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Nanotech R&D act becomes law

December 4, 2003

President Bush signed into law the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act on Wed. Dec. 3, with a $3.7 billion appropriation.

The bill authorizes the President to create a permanent National Nanotechnology Research Program (NNPR) to replace the expiring National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI). The new NNRP, according to the bill, is a “coordinated inter-agency program that will support long-term nanoscale research and development leading to potential breakthroughs in… read more

Biochip puts it all together

December 4, 2003

Researchers from Arizona State University have fabricated a lab-on-a-chip that can detect and analyze microorganisms and chemicals and is very cheap to produce.

The chip could eventually be used in portable devices that do genetic analysis, environmental testing, and biological warfare agent detection in the field.

What sets the chip apart from other prototype biochips is that it carries out all the work needed to prepare a sample… read more

Software paraphrases sentences

December 4, 2003

Researchers at Cornell University have combined on-line journalism and computational biology to make it possible to automatically paraphrase whole sentences. The method could eventually allow computers to more easily process natural language, produce paraphrases that could be used in machine translation, and help people who have trouble reading certain types of sentences.

The researchers’ system uses word-based clustering methods to identify sets of text that have a high degree… read more

Exploding black holes rain down on Earth

December 4, 2003

High-energy cosmic-ray particles from space may create black holes when they collide with molecules in the Earth’s atmosphere, say physicists.

These black holes would be invisibly small (only 10 micrograms or so) and would be so unstable that they would explode in a burst of particles within around a billion-billion-billionth of a second.

If such tiny black holes exist, it would unveil hidden dimensions in our universe and… read more

Materials research courts biotechnology

December 3, 2003

Biomaterials presentations are peppering the weeklong series of research reports at the annual Materials Research Society meeting held in Boston. Since MRS is involved in virtually every area of modern industry and technology, its shift in emphasis from inorganic to organic and biological processes may suggest a trend for society as a whole.

Key developments:

  • MEMS will play a large role in implantable therapeutic devices as sensors
  • read more

    Materials could make for super LEDs, solar cells, computer chips

    December 3, 2003

    Engineers at Ohio State University have created special hybrid materials that are virtually defect-free — an important first step for making ultra-efficient electronics in the future.

    They grow thin films of “III-V” semiconductors, which absorb and emit light much more efficiently than silicon, so these materials could bridge the gap between traditional silicon computer chips and light-related technologies, such as lasers, displays, and fiber optics.

    The engineers have… read more

    DNA-sorted carbon nanotubes allow for nanoelectronics building blocks

    December 3, 2003

    DuPont, MIT and University of Illinois scientists have discovered an innovative way to advance electronics applications through the use of DNA that sorts carbon nanotubes.

    Carbon nanotubes possess excellent electrical properties that make them potential building blocks in a broad range of nanotechnology-related electronic applications, including highly sensitive medical diagnostic devices and transistors more than 100 times tinier than those found in today’s microchips. When they are fabricated, however,… read more

    Reclaim Your Brain

    December 2, 2003

    More information has been produced and stored in the past five years than at any time in human history with e-mails, text messages, mobile phone calls, TV, and websites. This massive explosion in information has arguably empowered millions, transforming them from passive consumers of culture into active participants in a 24 hour global debate. But others claim that when the fog of new data has cleared, we will be left… read more

    Intel scientists find wall for Moore’s Law

    December 2, 2003

    Moore’s Law is coming to an end, according to a recent research paper authored by Intel researchers. It theorizes that chipmakers will hit a wall at the 5-nanometer transistor gate length for chips made on a 16-nanometer technology process.

    When the gate length gets below 5 nanometers, tunneling will begin to occur. Electrons will simply pass through the channel on their own, because the source and the drain will… read more

    Drexler vs. Smalley on molecular assembly

    December 1, 2003

    Rice University Professor Richard Smalley has responded to a longstanding challenge by Dr. Eric Drexler to defend a controversial direction of U.S. nanotechnology policy that excludes molecular assembly. Their four-part exchange, sponsored by the American Chemical Society, is this week’s Chemical & Engineering News cover story.

    The controversy centers on “a fundamental question that will dramatically affect the future development of this field,” says Deputy Editor-in-Chief Rudy… read more

    When Cash Is Only Skin Deep

    December 1, 2003

    Applied Digital Solutions has announced plans to develop a service that would allow consumers to pay for merchandise using microchips implanted under their skin. Micro-chipped customers would scan themselves using special readers.

    Comin’ In on a Wheel and a Prayer

    December 1, 2003

    Snowmobile-maker Bombardier envisions a futuristic personal transport vehicle called Embrio. It would use gyroscope, electronic and fuel-cell technologies to whiz around in traffic on one wheel.

    U.S. considers turning scooters into war robots

    December 1, 2003

    The Pentagon is drafting the Segway Human Transporter as part of a plan to develop battlefield robots that think on their own and communicate with troops.

    Researchers say potential applications for the robots include performing search missions on the battlefield, transporting injured soldiers to safety, or following humans around while hauling their gear.

    CRN analyzes Drexler-Smalley debate

    December 1, 2003

    The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology (CRN) has published an analysis of the exchange between Eric Drexler and Richard Smalley in the December 1 Chemical & Engineering News.

    “We have carefully examined the arguments presented by each side,” says Chris Phoenix, Director of Research at CRN. “We conclude that Smalley failed to show why MNT cannot work as Drexler asserts.”

    “Failure to anticipate the development… read more

    Blood could generate body repair kit

    December 1, 2003

    A small company in London, UK, says it can turn white blood cells into cells capable of regenerating damaged or diseased tissues. This could transform the treatment of everything from heart disease to Parkinson’s.

    Its “miracle” hinges on an antibody that binds to a receptor on the cell surface and allegedly triggers “retrodifferentiation.”

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