What is Nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology can be a complicated topic with new advances being
made on an almost daily basis. Many people need a resource for learning
about and keeping up with changes in the field. Whether you're a
student, industry professional, or just curious about the future of our
world, you can use the articles and explanations on this site to keep up
to speed on everything nano. Focussed around the uses of
nanotechnology, UnderstandingNano also offers information about
companies and research labs involved in nanotechnology, as well as
descriptions of nanomaterials and lesson plans for teachers and
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through the nanotechnology topics introduced below.
Nanotechnology in Medicine
Researchers at Tel Aviv University
are developing a vaccine for melanoma based using polymer nanoparticles to which melanoma related peptides have been attached.
Researchers are reporting results from a clincal study using use of
heated by near-infrared laser to destroy tumors in prostate cancer patients.
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have demonstrated a bandage
that applies electrical pulses to a wound using electricity produced by
nanogenerators worn by the
Researchers at the University of Tornoto have demonstrated the use of nanoparticles designed to concentrate in a tumor and
generate oxygen can increase the effectiveness of the chemotherapy drug doxorubicin.
Researchers at Oregon State University are
nanoparticles that deliver three anti-cancer drugs to the
lymp nodes. The intent is to target cancers that use the lymp
nodes to spread through the body. Testing of this technique, so
far, has been with lab animals.
Researchers have determined that the surface
protein filled nanoparticles affects the ability of the
nanoparticle to stimulate immune responses. They are thinking
that these nanoparticles may be used in inhalable vaccines.
A study has shown that nanoparticles called "nanomimics" may be effective
in blocking malaria parasites from spreading to new red blood cells.
Researchers at University of Washington have
developed a nanoparticle carrying proteins that works as a vaccine
to stimulate immune responses. The researchers believe that this type
of vaccine could be produced quickly to prevent the spread of an epidemic.
More about Nanotechnology
Nanotechnology in Electronics
Researchers at Ames Laboratory have developed
split-ring resonators made of metamaterials that can
Researchers at North Carolina State University have
developed sensors using silver
nanowires that may be useful in robots and prosthetics. The nanowire
sensors can measure strain and pressure, and are flexiable enough to
work over the range of motion required by prosthetics.
Researchers at Georgia Tech have demonstrated
antennas made of graphene.
They are working toward antennas and transceivers that would require
very little power and allow communication between nanomachines.
Researchers at ETH Zurich have demonstrated
an optical switch
that can be changed between ON and OFF states by moving a single
Nanotechnology in Electronics
Nanotechnology in Energy
Researchers at Rice University are using carbon nanotube films to stop the growth of dendrites on lithium metal anodes. This step may help develop
lithium metal batteries, which could have much higher capacity and faster charging than lithium ion batteries.
Researchers at UC Berkeley are working on a catalyst
sheets of metal carbide (instead of expensive
platinum) for the generation of hydrogen from water.
Researchers at MIT are working on
incandescent light bulbs
that use some of the waste heat present in conventional
incandescent light bulbs by surrounding the conventional filament
with crystalline material that absorbs infared and converts it to
Researchers at Berkeley Lab have
demonstrated that the combination of
nanocrystals and graphene may be useful in storing
hydrogen for use in fuel cells.
Researchers at Rice University have
performed computational studies that suggest that layers
graphene separated by pillars of boron nitrate nanotubes
could be used to store hydrogen in cars.
Researchers at the Technical University of Munich and Ludwig Maximillians University
flexiable layers of nanoporous germaniun. The
researchers believe this material can be used to produce
lightweight solar cells for mobile applications.
Researchers at Berkely Lab have have
developed a type of Metal-Organic-Frameworks
(MOFs) that has the
store natural gas. The researchers believe this
material could be used to improve natural gas storage
tanks for vehicles and allow wider use of natural gas to
Researchers at MIT have demonstrated
a type of solar cell called a
thermophotovoltaic that could have much higher
energy conversion than other solar cells. In this cell
carbon nanotubes absorb light over a broad range of
frequencies and converts the light to heat. A photonic
crystal absorbs the heat and converts it to back to
light at a frequency that can be absorbed by the solar
Researchers at the University of
Houston have demonstrated the use of
cobalt oxide nanoparticles as a photocatalyst to
produce hydrogen and oxygen gas from water using visible
light. More work needs to be done, both to increase the
energy efficiency and the lifespan of the nanoparticles,
before this catalyst is commercially feasible.
Researchers at MIT have shown that
iron oxide nanoparticles in water can be used to
increase the amount of
heat transfer out of a system at localized hot spots.
The researchers believe this technique could be applied
to cooling a wide range of devices, from electronics
devices to fusion reactors.
Nanotechnology in Energy
Nanotechnology in Materials
Researchers at Rice University have demonstrated the use of a two-dimensional bismuth catalyst
to convert carbon dioxide to formic acid. The researchers believe the
technique could also be used to convert carbon dioxide to produce
products such as acetic acid, ethanol or propanol fuels.
Researchers at UCLA have demonstated a method to
silicon carbide nanoparticles to magnesium, producing a strong,
Researchers at Rice University have developed a
method of depositing a film containing carbon nanotubes
that can measure the strain in a structure. The
frequency of the carbon nanotubes fluorescence changes
with the level of strain, allowing the
strain level in a structure to be measured.
NIST researchers have developed a
coating made with carbon
nanotubes that reduces the flammability of foam used in funiture.
Researchers at Rice University have demonstrated
a composite containing nanoribbons
that can apply heat to helicopter rotor blades, this may work to
de-ice the blades.
Researchers at Rice have demonstated
electrical cables made from carbon nanotubes.
Researchers have shown how to make magnesium
alloy stronger. They introduced
faults in the crystalline structure of the alloy. The stacking
faults prevent defects in the structure of the alloy from spreading,
making the alloy stronger. The researchers believe that the
techniques they used to strenghten the alloy can be implemented in
existing plants, allowing a fast implementation.
Nanotechnology in Materials
Nanotechnology in Manufacturing
Researchers at the University of Illinois have
reported the developement a method to make transparent, flexible
conductive films with a one step spray process using
silver nanowires in water.
Researchers at Prudue University have
demonstrated a method they call laser
shock imprinting to form nanoscale shapes such as gears.
Researchers have produced yarn from
carbon nanotubes coated with
diamond. They believe this material can be used in thin saw
blades that reduce the waste produced when cutting high cost
material, such as sawing silicon ingots into wafers for the
semiconductor or solar industries.
Researchers at Northwestern University have
desktop nanofabrication tool. The desktop tool uses beam-pen
lithography arrays to create nanoscale structures.
Researchers have demonstrated a
motor that can be controlled by electrons from a scanning tunneling microscope tip.
This motor is an initial step in building molecular motors for use
in areas such as medicine.
Rolith, Inc. and Asahi Glass Company are
working to bring anti-reflective glass to the architectural glass
market. The glass uses a technique developed by Rolith to produce a
surface on the glass, which will reduce the glare seen from the
outside of buildings.
Researchers at the RMIT University and University of New South Wales have
demonstrated a filter made with nano-thin sheets of aluminium oxide
which can filter both heavy metals and oils from water.
Using photocatalytic copper tungsten oxide
break down oil into biodegradable compounds. The nanoparticles
are in a grid that provides high surface area for the reaction, is
activated by sunlight and can work in water, making them useful for
cleaning up oil spills.
Using carbon nanotubes, that have been
treated with a plasma, in membranes to remove salt and organic
contamination from water. Researchers believe these membranes can be
used in small,
inexpensive water purification devices needed in developing
nanoscavengers, in which a
layer of reactive nanoparticles coat a synthetic core which is
designed to be easily magnetized. The nanoparticles, for example
silver nanoparticles if bacteria is a problem, attach to or kill the
pollutants. Then when a magnetic field is applied the nanoscavengers
are removed from the water.
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati
have demonstrated a method of removing antibiotics contaminating
waterways. The method uses
nanoparticles that absorb antibiotics.
Using pellets containing nanostructured
palladium and gold as a catalyst to
breakdown chlorinated compounds contaminating groundwater. Since
palladium is very expensive the researchers formed the pellets of
nanoparticles that allow almost every atom of palladium to react
with the chlorinated compounds, reducing the cost of the treatment.
Using graphene as a membrane for low cost water
desalination. Researchers have determined that
graphene with holes the
size of a nanometer or less can be used to remove ions from
water. They believe this can be used to desalinate sea water at a
lower cost than the reverse osmosis techniques currently in use.