Osorb, absorbs, crud

Scientists at the College of Wooster in Ohio have once again proven that sometimes good things come out of random discovers.  So is the case with Osorb a nanomaterial made of glass that helps clean up water.  The nanomaterial wich is made from nanometer-scale glass particles swells when it comes in contact with various pollutants like hydrocarbons.  Clean water is probably one of the most important things facing society and a lot of manufacturing produces stuff that we don't want to drink.  Add a bit of Osorb and it removes the pollutants, plus you can use Osorb again and again. 

Hold your breath

When you suck in a lung full of air some of the oxygen winds up being taken up into the blood.  But if you take a big slug of air and shoot it directly into your blood (DO NOT DO THIS AT HOME) it has bad consequences.  Scientists at Boston Children's Hospital have made tiny gas-filled microparticles that can be injected directly into the blood.  Testing on animals these scientists were able to keep animals alive for 15 minutes without a single breath.  The secret is that the particles are small and can be deformed so they don't wind up clogging the small capillaries in the body. 

read more

Scientists make tiny infrared LEDS

Over the past 50 years, computers have been getting faster and faster which means also we can make them smaller and smaller.  Now parts of computers chips are around 30 nanometers---take a hair cut it across its length 1000 times, take one of those pieces and cut it another 3 times and you have it.  Pretty small.  Some of the ways that scientists hope to make computers even faster is by replacing parts that use electrons and instead use photons.  Scientists at Cornell University have made light emitting diodes (LEDs) that produce infrared light and think that they might be a way to have computer parts talk faster than they can with electrons.  These tiny LEDs are made using solutions of different metals and are a lot less expensive to make than current methods.  Read more

Ancient nano stuff

The Lycurgus cup from Rome AD 400
Think nano is new?  Think again.  The term nanotechnology is relatively new but the idea of manipulating matter at the nanometer scale isn't.  Back in the good old days, the really old days of the pyramids, Macchu Picchu and other ancient stuff, artists were doing nanotechnology without even knowing it.  The Lycurgus cup which dates back to Rome around AD 400 has glass inside which changes color when light shines through it.  The glass has gold-silver alloy (think stuff like steel) nanoparticles that reflect green light but can appear red when light shines through it.  Did those artists more than two-thousand years ago know that these nanometer-sized particles would do such tricks with light because of nanotechnology?  Nope, but probably through trial and error they figured out a heating process which when they mixed silicon dioxide, gold and silver gave them this magical material.

Nano cargo

Most of the time when we take medicine most of the medicine winds up doing not much of anything.  We take an antibiotic for an infect and only a small number of molecules wind up finding their way to the bacteria that we are trying to kill.  Imagine if we could make little containers that we could fill with medicine and then send those containers off only to where they could help fight off the disease.  Kind of like FEDEX for aspirin.  Scientists at Johns Hopkins and Brown University have made these nano cargo containers using self-assembly. That is a process where the cargo containers zip themselves up without any tools.  These 3-D structures can fold themselves up and in the process trap important medicines.  Next up is how to deliver these to where they are needed.  Stay tuned
Read more

Next time you take your phone for a bath

A regular and superhydrophobic surface.
Drop on the left lays on the surface while the drop
 on the right actually bounces.
 Image is from high speed video (from Nokia)
It happens to most of us, a fumble and whoops the phone, ipod, something goes into a puddle, a pool, yikes the toilet.  Wouldn't it be nice to have our gizmos waterproof?  There are a lot of different ways to do that, but making things superhydrophobic might help protect them from getting damaged.  Something that is hydrophobic repels water and that is also what is used to make fabrics stain resistant.  Scientists from Nokia have followed the lead found in nature creating a surface that water bounces off of.  In nature plants like the lotus and animals like the Namib beetle have nanometer-sized structures that repel water.  So now scientists by replicating those structures figure it might be a way to protect your cell phone from an errant dip into the pool.

To see superhydrophobic surfaces in action there is a neat video