September 14, 2007

TEAM Project Achieves 0.05 nanometer Microscopy Breakthrough

0.5 Angstrom (0.05 nanometer) resolution achieved with new microscope.
This follows the price breakthroughs with AFMs, teraflop supercomputers (Nvidia), CAD CAM interface ease of use for AFMs, 10,000 times faster AFMs with heated tips and various nanopatterning and structuring methods (1 nm-100nm ranges).

Landmark performance was achieved using both TEM (transmission electron microscope) and STEM (scanning transmission electron microscope) imaging -- two methods used by researchers to directly view the basic building blocks of all matter.

The microscope and the higher resolution methods that it uses could be an enabling capability for diamondoid mechanosynthesis.

One-half Angstrom is one one-billionth of five centimeters. To put that in perspective, the DNA helix is approximately 20 Angstroms in diameter, a carbon atom is around two Angstroms. The width of an average strand of human hair ranges from 500,000 to one million Angstroms.

The unprecedented performance recorded in these two imaging modes has been achieved on a single instrument developed by FEI Company -- using Titan(TM) S/TEM technology -- equipped with two CEOS-designed spherical aberration correctors, dramatically improving the microscope's imaging and other abilities. The special TEAM microscope is the result of a series of new technology breakthroughs, providing for higher stability than previously possible and incorporating the newly designed aberration correctors. TEM images obtained show an information transfer down to 0.5 Angstrom. In STEM mode, frequencies better than 0.5 Angstrom were recorded.

This microscope will be delivered to the Berkeley National Laboratory in 2008 and will be fully operational in 2010. It will cost several million dollars for each one. The unit is the size of a large refridgerator.

Hat tip to Roland Piquepaille

September 13, 2007

Outline of how to win the Google Lunar robot prize

Some people have said that the Google Lunar Xprize cannot be won

UPDATE: My idea for the low energy orbital transfer would be sufficient to get a very small robot to the moon using Dnepr (for the google lunar prize). However, the ITN transfer is only 18% more efficient than a Holmann. To save most of the fuel we would need electric propulsion or an ion engine powered tug to move things from low earth orbit to the ITN transfer point. My expanded idea is to use a lot of efficient transfer from LEO to the lunar surface for a lunar space program. This would need the ion or electric propulsion tug from LEO to lunar orbit.

I think winning the prize is doable. Note: the people (Spaceshipone) and teams who tried to win the last xprize collectively spent more than the prize amount. The winners alone spent 2.5 times the prize the amount.

$10 million to get to orbit with a Dnepr rocket. The rules do not say that you have to make your own rocket.

550 kg (with ST-1) to Trans Lunar Injection. Not sure how much the ST-1 stage costs. Probably better to just take the basic rocket to ISS level or slightly higher orbit with about 3000kg and then try to use low energy maneuvers from there.

Probably would have to use the Interplanetary transport network for lower power movement between the earth and the moon
A low energy transfer was achieved from the earth to the moon using the Japanese satellite Hiten

The Hiten spacecraft that made it from earth orbit to lunar orbit

Description of the three body method to get to the moon with one tenth the fuel or using ion drive propulsion

The basic look of the low energy solution route

There has been a fair bit of theoretical work on the interplanetary low energy gravitional tube system

Hiten weighed about 197kg fully fueled

A slow 5 month maneuver. You are then in lunar orbit. 500-2000kg.

the old lunar LEM, descent module was 10 tons but it was carrying the 5 ton ascent module.

You make a small descent lander. You can make it smaller than Apollo LM modules.
No need to carry ascent module down. No need to carry two astronauts or life support.

Mars Sojourner weighed about 11kg.

You need to make a lineup the Dnepr ride, orbiter stage, plan out the low energy transfer from earth to lunar orbit, descent module and a rover.

There is already a Nasa challenge on the lunar lander. Armidillo seems likely to win that.

the Armidillo lander, which was developed for the 2 million lunar lander challenge

From the xPrize site: The hover times (for the lunar lander challenge) are calculated so that the Level 2 mission closely simulates the power needed to perform the real lunar mission.

So putting this together rocket to orbit, earth orbit to lunar orbit low energy transfer, lunar lander and rover is just a matter of assembling the pieces. My bet is that Armidillo Aerospace can win the Google challenge. The question is why NASA is not sending a constant stream of larger robot vehicles to the moon now using low energy transfers. There should also be ion drive tugs going between the earth and the moon and back again.

Google's blog discusses the reasons for Google's sponsorship of the prize

Key part of space based solar: 40% efficient method for converting sunlight to laser

The project works by storing sunlight-based energy in plate made from a sintered powder of metals like chromium and neodymium.
When weak laser light is shined onto the plate, the stored energy is transferred to the laser where its strength is amplified by a factor of four. In one test, a 0.5-watt laser was amplified to 180-watts by the plates. Scientists have thus far been able to garner 42-percent of the solar energy produced, and they hope to have a system ready for satellite mounting by the not-too-distant year 2030.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Osaka University’s Institute of Laser Engineering unveiled a new method for converting sunlight into laser beams—a superconducting metallic plate that amplifies light 30 percent more efficiently than previously possible, then shoots back the intensified energy to power stations on Earth.

There is more information at Pink Tentacle

Artist represenation

Status of electron spin quantum dot quantum computers

In the four years of research on electron spins in quantum dots, all of the essential ingredients for a quantum computer have been realized.
The next steps are clear. First, we need to integrate all of the basic functions into a single system. Then we need to expand the system from two quantum dots to a large array of dots.

And we need to find better ways of overcoming the environment’s effects on the fragile spin states—the most fundamental challenge we researchers face now. One possibility is to construct the quantum-computing chip out of materials that have no nuclear spin, such as isotopically pure silicon‑28 or carbon-12. Eventually we’ll need to reduce the number of errors to at most one in every 10 000 elementary operations. At that point, we could use a technique called quantum error correction to guarantee reliable calculations.

Research paper abstract: Spins in few-electron quantum dots

51 page pdf of the above paper

The Delft spin qubit research home page

Center for Responsible Nanotechnology conference notes

Online notes for the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology conference Notes of my presentation is the second last section of this article.

There is more conference coverage from Simone Syed

Laser based Quantum computers can run Shor's Algorithm

Two groups have made laser based Quantum computers able to run Shor's algorithm, which would let them break financial encryption. It would take about two qubits per bit of encryption. 1024 bit encryption would need 2048 qubits to break.

There are algorithms for encryption which would be resistant to Shor's algorithm on quantum computers. So we would still be able to encrypt financial transactions.

Past article on quantum computers and Shor's algorithm

My past quantum computer summary

Google's lunar robot rover X-prize of $30 million

Cnet reports Google has funded a lunar rover robot X-prize of $30 million

2007 State of the Future report

The 9 page executive summary from the 2007 State of the Future report

The most interesting thing to me is on page 7. A summary of the work on future education possibilities, which basically gets into intelligence augmentation and AGI.

The possibilities were:
• National programs for improving collective intelligence
• Just-in-time knowledge and learning
Individualized education
• Use of simulations
• Continuous evaluation of individual learning processes designed to prevent people from growing unstable or becoming mentally ill
• Improved individual nutrition
Genetically increased intelligence
• Use of global on-line simulations as a primary social science research tool
• Use of public communications to reinforce pursuit of knowledge
• Portable artificial intelligence devices
Complete mapping of human synapses to discover how learning occurs and thereby develop strategies for improvement of learning
Means for keeping adult brains healthier for longer periods
Chemistry for brain enhancement
• Web 17.0
• Integrated life-long learning systems
• Programs aimed at eliminating prejudice and hate
• E-Teaching
Smarter than human computers• Artificial microbes enhancing intelligence

There estimates of the likelihood of each of those possibilities

I view it as particially a ranking of likelihood as what is considered more acceptable and mundane to the mainstream. I think they all are quite certain based on my view of accelerating technology. The degree of usage will be determined by effectiveness and not on technical feasibility.

New Inkjet printer with dots with 100 times better resolution

A new type of inkjet printer has been developed that can precisely print dots of various materials just 250 nanometers in diameter, while regular inkjet printers have 25 micron dots. The inkjet printer could make it possible to rapidly synthesize complex nanoscale structures out of various materials.

This is part of a wave of new methods that are cheaper and have higher throughput than past approaches. (cheaper and easier to use AFMs, Thermochemical nanolithography, nanopantography, DIY AFM parts)

"The goal is to do manufacturing," says John Rogers, a professor of engineering at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign. The new printers can use a broad range of materials for manufacturing novel devices, from plastic electronics and flexible displays to photovoltaic cells and new biomedical sensors, says Rogers.

The researchers have demonstrated that the new inkjets can print very precise patterns of electrically conducting polymers and carbon nanotubes; they have also shown that DNA can be printed without damaging it. "It's hard to do this with traditional silicon fabrication techniques," says Rogers.

Nano printing: This image shows a picture of a flower printed using a novel electrohydrodynamic inkjet printer. Each dot is just eight micrometers in diameter and made up of single-walled carbon nanotubes. Credit: University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign

Rogers and his colleagues use a different approach, called electrohydrodynamic inkjet (or e-jet) printing. "We pull the fluids rather than push them," he says.

This involves using electric fields to create the droplets and relies upon there being a certain amount of electrically charged particles, or ions, within the fluid. Capillary forces pull the fluid from its reservoir to form a semispherical droplet hanging from its rim, like a drop of water on a faucet.

By using electrodes to create an electric field between the nozzle tip and the substrate upon which one wants to print the material, it is possible to make the droplet conical, says Rogers. "Ions accumulate at the surface of the fluid, at the apex of the cone," he says. This concentration of ions allows the tip of the cone to break away and form a droplet that's just a fraction of the volume of the cone.

Using this approach, Rogers and his colleagues have shown that they can print lines of a material 700 nanometers wide or individual dots just 250 nanometers in diameter.

In addition to the size of the droplets, the spatial accuracy is also improved, says Rogers. He and his team discovered quite serendipitously that the field used to create the droplet also helps guide the charged droplet toward the target substrate.

Regular printers can eject droplets on the order of between 10,000 and 100,000 times a second. Rogers's e-jets, on the other hand, operate at around 1,000 times a second. One solution is to use arrays of inkjet heads.

DNA-Based Technique For better control of Assembly of Nano- and Micro-sized Particles

The method was tested separately on the nano- and micro-sized particles, and was equally successful in providing greater control than using only complementary DNA in assembling both types of particles into large or small groupings.

The method, based on designed DNA shells that coat a particle's surface, can be used to manipulate the structure - and therefore the properties and potential uses - of numerous materials that may be of interest to industry. For example, such fine-tuning of materials at the molecular level promises applications in efficient energy conversion, cell-targeted systems for drug delivery, and bio-molecular sensing for environmental monitoring and medical applications.

"Our method is unique because we attached two types of DNA with different functions to particles' surfaces," said Gang, who leads the research team. "The first type - complementary single strands of DNA - forms a double helix. The second type is non-complementary, neutral DNA, which provides a repulsive force. In contrast to previous studies in which only complementary DNA strands are attached to the particles, the addition of the repulsive force allows for regulating the size of particle clusters and the speed of their self-assembly with more precision."

"When two non-complementary DNA strands are brought together in a fixed volume that is typically occupied by one DNA strand, they compete for space," said Maye. "Thus, the DNA acts as a molecular spring, and this results in the repulsive force among particles, which we can regulate. This force allows us to more easily manipulate particles into different formations."

Russian bomb probably has nanoparticles

A new russian bomb is the largest non-nuclear explosive device and probably uses nanoparticles

The Russian bomb contained about 7 tons of high explosives compared with more than 8 tons of explosives in the U.S. bomb, it was four times more powerful because it uses a new, highly efficient type of explosives developed with the use of nanotechnology. The report did not identify the explosives.

The U.S. bomb is equivalent to 11 tons of TNT, the Russian one is equivalent to 44 tons of regular explosives. The new weapon's blast radius is 300 meters, twice that of the U.S. design, the report said.

Like its U.S. predecessor, first tested in 2003, the "Father of All Bombs" is a so-called thermobaric weapon that explodes in an intense fireball combined with a devastating blast. It explodes in a terrifying, nuclear bomb-like mushroom cloud and wreaks destruction through a massive shockwave created by the airburst and high temperature.

MIT Technology Review had discussed nanometals and nanoenergetics for more powerful explosives

Researchers can greatly increase the power of weapons by adding materials known as superthermites that combine nanometals such as nanoaluminum with metal oxides such as iron oxide, according to Steven Son, a project leader in the Explosives Science and Technology group at Los Alamos.

The Tu-160 has a total bomb payload capability of 40,000kg of bombs. Theoretically, it might carry 5 of the new bombs. 220 tons of TNT equivalent.

Tu-160 strategic bomber

Big cargo planes can lift close to 80 tons. Enough for 11 of the bombs. 484 tons of TNT equivalent.

Speculation:How to get to nuclear bomb power using these bombs and bigger bombers
Wing in ground effect planes could lift a lot more.
The Ekranoplane which was built could lift 100 tons of cargo

The proposed Boeing Pelican would have a cargo capacity of 1400 tons The airframe could also be lightened with nanomaterials like carbon nanotubes (lighter airframe means more cargo capacity). 200+ bombs would be 8800 tons of TNT equivalent.

This would be within spitting distance of the 13,000 ton TNT level of the Hiroshima bomb

The new bomb

The explosion

September 10, 2007

Thermochemical nanolithography is over 10,000 times faster than dip pen nanolithography

Thermochemical nanolithography uses an atomic force microscope (AFM). Researchers heat a silicon tip and run it over a thin polymer film. The heat from the tip induces a chemical reaction at the surface of the film. This reaction changes the film’s chemical reactivity and transforms it from a hydrophobic substance to a hydrophilic one that can stick to other molecules. The technique is extremely fast and can write at speeds faster than millimeters per second. That’s orders of magnitude faster than the widely used dip-pen nanolithography (DPN), which routinely clocks at a speed of 0.0001 millimeters per second.

Using the new technique, researchers were able to pattern with dimensions down to 12 nanometers in width in a variety of environments. Other techniques typically require the addition of other chemicals to be transferred to the surface or the presence of strong electric fields. TCNL doesn’t have these requirements and can be used in humid environments outside a vacuum. By using an array of AFM tips developed by IBM, TCNL also has the potential to be massively scalable, allowing users to independently draw features with thousands of tips at a time rather than just one.

It’s the heated AFM tips that are one key to the new technique. Designed and fabricated by a group led by William King at the University of Illinois, the tips can reach temperatures hotter than 1,000 degrees Celsius. They can also be repeatedly heated and cooled 1 million times per second.

“The heated tip is the world’s smallest controllable heat source,” said King.

TCNL is also tunable. By varying the amount of heat, the speed and the distance of the tip to the polymer, researchers can introduce topographical changes or modulate the range of chemical changes produced in the material.

“By changing the chemistry of the polymer, we’ve shown that we can selectively attach new substances, like metal ions or dyes to the patterned regions of the film in order to greatly increase the technique’s functionality,” said Seth Marder, professor in Tech’s School of Chemistry and Biochemistry and director of the Center for Organic Photonics and Electronics. Marder’s group developed the thermally switchable polymers used in this study.

Nanopantography can scale ion beam nanoconstruction billions of times

Nanopantography uses microlenses placed on a substrate (the surface that is being written upon) to divide a single ion beam into billions of smaller beams, each of which writes a feature on the substrate for nanotech device production.

A beam of ions is then directed at the substrate. When the wafer is tilted, the desired pattern is replicated simultaneously in billions of many closely spaced holes over an area, limited only by the size of the ion beam.

“The nanostructures that you can form out of that focusing can be written simultaneously over the whole wafer in predetermined positions,” Economou said. “Without our technique, nanotech devices can be made with electron-beam writing or with a scanning tunneling microscope. However, the throughput, or fabrication speed, is extremely slow and is not suitable for mass production or for producing nanostructures of any desired shape and material.”

With the right ions and gaseous elements, the nanotech fabrication method can be used to etch a variety of materials and virtually any shape with nanosize dimensions. A standard printing technique that can create lenses measuring 100 nanometers wide could be used to draw features just one nanometer wide if combined with nanopantography.

“We expect nanopantography to become a viable method for rapid, large-scale fabrication,” Donnelly said.

Economou, Donnelly and Ruchhoeft have been working on the technology for four years. UH filed the patent application in December 2006. They hope the technology can become commercially available in five to 10 years and expect it to become a viable method for large-scale production.

Nanopantography: A New Method for Massively Parallel Nanopatterning over Large Areas

Tracking increases in global nuclear power plans

Globally there are more nuclear power plants on order

Date current nuclear Building now Planned Proposed
#plants Power # plants Power # plants Power # plants Power

Aug/07 439 372,002 MWe 34 27,838 81 89,175 223 200,445
Jul/07 438 371,258 32 25,073 74 80,531 214 179,345
May/07 437 370,040 30 22,398 74 81,601 182 151,345
Mar/07 435 368,943 28 22,735 66 70,861 158 124,225
Jan/07 435 368,860 28 22,735 64 68,861 158 124,225

In 2007
+4 + 3,142 MWe +6 +5,103 +17 20,314 +65 +76,220

A 21% increase from February to May/07. 286 reactors versus 219 reactors in the development pipeline. 338 nuclear reactors in the pipeline as of Aug/2007.

Building/Construction = first concrete for reactor poured, or major refurbishment under way (* In Canada, 'construction' figure is 2 laid-up Bruce A reactors);

Planned = Approvals, funding or major commitment in place, or construction well advanced but suspended indefinitely;

Proposed = clear intention or proposal but still without firm commitment