Solving Crimes with Nanotechnology

How does nanotechnology help solve crimes? A revolutionary new technique developed by researchers in Israel now allows us to see hidden fingerprints more easily and quickly. Using gold nanoparticles dissolved in stable organic solution, fingerprints produced by the new solution are high-quality and can be developed just after three minutes. The gold nanoparticles stick to the fingerprint residues through hydrophobic interactions.

The standard way of finding hidden fingerprints currently used by investsigators involves coating the surface with gold particles and developing with a reagent called silver physical developer which reacts to create a black silver precipitate along the fingermark ridges. This developer is unstable and results can vary. With the new gold nanoparticle technique, the recovery of prints on evidence can be greatly improved.

Now it remains to be seen when this technology starts to be used on TV — and in the real world.

Source: Nanotechnology reveals hidden fingerprints

The Real Nanopod

Radios have had a huge impact on civilization in the past century. The invention of radios allowed for communications between ships and later, as an outlet for news and entertainment. More recently, they are being used in cellular phones, wireless computers, and global-positioning systems (GPS). As technology improves, the size of radios have become smaller and smaller. But how small can you get?

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley have teamed together to create the first fully functional radio... using a single carbon nanotube! This makes it the smallest radio ever made! This new technology could be useful for wireless communicaion devices as well as medical applications, such as samller hearing aids. Since the entire radio is small enough to "easily fit inside a living cell" and exists in a human's bloodstream, researchers hope to use the tool to interface with brain and muscle functions.

Source: Make Way for the Real Nanopod: Berkeley Researchers Create First Fully Functional Nanotube Radio

Medieval Artefacts Glimmer with Metal Nanoparticles

Researchers from Spain have discovered what makes lustre (a metal/glass mixture produced in medieval times) shine. Researchers have found that lustre is made up of a thin layer of densely packed copper and silver nanoparticles in a glassy matrix. In medieval times, lustres were made in a wide variety of colors, such as red, brown, green, and yellow.

Trinitat Pradell and her colleagues used Rutherford backscattering spectroscopy and other techniques to show that the metallic shine of lustre comes from these nanoparticles. To understand the physical and chemical process involved in making lustre, Pradell's group have reproduced lustre layers following the procedures listed in historical records. These metal/nanoparticle/glass layers will also be useful to today's material scientists because they have many interesting non-linear properties.

Source:Metal nanoparticles lend glimmer to medieval artefacts | Nature

The "Nano" Lisa

What is the smallest picture you can paint? At IBM, researchers have created one of the tiniest pieces of art ever made - an image of the sun made from 20,000 microscopic particles of gold. The sun paining was etched onto a silicon wafer by manipulating gold particles. These gold particles are just 60 nanometers in diameter - that's 60 billionths of a meter and that's really small!

Scientists at IBM have been working to make super-small circuits for many years - they showed long ago that they could spell out the company's name in individual atoms. This new sun painting is different because it uses a method that is much cheaper and more efficient than previous methods. These super-small structures could be used in the future to make really small circuits or to test for really small traces of a disease.

Source: IBM Claims Ultra-Tiny Art Project Nature Nanotechnology

The World's Smallest Book

A new Guinness record has been broken at Simon Fraser University's Nano Imaging Lab - the world's smallest published book! It even has it's own International Standard Book Number (ISBN-978 -1-894897-17-4)!! How small? Well, a head of a pin is about 2 mm. At 0.07 mm x 0.10 mm, “Teeny Ted from Turnip Town” is a tinier read than the two smallest books cited by the Guinness Book of World Records: the New Testament of the King James Bible (5 x 5 mm, produced by MIT in 2001) and Chekhov’s Chameleon (0.9 x 0.9 mm, Palkovic, 2002).

What's the catch? Well, you're going to need a scanning electron microscope to read it!

Publisher Robert Chaplin, with the help of SFU scientists Li Yang and Karen Kavanagh, produced a nanoscale book made up of 30 silicon microtablets. The story, written by Malcolm Douglas Chaplin, is a fable about Teeny Ted’s victory in the turnip contest at the annual county fair. These scientists used electron microscopes and a focused-gallium-ion beam of only seven nanometers in diameter to carve the space surrounding each letter of the book. Since this book is considered an intricate work of contemporary art, the book is available in a signature edition (100 copies) from the publisher, through the SFU lab.

Source:Nano lab produces world’s smallest book

The Longest Carbon Nanotubes You've Ever Seen!

Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have grown the world's longest carbon nanotube arrays using new techniques. These nanotubes are still a little less than 2 centimeters long (which you might think is a little short), but they are 900,000 times longer than its diameter! That is really long!

To grow these tiny tubes, researchers use a chemical vapor deposition (CVD) techique with a new substrate and catalyst. Using a special furnace called the EasyTube 3000, carbon atom vapors are created and start the growth of tubes. These carbon nanotube fibers are longer, stronger, and can conduct electricity better than traditional materials like copper. We can use these nanotubes in lots of different things, such as using them in smart fabrics to make smart clothes or combatting cancer or building an elevator to space!

Source: The Longest Carbon Nanotubes You've Ever Seen!

Gecko Tape

Gecko hair. It's one of the stickiest substances known to man.

Scientists at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York have developed some synthetic gecko tape by creating arrays of carbon nanotubes on flexible polymer tape. Based on the tiny structures found on the foot of a gecko lizard, these pieces of tape can support shear stress four times higher than the gecko foot and even sticks to Teflon! Another nifty property is that this tape can be easily pulled off perpendicular to the surface, but not parallel to it. The bond is about 10 pounds per square centimeters, which is quite a lot for something so small!

Since the gecko tape is reusable and won't dry out, the nanotube-based gecko tape could be used in a variety of applications, such as microelectronics, robotics, and space exploration.

Source: Carbon nanotube-based synthetic gecko tapes

New Nano-Inspired Luggage Line

We've seen nanotechnology being used in all sorts of fabrics for clothing and bedsheets, so why not luggage? The Capistrano Light Luggage Line from Ricardo Beverly Hills makes use of the lightweight Nano-Tex treated fabric. The Nano-Tex fabric uses nanotechnology for waterproofing and to prevent against stains. The result? An amazing luggage line that stays clean and looks new!

Source: Nanotechnology-inspired luggage line...

Preventing Earthquakes With... Bacteria?

If you live near the sea, your home is probably built over sandy soil. When earthquakes strike, deep and sandy soils can turn into liquid, causing lots of problems for the buildings sitting on top of them. The picture shows a building after the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake in San Francisco.

It is possible to inject chemicals into the ground to harden the sandy soil, but this often has toxic effects on the soil and water. Researchers have discovered a new way to turn these sandy soils into rocks... using bacteria! As an added advantage, this common bacteria has no harmful effects on the environment. THought this method is currently still limited to laboratories, researchers are working hard to expand this technique.

Source:Bacteria to protect against quakes

Hate Needles? Now NanoPass needles offer painless vaccinations...

Most people would prefer to take pills over vaccination, but a new Israeli startup company, NanoPass Technologies, is hoping to erase fears of needles with a new nanotechnology product, the NanoPass needle. This needle supposedly delivers injections without the painful side effects by avoiding the nerve endings of the skin. The tips of these needles are made of pure silicone crystals and measure less than one-micrometer in diameter.

The company claims the technology to be pain-free and easier to administer. The arrays of NanoPass MicroPyramid tips are manufactured in an industrial clean room, with high precision and high yield. The electron microscope picture (shown) is enlarged to 750 times its original size

Source: NanoPass needles set to vaccinate sans pain and MicroPyramid Technology by NanoPass

Colorful Fossils

Professor Andrew Parker, a scientist at the Natural History Museum, has discovered a way to discover the iridescent colors in animals from fossils of extinct animals. Tiny structures on the surface of the animal fossil cause sunlight to be split (like a prism) into the colors of a rainbow. Colors that result from these tiny structures are known as iridescent colors, like the colors that you see on a CD. These colors are very different from the chemically generated colors found in paints, skin, hair, or animal fur.

The tiny structures act as a diffraction grating (which is a reflecting surface covered in small parallel grooves), and exists in a lot of things naturally. You can find them in the antennae of seed srhimp, in the wing of a butterfly, and also in 515 million-year-old Burgess Shale fossils (shown right).

In the past, any color given to the skin, feathers, or fur of extinct animals have mostly guesswork, but now with this new discovery, we can pinpoint more accurately the color of extinct animals. But the next question that Parker wants to answer is: "Why were the animals at that time so colorful? When did the first eye exist on Earth and what happened when it did?"

Source:Colouring in the Fossil Past

Look Ma, No Light!

Maybe you've heard a lot about nanotechnology in the news but haven't actually seen any products available in the market. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Planet82 displayed new prototype cameras called the "Nano-Cam".

What is a Nano-Cam? Well, Planet82 used nanotechnology to produce imaging sensors that could give cameras "nightvision". The images aren't crystal clear, but they can spot just about anything in the dark.

One possible application of Planet82's technology is to spot children or pets that may be behind your car in a pitch black driveway.

Source: See in the dark with nanotechnology

Playing with Soap Bubbles

Wouldn't it be cool to earn your living by playing with soap bubbles? Well, that's what Paul Steen does. Paul Steen, a professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Cornell University studies the self assembly of thins films by surface tension. One of his latest project is an electrical switch made of water. By using electricity to create and release an adhesive bond between a droplet of water and a flat plate, Steen demonstrates the power of surface tension. A palm beetle can cling to a leaf with a strength equal to 100 times its body weight - which would be equivalent of Steen supporting six or seven cars with a bead of spit!

The device has no solid moving parts, turns on and off in under a second, runs on less than five volts and can be used either by itself or in larger arrays. If engineered down to the nanometer scale, an array of switches could allow Steen to walk across the ceiling of his office, focus the lens of a cell phone camera, or act as a microscopic, energy-efficient lab-on-a-chip.

Source: Paul Steen's latest invention makes a walk on the ceiling not so far-fetched

Anti-Fogging Windshields Through Nanotechnology

On cold winter mornings, when you first start driving, your vision is often blurred by moisture fogging up the windshield. This happens when warm, humid air from your car heater comes into contact with a cold surface. There is a particular temperature called the dew point where the moisture in the air condenses and forms a layer on the colder surface. This can be prevented by opening the windows, heating the entire car interior, or by just heating the windshield to a temperature above the dew point.

Ivica Kolaric of Fraunhoger Technology Development Group TEP in Germany has developed a new process to warm up the windshield by using a transparent coat of carbon nanotubes. When attached to a power supply, this coating is transformed into a wide, flat heater. This technology, however, is not limited to car windshields. Someday, you might find carbon nanotubes in your bathroom mirrors as well!

Source:Anti-fogging windshields through nanotechnology

On The Cutting Edge

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the University of Colorado at Boulder have designed a carbon nanotube knife that could theoretically work like a tight-wire cheese slicer. The conventional diamond or glass knives that biologists use to cut frozen cell samples often force samples to bend and crack. Because carbon nanotubes are extremely strong and slender in diameter, they make ideal materials for thinly cutting precise slivers of cells.

Why do we need to slice cells? Electron tomography can create 3D images of cells and tissues for scientists to stuy, but the sample needs to be less than 300 nanometers thick. The nanoknife is a carbon nanotude welded to two electrochemically sharpened tungsten needles. The research team has found that the welds were the weakest points in the nanoknife, and are now looking for new and improved welding techniques.

Source:On The Cutting Edge: Carbon Nanotube Cutlery