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Smartphones, labs to reveal health effects of environmental pollutants

November 20, 2012 10:27 am | News | Comments

A major new initiative in the European Union is being launched to build a complete picture of how environmental pollutants influence health. Researchers are being asked to use smartphones equipped with GPS and environmental sensors to monitor study participants and their exposure to potential hazards. This information will be combined with blood and urine analysis to investigate whether exposure to risk factors leaves chemical fingerprints that can be detected in bodily fluids.

Researchers create hollow, soft-shelled quantum dots

November 19, 2012 3:38 pm | News | Comments

Serendipity proved to be a key ingredient for the latest nanoparticles discovered at Rice University. The new "lava dot" particles were discovered accidentally when researchers stumbled upon a way of using molten droplets of metal salt to make hollow, coated versions of a nanotech staple called quantum dots.

Scientists unveil super-efficient solar energy technology

November 19, 2012 12:00 pm | News | Comments

Rice University scientists have unveiled a new technology that uses nanoparticles to convert solar energy directly into steam. The new "solar steam" method from Rice's Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP) is so effective it can even produce steam from icy cold water.

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Gold nanoparticle catalyst that learns from enzyme in nature

November 15, 2012 12:25 pm | News | Comments

Scientists in Japan have developed a high activity gold nanoparticle catalyst that simplifies the function of enzymes in capturing substances. This new type of catalyst mimics enzyme function on the surface of cell membranes, which capture molecules of designated lengths and shapes. The findings indicate that gold nanoparticles thus equipped could support biological activities as a catalyst in the reactions of the living body.

New type of gel allows scientists to control its properties at will

November 6, 2012 11:44 am | News | Comments

Researchers in Switzerland have just published research on how to combine two gels in such a way that they can monitor and change, almost at will, the transparency, electrical properties, and stiffness of the material. Called a “bigel”, the unique material was built by combining DNA fragments with nanoparticles.

Research on nanocrystals to move from lab to market

October 29, 2012 10:33 am | by Iqbal Pittalwala | News | Comments

The University of California, Riverside has granted an exclusive license to The Idea Zoo, Inc., to commercialize nanotechnology research developed in the lab of Yadong Yin, an associate professor of chemistry. The Idea Zoo was granted exclusive rights to seven patents that cover various aspects of advanced superparamagnetic colloidal nanocrystals. Specifically, the patents focus on magnetically tunable photonic crystals and the ability to commercialize them.

Lung mucus gel scaffold prevents nanoparticles from getting through

October 23, 2012 12:15 pm | News | Comments

Using optical tweezers, researches have unraveled the mechanics behind mucus gel scaffolding in human lungs. The natural structures inside our lungs, they have found prevents nanoparticle movement beyond pore boundaries, protecting us from nanoscale objects such as viruses and diesel soot. It was previously unclear the extent to which such nanoparticles were prevented from moving.

Chemists pioneer new technique for nanostructure assembly

October 19, 2012 8:51 am | by Donna Hesterman, University of Florida | News | Comments

Engineered nanostructures are typically challenging to create with any sort of sophisticated. However, a new technique for growing new materials from nanorods has been developed the could represent a major breakthrough in the field. It shows how thermodynamic forces can be used to manipulate growth of nanoparticles.

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Advance could help soldiers, athletes rebound from traumatic brain injuries

October 18, 2012 11:23 am | News | Comments

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) disrupt the supply of oxygen-rich blood to the brain significantly, hurting chances for successful recovery. Nanotechnology experts have recently found through testing in mice that a certain type of carbon nanoparticle, when administered immediately following TBI, acted like antioxidants, rapidly restoring blood flow to the brain following resuscitation.

New method measures movements of tiny devices at every step

October 17, 2012 7:35 am | News | Comments

Makers of minuscule moving machines, do you know where your micro- and nanorobots really are? Care to bet? A team of researchers at NIST likely would prevail in such a hypothetical wager. On the basis of its findings in a study of the motions of an experimental microelectromechanical system, the team might even offer better-then-even odds.

Engineers control thousands of cells simultaneously using magnetic nanoparticles

October 16, 2012 8:57 am | News | Comments

Using clusters of tiny magnetic particles about 1,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, researchers from University of California, Los Angeles have shown that they can manipulate how thousands of cells divide, morph, and develop finger-like extensions. The tool can be used in developmental biology to understand how tissues develop.

Researchers find way to prevent cracking in nanoparticle films

October 12, 2012 8:17 am | News | Comments

Making uniform coatings is a common engineering challenge, and, when working at the nanoscale, even the tiniest cracks or defects can be a big problem. New research from University of Pennsylvania engineers has shown a new way of avoiding such cracks when depositing thin films of nanoparticles based on spin-coating.

Nanoscale drug discovery approach relies on in silico, in vivo, in vitro

October 10, 2012 10:58 am | News | Comments

Using in silico computational tools to complement the results of in vivo and in vitro experiments, researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have revealed an atomic-level understanding of the mechanism by which nanoparticles inhibit the growth and metastasis of pancreatic tumors. The findings are promising for the development of particle-based therapies.

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New study says nanoparticles don't penetrate the skin

October 1, 2012 3:46 am | News | Comments

Research by scientists at the University of Bath is challenging claims that nanoparticles in medicated and cosmetic creams are able to transport and deliver active ingredients deep inside the skin. The study discovered that even the tiniest of nanoparticles did not penetrate the skin's surface.

Nanoparticles glow through thick layer of tissue

September 30, 2012 5:25 pm | News | Comments

Though optical imaging is ubiquitous in biomedical applications, current technologies lack the ability to look deep into tissue. However, an international research team has recently created unique photoluminescent nanoparticles that shine clearly through more than 3 cm of biological tissue—a depth that makes them a promising tool for deep-tissue optical bioimaging.

How electrons behave inside nano-pyramids

September 28, 2012 9:46 am | News | Comments

Nanostructures of semiconducting materials, called quantum dots, look like miniscule pyramids. Inside each of these nano-pyramids are always only one or two electrons that essentially “feel” the constricting walls around them and are therefore tightly constrained in their mobility. Physicists have now successfully studied the special energy states of the electrons trapped inside individual quantum dots, helping us better understand these objects.

Laundry additive helps bust pollution

September 28, 2012 4:44 am | News | Comments

Plans are now proceeding to commercialize a new liquid laundry additive called CatClo, which contains microscopic pollution-eating particles. The chemical, developed in the U.K., contains nanoparticles of titanium dioxide that grip onto fabric tightly. When the particles then come into contact with nitrogen oxides in the air, they react with these pollutants and oxidize them in the fabric, removing up to 5 g of nitrogen oxides per day.

Diamondoid nanoparticles improve electron emitters

September 19, 2012 8:15 am | News | Comments

Diamondoids are nanoparticles made of only a handful of carbon atoms, arranged in the same way as in diamond, forming nanometer-sized diamond crystals. Researchers at the Advanced Light Source in California discovered that these tiny diamonds can act as a monochromator for electrons. Recently, they have proven the ability of a diamondoid cover to boost photoemission electron microscopy performance.

Nanoparticles allow non-invasive treatment for deep cancer

September 17, 2012 10:16 am | News | Comments

A research team in Singapore believes their latest work has proven that nanoparticle technology can inhibit tumor growth and control gene expression in mice. The team has discovered a way to do this by using photodynamic nanoparticles which are able to convert near-infrared (NIR) light to visible or ultraviolet (UV) light. Previously this could only be done by starting with harmful UV light.

Damaged metal surfaces repair themselves

September 17, 2012 5:43 am | News | Comments

If recent research in Norway is successful, a coating filled with tiny lubricant capsules could come to the rescue when metal surfaces dry out and friction builds up. As part of a project at the Gemini Tribology Centre researchers are now testing whether it is possible—where two metal surfaces are in contact with each other—to apply a coating to surfaces formed of hard particles and capsules filled with liquid lubricant.

Chemists develop nose-like sensor array to “smell” cancer diagnoses

September 13, 2012 12:36 pm | News | Comments

In a pre-clinical non-small-cell lung cancer metastasis model in mice, a research team at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst uses a sensor array system of gold nanoparticles and proteins to “smell” different cancer types in much the same way our noses identify and remember different odors.

Two-faced materials boost hydrogen production

September 12, 2012 9:48 am | News | Comments

Though costly to produce, hydrogen is crucial for the oil-refining industry and the production of essential chemicals such as the ammonia used in fertilizers. The recent invention of a new photocatalyst may help the efficiency of this process. Nanometer-scale “Janus” structures consisting of cheap metal and oxide spheres were recently demonstrated as an excellent catalyst for a hydrogen-production reaction powered only by sunlight.

Nanoparticle quick response code becomes banknote security feature

September 12, 2012 5:26 am | News | Comments

An invisible quick response (QR) code has been created by researchers in South Dakota in an attempt to increase security on printed documents and reduce the possibility of counterfeiting, a problem which costs governments and private industries billions of dollars each year. The QR code is made of tiny nanoparticles that have been combined with blue and green fluorescence ink, which is invisible until illuminated with laser light.

How to clean up oil spills

September 12, 2012 3:38 am | by Larry Hardesty, MIT News Office | News | Comments

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers have developed a new technique for magnetically separating oil and water that could be used to clean up oil spills. They believe that, with their technique, the oil could be recovered for use, offsetting much of the cleanup cost.

Nano-velcro clasps heavy metal molecules in its grips

September 10, 2012 5:31 am | News | Comments

Mercury, when dumped in lakes and rivers, accumulates in fish, and often ends up on our plates. A Swiss-American team of researchers has devised a simple, inexpensive system based on nanoparticles, a kind of nano-velcro, to detect and trap this toxic pollutant as well as others. The particles are covered with tiny hairs that can grab onto toxic heavy metals such as mercury and cadmium.

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