June 30, 2006

Update on Nanosys- working on applying hybrid nano to NAND flash

Nanosys has announced that it has developed proprietary nanostructures to address high density NAND flash memory opportunities in areas such as consumer electronics, portable storage, and personal communications. The company, which has more than 450 patents and patent applications on nanotechnology, did not disclose the nature of its nanostructures but said that Micron Technology Inc. (Boise, Idaho) has joined the collaboration. Intel and Micron have set up a joint venture company, IM Flash Technologies Inc., to manufacture NAND flash memory for the two companies. Nanosys said its nanotechnology-enabled memory technology is designed to be compatible with current manufacturing processes and equipment, while allowing for higher storage densities, lower cost per bit, and improved reliability.

Chromophore based circuitry 3 times faster and works at 10 nanometers

The future of high-speed electronics might very well be defined by linking together small, "electrically jumpy" molecules called chromophores. Electrical charges can zip along chains of linked chromophores faster than any electrical charge yet observed in organic semiconductors, beating the previous benchmark in this regard by a factor of three. Chromophore-based circuitry that could create nano-sized electronic components that can do anything that organic semiconductors currently do, only much faster.

Their work also shows for the first time that molecular conductive elements can be produced on a 10-nanometer length scale, providing an important functional element for nanoscale circuitry.

Electromechanic nanoscale imaging in liquids advance

The team achieved 3-nanometer resolution by controlling the conductivity of the solution. The work paves the way to nanoscale piezo-response force microscopy of biomolecular systems. Recent advances in electromechanical imaging in liquid environments by researchers at the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory are paving the way to new analytical tools for the biological research community.

The work for the first time demonstrates that piezo-response-force imaging is possible in aqueous and other liquid environments, a key step in developing this technique for applications in soft condensed matter and biological systems. Aqueous environments, required for living cells, were believed to be incompatible with electromechanical imaging because the electrically conductive liquid interferes with tip biasing and surface vibration detection and dampens the probe's cantilever. The ORNL team overcame the problem by using high-frequency biases to probe the sample surface, which reduces both the damping effect and interference of liquid conductance.

Using Gene therapy to rev up t-cells and stem cells against cancer

Gene therapy helps fight cancer by boosting the immune system. Ongoing and planned human tests take a promising approach to fighting cancer by boosting the immune system. Cancer cells hide in plain sight. The healthy immune system is precisely tuned to kill diseased cells, but it often falters when it comes to cancer cells. Researchers have tried many ways of bolstering the immune system’s response to cancer -- with limited success. But two new gene therapy approaches show promise.

One, now in human testing, uses gene therapy to help the immune system better recognize specific kinds of cancer cells. Another, already used to eradicate tumors in mice, uses gene therapy to alter stem cells, which in turn make immune cells that combat the specific cancer -- a treatment that would last a lifetime.

Baltimore and Rosenberg are both using gene therapy to mobilize T cells against cancer. First, they remove T cells from a patient who has recovered from, for example, a melanoma tumor. From these cells, they clone a gene whose protein product, a T cell receptor, has a strong affinity for a melanoma antigen. Then they construct a virus that can deliver this gene to other T cells.

Baltimore’s lab research has gone beyond T cells to the immune cells’ precursor, stem cells. Throughout life, stem cells in the bone marrow replenish blood cells, including those involved in the immune system like T cells. Because stem cells are continuously replenishing the immune system, giving them a gene that combats cancer would mean “a life-long supply of tumor-specific T cells,” says Baltimore. Using the stem cell technique in mice with existing tumors (while providing mice with supplements of another type of immune cell) leads mice to completely destroy their tumors, says Lili Yang, a research in Baltimore’s lab.

Baltimore won the Nobel prize in medicine in 1975 for his work on the kind of viruses used in gene therapy, and is now working on developing stem cell-targeted viruses.

June 29, 2006

Comparing nuclear power to coal for carbon dioxide

300,000 tonnes of CO2 would be emitted by the mining, milling, conversion, enrichment, and fuel fabrication of the uranium necessary to produce 1000 megawatts/year of electricity. A 1000 megawatt coal plant would generate 8.2 million tonnes of CO2, or 27 times more CO2 than the nuclear option.

Researchers find molecular 'brake' to cell death

Researchers find molecular break to cell death Researchers at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center have significantly refined the scientific understanding of how a cell begins the process of self-destruction - an advance they say may help in the design of more targeted cancer therapies.

In the June 30 issue of the journal Cell, the research team found that a natural "brake" exists in a cell to prevent it from undergoing apoptosis, or programmed cell death, and they say that optimal anti-cancer therapies should take a two-pronged approach to overriding this brake in order to force a tumor cell to die. Very few drugs do this now, they say.

cytochrome c (CC) from a cell's mitochondria, the organelle's energy storehouse. These molecules then bind to another protein called Apaf-1 in the cell cytoplasm, and together they form a scaffolding "death wheel" to activate enzymes called caspases that shred a cell apart.

But what they also believed is that a cell needs extra energy from ATP to undergo apoptosis, and that this extra energy was produced from the "pools" of free nucleotides that exist in the cell cytoplasm. Nucleotides are the primary structural chemical units that make up DNA, RNA and proteins, and they combine to play a variety of roles in the cell, such as formation of ATP.

However, through a series of biological and biochemical experiments, Tang and his research team found that adding ATP to a cancer cell could potentially impede apoptosis. They discovered that these nucleotide pools, in fact, act not to promote apoptosis through production of ATP, but to hinder it. They are "pro-survival factors" that prevent CC, when released from the mitochondria, from "seeing" Apaf-1 in the cytoplasm, Tang says.

"When we induced some cell stress and damage, the low levels of CC that came out from the mitochondria were ineffective because they are sequestered by an ocean of free nucleotides and ATP," he says. "No one had ever realized this kind of barrier existed to impede apoptosis."

More nanoscale sensors, newest sensors are for pH

Using unique nanoparticles that convert laser light into useful information, Rice University scientists have created the world's first nano-sized pH meter. Tiny, high-resolution sensors could probe living cells, tissues.

pH may be useful in determining whether or not some cancer tumors are malignant. With current methods, a piece of the tumor would need to be physically removed via biopsy – a painful and invasive procedure – and visually evaluated under a microscope. Halas said LANP's new nano-pH meter could be used instead as an "optical biopsy" to measure the pH inside the tumor with nothing more invasive than an injection.

Halas's LANP team created the pH sensor using nanoshells, optically tuned nanoparticles invented by Halas. Each nanoshell contains a tiny core of non-conducting silica that's covered by a thin shell of metal, usually gold. Many times smaller than living cells, nanoshells can be produced with great precision and the metal shells can be tuned to absorb or scatter specific wavelengths of light.

To form the pH sensor, Halas' team coated the nanoshells with pH-sensitive molecules called paramercaptobenzoic acid, or pMBA. When placed in solutions of varying acidity and illuminated, the nanoshell-molecule device provides small but easily detectable changes in the properties of the scattered light that, when "decoded," can be used to determine the pH of the nanodevice's local environment to remarkably high accuracy. Inspired by techniques normally applied to image recognition, the team formulated an efficient statistical learning procedure to produce the device output, achieving an average accuracy of 0.1 pH units

other: Negotiations in Iraq

As Adam Schiff of Law and Order would say Make the Deal.

11 groups offer what look like terms that are in the doable range to stop fighting. Long negotiations are ahead but I think the US should cut some deals.

Cut deals with these various groups, use their help to kill those who still want to fight, set up some stronger regionalism so that Kurds, Sunni and Shias can stay out of each others way.
Transition so that things calm down enough so that the US can buy off the UN to put in peacekeepers. I figure $20-40b per year should do it for 20,000 blue helmets.

btw: My political view is one of pragmatism and real politics. Look at the actual balance of power in a situation and the goals that you want. Achieve your short and long term goals at the lowest cost.

Nanoscale tech: Nanorods for solar power

BP and Caltech are starting a 5 year research program to use Nanorods for solar power. The Nanorods will be small cylinders of silicon. A solar cell based on an array of nanorods will be able to absorb light along the length of the rods by collecting the electricity generated by sunlight more efficiently than a conventional solar cell, according to claims made by BP and Caltech.

The program will investigate using nanorods and nanowires tocreate designer solar cell materials in order to change the conventional paradigm for solar cell materials.

It will also investigate approaches to create silicon-based single junction and compound semiconductor multi-junction nanorod solar cells by using vapor deposition synthesis methods.

Nanorods are being investigated by others as ways to create superlens using metamaterial effects.

June 28, 2006

More on Metamaterials and Superlens over 5 times better than ordinary lenses

Superlens focus is 5 to 10 (1/20th of wavelength) times better than the diffraction limit (half of wavelength). For light that is 350 nanometers it could focus to 17 nanometers. Applications: far faster computers, communications, microscopes, telescopes, DVDs etc... The goal is a perfect lens. Metamaterials make this and invisibility possible.

Powerpoint tutorial, by G Shvets of the Univeristy of Texas at Austin, on meta-materials and applying superlenses to laser plasma accelerators The powerpoint discusses plans to use superlenses to focus down to 1/20th of a wavelength. Half of wavelength is the diffraction limit for a conventional lens. Lenses that are 10 times better are planned and lenses 5 times better have been achieved.

Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin and at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland have created a functional superlens in the mid-infrared, achieving a resolution of better than λ/10 using an 11-µm source. According to the group’s calculations, a square array of nanorods, perhaps fabricated of anodized aluminum, may demonstrate superlensing at near-IR and visible wavelengths.

The scientists are investigating the use of a square array of metallic nanorods spaced approximately 100 nm apart. This will produce a metamaterial with a negative refractive index and numerical calculations show that such a structure will exhibit superlensing.

Here is some of work with gold nanorods which show the negative index effect. However, the nanorods are too large and too much light is absorbed.

Applications are any technology where sub-wavelengths would provide performance benefits. Various optical related electronics can get smaller. It could be used for photo-nanolithography. (nanolithography is discussed here at wikipedia and photolithography is discussed at wikipedia. Combining them with photo-nanolithography means cheaper ways to make more powerful computer chips) Photo-nanolithography would make it possible to etch smaller electronic devices and circuits, resulting in more powerful computers, as well as new types of antennas, computer components and consumer electronics such as cell phones that use light instead of electricity for carrying signals and processing information, resulting in faster communications.

Previously discussed possibilities include invisibility, supertelescopes, supermicroscopes and many more.

Related article:
Soft x-rays have been focused to 15 nanometers and 6 nanometers is possible

Metamaterials background and potential applications

This study develops a general recipe for the design of media that create perfect invisibility within the accuracy of geometrical optics. The method developed here can also be applied to escape detection by other electromagnetic waves or sound.

Controlling electromagnetic fields with metamaterials

other tech: ultrasound can treat internal bleeding

Ultrasound can be used to treat internal bleeding in wounded soldiers without surgery

The device would first use ultrasound imaging technology, in particular "Doppler ultrasound", to locate internal bleeding. This employs a physical phenomenon known as the Doppler effect to look for a characteristic signature of bleeding vessels.

It would then deliver a focused beam of high-powered ultrasound to those sites in order to cauterise the damaged vessels.

The Deep Bleeder Acoustic Coagulation (DBAC) programme is sponsored by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa).

Darpa envisages the device as a "cuff" containing an array of ultrasound transducers, different elements of which will detect bleeding and deliver focused, high-powered energy to the wound. This cuff would be flexible enough to be wrapped around the treatment area.

Related Articles:
Ultrasound can help regrow teeth

other tech: Silicon photonics advance

Silicon photonics breakthrough from UCLA Engineering researchers report that not only can optical amplification in silicon be achieved with zero power consumption, but power can now be generated in the process. The team's research shows that silicon Raman amplifiers possess nonlinear photovoltaic properties, a phenomenon related to power generation in solar cells. In 2004, the same group at UCLA Engineering demonstrated the first silicon laser, a device that took advantage of Raman amplification.

What does this mean? More ways to make faster cheaper computers with faster communication.

Better semiconductor manufacturing processes

Better and more energy efficient semiconductor chip manufacturing processes are now possible. (news release at physics web) The Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, University College London, has used nanotechnology techniques to successfully induce the oxidation of silicon at room temperatures using light from ultraviolet (UV) excimer lamps, instead of high-temperature, energy-hungry furnaces. The discovery also opens up new possibilities for using light instead of heat to fabricate advanced electronic devices, as well as creating the opportunity to realise completely new materials with unique properties.

UPDATE: More information from the bbc news

The ultraviolet light causes oxygen molecules to break apart

Thanks to nanotech-now for finding this article.

Related articles:
Discussion of diamond semiconductors and logjam of innovation

nanotubes: Super-Strong Fibers for Bullet-Proof Vests

Researchers at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) have developed a new technology that can greatly enhance the ballistic-proof strength of ultra high molecular weight polyethylene (UHMWPE) fiber by adding carbon nanotubes to pristine high-strength fiber. Applications include bullet-proof vests, extra-durable nautical rope and could be useful for space tethers and other space and aeronautical applications. Maybe it gets us closer to a space elevator.
Thanks to nanotech-now for finding this article

The technology we have developed can effectively align nanotubes along the length of polymer fibers so the tensile strength of nanocomposite fiber becomes up to eight times stronger than steel. The article discusses tensile strength improvement. The best tensile strength steel is about 1.65Gpa. Eight times that is 13.2Gpa. The technical paper needs to be seen to know the exact strength that is possible.

regenerative medicine: Ultrasound may help regrow teeth

This is great news. It seems to require that the patient have some of the root of the tooth left, which would then be stimulated to regrow. If someone had no teeth at all and the roots had been removed, then they would need to have even more intervention. Something like stem cells directed to create sufficient root, which would then be implanted and stimulated.

Ultrasound can help regrow human teeth Using low-intensity pulsed ultrasound (LIPUS), Dr. Tarak El-Bialy from the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry and Dr. Jie Chen and Dr. Ying Tsui from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Alberta, have created a miniaturized system-on-a-chip that offers a non-invasive and novel way to stimulate jaw growth and dental tissue healing.

The wireless design of the ultrasound transducer means the miniscule device will be able to fit comfortably inside a patient's mouth while packed in biocompatible materials. The unit will be easily mounted on an orthodontic or "braces" bracket or even a plastic removable crown. The team also designed an energy sensor that will ensure the LIPUS power is reaching the target area of the teeth roots within the bone. TEC Edmonton, the U of A's exclusive tech transfer service provider, filed the first patent recently in the U.S. Currently, the research team is finishing the system-on-a-chip and hopes to complete the miniaturized device by next year.

"If the root is broken, it can now be fixed," said El-Bialy. "And because we can regrow the teeth root, a patient could have his own tooth rather than foreign objects in his mouth."

The device is aimed at those experiencing dental root resorption, a common effect of mechanical or chemical injury to dental tissue caused by diseases and endocrine disturbances. Mechanical injury from wearing orthodontic braces causes progressive root resorption, limiting the duration that braces can be worn. This new device will work to counteract the destructive resorptive process while allowing for the continued wearing of corrective braces. With approximately five million people in North America presently wearing orthodontic braces, the market size for the device would be 1.4 million users.

Related articles:
Human regeneration work

Survey of regenerative medicine

other: New York times indicates serious consideration for tech solutions for global warming

Serious consideration is being given to technological solutions to global warming as insurance policies in case we approach an environmental crisis This is from the NY Times.

Related articles:
Some recently funded space studies. One of which is : Roger Angel investigates the feasability of a 2000 kilometer solar shield at L1 to counter global warming (if global warming problems become serious enough to justify it this megascale intervention)

Wikipedia on global cooling

Wikipedia on global warming

Wikipedia on the global warming controversy

June 27, 2006

Some excellent energy technology related websites

the energy blog
Energy Balance site
Energy balance also has another article on thorium for nuclear energy. A comment discusses how U-233 makes poor nuclear weapons
A discussion of solar energy
Positive energy blog
Thorium energy blog

Tau Zero Foundation working towards Interstellar flight

Here is the announcement of the launching of the Tau Zero foundation. They are working towards interstellar flight. Conceived by Marc Millis, former head of NASA’s Breakthrough Propulsion Physics program, the foundation aims to support a carefully chosen group of researchers whose work is directed at this goal.

Older charter for the new group, Tau Zero Foundation.

Improved space colony design, Kalpana One

Kalpana One, by Al Globus, Ankur Bajoria, and Nitin Arora, is intended to be the first, and smallest, of a family of space colonies.

The Kalpana One structure is a cylinder with a radius of 250m and a length of 550m and is designed to house 5000 people. The size is determined by the limited rotation rate humans are assumed to tolerate, 2rpm. The rotation rate drives the radius to achieve 1g pseudo-gravity, and the radius drives the length due to angular moment of inertia requirements. For later, larger colonies in the Kalpana family, the rotation rate may be reduced, increasing the radius and the allowable length.

Kalpana One solves some of the problems found in earlier designs: excessive shielding mass, large appendages, lack of natural sunlight, rotational instability, lack of wobble control, and some catastrophic failure modes. Much is left to be done before a practical space colony can be fully designed and built.

Building new worlds become the greatest generation

Al Globus has a vision and plan to use $4 billion in government prizes and programs to catalize a larger space colonization effort. I think it is a good plan and hope that it can get implemented.

Even better is if we used it and other plans like it to start taking up the challenge to become the greatest generation. Tom Brokaw wrote about the World War II generation as the greatest generation for rising up to stop Hitler from conquering the world. This generation could become the greatest generation ever by building new worlds and conquering space. From Mars, the moon and space colonies in asteroids we could tap in resources and living space that is hundreds of times what is available on earth. Again Al Globus quantifies the benefits and scale of what needs to be done

If we had the will we would mount a D-Day scale invasion of space. The current space effort, as noble as it has been, was to send a handful of people out with car batteries and camping generators. This is not enough. We need to send out thousands with gigawatt powerplants and equipment to build industries. It should be about a historically large and grand vision, that will invigorate america and civilized nations. It will give a powerful reason for children to engage in math and science.

The time and the technology is ripe for launching bold plans. We can use synthetic biology and genetic engineering to adapt plants with extremophile genes to survive in Mars and space colonies. We can make the deserts of Mars and space bloom. New technologies for space construction and systems have been planned and are being developed. We have to carry the work forward and use it.

Besides the logical reasons related to survival that have been presented by others including Stephen Hawking, a bold plan for space colonization is a bold plan for the future. It will be in stark contrast to the minor enemies of civilization who call for a return to the 1200's.

The demonstration of powerful will to make this happen and rapidly push forward in science and technology will put to rest the soft westerner/american myth. It will be a historic change in direction from the lost period (historically) of 1970-200?.

Iraq war II and the whole terrorism thing is historically small beans. Who remembers any of the dozens of barbarian invasions against Rome or specific skirmishes fought by Alexander the Great?

Embarking on a bold effort to colonize space does not mean that we do not fix the problems at home. Successful civilizations of the past that expanded had to effectively manage what they already had and what they were adding. Developing problems needed to be foreseen, understood in detail, avoided and managed. The great civilizations at their peaks lasted for hundreds and even thousands of years with sustainable management of their environment and efficient management of their public works. Smart plans with effective implementation is vital for greatness. However, no matter how good the plans are achieving greatness will require perservering through many challenges and setbacks. It will also require strong leadership and the involvement of the people.

Unlike the past expansions, by expanding into space, we do not need to take away from other peoples.

It was the spreading of civilization that we have used to measure the greatness of the past. It is how we should measure greatness for now and for the future.

Massive space colonization, the building of worlds is a goal worthy for a great generation.

Here is the start of what Al Globus presents:
Imagine a space program based on a vision of settlement, rather than exploration. A vision of billions of people living in hundreds of thousands of orbital colonies serenely orbiting Earth, the planets and our Sun. The current vision is about putting small numbers of people very far away entirely at government expense. Space settlement is about putting very large numbers of people in space primarily at their own expense, and making sure it’s nice enough that they stay and raise the kids. While the current exploration vision is expected to cost about $100 billion up to the first visit to the Moon, the settlement vision is many orders of
magnitude more expensive, making government funding impossible. But government can play crucial role. Specifically, perhaps we could use something close to the current NASA budget to stimulate much larger private investments. In this vision, government funds are devoted to prizes, test facilities and technology development, along with NASA’s traditional science and aeronautic activities. Operations are left to the
private sector.

Related articles:
Space colonization at wikipedia
Lifeboat Foundation
Alliance to Rescue Civilization
Artemis Project
National Space Society
John Hickman argues that only government can afford the high initial investment for very large space development projects.
Sylvia Engdahl discusses the "critical stage" where a level of technology allows both space colonization and human extinction.
(Projects to Employ Resources of the Moon and Asteroids Near Earth in the Near Term) is a guide to websites about asteroid mining and space settlement.
Freeman Dyson predicts that space colonization will only be affordable after a hundred years; and that biotechnology, not propulsion, will be the enabling factor
Academics and other leaders explain that we should colonize space to improve our chance of survival. Authors include Stephen Hawking and Carl Sagan.

My article on space colonization now and the the number of trips during the initial colonization of pre-colonial america

Project Orion: Using existing capabilites (nuclear bombs) for constructive purpose. A technology for the bold.
There is thorium and uranium on the moon.
We could create breeder reactors on the moon. They could power massive construction and mining to create millions of acres of solar panels. We could build the supplies (more nukes) for the follow on Orion flights to Mars and the asteroids.

Alternatively for the first part getting from earth to the moon. We could use new NIAC (Nasa Institute for Advanced Concept ideas) and some other alternatives.

Magnetically inflated structures
magbeams, plasma magnets
Magnetic launcher
Arrays of lasers for launch

We should be willing to take reasonable risks in the grand endeavor of building new worlds. People do not consider how many die and the costs from using old technology and old ways.

Coal usage directly irradiates everyone.

Releases in 1982 from worldwide combustion of 2800 million tons of
coal totaled 3640 tons of uranium (containing 51,700 pounds of
uranium-235) and 8960 tons of thorium. For 1982 the total release of
radioactivity from 154 typical coal plants in the United States was,
therefore, 2,630,230 millicuries.

Hundreds of lives lost every year in mining accidents.

Lives and damage from the fossil fuel economy. Wars.

Our current crippled approach to space costs direct lives too.

439 people have flown in space. 5% have died. Plus over 200 have died on the ground.

other tech: City wide surveillance blimp

Darpa, along with the Air Force Research Lab, just handed Lockheed Martin the latest in a $42.5 million series of contracts to develop components the uber-blimp (target date is 2011

ISIS will have a phased-array antenna that is nearly as large as the airship itself.
Since radar performance depends on the power-aperture product, the extremely large antenna aperture size allows us to significantly reduce the transmit power. This greatly simplifies the onboard power and cooling systems allowing us to replace the conventional, heavy, high power antenna with a larger but lighter low power-density antenna.

The system faces several technology challenges.
1) weight is a critical problem. The lightest space-based X-band active radar antennas weigh approximately twenty kilograms per square meter. Even if next generation space-based technology weighs in at only three kilograms per square meter, it will still be too heavy to realize the full ISIS potential. ISIS is exploiting several inherent advantages the airship platform provides. Unlike a space-based antenna, the ISIS antenna does not need to be stiffened to survive launch or stowed to fit in a small cargo bay and then deployed. Nor does it require radiation shielding. In fact, a stratospheric airship environment should enable the use lightest antenna technology ever developed. (2 kgs per square meter or less)

2) Electrical calibration of the antenna to compensate for the inevitable flexing and distortion of the huge aperture is needed. The phased-array will consist of millions of elements. The position of each element must be known to within a millimeter.

3) Beamformer complexity is a problem. The huge antenna will be constantly reconfiguring itself (in milliseconds) to adapt to changing battlefield conditions.

4) The level of integration complexity is a problem. A single ISIS system will be both sensor and airship.

5) Once the antenna weight, size, and integration challenges are solved, ISIS must contend with the fifth challenge, annual wind storms. These can last for several days and exceed 80 knots in some locations. This will challenge the airship’s ability to stay on station. The propulsion power scales as the cube of the wind velocity, so we must find a way to store large amounts of energy in reserve for use during peak winds. They will need technologies with ten times the specific energy density of today’s lightest batteries.

Related articles:
Revolutionary military surveillance

Bladerunner like TV blimp

Blimp based telescopes

nanoscale tech: Boosting solar cell efficiency by making silicon black

Silicon surfaces rendered black by pits and bumps only nanometers or billionths of a meter large could in the future help make solar power cells 15-20 percent more efficient. Koynov and his colleagues instead developed a simple and fast technique that creates these textures using wet chemical processes. Their method works regardless of the crystalline structure of the silicon, its thickness, or what extra chemical additives it possesses.

Scientists want to minimize reflection as much as possible when it comes to solar power cells made of silicon, because the more light they reflect, the less they convert to electricity. Often, anti-reflective coatings are used, which reduce the amount of average reflection in the wavelengths of light solar power cells use by 85 percent to 92 percent. The novel treatment developed by researchers at the Technical University of Munich can cut the surface reflection silicon experiences by 95 percent to 98 percent across the wavelengths of light solar power cells use, making them black.

1) Deposit grains of gold only nanometers large onto a flat silicon surface.
2) Next the silicon between the areas covered by the clusters is etched away with a solution of hydrogen peroxide and hydrofluoric acid. The gold nanoparticles exhibit catalytic action drilling into the surface.
3)The areas covered by the gold form 50-to-100-nanometer-high pits on the surface while the silicon between the gold makes up the bumps.
4)The nanoparticles are then removed with a solution of iodine and potassium iodide.

Gold could react badly with semiconductors, so other metals have also been analyzed with some success.

Related solar articles:
Daystar reaches milestones in efficiency

Prior article on competing solar firm, nanosolar

Solar energy survey and prior info on Daystar

the Energy blog's summary of a solar industry forecast Solar Production will reach at least 10 GW/yr by 2010 (530% growth versus 2005).

Nanoscale capsules could help enable hydrogen economy

SiGNa Chemistry has nanoscale capsules that stabilize extremely dangerous compounds (alkali compounds) normally prone to igniting or exploding. They can also be used to generate hydrogen gas at a superior rate than the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) 2015 goals for hydrogen production. The DOE 2015 goal for hydrogen production is a material that can generate 8 weight percent hydrogen. The company was featured in the 2006 Fast Company magazine 50 companies and was named the Forbes/Wolfe Nanotech Report "Company to Watch".

ie. put in 100 grams of a material and eight grams of hydrogen back

This material currently can get up to 9 weight percent hydrogen. It has the potential of achieving 13 or 14 weight percent hydrogen which is nearly double the DoE 2015 goal.

The capsules also promise to simplify pharmaceutical synthesis. The drug industry traditionally tried controlling alkali metal reactivity by dispersing it in liquid ammonia, which requires cryogenic temperatures as well as dealing with environmental and safety hazards and regulations.

June 26, 2006

other: Iraq solution discussions

Foreign Affairs magazine has essays discussing international mediation, regional collaboration, decentralization, or constitutional negotiations as possible solutions for the Iraq situation

RNAi can get into cells and have a lasting effect

RNAi can change genetically based behaviors like sex drive. (from technology review) The study used a method that overcomes two key problems of delivering RNAi directly: the difficulty of getting RNA into cells and its transitory effect. The researchers used an altered virus, which can easily infect cells but does not cause a dangerous immune response, to deliver DNA sequences from the ER-alpha gene to cells. When the gene is turned into RNA, the molecule folds in half and the two complementary sides zip together, joined by a tiny hairpin loop that's snipped by proteins in the cell, creating a short double-stranded RNA. When delivered by virus, the small hairpin RNA, or shRNA, is produced indefinitely in cells. The treatment must be delivered surgically in order to reach a precise location.

Related articles:
RNAi therapy controls genes

Too much RNAi in cells would be toxic

Artificial General Intelligence and the Singularity

Here is good essay on Artificial General Intelligence and the Singularity essay. Thanks to Michael Anissimov of accelerating Future for pointing it out.

other: Risks of space shuttle versus soldier in Iraq

The odds of the crew of the space shuttle dying next month are unfortunately quite high 1 in 100

The odds of a US soldier dying during a one year tour in Iraq is currently about 1 in 200

other tech: Stealth radar: Traffic cops could check speed without triggering radar detector

Ohio State University engineers have invented a radar system that is virtually undetectable, because its signal resembles random noise. Like traditional radar, the "noise" radar detects objects by bouncing a radio signal off them and detecting the rebound. The hardware isn't expensive, either; altogether, the components cost less than $100.

The radar can be tuned to penetrate solid walls -- just like the waves that transmit radio and TV signals -- so the military could spot enemy soldiers inside a building without the radar signal being detected, Walton said. Traffic police could measure vehicle speed without setting off drivers' radar detectors. Autonomous vehicles could tell whether a bush conceals a more dangerous obstacle, like a tree stump or a gulley.

The radar is inherently able to distinguish between many types of targets because of its ultra-wide-band characteristics.

With further development, the radar might image tumors, blood clots, and foreign objects in the body. It could even measure bone density. As with all forms of medical imaging, studies would first have to determine the radar's effect on the body.

June 25, 2006

Membrane protein 'factory' may lead to new drug treatments

Mastering proteins is a pathway to molecular nanotechnology. This is an advance towards understanding and mastering non-water soluable proteins.

PROTEIN FACTORY – Argonne biologists developed a membrane protein production "factory" using photosynthetic Rhodobacter, which can be engineered to express and incorporate the proteins into the cell's cytoplasmic membrane, shown in white. Membrane proteins are difficult to study in traditional ways. Since they make up 60 percent of all drug targets, researchers are working to overcome the challenges.

Biologists at Argonne have engineered and patented a bacterial factory that enables the study of membrane proteins. These proteins are challenging to study, but critical to understand because they represent 60 percent of drug targets. Studies of membrane proteins could lead to new and improved pharmaceutical treatments for a broad range of illnesses such as depression, heart disease, addictions and cystic fibrosis.

Membrane proteins perform essential processes in the cell, such as controlling the flow of information and materials between cells and mediating activities like nerve impulses and hormone action. These proteins are located in the rugged, oily two-layered membrane that holds the cell together. One-third of the genome of any organism encodes membrane proteins.

Laible and Hanson took advantage of the natural characteristics of the Rhodobacter species of photosynthetic bacteria they were working with in another project. Under certain conditions in response to light or oxygen Rhodobacter naturally produces large quantities of internal membranes.

The biologists developed a system that successfully expresses hundreds of copies of a chosen membrane protein in Rhodobacter while simultaneously synthesizing the internal membranes they want to live in.

So far the team has cloned about 500 genes into Rhodobacter. "First," Laible said, "we produced a variety of membrane proteins of different sizes, functions and physical properties, and we have had a 60 percent success rate with them. Now we have cloned all of the membrane proteins of E. coli and are continuing production."

As they continue to manufacture different membrane proteins, the team is tackling the next step to creating a pathway to protein crystallization for membrane proteins by developing specialized molecules, or reagents.

Aberration correction enables 3-D Imaging Akin to Confocal Optical Technique

Aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy offers users the ability to perform 3-D imaging similar to confocal microscopy, a group at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee has reported. The technique can probe sample volumes that are 500 million times smaller than those interrogated using the optical technique, and further improvements in resolution are expected with the release of fifth-order aberration correctors in 2007.

Stephen J. Pennycook, leader of Oak Ridge’s electron microscopy group, said that confocal microscopy revolutionized the biological sciences by enabling depth sections to be reconstructed into 3-D images of cells and other biological structures. Unless techniques such as near-field imaging or multiphoton excitation are employed, however, its resolution is limited to approximately 150 nm laterally and 400 nm in depth. In contrast, third-order aberration-corrected scanning transmission electron microscopy offers a lateral resolution of less than 0.1 nm and a depth resolution on the order of 6 nm.

Pennycook said that the next-generation, fifth-order correctors are expected to be available next year. The lab will acquire models from Nion and from Corrected Electron Optical Systems GmbH of Heidelberg, Germany, for use on new microscopes from Nion and from FEI Co. of Hillsboro, Ore. The systems could im-prove the lateral resolution by a factor of two and depth resolution by a factor of four.

Soft x-rays focused to 15nanometers, 6 nanometer resolution possible

To achieve high resolution depends on the ability to squeeze the zones close together, with a placement accuracy no less than one-third the width of the zones themselves. Accurate placement of 15-nanometer-wide zones allows no more than 5‑nanometer leeway. In fact the Nanowriter is capable of placement accuracy to within 2 nanometers, allowing for even greater improvements in resolution in the future.

Unfortunately, no matter how accurately it is aimed, even a tight beam of electrons spreads out when it hits the resist. Electron scattering, combined with inherent limits in the resolution of the resist itself, makes it impossible at this time to maintain high contrast and optical separation between features. Previously the best separation between zones the Nanowriter could achieve to make the XM-1's current objective lens was 25 nanometers.

To overcome this limit, the CXRO researchers decided to overlay and combine two different zone-plate patterns. Opaque zones are typically given even numbers, so in this scheme the first pattern contains zones 2, 6, 10, 14, and so on, and the second contains zones 4, 8, 12, 16, and so on. The first pattern is carved into the resist-coated wafer; then the zones formed by the electron patterning are filled with gold. The wafer is coated with resist again to make the second pattern.

When combined, the critical outer zones of the combined patterns were less than 15 nanometers apart, accurately placed to within less than 2 nanometers.

Metamaterials background, superlens, super optical microscopes and other new capabilities

Metamaterials are artificially created substances that scientists essentially tune to respond to electromagnetic waves in ways that natural substances do not. The atoms and molecules of the actual materials with what look like micro- or nano-circuits. They look like little loops and wires. The architecture of the material creates new properties that its parent material doesn't have.

Xiang Zhang created a superlens and he is working to create improved versions that will revolutionize optical microscopes (going to 6 times smaller than optical wavelengths or less). With current optical microscopes, scientists can only make out relatively large structures within a cell, such as its nucleus and mitochondria. With a superlens, optical microscopes could one day reveal the movements of individual proteins traveling along the microtubules that make up a cell’s skeleton, the researchers said.

Scanning electron and atomic force microscopes are now used to capture detail down to a few nanometers. However, such microscopes create images by scanning objects point by point, which means they are typically limited to non-living samples, and image capture times can take up to several minutes.

"Optical microscopes can capture an entire frame with a single snapshot in a fraction of a second," said Fang, who is now an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "That opens up nanoscale imaging to living materials, which can help biologists better understand cell structure and function in real time, and ultimately help in the development of new drugs to treat human diseases."

The key to the superlens is its ability to significantly enhance and recover the evanescent waves that carry information at very small scales. This enables imaging well below the diffraction limit."

Notably, no lens is yet able to completely reconstitute all the evanescent waves emitted by an object, so the goal of a 100-percent perfect image is still out there. However, (a paper looking at limitations of superlens) many scientists believe that a true perfect lens is not possible because there will always be some energy absorption loss as the waves pass through any known material.

More on the recent discussions about using metamaterials to create invisibility or cloaking.

Understanding metamaterials involves understanding the new physics of optics, electromagnetics and materials that it reveals

Some other technology that is likely to result from mastery of metamaterials. DVDs that hold more than 10 times the data of even the next-gen Blu-ray and HD-DVD discs. Ultrasound with super-fine resolution capable of detecting disease in unborn babies. A microscope powerful enough to see inside human cells. Extending optical lithography for semiconductors. Faster fiber optic communication. In the long run, this line of research could lead to even higher resolution imaging for distant objects. This includes more detailed views of other planets as well as of human movement through surveillance satellites.

David Smiths a prolific scientist involved in metamaterials

The July 2006 scientific American, has an article by David Smith that discusses the history of metamaterials and the new physics that has resulted from understanding metamaterials

Negative Index refraction homepage An introduction to negative index refraction.

Other: buffet gives $37 billion to Gates charity

Warren Buffet gave 80% of his wealth to charity. This is largest donation to charity ever

other tech: more on solar energy

Daystar has reached some new milestones Recent results from tests conducted in DayStar's laboratory have shown solar cells produced from its Gen I line achieved 16.9 percent total area conversion efficiencies on (1.1 cm2) glass substrates and 15.7 percent on flexible metal substrates. Similar size TerraFoil(TM) cells made on their commercial-scale Gen II platform have achieved 13 percent efficiencies. The most significant achievement was the demonstration of a 13.5 percent efficiency from a larger area device (14 cm2) produced using processes being developed for their high-capacity Gen III(TM) production platform.

DayStar’s TerraFoil(TM) is a combination of Copper Indium Gallium diSelenide (CIGS) technology solar cells placed on flexible 1-5 mil stainless steel foil.

They plan reach 20 MW of production by the end of 2007.
They want to get to capacity at their New York manufacturing facility with 100 MW of production capacity. Their goal is to establish a profitable manufacturing platform by 2008, expandable to Gigawatt (GW) scale.

Panels are rated under sunlight of 1000 W/m^2. A kilowatt panel thus is one square meter divided by the efficiency of the solar panel (typically 0.13). Thus a square meter panel is typically rated at 130 Watts 'peak' power.

100 MW would be the 'peak' power output of all the solar panels produced by the factory for a year. Given a capacity factor of 0.2 those solar panels would produce roughly 175,000 MWh of power in a year.

An average typical home in the USA uses 10,000 kwh per year. An electric economy style car in typical use (about 50 miles of driving per day) would use around 4000 kwh per year.

Related articles:
Prior article on competing solar firm, nanosolar

Solar energy survey and prior info on Daystar

the Energy blog's summary of a solar industry forecast A couple of the items, Solar Production will reach at least 10 GW/yr by 2010 (530% growth versus 2005). In the middle of the supply chain, Evergreen, Motech, Q-Cells, REC, Sharp, SolarWorld, SunPower and Suntech appear likely to achieve explosive growth.

Other tech: Almost zero emission combustor

Georgia Tech researchers have created a new combustor (combustion chamber where fuel is burned to power an engine or gas turbine) designed to burn fuel in a wide range of devices with next to no emission of nitrogen oxide (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO), two of the primary causes of air pollution. The device has a simpler design than existing state-of-the-art combustors and could be manufactured and maintained at a much lower cost, making it more affordable in everything from jet engines and power plants to home water heaters. It is called a Stagnation Point Reverse Flow Combustor.

(Left) A traditional combustor mixes fuel and air before they are injected into the combustion chamber. (Right) Tech's combustor injects the fuel and air separately into the combustor.

Complexity economics and wealth

Economics is in the midst of a revolution – its biggest in over a century. There are new insights into the workings of the economy. “Complexity Economics,” as Beinhocker of McKinsey calls the new paradigm, views the economy as a highly dynamic, constantly evolving system, more akin to the brain, the Internet, or an ecosystem than to the static, equilibrium picture presented by traditional theory.

One of his main points is that wealth is the result of evolution. If this is correct, then the job of strategists, policy makers and managers is to make countries and companies and people better able to adapt to those evolutionary forces.

Some insights that complexity economics has for the economy follow
* Historically, the right has viewed government as the problem and the left has viewed it as the solution—from an evolutionary perspective, neither is correct.
* Governments play a vital role in enabling economic evolution, and therefore wealth creation, to occur—weak government institutions can stop economic evolution in its tracks, as seen in many developing countries.
* Governments provide a framework for economic evolution to operate in, and can also play a legitimate role in shaping the “fitness function” of the evolutionary environment toward social ends—for example in environmental policy—but should avoid selecting winners and losers in the competition between business designs.

* Evolutionary theorists have a saying that “evolution is cleverer than you are”—rather than trying to out-guess and out-predict economic evolution, business leaders should seek to harness evolution’s power to innovate.
* Managers should abandon strategic planning processes that rely on predicting the future and instead “create portfolios of strategic experiments” that are robust against a range of possible outcomes.
* Creating such portfolios requires companies to develop processes for encouraging strategic variety within their businesses, using market feedback to select promising experiments, and then rapidly channeling resources to scale up experiments that succeed.

* In constantly changing markets, competitive advantage is short-lived and most companies have a difficult time refreshing their sources of advantage —research shows that just five percent of companies are able to sustain superior performance for ten years or more.
* Significant barriers exist within firms that prevent the evolutionary processes of variation, selection, and amplification from working as well inside companies as they do outside in the marketplace—this means that companies are less adaptive than the markets they compete in.
* Managers need to change company structures, processes, and in particular culture, to break these barriers down and get the wheels of evolution spinning inside their companies as effectively as they spin in the marketplace.