Nano Bugle

A window into applied science supported by INL

INL project presented in Mexico during NanoMex’10

In the photo, taken in Cuernavaca City on 19 November, you can see the DG of INL with Dr.  Roberto Y. Sato Berrú (on the far left) from the “Centro de Ciencias Aplicadas y Desarrollo Tecnológico ( CCADET) ” and his wife, and Dr. José Manuel Saniger Blesa (on the far right) , Director of the CCADET, from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.

In pursue of INL’s outreach program, Jose Rivas, Director General (DG) of the INL, attended the “Simposio: Nanociencias y Nanotecnología” at UAM in Mexico City, 15-16 November and the NanoMex’10 which is the Third International and Interdisciplinary Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Meeting , organized by the National Autonomous University of Mexico  (UNAM), in Cuernavaca City (Morelos) 17-19 November . In this meeting the DG of the INL made the most of the encounters to present the INL and to contact leading important Mexican scientists in the field of Nanotechnology .

The goal of NanoMex’10 is to stimulate high-quality interdisciplinary dialogue on the advance, promises and implications of nanoscience and nanotechnology in order to enrich the national decision-making concerning the distribution of benefits, maximization and definition of responsibilities and, the minimization of unnecessary and unwanted costs.

It is an initiative nano-UNAM, a group initially formed by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Sciences and Humanities, the Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, the Center for Applied Sciences and Technological Development and the Environmental Nanotechnology University Program. A partir de 2009, nano-UNAM articula 11 entidades y un programa universitario. Since 2009, nanoUNAM is conformed by 11 UNAM’s entities and a research university program.

November 26, 2010 Posted by | INL Project | Leave a comment

INL opens second tender for scientific equipment

The International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory (INL) has opened a new tender for the selection of entities entrusted with the supply of scientific material and instruments.

The contract is divided into 50 lots within 7 sets, namely: Surface Characterization, Electron and Scanning Probe Microscopy (Set I); MENS/NEMS Process and Characterization (Set II); Optical Microscopy (III); Biochemistry Laboratory (IV); Radio Frequency and Electrical Device Characterization Laboratory (V); Packaging and Micromolding (VI); and Nanochemistry Laboratory (VII). Details are available here.

The INL facilities are funded by Portugal and Spain in equal parts. The new scientific infrastructure is also supported by the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

While the scientific equipment and instruments are co-financed by the Portuguese North Regional Operational Program “ON.2 – O Novo Norte”, the construction of the new scientific infrastructure is supported by the Cross-border Cooperation Spain-Portugal 2007-2013 Program. Both programs are financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

November 10, 2010 Posted by | INL Project | Leave a comment

Observing biological complexes at the single molecule level with optical microscopy at room temperature

The contribution of optical microscopy to life sciences can hardly be underestimated. Ever since the popularization of the optical microscope among biologists in the 17th century, mainly fueled by advances made by Anton van Leeuwenhook leading to the observation of single cell organisms, a long journey of technological development started to improve optical resolution over the complete frequency spectrum of light. Nowadays optical microscopes have achieved a lateral and longitudinal resolution around 200 and 600nm respectively. Unfortunately, further improvements are hampered by the diffraction of light waves.

Since the beginning of the 90s several new techniques have been introduced to circumvent the diffraction limitation for far-field optical image formation by fluorescence, light emitted from samples after absorption of excitation light. One of these techniques is based on the detection of single nano-sized fluorescence sources. Recently, a team of researchers under supervision of Steven Chu, Nobel laureate and current United States Secretary of Energy, have improved distance measurements between two molecular fluorescence centers from the 5-20nm range down to 0.77nm thereby bringing optical localization with visible light in the angstrom regime.

This major breakthrough was realized by a thorough analysis of the noise sources that influence the optical localization measurements. Two closed feedback loops were implemented to perform dual color image registration in order to reduce systematic effects such as drift and vibration of the instrumentation. Further, it was postulated that previous attempts to improve resolution were hampered by lack of characterization of the interpixel photoresponse non-uniformity of charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras used in these studies.

As a demonstration of future applications for this new measurement concept, a structural analysis of epithelial cadherin dimers, complexes that mediate cell adhesion but whose molecular functionality remains elusive, was demonstrated. Hereby, it was demonstrated that biological structures can be analyzed with 1-2nm resolution at room temperatures and in physiological buffer conditions. This new technique is likely to provide new insights in biological complexes that cannot be studied with nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) under these conditions.

Pieter De Beule


Pieter de Beule with confocal microscope add-on he is building with his group.

INL is interested in new high resolution imaging instrumentation and started research collaboration in 2009 with the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry. In this project, Pieter De Beule, an INL postdoctoral researcher, works on the design and implementation of a new microscope for optical sectioning of live cells under the supervision of Thomas Jovin. This microscope will help scientists to further develop the understanding of basic cell biology, especially by capturing events occurring on fast timescales such as signal transduction.

October 21, 2010 Posted by | INL Community | Leave a comment

POP – Prototype on Prototype

The 2011 Global Nano Innovation Contest–Prototype on Prototype was initiated by Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).

The video above is only one of the four videos provided as templates, demonstrating the process of creating a prototype from the concept to final manufacturing based on nanotechnology.

There are two stages to the contest: First the participants submit their ideas based on the concept from one of the four videos. Then they make a prototype.

Participants are able to create and design their own products. They may integrate any of the prototypes into a more sophisticated system or application with potential commercial value, which is the spirit of prototype on prototype (POP).

The finalists will be invited to Taiwan to demonstrate their prototype. The selected winners will receive prizes and will be invited to the joint research program.

The goals of the contest are:

– Develop nanotechnology prototyping capability for practical applications with universal appeal.

– Emphasize higher, system-level integration of prototypes, to spur the creation of a wider diversity of high-value nanotechnology applications.

– Establish an international platform promoting collaboration on nanotechnology

August 24, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 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

Toward a new generation of superplastics


A substance made from natural clay (shown), the material used to make pottery, may be spinning its way toward use as an inexpensive, eco-friendly replacement for a compound widely used to make plastic nanocomposites. Credit: iStock

Scientists are reporting an in-depth validation of the discovery of the world’s first mass producible, low-cost, organoclays for plastics. The powdered material, made from natural clay, would be a safer, more environmentally friendly replacement for the compound widely used to make plastics nanocomposites. A report on the research appears in ACS’ Macromolecules, a bi-weekly journal: “The Role of Surface Interactions in the Synergizing Polymer /Clay Flame Retardant Properties.”

Miriam Rafailovich and colleagues focused on a new organoclay developed and patented by a team of scientists headed by David Abecassis. The scientists explain that so-called quaternary amine-treated organoclays have been pioneering nanoparticles in the field of plastics nanotechnology. Just small amounts of the substances make plastics flame retardant, stronger, and more resistant to damage from ultraviolet light and chemicals. They also allow plastics to be mixed together into hybrid materials from plastics that otherwise would not exist. However, quaternary amine organoclays are difficult to produce because of the health and environmental risks associated with quaternary amines, as well as the need to manufacture them in small batches. These and other disadvantages, including high cost, limit use of the materials.

The new organoclay uses resorcinol diphenyl phosphate (which is normally a flame retardant), to achieve mass producible organoclays which can be made in continuous processing. In addition these organoclays are cheaper, generate less dust, and are thermostable to much higher temperatures (beyond 600 degrees Fahrenheit). This clay has also been proven to be superior for flame retardance applications. In addition, unlike most quaternary amine based organoclays, it works well in styrene plastics, one of the most widely used kinds of plastic.

source: ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: July 21, 2010

August 2, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Reducing lithography nanopatterns to 6 nanometers in size

Vadim Sidorkin, a researcher from TU Delft in Netherlands, is the first in the world to succeed in patterning a substrate with markings only 6 nanometres in size and only 14 nanometres apart.

The spacing of 14 nanometers that Sidorkin achieved could increase the data storage capacity of memory chips by a factor ten.

Sidorkin researched into creating the smallest possible structures using electron beams and ion beams. At the present time the industry generally uses light beams to etch extremely small structures onto semiconductor material, for instance in the manufacture of computer chips. Sidorkin used a Helium Ion Microscope (HIM) to create helium beams, and using this technique he was able to draw dots having a diameter of only six nanometres.

Sidorkin compared the performance of the helium ion beam with an electron beam, and found that using helium ions made it possible to etch structures much closer together. Since helium ions are larger and heavier than electrons, they can be fired at the substrate surface with less speed and still deliver the same collision energy. As the result helium ions also do much less damage to the surrounding material, because they rebound less far off the surface and penetrate sideways less far into the structure itself.

July 16, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Accidental Art of Microfluidic Devices


A Flikr group called “Art on a Chip” shows an artistic side to a hot area of technology: microfluidics devices. In the group a vibrant collection of images shows cells, channels and fluids on the micro scale. Researchers are encouraged to upload a favorite picture captured through their research, says the curator of the online collection, Albert Folch, an associate professor in BioMEMs and Microfluidics at the University of Washington.

“Our fields of research are bursting with art,” Folch says in his introduction to the website. “I am willing to bet that your hard drive contains at least one gorgeous image that will make me catch my breath.” 

Many of the images come from Folch’s own collection, and the gallery is a repository for happy accidents. “A lot of times we make mistakes in research that are prettier than the ones we end up publishing,” Folch says. 

Microfluidics devices consist of a combination of tiny channels that interface with microelectronics. They have a range of potential applications, including hand-held contraptions that can quickly detect diseases, and are a hot topic of recent research. 

Folch was at µTAS, a microfluidics meeting in San Diego in 2008, when he entered the meeting’s open picture competition with an image from one of his papers. He didn’t win, but was captivated by the beauty of entries from fellow participants. He brought the idea back to Lab on a Chip, where he now serves as Art Editor. Folch announced the gallery’s opening on its Flikr Web site on June 24, 2010, and enthusiastically awaits contributions. 

“Microfluidics Butterfly” (above) was created by arranging two mirror images of a micromixer–a device that controls the path of fluid flow–next to each other, and then superimposing them on a blue background.

You can read the full article here.

Credit: Lab on a Chip/ Greg Cooksey and Albert Folch

July 14, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

TNT2010 – Trends in Nanotechnology debated in Braga – INL

The 11th edition of the Trends in Nanotechnology International Conference (TNT2010) is been launched following the overwhelming success of earlier Nanotechnology Conferences. The TNT2010 edition (September 06-10, 2010) will take place in Braga (Portugal) to emphasise the importance at the Portuguese and European level of the Nanoscience and Nanotechnology activity of the Northern Portugal region and in particular the launch in 2010 of the International Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory.
This high-level scientific meeting series aims to present a broad range of current research in Nanoscience and Nanotechnology as well as related policies (European Commission, etc.) or other kind of initiatives (nanoGUNE, FinNano, GDR-I, etc.). TNT events have demonstrated that they are particularly effective in transmitting information and establishing contacts among workers in this field.
The TNT2010 structure will keep the fundamental features of the previous editions, providing a unique opportunity for broad interaction.

July 12, 2010 Posted by | Events | 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