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Archive for the ‘nanotechnology’ category

Oct 13, 2018

A nano stress reliever for sepsis

Posted by in categories: nanotechnology, neuroscience, particle physics

A peroxide scavenger nanoparticle reduces systemic inflammation in mouse models.

With 19 million cases per year worldwide, sepsis is one of the most life-threatening conditions in the intensive care unit. However, to date, there is no specific and effective treatment. Oxidative stress has been shown to play a major role in sepsis pathogenesis by altering the systemic immune response to infections, which, in turn, may lead to multiorgan dysfunction and cognitive impairment. Here, Rajendrakumar et al. developed a nanoparticle-based peroxide scavenger treatment for reducing oxidative stress during sepsis.

To produce the nanoassembly, the authors first developed a water-soluble nanoparticle core containing an active peroxide scavenger and a protein that stabilizes the scavenger and improves its biocompatibility. The nanoparticle core was then coated with a polymer material conjugated with mannose to help the final nanoassembly target inflammatory immune cells through the mannose receptor on the immune cell surfaces. The authors first confirmed in cell cultures that the nanoassembly can selectively reduce hydrogen peroxide–mediated free radical production with minimal toxicity. In cultures, immune cells demonstrated enhanced intracellular uptake of the particles and reduced production of inflammatory markers during activation. To demonstrate the therapeutic efficacy in vivo, the authors carried out three sets of animal studies. In the first set, the nanoassembly was shown to reduce locally induced tissue inflammation and prevent inflammatory immune cell infiltration.

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Oct 9, 2018

Ballistic graphene Josephson junctions enter microwave circuits

Posted by in categories: computing, nanotechnology, quantum physics

Superconducting quantum microwave circuits can function as qubits, the building blocks of a future quantum computer. A critical component of these circuits, the Josephson junction, is typically made using aluminium oxide. Researchers in the Quantum Nanoscience department at the Delft University of Technology have now successfully incorporated a graphene Josephson junction into a superconducting microwave circuit. Their work provides new insight into the interaction of superconductivity and graphene and its possibilities as a material for quantum technologies.

The essential building block of a computer is the quantum bit, or . Unlike regular bits, which can either be one or zero, qubits can be one, zero or a superposition of both these states. This last possibility, that bits can be in a superposition of two states at the same time, allows quantum computers to work in ways not possible with classical computers. The implications are profound: Quantum computers will be able to solve problems that will take a regular computer longer than the age of the universe to solve.

There are many ways to create qubits. One of the tried and tested methods is by using superconducting microwave . These circuits can be engineered in such a way that they behave as harmonic oscillators “If we put a charge on one side, it will go through the inductor and oscillate back and forth,” said Professor Gary Steele. “We make our qubits out of the different states of this charge bouncing back and forth.”

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Oct 8, 2018

Hydrogel nudges stem cells to grow into liver cells

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, nanotechnology

The new nanomaterial-based hydrogel, which gets certain stem cells to grow into liver cells, could help people with a range of liver conditions.

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Oct 6, 2018

New computer model designs a drug delivery strategy to fight cancer

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, computing, nanotechnology

A better understanding of how nanoparticles move from the bloodstream into a tumor could eventually lead to more effective cancer treatment.

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Oct 4, 2018

New Weapon Against Gruesome Venomous Snakebites Is Invisible to the Eye

Posted by in categories: biotech/medical, health, nanotechnology

When it comes to venomous snake bites, time is tissue. Even non-fatal snake bites still rapidly kill skin and muscle in a gruesome process called necrosis, often leaving victims permanently disfigured. In an effort to help reduce the global health burden of these bites, a team of scientists has developed an antivenom cocktail that saves tissue after a snake bite, sparing survivors a lifetime of disability.

In a paper published Thursday in the journal PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, researchers demonstrate that their formula, when injected into mice that had been exposed to venom from a black-necked spitting cobra (Naja nigricollis), protected against any tissue-killing effects. What’s unique about their new treatment is that it’s not made up of any one substance but a mixture of nanoparticles, which can target the individual compounds that make up a snake’s poison.

“If this is achieved, then the progression of this local necrosis would be halted, and then the person can be transported to a health facility to receive the antivenom, but the local tissue damage would have been controlled and the frequency of permanent tissue damage and sequelae would be reduced,” José María Gutiérrez, Ph.D.. a senior professor of microbiology at Instituto Clodomiro Picado (the University of Costa Rica) and one of the paper’s authors, tells Inverse.

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Sep 22, 2018

If We Made Life in a Lab, Would We Understand It Differently?

Posted by in categories: bioengineering, biotech/medical, evolution, nanotechnology

Only time will tell what new forms life will take.


Joyce seeks to understand life by trying to generate simple living systems in the lab. In doing so, he and other synthetic biologists bring new kinds of life into being. Every attempt to synthesize novel life forms points to the fact that there are still more, perhaps infinite, possibilities for how life could be. Synthetic biologists could change the way life evolves, or its capacity to evolve at all. Their work raises new questions about a definition of life based on evolution. How to categorize life that is redesigned, the product of a break in the chain of evolutionary descent?

An origin story for synthetic biology goes like this: in 1997, Drew Endy, one of the founders of synthetic biology and now a professor of bioengineering at Stanford University in California, was trying to create a computational model of the simplest life form he could find: the bacteriophage T7, a virus that infects E coli bacteria. A crystalline head atop spindly legs, it looks like a landing capsule touching down on the Moon as it grabs onto its bacterial host. The bacteriophage is so simple that by some definitions it is not even alive. (Like all viruses, it depends on the molecular machinery of its host cell to replicate.) Bacteriophage T7 has only 56 genes, and Endy thought it might be possible to create a model that accounted for every part of the phage and how those parts worked together: a perfect representation that would predict how the phage would change if any one of its genes were moved or deleted.

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Sep 21, 2018

Scientists Use Light to Control Nanobots

Posted by in category: nanotechnology

Semiconductor nanoparticles under the influence of an electric field are directed by the intensity of light.

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Sep 20, 2018

Quick and not-so-dirty: A rapid nano-filter for clean water

Posted by in categories: innovation, nanotechnology

Australian researchers have designed a rapid nano-filter that can clean dirty water over 100 times faster than current technology.

Simple to make and simple to scale up, the technology harnesses naturally occurring nano-structures that grow on .

The RMIT University and University of New South Wales (UNSW) researchers behind the innovation have shown it can filter both heavy metals and oils from water at extraordinary speed.

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Sep 13, 2018

An ultracompact laser has been made using nanoscale semiconductor columns

Posted by in category: nanotechnology

A tiny laser comprising an array of nanoscale semiconductor cylinders (see image) has been made by an all-A*STAR team. This is the first time that lasing has been achieved in non-metallic nanostructures, and it promises to lead to miniature lasers usable in a wide range of optoelectronic devices.

Microscale lasers are widely used in devices such as CD and DVD players. Now, optical engineers are developing nanoscale lasers—so small that they cannot be seen by the human eye.

A promising method is to use arrays of made from semiconductors with a high refractive index. Such structures act as tiny antennas, resonating at specific wavelengths. However, it has been challenging to use them to construct a cavity—the heart of a laser, where light bounces around while being amplified.

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Sep 13, 2018

A new dimension for batteries

Posted by in categories: energy, nanotechnology, space

Engineers at the University of Maryland have created a thin battery, made of a few million carefully constructed “microbatteries” in a square inch. Each microbattery is shaped like a very tall, round room, providing much surface area – like wall space – on which nano-thin battery layers are assembled. The thin layers together with large surface area produces very high power along with high energy. It is dubbed a “3D battery” because each microbattery has a distinctly 3D shape.

These 3D batteries push conventional planar thin-film solid state batteries into a third dimension. Planar batteries are a single stack of flat layers serving the roles of anode, electrolyte, cathode and current collectors.

But to make the 3D batteries, the researchers drilled narrow holes are formed in silicon, no wider than a strand of spider silk but many times deeper. The were coated on the interior walls of the deep holes. The increased wall surface of the 3D microbatteries provides increased energy, while the thinness of the layers dramatically increases the power that can be delivered. The process is a little more complicated and expensive than its flat counterpart, but leads to more energy and higher power in the same footprint.

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