Alex: Welcome to the first Carnival of Future Technologies, a blog carnival for all things related to future and convergent technologies such as nanotechnology, biotechnology, clean tech and enabling ICT. In our first issue, we hope to provide a few nanotechnology delights and link you with some other blog sites that might be of interest.
An inspirational Aussie story to start us off! Leah Heiss, a Melbourne artist, has teamed up with NanoVic (who we will work with to host the next issue Carnival of Future Tech next month – check them out at Blog@NanoVic to combine beautiful jewellery and the latest advances in technology. Heiss’ jewellery utilises NanoVic’s MicroArray Patch which can administer drugs like insulin through thousands of tiny needles when applied to the skin. Jewellery that can replace the need for invasive syringes, whilst looking good!
While NanoVic‘s collaboration with Heiss showcased their advances in nanotech through art, a US University has cleverly used the Olympics. Northwestern University have demonstrated a new nanoprinting technique called Polymer Pen Lithography (PPL) by printing 15,000 copies of the Beijing 2008 Olympic logo in one square centimetre.
The Olympic logo is so small that 2,500 of them would fit on a single grain of rice. The 20,000 dots that made up the text and Olympic rings of the image were just 90nm in diameter. “The tip of each polymer pen starts with nanometer-scale sharpness, but if we press down harder the tip flattens out. This gives us great flexibility in the structures we can produce.” The new printing method could find use in computational tools (the electronics that make up these tools), medical diagnostics (gene chips and arrays of biomolecules) and the pharmaceutical industry (arrays for screening drug candidates), among others.
This is the third of three posts Lisa Bailey did on nano at the Olympics. Read more here.
While these posts address applications for the medical and pharmaceutical industry, nano is also being applied to help the earth by providing more efficient solar power. In his blog ‘Flexible nanoantenna arrays capture abundant solar energy’, Michael McDonald provides us with a report on technology developed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Idaho National Laboratory. Researchers have devised an inexpensive way to produce plastic sheets containing billions of nanoantennas that target mid-infrared rays. These rays are continuously emitted by the Earth as heat after absorbing energy from the sun during the day. In contrast, traditional solar cells can only use visible light, rendering them idle after dark. These sheets of nanoantennas could form thin skins – the first step toward a solar energy collector that could be mass-produced on flexible materials. The nanoantennas are tiny gold squares or spirals set in a specially treated form of polyethylene, a material used in plastic bags. Here’s a thought – imagine if we could extract this material from used plastic bags – you couldn’t get much greener than recycling plastic bags to make solar power generators! You can read more posts at http://social.azonano.com/.
This collection of blogs has provided a taste of nanotechnology research from a few blog sources based in Australia. We’ll be looking to broaden the scope for the next carnival, so if you have any ideas let us know. We’re keen to hear your thoughts!