Nanotechnology, News

From atoms to life size: manufacturing from nanoscale up to macro

Image: DARPA

DARPA just announced the launch of a new extremely exciting program: Atoms to Product (A2P). The aim is to develop a suit of technologies that will allow manufacturing of products from the nanoscale up to what we know as ‘life size’. The revolutionary miniaturization and assembly methods would work at scales 100,000 times smaller than current state-of-the-art technology. If found successful, then DARPA might be able to make macroscale products (anything from the size of a tennis ball to a tank) that exhibit nanoscale or quantum properties usually encountered  when we delve in the core of atoms.  When fabricated at extremely small scales (a few ten-billionths of a meter), materials exhibit extremely peculiar…

Nanotechnology, News, Technology

Programmed to Fold: RNA Origami


A team of researchers from the Aarhus University in Denmark and CalTech has developed an origami-inspired method of organizing molecules on the nanoscale. The team has modeled RNA, DNA’s close cousin into complicated shapes using the technique. Together with DNA, RNA comprises the nucleic acids, which, along with proteins, constitute the three major macromolecules essential for all known forms of life. DNA origami is not a novel technique, but RNA origami is, and the process of creating the two is fundamentally different. While with DNA, you chemically synthesize it and then arrange it into any shape you want, with RNA, you have to fold up its components as you synthesize them -…

Biology, Nanotechnology, News

This bacterium shoots wires out of its body to power itself


This bacterium has a lot in common with power companies. Power companies use copper wires to channel electricity (and therefore, electrons), and this bacterium developed a mechanism to do something similar: in the absence of oxygen, it grows nanowires from its own body through which it pushes electrons to nearby rocks. This is how it obtains energy, as opposed to almost all organisms, which use internal processes to produce their energy. This being said though, researchers have long known that bacteria can swap electrons with minerals, but the details and specific cases were quite rare. Even visualizing bacteria ripping out material from itself to create nanowires to power itself up….

Biology, Health & Medicine, Nanotechnology

A component from scorpion and honeybee venom stops cancer growth


The difference between a poison and a cure is the dosage – and this could be very well said about this approach. Bio-engineers report that peptides in some venoms bind to cancer cells and block tumor growth and spread and could be effectively used to fight cancer – the only problem is they might also harm healthy cells. Bioengineer Dipanjan Pan and coworkers at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, are now using polymeric nanoparticles to deliver venom toxin directly to cancer cells. The problem is limiting the effect it has to the cancer cells, and avoiding any damage to healthy cells. The researchers inserted a derivative of TsAP-1, a toxin peptide…

Nanotechnology, News

Brighter and cheaper LEDs could be made from perovskite


We’ve covered quite a bit the recent developments involving perovskite as an extremely promising light-to-energy conversion semiconductor. Now, researchers at University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, and Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität are performing research on perovskite-based devices that work the other way around by emitting light. Their research has turned out promising results that suggest high-brightness LEDs, manufactured at low cost and more easily, can be harnessed using perovskite. High power LEDs of the future “Perovskite” is a general term used to describe a group of materials that have a distinctive crystal structure of cuboid and diamond shapes. Their efficiency at converting light into electrical energy has opened up a wide range of potential…

Chemistry, Diseases, Nanotechnology, News

Cheap self-assemling anti-cancer molecules created in minutes


Researchers have found a cheap and quick way of producing peptides in a laboratory. Producing one of the body’s natural defenses against cancer and then implanting it into patients can prove pivotal in the fight against cancer….

Biology, Health & Medicine, Nanotechnology, News

Organ on a chip might end animal testing and improve drug research


Here at ZME Science we often report on cutting edge developments and various medical breakthroughs that offer novel treatments and such. Most of these drugs or techniques are first studied on animal models, and while they hold great promise, it’s most often than not that the desired response isn’t replicated in humans. This translates in millions flushed down the drain as scientists have to get back to the drawing board. A team of US researchers is developing a tool that might change all this; they plan on devising a chip that mimics various biological functions in the human body. If it’s found effective, drug companies could forego animal testing, and…

Nanotechnology, News, Renewable Energy, Research

Sand-based batteries last three times longer than conventional ones

Photo: University of California

Expect the price of sand to skyrocket! Researchers at  University of California, Riverside have devised a coin-sized battery that uses silicone at its anode (negative side), instead of the over-used graphite, that lasts up to three times longer than conventional lithium-ion batteries. The key of the research is the silicon extraction method which uses quartz-rich sand as the feedstock and simple, non-energy intensive chemical reactions. Previously, nanoscale silicon used in batteries was dubbed to difficult to manufacture. While out surfing, Zachary Favors, a graduate student at UC Riverside, drew inspiration from the beach sand he was resting upon. Sand is primarily made up of quartz, or silicon dioxide, but concentrations…

Chemistry, Materials, Nanotechnology, News

Blackest material resembles a black hole. It’s so black you can’t even see it

A sample of the new material. Image credit: Surrey Nanosystems

You might have thought black is too solemn or boring, but you may just change your mind. Through careful material science manipulation, involving thousands of tightly packed carbon nanotubes, British company Surrey NanoSystems made a super black coating that absorbs almost 99.96%  of visual light – a world record. Practically only a tiny fraction of the visual spectrum is reflected, so the only thing our eyes can discern is a bizarre abyss, akin to a black hole. Dubbed Vantablack, the coating is made up of carbon nanotubes – rolled-up sheets of carbon 10,000 thinner than a strand of human hair – that are so tightly packed together that light can’t pass through….

Nanotechnology, News, Renewable Energy, Technology

New way to make affordable high efficiency stacked solar cells

multiple junction solar cell

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign report they’ve devised a new type of highly efficient solar cell that is potentially easier to manufacture and cheaper than cells of similar performance. The stacked cell allows photon energy to be garnered from across the whole solar spectrum, and this new design makes use of a novel technique which basically electrically insulates each stack of the cell from each other – something previously deemed unpractical. One, two, three, four cells Most commercial solar cells today, the amorphous or noncrystalline silicone cells you see hung over most rooftops, have a top rated efficiency of around 20%. These are single-junction cells that have…