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Nano Now Issue 2 by omerahm

VIEWS: 461 PAGES: 26


Laser technology stops criminals in their tracks Russell Cowburn reveals how it works What’s New in Nano Keep up with the latest developments Germany gears up Nanotechnology support for its industry 480 companies and 50,000 jobs Nanobuds Set to make impact on microelectronics Nano project Aims to reduce packaging waste L’Oréal-UNESCO award Honours nanotech Pioneer


Is this the future of healthcare?



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Issue 2 May 2007
Publishers Bradley Scheffer, Ottilia Saxl editor@nanonow. + 44 (0)1786 447520 IoN Publishing Ltd Art Director Dan Angel studio@nanonow. +44(0)208 906 9011 Contributors Jürgen Altmann University of Dortmund Drew Murray et al CEMMNT Richard Moore Institute of Nanotechnology Mark Morrison Institute of Nanotechnology and Nanoforum Emily Rees and James Stevens Fleishmann-Hilliard Ursula Roos British Embassy, Berlin Advertising Daniel Wienburg sales@nanonow. +44 (0)208 906 9011 Subscriptions Gemma McCulloch subs@nanonow. +44 (0)1786 447520 2007 IoN Publishing Ltd 6 The Alpha Centre Stirling University Innovation Park Stirling FK9 4NF Scotland

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Country Profile
Germany creates a Blueprint for Industry .................................................. 022 German industry is showing the rest of Europe a clean pair of heels in embracing nanotechnology, and the German Government is committed to providing further support

Nano for Military Use ......................... 012 The military goal for nano is selective or mass destruction. Can we put controls in place now? A Healthy Future for Medicine ........ 016 Nanotechnology can offer new and improved medical treatments. What are the challenges to overcome? Nano and the Scene of Crime ........... 018 How do you reduce crime, or catch that elusive criminal? Opportunities range from disposable, ultra sensitive sensors, to miracle anti-graffiti coatings Chemistry – the Path........................... 028 Nanotechnology isn’t some new magic, but has its roots very firmly in the chemistry laboratory. Sensor Breakthrough........................... 030 It’s 1/20th the diameter of a human hair and has the ability to measure features never measured on Carbon Nanotubes ............................... 034 The miracle material of the 21st Century? Perfect Packaging ................................ 039 Does it exist? Can nanotechnology create it?


Professor turned Crime Buster........024 Still on the theme of crime prevention, Russell Cowburn, innovator extraordinaire and winner of the Degussa Prize for Innovation 2006, talks about his latest bright idea in bringing smugglers and counterfeiters to book


NanoNerves ........................................... 032 Safety concerns vie with potential economic benefits in the minds of Europe’s policy makers


CEMMNT – if you can’t measure it, you can’t control it ............................... 036 UK invests in metrology centre to support nano and micro companies



Editorial ................................................... 004 Major Forthcoming Events ............... 006 What’s New ............................................ 008

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Hitting the spot
Read about the latest in nanotechnology for crime prevention, military and medical applications plus the kind of commitment and support Germany is giving its industry

Government fundinG for nanotechnoloGy is set to exceed £330m this year! Winners of this Windfall include the car, construction, textiles, information, life sciences, enGineerinG, chemicals, enerGy and environmental industries. Will the rest of europe be able to catch up on this nation, Which aims to be a World class player in the nanoWorld?
In this issue, we are also taking the first steps in exploring the benefits of carbon nanotubes, a material whose structure has only recently been deciphered. It possesses amazing electronic, thermal, and structural properties and offer new possibilities for creating nanoelectronic devices, circuits and computers of the future. But carbon nanotubes not only promise breakthroughs in electronics, and for new materials with extraordinary properties of strength, toughness and even conductivity. but also for medicine – in drug delivery, gene therapy and sensor probes – to name but a few.
Carbon Nanotubes


Welcome to Issue 2 of nanonow. We are introducing a section on ‘What’s New in Nanotechnology’, which will be running as a regular feature in future, to provide interesting insights into some of the many exciting developments that are bringing the promise of nanotechnology into real products - some of which offer great potential for improving the environment; for example, the new award-winning technique developed by the combined team of Imperial Innovations and Molecular Imprinting Ltd. Also in this issue…

environment where crime thrives, and is also hugely expensive to deal with.


Nanotechnology & the Military. Now, moving from what might be called petty crime, to acts of war. We know that nanotechnology has a power for good, it can also be used destructively. It is a sobering thought that one quarter to one third of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) funding is going to the Pentagon ($352 million of the total $1200 million nanotechnology budget in 2005). Much

of this work is still in the fundamental research stage, studying nanoscale motors, nanotubes and molecular electronics. But there are also more sinister activities, for example, in the area of biological weapons and autonomous combat systems. Jürgen Altmann, an expert in this field, explores the military situation further, and issues a warning on the urgent need for international controls.



Carbon Nanotubes – A Miracle Material?


Nanotechnology and Crime Prevention. Russell Cowburn, the subject of this month’s interview, talks about his new method of uniquely ‘fingerprinting’ goods and documents using laser technology to uniquely identify the natural surface features of goods and packaging. This is quirkily, but accurately, termed: ‘biometrics of dead things’. Russell is notable for winning the prestigious Degussa prize for innovation in nanotechnology in 2006, walking away with a cool £100,000 for another idea of his relating to advanced techniques for improving computer logic! To continue the theme of crime, we have an article that examines how analysis of clues at the scene of crime can be speeded up, and also how nanomaterials technology can be used in the fight to clean up graffiti. Not a trivial advance – graffiti creates an

Country Feature – Germany. Aiming to be a World Leader? At the end of 2006, a telling new action plan for nanotechnology was unveiled by the German Government which set out the way the Government plans to promote the application of nanotechnology across a wide range of industry sectors, including car manufacturing, construction, textiles, ICT, life sciences, optical science and engineering, chemicals, energy and environmental technologies. The proposal is to spend £330m on nanotechnology research in the coming year, an increase of just over 6% on priority industry sectors including: car manufacturing, construction, textiles, ICT, life sciences, optical science and

engineering, chemicals, and energy and environmental technologies. Germany clearly aims to be a world leader in industrial innovation based on nanoscience and nanotechnology.


Review Articles – Nano in Chemistry, Nano for Medical Applications As part of the commitment of nanonow to providing information for the generalist reader, we have two articles which explore applications

of nanotechnology in chemistry and medicine, and what nanotechnology offers these important sectors. In chemistry, the article focuses on how particle size affects properties, and explores the idea of how a multitude of materials with novel properties are possible. With regard to medicine, the wide range of potential applications of nanotechnology are touched on, each of which will be explored in more detail in subsequent issues. Watch this space!! ✪

Coming next…. How the textile industry is leading in the use of nanoscale technology for flexible fashions and smart fabrics; how one man’s view of the nanoworld of the future is causing gasps from the scientific community; and how nanotechnology can help the environment. The second in our series of articles on nanomedicine explores whether governance issues and whether spending levels on toxicology research is sufficient. Countries to be featured are Israel and India, the former for its jaw-dropping innovations, and the latter for the immense mobilization of the country’s physicists and chemists into the world of new nanomaterials – the engines of growth. Nanoparticle toxicology – a real or imagined threat? Finally, there has been much debate in the press about the review by the Committee for Science and Technology (CST) on whether the UK Government has adequately met the targets on actions recommended by the Royal Society / Royal Institution report of two years ago on prioritising and funding research into the health and environmental effects of nanotechnologies. Prof Sir John Beringer, who chaired the review, said it was “absurd” that the Government is only spending an average of only £600,000 a year to research the impacts of nanomaterials. Sir John commented that there is a pressing need for a strategic programme of central Government spending into the toxicology, as there are concerns about the unknown effects of new nanoparticles. In the next issue, nanonow will explore this theme in depth, with articles from leading experts in the field, and discuss what is really needed.

Nanotechnology and the military

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Events Calendar
EvEry month wE highlight thE kEy confErEncEs and summits whErE industry ExpErts, acadEmics and policy makErs convEnE.
may 06 – 11, gordon research conference on chemistry of supramolecules and assemblies, Barga, italy Theme: Functional Materials through Bottom-Up Self-Assembly ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------may 07, nanotech outreach workshop, leuven, Belgium Theme: Communicating Nanotech to the Public - an international opportunity for communicators to address major challenges. Organized by: IMEC ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------may 16 -17, nanotechnology products and processes for Environmental Benefit, london, uk Topical themes include: hazardous chemical substitution, resource minimisation, reversing pollution, carbon emission reduction. Keynote presentation by Professor Sir Howard Dalton, adviser to DEFRA (UK Dept. of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). environment/environflyer.pdf ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------may 22 – 25, nanomeeting 2007, minsk, Belarus Scope: physics and chemistry of nanostructures; quantum computing; bioinformatics; nanosize optical and electronic devices. Special session on ‘Frontiers of Spintronics’. Jointly organised by the Belarus State University of Informatics and Radioelectronics; Université de la Mediterranée ,Aix-Marseille II see: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------June 04 – 05, modelling and simulation of micro fluidic systems, Zurich, switzerland. Overview of Models and Tools Design issues facing the micro fluidic/ lab-on-chip designer - Transport equations and their implementation - Approaches to Discretization & Solution of Equations - Free surface flows - Simulation in Micro Chemistry

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- Advanced problems ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------June 05 – 07, nanomat international conference 2007, Bergen, norway Covering: energy and environment; nanoelectronics; advanced materials; nanophotonics; biomaterials; nanomagnetism / spintronics; sensors. Organised by: Research Council, Norway contact: agnes aune, aau@ ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------June 11 - 12, nanoEquity 2007 frankfurt, germany Organized by the Deutsche Börse contact: alexander von preysing, ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------June 12 – 13, nanopolymers 2007, Berlin, germany The use of nanopolymers, cost benefits of incorporating nano-scale materials into polymer-based products, and their dispersal in order to optimise required properties. contact: sharon garrington, ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------June 13 – 15, nanoBio Europe, 3rd international congress and Exhibition.munster, germany Focusing on the characterization of cellular processes; tools to control, manipulate or manufacture molecules or supramolecular assemblies for human health benefits. see: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------June 15 - 17, nanotechnik risiko oder gefahr, arnoldshain, germany This event explores whether nanotechnology represents a risk or danger in the future, our relationship to technical progress, and the possible consequences of its rejection. Organized by the Evangelische Akademie, Arnoldshain. see:


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June 19 – 20, smart materials in robotics and microtechnolgoy, Zurich, switzerland Classification of active materials Working principles - Manufacturing processes - Comparison between the different smart materials in terms of forces, strain, bandwidth,… - Advantages and drawbacks of each technology - Applications to robotics and microtechnology - Case studies ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------June 19 – 21, Euronanoforum 2007, ccd düsseldorf, germany This event, taking place during the German Presidency of the EU, is focusing on the transfer of nanotechnologies from research to their applications in industrial processes and products. see: http://www.euronanoforum2007. org ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------June 24 – 29, nt07 - Eighth international conference on the science and application of nanotubes, ouro preto, Brazil Scope: Future trends and progress in fundamental and applied research in the mechanical, electronic and optical properties of nanotubes and composites; synthesis and purification; chemical modification of properties, applications. Organized by the Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais see: ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------June 24 – 29, summer school: migas´07 - multi-physics and multi-scale simulation for nanoElectronics, autrans - grenoble, france Multi-scale modelling of nanodevices, including new developments in the electronic properties of the matter, transport in semiconductors, and techniques of characterization. Aimed at PhD students, engineers and researchers working in the semiconductor field. see:

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Nanocomposite Research for Better Packaging with Less Waste
It was announced in February 2007 that a consortium of companies, including Danone, Smith and Nephew, Innovia Films, JGP Perrite and Boran-Mopack, are taking part in a project on polymer nanocomposites led by Queen’s University, Belfast and including the University of Oxford and the University of Bradford. The project, which is receiving a government grant of £2.5m, is focusing on the route by which a nanoparticle / polymer mixture is formed into a final product. The aim is to produce stronger plastic packing, which is less wasteful, uses less processing energy and has lower product transportation costs. Contact: Lisa Mitchell

L’Oréal-Unesco Award Honours Lady Nanotech Pioneer
Honorary President of the Institute of Nanotechnology gives Keynote Address at Ceremony.
Each year L’Oréal-UNESCO sponsor an Award for Women in Science. Five women scientists from five continents receive the prestigious prize each year, which alternates between achievement in life sciences and materials research. Among the laureates this year was Mildred Dresselhaus from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, whose work on conceptualizing the creation of carbon nanotubes led to the tools for understanding how to analyse carbon nanotubes and other nanoscale structures. Lindsay Owen-Jones, chairman of L’Oréal, and Koïchiro Matsuura, director general of UNESCO, presented each laureate with a $100 000 award in Paris. Nobel laureate Pierre-Gilles de Gennes presided over the ceremony, and the Honorary President of the Institute of Nanotechnology, Baroness Susan Greenfield, also of Oxford University and the Royal Institution, delivered the keynote address. See:

Nanoparticulate Catalysts for Cleaner Fuel - Size and Shape Matters
Researchers at the Technical University Dresden and the Forschungszentrum Dresden-Rossendorf have shown that molybdenum disulphide (MoS2) in nanoparticulate form acts as a catalyst for the desulphurisation of fuels. In collaboration with the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, it was demonstrated that the larger, bipyramidal particles of MoS2 also exhibited a desulphurisation potential similar to the nanoplatelets. It was concluded that not

Synthesis of Stable Bicompatible Magnetic Nanoparticles for Biomedical Applications
IMEC, the independent Belgian research centre based in Leuven, has developed a new method to synthesize stable, biocompatible magnetic nanoparticles. By tuning the endgroups, the functionalized nanoparticles can be used for a wide variety of applications, such as magnetic biosensing, cell separation, contrast enhancement in magnetic resonance imaging, tissue repair and accurate drug delivery. IMEC is also researching the use of the nanoparticles for cancer diagnosis and hyperthermia treatment. Contact: Katrien Marent

(MoS2)240@(MoS2)540 (MoS2)256@(MoS2)576


Molecular Vision Ltd and Imperial Nanotechnology Used to Innovations - Opportunity for Curb Subsidised Diesel climate change breakthrough

Abuse in Malaya
NanoTag is a system of ‘marking’ diesel at depots around the country before it is distributed, using nanoparticles. NanoTag enables officers to differentiate between subsidised diesel and unsubsidised diesel in a few minutes. The abuse of subsidised diesel had caused the Malaysian government to suffer annual losses of over RM2 billion a year. The ‘Nano Strike Team’ is a special task force, supported

only particle size but also the three-dimensional structure crucially determined the physical and chemical properties of the molybdenum disulphide. Contact: Dr Sibylle Gemming s.gemming

World’s First Material That Reflects Virtually No Light
A team of researchers from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has created a new class of nanomaterials could lead to more efficient solar cells and brighter LEDs. Reporting in the March issue of Nature Photonics, they describe an optical coating that enables vastly improved control over the basic properties of light. The new material has almost the same refractive index as air, making it an ideal building block for anti-reflection coatings. It sets a world record by decreasing the reflectivity compared to conventional anti-reflection coatings by an order of magnitude. Contact: Jason Gorss.

From top, light reflecting off surfaces made from aluminum, silicon, and aluminum nitride. At bottom is a piece of aluminum nitride coated with the new anti-reflection material. To achieve a very low refractive index, silica nanorods are deposited at an angle of precisely 45 degrees on top of a thin film of aluminum nitride.

The team of Molecular Vision Ltd and Imperial Innovations recently won the Royal Society £250,000 Brian Mercer Award for Innovation in Nanotechnology 2007. The winning technology relates to novel patterning processes for nanoscale organic semiconductors, providing step changes in the speed and economics

of manufacture. It has the potential to make a huge impact on carbon control and efforts to arrest negative trends in climate change, both in terms of energy production (organic solar cells) and energy consumption (organic solidstate lighting). Contact: Dr John de Mello.

by the Chemistry Department for forensic analysis, that conducts frequent and unscheduled spot checks on between 7,000 and 10,000 commercial premises using diesel across the nation. The use of nano technology in petroleum products has been widely applied in the United States and some European countries and is proven to be very effective in prevention of fuel abuse. From: Bernama.Com, Malayan News Agency

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The european nanoTechnology Trade alliance (enTa) and The defeaT of amendmenT 146 of The WasTe direcTive. sense prevails!



n February 2007 the European Parliament proposed Amendment 146 to the Waste Directive. The aim was to make any waste containing nanoparticles subject to hazardous waste legislation. The flawed nature of this amendment was immediately apparent, being purely based on particle size without regard to the chemistry of the particles involved. If the legislation had been passed, it could have had a disastrous effect on the waste re-cycling industry, and even been counterproductive to improving the environment. ENTA, aware of the potential problems of this legislation, conducted a rapid survey of over 100 companies throughout Europe. The feedback was unanimous in opposition of the amendment. This gave ENTA the green light to challenge the policy vigorously, and strongly oppose the amendment, based on the argument that the proposal was a

ThE EU wishEd To ENsUrE, As wE All do, ThAT All rEAsoNAblE sAfEgUArds ArE iN plAcE To proTEcT ThE pUblic


Waste Directive
disproportionate application of the precautionary principle and lacked scientific and legal credibility. In the end, the amendment was defeated 597 votes to 92 with 4 abstentions. The EU of course wished to ensure, as we all do, that all reasonable safeguards are in place to protect the public, but had wrongly assumed that all nanoparticles and nanomaterials should be classified as hazardous, irrespective of their effects. ENTA’s viewpoint is a logical one. Any new legislation is acceptable providing it is evidence based, and environmental, health, or safety risks have been clearly demonstrated. Many products and even natural processes have from almost time immemorial created nanoparticles which have presented no known hazard to living creatures. Amendment 146, if accepted, would have created a multitude of problems, rather than providing solutions. There may be a basis for legislating in the future against waste streams from specific manufacturing processes, as there is for the pharmaceutical industry, but these processes and industries will need to be clearly identified. ✪ ENTA was created in 2005 to represent the interests of nanotechnology businesses across Europe and act as a bridge between business, government, policy makers and industry. For further information on ENTA, or to join as a member, contact Del Stark, del.stark@ , +44 (0) 141 330 2143


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nanotechnology for military use...
If we compare the mIlItary use of new technology wIth cIvIlIan use - In the latter all effort Is aImed at preventIng danger to persons or equIpment, whereas the mIlItary goal Is Is aImed at IdentIfyIng ways of selectIve or massIve destructIon, as fast as possIble
Jürgen AltmAnn, University of DortmUnD, germAny


anotechnology promises many benefits, from energy saving to new and better medicine treatments. However, it is a revolutionary technology, and as such, may also bring new dangers. the biggest problem at present is seen as the need to acquire as full as possible an understanding of how new man-made nanoparticles behave, but other unknowns loom on the horizon – from possible unemployment and a nano-divide, to total surveillance and the ability in the future to modify the human mind and body. fortunately, in nanotechnology, different from earlier public funding of new technologies, considerable work is being undertaken on the ethical, legal and societal implications, which has been well supported nationally and internationally from the beginning. there is one area, however, that has received only very little attention: nanotechnology for military applications. military use of new technology takes place in a quite different context from civilian use – whereas in the latter all efforts aim at preventing damage to persons or equipment, the military goal is to develop new possibilities for selective or massive destruction, and to do so as fast as possible. the main reason is the very task

of the military – winning in armed conflict, where even a slight technological edge can mean a decisive advantage. internationally, this brings about a virtually unlimited arms race; however, strongly destabilising developments can be prevented by mutual limitation of armaments with appropriate verification of compliance. Also, the international law of warfare sets certain limits for what can be done in war. How is the situation in nanotechnology?1 At present, the major share of military research and development is done in the UsA – it covers 80% to 90 % of the worldwide spending. one quarter to one third of the national nanotechnology initiative (nni) funding is going to the Pentagon (2005: $352 million of $1200 million). much of this work – at universities, armed forces labs, national weapons labs – is still fundamental research, studying nanoscale motors, nanotubes or molecular electronics. But there are also projects for nanomaterials for armour and armour-piercing or nanostructured explosives. Although research for combat robots predates by far any nanotechnology programme, it may well be that nanotechnology will finally make autonomous fighting systems practical – ›

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...a lurking menace
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ARMed foRces couLd use nAno-TechnoLogY In ALL AReAs, fRoM guIdAnce sYsTeMs In MunITIons vIA vARIAbLe cAMoufLAge To TAILoRed expLosIves
› by providing light-weight materials, more efficient engines, small sensors and actuators and in particular much increased computing power. the U.s. Defense Advanced Projects Agency (DArPA) envisions a future Combat system consisting of tanks, artillery, helicopters etc. without crews. other projects have dealt with micro air vehicles and rats remotely controlled by electrodes in the brain. in order to promote early application, the U.s. Army is generously funding the institute for soldier nanotechnologies, founded in 2002 at mit, with costs for up to 150 personnel. A guiding vision is a battlesuit that monitors body status, applies medication, forms compresses and protects against projectiles, chemical and biological agents. in the preparation of this institute, there were already visionary discussions where to place monitoring, processing and communication systems within soldiers’ bodies. following the U.s. example, other countries are starting their own military nt programmes, but at a much smaller scale – not hundreds of millions of dollars or euros per year, but a few millions. this holds for sweden, UK, netherlands and probably soon for germany. not much is known about activities in russia and China, but three things are obvious: present expenses are much below those of the UsA, both are very capable actors in nanotechnology, and both would be able to build similar systems as the UsA with only a few years delay. remarkably, former israeli Prime minister Peres has noted the revolutionary potential of nanotechnology for war; the President of india has called on the country’s military scientists and engineers for breakthroughs. Action-reaction mechanisms so well known from the Cold War are beginning to be felt, including a misrepresentation in the UsA of Chinese military writing about nt.2 Armed forces could use nanotechnology in practically all areas, from guidance systems in munitions via variable camouflage to tailored explosives. in faster computers and higher-strength materials, military developments will go in parallel to civilian ones. A few military developments could have general benefits. e.g. small, cheap sensors for chemical or biological warfare agents could make verification of the respective prohibitions easier and improve warning of terrorist attacks. However, there are several potential military applications of nanotechnology which would bring strong dangers. Arms-control agreements could be endangered: new, selective agents using nanotechnological advances in biomedicine would remove an important barrier against biological weapons.



MILITARY use of new TechnoLogY TAkes pLAce In A quITe dIffeRenT conTexT fRoM cIvILIAn use
Autonomous combat systems would jeopardise the law of warfare, because for a long time they would not be able to discriminate between combatants and non-combatants. meeting each other at short distance in a crisis would mean strong pressures for fast action. instability would also follow from small robots covertly deployed inside an opponent’s military systems, capable of striking any time. small, scatterable sensors could be used for invasions


into privacy. micro aircraft and micro missiles would provide tools for terrorists. for nanotechnology-enabled weapons of these types, preventive prohibitions and limits would serve world peace and international security better than their introduction and eventual proliferation. U.s. military nanotechnology has the express goal to ‘... reduce the likelihood of war by providing an overwhelming U.s. technological advantage ... it is essential to be technologically as far ahead of potential opponents as possible.’3 Whereas there is some immanent logic to this thinking, it obviously overlooks the interactions in the international system and does not take into account future dangers to the UsA arising from the use of nanotechnology-based new weaponry against it – be it in asymmetric warfare or terrorist attacks. Because there is no serious technological challenge by a potential military opponent, the UsA is organising a virtual arms race with itself, and unilateral restraint could buy sufficient time to agree internationally on appropriate, reliably verifiable limits on the most dangerous military applications of nanotechnology. this needs the insight that such limits are in the enlightened national interest of the UsA. even though the prospects for such insight are dim at present, there is also a certain tradition of preventive arms control.4 the UsA is an active participant in the international dialogue about responsible research and development of nanotechnology – it would be ironic if the destructive uses of nanotechnology would be kept out of such debates. ✪ 1. J. Altmann, Military Nanotechnology: Potential Applications and Preventive Arms Control, Abingdon/New York: Routledge, 2006 2 An article presenting a US RAND study to a Chinese military audience was presented as Chinese plans to attack the USA with nanorobots.3 Roco/Bainbridge 2002, Section E 4 E.g. the Chemical and the Biological Weapons Conventions include bans on development, blinding laser weapons were prohibited before they were deployed.

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While the nanotechnology application Will potentially bring great benefit patients and the practice of medicine, it Will also bring With it a series of challenges to the innovators, regulators and others
incurable diseases. Better design and improved performance of surgical tools. e.g. ultra-sharp nano-diamond coated scalpels for microsurgery. Improved techniques for longer replacement of lung function, heart function, and kidney function. This may enable other organs to become candidates for replacement, regeneration or augmentation, including skin, muscle, digestive organs and some sensory functions. Nanodevices for delivering substances or drugs to specific target areas in the body, e.g. oxygen to poorly vascularized tissues. Actuators based on nanomaterials, e.g. carbon nanotubes, could have a variety of surgical and other applications. Nanoengineering of implant surfaces will improve their properties and performance. e.g. better biocompatibility or fixation into tissues such as bone. Nanocontoured and nanoengineered scaffolds for human tissue-engineered products. These may be used in various ways to encourage cell growth and proliferation, and differentiation into more complex tissues through the supporting biodegradable medium. New “smart” nanoengineered materials. These will impart new levels of performance to “conventional” medical devices and drugs products. Nanomedical products also have a tendency to blur the traditional demarcation boundaries between different regulatory systems. For instance they may act as both an imaging agent/diagnostic and a drug, e.g. theranostics, or they may facilitate the incorporation of a drug into an implanted medical device. replicating nanotech robots”, are firmly in the sphere of science fiction but scientists and regulators will certainly have to address, for example, concerns related to the ability of nanoparticles to enter the body, and possible toxicological or biological safety issues. A systemically and transparently applied risk analysis and management process combined with effective communication about the possible risks, and benefits, of nanotechnologybased medical products will be absolutely essential as a precursor to their acceptance by a public increasingly wary of science and industry. Likewise, effective networking with medical professionals will be essential to convince them of the benefits of the value and benefits of nanomedical products and to build their confidence concerning the effectiveness and safety of such products.

© Kaulitzki

A healthy future for
in Recent yeaRs theRe has been a massive gRowth in inteRest in nanotechnology leading to vastly imPRoved medical tReatments. whetheR foR taRgeted dRug deliveRy, imPRoved diagnosis, betteR mateRials foR devices and imPlants, nanotechnology seems set to have a tRemendous imPact acRoss the whole field of medicine. this shoRt Review will not only look at a few of these new aReas of develoPment but also examine the challenges that must be oveRcome in oRdeR to intRoduce these technologies in a safe and effective way.

© Kaulitzki

new hoRizons in medical tReatment Science at the nanoscale (generally considered to be between 1nm and 100nm) is not new. What is new, is the ability to create new functionalities by manipulating molecules and materials at the nanoscale. The following are just a few examples of areas where nanotechnology is currently being applied to develop new generations of devices or therapies. In-vivo monitoring of the body’s physiology, using a variety of nanotechnology-based probes and sensors. This will enable detection of conditions earlier than is currently possible. In addition, it will be possible to build up a more detailed model of the body’s systems and processes with the ability to more accurately predict the effects of various diseases or treatments. More precise and informative diagnosis. This will include the possibility of building hundreds of diagnostic tests into a single device using tiny quantities of samples. In addition, nanotechnology will revolutionize diagnostic imaging with the use of targeted imaging agents, lower levels of radiation or soft energy sources, and far more precise and accurate imaging, e.g. use of fluorescent quantum dots bound to antibodies. The accurate delivery of minute doses of drugs. Nanoparticles, e.g. biopolymers or encapsulated metallics or semi-metallics, could, if targeted using biomolecules or specialized cells, enable the delivery of minute doses of highly-active drugs, or of novel theranostic products that can be tracked and activated by conventional radiological devices, to specific sites such as tumours. The further miniaturization of devices. This will facilitate both minimally invasive surgery and enable the development of novel implantable devices such as artifical retinas allowing treatment of hitherto




in-vivo monitoring of the body’s physiology, using a variety of nanotechnology-based probes and sensors.this Will enable detection of conditions earlier than is currently possible
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Regulation While the application of nanotechnology will potentially bring great benefit patients and the practice of medicine, it will also bring with it a series of challenges to the innovators, regulators and others. Although existing regulatory frameworks for medical devices or pharmaceuticals in Europe would probably form a suitable basis for nanotechnology-based products, none of these directives were written with nanotechnology specifically in mind. Some of the requirements of these directives, and of supporting tools such as harmonized standards for medical devices, may therefore need to be reviewed to ensure that they are able to adequately address those risks particular to nanotechnology-based

commeRcialization of scientific ReseaRch While nanotechnology, including nanomedicine, is a key thematic priority and a well-funded area within the new 7th Framework Programme (FP7), Europe is still lagging somewhat behind the US and some other regions in terms of the commercial exploitation of scientific research. There appears also to be a clear need to better inform investors of the potential for nanomedicine particularly in relation to bridging the innovation “death valley” between research and subsequent product development.


PeRcePtions of Risk Addressing the perceptions of risk of nanotechnology will be essential both in introducing new products to the market and in having them accepted by medical professionals and patients. Media alarm has already been raised in the UK concerning nanotechnology. Whatever one may think of these views from a scientific standpoint, they echo the genuine fears many members of the public may have. Many of these fears, e.g. “self-


conclusions The future for nanotechnology in medicine looks exciting. A vast amount of scientific and medical research is being done in universities, by major companies and in SMEs. The prospect of new medical treatments and products that offer greatly improved outcomes and benefits to patients is high. However, in order to ensure that these developments can be brought to market and made accessible to society, a number of challenges as briefly outlined here have simultaneously to be faced and gradually overcome. µ

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Can nanoteChnology be effeCtive in Crime prevention and deteCtion? it’s about applying highly advanCed sCientifiC teChniques that may have been developed for a variety of other appliCations, to many Criminal situations, and in Crime prevention as well as deteCting the traCes left by Criminals
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Book ‘em Nano!
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anotechnology offers many benefits – it enables increased speed and accuracy of analysis, it enables accurate identification of materials from very small samples, it enables the incorporation of unique recognition features into products in order to prevent counterfeiting, as well as logging existing unique features for future unambiguous identification, and it can be used unobtrusively for product tracking and provenance identification. So what is nanotechnology? A nanometre is a billionth of a metre (10-9m), which is about 1/80,000 of the diameter of a human hair; and nanotechnology can be defined in its simplest terms as ‘engineering at the nanometre scale’. At this scale, materials are called ‘nanoparticles’, and they behave in a radically different manner. For example, in bulk form, aluminium can be used to make a solid object, such as a car. In a finely divided, nanoparticulate form, aluminium becomes a highly combustible fuel. So, new properties come into play at the nanoscale, and they can be chosen or engineered to perform specific functions. At present the most successful commercial opportunities in nanotechnology are created mainly through advanced chemical techniques. New technologies are slow to be applied to crime prevention and detection, and this is possibly due to a variety of reasons. These may include - crime prevention not being immediately recognised as a primary application by researchers (who may be working on other field such as medicine or materials), there are difficulties in technology transfer between scientists and product manufacturers, due in part to a lack of communication between user and developer groups. Furthermore, there can be a lack of knowledge and understanding of the benefits of the new technology, there is often a need for training of personnel, including those administering the law, and often quite simply, and there is a justifiable conservatism about the adoption of unproven, new technology until it is accepted as fully reliable and able to be >

> used to secure a conviction. However, if courage prevails, using advanced technology can have great economic benefit. It can, paradoxically, be considerably cheaper to apply (for example, field analysis is cheaper and faster than analysis in a laboratory, and may be more reliable as it is less likely to be subject to contamination, denaturing etc). Nanotechnologies are particularly suited to be used in massproduced products, they are difficult to copy, and the results should be easy to interpret, reducing the need for trained personnel. portable biosensors One example of nanotechnology is in the relatively new area of portable nanobiosensors. Over the past decade, attention was given to the idea of developing an electronic biosensor that would operate at the molecular level, and combine the high selectivity of biological systems with the sensitivity of physical devices. The development of biosensors and especially their commercialisation, however, was hindered by several problems associated with the properties of biological material, such as low stability, poor performance in organic solvents, in acid and alkali environments, and at high temperatures, the absence of enzymes or receptors that are able to recognise certain target analytes, problems with immobilisation of biomolecules, and poor compatibility with micromachining technology.


gRaffItI Is not just sCRIbblIngs on a wall, but a sIgnal that a paRtICulaR nEIghbouRhood Is bECoMIng susCEptIblE to CRIME, and Is possIbly on thE fIRst stEp to a downwaRd spIRal of nEglECt
to a downward spiral of neglect and possible takeover by criminal elements. From a technological viewpoint, tools utilized for graffiti have evolved from simple pens and markers, which limited the type of surfaces to be worked on, to spray paints, which can stain basically any material or texture. In the 21st century, graffiti represent a very important social and economical phenomenon. Although the precise cost of graffiti cleaning worldwide is unknown, estimates are around £5 million/year for London and $150 million dollars/year for Los Angeles. Graffiti offers a technological challenge that requires the use of stateof-the-art technology. The importance of the world’s paint and coating industries makes them attractive to the latest nanotechnology available, aiming to produce high-performance coatings. This has resulted in creating a unique paint with complete oil and water repellency, impressive scratch and UV resistance, with a maintenancefree character. The technology can be used on stone, brick, mortar, glass, plastics and other materials, as well as the potential application in clean rooms, surgery facilities and a number of forensic needs. It was developed at Centro de Física Aplicada y Tecnología Avanzada, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México in México. The coating been created in the following way. Nanoparticles produced by standard synthesis methods such as the so-called sol-gel route, retain on their surfaces a number of either unreacted or still- active chemical groups that can be used as sites for chemical reactions at will. In this way, molecules can be attached to those sites, as to produce a true nanohybrid material. Technically, the fundamental idea is to take advantage of the fact that nanoparticles can be conveniently regarded as nano-chemical reactors. This approach allowed researchers at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México to produce nanobiomaterials, nanoparticles for metal ion removal in polluted water and a whole family of nano-technology based coatings for many applications, ranging from anticorrosion, anti-staining of pure silver objects, caries-resistance for human teeth, copper protection and antigraffiti purposes among others. The anti-graffiti coating has the trade mark DELETUM 3000TM. The coating is a two-component system, consisting of a highperformance polymeric base, that includes the nanoparticles and oil and water-proof molecules, and a cross linking agent. The system is physicochemically-designed as to induce the segregation of the oil and water-repellent molecules to the surface upon drying, while keeping the nanoparticles evenly distributed throughout the whole film. The coating described is not simply a physical mixture of components since the chemical stabilization of all the components plays a key role to ensure transparency, wear resistance and, of course, full anti-graffiti effect. This is achieved by the proper chemical fictionalization of both the nanoparticles and the polymers involved, which enables the production of controlled suspensions that can last for months without changing properties. The unique composition of the coating makes it a highly efficient anti-graffiti agent, since the repellency capability to any water-based or oil-based paint, of the type used for graffiti, is extremely high, to the extent that most of the graffiti does not stick to the surface and the remaining can be easily removed by washing with water. The coating is able to stand repetitive graffiti attacks. Moreover, the coating is much more than a good anti-graffiti coating. It can be best described as a maintenance-free coating, for no dust, grease or dirt sticks to the surface and it has a very high resistance to scratching, to chemicals, including most commercial and industrial solvents and to UV degradation. µ Biosensor information courtesy of Professor Anthony Turner; antigraffiti coating information courtesy of Professor Victor Castano. For further information on many other exciting nanotechnologies for crime prevention and detection, contact Ottilia Saxl, CEO, Institute of Nanotechnology.


nEw pRopERtIEs CoME Into play at thE nanosCalE, and thEy Can bE ChosEn oR EngInEEREd to pERfoRM spECIfIC funCtIons.
The search for possible solutions to these problems led scientists to the development of stable synthetic analogues of natural receptors and antibodies. If nature can produce enzymes, receptors and antibodies by evolution, it was argued, molecular


engineers should be able to develop materials with similar properties by design, and smart materials with biorecognition functions would posses enormous potential for the development of new generation, stable biomimetic sensors This has indeed happened, and new bionanosensors can find application in a number of testing areas related to crime prevention and detection. These encompass in the main, the identification of the presence of toxins, the detection of biological warfare

agents and screening for drugs of abuse and explosives. the main areas of use are: • In food safety and water: for the identification of GM foods, chlorophenols, chloranisoles, nitrosamines, aflatoxins, endocrine disrupters and algal toxins • In environmental protection: for the identification of pesticides, VOCs, formaldehyde, hydrocarbons • For defence: for the identification of biological and chemical Warfare agents • Security: identification of drugs of abuse, explosives, adulteration • Also in clinical medicine! for disease detection and management e.g. cancer, heart disease, diabetes management. • The ability to undertake the onsite detection of toxins is highly desirable, as it allows for practically instant drug testing. This obviates the need for having to undergo the costly and timeconsuming process of taking a sample then sending it to a lab for analysis. anti-graffiti Coatings Another novel application is the application of nanotechnology to the creation of high-performance antigraffiti coatings. This has a much wider applications that might be immediately apparent. Graffiti is not just scribblings on a wall, but a signal that a particular neighbourhood is becoming susceptible to crime, and is possibly on the first step


	 so which nanotechnologies may be useful for crime prevention?
• Rapid, high throughput and accurate analytical and diagnostic techniques, that requiring low sample and reagent volumes (which are often costly) • Advanced imaging techniques • Quantum dots for ‘invisible’ security tagging applications (prevention of counterfeiting, simplifying traceability of goods etc). Quantum dots are semi-conductor nanoparticles which are invisible to the naked eye. They can be printed on to packaging or goods, without affecting them, to produce an invisible bar code. This fluoresces under ultraviolet light, and can consequently be easily read. • Molecular ‘tagging’ (for pharmaceutical drug provenance applications). These can be biological tags which also do not affect the product in any way. One example is the tagging of farmers ‘red diesel’ in order to identify stolen property. • Novel sensing techniques (such as electronic ‘noses’ and ‘tongues’ for fast detection and identification of explosives, impurities, poisons, toxic gases etc). These depend on sensors built on to semiconductor chips, that provide high sensitivity and fast results – on site. New nanomaterials. These can be used for cheap, highly durable, shatterproof, fire and bullet resistant applications. Polymer ceramics have particular applications for lighter, stronger, longer lasting bullet proof vets, and new kinds of aerogels based on nanotechnology that are lightweight and have fire resistant and important insulation properties High technology thin films, including holograms, for credit card and banknote security etc. These films can be deposited in offset layers, offering a range of visual and strength attributes. Nanometrology (for tiny measurements) for the comparison of counterfeit with real products Simple techniques using nanochemistry for tamperindicating packaging, easily identified through colour change effects.



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for industry

government departments Activities include: the appointment of a Nanotechnology Coordinator for each ministry; the establishment of a stakeholder group involving industry, science, engineering and the wider public, nanotechnology-specific education and training, promotion of nanotechnology-related quality assurance and standardisation.

Government in the development and communication of converging technologies and their social, cultural and political implications. Sectoral R&D Funding Priorities Sectoral Dialogues are a key element of the Action Plan, bringing together all stakeholders within an industrial sector to discuss research needs, potential applications and the development and design of new value chains. The outcomes of these dialogues may then be used as the basis of new funding initiatives. Priority sectors include: Priority sectors include: Automobiles ü Construction ü Textiles ICT ü Life sciences ü Optical science and engineering ü Chemicals ü Energy ü Environmental technologies Collaborative nanotechnology-related research The Federal Research Ministry will continue to fund collaborative projects into specific applications of nanotechnology involving the complete value chain. New projects under the “NanoInitiative – Aktionsplan 2010” will address the following areas: ü Industrial scale manufacturing of optical components ü Nanotechnology-enhanced textiles ü Nanotechnology in construction to improve energy efficiency ü Biophotonics and molecular imaging ü Bio-microsystems engineering ü Metrology ü Nanotechnology in mechanical engineering - advance surfaces, bonding processes, lubricants, better wear resistance ü Micro/ Nano integration ü Environmental applications of nanotechnology Further Information Actionplan for Nanotechnology: initiative_aktionsplan_2010.pdf Draft research strategy: en/Topics-from-A-to-Z/HazardousSubstances/Nanotechnology/pdf/draftresearch-strategy.pdf (English) Nanotechnology funding strategy: nanotechnology_conquers_markets.pdf Contact: Ursula Roos, science@ , http://www.



n November 6th 2006, a new action plan for nanotechnology in Germany was announced by the Minister for Research, Dr Annette Schavan, the ‘Nano-Initiative Aktionsplan 2010’, setting out the way the Government will promote the application of nanotechnology across industry. The proposal is to spend €330m on nanotechnology research in the coming year, an increase of just over 6% to accelerate the commercialisation of nanotechnologyrelated R&D and to increase the range of industrial sectors producing or using nanotechnology. It also seeks to remove, at an early stage, obstacles to innovation, and also sets out how the Federal Government plans to engage in public dialogue about the opportunities and potential risks of nanotechnology. The German Five Action Areas for Nanotechnology: Promoting new uses of nanotechnology, and helping a wider range of industrial sectors to use nanotechnology to create value. Activities include: so-called Sector Dialogues, “Branchendialoge”, Collaborative Innovation Projects, “Leitinnovationen”; the promotion of specialised national nanotechnology clusters, international cooperation and support for SMEs.

Addressing Health and Safety issues of nanotechnology Activities include: risk-related research. 8m euros have been earmarked for the period up to 2008 to fund projects such as NanoCare, INOS and Tracer to investigate the potential risk of nanoscale materials, and to promote standardisation and testing. Other activities include the establishment of a public dialogue about the opportunities and risks of nanotechnology (led by the Federal Government Ministry); an initiative to look at the use of nanotechnology in food, food packaging, skin care and consumer goods (led by the Federal Agriculture Ministry and the Federal Institute of Risk Assessment); consultation with experts on the potential risk of nanotechnologies in food, skin care and other consumer goods; and the establishments of a cross-departmental research strategy to address all health and safety issues.


Informing the wider public Initiatives include: the NanoTruck - a nanotechnology laboratory and exhibition on a lorry; publications for the wider public published by the Federal Research Ministry; a web portal established by the Federal Government; nano-jury type consumer dialogue events.




Improving the wide framework for innovation by improving co-ordination between individual

Identifying future research requirements Including: Facilitating cooperation between stakeholders to identify emerging applications of nanotechnologies in the areas of data processing and storage, new therapies and diagnostic processes, manufacturing processes based on self-organization and increased energy efficiency; basic research in the area of health and safety, research related to characterisation and risk assessment, and advanced technologies for domestic and international security; and the active involvement of Federal

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Pointing the finger at criminals
ottilia saxl, institute of nanoteChnology

Counterfeiters and smugglers beware – a unique new method of uniquely fingerprinting goods and doCuments disCovered by an english university professor is about to stop you in your traCks!
professor russell Cowburn, a professor in the department of physics at imperial College is a true ‘man o’ pairts’, as robert burns would say - an intellectual heavyweight who also thrives on the challenge of commerce and the market place. last year, russell received the prestigious degussa award for the most commercial technology. in this interview, he talks to ottilia saxl about his innovative work on crime prevention, how his research aims at improving computer memory storage – by a factor of 100!, and how the application of science can focus researchers on finding answers to the big questions of physics. prof Cowburn , can you explain what your technology does, and how it works? what makes it so unique? I am working on 2 technologies at present – one is security technology, the other is on nanowires for data storage. The security technology is based on a laser scattering technique. Sensors can be pointed at anything – paper, packaging on branded goods such as cigarettes, perfumes, pharmaceuticals, or even the goods themselves, enabling a quick analysis of surface imperfections. It then reports a unique identity code for that surface, the equivalent of DNA profiling in living creatures. The technology is unique and intrinsically high speed. The lasers and associated electronics are very fast, and capture the ‘fingerprint’ of the material in a fraction of a second. The data gathered per item is relatively small, and a database for several millions of articles need not use much memory. For example, my

Modern electronics are ½ MeMory, ½ logic, and the question was - can we Make chips that can both reMeMber and think, using Magnetics?
laptop which is three years old now, could store the data on 300 million such ‘fingerprints’. What makes it unique is that most other approaches to security ‘apply’ something, causing a change on the package. Any change can also be copied by the ‘bad guys’. This technology on the contrary works on existing, natural imperfections at the nanoscale (we call it controversially ‘biometrics for dead things’! – similar to the way biometrics work by using our own ‘imperfections’, such as our retinal patterns, fingerprints etc to identify us. do you envisage any further applications? There are two things you need to know for security: 1) Are people who they say they are? This can be determined unambiguously, as mentioned, from biometrics, DNA; and, 2) Is the documentation these people are carrying genuine? Credentials have not been checkable up to now. With this technology, documentation verification can now be as robust as biometrics for people!! There are therefore further applications in many industries, such as for authentication of ID cards, valuable documents, or it can be used to establish exactly what an item is and whether it is in the right place. For example, are these genuine cigarettes? Are they being sold in the wrong country where there is a different pricing / tax regime than where they were intended to be sold? so, how do we work out what has happened? where did the products come from? With this technology, and using nature’s own ‘registration plate’ - the unique surface pattern of each product, both the customer and the manufacturer can be identified. A police investigation can be launched to determine how these products have ended up somewhere other than intended. when did you first realise that your work might lead to something that could be commercialised? I’ve had a relationship with a Business Angel Investment group involved in nano and micro technologies, so I tended to keep my eyes open for potentially commercial technologies, with them in mind. I had recognised years ago that it was difficult to make the same things twice at the nanoscale. Was this a feature? I’d thought of making chips using the defects as an identity code, but to ‘read’ something that was already there instead of making / adding something, I soon realised was infinitely more secure! please tell the readers of nanonow


about the award from degussa – and the possibility of creating the world’s best data storage chip To win, I had to enter a paper, which was called ‘Magnetic Domain Wall Logic’. This is part of spintronics, and was about combining magnetic materials with conventional electronics form next generation chips. This work is only feasible at the nanoscale, where magnetic properties become interesting. To explain. Modern electronics are ½ memory, ½ logic, and the question was - can we make chips that can both remember and think, using magnetics? So using the spintronic approach, we created a summary paper presenting the complete logic scheme. In principle using all the basic logic elements - AND, OR, NOT, and demonstrated experimentally this possibility using magnetic electronics. In the long run, the business case for magnetics to improve logic technology may not be as good as we do things currently, but with regard to memory, if implemented with spintronics, magnetic materials can offer x 100 times better performance. So our focus has now moved from digital logic to getting the world’s best data storage chip to market. Eventually we hope to partner with a bigger memory chip company to take the technology further. how did you feel when you learned you had won the degussa prize? The award ceremony was very exciting indeed – it was a big event, like the technology equivalent of the Oscars! All finalists were invited to Berlin, and also many dignitaries were there. The winner was announced only at the last minute, so the suspense was built up. The whole thing was also supported by ‘Handelsblatt’ a German financial newspaper, so the results were reported across Germany the next day. so, back to the crime prevention technology – where is it now? and are there other applications? The laser-based surface identification technology is now being commercialised through a company we founded called Ingenia Technology – Its office and senior management is in London; we have partnerships with Bayer Biotech Services, Stora Enso plus some others. I am CTO on the Board of Directors. >

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the first question is - froM the technical point of View, does it work? the second, Vital question is - who else is using it?
I’ve also learned across both technological areas I am working on to ask early – what are the real business advantages to the customer? How can I convert something that offers ‘general good’ to specific benefits for a specific customer? In industry it can often be hard to know who the real customers are – especially in the security industries! so what about the future – academia or industry? I’m happy at the interface. It is fulfilling my dream to discover new science and take it to the marketplace. For example, in solid state physics, there is always the question for every scientist – how do you choose which problem to study? In cosmology it is easy – it’s always the big question. But how to find the unifying question in condensed matter physics? – the problem is that you can’t tell what you don’t know, but I have found that to focus on the application identifies the question, and helps find the roadblocks. where did you receive the greatest support from? Brian Tanner (Professor Brian Tanner, Director of Technology Transfer in Durham University) has been a huge support to me. He started Bede (a company making Xray metrology instruments) in the 70’s when University spinouts were deeply unfashionable. He’d been through the whole cycle, and encouraged me to found Durham Magneto Optics, which supplies scientific instruments. I also spent time picking the brains of the high tech financiers. That was a profound intellectual exercise! I got into this after an approach from Business Angel colleagues; and I then used the Cambridge College system intensively, talking to people, arranging to meet them over dinner and so on. I had a great desire to learn. I needed to understand how the contracts with VCs worked, and what I was signing! have you any advice for other researchers, in terms of commercial potential of their work? I found it very difficult to find anyone who could advise me on the right business model for my innovation whether to go for a licence agreement, or to get it made under contract, or to use my own development team. I was unclear where to go. I have discovered that the key questions to ask are: Who are the customers, and how will they benefit? How will I bring it to them? Who can help with this? thank you very much for these critical questions for any would-be entrepreneur – and for an insight into the mind of an academic innovator and businessman. ✪

> Other applications include, surprisingly, better management of the supply chain – the ‘track and trace’ aspect. It is about reengineering the supply chain, which is presently focussed on RFID – but that is only one technology, and different parts of the supply chain need different technologies. Lower down the supply chain, for example, it is too costly to put in RFID chips. What is needed is item-level technology, a unique identifier at no extra cost. And that is what our technology offers.For example, at the lorry level – you need SatNav / GSM; at the pallet level, RFID, and at the product level, our laser surface analysis technique, LSA. The trick is to link codes associated with every layer to each other, to secure the chain. This can transform a business. We are developing this aspect of the technology with Bayer Technical Services and Stora Enso, and expect a full roll-out of the technology very soon. so what lessons have you learned on this journey to the marketplace, and what have the pitfalls been? I have learned that there needs to be an industrial evaluation of any new product. The first question is - from the technical point of view, does it work? The second, vital question is - who else is using it? The lesson is that any innovation needs a reference customer before moving on to the next level.


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the route to today’s nanotechnology applications
NaNotechNology is the basis of maNy New products iN iNdustries as diverse as electroNics, health, eNergy, cosmetics, coatiNgs, packagiNg aNd textiles. the key to uNlockiNg the iNNovatioN poteNtial of NaNotechNology is through chemistry, says dr mark morrisoN, scieNtific maNager, iNstitute of NaNotechNoloy
dr mark morrisoN, scieNtific maNager, iNstitute of NaNotechNoloy


anotechnology has been the subject of much hype over the past few years with forecasts of economic impacts of over a trillion dollars by 2015. Whether this is true remains to be seen, however the products of nanotechnology are becoming pervasive in fields as far-ranging as electronics, health, energy, cosmetics, coatings, packaging, textiles and consumer goods. Nanotechnology has been defined as, “the design, characterisation, production and application of structures, devices and systems by controlling shape and size at nanometre scale.” At the nanometre scale (one nanometre, or nm, is one billionth of a metre) properties differ significantly from those at a larger scale. Generally speaking the nanoscale is said to be below 100nm, however this is

an arbitrary line, and in essence the nanoscale is the length dimension where the fundamental properties of materials are influenced both by surface area and by quantum effects which can affect physical, optical, electrical and magnetic properties. In essence much of nanotechnology today is chemistry; however, for most people it is the final product containing the nanomaterial that is seen as nanotechnology. In some cases one nanomaterial can have applications in many different sectors. Take for instance titanium dioxide. This is a material which reflects visible light effectively and has been used as a white pigment in paint for almost a century. It also absorbs UV light and for several decades has been used as an effective sunblock. However, the fact that it is white affected its cosmetic appeal. This all changed when it was

discovered that reducing titanium dioxide particles to the nanoscale removes their ability to reflect visible light while retaining all their UVabsorbing qualities. The result is that titanium dioxide is now widely included in sunscreens from a number of different cosmetic companies. Reducing particle size to the nanoscale elicits another property of titanium dioxide: its ability to use the energy of UV to break down organic molecules, including dirt, bacteria and viruses. This has been exploited in Pilkington’s self-cleaning glass; is being developed for filters to maintain sterility in hospitals (in development by QinetiQ Nanomaterials as part of the Antiviral Nanoparticles Programme); and has been included in a paint for application to external surfaces and in concrete, where it catalyses the breakdown of pollutant


this is a material which reflects visible light effectively and has been used as a white Pigment in Paint for almost a century

gases in the atmosphere to harmless substances that wash away in the rain (developed by Italcementi, and the EU-funded PICADA project, which includes Millenium Chemicals). While this illustrates the multiple applications of titanium dioxide, it is not unique, other examples include: carbon nanotubes which have applications in lighter composite materials (due to their exceptional strength), and electronics and displays (due to their semiconductor properties); iron oxide nanoparticles which due to their magnetic properties have applications in medicine (as diagnostic and therapeutic agents- for “heat-killing” or thermolysing of cancer cells) and for cleaning up contaminated water (iron oxide nanoparticles are highly effective at binding arsenic); quantum dots which are nanoparticles of semiconductor materials which have a wide spectrum of fluorescence and have applications in biological imaging, electronic displays and solar cells.

Producing a novel nanomaterial in the lab is one thing; successfully exPloiting it requires industrial scale-uP
Producing a novel nanomaterial in the lab is one thing; successfully exploiting it requires industrial scale-up using a cost-effective and environmentally sound process. This is where the chemical industry is critical. An individual nanomaterial might require supplementation with other chemicals to limit certain characteristics (e.g. to limit the photocatalytic action of titanium dioxide in sunscreens), and processing to ensure that particle size, shape and distribution all fall within well-defined parameters. For nanoparticles this is critical as they tend to be “sticky” and agglomerate into larger particles, which in turn can negate the desired property. Quite often nanoparticles are coated with an inert chemical layer to avoid this. New production processes must continue to be developed that take account of a material’s properties and the effects of temperature, pressure and phase (solid, liquid, gas) on this, while at the same time limiting the impact on the environment through, for example, decreased use of solvents and high temperature-processing (e.g. concrete production accounts for between 5 and 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions, as a result of the high temperatures used). Here again, nanotechnology can have an impact. For example nanostructured catalysts can decrease operating temperatures, or assist and direct the seeding process for the synthesis of other nanomaterials. So, while nanotechnology is expected to have a big impact on society, it will only do so successfully with the help of the chemists of this world! ✪


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novel new sensor technology created by InsituTec, Inc. in collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte brings us a step closer providing a much needed metrology tool for microscale and nanoscale applications. Metrology is the science of measurement. Scientists need metrology tools capable of measuring deep nanoscale cavities and features to support fundamental science as well as create the ability to manufacture microscale components that incorporate nanoscale features. “All activities in science and technology require accurate measurements to insure interchangeability and allow the comparison of quantitative results.” Says Dr. Bob Hocken, Norvin Kennedy Dickerson Jr. Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Precision Metrology at UNC Charlotte. One of the key challenges in creating viable nanometrology tools is “the development of novel probes that are capable of measuring the tiny features that are encountered in the field of micro and nano-systems .”

THE AUTOMOTIVE IndUsTry Is AggrEssIVEly pUrsUIng dEsIgn And MAnUfAcTUrIng METHOds TO lOwEr EMIssIOns wHIcH In OrdEr MEET gOVErnMEnT rEgUlATIOns And MITIgATE THE EffEcTs Of glObAl wArMIng


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Presently, some tools are available to researchers working in nanotechnology such as Atomic Force Microscopes (AFM), Scanning electron microscopes (SEM), transmission electron microscopes (TEM), and confocal microscopes. These instruments enable viewing of materials at the nanoscale level but have limited ability to provide traceable measurements. For example, AFM’s can provide traceable step height measurements, but they are not capable of high aspect ratio measurements (i.e. the ability to measure narrow, deep features such as small holes or narrow channels). During the past decade several innovative manufacturing tools have produced remarkable microscale components at economic production rates. Unlike, MEMS these new manufacturing processes now allow the creation of true 3-D microscale structures.


A variety of nanotechnology applications are on the horizon and tools for both metrology and manufacturing will be critical to the integration of nanotechnology with micro and mesoscale technologies. Building the capability to advance the fabrication of microscale and nanoscale features directly impacts technology progress and will inevitably demand grand challenges in fabrication and process metrology. Specifically, there is a need to measure the geometry of small features such that computer models may be validated and manufacturing processes enhanced by enabling quality control that is not currently available. One compelling example lies with the automotive industry. Currently, this industry is aggressively pursuing design and manufacturing methods to lower emissions which in order meet government regulations and mitigate the effects of global warming; already at unprecedented levels. A direct correlation to lowering fuel emissions is to optimize the diesel injector’s nozzle (atomized spray into the chamber). Generally, the nozzle consists of a circular array of holes each about the size of a human hair with a depth up to 3 mm. Currently the only way to evaluate these features

Prof. Kellar Autumn, Lewis & Clark College, Portland, Oregon

An innovative micromanipulation tool using a unique new technology that enables simultaneous sensing and control of contact forces to ensure reliable assembly operations.

It’s 1/20th the dIameter of a human haIr (I.e. 7 mIcrometers), and It has the abIlIty to measure features that no one In the world can measure, features such as the spray holes In Injector nozzles.

is through the use of destructive measurement. A nondestructive metrology tool would enable models to be validated, improve the manufacturing process, and ultimately lowering emissions which directly impacts global warming behavior. Providing such a measurement tool is not trivial. Have you ever wondered why a drop of water has a spherical shape, or how a gecko can walk up a wall? At the nanoscale there are forces present that we are often unaware of, such as meniscus, electrostatic, and Van Der Waals forces. These forces present real problems when trying to measure or manipulate objects at the nanoscale. Just as Van Der Waals forces allow the gecko to stick to a wall, they cause tiny measurement probes to stick to a surface creating real challenges in getting accurate measurements at the nanoscale. The reason is the sensors are very low in stiffness compared to the attraction forces which they encounter. Recognizing these needs and challenges, InsituTec has co-developed a new type of sensor referred to as a standing wave sensor. Unlike the AFM sensors, this new sensor provides surface detection at the tip of a very long (exceeding 5 mm) and narrow (diameter less than 7 micrometer) probe. In the past, high aspect ratio

sensors have had enormous problems overcoming attraction forces on the nanoscale. However, the InsituTec method overcomes these problems by setting up a standing wave along the sensor’s filament. As a result, the standing wave method provides sufficient energy to overcome attraction forces. Using this new sensor, InsituTec has demonstrated measurement of small holes 128 micrometers in diameter, several millimeters deep. In addition to enabling measurement of small objects, this novel sensor is being adapted to allow the manipulation of objects at the micro and nanoscale. As an added benefit, because of its measurement capability, this tool may be able to pick up an object, measure the diameter of the object it is holding, and then put it down in a specified location. The next steps for this technology are to package and commercialize the sensors so that other researchers and industries can take advantage of this new capability. “Our standing wave sensors will allow new capabilities and potentially lead to new science and discoveries in both the micro and nanoscale regimes” says Dr. Shane Woody of InsituTec. “We fully expect to find these new measurement tools as a complimentary package beside every AFM. However, it is too soon

to determine which industries will benefit the most, but we are aware of potential applications such as life science (cell imaging), medical devices, aerospace (cooling holes in turbine blades) and wide variety of nanoscale science applications involving both the pick and place nanotool as well as the metrology tool.” µ The research teams reported the work in the 2005 volume 76 issue 9 of the Review of Scientific instruments. For further information, please go to InsituTec will be at the NSTI NanoTech 2007 in Santa Clara, May 20-24, booth 803.

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ndustrial applications in the field allow the European Commission to demonstrate that research funding really does serve the interests of its citizens by enhancing innovation, competitiveness and ultimately employment. However, it would be wrong to view such enthusiasm as a complete reflection of the current political mood in Brussels or elsewhere. Although the Commission’s Action Plan foresees a bright future for nanotechnology, this optimism is not necessarily shared by all policy makers. Last December, rules restricting the use of nanoparticles were close to being included within the scope of new European Chemicals Legislation (commonly know as REACH). A series of amendments, tabled by the Green Party, aimed to incorporate nanoparticles within the new legislation’s most restrictive provisions; the authorisation process. The amendments would have seen the marketing and use of nanoparticles prohibited unless a dossier was provided by industry to show that no alternatives to the substance were available, potential risks were adequately controlled, and that the socio-economic benefits from using the substance outweighed any risks. While the amendments were eventually excluded from the final legislation, the fact that the Environment Committee of the European Parliament saw fit to pass them by a clear majority sends a worrying signal about the future. This precautionary approach is reflected by Dutch Socialist Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Dorette Corbey. During her intervention at the European Forum on Nanosciences in October 2006, Mrs. Corbey sought to focus on her top ten concerns about nanotechnology, rather than the benefits that developments in the field could bring. Tension between the Commission’s enthusiasm and Parliamentarians’ precautionary approach is in many ways a reflection of European society. Industry is keen to highlight the many current and potential benefits of scientific applications, whereas


the nanotechnology industry finds itself at an important crossroads. will future european legislation restrict its evolution or support its flourishing future?
came to the conclusion that they were not fully capable of addressing the risks from nanotechnology. The same scientific reports are also being exploited by some European non-governmental organisations (NGO) to support their calls for binding measures. These NGOs are key players in Brussels daily life. European NGOs are often insider stakeholders that communicate directly with policymakers. Indeed, in some cases they are even funded by the European institutions. As such, they often eschew the public profile that characterises US issue-based NGO campaigns. Industry should therefore take heed that media silence does not indicate that EU decision-makers are not in the process of being influenced by different interest groups. Indeed, a large NGO conference on children’s health later this year will dedicate a session to nanotechnology alongside issues such as cancer causing chemicals, air pollution and toxic metals. Such debates are likely to feed into the EU’s mid-term review of its Environment and Health Action Plan in the summer. The nanotechnology industry finds itself at an important crossroads. Will future European legislation restrict its evolution or support its flourishing future? Currently nanotechnology can be considered attitude-neutral, while the European Commission clearly thinks that existing regulatory frameworks can do the job and is willing to support it in research funding. However, as the debate continues, adversaries as well as supporters will have to be engaged. Any parties failing to communicate their interests risk leaving decision makers with an incomplete understanding of this wave of technological innovation. A closer look at the chemicals industry’s communication on the REACH Regulation reveals a number of lessons to be learnt. Industry needs to move from defensive to proactive communication towards policymakers about its products; positioning its products as part of the solution to the challenges policymakers face rather than the next regulatory challenge on the horizon. A failure to communicate about the benefits and risks before legislation is proposed can lead to damage-limitation strategy that only serves to underline the accusations levelled by NGOs. Once in the cauldron of the legislative process, a lack of basic understanding is easily exploitable by opponents, who themselves have never been actively engaged on the issues by industry. In the case of the chemicals industry, the result is some of the most complex and costly legislation in the world. With the European Commission clearly sold on the growth potential of nanotechnology, a communications strategy at European level focusing on MEPs and influential NGOs should be well-organised, positive and timely. Fundamental decisions will need to be made in any such communication. Chiefly whether the “nano” tag is itself a barrier to overcoming the fears of some audiences. As while talk of a nano-revolution may excite investors and customers, a narrative of evolution in the different sectors concerned may be a better way of convincing politicians. Industry needs to act fast; the Commission intends to publish a review of its Action Plan on nanoscience and nanotechnology in December 2007. It is essential that companies willing to see nanotechnology further developed in Europe use this opportunity to communicate on how EU legislation could enhance EU economic growth, as well as citizens, health and welfare. In the medium term, it is clear that a broader communications campaign to key opinion leaders and European policy makers on the benefits of nanotechnology needs to be undertaken if we are to be spared the fate of other once heralded innovative industries in Europe. µ Emily Rees and James Stevens are consultants in the public affairs practice of Fleishman-Hillard’s EU (Brussels) office. Fleishman-Hillard is one of the world’s largest integrated communications agencies with over 2,000 employees in over 80 offices worldwide.

Nano Nerves:
society may take a more risk-averse stance. A London School of Economics’ study ‘Imagining nanotechnology: cultural support for technological innovation in Europe and the United States’ explains this precautionary approach by the fact that Europeans

Mixed messages from the EU
are more concerned about the impact of technology on the environment, less committed to economic progress and have less confidence in regulation. Unlike North Americans, who are more likely to take an optimistic position on a yet unknown technology, “Europeans are likely to suspend judgement about nanotechnology and opt for a ‘wait and see’ position.” Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) tend to amplify the average

With economic groWth its neW raison d’être, the european union (eu) is keen to find prospects for turning basic research into successful innovation. it is therefore no surprise that eu science and research commissioner, Janez potocnik, is so enthusiastic about the potential of nanotechnology.
by emily rees & James stevens, fleishman-hillard


amendments would have seen the marketing and use of nanoparticles prohibited unless a dossier was provided by industry to show that no alternatives to the substance were available
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European citizen’s perception of the risks associated with new technologies generally. MEPs are backed in their beliefs by the uncertainty that is created by recent scientific opinions at a European level. For example, the amendment introduced by the Green Party cited a recent opinion from the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks. It examined the usefulness of existing risk assessment methodologies and

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Miracle Material
Making the Most of carbon nanotubes – the Miracle Material of the 21st century?


What are carbon nanotubes? Fullerenes (a form of carbon) were first identified in 1985 as products of experiments in which graphite was vaporized using a laser. Deciphering the structure of the soccer ball-shaped carbon C60 fullerene molecule led to the award of the Nobel Prize in 1996 to three researchers, Robert F. Curl, Harold W. Kroto, and Richard E. Smalley. These C60 molecules were given the quixotic name ‘Buckminster Fullerenes’ (colloquially now called ‘bucky balls’) after the architect R Buckminster Fuller, famous for his design of geodesic dome structures. The geodesic design he invented enabled architectural structures to be built of lightweight materials while still possessing great strength. Similarly, the arrangement of carbon atoms imparts great strength to the C60 buckyballs, and also to carbon nanotubes, their cylindrical form.

and heat - they exhibit an electrical conductivity as high as copper and thermal conductivity as great as diamond. Because nanotubes can be either metallic or semiconducting, they have the potential for to be used as nanowires, as nanoscale electrical components and in nanoelectromechanical systems. They offer amazing possibilities for creating future devices, circuits and computers. Carbon nanotubes also have extraordinary mechanical properties - they are 100 times stronger than steel, while only one sixth of the weight. These mechanical properties also offer huge possibilities - for example, in creating nanocomposites for a variety of applications ranging from military to aerospace to medicine.

even medical applications. The cost, purification, separation of nanotube type, constraints in processing and scaling up, and assembly methods are still hurdles for some applications which are in the process of being overcome. However, some applications are in products we can buy, with many others under development. For example, tennis racquets containing carbon nanotubes are already on the market. The nanotubes are used to reinforce the frame and improve the racquet’s ability to absorb shocks. Carbon nanotubes can also be mixed with many different materials such as plastics and textiles, for example to produce lightweight bullet-proof vests. According to engineers at the Fraunhofer Technology Development Group, TEG, in Stuttgart the greatest potential for creating new products lies in harnessing the electrical properties of light and robust nanotubes to generate heat. Applications range from electric blankets and heatable aircraft wings that no longer ice up, through to ‘wallpaper’ heating for cold walls. the risks Carbon nanotubes sound like a product designer’s dream. But like many technologies that offer benefits, there are risks which have to be addressed sensibly. We have all learned how to handle electricity, gas, steam and even cars and aeroplanes in a safe manner because we need their benefits. The same goes for carbon nanotubes. Mostly they will be perfectly safe, embedded within other materials, such as polymers. There is some possibility that free carbon nanotubes of a specific length scales may pose health threats if inhaled, particularly at the manufacturing stage. Industry is very conscious of this possibility, and is endeavouring to ensure that any potential hazard is minimised. µ To learn more about carbon nanotubes and other nanoparticles with industrial applications, the Institute of Nanotechnology is organizing a conference in London on the 24- 25 October 2007 on ‘Nanoparticles for European Industry’. For more details see: ionevents.htm or contact Gemma McCulloch, gemma.mcculloch@nano. for further information, or call her on 01786447520.




What are the properties of carbon nanotubes? Carbon nanotubes are a unique material that possess amazing electronic, thermal, and structural properties which vary according to the different diameter, length, and direction of ‘twist’ of the nanotube. For example, carbon nanotubes are highly conductive both to electricity

applications of carbon nanotubes. Many potential applications have been proposed for carbon nanotubes - including nanometer-sized semiconductor devices, probes, and interconnects; conductive and high-strength specialist composites; devices for energy storage and energy conversion; sensors; field emission displays and radiation sources; and hydrogen storage media. Research is expected to lead to nanotubes for new materials, lubricants, coatings, catalysts, electro-optical devices, and

The complete measurement and characterisation solution
ÿOpen access to micro and nano technology techniques and knowledge ÿUnrivalled problem solving expertise from global leaders ÿAccelerating nano technology integration into products and processes ÿThe “one stop shop” for design, systems engineering and metrology
CEMMNT Hub Ltd, Systems Engineering Innovation Centre, Sir Denis Rooke Building, Loughborough University, Loughborough, Leicestershire LE11 3TU; Tel: 01509 635277; E-mail:


work is underway on ‘fine tuning’ the optimum dispersal of nano-particles within the polymer, to produce specific strength, stiffness and wear resistance properties
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Figure 1: Dr Alex Cuenat (NPL) and Dr Victor Higgs (Applied Nanodetectors) discuss the use of Atomic Force Microscopy.

Figure 2: HRTEM of a segment of a filled multiwalled carbon nanotube

Figure 3: Optical Profiler image of an in-plane resonant SOI MEMS device

Figure 4: Optical Profiler image of a ceramic hip cup surface.

Micro and nanoscale MeasureMent and characterisation are playing an ever increasing role in industry in accelerating developMent of new products. coMpanies of all sizes require access to both equipMent and analytical expertise to be successful in this vital area of technology.

scheme. This programme provided Applied Nanodetectors with firsthand experience of how the metrology of nano materials could be used to accelerate the development of new products and intellectual property. Dr Higgs utilised a range of measurement facilities including a new Atomic Force Microscope with support from Dr Alex Cuenat of NPL’s nano functional materials team (Figure 1). The data generated enabled applications for additional funding in collaboration with NPL, to support the further development of gas sensors. This example illustrates the benefits that

Accelerating product and process commercialisation through micro and nano scale measurement and characterisation


both EnhancEd pErformancE & longEvity arE rEquirEmEnts driving componEnt quality control
recent decades as the population ages. Enhanced performance and longevity requirements drive component quality control. In total hip replacement systems, characterisation of the primary components and subsequent component wear require a range of metrology techniques. The roundness of the femoral cup which is crucial to its load bearing capability is measured using Taylor Hobson Talyrond stylus inspection systems. Accurate control of the taper on the head and stem optimises the rigidity of the implant and is measured by taking multiple circular traces to determine the cone angle. Optical profilometry offers a rapid non-contact approach to determine wear and volume of lost material on femoral heads. The nanoscale polished finish on a ceramic cup surface is shown in Figure 4. Optical profilometry also provides nondestructive measurement of coating thickness, which is widely used in both the stents industry and for determining passivation layer thickness in microelectronic devices application examples highlight how CEMMNT’s partnership can combine its expertise and facilities to provide either standard off-the-shelf or bespoke customised solutions at each stage of product and process development for all industry sectors. µ


he Centre of Excellence in Metrology for Micro and Nano Technologies (CEMMNT) is a new company funded by the UK Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and its partner organisations. It has been established to provide open access design, measurement and characterisation services and solutions to organisations commercialising new products and processes based on micro and nano technologies (MNT). CEMMNT unites five global MNT leaders ideally positioned to supply industry: BAE Systems, Coventor, QinetiQ, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) and Taylor Hobson. CEMMNT’s management hub is based in Loughborough at the Systems Engineering Innovation Centre (SEIC). Each partner provides complementary

expertise that benefits products at different stages of their lifecycle, providing customised solutions across all industrial sectors, as illustrated by the following examples: Applied Nanodetectors (www. is an SME with significant intellectual property in the field of nanotechnology-based sensors for environmental and medical applications. Its Managing Director, Dr Victor Higgs, approached NPL to gain open access to nano technology techniques and expertise. Dr Higgs was offered consultancy supported by the DTI’s Measurement for Innovators (MFI)

Each partnEr providEs complEmEntary ExpErtisE that bEnEfits products at diffErEnt stagEs of thEir lifEcyclE, providing customisEd solutions across all industrial sEctors


the CEMMNT partnership and its open access philosophy can bring to SME’s. High-resolution Transmission Electron Microscopy (HRTEM) is ideally suited to the analysis of multilayer thin films, semiconductor heterostructures, synthesised nanoparticles, carbon nanotubes and nano-composites giving structural information at the most detailed (e.g. lattice imaging) level. Figure 2 shows an HRTEM image from a segment of a filled multiwalled carbon nanotube. TEM provides key information relating to nanotube properties, including the number of walls, tube diameter, wall roughness and identification of co-located species such as fillers or catalyst particles. In the catalysed growth of carbon nanotubes, Energy Dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) nano analysis of individual metal particle elemental compositions can be used to test for inter-relationships between catalyst particle size, composition and nanotube form and diameter. CEMMNT has TEM

instruments available at QinetiQ and NPL equipped with digital camera imaging systems to permit rapid response investigations and an inhouse project to develop molecular scale chemical fingerprinting by integrating electron energy loss spectroscopy (EELS). The MEMS industry is projected to reach over $25 billion by 2009 (source: NEXUS). It is vital that SME’s with new devices can accurately design and test prototype performance. CEMMNT partners, the SEIC and Coventor provide the design tools and systems engineering knowledge to develop smart monitoring and diagnostics techniques, potentially leading to selfanalysis. The tools will be developed to provide multi-functional modelling, simulation and prototyping design capabilities. In addition, CEMMNT offers a full range of metrology services for static and dynamic characterisation of MEMS devices. Optical profilometry under stroboscopic illumination at QinetiQ measures XYZ displacement characteristics and device resonant responses under operational conditions with sub-nanometre vertical sensitivity (Figure 3). Micro-imaging vibrometry at NPL determines resonant frequencies and out-of-plane displacements. Orthopaedic implants have seen a dramatic increase in demand over

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Double helixes of nano-ice

Xiao Cheng Zeng research group at UNL


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esearchers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (UNL) have used computer modeling to find double helixes of nano-ice molecules ‘that resemble the structure of DNA and self-assemble under high pressure inside carbon nanotubes.’ Of course, these computer simulations need to be confirmed by real experiments. But the scientists think their discovery may help other

researchers studying the protein structures that cause diseases such as Alzheimer’s and mad cow disease. These computer simulations have been done by Chemistry professor Xiao Cheng Zeng and two members of his research group, Jun Wang and Jaeil Bai. For these computer simulations, they used a supercomputer called “Prairiefire,” a 128-node Beowulf

cluster equipped with 256 2.2 GHz Opteron (64-bit) processors from AMD, which reaches a speed of 888.5 GFlops in the High-Performance Linpack benchmark. Above is a spectacular computer image of a nano-ice double helix obtained with Prairiefire. Oxygen atoms are shown in blue in the inner helix and in purple in the outer helix, the hydrogen atoms are in white. µ

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The hunt for the Perfect Packaging
NaNotechNology is the subject of much hype, claim aNd couNter-claim. to maNy people, NaNotechNology is still a techNology of the future, associated more with scieNce fictioN thaN with fact.



ne industry sector in particular that has its feet firmly on the ground, has seen the reality behind the hype, and is already seeking new solutions to old problems by applying nanotechnology. That industry is the packaging industry, and this short paper outlines a few areas where the application nanotechnology is set to make a real difference. In the search for the perfect package, let us consider what nanotechnology might offer users in the case of polymer-based packaging. We know polymers are cheap and cheerful, and offer many useful attributes such as transparency and longevity; but they tend to have notorious downsides – including susceptibility to tear, lack of toughness, a low level of heat

resistance, and the possibility of contamination by scents and smells. Much work today is focused on investigating the new properties that can be achieved through the addition of different nanoparticles. For example, a low percentage of clay nanoparticles in a polymer can lead to a radical transformation of its properties. Less than 2% of clay nanoparticles provide increased barrier properties, as well as a dramatic increase in strength, toughness, durability and heat resistance. In some instances, nanoparticle–reinforced polymers can even be used as a successful substitute for glass, but with the added benefit of being unbreakable, and having high gas and UV barrier properties. Given that only a small percentage


work is underway on ‘fine tuning’ the optimum dispersal of nano-particles within the polymer, to produce specific strength, stiffness and wear resistance properties

of nanoparticles can make a difference, work is underway on ‘fine tuning’ the optimum dispersal of nanoparticles (such as nanoclays, silica, carbon and non-carbon nanotubes, and nanofibres) within the polymer, - including films, fibres and foams - to produce specific strength, stiffness and wear resistance properties. The presence of nanoparticles can offer other attributes such as increased absorbance, gloss, conductivity and even clarity to the packaging. Some research centres are currently involved in the development of specifically flame retardant, polymerbased nanocomposites, as well as investigating techniques to improve their heat resistance properties. Water-resistant packaging is also an important goal, being achieved through the design of nano-based, durable, super-hydrophobic coatings based on silica / polyurethane composites. With regard to paper and board packaging, polymer nanoemulsions are being developed for use as sizing agents that can provide improved dimensional stability, increased wet strength and reduced permeability. The benefit of enhancing the properties of polymers means that the range of applications can be extended, to include the packaging of organic or electronic components where there is a need for oxygen and water vapour barriers. So what about biodegradability? Some research teams are working on altering the photodegradation rates of polymers. This can be achieved in several ways – one is through coating packaging surfaces with very thin films of photoactive materials, leading to increased – or sometimes, even reduced - rates of degradation.

One research group is working on the prevention and / or promotion of adhesion for labelling and other applications. The use of nanoscale surface functionalisation techniques is leading to the development of surface layers on packaging that can exhibit different properties. Some surfaces can be made adhesion promoting, others adhesion resisting; some can be made to provide boundary lubrication, and others special protection for a variety of applications, including pharmaceutical packaging. So what about identification? Nanoscale research is also leading to a variety of ways in which packages can be ‘tagged’, with many applications in product tracking, anti-counterfeit and brand protection. Techniques involve using magnetic thin films, luminescent sol-gel layers, novel luminescent complexes or quantum dots as nano barcodes. The barcodes can even be directly printed on to the product with no adverse effect. They are invisible to the naked eye but become clearly readable under ultraviolet light. A further step is the development of what might be termed the ‘Interactive


some techniques use sensors based on thin film silicon transistors which can be fabricated directly onto common packaging materials, such as paper and plastic
Reporting Package’ (IRP) – a package that incorporates cheap, rugged electronics, sensors and systems that enable the supplier, purchaser, haulier and even public security and health officers alike to obtain full information on the contents, status, location etc of a package at any given time. This ‘holy grail’ of packaging is in the process of being realised by a breakthrough in the development of cheap, reliable fully printable electronic devices. These devices are based on nanoscale materials such as electronic inks and novel nanocomposites, deposited using modified ink-jet printing techniques. A truly efficient ‘IRP’ package also will depend on the development of appropriate Radio Frequency ID tags. In Malaya, the design and layout

of a low frequency RFID tag with a footprint of only 0.1mm2 has been successfully completed, and now the design of a high frequency RFID tag of the same size is underway. The ‘footprint’ the tag is so small, and its predicted cost so cheap that it will be attractive even for use in mass produced goods. After location and contents, what can nanotechnology do for communicating freshness in perishable goods? Most supermarkets are paranoid about food freshness, often leading to the unnecessary destruction of food that is perfectly safe to eat. Over 1/3 of all food produced is wasted, partly due to this anxiety. Government is now actively seeking ways to reduce this, as food production is so highly energy and water intensive. There are several ways to communicate food freshness. Some techniques use sensors based on thin film silicon transistors which can be fabricated directly onto common packaging materials, such as paper and plastic. This allows active monitoring of the state of the product, displaying the information on the package itself. Another is focussed on simple, cheap chemical techniques whereby a colour change is induced when the contents is exposed to oxygen - a technique which also can be used to indicate tampering. Other techniques use ‘intelligent’ inks as oxygen indicators, with easy-to-read electrochromic displays as an output. With the advent of new antibacterial techniques which are finding early medical applications (such as the use of nanosilver in sticking plasters), these techniques can also be used in packaging to prevent bacterial action in many products including bulk and processed foods In conclusion, if you are searching to use or produce the perfect package, nanotechnology offers a variety of new, cost-effective opportunities to product and package manufacturer alike, including anti-counterfeit measures, contents protection, sustainability and traceability. Work in this area is international. ✪ For a full report on the developments mentioned above, and many others, contact Ottilia Saxl at the Institute of Nanotechnology. uk T:(0)1786447520 or visit www.nano.

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NanoParticle Deposition

üSize-selected nanoparticles üUltra-pure process üAdherent coatings üMagnetic materials üOxides, nitrides, alloys

Atomic Oxygen ü hydrogen ü nitrogen sources Ion sources ü K-cells ü sputter deposition E-beam Evaporators
email tel +44 (0)1844 260160 web

Other deposition sources:


has ultimate engineering approach to materials processing and performance are designed from the atomic level up. The company, which is funded by Department of trade and industry and London Development Agency, supports the creative industries by disseminating new materials technology. Our expertise includes; polymer processing; coating technology; encapsulation; imaging; mechanical/analytical characterization and rapid processing of ceramics. Nanoforce technology has expertise in rapid sintering of ceramics by Spark Plasma Sintering (SPS). This capability is unique in the UK and is being used to develop novel structural and functional ceramics. SPS enables the processing of materials that require a high sintering temperature, as well as materials that are difficult to process. As a consequence, the technique can produce microstructures with properties that are impossible to achieve through other processing route. The ability to process phases that do not normally co exist opens doors to creating completely new multifunctional materials for sensor applications. Some of the many new materials that we are developing using SPS are: Piezoelectrics that can operate at extremely high temperature (more than 800 C), electro conductive ceramics, textured ceramics, super hard ceramics and structural ceramics. If you are interested in the above activities of Nanoforce, please do not hesitate to contact us.


Tel: ............................................................................. 0207 882 2776 Fax: . ......................................................................... 0207 882 7900 Email: . Web:

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