Developments as the Year ends

As technology moves more into the nano realm, interesting items are turning up.  Researchers at the University of Manchester, UK have found quasiparticles in a lattice of boron nitride with graphene in the middle and another layer of boron nitride [Ref. 1].  The definition of a quasiparticle is rather complex and can be described as a “phenomenon that occurs when a microscopically complicated system such as a solid behaves as if it contained different weakly interacting particles in vacuum” [Ref. 2].  If the comment is “so what”, the answer is interesting.  These phenomena provide the opportunity to create electronic properties that can be developed without needing to use chemical doping.  New type of semiconductors?

Gold particles have been employed to destroy cancerous cells due to the ability of the particles to rapidly heat when exposed to infrared radiation.  Attaching the nanoparticle to a particle that will be gathered by the cancer, enables the nano gold particles to accumulate at the cancerous site and be destroyed via IR heating.  Researchers at University of Cambridge and University of Leeds [Ref. 3] found that gold nanotubes can enter mesothelioma cells and subsequently destroy the cancerous cells whet the nanotubes are subjected to IR radiation.  The advantages of the nanotubes are that they can be tuned to absorb light at specific wavelengths.  There are two near-IR wavelengths that can easily penetrate skin tissue.  The tuning is accomplished by modifying the thickness of the nanotubes.  Another item in favor of this approach is that the nanotubes are created with similar dimensions to asbestos fibers.  So, the gold nanotubes should attach in similar places where the cancer and asbestos fibers are.

Nanyang Technological University in Singapore developed a green friendly, magnetically-activated glue technology [Ref. 4].  Typical operations in the fashion wear industry employ heat to activate glue that holds materials, like sport shoe components together.  Since the temperatures can range from 20 to 80C, it requires significant energy.  The researchers have added magnetic nanoparticles to adhesive material.  The magnetic field activates the adhesive and creates a bond as strong as obtained through heating.  This process uses much less energy and considering the size of the industry, could potentially save significant energy requirements. 

Japanese researchers have developed an ultra-thin sensor consisting of multilayers of conductive and dielectric nanomesh structures.  These structures when employed as an artificial skin patch does not affect the touch sensitivity beneath the patch [Ref. 5].  The challenge for creating the patch that transmits the sense of feeling is that there is a high density of sensors even over areas a small as 50 microns.  The patch must transmit the sense of touch while being flexible to follow the underlying skin structures.  The sensor developed consists of two porous layers.  The first layer is insulating and mesh-like while being in the range of 200 to 400nm thick.  The second layer is a capacitance network of lines.  The change in capacitance when the area experiences pressure provides the signal that translates into touch.

Wishing everyone a safe and prosperous New Year with great possibilities for interesting applications of nanotechnology.

References:

  1. https://physicsworld.com/a/new-family-of-quasiparticles-appears-in-graphene/?
  2. Dictionary.com  Quasiparticle
  3. https://physicsworld.com/a/gold-nanotubes-and-infrared-light-could-treat-asbestos-related-cancer/
  4. https://semiengineering.com/manufacturing-bits-dec-23-3/
  5. https://physicsworld.com/a/nanomesh-pressure-sensor-preserves-skins-sense-of-touch  

About Walt

I have been involved in various aspects of nanotechnology since the late 1970s. My interest in promoting nano-safety began in 2006 and produced a white paper in 2007 explaining the four pillars of nano-safety. I am a technology futurist and is currently focused on nanoelectronics, single digit nanomaterials, and 3D printing at the nanoscale. My experience includes three startups, two of which I founded, 13 years at SEMATECH, where I was a Senior Fellow of the technical staff when I left, and 12 years at General Electric with nine of them on corporate staff. I have a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, an MBA from James Madison University, and a B.S. in Physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology.

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