Harvesting dim light with synthetic photosynthesis

Think of solar power, and what comes immediately to mind are large, fixed arrays of photovoltaic cells operating in bright sunshine. But can useful amounts of energy be extracted on smaller scales in dim light conditions? Plants and some bacteria seem to manage it, so perhaps there is a way of mimicking the photosynthesis that […]

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Nanoparticle coating with ultrasound

Researchers from the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan have now found a way of coating paper and other flexible substrates with zinc oxide (ZnO) using ultrasound, removing the need for binders and solvents that can lead to surface defects and uneven layer thickness, and are wasteful of material and energy resources. The ultrasound binding […]

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Detecting viruses with nanotech-aided spectroscopy

Detecting viral infections normally requires that blood or tissue samples be taken from suspected carriers and analysed in pathology labs. This takes considerable time, but such delays may soon be a thing of the past owing to a novel diagnostic test developed by researchers at the University of Georgia, and detailed in a recent issue […]

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Growing carbon nanotubes from seed

Single-walled carbon nanotubes come in many types and sizes, with markedly different characteristics. For applications in electronics, purity and consistency are paramount, and this poses problems when it comes to sourcing suitable materials. Existing production methods create multiple types of nanotube with a wide range of band gaps. Given that the semiconductor industry requires materials […]

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Nanotechnology at the cutting edge

Nanotechnology may not be as new as we like to think. At least, not if Peter Paufler and his colleagues at Dresden University are right, and carbon nanotubes are to be found in ancient Saracen sabres from Damascus. The Damascene blades are made of a type of steel known as wootz, which was first made […]

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Drug targeting with nanosize bioreactors

Delivering drugs to specific target cells within the body is a hot topic in pharmaceutical research. Anti-cancer treatments, for example, include powerful chemical agents which can easily damage healthy cells when ingested indiscriminately. What if such therapeutic agents could be delivered to specific sites, and only then released to do their work? Researchers in Switzerland […]

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Semiconductors inspired by nature

A connection between sea sponges and electronic materials may not be obvious, but the primitive marine creatures are proving an inspiration to chemists looking for new ways to fabricate semiconductor devices. Traditional semiconductor manufacturing is a costly, energy-intensive and inefficient business. Nature, on the other hand, has evolved simple and elegant ways of making complex […]

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Nanotech workers may be exposed to health risks

Workers in nanotechnology-related industries may be exposed to occupational health risks, says Andrew Maynard, chief scientific advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. In an article published in the Annals of Occupational Hygiene, entitled “Nanotechnology: the next big thing, or much ado about nothing?”, Maynard writes: “The presence of engineered nanomaterials in the workplace today […]

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Nanofibre gel stops bleeding within seconds

Cut your finger and it will take a few minutes before the body’s defence mechanisms stem the bleeding. Dealing with serious blood loss, on the other hand, requires the use of mechanical or thermal intervention that can cause secondary tissue damage, while chemical agents that induce clotting or constriction of the veins may lead to […]

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Water purifying nanofilters from cell membranes

How does water pass through the normally impermeable cell membranes of living organisms? It was not until recently that we understood the mechanism, the discovery of which won Peter Agre the 2003 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. The answer to the question lies in a single protein, aquaporin. A Danish bio- and nanotechnology startup is now […]

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