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Current Topic: Nano Tech

Implications of Emerging Micro and Nanotechnology
Topic: Nano Tech 8:28 pm EST, Jan  3, 2003

The Committee was tasked with evaluating the implications of current trends in micro- and nanotechnologies ... The committee applied rigorous technical scrutiny to claims for the potentials of these technologies, evaluated the state of the technologies today, and assessed their value ... [looking] for trends in scientific and technical advances with the potential to change the nature of warfare ...

Nanotechnology ... is an exciting and relatively unexplored scientific and technological frontier offering many new insights and applications but at the same time giving rise to much speculation and hyperbole. From an applications perspective, microtechnologies and nanotechnologies offer a particularly powerful combination [and] deserve careful consideration.

Read the full text of this National Academies Press book online.

Implications of Emerging Micro and Nanotechnology

Small Wonders, Endless Frontiers: A Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative
Topic: Nano Tech 5:18 pm EDT, Sep 21, 2002

Committee for the Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, National Research Council. 68 pages, 2002.

"With potential applications in virtually every existing industry and new applications yet to be discovered, nanoscale science and technology will no doubt emerge as one of the major drivers of economic growth in the first part of the new millennium."

This report is freely available for online viewing.

Small Wonders, Endless Frontiers: A Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative

Opposition to Nanotechnology
Topic: Nano Tech 6:47 am EDT, Aug 20, 2002

The great Gray Goo debate is beginning to matter.

Nanotechnology is toddling into commercialization ... companies are racing to scale up production of carbon nanotubes ...

The crosscurrents of opinion that will shape nanotechnology's commercialization are bound to become stronger -- and more unpredictable -- as a broader range of participants join the Gray Goo debate.

This article is about a Canadian organization called the ETC Group. (ETC stands for Eco-Equity Erosion, Technology Transformation and Corporate Control.) Under a different name in the 1990s, this group fought Monsanto on agro-bio-tech issues. They are advocates of the so-called "precautionary principle."

Opposition to Nanotechnology

'Nanotechnology and Mass Destruction' in _Disarmament Diplomacy_
Topic: Nano Tech 10:13 pm EDT, Jul 24, 2002

This article assesses concerns about the potential development of new weapons and risks of mass destruction made possible by nanotechnology - the rapidly evolving field of atomic and molecular engineering.

It will argue that such concerns are valid and will need to be addressed by the international arms control and non-proliferation regime.

The paper concludes with an appeal for such an engagement to begin sooner rather than later. Weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are already banned from outer space under the terms of the 1967 Outer Space Treaty.

Before long, there may be need for an 'inner space' treaty to protect the planet from devastation caused - accidentally, or by terrorists, or in open conflict - by artificial atomic and molecular structures capable of destroying environments and life forms from within.

'Nanotechnology and Mass Destruction' in _Disarmament Diplomacy_

It Slices! It Dices! Nanotube Struts Its Stuff
Topic: Nano Tech 5:53 am EDT, Jul 16, 2002

It is stronger than steel and far sharper than a pin. It shoots electrons and draws away heat. It can become the thinnest of wires and, potentially, electronic devices almost as minuscule as molecules.

It is the nanotube, "the strongest material that will ever be made."

The prospect of a strand that is long, strong and thin conjures dreams of epic engineering like spinning a 22,300-mile-long cable out of nanotubes to tether a satellite in orbit around the earth, and then building an elevator that goes from the ground floor literally into outer space.

Make way for the space elevator!

It Slices! It Dices! Nanotube Struts Its Stuff

They've Seen the Future and Intend to Live It
Topic: Nano Tech 5:49 am EDT, Jul 16, 2002

Dr. Ralph C. Merkle is celebrated as an inventor of the encryption technology that allows secure transactions over the Internet. But that was a long time ago. These days, he is better known as a leading theorist of molecular nanotechnology, the still unperfected art of building machines that are little bigger than atoms.

Nanofactories will churn out everything from rocking chairs to rocket ships, superior to any ever made, at "the cost of potatoes and wood," in Dr. Merkle's words. Nanocomputers will interface directly with the brain, vastly increasing human intelligence. And nanobots will cruise through bloodstreams, banishing disease and debility.

They've Seen the Future and Intend to Live It

A New System for Storing Data: Think Punch Cards, but Tiny
Topic: Nano Tech 5:57 am EDT, Jun 11, 2002

Would you buy a lightweight wristwatch MP3 player that holds 150-300 albums worth of music?

IBM scientists say they have created a data-storage technology that can store the equivalent of 200 CD-ROM's on a surface the size of a postage stamp.

Writing in the current issue of the journal IEEE Transactions on Nanotechnology, researchers at IBM's laboratories in Zurich report that they have achieved a storage density of one trillion bits of data per square inch, about 25 times as great as current hard disks.

Dr. James C. Ellenbogen, an expert on molecular electronics at the Mitre Corporation in McLean, Va., described the work as "incredible engineering."

... IBM project leader: The storage technology could cram 10 to 15 gigabytes of data into a tiny format that would fit in a multifunctional wristwatch.

Here is the abstract from the IEEE paper:

We present a new scanning-probe-based data-storage concept called the "millipede" that combines ultrahigh density, terabit capacity, small form factor, and high data rate. Ultrahigh storage density has been demonstrated by a new thermomechanical local-probe technique to store, read back, and erase data in very thin polymer films.With this new technique, nanometer-sized bit indentations and pitch sizes have been made by a single cantilever/tip into thin polymer layers, resulting in a data storage densities of up to 1 Tb/in2. High data rates are achieved by parallel operation of large two-dimensional (2-D) atomic force microscope (AFM) arrays that have been batch-fabricated by silicon surface-micromachining techniques. The very large-scale integration (VLSI) of micro/nanomechanical devices (cantilevers/tips) on a single chip leads to the largest and densest 2-D array of 32x32 (1024) AFM cantilevers with integrated write/read/erase storage functionality ever built. Time-multiplexed electronics control the functional storage cycles for parallel operation of the millipede array chip. Initial areal densities of 100-200 Gb/in2 have been achieved with the 32 32 array chip, which has potential for further improvements. A complete prototype system demonstrating the basic millipede functions has been built, and an integrated five-axis scanner device used in this prototype is described in detail. For millipede storage applications the polymer medium plays a crucial role. Based on a systematic study of different polymers with varying glass-transition temperatures, the underlying physical mechanism of bit writing has been identified, allowing the correlation of polymer properties with millipede-relevant parameters. In addition, a novel erase mechanism has been established that exploits the metastable nature of written bits.

A New System for Storing Data: Think Punch Cards, but Tiny

Viruses enlisted as nano-builders
Topic: Nano Tech 2:03 pm EDT, May  4, 2002

If you want to build a molecular-scale computer chip, or a minuscule sensor that detects the slightest whiff of an airborne toxin, you're going to need some tiny builders to help put these gadgets together. In Friday's issue of the journal Science, researchers in Texas show how they hired a virus as their nano-construction worker.

... Millions of viruses in solution can line up and stack themselves into layers, creating a material that flows like a liquid but maintains an internal pattern. By changing the solution's concentration or applying a magnetic field, scientists can force new patterns and create different liquid crystal structures.

Viruses could do all the tedious and fine work of creating a highly organized nanomaterial. ...

The team will spend the next year trying to make simple devices out of this material, with the hope that these materials can be used in self-assembling computer chips, optical devices and sensors that detect biowarfare agents or chemicals.

You can find the Science paper online at

Viruses enlisted as nano-builders

Microstructures: Spin-engineering magnetic media | _Nature_
Topic: Nano Tech 12:23 am EST, Feb  9, 2002

Researchers from U. Cambridge (UK) and CNRS (France), in the 07 Feb 2002 issue of Nature.

Abstract: The explosion in demand for increased data-storage density is driving the exploration of new magnetic media. Here we describe a new type of magnetic medium in which the spin configurations are engineered in chemically homogeneous magnetic films: regularly arranged in-plane and out-of-plane spin configurations are defined by altering the magnetic anisotropy. These spin-engineered media not only maintain the surface planarity but also the homogeneity of the magnetic materials, and our method is likely to find immediate application on account of its simplicity and ease of integration.

Microstructures: Spin-engineering magnetic media | _Nature_

Growth of nanowire superlattice structures for nanoscale photonics and electronics
Topic: Nano Tech 12:09 am EST, Feb  9, 2002

Harvard researchers report on recent progress in the 07 Feb 2002 issue of _Nature_.

Abstract: The assembly of semiconductor nanowires and carbon nanotubes into nanoscale devices and circuits could enable diverse applications in nanoelectronics and photonics. Individual semiconducting nanowires have already been configured as field-effect transistors, photodetectors and bio/chemical sensors. More sophisticated light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and complementary and diode logic devices have been realized using both n- and p-type semiconducting nanowires or nanotubes. ... [W]e demonstrate the synthesis of semiconductor nanowire superlattices from group III–V and group IV materials. ... Compositionally modulated superlattices ... have been prepared ... [and] modulation doped nanowires have been synthesized. Single-nanowire photoluminescence, electrical transport and electroluminescence measurements show the unique photonic and electronic properties of these nanowire superlattices, and suggest potential applications ranging from nano-barcodes to polarized nanoscale LEDs.

Growth of nanowire superlattice structures for nanoscale photonics and electronics

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