nanotimes July/August 2012

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This is our late summer edition of the nanotimes magazine. We again have consolidated the most important and outstanding news. I find the work of Ken Donaldson at the University of Edinburgh (UK) very impressive. The findings were published in Toxicological Sciences. The outcome was that lung cells were not affected by short fibres that were less than five-thousandths of a millimetre long. [page 91]

However, longer fibres can reach the lung cavity, where they become stuck and cause disease. The results again show that size, the material itself and the environment decisively determine the toxicity of nanomaterials. Therefore, you can't say that everything what's nano is toxic across the board. You can't even demonize nanoparticles in food straight away (please see an interesting discussion paper on the subject by IFPRI, Agricultural, Food, and Water Nanotechnologies for the Poor).


Some interesting news come from Germany: German researchers found a way to stick Teflon and silicone together [page 42]. Material scientists will be happy to hear about it. 


The lightest material in the world until today called Styrofoam was now replaced by Aerographite, a network of porous carbon tubes that is three-dimensionally interwoven [page 50]. It is 75 times lighter than Styrofoam! This is an amazing research success. 


The situation especially in Europe remains economically tense according to the motto: no pain no game, make hard decisions and move on. US companies are preparing for what was once unthinkable: that Greece will leave the Eurozone. And The Economist calculates the options for breaking up the Euro.


Unfortunately, Europeans are prone to whitewash critical issues too often and are too slow for today's economic developments. In contrast, Americans are much clearer and more rigorous. If a company doesn't generate the expected turnover then hard decisions are made and the long-term business plan will be amended accordingly. Even closing a business is always an option. We try to save something that has already drowned. Therefore, I say: make hard decisions and move on. No Pain, No GAIN.


Thomas Ilfrich

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Companies - [14-41]
e.g. 3Mthrough its New Ventures Business, has invested in 7AC Technologies Inc., a developer of high efficiency heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that use liquid desiccant technology to remove humidity from the air. The terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Acacia Research Corporation (NASDAQ: ACTG) reported results for the three months ended June 30, 2012. Revenues in the second quarter of 2012 were $50,484,000, as compared to $39,746,000 in the comparable prior year quarter. Revenues for the six months ended June 30, 2012 were $149,524,000, as compared to $100,876,000 in the comparable prior year period. GAAP net income in the second quarter of 2012 was $6,321,000, or $0.13.

Alexium International Group Limited (OTCQX:AXXIY) is reaffirming its strategic focus on providing unique, environmentally friendly flame retardant (FR) chemistries.

Applied Nanotech Holdings, Inc. (OTCBB: APNT) , introduced a new copper ink material based on micron copper particles for low-cost direct printing of electronic circuits for mobile devices, solar cells, display devices, and more.

Headwaters (NYSE:HW) announced results for its third quarter of fiscal 2012. The third quarter 2012 revenue increased by 9% to $175.6 million from $160.7 million for the third quarter of 2011.

IBM (NYSE: IBM) has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Texas Memory Systems (TMS)

Industrial Nanotech, Inc. (Pink Sheets: INTK) announced increased demand this year for their patented Nansulate(R) Crystal clear insulating and mold resistant roof coating. The Company has also launched a new product, Nansulate(R) Deck, for protection and cooling of wooden decks and railings.

IntelliBatt has secured a $22 million equity investment.

Kopin Corporation (NASDAQ: KOPN) reported financial results for the second quarter ended June 30, 2012.

Kymeta just closed its first round of funding with investments from Bill Gates, Liberty Global and Lux Capital.

Liquidmetal(R) Technologies Inc. (OTCBB: LQMT) announced its financial results for the three months ended June 2012.

Luna Innovations Incorporated (NASDAQ: LUNA) announced its financial results for the second quarter and six months ended June 2012. Total revenues decreased by 15%, from $9.6 million in the second quarter of 2011 to $8.2 million in the second quarter of 2012.

MagForce AG (MF6.FSE) announced that Jan zur Hausen was unanimously elected to the company's Supervisory Board.

MicroVision, Inc. (NASDAQ:MVIS), a leader in innovative ultra-miniature projection display technology, announced its operating and financial results for the second quarter of 2012 and the advancement of its 2012 business objectives.

French Nanobiotix S.A. entered into a strategic partnership with PharmaEngine, Inc. for the rapid development of NBTXR3, the lead product from the NanoXray pipeline of Nanobiotix.

Nanoco Group plc (AIM: NANO) has recently won three grants from the UK Government totalling GBP736,000. In addition, Nanoco has received an award under the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme administered by the Technology Strategy Board.

Nanocomp Technologies, the world's leading developer of performance materials and component products made from carbon nanotubes (CNTs), announced the opening of its new headquarters in Merrimack, NH, USA.

Nanogate (N7G.FSE) in Germany recorded a surge in profits in the first half of 2012.

NanoMech, Inc. and Cameron (NYSE: CAM) announce an agreement to utilize TriboTuff(R) lubricant in some of Cameron's valves and flow equipment used extensively in the worldwide gas and oil supply chain.

Spire Corporation (NASDAQ: SPIR) reported revenues from continuing operations for the second-quarter ended June 30, 2012 of $6.6 million, a 52% decrease from $13.9 million for the same quarter of 2011.

Universal Display Corporation (NASDAQ: PANL) has agreed a three-year strategic alliance with Plextronics to further commercialize the technology.

Zyvex Marine, a division of Zyvex Technologies, announced the global launch of the LRV-17. The advanced Long Range Vessel is designed for fuel efficiency and rough sea stabilization with a sprint speed over 40 knots and a range of over 1,500 nautical miles, more than three times the range of comparatively sized vessels.
The LRV-17 is built from Arovex(R), a carbon fiber nano-composite system (carbon fiber reinforced plastic enhanced with carbon nanotubes or CFRP-CNT) that reduces structural weight, allowing for more efficient fuel usage and increased range. This is the first time nano-composites have been used as the primary material for a manned vessel.

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Polymer Linking Technology [42-45]
Ever tried to paint on top of silicone? After a few hours, the paint will peel off. Annoying. Silicone is a so-called low surface energy polymer, well known from flexible baking forms: A synthetic material that has an extremely low adhesion or "stickiness". Teflon is similarly non-sticky and well known from frying pans. Researchers of Kiel University (Germany) have now developed the first technology which is capable of joining these two "unjoinable" materials. The technology applies passive nano-scaled crystal linkers as internal staples. The nano staples open up solutions to a large number of technical challenges, for example in medical engineering.

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Radiation Damage Bigger Problem in Microelectronics [46]
The amount of damage that radiation causes in electronic materials may be at least 10 times greater than previously thought. That is the surprising result of a new characterization method that uses a combination of lasers and acoustic waves to provide scientists with a capability tantamount to X-ray vision: It allows them to peer through solid materials to pinpoint the size and location of defects buried deep inside with unprecedented precision.

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Chemists Advance Clear Conductive Films [48]
In a new study, researchers from Brown University (US) and ATMI Inc. report the best-ever transparency and conductivity performance for an ITO made using a chemical solution, which is potentially the facile, low-cost method manufacturers want.

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Aerographite - Lightest Material in the World [50]


Scientists of Kiel University (KU) and Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) present in Advanced MaterialsAerographite, a network of porous carbon tubes that is three-dimensionally interwoven at nano and micro level - the lightest material in the world. It weights only 0.2 milligrams per cubic centimetre, and is therefore 75 times lighter than Styrofoam.

Despite of its low weight Aerographite is highly resilient. While lightweight materials normally withstand compression but not tension, Aerographite features both: an excellent compression and tension load. It is able to be compressed up to 95 percent and be pulled back to its original form without any damage, says professor Rainer Adelung of Kiel University.


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Swimming Micro-Robots [54]


A team of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology has used complex computational models to design swimming micro-robots that could overcome the challenges to carry cargo and navigate in response to stimuli such as light.


NEMS-Based Mass Spectrometry in Real Time [56]


A team led by scientists at the Caltech report the first realization of single-molecule NEMS-based mass spectrometry in real time. The device consists of a tiny, vibrating bridge-like structure. When a particle or molecule lands on the bridge, its mass changes the oscillating frequency in a way that reveals how much the particle weighs.

"As each particle comes in, we can measure its mass," says Michael Roukes, the Robert M. Abbey Professor of Physics, Applied Physics, and Bioengineering at Caltech. "Nobody's ever done this before."


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Stable Nanocrystalline Metals [57]


MIT researchers have found a way to avoid that problem. They've designed and made alloys that form extremely tiny grains - called nanocrystals - that are only a few billionths of a meter across. These alloys retain their nanocrystalline structure even in the face of high heat. Such materials hold great promise for high-strength structural materials, among other potential uses.


First Full Colour Images at 100,000 DPI Resolution [58]


Researcher at Institute of Materials Research and Engineering (IMRE), A*STAR in Singapore, have developed an innovative method for creating sharp, full-spectrum colour images at 100,000 dots per inch (dpi), using metal-laced nanometer-sized structures, without the need for inks or dyes. In comparison, current industrial printers such as inkjet and laserjet printers can only achieve up to 10,000 dpi while research grade methods are able to dispense dyes for only single colour images. This novel breakthrough allows colouring to be treated not as an inking matter but as a lithographic matter, which can potentially revolutionise the way images are printed and be further developed for use in high-resolution reflective colour displays as well as high density optical data storage.


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Purdue Sensor Detects Glucose in Saliva and Tears for Diabetes Testing [64]


Researchers at Purdue University (US) have created a new type of biosensor that can detect minute concentrations of glucose in saliva, tears and urine and might be manufactured at low cost because it does not require many processing steps to produce.


News in Brief [67-91]
Jiangping Hu and Ningning Hao at Beijing National Laboratory for Condensed Matter Physics, Institute of Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and Department of Physics, Purdue University, West Lafayette, USA, present a symmetry-based effective microscopic theory of simplicity that makes an extraordinary stride, in a new direction, toward the ultimate answers to these challenging questions.

Researchers sponsored by Semiconductor Research Corporation (SRC) developed new sensor-based metrology technology that can significantly reduce water and related energy usage during semiconductor manufacturing. The sensor-based real-time monitoring approach showed 30% less water and energy used for ultra-clean chip production.

Greg Lowry, Professor of Environmental Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, USA, and Deputy Director of the Center for Environmental Implications of Nanotechnology (CEINT), and his research colleagues present in Environmental Science & Technology in July a research paper on nanomaterials and the impact in the environment.

Yissum Research and Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, introduces a novel biocontrol agent that is based on naturally-occurring fungi that increase the plant's resistance to fungal and bacterial infestations as well as enhances growth.

Researcher at KAIST in Korea present a flexible thin-film LIB developed using the universal transfer approach, which enables the realization of diverse flexible LIBs regardless of electrode chemistry. Moreover, it can form high-temperature (HT) annealed electrodes on polymer substrates for high-performance lithium-ion batteries.

Researcher report the first structural study on the atomistic processes of a ligand-exchange reaction of a well-defined gold nanoparticle that has 102 gold atoms and 44 ligand sites in the molecular overlayer.

Fraunhofer (DE) researchers in the USA are investigating materials to protect solar cells from environmental influences. Silicone is one of the promising materials. In order to determine if silicone could replace the ethylene-vinyl acetate a team of experts worked together: researchers from Fraunhofer and from Dow Corning Corporation. The scientists coated photovoltaic cells with liquid silicone.

US Researchers have for the first time experimentally demonstrated surface-only charge conduction in a topological insulator, and have theoretically explained the conduction using techniques previously applied successfully to the understanding of graphene.

Researchers at Cambridge University (UK) report a way to make artificial nacre for the first time using CaCO3 as the main component. The new method could lead to tough coatings from inexpensive starting materials.

Researchers from the University of Toronto and KAUST) have made a breakthrough in the development of colloidal quantum dot (CQD) films, leading to the most efficient CQD solar cell ever. The U of T cell represents a 37% increase in efficiency over the previous certified record.

For the first time, researchers from CNRS and Aix Marseille Université (FR) have succeeded in producing a nanoantenna from short strands of DNA, two gold nanoparticles and a small fluorescent molecule that captures and emits light.

Researchers at Alzahra University successfully made it to modify a glassy carbon electrode (GCE) with multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) to obtain an efficient catalyst for the oxidation reaction of sulfaguanidine (SG) as well as its detection within environmental samples.

Researchers have determined important information about the nanoscale properties of materials called relaxors, which can be used in electronic devices to change temperature or shape. The discoveries may help maximize efficient use of relaxors to create better medical ultrasound, sensors and heart implants.

Researcher at Catalan Institute of Nanotechnology, CIN2 (ICN-CSIC), Spain, and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Campus UAB-Facultat de Biociències, Spain, present a new strategy for a simple and fast detection of cancer circulating cells (CTCs) using nanoparticles.

Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA in Stuttgart, Germany, are working on paints for building façades which contain titanium dioxide particles.

A new sensor system from the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI can help to detect weak points on time and warn yachtsmen when breaking point has been reached.

Robert L. Mauck and Brendon M. Baker, University of Pennsylvania (US), have developed and validated a new technology in which composite nanofibrous scaffolds provide a loose enough structure for cells to colonize without impediment, but still can instruct cells how to lay down new tissue.

Imitating the antennas of the silkmoth, Bombyx mori, to design a system for detecting explosives with unparalleled performance is the feat achieved by a team from the "Nanomatériaux pour Systèmes sous Sollicitations Extrêmes" unit (CNRS / Institut Franco-Allemand de Recherches de Saint-Louis), in collaboration with the Laboratoire des Matériaux, Surfaces et Procédés pour la Catalyse (CNRS / Université de Strasbourg).

Using the pyroelectric effect, researcher at Gatech, USA, and Beijing Institute of Nanoenergy and Nanosystems, CAS, China, experimentally demonstrate the first application of pyroelectric ZnO nanowire arrays for converting heat energy into electricity. The fabricated nanogenerator has a good stability.

Researcher at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST), South Korea, have found a way to cut battery charging times for e-cars from hours down to minutes. The rate capability can be improved in lithium ion batteries (LIBs) by reducing the dimensions of the active material; however, the LIBs would then have insufficient electrode density.

A joint study by the University of Missouri and United States Geological Survey found that CNTs can be toxic to aquatic animals.

A report, on development of a new flexible "aerogel" stuff so light it has been called "solid smoke" was part of the 244th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society. Mary Ann B. Meador, Ph.D., explained that traditional aerogels, developed decades ago and made from silica, found in beach sand, are brittle, and break and crumble easily. Scientists have improved the strength of aerogels over the years, and Meador described one of these muscled-up materials developed with colleagues at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

Prof. Dr. Sherif El-Safty, Japan, developed a nanomaterial which enables simple detection and removal of arsenic from drinking water.

A study found that lung cells were not affected by short fibres that were less than five-thousandths of a millimetre long. However, longer fibres can reach the lung cavity, where they become stuck and cause disease. Ken Donaldson, Professor of Respiratory Toxicology: "We knew that long fibres, compared with shorter fibres, could cause tumours but until now we did not know the cut-off length at which this happened. Knowing the length beyond which the tiny fibres can cause disease is important in ensuring that safe fibres are made in the future as well as helping to understand the current risk from asbestos and other fibres."[page 91]

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EU-Projects [92-95]


German BMBF Project Leads to  

Enhancement of EUV Lithography



SCALENANO Project - Solar Cells


Liquid Metals Are in the Focus of a New Research Alliance


Toxicity - Norwegian Researchers use Radioactivity to Trace Nanoparticles in Experimental Animals and Soil


nanotimes 2010 - 2012



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