Nano Bugle

A window into applied science supported by INL

Nanoland a fun way for children (and adults) to learn about Nanotechnology

There is no better way to learn about something than by making them participate in a fun and entertaining way. Aimed at the gaming generations, the London Science Museum has developed “Nanoland: Big Adventures in a Small World” an exciting way to teach its players the basics of nanotechnology interactively.

The concept is simple. Duck Boy is exploring Nanoland. It’s a strange place where not all is what it seems. As he explores Nanoland he encounters a strange phenomenon, which causes everything to reduce in size to nano-scale, making the journey much more difficult! However, Nanotechnology is available to help Duck Boy solve the problems that he comes across.

Through Duck Boy’s ride, children and adults will get a better understanding about the differences between the macro-world and the nano-world as well as expand their knowledge base in nanotechnology and nanoscience concepts like Brownian motion or nano-research tools like electron microscopes.

You can play on-line HERE

What do you think about this game? Do you know any other interactive interactive programs about nanotechnology?  What do you think the best way is to learn about Nanoscience? Write a comment and share it with the rest of Nanobugle’s Readers.


April 27, 2011 Posted by | Educational & Teaching Resources, Nano Kids, Nano News | , , , , , | Leave a comment

There is nothing boring about watching paint dry

Microscopic fluorescent tracking particles reveal a side view of the coating as it peels, with a plot of the stress exerted on the surface. (Graphic design by Wendolyn Hill with data from Ye Xu and Eric Dufresne)

It turns out that watching paint dry might not be as boring as the old adage claims. A team led by Yale University researchers has come up with a new technique to study the mechanics of coatings as they dry and peel, and has discovered that the process is far from mundane. In the August 9-13 edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team presents a new way to image and analyze the mechanical stress that causes colloidal coatings—those in which microscopic particles of one substance are dispersed throughout another—to peel off of surfaces.

Understanding how and why coatings fail has broad applications in the physical and biological sciences, said Eric Dufresne, the John J. Lee Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Yale and lead author of the study

Coatings protect almost every surface you encounter, from paint on a wall to Teflon on a frying pan to the skin on our own bodies. When coatings peel and crack they put the underlying material at risk,” Dufresne said. “Our research is aimed at pinpointing the failure of coatings. We’ve developed this new technique to zoom in on coatings and watch them fail at the microscopic level.”

To visualize the microscopic motion of paint in 3D, the team mixed in tiny fluorescent particles that glow when illuminated by a laser. By tracing the motion of these particles over time with a microscope, they captured the motion of the paint as it peeled and dried in detail.

In addition, the team was able to track the 3-D forces generated by the paint as it dried, producing a “stress map” of the mechanical deformation of the coating as it failed. “The trick was to apply the paint to a soft surface, made of silicone rubber, that is ever so slightly deformed by the gentle forces exerted by the drying paint,” Dufresne said.

You can read the full article here

Source: Yale Office of Public Affairs & Communication

August 11, 2010 Posted by | Nano News | Leave a comment

Scientists Strive to Replace Silicon with Graphene on Nanocircuity

In a technique known as thermochemical nanolithography, the tip of an atomic force microscope uses heat to turn graphene oxide into reduced graphene oxide, a substance that can be used to produce nanocircuits and nanowires with controllable conductivity.

Credit: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign






Scientists have made a breakthrough toward creating nanocircuitry on graphene, widely regarded as the most promising candidate to replace silicon as the building block of transistors. They have devised a simple and quick one-step process based on thermochemical nanolithography (TCNL) for creating nanowires, tuning the electronic properties of reduced graphene oxide on the nanoscale and thereby allowing it to switch from being an insulating material to a conducting material.

The technique works with multiple forms of graphene and is poised to become an important finding for the development of graphene electronics. The research appears in the June 11, 2010, issue of the journal Science.

Scientists who work with nanocircuits are enthusiastic about graphene because electrons meet with less resistance when they travel along graphene compared to silicon and because today’s silicon transistors are nearly as small as allowed by the laws of physics. Graphene also has the edge due to its thickness – it’s a carbon sheet that is a single atom thick. While graphene nanoelectronics could be faster and consume less power than silicon, no one knew how to produce graphene nanostructures on such a reproducible or scalable method. That is until now.

“We’ve shown that by locally heating insulating graphene oxide, both the flakes and epitaxial varieties, with an atomic force microscope tip, we can write nanowires with dimensions down to 12 nanometers. And we can tune their electronic properties to be up to four orders of magnitude more conductive. We’ve seen no sign of tip wear or sample tearing,” said Elisa Riedo, associate professor in the School of Physics at the Georgia Institute of Technology.


“This project is an excellent example of the new technologies that epitaxial graphene electronics enables,” said Walt de Heer, Regent’s Professor in Georgia Tech’s School of Physics and the original proponent of epitaxial graphene in electronics. His study led to the establishment of the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center two years ago. “The simple conversion from graphene oxide to graphene is an important and fast method to produce conducting wires. This method can be used not only for flexible electronics, but it is possible, sometime in the future, that the bio-compatible graphene wires can be used to measure electrical signals from single biological cells.”

 The research is a collaboration among the Georgia Tech, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Other members of the research team include: Zhongqing Wei, Debin. Wang, Suenne Kim, Soo-Young Kim, Yike Hu, Michael K. Yakes, Arnaldo R.Laracuente, Zhenting Dai, Seth R. Marder, Claire Berger, and Walter A. de Heer.

Author Georgia Tech

You can read the full article here.

June 17, 2010 Posted by | Nano News | Leave a comment

Converting sea water into fresh water with Nanotechnology

The most common desalination technology, known as reverse osmosis, involves applying pressure to seawater to force salt ions through a membrane. Although portable reverse-osmosis devices are available, most work slowly and have trouble filtering out water pollutants.

Jongyoon Han from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his team had developed another technology: ion channel polarization (ICP) and reported their findings online in Nature Nanotechnology.

To test if ICP could remove salt and other charged contaminants in water, such as bacteria and certain pollutants, they added blood cells to seawater and tagged them with fluorescent dye.

Then, they forced saltwater to pass through the ion-repulsion area. On one side was a very salty, fluorescent mixture, and on the other side was clean water.

However there is still need to put the water through a charcoal filter to eliminate neutral materials, such as hydrocarbons, from industrial pollution.

It should be necessary to integrate around 1600 nano-units onto a 20-centimeter wafer to generate about 300 milliliters of water per minute.

Credit: Mark A. Shannon, Nature Nanotechnology, 5; (inset) Sung Jae Kim/MIT

June 15, 2010 Posted by | Nano News | Leave a comment

Nano-membranes for extra-fine filters and scaffolds

Nanotube-infused microdevices, with forests of carbon nanotubes grown inside pores, can act as filters or as a carrier for improved catalysts. (Source: Rice U.)

Researchers from University of Oulu, Finland, University of Szeged, Hungary and Rice University, USA have found a way to make carbon nanotube membranes that could find wide application as extra-fine air filters and as scaffolds for catalysts that speed chemical reactions.

The devices were created by chemical vapor deposition (CVD) of silicon dioxide templates, with laser-created holes; after 30min in the furnace the holes fill up with carbon nanotubes.

The resulting material can be doped with catalytic materials or used as filters, which would stop any particles larger than the diameter of the tubes from passing through. When the CNTs are functionalized with catalytic chemicals, particles entering on one side of the filter come out the end in a different form.

As a filter, the CNT-enabled membrane achieved 99% extraction of <1μm particles, removing about 100× more nanoparticles from laboratory air than the material used in high-efficiency particulate-absorbing (HEPA) filters. The filters permeability depends strongly on how long the nanotubes are allowed to grow, which determines their length and density.

The Results of the work were published in the journal ACS Nano and has as title: “Three-dimensional carbon nanotube scaffolds as particulate filters and catalyst support membranes”.

May 20, 2010 Posted by | Nano News | Leave a comment

Can a body grow its own spare parts?


Nanoscientist Molly Stevens. Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer

Robin McKie, wrote a really great article published in The Observer, Sunday 16 May 2010

«The human body has tremendous capacity to repair itself after disease or injury. Skin will grow over wounds, while cells in our blood supply are constantly being manufactured in our bone marrow. But there is a limit to the body’s ability to replace lost tissue. Cartilage cells are notoriously poor at regrowing after injury, for example. As a result, accidents and illnesses – including cancers – often leave individuals with disfiguring wounds or life-threatening damage to tissue. The aim of Molly Stevens, a nanoscience researcher at Imperial College, London, and founder of the biotech firm Reprogen, is a simple but ambitious one. Working with a team of chemists, cell biologists, surgeons, material scientists and engineers, she is developing techniques that will help the body repair itself when it suffers damage. This is the science of regenerative medicine».

You can read the full article here.

May 18, 2010 Posted by | Nano News, Uncategorized | 1 Comment

A thin layer of glass makes “sub-wavelength” lasers more practical




Laser precision: Graduate student Olesya Bondarenko inspects the sputter deposition tool used to apply a layer of aluminum to the sub-wavelength microlasers.
Credit: Erik Jepsen/Calit2 UC San Diego

Scientists have created the smallest ever laser capable of operating at room temperature. The device is less than one cubic micron–less than the wavelength of the light it emits. It is the first sub-wavelength laser that doesn’t require cryogenic cooling.

Yeshaiahu Fainman, head of the Ultrafast and Nanoscale Optics Group at the University of California, San Diego, who led the work, says it should be possible to pack the microlasers close together without interference between devices. This paves the way for, among other things, faster optical communications devices that use sub-wavelength lasers in dense arrays.


“This is very exciting work, and introduces important advances in the new field of nanolasers,” says Naomi Halas, the Stanley C. Moore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rice University, and director of the University’s Laboratory for Nanophotonics. “Making use of metallic layers and clever design geometries has allowed this group to begin to build refinements into these structures that will expand how these devices are used in communications systems.”

In a paper published in the journal Nature Photonics, the UCSD group shows that its laser can produce emissions with a wavelength of 1.43 microns at room temperature. The group has received funding from the National Science Foundation as well as DARPA’s Nanoscale Architectures for Coherent Hyper-Optic Sources program.

You can read the full article here.

May 12, 2010 Posted by | Nano News | Leave a comment

Enzyme in white blood cells can break down carbon nanotubes


The picture by Kagan et al. is  a molecular modelling that demonstrates possible nanotube interaction sites on hMPO.

An EU-funded study of carbon nanotubes by scientists in Ireland, Sweden and the US has shown that these extraordinarily strong molecules can be broken down into carbon and water by an enzyme found in white blood cells. The discovery, published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, offers hope that this new material may be exploited safely in medicine and industry.

The findings are an outcome of the NANOMMUNE (‘Comprehensive assessment of hazardous effects of engineered nanomaterials on the immune system’) project, financed with EUR 3.36 million under the NMP (‘Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production’) Theme of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7).

Carbon nanotubes are cylindrical, engineered carbon molecules that are lighter and stronger than steel and have unique electrical properties. They are used in several areas of industry, for example in the manufacture of silicon chips, electronics and sporting goods. Carbon nanotubes are produced in large quantities, which has implications for occupational health, and are also being used in the development of new drugs and other medical applications. Their behaviour in living organisms is, therefore, an intensive area of study. NANOMMUNE researchers are seeking to fill the gaps in our knowledge of the potentially hazardous effects of engineered nanomaterials on the human immune system.

“Previous studies have shown that carbon nanotubes could be used for introducing drugs or other substances into human cells,” explained Dr Bengt Fadeel of the Institute of Environmental Medicine at Sweden’s Karolinska Institute. “The problem has been not knowing how to control the breakdown of the nanotubes, which can cause unwanted toxicity and tissue damage. Our study now shows how they can be broken down biologically into harmless components.” You can read the full article here.

NANOMMUNE is coordinated by Dr Fadeel and comprises 13 research groups in Europe and the US.

 For more information please visit: [..]

May 3, 2010 Posted by | Nano News | 1 Comment

IBM Research Creates World’s Smallest 3D Map; Brings Low-Cost, Ease of Use to Creation of Nanoscale Objects


3D rendered image showing a heated nanoscale silicon tip, borrowed from atomic force microscopy that is chiselling away material from a substrate to create a nanoscale 3D map of the world. In the relief, one thousand meters of altitude correspond to roughly eight nanometers (nm). It is composed of 500,000 pixels, each measuring 20 nm2 and was created in only 2 minutes and 23 seconds. (Credit: Image courtesy of Advanced Materials)

IBM scientists have created a 3D map of the earth so small that 1,000 of them could fit on one grain of salt.* The scientists accomplished this through a new, breakthrough technique that uses a tiny, silicon tip with a sharp apex — 100,000 times smaller than a sharpened pencil — to create patterns and structures as small as 15 nanometers at greatly reduced cost and complexity. This patterning technique opens new prospects for developing nanosized objects in fields such as electronics, future chip technology, medicine, life sciences, and optoelectronics.

You can read the full article here.

April 28, 2010 Posted by | Nano News | Leave a comment

Taking a (even) closer look at cells

For two decades, scientists have been pursuing a potential new way to treat bacterial infections, using naturally occurring proteins known as antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) that kill bacteria by poking holes in their cell membranes. Now, MIT scientists have recorded the first real-time microscopic images showing the deadly effects of AMPs in live bacteria.
Researchers led by MIT Professor Angela Belcher modified an existing, extremely sensitive technique known as high-speed atomic force microscopy (AFM) to allow them to image the bacteria in real time. Their method, described in the March 14 online edition of Nature Nanotechnology, represents the first way to study living cells using high-resolution images recorded in rapid succession.
Using this type of high-speed AFM could allow scientists to study how cells respond to other drugs and to viral infection, says Belcher, the Germeshausen Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Biological Engineering and a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT.
It could also be useful in studying cell death in mammalian cells, such as the nerve cell death that occurs in Alzheimer’s patients, says Paul Hansma, a physics professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara who has been developing AFM technology for 20 years. “This paper is a highly significant advance in the state-of-the-art imaging of cellular processes,” says Hansma, who was not involved in the research.
Atomic force microscopy, invented in 1986, is widely used to image nanoscale materials. Its resolution (about 5 nanometers) is comparable to that of electron microscopy, but unlike electron microscopy, it does not require a vacuum and thus can be used with living samples. However, traditional AFM requires several minutes to produce one image, so it cannot record a sequence of rapidly occurring events.
In recent years, scientists have developed high-speed AFM techniques, but haven’t optimized them for living cells. That’s what the MIT team set out to do, building on the experience of lead author Georg Fantner, a postdoctoral associate in Belcher’s lab who had worked on high-speed AFM at the University of California at Santa Barbara.

The image was taken by Georg Fantner with atomic force microscopy. It shows E. coli bacteria after they have been exposed to the antimicrobial peptide CM15. The peptides have begun destroying the bacteria’s cell walls.

You can read the full article here

Source: MIT News office

March 15, 2010 Posted by | Nano News | Leave a comment