Sep 17, 2008 | 8
Researchers at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in Mumbai, India, are studying the potential use of carbon nanotubes—hollow carbon fibers—to filter viruses, bacteria, toxic metal ions, and large noxious organic molecules out of water. According to Physorg.com, "the smooth and water repellant interior of carbon nanotubes means that a filter based on this technology would be very efficient, allowing a high flow rate of water through the filter without fouling. Importantly, the power needed to drive water through such a system will be low compared to conventional membrane technology."
As CleanTechnica.com points out, solutions to the problem of contaminated water are desperately needed. But carbon nanotubes are not likely to be that solution, at least not any time soon.
Aug 20, 2008 | 2
As devices shrink to microscopic proportions they need similarly-sized batteries to make them run. Although no such batteries exist today, a team of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers this week reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) a breakthrough in their work to create a microbattery that's small enough (yet powerful enough) to run a range of miniature devices, including labs-on-a-chip and implantable medical sensors.
(From left, professors Yet-Ming Chiang, Angela Belcher and Paula Hammond display a virus-loaded film that can serve as the anode of a battery in 2006. Photo courtesy of Donna Coveney, MIT)
The researchers, who include MIT professors Angela Belcher, Paula Hammond and Yet-Ming Chiang, made and positioned the mini-electrodes required to make such a small battery with help from the M13 virus, which is 6.5 nanometers in diameter and 880 nanometers in length. Belcher was Scientific American's 2006 Research Leader of the Year, and is well-known for her work engineering the M13 to latch onto and coat itself with tiny specks of semiconductor material (such as gold and cobalt dioxide), yielding metal nanowires that could be assembled into high energy-density electrodes.
Aug 4, 2008 | 4
U.K. researchers are developing a coating for bullet casings that sticks to the hands (or gloves) of anyone handling it and is very difficult to remove. The idea is to give each bullet a "fingerprint" that can be traced to a given crime.
Today, cops rely on generic gunpowder, primer and lubricants getting on the shooter's hands and clothing when a bullet is fired. Such techniques can tell when someone has fired a gun, but can't tie a shooter to a specific bullet casing.
The new coating is made from chemicals infused with nano-sized particles 30 microns in diameter (one micron is one millionth of a meter).
Each coating can have a slightly different chemical composition to give it a unique signature that can help establish a link between a fired cartridge and a shooter, according to University of Surrey chemistry professor Paul Sermon, who led a team of colleagues from other universities with more than $743,000 in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the U.K.'s main agency for funding research in engineering and the physical sciences.
Jul 29, 2008 | 1
BASF Corporation, General Electric Company, NanoFilm Ltd. and PPG Industries are the latest chemical companies to provide data to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of an effort to determine whether nano-sized particles they use in products pose health hazards. The concern: whether there's a risk these microscopic particles, measuring up to 100 nanometers in length, can enter the lungs of chemical workers and become lodged in tissue there and in their throats. The EPA launched the Nanoscale Materials Stewardship Program (NMSP) in January and requested that companies provide the agency with info on the composition and volume of the nanoscale materials they manufacture, import, process or use.
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