In the hip science of ultrasmall nanotechnology, fantastical future possibilities like rampaging nanorobots capture the most attention, but the first fruits of the field have been more mundane: tiny bits of mostly ordinary stuff that just sit there. Yet these bits—nanoparticles—gain wondrous new capabilities simply because they are so small.
An Israeli company has recently tested one of the most shock-resistant materials known to man. Five times stronger than steel and at least twice as strong as any impact-resistant material currently in use as protective gear, the new nano-based material is on its way to becoming the armor of the future.
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Advances in nanotechnology such as tiny porphyrin tubes to make a broad range of nanodevices, and tiny bioelectronic circuits to make nanotech machines or sensors, could lead to new devices.
As the ever-increasing power of computer chips brings us closer and closer to the limits of silicon technology, many researchers are betting that the future will belong to “spintronics”: a nanoscale technology in which information is carried not by the electron’s charge, as it is in conventional microchips, but by the electron’s intrinsic spin.
If a reliable way can be found to control and manipulate the spins, these researchers argue, spintronic devices could offer higher data processing speeds, lower electric consumption, and many other advantages over conventional chips–including, perhaps, the ability to carry out radically new quantum computations.
Now, University of Notre Dame physicist Boldizsar Janko and his colleagues believe they have found such a control technique. Their work, funded by the National Science Foundation through a Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team grant, was published in the March 5, 2005, edition of the journal Nature.
Researchers have made carbon nanotubes bent in sharp predetermined angles, a technical advance that could lead to use of the long, thin cylinders of carbon as tiny springs, tips for atomic force microscopes, smaller electrical connectors in integrated circuits, and in many other nanotechnology applications.
In a paper published in the April 7, 2005, issue of the Journal of Physical Chemistry B, Sungho Jin, a professor of materials science at UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, reported a technique to create bent nanotubes by manipulating the electric field during their growth and adjusting other conditions.
Physicists have created the first nanodevices capable of weighing individual biological molecules. This technology may lead to new forms of molecular identification that are cheaper and faster than existing methods, as well as revolutionary new instruments for proteomics.
According to Michael Roukes, professor of physics, applied physics, and bioengineering at Caltech and the founding director of Caltech’s Kavli Nanoscience Institute, the technology his group has announced this week shows the immense potential of nanotechnology for creating transformational new instrumentation for the medical and life sciences. The new devices are at the nanoscale, he explains, since their principal component is significantly less than a millionth of a meter in width.
Sunlight splitting water molecules to produce hydrogen using devices too small to be seen in a standard microscope. That’s a goal of a research team from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Sandia National Laboratories.
Sunlight splitting water molecules to produce hydrogen using devices too small to be seen in a standard microscope. That’s a goal of a research team from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Sandia National Laboratories. The research has captured the interest of chemists around the world pursuing methods of producing hydrogen from water. Read the rest of this entry »