When petroleum companies abandon an oil well, more than half the reservoir’s oil is usually left behind as too difficult to recover. Now, however, much of the residual oil can be recovered with the help of nanoparticles and a simple law of physics. A partnership of Norwegian and Chinese scientists has succeeded in recovering up to 50% of residual in North Sea rock samples.
Cheaper clean-energy technologies could be made possible thanks to a new discovery. A Penn State Univ. research team has found that an important chemical reaction that generates hydrogen from water is effectively triggered—or catalyzed—by a nanoparticle composed of nickel and phosphorus, two inexpensive elements that are abundant on Earth.
Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the most efficient and environmentally friendly light bulbs on the market. But they come at a higher up-front price than other bulbs, especially the ones with warmer and more appealing hues. Researchers at the Univ. of Washington have created a material they say would make LED bulbs cheaper and greener to manufacture, driving down the price.
Gold bars may signify great wealth, but gold packs a much more practical punch when shrunk down to nanoscale. Unfortunately, unlocking its potential often requires complex synthesis techniques that produce delicate structures with sensitivity to heat. Now, scientists have discovered a process of creating uniquely structured gold-indium nanoparticles that combine high stability, great catalytic potential and a simple synthesis process.
A new study involving researchers at Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Center and the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that the shape of nanoparticles can enhance drug targeting. The study found that rod-shaped nanoparticles—or nanorods—as opposed to spherical nanoparticles, appear to adhere more effectively to the surface of endothelial cells that line the inside of blood vessels.
Current methods for particle trapping mainly rely on electrokinetic, magnetic, or optical force fields, which may not be compatible with biomolecules or biological systems. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a first-of-its-kind flow-based method for manipulating and confining single particles in free solution.
A sensor that relies on reflected light to analyze biomedical and chemical samples now has greater sensitivity, thanks to a carpet of gold nanoparticles. Other researchers have shown that gold nanoparticles can enhance the responsiveness surface plasmon resonance sensors (SPR), which magnifies reflected light intensity. Scientists in Singapore have now determined the ideal size of nanoparticle to improve these SPR sensors.
Scientists at the University of California, San Diego have designed tiny spherical particles to float easily through the bloodstream after injection, then assemble into a durable scaffold within diseased tissue. An enzyme produced by a specific type of tumor can trigger the transformation of the spheres into net-like structures that accumulate at the site of a cancer.
Growing thin films out of nanoparticles in ordered, crystalline sheets would be a boon for materials researchers, but the physics is tricky because particles of that size don’t form crystals the way individual atoms do. Using bigger particles as models, physicists have predicted some unusual properties of nanoparticle crystal growth.
Scientists in Missouri have successfully created nanoparticles made of a radioactive form of the element lutetium. By covering these particles with gold shells and attaching targeting agents, they have a tool that can seek out dangerous secondary lymphoma tumors. They recently demonstrated the nanoparticles can find the tumors without attaching to or damaging healthy cells.
Injectable nanoparticles developed at Massachusetts Institute of Technology may someday eliminate the need for patients with Type 1 diabetes to constantly monitor their blood-sugar levels and inject themselves with insulin. The nanoparticles were designed to sense glucose levels in the body and respond by secreting the appropriate amount of insulin.
According to recent research at Rice University, bovine serum albumin (BSA) forms a protein “corona” around gold nanoparticles that keeps them from aggregating, particularly in high-salt environments like seawater. The discovery could lead to improved biomedical applications and contribute to projects that use nanoparticles in harsh environments.
Nearly all drugs taken orally spike in concentration, decay quickly, and are only at their peak effectiveness for a short period of time. working on a solution―nanocapsules implanted beneath the skin that release pharmaceutical drugs through a nanochannel membrane and into the body at a sustained, steady rate. To design better nanochannels for a given drug, the team is hoping to use the International Space Station.
A new study by University of Georgia researchers documents a technological breakthrough: Synthetic high density lipoprotein (HDL) nanoparticles. A completely biodegradable synthetic version of the so-called good cholesterol, the nanoparticles represent a potential new detection and therapy regimen for atherosclerosis.
Ripening fruit, vegetables, and flowers release ethylene, which works as a plant hormone. Ethylene accelerates ripening, so other unripened fruit also begins to ripen—fruit and vegetables quickly spoil and flowers wilt. researchers in Japan have now introduced a new catalytic system for the fast and complete degradation of ethylene. This could keep the air in warehouses ethylene-free, keeping perishable products fresh longer.
Described as the "most beautiful experiment in physics," Richard Feynman emphasized how the diffraction of individual particles at a grating is an unambiguous demonstration of wave-particle duality and contrary to classical physics. A research team recently used carefully made fluorescent molecules and nanometric detection accuracy to provide clear and tangible evidence of the quantum behavior of large molecules in real time.
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have developed a way to introduce precisely four copper ions into a single quantum dot. The introduction of these “guest” ions opens up possibilities for fine-tuning the optical properties of the quantum dots and producing spectacular colors. When the crystallinity is perfect, they become very emissive and end up being the world’s best dye.
Researchers at the University of Bristol in the U.K. have led a new enquiry into how extremely small particles of silica (sand) can be used to design and construct artificial protocells in the laboratory. By attaching a thin polymer layer to the external surface of an artificial inorganic protocell built from silica nanoparticles, the scientists have potentially the problem of controlling membrane permeability.
Cells are the basic unit of life and are separated from the outside world by a thin organic membrane. A major function of this membrane is to allow certain molecules to enter or leave the cell whilst other molecules are blocked from the cell interior. This allows metabolic processes to take place. Controlling membrane permeability is therefore a key challenge when building artificial cells in the form of enclosed chemical systems.
Researchers have cautioned that more work is needed to understand how microorganisms respond to the disinfecting properties of silver nanoparticles, increasingly used in consumer goods and for medical and environmental applications. Although nanosilver has effective antimicrobial properties against certain pathogens, overexposure to silver nanoparticles can cause other potentially harmful organisms to rapidly adapt and flourish.
A polymer thin film solar cell (PSC) produces electricity from sunlight by the photovoltaic effect. Though light and inexpensive, PSCs currently suffer from a lack of enough efficiency for large scale applications and they also have stability problems. Researches in Korea have designed and added multi-positional silica-coated silver nanoparticles that have greatly improved stability and performance of these cells.
Even without certification by Guinness World Records, it would be easy to believe a short, 250-frame film recently created by an IBM Research team is the world’s smallest. Named “A Boy and His Atom,” the movie was created by precisely placing thousands of atoms using a scanning tunneling microscope. This type of atomic-level control is the result of years of efforts by IBM to determine the lower limits for storing data.
The macroscopic effects of certain nanoparticles on human health have long been clear to the naked eye. What scientists have lacked is the ability to see the detailed movements of individual particles that give rise to those effects. Scientists at Virginia Tech have invented a technique for imaging nanoparticle dynamics with atomic resolution as these dynamics occur in a liquid environment.
Nanotechnology typically describes any material, device, or technology where feature sizes are smaller than 100 nanometers in dimension. However, this new and uncharted direction in research provides a large spark for new product and drug delivery development. To achieve these discoveries, scientists must rely on specialized instruments and materials to drive their experiments and analysis.
Already renowned for its beneficial effects on human health, green tea could have a new role—along with other natural plant-based substances—in a healthier, more sustainable production of silver nanoparticles. According to a recent study, extracts from green tea and other plants could be used as substitutes for toxic materials normally used to make these popular nanoparticles.