AlgaeA nanoparticle that can help clean water of cadmium becomes toxic once taking in the metal. But research finds that organic matter, in this case from algae, reduces that toxicity.

Nanotechnology plays an important role in removing toxic chemicals found in the soil. Currently more than 70 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Superfund sites are using or testing nanoparticles to remove or degrade environmental contaminants. One of these—nano-zero-valent iron—is widely used, though its effect on organisms has not been examined.

In a recent experiment, a team of scientists tested the effect of sulfurized nano-zero-valent iron (FeSSi) on a common freshwater alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii). They found that FeSSi picked up cadmium from a watery medium and alleviated cadmium toxicity to that alga for more than a month.

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MicroscopeA team of engineers has found a simple, economical way to make a nano-sized device that can lift many times its own weight.

Their creation weighs 1.6 milligrams (about as much as five poppy seeds) and can lift 265 milligrams (the weight of about 825 poppy seeds) hundreds of times in a row.

Its strength comes from a process of inserting and removing ions between very thin sheets of molybdenum disulfide (MoS2), an inorganic crystalline mineral compound. It’s a new type of actuator—devices that work like muscles and convert electrical energy to mechanical energy.

The discovery—an “inverted-series-connected (ISC) biomorph actuation device”—appears in Nature.

“We found that by applying a small amount of voltage, the device can lift something that’s far heavier than itself,” says Manish Chhowalla, professor and associate chair of the materials science and engineering department of in the School of Engineering at Rutgers University.

“This is an important finding in the field of electrochemical actuators. The simple restacking of atomically thin sheets of metallic MoS2 leads to actuators that can withstand stresses and strains comparable to or greater than other actuator materials.”

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When an electrical current is delivered to one of the chip's tiny reservoirs, a single does of therapeutics releases into the body.Image: MIT/Microchips Biotech

When an electrical current is delivered to one of the chip’s tiny reservoirs, a single does of therapeutics releases into the body.
Image: MIT/Microchips Biotech

After extensive research, MIT engineers are on their way to commercializing microchips that release therapeutics inside of the body.

The implantable microchip-based device has the potential to outpace injections and conventional pills, changing the landscape of health care and treatment as we know it.

A startup stemming from MIT, Microchips Biotech, developed this technology and has partnered with Teva Pharmaceutical to get these chips into the market. Teva Pharmaceutical is a giant in the industry and the world’s largest producer of generic drugs.

This from MIT:

The microchips consist of hundreds of pinhead-sized reservoirs, each capped with a metal membrane, that store tiny doses of therapeutics or chemicals. An electric current delivered by the device removes the membrane, releasing a single dose. The device can be programmed wirelessly to release individual doses for up to 16 years to treat, for example, diabetes, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and osteoporosis.

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Posted in Technology

Nanolab in a Box

Mike Zach demonstrating his novel

Mike Zach demonstrating his novel NanoFab Lab… in a Box! during the ECS Meeting!

“What I do is simply help develop confidence in students.”

That’s Mike Zach’s mission with his exceptionally novel NanoFab Lab… in a Box!

Looking to inspire young people and help propel them in scientific careers, Zach took it upon himself to develop an affordable, self-automated, easy to use nanolab.

What Zach is doing is allowing students to understand complex science and have a hands-on experience in making patterned nanowires. Typically nanowires need a multimillion dollar lab to be produced, but Zach has streamlined this process in order to give high school-aged students all over the country a chance to immerse themselves in this seemingly limitless science.

“I’m just looking to get more students involved in electrochemistry… in the science,” said Zach.

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The Nano Electromechanical “Squitch”

A MIT graduate student is changing the landscape of electromechanical switches.

Farnaz Niroui, an electrical engineering graduate student at MIT, has developed a squeezable nano electrochemical switch with quantum tunneling functions. Her development combats the longstanding problem of the switch locking in an “on” position due to metal-to-metal contacts sticking together.

The challenge of this permanent adhesion is called stiction, which often results in device failure. Niroui looks to solve this issue by creating electrodes with nanometer-thin separators.

She has effectively turned stiction from a problem into a solution.

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Paper-like Material to Boost Li-ion Batteries

The newly developed silicon nanofiber structure allow the battery to be cycled hundreds of times without significant degradation.Image: Nature Scientific Reports

The newly developed silicon nanofiber structure allows the battery to be cycled hundreds of times without significant degradation.
Image: Nature Scientific Reports

Electric cars and personal electronics may get the battery boost they need with this new development in lithium-ion batteries.

Researchers from the University of California, Riverside have created silicon nanofibers that are 100 times thinner than human hair, which will provide the potential to boost the amount of energy that can be delivered per unit weight of the batteries.

The research has been detailed in the paper “Towards Scalable Binderless Electrodes: Carbon Coated Silicon Nanofiber Paper via Mg Reduction of Electrospun SiO₂ Nanofibers.”

This from University of California, Riverside:

The nanofibers were produced using a technique known as electrospinning, whereby 20,000 to 40,000 volts are applied between a rotating drum and a nozzle, which emits a solution composed mainly of tetraethyl orthosilicate (TEOS), a chemical compound frequently used in the semiconductor industry. The nanofibers are then exposed to magnesium vapor to produce the sponge-like silicon fiber structure.

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Nanosensor to Detect Extraterrestrial Life

The EPFL scientists successfully tested their novel system with isolated bacteria, yeast, mouse and human cells.Credit:

The EPFL scientists successfully tested their novel system with isolated bacteria, yeast, mouse and human cells.
Credit: École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne

Could nanotechnology be the key to discovering extraterrestrial life? The scientists at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) believe so.

A team at EPFL made up of Giovanni Dietler, Sandor Kasa and Giovanni Longo has developed an extremely sensitive nanosensor that can detect organisms as small as bacteria, yeast, and even cancer cells.

The scientits believe that this is a novel innovation that can be applied to the search for extraterrestrial life. Prior to this development, finding life on other plants has been dependent on chemical detection. The researchers have veered away from this idea and have decided to depend on detecting motion, seeing as it is a trait of life.

The nanosensor uses a nano-sized cantilever to detect motion. A cantilever – or simply a beam that is anchored only at one end, with the other end bearing a load – is typically used in the design of bridges and buildings, but this application takes the very same idea and implements it on a micrometer scale.

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