At the University of Michigan, professor John Hart has used nanotechnology to create images of Barack Obama, the next president of the United States. Each Obama face is made up of 150 million vertically-aligned carbon nanotubes grown at really high temperatures and imaged with a scanning electron microscope.

Carbon nanotubes are tiny hollow cylinders of carbon that are tens of thousands of times smaller than a human hair, but several times stronger and stiffer than steel. Interested in seeing more images? Click here! And, read about how they are made here! Apparently, there have been no nanoMcCains made as of yet....

Source: Nanotechnology Nanobama

Stained Glass Purifies Air

A team of experts at Queensland University of Technology have found that stained glass windows - the ones painted with gold - help purify the air when lit up with sunlight. People in medieval times were already using nanotechnology to produce colors with gold nanoparticles of different sizes. Numerous church windows across Europe were decorated with glass painted with gold nanoparticles. For centuries, people have appreciated the beautiful works of art, but little did they know that these windows also made the air cleaner!

The tiny gold particles would be energized by the sun and were able to destroy pollutants in the air. Sunlight enhances the magnetic field on the nanoparticles up to 100 times, which causes nearby pollutant molecules in the air to break apart. This process produces small amounts of carbon dioxide, which is safe and environmentally friendly. Since this technology is solar-powered, it opens a lot of exciting possibilities for scientific research in renewable energy!

Source: Air-purifying Church Windows Were Early Nanotechnology

Volcanoes Spout Nanomaterials

Nanotechnology materials are hot hot hot - nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes, fullerenes, quantum dots are all in high demand - and chemical companies can barely keep up! Sooner or later, we will be running out of resources!

Researchers in Germany have found that the natural nanostructures found in lava rocks are also suitable for making nanomaterials. They are able to stick 1.05 grams of nanocarbons onto 0.2 grams of lava rock - which is amazingly efficient. Lava rocks may be the next big thing in nanotechnology!

Source: Nanotechnology production materials come flowing out of volcanoes

Adidas' Nanotech Shoe for the Beijing Olympics

Adidas worked with Olympic 400-meter runner Jeremy Wariner for over two years to create the revolutionary Adidas Lone Star spike - which features the first full-length carbon nanotube reinforced plate.

This plate is stronger and thinner and gives the runner more stability, comfort, safety, and flexibility. It also weighs 50% less than previous plates. With this new nanotechnology-enhanced shoe, Jeremy Wariner will be able to perform even better!

Source: Adidas' revolutionary nanotechnology shoe for Beijing Olympics

When Fido Goes Nano

Want to make sure your pet is experiencing top-of-the-line cutting-edge care?

Have no fear! A Connecticut-based company, Nano Pet Products, LLC, has expanded it's distribution of cleaner and healthier pet products worldwide and partnered with one of Canada's largest pet supply distributors, Anipet Animal Supplies Inc. The Dog Gone Smart (TM) products range from dog beds to crate pads to apparel are enhanced with NanoSphere (R) technology, which makes fabric resistant to stain, oil, and liquid. The technology also inhibit growth of odor-causing bacteria while leaving the natural flora of your pet's skin unaffected.

Source: Nano Pet Products, LLC Expands Distsribution Into Canada to Meet Increased Demand for Its Revolutionary Nanotechnology-Based Pet Products Dog Gone Smart

Armor of the Future -- Fish Scales?

Imagine living in a world with fearsome predators - large fearsome predators with sharp teeth, claws, and spiked tails! To survive, the Polypterus senagelus fish evolved special armor scales to protect itself during territorial fighting and feeding. Today, these fish can be found at the bottom of freshwater, muddy shallows and estuaries in Africa. The scales protect the quarrelsome fish from the bites of its fellow fish, as well as predators, and are the new hot topic in designing the armor of the future. U. S. researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been studying the light, multilayered design of the Polypterus senegalus and have finally figured out how it works!

The scales are layered on top of each other so that the pressure of a crunching enemy bite is deflected. And when cracks do occur, they don't travel far! The clever design of the scales forces cracks to run in a circle instead of spreading throughout. This allows the puncture wound to be localized and kept to a minimum. Scientists and researchers hope to incorporate this clever design into lightweight and effective human armor systems.

Source: Fish scales may point to armor of the future

Sniffing things too small to see

You and I can smell things like pizza and chicken soup. But can you tell the difference between chicken soup with carrots and without carrots? How good is your sense of smell? -- Can you smell a termite? How about a bedbug?

Termites and bedbugs both release distinctive smells in the form of molecules that are released into the air. Normally, we wouldn't be able to smell this unless there was a major infestation. But dogs can!

At the University of Florida, researchers are training dogs to detect termites and bedbugs. Termites cause about $5 billion in damages every year in the U.S. and bedbug infestations have gone up 71% in the past 5 years. The dogs are trained using a combination of the U.S. Customs method and a food-reward system, and thus far, have an 96% accuracy rate with false positives of less than 3%.

Source: University of Florida
Image Source: Advanced K9 Detectives

Into the Jaws of a Sandworm

Nereis virens, commonly known as sandworms, have a set of fang-like jaws with remarkable mechanical properties. These worms may be small, but they have a strong jaw for grasping, piercing, and tearing prey. The jaw material is high in protein with little mineralization, but despite this, the hardness and stiffness properties in the jaw tip are comparable to human dentin -- which is pretty strong!

The material in the jaw tips of sandworms is even better than synthetic polymers. Though scientists have long studied the mechanical and structural properties of these jaws, the organic composition has previously been overlooked. Scientists are now interested in finding the organic composition and protein structures of the cutting edge of the Nereis jaw. They have found that zinc plays an important role in the mechanical properties of Nereis jaws, by binding to bundles of protein fibers rich in histidine (an important amino acid), and that removing the zinc decreases the hardness by over 65%.

By learning about these sandworm jaws, scientists hope to use this knowledge to design stronger and better materials.

Sources: Journal of Experimental Biology American Chemical Society

Beetle Fog-Catchers

How does a desert beetle living in the Namib Desert in southwest Africa survive in one of the hottest environments in the world? The only water there is available in the form of a morning fog, which travels rapidly across the desert only a few times each month. Zoologists at Oxford University have discovered regions of hydrophilic (water-loving) ridges and hydrophobic (water-avoiding) furrows on the back of the Stenocara beeetle. This pattern of hydrophilic and hydrophobic regions allows the fog to condense into droplets that run down into the beetle's mouth!

But how is this useful? In Chile's Atacama desert, fog nets are being used to harvest moisture. Today, scientists are mimicking the stenocara beetle to create man-made surfaces that can be used to make artificial fog nets and more effective de-humidifiers and distillation equipment.

Source: New Scientist American Chemical Society
Image Source: Squarecirclez

The Amazing Disappearing Stain

Accidental spills happen all the time. One minute that glass of grape juice was steady in your hand, and the next minute, you're wearing it all the way down the front of your white dry-clean-only suit. Sounds familiar? Well, soon you'll no longer have to worry about the hassle of taking your clothes to the dry-cleaners...

Researchers in Australia and China have developed a non-toxic nanoparticle coating that could leading to "self-cleaning" wool and silk fabrics. Wool and skil are made up of natural proteins called keratins which are hard to keep clean and easily damaged by harsh cleaning agents. Nanoparticles have been created with a coating of anatase titanium dioxide, a substance that has been shown destroy stains, dirt, and harmful bacteria by exposure to sunlight.

From Top to Bottom: Images of red wine stains on Plain Wool (PO), Wool coated with a generic stain-fighting chemical (TO), Wool coated with the new nanoparticle coating (TS) after 0, 8, and 24 hours under simulated sunlight.

Fabrics coated with these nanoparticles show almost no sign of red wine stains after 20 hours of exposure to simulated sunlight. And, they retain their texture and feel. Amazing!

Source: Nanotechnology to fight red wine stains

Hot and Spicy!

So how hot is hot? You can measure the heat of a chili pepper with your tongue, but how accurate is that? Everyone's definition of "hot" is different. Scientists are now using a new carbon nanotube-based sensor to quantify the "heat" of chili peppers.

Capsaicin is the chemical responsible to the hot taste of chili peppers and ban be detected using electrochemical methods. The carbon nanotubes are used as tiny electrodes to measure the amount of capsaicin in the sample. This biosensor makes testing how hot a chili pepper is easy, precise, and inexpensive.

Article Source: The Analyst
Image Source: bamasteelmagnolia

Nanotechnology... on the runway?

Fashion designers and fiber scientists at Cornell University have teamed up to bring "functional clothing" to a whole new level. The garments are infused with synthetic nanoparticles by fiber scientist Juan Hinestroza and his colleagues. The resulting colors of the fabric depend on the size and arrangement of the nanoparticles.

How are these fabrics made? First, the cotton fibers are positively charged using some ammonium and epoxy-based chemistries, and then dipped into a solution of silver nanoparticles that are 10-20 nanometers across. The negatively charged silver nanoparticles will end up clinging to the positively charged cotton fibers.

So, what is so great about this fabric? Well, silver has natural antibacterial qualities that are strengthened at the nanoscale, which allows these new fabrics to deactivate many harmful bacteria and viruses. Nanoparticle-treated clothes would allow people to alleviate allergies, protect themselves from harmful air contaminations, and prevent colds and flu.
It's the fashion of the future!

Source: Student designer and fiber scientists create a dress that prevents colds and a jacket that destroys noxious gases

How Much Force Does It Take...

... to move a single atom?

Scientists at IBM have collaborated with the University of Regensburg in Germany to measure the tiny forces it takes to move individual atoms on a surface. About twenty years ago, IBM's Don Eigler made history by writing I-B-M with individual Xenon atoms. Today, a new set of researchers are looking at the forces required to move atoms over different surfaces. A cobalt atom requires 210 piconewtons to move across a smooth platinum surface, but only requires 17 piconewtons to move across a copper surface. How much is a piconewton? Well, the force required to lift a copper penny that weighs only three grams is nearly 30 billion piconewtons! So the forces needed to move atoms are really tiny!

Researchers use a powerful microscope called an atomic force microscope to measure the strength and direction of the force applied on an atom. A sharp tip on the end of a flexible beam (like a tiny diving board!) is used to move the atoms and make sensitive measurements.

Why is it important to understand these forces? The key to future nanotechnologies lies in being able to manipulate tiny atoms to create atomic-scale structures for future computer chips, medical devices, and more!

Source: IBM Scientists First to Measure Force Required to Move Individual Atoms

Building Gold Crystals... with DNA?

Researchers at Northwestern University have recently been able to create 3D structures from particles of gold by using DNA. How exactly? The technique involves getting incredibly small particles to self-assemble to a predetermined design. DNA is made up of four basic building blocks - adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine (A, G, C, and T), and one strand of DNA can bind with a complementary strand. By using different DNA strands and modifying these strands with gold particles, new nano nuggets of gold of different shapes and sizes can be created.

This process could be used with other materials, with wide applications in therapeutics, diagnostics, optics, and electronics. Scientists are a step closer to the dream of breaking everything down into simple particles and reassembling them into "designer" structures.

Source: DNA does the work: Building new gold crystals

Pitter Patter of Little Feet . . .

Going where? Up the wall! The uncanny ability of geckos to climb shear walls has fascinated scientists for years. Researchers at the University of California - Berkeley, have developed an adhesive that mimics the easy attach and easy release of the reptile's padded feet. This new material is made up of millions of tiny plastic fibers that establish grip, and a mere square two centimeters on a side can support close to a pound! When the tape presses into a surface and slides downwards, it sticks. When the tape is lifted, it releases!

The trick behind a gecko's speedy vertical escape has been exposed! The new material could prove useful for a range of products, from climbing equipment to medical devices.

Source: The Pitter Patter of Little Feet . . . Climbing Straight Up a Wall

Master Chief Vacuum Cleaner

In today's high-tech world of Dysons and Roombas, how is a new vacuum going to stand out? Samsung is trying to appeal to the gaming crowd by designing a model that looks like the Master Chief character from the Halo universe.

The Silencio SC950 has all the high-end features you'd expect: cyclonic suction, HEPA filter, and a super-special silver nanoparticle coating. Samsung's Silver Nano technology uses the anti-bacterial properties of silver to the dust, pre-motor filter, and post-motor filter of the vacuum cleaner. What do these silver nanoparticles do? They help the build up of bacteria and odors so that the air emitted from the vacuum is odor-free and bacteria-free.

Samsung's Master Chief Vacuum Cleaner: Kills Bacteria. Dead.

Source: Nanotechnology, sci-fi, master chief vacuum cleaner

Watch nanotubes grow!

Scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have used in situ time-lapse photography and laser irradiation to watch and record the growth of carbon nanotubes. Laser irradiation of the growing nanotubes help prove that the nanotubes grow from catalyst particles at their bases. Researchers are interested in finding ways to grow the longest tubes in the fastest amount of time while still maintaining good nanotube quality. Irradiating the nanotubes with a laser during growth has also been shown to increase the growth rate of the arrays.

Watch cool videos of growing nanotubes HERE!

Why are carbon nanotubes so interesting? They can be used to make things lighter and stronger, build space elevators, and even combat cancer!

Oh My Aching Knees!

Understanding of the human body at the cellular and molecular level can help develop new and improved treatments for diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis. At the University of Leeds, scientists have discovered a new mechenism involving a naturally-occurring protein, thioredoxin, that controls ion channels. Ion channels are proteins on the surface of the cell that act as doorways in and out of the cell. These doorways can let electrically charged atoms (ions) across the cell membrane to carry out different functions, such as blood glucose regulating, heart beat timing, and pain transmission.

Thioredoxin has been found to activate these doorways by donating electrons to it, in a process that Professor Beech compares to "an electronic on-switch". People with inflammatory diseases have high production levels of this thioredoxin protein to protect the body from the stressful and damaging chemical reactions that occur with inflammation. By studying and mimicking this protein, scientists may be able to develop safer and more effective therapeutics.

Source: ‘Electronic switch’ opens doors in rheumatoid joints
Image Source: Wikipedia

Nano Barcodes

Researchers at Northwestern University have been studying how to use nanometer sized disks of gold and nickel to encrypt information. These nanodisks can form a pattern much like a barcode, which means that each pattern would have a unique response to a stimulus, such as electromagnetic radiation or light, depending on what type of molecule (or molecules) are attached to the disks. Their small size would also allow them to be invisible to the naked eye, and easily hidden in different materials or objects.

Chad Mirkin and his research group have made nanodisk arrays as long as 12 micrometers, which can support as many as 10 disk pairs, which yields 287 physical nanodisk codes. The researchers have functionalized these disks with dye molecules called chromophores that emit a unique light spectrum when illuminated with a laser beam. These disks could be used as biological labels in applications such as DNA detection, or as tags for tracking goods and personal.

Source: Nanodisk Codes