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Archive for October, 2006|Monthly archive page

Nanotube Computing Breakthrough

In nano on October 30, 2006 at 10:16 pm

The use of carbon nanotubes in ultrafast computers and other electronic devices has been stymied because batches of the material contain nanotubes with varying electronic properties. One nanotube is semiconducting, while the next is conducting. Now Northwestern University researchers have developed a reliable and potentially practical way to sort through this mess, segregating nanotubes into precisely the types needed for high-performance electronics. The advance could speed progress toward nanotube computers and has many nearer-term applications, including high-definition displays, devices for nanotoxicity testing, and solar cells.
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Experts crack cancer ‘gene codes’

In Health on October 29, 2006 at 6:45 pm

US scientists have cracked the entire genetic code of breast and colon cancers, offering new treatment hopes.
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Slow patent process hurts nanotech progress

In nano on October 29, 2006 at 6:43 pm

By Jon Van

October 29, 2006

The impact is one of perception

Just as it’s getting traction spawning new companies and products, the hot nanotechnology sector is running into a roadblock at the U.S. Patent Office.

As the time it takes to process patent applications now averages almost four years, double the time it took in 2004, nanotech entrepreneurs are beginning to worry that their ability to raise money to develop products may be stifled.

‘Clearly there’s a danger,’ said Stephen Maebius, a partner in the Foley & Lardner law firm, of the patent application backlog. ‘If you cross a threshold and it’s taking too long, potential financial backers wonder if what you have is patentable or not.’

Maebius, along with Vahe Mamikunian, an analyst with Lux Research, co-authored a recent report that noted that nanotech-related patent applications have grown by an average 20 percent over the past few years, compared to just 2 percent average growth in general applications. The number of patents issued also grew by 20 percent a year until 2005, when they increased by only 4 percent, the report found.
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New software method for producing medical guidelines

In Health on October 28, 2006 at 8:16 pm

Medical guidelines that lay down state-of-the-art rules for doctors are an important tool in modern medical practice. But though the number of guideline documents has proliferated in recent years, the quality, clarity and overall usefulness of the texts could be improved, resulting in even greater benefit to patients and medical practitioners.

A team of European researchers working on the IST-funded Protocure II project set out to do just that, developing a method to make guidelines not only more accurate and useful to doctors, but also far easier for national healthcare authorities to generate and update. Most strikingly, they did it by looking at guidelines not as simple texts, but as modular software programs that can be written in a programming language.
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KT offers affordable robot services

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2006 at 8:10 pm

KT Corp. will today begin its so-called “Ubiquitous Robotic Companions” services on a trial basis. The operator has been selected as a main service provider by the state-funded National Computerization Agency, which intends to promote the use of URCs. URCs are network-based, intelligent robots priced below 1 million won.

They are operated by simply adding voice-recognition servers and networks onto the existing robots, with the aim of providing necessary services anytime, anywhere.

The trial service will continue till the end of this year in 1,000 households and public facilities such as airports and Seoul Station. About 1,020 robots will be in operation during the trial period. “Seven different kinds of robots will offer various services ranging from reading books to speaking foreign languages, singing songs and home-monitoring via KT’s broadband services Megapass and Nespot,” said an official at KT.

Home-monitoring enables watching the elderly or babies from outside the home.

Robots will also offer daily news, weather information and recipes, as well as clean homes. Users will only have to attach recognition codes to necessary locations in homes to direct the robots.

(siyoungh@heraldm.com)

By Hwang Si-young
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The University of Ulster in Northern Ireland has come up with a world first in electron microscopy.

In Uncategorized on October 28, 2006 at 3:33 pm

Researchers at the Coleraine campus have developed a unique microscope that uses ion guns to manipulate specimens right down to the very atoms and molecules.
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Electronic Chip, Interacting With The Brain, Modifies Pathways For Controlling Movement

In Health on October 27, 2006 at 1:41 am

Researchers at the University of Washington (UW) are working on an implantable electronic chip that may help establish new nerve connections in the part of the brain that controls movement. Their most recent study, to be published in the Nov. 2, 2006, edition of Nature, showed such a device can induce brain changes in monkeys lasting more than a week.
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Australia to Build Largest Solar Plant

In Uncategorized on October 27, 2006 at 1:31 am

By ROD McGUIRK
The Associated Press
Wednesday, October 25, 2006; 6:00 PM

CANBERRA, Australia — The Australian government pledged $95 million in funding Wednesday for two projects as part of its new strategy to combat global warming, including the construction of the world’s largest solar power plant.

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NANOSIGHT LM10™

In nano on October 27, 2006 at 1:27 am

NanoSight supply unique instruments for particle analysis in the sub-500nm region.
Wide Ranging Applications

The NANOSIGHT System is proven on a wide range of applications:

* Most hard nano-particles
* Virus samples
* Pigments in inks and paints
* Single DNA molecules
* Metal oxides in magnetic storage media
* Precursor chemicals for wafer fabrication
* Multi-walled Carbon nanotubes
* Fuel additives
* Cosmetics and personal care products
* Foodstuffs
* Ceramics
* Ferritin molecules
* Polymers, emulsions and colloids
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U.S. Pledges $34.5 Million for Renewable Energy Technologies

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2006 at 9:30 pm

13 October 2006
U.S. Pledges $34.5 Million for Renewable Energy Technologies

Biofuels, solar energy and biomass genomics research to benefit from investment

By Cheryl Pellerin
Washington File Staff Writer

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Energy Northwest’s White Bluffs Solar Station near Richland, Washington, is located near the abandoned Washington Nuclear Project One, in the background. The demonstration project, composed of more than 200 photovoltaic panels, is one of the public power agency’s explorations into renewable energy production. (© AP Images)
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Energy Northwest’s White Bluffs Solar Station near Richland, Washington. (© AP Images)

Washington — U.S. energy and agriculture officials announced $34.5 million is available to fund new research in biofuels, solar energy and biomass genomics research to accelerate development of alternative fuels.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Samuel Bodman and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Mike Johanns announced the funding October 11 at “Advancing Renewable Energy: An American Rural Renaissance,” a conference hosted by both agencies in St. Louis to further President Bush’s Advanced Energy Initiative.

The initiative seeks to accelerate the commercialization of clean, affordable alternative and renewable sources of energy by changing the way Americans power cars, homes and businesses.

Bodman and Johanns announced nearly $17.5 million for 17 biomass research, development and demonstration projects, and more than $13 million to fund new research in solar technologies.

Raymond Orbach, DOE under secretary for science, announced $4 million for bio-based fuels research, and both departments solicited research proposals for new plant genomics research projects, which would involve the genetic modification of plants for the improved production of fuels such as ethanol or renewable chemical feedstocks.

ENERGY FROM PLANTS

Biomass is an energy resource that includes organic matter, such as wood, agricultural waste, algae, sewage and other living-cell material that can be burned or chemically processed to produce heat energy (See related article.)

Biomass, which supplies about 3 percent of total U.S. energy consumption in the form of electricity, process heat and transportation fuels, helps diversify the energy supply and support rural economies.

“Americans are discovering the road to energy independence is paved with natural resources grown right here at home,” Johanns said. “This is a new era for America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities as they seize this moment where opportunity meets need, and where American ingenuity breaks a century long addiction to oil.”

The grants are intended to develop technologies needed to help make biobased fuels cost-competitive with fossil fuels in the commercial market. The chosen projects will include research, development and demonstrations of biobased products, bioenergy, biofuels and biopower.

Of the nearly $17.5 million announced October 11, $12.8 million is funded by USDA and $4.7 million by DOE. DOE funds will go to three projects developing cellulosic (from cellulose, the main part of the cell wall in most plants) biomass. USDA will provide funding to address such topics as feedstock production and product diversification.

Under the Biomass Research and Development Initiative, a joint USDA-DOE effort established in 2000 and reauthorized in the comprehensive Energy Policy Act of 2005, projects receiving awards must demonstrate collaboration among biomass experts. (See related article.)

The initiative aims to enhance creative approaches to developing next-generation advanced technologies and promote research partnerships among colleges, universities, national laboratories, federal and state research agencies and the private sector.

BIOMASS GENOMICS

Biotechnology offers the promise of dramatically increasing ethanol production using cellulose, the most abundant biological material on earth, and similar organic materials. Materials such as post-harvest corn plants (stover) and timber residues could be used, along with specialized high-biomass “energy” crops like domesticated poplar trees and switchgrass, a hardy, fast-growing grass native to North America that is considered a good candidate for biofuel production.

“We are seeking to accelerate research breakthroughs that contribute towards making biofuels a cost-effective alternative to fossil fuels, with a goal of replacing 30 percent of transportation fuels with biofuels by 2030,” Orbach said.

“This joint research initiative shows a commitment to acquiring new alternative energy resources and improving the efficiency with which biomass and plant feedstocks are used to produce renewable fuels such as ethanol,” Under Secretary of Agriculture Tom Dorr said.

The new funding continues a 2006 commitment to conduct a fundamental research program in biomass genomics that will build the scientific foundation to facilitate the use of woody plant tissue for bioenergy and biofuels. Developing such crops for energy fuels could use less-intensive production techniques and poorer-quality land, avoiding competition with food production on the most fertile land.

The program will take advantage of advances in breeding, molecular genetics and genomic technologies and build on the existing knowledge of plant biology to help researchers confidently predict and manipulate plants’ biological function for bioenergy resources.

POWER FROM THE SUN

Photovoltaic devices use solar cells or arrays to turn sunlight into electricity and they have little impact on the environment. Photovoltaics can be used in a wide range of products, from small consumer items to large commercial solar electric systems. (See related article.)

The $13 million announced for solar technologies at the St. Louis conference is part of President Bush’s $148 million Solar America Initiative. The funding will support the development of more efficient photovoltaic devices.

“This investment is a major step in our mission to bring clean, renewable solar power to the nation,” Bodman said. “If we are able to harness more of the sun’s power and use it to provide energy to homes and businesses, we can increase our energy diversity and strengthen our nation’s energy security.”

The Solar America Initiative aims to make solar power cost competitive with conventional electricity sources by 2015, by developing materials that convert sunlight directly to electricity.

The $13 million in funding, including about $4.5 million to be awarded for fiscal year 2007, will support several projects, including:

• Solar codes and standards working group leadership, a five-year, $4.2-million project designed to create and operate a national working group to manage solar regulatory codes and standards. Sample work includes recommending or developing model codes and standards and helping in their implementation, developing codes and standards studies, and monitoring emerging codes and standards issues;

• State strategic partnerships, a three-year, $1.35-million project in which DOE will enlist the help of state membership organizations as strategic partners on solar issues, and allow recipients to foster strong relationships with targeted state partners to promote solar energy technology adoption; and

• Utility strategic partnerships, a three-year, $1.35 million cost-shared project to enlist the help of utility membership organizations as strategic partners to deliver key assistance to utilities to enable the success of the Solar America Initiative.

For additional information, see Clean Energy Solutions.

More information on the solicitation and facts about the Solar America Initiative can be found on the DOE Web site, along with information about biomass and the biomass genomics joint research program.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
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‘Tower of Babel’ translator made

In Uncategorized on October 26, 2006 at 8:52 pm

A “Tower of Babel” device that gives the illusion of being bilingual is being developed by US scientists.

Users simply have to silently mouth a word in their own language for it to be translated and read out in another.

The researchers said the effect was like watching a television programme that had been dubbed.

The system, detailed in New Scientist, is not yet fully accurate, but experts said it showed the technology was “within reach”.

The idea is that you can mouth words in English and they will come out in Chinese or another language
Tanja Schultz

The translation systems that are currently in use work by using voice recognition software.

But this requires people to speak out loud and then wait for the translation to be read out, making conversations difficult.

But the new device, being created by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, is different.

Electrodes are attached to the neck and face to detect the movements that occur as the person silently mouths words and phrases.

Using this data, a computer can work out the sounds being formed and then build these sounds up into words.

The system is then able to translate the words into another language which is read out by a synthetic voice.

Within reach

The team currently has two prototypes: one that can translate Chinese into English and another that can translate English into Spanish or German.

If the prototypes used a small vocabulary of about 100-200 words they worked with about 80% accuracy, researcher Tanja Schultz said.

But, she added, a full vocabulary had a much lower level of accuracy.

Professor Schultz said: “The idea is that you can mouth words in English and they will come out in Chinese or another language.”

The ultimate goal, the researchers said, was to be in a position where you can just have a conversation.

Chuck Jorgensen, a researcher at Nasa’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, told New Scientist: “This is showing the technology is really within reach.”

Phil Woodland, professor of information engineering at the University of Cambridge, said: “This work sounds interesting. Most groups are working on translating audio data into different languages, but this is different to work I have come across before because they are not working from a real acoustic signal.”

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DNA switch developed to interface living organisms with computers

In nano on October 25, 2006 at 11:52 pm

DNA switch developed to interface living organisms with computers
(Nanowerk News) Researchers at the University of Portsmouth have developed an electronic switch based on DNA – a world-first bio-nanotechnology breakthrough that provides the foundation for the interface between living organisms and the computer world….
The new technology is called a ‘nanoactuator’ (shown in the image above) or a molecular dynamo. The device is invisible to the naked eye – about one thousandth of a strand of human hair.
The DNA switch has been developed by British Molecular Biotechnology expert Dr Keith Firman at the University of Portsmouth working in collaboration with other European researchers.
Dr Firman and his international team have been awarded a €2 million (£1.36m) European Commission grant under its New and Emerging Science and Technology (NEST) initiative to further develop this ground-breaking new technology.
But the DNA switch has immediate practical applications in toxin detection, and could be used in a biodefence role as a biological sensor to detect airborne pathogens.
The future applications are also considerable, including molecular scale mechanical devices for interfacing to computer-controlled artificial limbs.
‘The possibilities are very exciting. The nanoactuator we have developed can be used as a communicator between the biological and silicon worlds,’ Dr Firman said.
‘I could see it providing an interface between muscle and external devices, but it has to be pointed out that such an application is still 20 or 30 years away.’
The molecular switch comprises of a strand of DNA anchored in a miniscule channel of a microchip, a magnetic bead, and a biological motor powered by the naturally occurring energy source found in living cells, adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
These elements working together create a dynamo effect which in turn generates electricity. The result is a device that emits electrical signals – signals that can be sent to a computer. The switch, therefore, links the biological world with the silicon world of electronic signals.
The nanoactuator has been patented by the University of Portsmouth, and a patent application for the basic concepts of biosensing is pending.
The nanoactuator project is part of a multinational collaboration between the University of Portsmouth, The National Physical Laboratory (UK), TU Delft (The Netherlands), CNRS/ENS (France), INESC-Portugal, EMPA (Switzerland) and IMIC (Czech Republic).
Source: University of Portsmouth
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NanoMeter, web-based tool to carry out a brief societal assessment of nanotechnological applications

In nano on October 25, 2006 at 11:45 pm

What is the NanoMeter?

The Nanometer is a web-based tool that allows researchers and product developers (and others interested) to carry out a brief societal assessment of nanotechnological applications prior to market release.

Based on extensive research and stakeholder consultation the Nanometer presents the key findings of the Nanologue project along a limited number of guiding questions that help to rapidly assess potential societal benefits and impacts of new nanotechnology-based applications already during the proposal or research and development phase. Unlike commonly used product assessment approaches the Nanometer focuses on those topics that are dominating the societal discussion on nanotechnologies (NT), including health and environment, customer and societal benefits, product stewardship, or transparency. The topics assessed are critical to consumer and public acceptance – in a positive as well as in a negative sense.

Throughout the assessment the term “nanostructured materials” (or shorter “nanomaterials”) is used as umbrella term to capture all (engineered) nanostructures, particles, compounds etc.

By raising awareness among researchers, marketers, and other relevant business divisions the Nanometer helps to reduce the risk of NT-based products becoming a market failure due to critical but neglected societal aspects. For a more detailed list of benefits click here.
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New report on nanotechnology in European consumer products

In nano on October 25, 2006 at 11:39 pm

(Nanowerk News) This report provides an overview of nanotechnological improved consumer products on the market. In addition a comprehensive list of effects and innovations is evaluating what is really “nano” in todays nanotechnology products.
More and more consumer products are branded with the buzzword “nano” or nanotechnology. Are we witnessing the onset of an emerging technology or is it just a sophisticated advertisement strategy? If the is technology is true, what is the added value to certain products and does the consumer really benefit?
In general the products claiming to contain nanotechnology do indeed exploit nanoscale effects, primarily interface effects but also a few quantum effects. Interestingly, the products that proudly use the “nano” brand are only a small percentage of the number of consumer products that actually contain nanotechnologies, for instance in the microelectronics, cosmetics, pharmaceutical and food industries.
The report focuses on consumer products emerging in various commercial sectors which claim to have nanotechnological products on the European market.
Source: Nanoforum
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A revolutionary low-cost technique that uses sunshine to provide safe drinking water

In Uncategorized on October 25, 2006 at 11:35 pm

(Nanowerk News) A £1.9m EU-backed partnership project aims to demonstrate that solar disinfection (SODIS) of drinking water is an effective way of preventing water-borne diseases – especially important in developing countries, where safe drinking water is often a precious rarity.
The University of Ulster is a leading partner in the research, and University’s Photocatalysis Research Group, headed by Dr Tony Byrne, will be responsible for developing SODIS enhancement technologies.
More than one billion people lack access to safe drinking water. SODIS is a low-tech, safe and affordable method to improve water quality. It involves placing contaminated water into transparent bottles, which are then placed in direct sunshine for 6 hours. SODIS is approved by the World Health Organisation and recently proved to be effective in the aftermath of the tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia in 2004.
Dr Byrne, who is Principal Investigator at the University of Ulster, said: “Simply exposing contaminated water to sunlight is an effective method for reducing the incidence of many water-borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery or polio. It can be used in places where people have no access to safe drinking water. Furthermore, our research has shown that the solar disinfection process can be greatly enhanced using photocatalytic materials, with no major additional cost.”
The multi-disciplinary team will investigate the health benefits of using solar disinfected drinking water in developing countries; the factors that influence communities to adopt or reject SODIS; whether the basic SODIS technique can be improved using simple technologies; whether any major water-borne diseases are not susceptible to SODIS.
Dr Patrick Dunlop, Research Fellow on the project, said: “This exciting project gives us the opportunity to use nanotechnology in a very practical way that could help save lives in the developing world.”
Source: University of Ulster
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SUICIDE RISK WITH COSMETIC SURGERY

In Health on October 25, 2006 at 2:18 am

Ethical storm clouds hover over cosmetic surgery at the best of times. Is it consistent with a doctor’s ethic of healing to turn his skills into a consumer product? Is it right to use surgery to treat psychological problems? But the latest news on this front is even more disturbing. It suggests that one outcome of cosmetic surgery is not just changing your appearance, but ending your life. According to a special report in New Scientist, women with breast implants are two to three times as likely to kill themselves as those who have not. And this could be an underestimate, as these women also have a higher risk of road accidents, and some of these could be suicides.

What’s going on? The first explanation is that nothing is. Dr James Wells, of Long Beach, California, told the magazine that most of the women who committed suicide all had their implants decades ago. “It’s a very different world now,” he says. “The implants are better, how we assess the patients is better, and implant failure rate is lower.” However, epidemiologists are not convinced. A remote possibility is that leaks from the implants trigger changes in brain chemistry. Another is that women with breast implants are more likely to be substance abusers.

But the most plausible explanation is that the women who seek cosmetic surgery come with personality traits or psychiatric disorders which their doctors fail to detect. Indeed, a Danish study found that 8% of women with breast implants had earlier been in a psychiatric hospital. As well, an estimated 6% to 15% of patients who seek cosmetic surgery are believed to have a condition called body dysmorphic disorder, more commonly known as “imagined ugly syndrome”. These people are obsessive about non-existent flaws in their personal appearance. They are 45 times as likely to commit suicide as normal people — more than twice as much as people with major depression.

Dr Sabine Wilhelm, of Harvard Medical School, urges cosmetic surgeons to screen their patients for “psychological appropriateness”. “Focus on their suffering and seek help from a psychologist,” she says. And if they insist? “Cosmetic surgery is an elective procedure. Some surgeons say, ‘If a patient elects to do it, shouldn’t I go ahead?’ My answer is: ‘You as the surgeon can elect not to do it.’” ~ New Scientist, Oct 21
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Nanotech food under discussion in Amsterdam

In nano on October 25, 2006 at 2:00 am

By Ahmed ElAmin

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24/10/2006 – The role of nanotechnology in food processing, monitoring, labelling, storage and distribution is the subject of a two day meeting that kicks off tomorrow in Amsterdam, Holland.

According to organisers of the Nano and Microtechnologies in the Food & Healthfood Industries conference, the application of nanotechnology and nanoparticles in food are emerging rapidly.

Some analysts predict that nanotechnology will be incorporated into €16.4bn worth of food products by 2010.

The Amsterdam meeting is one of a growing number of such scientific conferences worldwide, sparked by the food sector’s interest in developing new products that could provide health advantages to consumers. Scientists are looking at nanotechnology applications covering all areas of the food chain, from agricultural applications to food processing and enhancing bioavailability of nutrients.

However enthusiasm over the rate of progress and the possibilities is being tempered by concerns over possible downsides of the science of the miniscule, stated the Institute of Nanotechnology.

The conference will highlight many of the applications of nanotechnologies to the food and beverage industries in Europe.

Such applications include a broad spectrum of products from pesticides, cosmetics, medical application to packaging materials, processing technologies and novel or functional foods

Other topics being explored at the meeting are nanotechnology applications in nutrition and health foods, for rapid safety testing, and for the prevention of food borne disease.

Participants will also discuss the safety and regulatory issues related to nanotechnology, along with public awareness and understanding of the role of nanotechnology in foods.

Among the presentations Kees Eijkel of the Nano4Vitality consortium will discuss the need to increase the speed and efficiency of the commercialisation process.

“Nanotechnology introduces new chances for innovation in the food and health industries at great speed, but these chances face a long and intensive path towards full commercialisation,” he says in a synopsis of his presentation. “There is a lot of emphasis on fundamental and basic research at this time.”

Malcolm Povey, a professor of food physics at the University of Leeds will discuss techniques for the characterisation of foods using nanotechnology.

Foods are generally complex, heterogeneous systems, often containing high concentrations of naturally occurring nano-particles such as proteins.

“Production and characterisation of nano-particles in foods has hitherto been called ‘food colloid science’, so there is a wealth of experience in this area upon which nano-technology may draw upon,” he argues. “Ultrasound spectroscopy offers the best prospect for the characterisation of concentrated systems of nano-particles.”

He will also examine naturally occurring nanoparticles such as the self-assembling protein casein. He will compare ultrasound spectroscopy, dynamic and static light scattering techniques according to their relative merits for the detection and characterisation of nanoparticles in food.

Qasim Chaudhry, Defra of the Central Science Laboratory in the UK will look at the use of nanomaterials in food and food contact materials and the regulatory and consumer safety implications.

“The rapid proliferation of nanotechnology in recent years has led to an ever-increasing application of nano-scale materials in a vast array of industrial and consumer products,” he stated. “This includes a range of foods and drinks, food supplements, and food contact materials. However, such widespread use of nanomaterials, that are largely untested in terms of effects on human health and the environment, has also led to a number of uncertainties and concerns.”

Anna Tudos of Biochip Group at the Universiteit Twente in the Netherlands will look at how regularly occurring food scares and several food scandals might have been prevented through the use of food analysis techniques such as surface plasmon resonance (SPR).

“Food analysis can be carried out as a quality assurance measure early in the processing chain as well as later to ensure food safety,” she argues.

SPR has been gaining terrain in the area of food analysis recently. In here presentation Tudos will look at approaches and examples on microfabricated devices in combination with SPR for label-free determination of multiple components in complex matrices.

Frans Kampers, the director BioNT will look at how micro- and nanotechnology will lead to sensors and diagnostic instruments with improved sensitivity and selectivity. Such devices will allow managers to monitor food processes and assure food quality.

“These new instruments will enable much faster measurements in or near production lines by non-expert personnel,” he stated. “But micro- and nanotechnology will also result in new concepts for food production processes.”

Such examples include microsieves for separation and fractionation which can also improve emulsification processes and can result in new products like low-fat mayonnaise.

“Control of matter at the nanoscale will enable fine tuning of specific food characteristics like texture to the demands of specific target groups,” he stated. “The use of drug delivery concepts for nutrient delivery will improve the nutritional quality of food products. Nanotechnology can be used to improve packaging materials. Combined with printable electronics and low cost sensors information about the product and its quality will become readily available to consumers.”

Kjeld van Bommel of Biomade Technology Foundation will look at supramolecular gels as :novel materials for the formulation and delivery of nutraceuticals.

He will discuss Biomade’s expertise in low molecular weight gelators (LMWGs). These are small organic molecules that are capable of forming gels in aqueous media, in food oils, or in emulsions.

“Such gels of LMWGs are an attractive complement or even alternative for the polymer gels such as gelatin currently used in food and nutraceutical applications, as they possess properties generally not attainable by polymer gels,” he stated.

Mark Mansour will discuss the the emerging global regulatory framework for nanotechnology. Robert Donofrio of NSF International will discuss rapid safety testing techniques for of foods’ nanomaterials.

“Though nanotechnology brings many potential benefits to food production, such as increased shelf life and pathogen resistance, its development must be guided by appropriate safety assessments and regulation to minimise risk,” he argues. “Currently, there is no framework in place to assess the toxicity of nanomaterials. This is a concern in both the US and Europe. Additionally, it will be essential to have validated, rapid tests in place to evaluate the potential toxicity of new nanomaterials.”

Two new emerging technologies he will highlight for the toxicological assessment of nanomaterials in food applications are high content screening (HCS) and what is called the “zebrafish model”. The HCS technique evaluates the biological effects of chemical substances in in vitro cell based assays using the ArrayScan HCS Reader from Cellomics.

The Zebrafish (Danio rerio) has been a prominent model vertebrate in a variety of biological disciplines. It can provide valuable developmental toxicity information. Coupled with high content screening, it could provide valuable insight into the potential toxicity of nanomaterials, he stated.

Vasco Teixeira of GRF-Functional Coatings Group at the University of Minho in Portugal will look at advanced nanotechnology thin film techniques.

In the field of nanotechnology-based thin films and coatings, new approaches using nanoscale effects can be used to design, create or model nanocoating systems with significantly optimised or enhanced properties of high interest to the food, health and biomedical industry, he stated.

“In this field of new packaging technologies, nanostructured architectures coatings such as nanocomposite films are given the unique role of enhancing food impact over the consumer’s health,” he stated. “For example, the unique properties of diamond like carbon (DLC) film, including its chemical inertness and impermeability, make it possible for new applications in food, beverage and medical market segments.”

Cees Van Rijn of Aquamarijn Micro Filtration will present nano and micro-engineering techniques for microfiltration and nanosensing applications. His topic includes the micro filtration of beverages using microsieves.

With microengineering techniques it is possible to manufacture very precise microsieves. The pores, which are well defined by photolithographic methods allow accurate separation of particles by size. The membrane thickness is usually smaller than the pore size resulting in operational process fluxes that are one to two decades higher than obtained with convential filtration methods.

He will also examine the future of nanowire sensing along the food chain. Nanowire sensing techniques look at the rapid detection of relevant biomolecules using a nanowire with a diameter comparable to the size of an individual biomolecule. The technique offers a direct, real-time detection of captured biomolecules without the usage of a fluorescent, magnetic or otherwise labeled molecule or particle.

Hans Bouwmeester of RIKILT-Institute of Food Safety at Wageningen University will cover the expected impact of nanotechnologies on industrial production.

Lynn Frewer from Wageningen University will examine consumer perspectives on food and nanotechnology.

“Nanotechnology can be used to develop new products and processes that can improve the quality of life of consumers through improved health, better sensory enjoyment of food, and reduced risk associated with food consumption — for example, reduced microbial contamination, or improved traceability of allergenic ingredients,” he stated. “However, as has already been demonstrated by the example of genetically modified foods, successful implementation and commercialisation of new technologies technology is contingent on societal acceptance of the technology overall, as consumer responses to specific applications.”

Neville Craddock of Neville Craddock Associates will present current and potential regulation of nanotechnologies in the food industry. His paper will provide a practitioner’s view of the law currently in place.

Tim Wooster of Food Science Australia will discuss the use of nanoemulsions for the beverage sector. Nanoemulsions have recently received a lot of attention from the food industry because of their high clarity, he stated.

“This may enable the addition of nanoemulsified bioactives and flavors to a beverage without a change in product appearance,” he stated. “The formation of food nanoemulsions is particularly challenging because of limitations on the type of surfactants that can be used. Approaches that have been used include microemulsion and nanoemulsion formats.”

Zahra Akbari of the department of chemical engineering at Amirkabir University of Technology will look at the potential of nanotechnology for the food packaging industry.

His presentation gathers a number of significant results where nanotechnology was satisfactorily applied to improve packaged food quality and safety by increasing the barrier properties.

“Nanotechnology will become one of the most powerful forces for innovation in the food packaging,” he stated.

One such innovation is polymer nanocomposite technology which holds the key to future advances in flexible packaging.

Companies such as Heinz, Nestlé, Unilever and Kraft are all examining the potential of nanotechnology for packaging, food safety and nutritional products.

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Spain To Bring On Stream Europe’s Largest Thermosolar Station

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2006 at 11:30 pm

by Emmanuel Angleys
Seville (AFP) Oct 22, 2006
Spain, championing the drive towards renewable energy, is set to launch production of solar energy from what will be Europe’s largest thermo-electric plant. The thermo-electric solar plant at Sanlucar La Mayor, near the southern city of Seville, appears the perfect place to boost the drive to wean Spain off its dependence on oil, as the sun beats down almost incessantly on the southern Andalusia region.
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Biofuel Cells From Bacterial Membrane Protein

In Uncategorized on October 23, 2006 at 11:20 pm

Biofuel Cells From Bacterial Membrane Protein
October 18, 2006

In an article published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, scientist report of purified protein extracted from Shewanella oneidensis which may be used in designing miniature bioreactor cells. These proteins –outer membrane c-type cytochrome A, or OmcA –formed a dense coating on the iron-rich mineral hematite and using a combination of techniques that included FCS, or fluorescent correlation spectroscopy, and confocal microscopy, demonstrate whether hematite was available to bind with OmcA in solution, and transfer electric charge from the protein to the mineral.

According to the reserachers, these preliminary findings suggest that these protein have the potential to be used in developing small biofuel cells.
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Interdisciplinary Grant To Yale: Creating Nanodevices For Delivery Of Vaccines

In Health on October 22, 2006 at 11:39 pm

22 Oct 2006

A team of Yale biomedical engineers and cell biologists received a $1-million award from the National Science Foundation to develop “smart nanoparticles” for the delivery of vaccines.

Led by
Tarek Fahmy
, assistant professor of
biomedical engineering
, the team will apply the two-year, Nanoscale Interdisciplinary Research Team (NIRT) funding to develop a new class of nanomaterials with properties that mimic biological vectors like bacteria and viruses.

“While previous research has shown that safe, biocompatible materials can be engineered into nanoparticles that contain drugs or vaccines, we will develop new materials for vectors that interact specifically and predictably with cells,” said Fahmy. “Our nanosystems will be designed to evade the normal barriers and stimulate antigen-presenting cells of the immune system.”

The researchers propose to construct the “smart nanoparticle” vaccine delivery system using a simple, modular approach that can be easily modified to meet the requirements of any particular vaccine. They expect this approach to be safer and more effective than current methods of co-administering an adjuvant or delivering live attenuated or killed bacteria or viruses to amplify the immune response.

“We will specifically target antigen-presenting cells such as the dendritic cells that are uniquely responsible for initiating immune responses,” said
Ira Mellman
, chair and Sterling Professor of
Cell Biology
. “Targeting antigens to dendritic cells is emerging as a powerful novel strategy for vaccination.”

The researchers will also track the fate and biological activity of the “smart nanoparticles” in cultured dendritic cells (DCs), to optimize the fate of the internalized nanoparticles and the release of the encapsulated antigen.

Their approach promises flexibility for integrating different DC surface proteins, enabling optimal DC population targeting and priming, delivery of a wide variety of antigens of clinical importance, and assembly of different combinations of recognition and antigen modules for a broad-spectrum potent vaccine response.

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Co-investigators on the grant are
Michael Caplan
, professor of physiology and cell biology and
Mark Saltzman
, professor and chair of biomedical engineering at Yale.

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