Archive for the ‘nanotechnology’ category: Page 4

Sep 25, 2020

Researchers develop ‘Trojan horse’ approach to destroy cancer cells

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nanotechnology

Researchers took a silica nanoparticle designated as ‘Generally Recognized As Safe’ by the US Food and Drug Administration and coated it with L-phenylalanine, and found that in lab tests with mice it killed cancer cells effectively and very specifically, by causing them to self-destruct.

Cancer cells are killed in lab experiments and tumor growth reduced in mice, using a new approach that turns a nanoparticle into a ‘Trojan horse’ that causes cancer cells to self-destruct, a research team at the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) has found.

The researchers created their ‘Trojan horse’ nanoparticle by coating it with a specific amino acid — L-phenylalanine — that cancer cells rely on, along with other similar amino acids, to survive and grow. L-phenylalanine is known as an ‘essential’ amino acid as it cannot be made by the body and must be absorbed from food, typically from meat and dairy products.

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Sep 23, 2020

Nanostructures with a unique property

Posted by in categories: computing, nanotechnology, particle physics, quantum physics

Nanoscale vortices known as skyrmions can be created in many magnetic materials. For the first time, researchers at PSI have managed to create and identify antiferromagnetic skyrmions with a unique property: critical elements inside them are arranged in opposing directions. Scientists have succeeded in visualizing this phenomenon using neutron scattering. Their discovery is a major step towards developing potential new applications, such as more efficient computers. The results of the research are published today in the journal Nature.

Whether a material is magnetic depends on the spins of its atoms. The best way to think of spins is as minute bar magnets. In a where the atoms have fixed positions in a lattice, these spins can be arranged in criss-cross fashion or aligned all in parallel like the spears of a Roman legion, depending on the individual material and its state.

Under certain conditions it is possible to generate tiny vortices within the corps of spins. These are known as skyrmions. Scientists are particularly interested in skyrmions as a key component in future technologies, such as more efficient data storage and transfer. For example, they could be used as memory bits: a could represent the digital one, and its absence a digital zero. As skyrmions are significantly smaller than the bits used in conventional storage media, data density is much higher and potentially also more energy efficient, while read and write operations would be faster as well. Skyrmions could therefore be useful both in classical data processing and in cutting-edge quantum computing.

Sep 23, 2020

Controlling ultra-strong light-matter coupling at room temperature

Posted by in categories: chemistry, nanotechnology, quantum physics

Physicists at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden, together with colleagues in Russia and Poland, have managed to achieve ultra-strong coupling between light and matter at room temperature. The discovery is of importance for fundamental research and might pave the way for advances in light sources, nanomachinery and quantum technology.

A set of two coupled oscillators is one of the most fundamental and widely used systems in physics. It is a very general toy model that describes a plethora of systems including guitar strings, acoustic resonators, the physics of children’s swings, molecules and chemical reactions, gravitationally bound systems, and quantum cavity electrodynamics.

The degree of coupling between the two oscillators is an important parameter that mostly determines the behavior of the coupled system. However, not much is known about the by which two pendula can couple to each other—and what consequences such coupling can have.

Sep 21, 2020

Carbon nanotubes developed for super efficient desalination

Posted by in categories: nanotechnology, sustainability

Membrane separations have become critical to human existence, with no better example than water purification. As water scarcity becomes more common and communities start running out of cheap available water, they need to supplement their supplies with desalinated water from seawater and brackish water sources.

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have created (CNT) pores that are so efficient at removing salt from water that they are comparable to commercial desalination membranes. These tiny pores are just 0.8 nanometers (nm) in diameter. In comparison, a human hair is 60,000 nm across. The research appears on the cover of the Sept. 18 issue of the journal Science Advances.

The dominant technology for removing salt from water, , uses thin-film composite (TFC) membranes to separate water from the ions present in saline feed streams. However, some fundamental performance issues remain. For example, TFC membranes are constrained by the permeability-selectivity trade-offs and often have insufficient rejection of some ions and trace micropollutants, requiring additional purification stages that increase the energy and cost.

Sep 21, 2020

Tesla’s Future Battery Might Use Diamonds, Could Transform The Industry

Posted by in categories: Elon Musk, nanotechnology

How about a battery that can generate enough electricity to power an EV for years without ever needing to be recharged?

Will Elon Musk and crew will be unveiling a nano-diamond-battery on Tuesday? It’s fun to imagine the limitless possibilities. But, it really could happen.

Sep 20, 2020

3 Ways Nanotechnology is Being Used to Battle Coronavirus

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nanotechnology

From diagnostics to treatments and vaccines, nanotechnology is being developed and deployed to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

The world-altering coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic is thought to be just 60 nanometres to 120 nanometres in size. This is so mind bogglingly small that you could fit more than 400 of these virus particles into the width of a single hair on your head. In fact, coronaviruses are so small that we can’t see them with normal microscopes and require much fancier electron microscopes to study them. How can we battle a foe so minuscule that we cannot see it?

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Sep 18, 2020

Scientists Advance on One of Technology’s Holy Grails

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, chemistry, nanotechnology, sustainability

CIEQSFTTLFACQTAAEIWRAFGYTVKIMVDNGNCRLHVC: these forty letters are a set of instructions for building a sophisticated medical device designed to recognize the flu virus in your body. The device latches onto the virus and deactivates the part of it that breaks into your cells. It is impossibly tiny—smaller than the virus on which it operates—and it can be manufactured, in tremendous quantities, by your own cells. It’s a protein.

Proteins—molecular machines capable of building, transforming, and interacting with other molecules—do most of the work of life. Antibodies, which defend our cells against invaders, are proteins. So are hormones, which deliver messages within us; enzymes, which carry out the chemical reactions we need to generate energy; and the myosin in our muscles, which contract when we move. A protein is a large molecule built from smaller molecules called amino acids. Our bodies use twenty amino acids to create proteins; our cells chain them together, following instructions in our DNA. (Each letter in a protein’s formula represents an amino acid: the first two in the flu-targeting protein above are cysteine and isoleucine.) After they’re assembled, these long chains crumple up into what often look like random globs. But the seeming chaos in their collapse is actually highly choreographed. Identical strings of amino acids almost always “fold” into identical three-dimensional shapes. This reliability allows each cell to create, on demand, its own suite of purpose-built biological tools. “Proteins are the most sophisticated molecules in the known universe,” Neil King, a biochemist at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design (I.P.D.), told me. In their efficiency, refinement, and subtlety, they surpass pretty much anything that human beings can build.

Today, biochemists engineer proteins to fight infections, produce biofuels, and improve food stability. Usually, they tweak formulas that nature has already discovered, often by evolving new versions of naturally occurring proteins in their labs. But “de novo” protein design—design from scratch—has been “the holy grail of protein science for many decades,” Sarel Fleishman, a biochemist at the Weizmann Institute of Science, in Israel, told me. Designer proteins could help us cure diseases; build new kinds of materials and electronics; clean up the environment; create and transform life itself. In 2018, Frances Arnold, a chemical engineer at the California Institute of Technology, shared the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work on protein design. In April, when the coronavirus pandemic was peaking on the coasts, we spoke over video chat. Arnold, framed by palm trees, sat outside her home, in sunny Southern California. I asked how she thought about the potential of protein design. “Well, I think you just have to look at the world behind me, right?” she said. “Nature, for billions of years, has figured out how to extract resources from the environment—sunlight, carbon dioxide—and convert those into remarkable, living, functioning machines. That’s what we want to do—and do it sustainably, right? Do it in a way that life can go on.”

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Sep 16, 2020

Light-based ‘tractor beam’ assembles materials at the nanoscale

Posted by in categories: biological, computing, nanotechnology, quantum physics, tractor beam

Modern construction is a precision endeavor. Builders must use components manufactured to meet specific standards — such as beams of a desired composition or rivets of a specific size. The building industry relies on manufacturers to create these components reliably and reproducibly in order to construct secure bridges and sound skyscrapers.

Now imagine construction at a smaller scale — less than 1/100th the thickness of a piece of paper. This is the nanoscale. It is the scale at which scientists are working to develop potentially groundbreaking technologies in fields like quantum computing. It is also a scale where traditional fabrication methods simply will not work. Our standard tools, even miniaturized, are too bulky and too corrosive to reproducibly manufacture components at the nanoscale.

Researchers at the University of Washington have developed a method that could make reproducible manufacturing at the nanoscale possible. The team adapted a light-based technology employed widely in biology — known as optical traps or optical tweezers — to operate in a water-free liquid environment of carbon-rich organic solvents, thereby enabling new potential applications.

Sep 16, 2020

Boundaries no barrier for thermoelectricity

Posted by in categories: materials, nanotechnology

Though the Summer Olympics were postponed, there’s at least one place to see agile hurdlers go for the gold.

You just need a way to view these electron games.

Using a novel optical detection system, researchers at Rice University found that electricity generated by temperature differences doesn’t appear to be affected measurably by placed in its way in nanoscale gold wires, while strain and other defects in the material can change this “thermoelectric” response.

Sep 15, 2020

Growing gold nanoparticles inside tumors can help kill cancer

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nanotechnology

Gold isn’t just a pretty face – it’s shown promise in fighting cancer in many studies. Now researchers have found a way to grow gold nanoparticles directly inside cancer cells within 30 minutes, which can help with imaging and even be heated up to kill the tumors.

Gold isn’t just a pretty face – it’s shown promise in fighting cancer in many studies. Now researchers have found a way to grow gold nanoparticles directly inside cancer cells within 30 minutes, which can help with imaging and even be heated up to kill the tumors.

In previous work, gold nanostars, nanotubes and other nanoparticle structures have been sent into battle against cancer, but one of the main hurdles is getting the stuff inside the tumors. Sometimes they’re equipped with peptides that hunt down cancer, while others sneak in attached to white blood cells.

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