Nanotech Digest - February 2017

Fingerprints be gone

NBD Nanotechnologies has introduced its Invisiprint coating which prevents fingerprints forming on glass and metal surfaces. The coating works by diffusing the oil in the fingerprint across the surface so that it seems invisible. The company claims the coating combines hydrophobic and oleophilic properties which cause the spreading and thinning of the print. The company says it is focussing on current and future automotive applications.

Nanowires used to detect and monitor cancer

A team from Cedars-Sinai and UCLA are testing a new blood-analysis technique with a stamp sized chip containing silicon nanowires coated with antibodies, or proteins, that recognise blood-borne circulating tumour cells (CTCs). CTCs have been shown to be a biomarker of prostate cancer. The NanoVelcro CTC Chip is a minimally invasive method for following disease progression and treatment effectiveness, say the researchers. The team hopes its findings will contribute to developing effective, targeted cancer treatment.

Nanoparticle coated contrast agent

A collaboration of scientists from MIT and other universities have developed a specially coated iron-oxide nanoparticle that could provide an alternative to current contrast agents used for MRI scans. The iron oxide nanoparticles are coated in Zwitterions, molecules that have areas of both positive and negative electrical charges that make the whole neutral, and which allow the iron oxide particles to be soluble in water, biocompatible and compact. The nanoscale molecules are able to be cleared from the body by the kidneys and the researchers say pose less risk to health than popular contrast agent gadolinium. 

Nanocoated particles can help defrost tissue

A group of scientists from University of Minnesota, Carnegie Mellon Clemson University and Tissue Testing Technologies have made silica-coated iron oxide nanoparticles which when applied to frozen tissue can rapidly and uniformly generate a heat under the influence of a magnetic field. The tissues warmed at a rate 130 degrees Celsius per minute, which is 10 to 100 times faster than current methods, the scientists claim. Neither the pig nor human tissue sample showed signs of harm after the heating and the nanoparticles could simply be washed away when no longer needed. The team are working on scaling up the technology for use in thawing organs. 

Nanotech drug delivery

A University of Liverpool trial utilising nanotechnology to assist drug delivery has returned positive results. The trials focussed on using Solid Drug Nanoparticle (SDN) technology to improve orally dosed drug absorption. Doses were reduced dose by 50% in the trials; the technique can also reduce cost per dose . The drugs used in the trial were efavirenz (EFV) and lopinavir (LPV). EFV is the WHO-recommended preferred regimen for HIV treatment. 

Nano light fibres

NANO-JETS, a European Union funded project, has developed a manufacturing technique called electrostatic spinning (electrospinning) to create light emitting fibres. The technique involves applying electric fields to a nanostructured polymer solution in a syringe to create flexible polymer nano-filaments that can then be embedded in devices.  

LED nanorods 

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Dow Electronic Materials in Marlborough, Massachusetts have developed LED arrays that can both detect and emit light. The LEDs are nanorods made of three materials. One material emits and absorbs the visible spectrum. The other two materials control how charge flows through the first material. This combination allows the materials to emit, sense and respond to light. A display made of these nanorods could be programmed to adjust display brightness on an individual pixel level. It could also be used to sense the proximity of a finger to a touchscreen, allowing for touchless gesture control for example. 

Nano-LED

To help overcome the data-jams occurring in electronic chips researchers at TU Eindhoven have developed a nanoscale light-emitting diode (LED) with a waveguide to transport a light signal, opening up optical data transfer within microchips. The researchers’ device is claimed to be 1000 times more efficient than similar devices, due to improved coupling between the waveguide and the light source meaning that less light is lost to the environment. The LED is integrated into a silicon substrate on a membrane of indium phosphide, which is an efficient converter of electrical signals into optical signals and has been shown to handle several gigabits of data per second. 

Designed nanostructures

Researchers at Northwestern University and the University of Michigan have manipulated particles and the way they can be connected with DNA to create some complicated crystal structures.  The new arabesque   structures are made of up to 42 particles forming polyhedrons which form into cage like structures called clathrates suitable for carrying cargo such as drugs or capturing pollutants. 

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