Top 10 ways nanotechnology is transforming the world around us

Gecko
Nanotechnology might be outside your window at this very moment in the form of a gecko-like human scaling a self-cleaning, nano-enhanced solar window.

A pair of hand-held, gecko-inspired paddles that can help you ascend a 25-foot sheet of glass might not seem like the most impressive use of nanotechnology but this real-world advance aptly demonstrates how quickly the field of nanotechnology is climbing into our lives. Below are ten additional examples of how nanotechnology is already changing the world, followed by 10 ways it may help society scale even greater heights in the near future.

 

 

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Commercial nanotube transistors could be ready by 2020

nanotube

Each chip on this wafer has 10,000 nanotube transistors on it. 

For more than ten years, engineers have been worrying that they are running out of tricks for continuing to shrink silicon transistors. Intel’s latest chips have transistors with features as small as 14 nanometers, but it is unclear how the industry can keep scaling down silicon transistors much further or what might replace them.

 

 

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Smartphones in the future could be printed on your clothes

spaser

Graphene and carbon nanotubes can generate intense surface plasmons for use in nanoelectronics and cancer therapy.

Engineers at Monash University Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering (ECSE) have modeled the world’s first “spaser” (surface plasmon amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) to be made completely out of carbon.

 

 

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Bionic plants use nanotechnology to boost photosynthesis

bionic-plant2

Researchers embedded carbon nanotubes in the chloroplasts of the plants to create “artificial antennae.”

Plants make life possible. Chloroplasts are the tiny organelles with a plant’s leaves. The chloroplasts use incoming sunlight to split water molecules and then knit together the energy-rich carbon and hydrogen compounds found in everything from food to fossil fuels. The leftover “waste” is the oxygen that we and the rest of the animal kingdom depend on to survive and thrive.
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Flexible materials could provide new ways to control sound and light

control-of-waves

A new wrinkle in the control of waves.

Flexible, layered materials textured with nanoscale wrinkles could provide a new way of controlling the wavelengths and distribution of waves, whether of sound or light. The new method, developed by researchers at MIT, could eventually find applications from nondestructive testing of materials to sound suppression, and could also provide new insights into soft biological systems and possibly lead to new diagnostic tools.

 

 

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Replacing batteries with super capacitors: Volvo’s quest to create the ultimate electric vehicle

The battery is the biggest limitation for electric vehicles (EV).  Tesla, General Motors, Nissan and others install heavy batteries that limit vehicle range and performance. The batteries take up as much as 15% of the vehicle’s total weight.

 

 

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Researchers develop cheaper, longer-lasting futuristic copper foam batteries

Prieto Battery’s copper foam.

Power plants, wind farms, and smartphones all suffer from the same basic ailment — they lack cheap, reliable, long-life batteries to store large amounts of energy for when the sun goes down, the wind stops blowing, or the device is unplugged for a long time.

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Stanford engineers successfully build world’s first carbon nanotube computer

Researchers unveil the first working computer built entirely from carbon nanotube transistors.

A group of  researchers at Stanford University have moved a step closer to answering the question of what happens when silicon, the standard material in today’s microelectronic circuits, reaches its fundamental limits for use in increasingly small transistors.

 

 

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Scientists create first smartphone attachment that can detect a single virus, nanoparticles

UCLA smartphone virus scanner

Scientists have finally developed a technology that makes it possible to avoid a trip to the doctor.  The UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science scientists have created a lightweight, virus-detecting device that attaches to a common smartphone and is able to scan the human body for human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) particles. The troublesome virus is the root of various illnesses, including birth defects like deafness and brain damage. HCMV can also expedite the death of adults who have HIV, a weak immune system and those who have undergone organ transplants, making early detection of the virus useful.

 

 

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Researchers demonstrate new method for harvesting energy from light

Hybrid optoelectronic nanostructures with controlled variation in photoconduction properties.

University of Pennsylvania reasearchers have demonstrated a new mechanism for extracting energy from light, a finding that could improve technologies for generating electricity from solar energy and lead to more efficient optoelectronic devices used in communications.

 

 

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