powerful and politically or legally connected come out unscathed. The problem is far worse, the system far more corrupt than I had ever previously imagined.

I will write much more about this in the future.

This is also related to the downfall of the auto industry that Dexter discusses. Here in Michigan, more and more of us are desperate ... and feel powerless and small. We see the captains of our formerly glorious automotive industry flying private jets to Washington so they can beg Congress for handouts.

The Big Three are dead, yet long live the auto industry. It's alive in the innovation coming not only from the small companies working on technologies like long-lasting, safe (and nanotech-based) lithium ion batteries for electric vehicles, but also divisions within the major auto companies and suppliers.

Toyota's doing it. Even General Motors is doing it.

But other companies, great and small, pick up where the major auto companies have failed miserably. I would argue, Dexter, that divisions within GE working on automotive technologies are, indeed, automakers. A123 Systems is an automaker. And that is true all the way down the supply chain to the companies and scientists supplying and developing the improved nanomaterials for catalysts and batteries.

If the auto industry were only the Big Three -- and not also the chain of innovation and manufacturing -- then my home state would not be in the horrible condition it is now (and even bottom-feeding writers like me would be able to find work).

Backgrounder
Nano powering the auto revolution
Who's driving the revolution?

Site, and students, devoted to nanomedicine

Hello Mr. Lovy,

My name is Samir and I am one of the editors at NanomedicineCenter.com, a website dedicated to nanomedicine and bionanotechnology. We are a group of students interested in nanotechnology in general, but especially in it's medical division. I came across your website and was wondering if you could include a link to our site there? It would mean a lot to us.

Thank you in advance.

Looking forward to your reply.

Best regards,

Samir

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Weeding out criminal catalysts

When A Good Nanoparticle Goes Bad: Well, now that's the story of my life. I AM that nanoparticle.

Actually, it's more about detecting which nanoscale gold particles are good catalysts and which suddenly go bad. Separating good from evil will help create better fuel cells or more efficient cars.

You can't start the energy revolution without a nanoscale spark. All it takes are a few good particles.

As for the bad ones ... throw away the key.

Backgrounder
From Wilkes-Barre to Wolfe
Philippines to launch NanoPower Revolution
Philippines to launch NanoPower Revolution: Part II

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Great State Of Nanosota

Up in the desolate, frozen wastelands of Minnesota, there arises a small ray of hope for the future at Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount, where students study for a big future in nanotech.

They have a blog that chronicles their struggles, large and ... small, including a sample class schedule in their two-year nanoscience degree program.

Maybe these smart engineers can help with the recount up there and finally send Al Franken to Washington. Perhaps a little nanoscale gerrymandering, Minnesota style?

Related News
Lansing Community College to help start scientific center in nanotechnology

Backgrounder
High School Nails Nano

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nano Disease (Not Creep) Detectors

video

The Reuters video above frightened me for a moment. Judging from the title, "The Creep of Nanotech," I thought it might be about me.

Instead, I was relieved to see an interesting report on companies working on nanotech disease detectors, including one for MRSA, which I touched on previously here.

Backgrounder
Nano shows no MRSA against superbugs

Friday, November 14, 2008

I read the e-news today, oh boy

When The Christian Science Monitor decided to discontinue its dead-tree edition and go Web only, there was a great deal of whining and wailing in the journalism world about the "end of an era" and other such nonsense cliches.

But the folks at Samsung Electronics and Unidym (owned by my old employers at Arrowhead Research) "have demonstrated the world’s first carbon nanotube-based color active matrix electrophoretic display (EPD) e-paper." The advantages, according to the companies:

EPDs have very low power consumption and bright light readability, which means that even under bright lights or sunlight, the user would be able to view the display clearly. Furthermore, since the device uses the thin CNT films, applications can include e-paper and displays with thin, flexible substrates. Power consumption is lowered due to the EPD’s ability to reflect light and therefore able to preserve text or images on the display without frequently refreshing. More here

Translation: Remember that scene in the movie "Minority Report," where newspaper advertisements are all animated and stuff? Yeah. This brings that world closer, for better or worse.

Translation 2: Don't worry about the loss of dead-tree newspapers and the rise of all-digital publications. You'll be able to take The Christian Science Monitor into your household "reading room" again soon.

Backgrounder
Customers Googled while newspapers burned
Hope in paperless newspapers (Detroit Free Press)
Possible wireless newspapers? (BoingBoing)

Friday, November 07, 2008

High School Nails Nano

The "NanoAnalogy" above comes from the Web page for a nanotech course offered at Ballston Spa High School in New York, where visionary biology teacher John Balet understands the important role nanotech will play in his students' future employment opportunities, not to mention the pervasive role it will play in their lives no matter what their future careers.

And that reminds me, it's been months since I've clipped my nails ...

Backgrounder
Nanotech for undergrads
Nano Nerd 2.0
Not your father's 'shop' class

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Nanotubes gerrymandered into 'Nanobama'

Assistant Professor John Hart shows us that not all that spews forth from the University of Michigan is small time. Here, he gerrymanders some carbon nanotubes into ... what else ... Nanobama.

Backgrounder
Freedom is no small thing

Freedom is no small thing

Your one vote is small, but not insignificant. You fail to vote and you take away your freedom. Without freedom, you are nobody, you are left to rot, you do not matter, your life is at the mercy of small men. I know this to be true. Do not let them get away with it. Vote.

Backgrounder
Sakharov on Freedom
Feynman on freedom
'Freedom [is] the first-born daughter of science.'

Monday, November 03, 2008

Nano Powering The Auto Revolution

Nanotech continues to be the driving force behind innovation in the auto industry, where the biggest challenge right now is providing those plug-in hybrids with enough long-lasting power to make them more than fancy golf carts.

GE recently made another investment in battery maker A123Systems, which "uses nanotechnology to produce rechargeable lithium-ion batteries with a combination of greater power density, lower weight, lower cost and improved safety than other battery types, based on materials licensed from MIT. Unlike standard lithium-ion batteries, A123's batteries are not prone to overheating."

I wrote a little on the advantages of nano-enabled Li-ion last year:

Current NiMH technology - the one powering the Toyota Prius, for example - is guaranteed to keep a car running for seven or eight years, he says. The next generation will go as long as a decade. But automakers are asking for 15-year battery life, and NiMH can't do that. Li-ion, once perfected, will.

Plus, Li-ion will do it cheaply once production is ramped up, since the material is not as price sensitive as nickel. And Li-ion is two to three times lighter than NiMH. More here

Technology Review gives us a little more on A123 and its competitors and partners:

A123 uses a new lithium-ion chemistry that allows its batteries to be much lighter and more compact than the nickel metal hydride batteries in existing hybrids today, and safer than the conventional lithium ion batteries found in consumer electronics. In June GM announced that it is working with the South Korean company LG Chem, and its subsidiary Compact Power, based in Troy, MI, to make both battery packs and the individual cells inside them. They also signed an agreement with an LG Chem competitor, the Frankfurt, Germany-based Continental Automotive Systems, to develop battery packs. Continental had planned to use A123 as a subcontractor to supply the batteries for these packs. The new agreement puts A123 in direct contact with GM on the Volt project. More here

I covered the unveiling of the Volt concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show a couple of years ago (PDF 219k) and interviewed the creator of the all-electric Tesla (PDF 197k).

The story of battery development appeals to me because it hits on the two primary topics I've been reporting on these past few years: nanotech and the auto industry.

Related Patent
Nanoscale Ion Storage Materials

Backgrounder
March goes out like a Li-Ion
Who's driving the revolution?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Blues to News?

My old Rust Belt Blues blog fell upon the sword about five months ago, but with the help of a Knight Foundation journalism grant, it will hopefully live again as Rust Belt News. Read and rate my proposal here.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Nano shows no MRSA against superbugs

Superbad superbugs are invading. They're in our schools, hospitals and our filthy, overcrowded jails. The criminal is Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), and I've seen the general fear it causes in closed-in populations.

Fortunately, nanotech is coming to the rescue against this villain. The London Center for Nanotechnology reports on how nano is boosting the war on superbugs:

Scientists from the London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) at UCL are using a novel nanomechanical approach to investigate the workings of vancomycin, one of the few antibiotics that can be used to combat increasingly resistant infections such as MRSA. The researchers, led by Dr Rachel McKendry and Professor Gabriel Aeppli, developed ultra-sensitive probes capable of providing new insight into how antibiotics work, paving the way for the development of more effective new drugs. More here

Backgrounder
Dendrimers: The unpublished story
pSivida's biosilicon does its job, then goes away
Diseases betrayed by cantilevers of love