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This edition again covers the most relevant news in the field over the past weeks. Especially note-worthy are the latest Austrian computer simulations to Rare Earths [page 80]. The Austrian computer simulations show deformations in the crystal lattice of Rare Earths. Thereby, the use of these special and, most importantly, expensive materials can be optimised.

Facing the restrictive export politics of the current major producer China for almost a year, this is a very important insight for the Western world. A company like MOLYCORP (NYSE: MCP), a Rare Earth Oxide (REO) producer in the Western hemisphere and owner of Rare Earth project outside of China, needs up to 1 or 2 years to modernize and expand its old mines where Molycorp stopped removing ore in 2002.

I find it too bad that over the past few years the European Union only started to seriously think about a strategy for securing raw materials. That way, we lost time. 

Fukushima reveals again the vulnerability of our system. Failures and catastrophes can imply chances for companies and governments - if they are recognized as such. Especially the possibilities in high technology, particularly micro- and nanotechnology, are exploited to only some extent. It was already at the beginning of the 1990s that the CEO of one of the biggest consulting companies asked why so far no firm had introduced a wristwatch with an integrated Geiger Mueller counter. In Moscow, many even older women wear Geiger counter at the vegetable market because they are facing the risk of buying "Chernobyl vegetables". Confidence in governmental supervision is a thing of the past.  

When doing my research on radioactive waste disposal I discovered, inter alia, the U.S. company TerraPower []. Using a TerraPower's traveling wave reactor (TWR), an 8-metric-ton canister of depleted uranium could generate 25 million megawatt-hours of electricity - enough to power 2.5 million U.S. households for one year. And, most importantly, they have a solution for all the waste.

Further hot topics in this issue are the fabrication of a prototype substrate that can cool electronic devices such as a laptop computer twice as well as copper [8], P2i's revolutionary liquid repellent nano-coating technology for consumer electronics [35], nanocomposite for high-capacity hydrogen storage [57], the creation of an organic nanoparticle that is completely non-toxic, biodegradable [70], and the development of a silver nanoparticle-coated paper [70].

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Berkeley Lab Scientists Achieve Breakthrough in Nanocomposite for High-Capacity Hydrogen Storage 


Scientists with the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have designed a new composite material for hydrogen storage consisting of nanoparticles of magnesium metal sprinkled through a matrix of polymethyl methacrylate, a polymer related to Plexiglas. 

This pliable nanocomposite rapidly absorbs and releases hydrogen at modest temperatures without oxidizing the metal after cycling - a major break-through in materials design for hydrogen storage, batteries and fuel cells.  

New Technique Produces Structures with Metallic Properties [53]

A new "templated growth" technique for fabricating nanoribbons of epitaxial graphene has produced structures just 15 to 40nm wide that conduct current with almost no resistance. 

The new fabrication technique allows production of epitaxial graphene structures with smooth edges. Earlier fabrication techniques that used electron beams to cut graphene sheets produced nanoribbon structures with rough edges that scattered electrons, causing interference. 

The resulting nanoribbons had properties more like insulators than conductors.


Producing Water in an Emergency [64]


Chemistry researchers at McGill University, Canada, have taken a key step towards making a cheap, portable, paper-based filter coated with silver nanoparticles to be used in emergency settings. 


"Silver has been used to clean water for a very long time. The Greeks and Romans kept their water in silver jugs," says Prof. Derek Gray, from McGill's Department of Chemistry. But though silver is used to get rid of bacteria in a variety of settings, from bandages to antibacterial socks, no one has used it systematically to clean water before. "It's because it seems too simple," affirms Gray. 

Nanomaterials in Construction [65]

A recent paper published in ACS Nano reviews state-of-the-art applications of manufactured nanomaterials used in construction, suggests likely environmental release scenarios, and summarizes potential adverse biological and toxicological effects and their mitigation. 
Shaily Mahendra, assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, collaborated on the research with Pedro Alvarez, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Rice University, USA. 


Mini Disks for Data Storage - Slanted Edges Favor Tiny Magnetic Vortices [78]

Slanted exterior edges on tiny magnetic disks could lead to a breakthrough in data processing.

"By this, structures are created which were impossible in the past;" explains Jeffrey McCord, a materials researcher at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf, Germany. The doctoral candidate Norbert Martin produced the slanted edges in a lab experiment; thus, creating magnetic vortices with a diameter of only one third of a thousandth of a millimeter. This could help to store larger amounts of data on increasingly smaller surfaces with as little energy as possible.

Tiny magnets organize themselves in vortices in the researchers' mini disks. The individual magnets can twist either in a clockwise or a counterclockwise direction in the disk. These two different states can be used in data processing just like switching the electricity "on" and "off" in conventional computers.

In contrast to conventional memory storage systems, these magnetic vortices can be switched by the electrons' intrinsic spin and with far less power consumption.


Silicon Chip "Replaces" Rare Earths [80]

Rare earths are an expensive and necessary component of strong permanent magnets. However, their use for this purpose can be optimised and thereby reduced. 

This has been demonstrated in computer simulations by a Special Research Program funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF.  

The results show that such magnets may contain local deformations in the crystal lattice of the material. These deformations are above all located at the boundary of material grains. According to the calculations of the St. Pölten University of Applied Sciences, the magnetic force of the material is weakened in these areas. This could be avoided by optimising the material structure, which would save resources by reducing the amount of rare earths required. 


Bi2Te3-based TE Nanocomposites [83]

Thermoelectric (TE) materials can be used to  directly convert between heat and electricity through the Seebeck effect and Peltier effect. They usually act as solid state refrigerators and heat pumps without moving parts and environmentally harmful fluids. 


Bismuth telluride (Bi2Te3) based alloys are one of the most excellent TE materials at room temperature, used commercially for refrigeration and temperature control in fields such as beverage coolers and laser diode coolers. 


The TE figure of merit (ZT) of commercial Bi2Te3-based alloys is only about 1.0. To increase the efficiency for widely practical applications, materials with higher ZT are desired to be explored. 


Companies - P2i [35]

Aridion™, P2i's revolutionary liquid repellent nano-coating technology for consumer electronics, will soon be available to high-volume mobile handset manufacturers with the launch of the first high-capacity Aridion™ processing machine at Mobile World Congress.


The Aridion™ 400 applies an invisible nanoscopic polymer layer to fully-assembled handsets using a special pulsed ionized gas (plasma), which is created at room temperature within a vacuum chamber. The plasma penetrates the phone - both internally and externally - dramatically lowering its surface energy, so that when liquids come into contact with it, they form beads and simply roll off. The result is a dramatic reduction in corrosion and electrochemical migration, even after shower, salt-fog and water submersion testing.

Companies - IBM [30]

IBM's (NYSE: IBM) announcement of the first biodegradable nanoparticles that can seek out and destroy drug-resistant bacteria caps off a century of healthcare and life sciences innovation from IBM. 


Scientists from IBM Research announced ground breaking early research discovering new types of nanoparticles that are physically attracted like magnets to MRSA cells, ignoring healthy cells completely and targeting and killing the bacteria by poking holes in its walls. 


This discovery could greatly improve the effectiveness of medication. This innovation is just one example of IBM's ability to use principles and technologies from computing, physics, materials science and chemistry to advance the science of medicine.

Companies -  [10]

1366 Technologies Inc.

3M / Hybrivet Systems Inc.

A123 Systems

aap Implantate AG

Accelrys, Inc. 

Advanced Diamond Technologies (ADT)

Akzo Nobel N.V.

Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs



Altair Nanotechnologies Inc.



ASELTA Nanographics / CEA-Leti  


Bayer MaterialScience / Hyperion Catalysis International 

BioNanomatrix, Inc.
BioSante Pharmaceuticals, Inc.   


Carl Zeiss
Critical Pharmaceuticals
CVD Equipment Corporation   


Dow Chemical Company

E.I. DuPont de Nemours and Company, Inc.



E Ink Holdings

EPIR Technologies, Inc.

Evonik Industries  

Fluidigm Corporation

Headwaters Incorporated

Illumina, Inc.
Industrial Nanotech, Inc. 
Infineon Technologies
ItN Nanovation AG 

JPK Instruments

KINAXO Biotechnologies GmbH
Kopin Corporation

Liquidmetal Technologies Inc.

MagForce Nanotechnologies
MKS Instruments, Inc.

Nanoco Group plc 
NanoString Technologies, Inc.
Nanosurf / Zurich Instruments
NanoViricides, Inc. 
National Semiconductor

Oxford Medical Diagnostics (OMD)
Oxford Nanopore Technologies Ltd. / Accelrys

Phononic Devices
Physik Instrumente

RainDance Technologies, Inc. / Ambry Genetics

Sa Envitech
SemiLEDs Corporation
SemiSouth Laboratories
Silex Microsystems
Solar3D, Inc. 
Spire Corporation 

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. 
TOK / CEA-Leti 
Tronox Inc. 

Yissum Research Development Company / Vaxan Steel Co.

Veeco Instruments Inc.
Vistec Lithography Inc.

WITec True Surface Microscopy

nanotimes 2010 / 2011 

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