"Spicy world of NanoScience"
The IVth International Nanotechnologies Forum RUSNANOTECH 2011 is over in Moscow. As usual, the RF Ministry of Education and Science uses this site to demonstrate the best developments, which were sponsored under the Federal Special-Purpose Program and which have good commercial prospects.
One of these developments is creation of protective microchips, which enable to avoid critical loads on spacecraft equipment. For example, the risk of onboard equipment failure has recently increased due to solar activity growth. A protective microchip tracks the embedded network supply current. When current exceeds the critical values, the microchip de-energizes for micro- and milliseconds, thus enabling to avoid outrageous impact. If the critical value is preserved, power supply is switched off again, maintaining equipment operability until dangerous load is removed. Such microchips will be in high demand during distant spaceflights.
Protective microchips are one of the first developments by the Research Center for Nanotechnologies of the Federal Service for Tec.... The Center was set up based on the D.I. Mendeleyev Central Research Institute of Chemistry and Mechanics under the Federal Special-Purpose Program of the RF Ministry of Education and Science entitled “Nanoindustry Infrastructure Development in the Russian Federation .... The main task of the Center is to lay the basis for development of contemporary-level native security systems. “The point is that utilization of foreign componenets, microchips when developing security systems does not allow to fully predict such systems’ behavior in critical situations, explains Vassily Tokarev, head of the department of promising scientific and engineering projects. – Therefore, the main task is not to exceed the international level but to create such systems entirely based on the Russian platform”.
Another area of the Research Center of Nanotechnologies activity (also represented at the exhibition) is creating new-generation gyroscopes. A gyroscope is a device intended for maintaining position of any system– from a submarine to spacecraft - in space. A classical gyroscope is a rotating device, where space axes line up due to rotation. Principle of operation of a new gyroscope is absolutely different. This diminutive device created with the help of nanotechnologies practically does not wear out. There are no rotating parts in it, and it functions due to generating waves of strictly defined frequency. When the gyroscope position changes, frequency of these electromagnetic oscillation changes, the wave-change signal is transmitted to the actuating mechanism, and the device position is restored. If there are three such gyroscopes available at different planes, a controlled apparatus position can be verified along all three axes. This is a highly demanded area. A gyroscope is developed within the scope of a large-scale project for nanotechnologies for security systems.
The stand of NT-MDT company exhibited among other developments the Nanofab-100 complex – a platform of nanotechnology complexes intended for development, research and small-branch production of elements for nanoelectronics, micro- and nanomechanics. The platform is built according to the conveyor principle, it is individually assembled from independent units per each task. However, Nanofab assembly per se is the most complicated scientific and engineering task. One of such platforms has been recently assembled at the Kurchatov Institute.
Besides, NT-MDT is now involved in creating artificial intelligence jointly with the F.V. Lukin Research Institute of Physical Problems. As of today, scientific groundwork is available, which will be perfected in Nanofab in near term. “Our brain differs from a computer by the fact that there is no hard disk in it, explains Denis Andreyuk, specialist at NT-MDT. We have no special place to store information, that is why the researchers say that memory is stored in synapses. Each of several billion neurons of our brain has about seven thousand bonds with other neurons. And one neuron arouses, it emits impulses along all these bonds. Neural bonds capacity is regulated by synapses. When we are learning, tuning of these synapses conductance is taking place. When we are using our knowledge, the brain is using the signals in synapses acquired in the course of learning”. A memristor is the synapse analogue in the electronic network. It is an electronic element, resistance of which depends on current running through it. Under the action of current, an electrochemical reaction takes place in the memristor, and the memristor changes its resistance. When current is switched off, the memristor “memorizes” the last resistance, thus storing required information. Probably, the computer board consisting of such memristors will soon work on the principle of the cerebral neural network.
The National Research Nuclear University of Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute (MIFI) is responsible for electrical power engineering in the framework of programs of the RF Ministry of Education and Science. The main engineering projects exhibited at the “Rosatom” stand were described by Vadim Petrunin, head of sectoral laboratory at the government corporation: “We have developed a composite material, which is applied for radiation protection during transportation of nuclear power plant radioactive fuel. One of “Rosatom” areas of activity is enrichment of radioactive fuel, brought in from abroad, first of all, from the USA. During the Cold War period, Russia accumulated a lot of uranium and plutonium in bombs, the USA having a large amount of nuclear power plant waste. Special ships travel from the USA to Russia carrying reject fuel, the fuel is enriched in Russia and sent back. The transportation is performed in special coffins. They are made of steel and have very thick walls. We have developed the aluminum-based material, which contains nanostructured boron”. This material, which was called boralcom боралкомом, helps to make coffins lighter and more spacious – due to thinner walls, boralcom coffins enable to transport more materials.
Another invention of the sectoral laboratory is magnetic ink, which can be used to protect money from counterfeiting. ‘We apply a magnetic nanopowder layer and, by making the layer thickness in the visible light range (wavelength – from 250 to 750 nm), we can get any color, without changing the chemical composition of the powder. This cannot be achieved without nanotechnology application”, says Professor Petrunin. Old US dollars were dark-green because magnetic powder is of dark color. Before people learned to grind the powder with the help of nanotechnologies, it was impossible to change color spread-spectrum. New US dollars contain the ink similar to our native development. This technology is only in place in Russia and the USA. There is no such technology in Switzerland, which produces ink to print euros. Therefore, European money is protected worse than dollars – magnetic bands are inserted into it. Nevertheless, Russian National Mark Enterprise (Goznak) still buys ink in Switzerland.
One more development by the laboratory headed by Professor Petrunin is aimed at reducing damage of cellular telephone influence. A cellular telephone likewise any other electric device emits electromagnetic waves in the millimeter- and centimeter-range besides the communication wavelength. Several human organs – the auricula, eyeball – have comparable dimensions. Human blood vessel walls are covered inside by thrombocytes, and if any organ is in resonance, i.e., the dimensions coincide with electromagnetic radiation wavelength, the thrombocyte plate can exfoliate and block a blood vessel. So, the major danger of cellular telephones lies in resonant impact. It is mainly harmful for children. “You have bought a telephone, and nothing happened because your organs’ dimensions do not coincide with the telephone emission wavelength, explains Vadim Petrunin. But children are constantly growing, and at some point their dimensions can coincide, and the child’s organ will be in resonance with the emission. There were several lawsuits already with telephone developers in the USA. Specifically, Nokia is already concerned with making protection from such radiation. Our Institute has developed a protective nanocomposite-material film that will absorb this harmful radiation within the range from 60 to 80 percent”.