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DocWatch
nanotechnology
Twitterit?
News stories about "nanotechnology," with punchlines: http://apocadocs.com/d.pl?nanotechnology
Related Scary Tags:
unintended consequences  ~ health impacts  ~ technological innovation  ~ alternative energy  ~ efficiency increase  ~ contamination  ~ toxic water  ~ toxic buildup  ~ technical cleverness  ~ soil issues  ~ regulatory stupidity  



Wed, Apr 2, 2014
from Discovery:
Silver Nanoparticles May Harm Humans and Wildlife
Microscopic bits of silver, known as nanoparticles, now appear as an anti-microbial ingredient in a wide variety of consumer products. However, a growing body of evidence tarnishes silver nanoparticles' reputation. Studies published this year documented unhealthy reactions in human intestinal cells and aquatic algae after exposure to silver nanoparticles, reported Inside Science.... Silver nanoparticles' tiny size allows them to enter parts of living things bodies that other molecules can't reach. The other study mentioned by Inside Science and published in February by ACS Nano, found that human intestinal cells reacted negatively to silver nanoparticles of different sizes.... The danger is that nanosilver may be entering the environment now, yet we don't know how it will affect living things in the long term. Scientists do know that various forms of silver, including nanoparticles, can be toxic to animals, including rainbow trout and rats, in laboratory experiments. ...


Hi-yo, blood-brain barrier, away!

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Wed, Aug 22, 2012
from University of Missouri, via EurekAlert:
Super-strong, high-tech material found to be toxic to aquatic animals
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are some of the strongest materials on Earth and are used to strengthen composite materials, such as those used in high-performance tennis rackets. CNTs have potential uses in everything from medicine to electronics to construction. However, CNTs are not without risks. A joint study by the University of Missouri and United States Geological Survey found that they can be toxic to aquatic animals.... "One of the greatest possibilities of contamination of the environment by CNTs comes during the manufacture of composite materials," said Hao Li, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at MU. "Good waste management and handling procedures can minimize this risk. Also, to control long-term risks, we need to understand what happens when these composite materials break down." ...


You don't think I'm safe either? But I'm a land animal!

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Mon, Jun 11, 2012
from PhysOrg:
Nanoparticles in polluted air, smoke and nanotechnology products have serious impact on health
Environmental pollution including carbon particles emitted by car exhaust, smoking and long term inhalation of dust of various origins have been recognised as risk factors causing chronic inflammation of the lungs. The link between smoking and autoimmune diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis has also been established. This new research now raises serious concerns in relation to similar risks caused by nanotechnology products which if not handled appropriately may contribute to the generation of new types of airborne pollutants causing risks to global health.... The result was clear and convincing: all types of nanoparticles in both the TCD and US study were causing an identical response in human cells and in the lungs of mice, manifesting in the specific transformation of the amino acid arginine into the molecule called citrulline which can lead to the development of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis. ...


We have to invent NanoJanitor™, stat!

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Mon, Feb 6, 2012
from Stanford, via ScienceDaily:
Engineers Weld Nanowires With Light
In a paper just published in the journal Nature Materials, a team of engineers at Stanford has demonstrated a promising new nanowire welding technique that harnesses plasmonics to fuse the wires with a simple blast of light.... The beauty is that the hot spots exist only when the nanowires touch, not after they have fused. The welding stops itself. It's self-limiting," explained Mark Brongersma, an associate professor of materials science engineering at Stanford and an expert in plasmonics. Brongersma is one of the study's senior authors.... To demonstrate the possibilities, they applied their mesh on Saran wrap. They sprayed a solution containing silver nanowires in suspension on the plastic and dried it. After illumination, what was left was an ultrathin layer of welded nanowires. "Then we balled it up like a piece of paper. When we unfurled the wrap, it maintained its electrical properties," said co-author Yi Cui, an associate professor materials science and engineering. "And when you hold it up, it's virtually transparent."... "This opens some interesting, simple and large-area processing schemes for electronic devices -- solar, LEDs and touch-screen displays, especially." ...


Please, please don't fund the touchscreen displays first.

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Thu, Jan 26, 2012
from New York Times:
With Prevalence of Nanomaterials Rising, Panel Urges Review of Risks
Tiny substances called nanomaterials have moved into the marketplace over the last decade, in products as varied as cosmetics, clothing and paint. But not enough is known about their potential health and environmental risks, which should be studied further, an expert panel of the National Academy of Sciences said on Wednesday. Nanoscale forms of substances like silver, carbon, zinc and aluminum have many useful properties. Nano zinc oxide sunscreen goes on smoothly, for example, and nano carbon is lighter and stronger than its everyday or "bulk" form. But researchers say these products and others can also be ingested, inhaled or possibly absorbed through the skin. And they can seep into the environment during manufacturing or disposal. ...


Those little teeny tiny worry warts.

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Mon, Sep 26, 2011
from Northwestern University via ScienceDaily:
Edible Carbon Dioxide Sponge: All-Natural Nanostructures Could Address Pressing Environmental Problem
A year ago Northwestern University chemists published their recipe for a new class of nanostructures made of sugar, salt and alcohol. Now, the same team has discovered the edible compounds can efficiently detect, capture and store carbon dioxide. And the compounds themselves are carbon-neutral. The porous crystals -- known as metal-organic frameworks (MOFs) -- are made from all-natural ingredients and are simple to prepare, giving them a huge advantage over other MOFs. Conventional MOFs, which also are effective at adsorbing carbon dioxide, are usually prepared from materials derived from crude oil and often incorporate toxic heavy metals. ...


We need mo' mofos like MOFs!

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Thu, Sep 15, 2011
from IUPUI:
Carbon Nanoparticles Break Barriers--and That May Not Be Good
A study by researchers from the schools of science and medicine at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis examines the effects of carbon nanoparticles (CNPs) on living cells. This work is among the first to study concentrations of these tiny particles that are low enough to mimic the actual exposure of an ordinary individual...The research, published in the September 2011 issue of the journal Nanotoxicology, focuses on the effect of low concentration CNP exposure on the cells that line the renal nephron, a tubular structure inside the kidney that makes urine. The investigators found the role of the CNPs in this part of the body to be significant and potentially worrisome....["]We found that these minute particles cause leakage in the cellular lining of the renal nephron," said study first author Bonnie Blazer-Yost, Ph.D. ..."Breaching this biological barrier concerns us because things that should be retained in the forming urine can leak back into the blood stream and things in the blood can leak into the urine. Normal biological substances as well as waste products are dangerous if they go where they are not supposed to be," Blazer-Yost said. ...


"Taking a leak" now has a whole new meaning.

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Tue, Sep 13, 2011
from London Guardian:
Sheffield highlights 'clean jeans' which zap pollutants round their wearers
Jeans which clean up the air around them are being highlighted in Sheffield, as the UK's textile industry continues to show that it is far from dead. Using Lilliput-like nanotechnology, the familiar blue material breaks down pollutants from industry and road traffic with photocatalysts added to the cloth. The system, devised by Sheffield university and the London College of Fashion, follows similar 'smart' applications at Bolton University, which generate electricity through minute solar and movement cells in fabric. Its potential for reducing other more obvious odours, or even overcoming the long-standing aversion of golf clubs to denim clothing, has yet to be explored. ...


The most important thing, however, is its impact on the perceived capaciousness of my derriere.

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Tue, Aug 23, 2011
from Brown University, via EurekAlert:
Nickel nanoparticles may contribute to lung cancer
All the excitement about nanotechnology comes down to this: Structures of materials at the scale of billionths of a meter take on unusual properties. Technologists often focus on the happier among these newfound capabilities, but new research by an interdisciplinary team of scientists at Brown University finds that nanoparticles of nickel activate a cellular pathway that contributes to cancer in human lung cells.... Nickel nanoparticles had already been shown to be harmful, but not in terms of cancer. Kane and her team of pathologists, engineers and chemists found evidence that ions on the surface of the particles are released inside human epithelial lung cells to jumpstart a pathway called HIF-1 alpha. Normally the pathway helps trigger genes that support a cell in times of low oxygen supply, a problem called hypoxia, but it is also known to encourage tumor cell growth. "Nickel exploits this pathway, in that it tricks the cell into thinking there's hypoxia but it's really a nickel ion that activates this pathway," said Kane, whose work is supported by a National Institues of Health Superfund Research Program Grant. "By activating this pathway it may give premalignant tumor cells a head start." ...


Nanothelioma? Nicko-nano-carcinoma? At least we'll know the tumors will be small!

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Tue, Aug 2, 2011
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Carbon nanotube 'solar fuel' could store solar energy
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of technology (MIT) have designed a new solar thermal fuel that could store up to 10,000 times more energy than previous systems. The fuel, which has been studied using computational chemistry but not yet fully tested in the lab, consists of carbon nanotubes (CNTs) modified with azobenzene. It is expected to provide the same energy storage per volume as lithium-ion batteries and can store solar energy almost indefinitely. It can also be recharged by simply exposing it to sunlight - no electricity required.... What is more, the volumetric energy density of this fuel is very low in contrast to that of azobenzene/CNT, which has a value that is 10,000 greater. "This value is comparable to that of lithium-ion batteries, and high enough for us to realistically envisage our solar thermal fuel in real-world applications," Kolpak told physicsworld.com. "The fuel also has many other advantages, such as being emission-free and easily rechargeable - you don't need to be near an electricity source to recharge."... The researchers admit that there are still many challenges to overcome before they can even consider commercializing such a technology. ...


See? I told you that technology would solve the problem. Er, sometime in the future.

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Wed, Apr 27, 2011
from Massachusetts Institute of Technology via ScienceDaily:
Solar Power Goes Viral: Researchers Use Virus to Improve Solar-Cell Efficiency
Researchers at MIT have found a way to make significant improvements to the power-conversion efficiency of solar cells by enlisting the services of tiny viruses to perform detailed assembly work at the microscopic level...that's where viruses come to the rescue. Graduate students Xiangnan Dang and Hyunjung Yi -- working with Angela Belcher, the W. M. Keck Professor of Energy, and several other researchers -- found that a genetically engineered version of a virus called M13, which normally infects bacteria, can be used to control the arrangement of the nanotubes on a surface, keeping the tubes separate so they can't short out the circuits, and keeping the tubes apart so they don't clump. ...


What could go wrong?

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Sun, Apr 17, 2011
from Popular Science:
Study Finds Commonly Used Silver Nanoparticles Are Deadly to Microbes, Plants
Nanotech is looked upon by many as the next great enabling technology that will revolutionize (and is revolutionizing) everything from materials science to disease therapies to game-changing new energy technologies. But, according to a new study by Queen's University researchers, some commonly used nanoparticles found in everything from sunscreen to cosmetics to socks could be destroying soil systems, and by extension the very ecosystems upon which we rely for life. Among the millions of tons of nanoparticles manufactured annually, silver nanoparticles are a particular favorite as they work as antibacterial agents in surgical tools, water treatment, wound dressings, and in a variety of other roles. They've even been used in the cathodes of batteries.... The researchers had begun to wonder what the impact of nanoparticles were on the environment, and having received a chunk of Arctic soil as part of the International Polar Year they decided to experiment on this piece of uncontaminated earth. They first studied the sample to see what kind of microbe communities were living in the soil, and identified a certain beneficial and prevalent microbe that helps fix nitrogen to plants. Plants can't do this on their own and nitrogen is critical to their growth, so this particular microbe is essential to plant life. The researchers then added three different kinds of nanoparticles to the soil and let it sit for six months. When they re-examined it, they found that this microbe had largely been extinguished, and laboratory analysis showed that silver nanoparticles were the culprit. Given the high number of silver nanoparticles slipping into the environment on a daily basis, such findings are concerning. ...


Should there be a warning label that reads "Antithetical to life itself"?

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Tue, Apr 12, 2011
from North Carolina State University:
Study Finds Public Relatively Unconcerned About Nanotechnology Risks
A new study finds that the general public thinks getting a suntan poses a greater public health risk than nanotechnology or other nanoparticle applications. The study, from North Carolina State University, compared survey respondents' perceived risk of nanoparticles with 23 other public-health risks. The study is the first to compare the public's perception of the risks associated with nanoparticles to other environmental and health safety risks. Researchers found that nanoparticles are perceived as being a relatively low risk. "For example, 19 of the other public-health risks were perceived as more hazardous, including suntanning and drinking alcohol," says Dr. Andrew Binder, an assistant professor of communication at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the study. "The only things viewed as less risky were cell-phone use, blood transfusions, commercial air travel and medical X-rays." In fact, 60 percent of respondents felt that nanoparticles posed either no health risk or only a slight health risk.... “While it remains unclear whether nanoparticles are safe, they are not a major concern among the general public.” ...


I'm concerned just a really really tiny amount.

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Mon, Jan 10, 2011
from UT Dallas, via ScienceDaily:
Spinning the Unspinnable: Superconducting, Energy Storing and Catalytic Yarns Based on Ancient Types of Spirals
Nanotechnologists at The University of Texas at Dallas have invented a broadly deployable technology for producing weavable, knittable, sewable, and knottable yarns containing up to 95 weight percent of otherwise unspinnable guest powders and nanofibers. A minute amount of host carbon nanotube web, which can be lighter than air and stronger pound-per-pound than steel, confines guest particulates in the corridors of highly conducting scrolls without interfering with guest functionality for such applications as energy storage, energy conversion, and energy harvesting.... Biscrolled yarns get their name from the way they are produced: a uniform layer of guest material is deposited on top of a web of carbon nanotubes, which is called the host. This bilayer guest/host stack is then twisted to form a biscrolled yarn.... The carbon nanotube webs that the inventors used for biscrolling are not ordinary carbon nanotube sheets -- they can be drawn at up to two yards/second from forests of carbon nanotubes.... Using as guest up to 95 weight percent LiFePO4, a remarkable material for lithium-ion batteries, high performance lithium ion battery electrodes were demonstrated by UT Dallas researchers, and shown to have the battery performance, flexibility and mechanical robustness needed for incorporation in energy storing and energy generating clothing. Biscrolling nitrogen-doped carbon nanotube guest provided highly catalytic fuel cell cathodes for chemical generation of electrical energy, which avoid the need for expensive platinum catalyst. By biscrolling a mixture of magnesium and boron powders and thermal treatment, superconducting MgB2 yarns were produced, which eliminated the thirty or more draw steps used for conventional production of superconducting wires. Using photocatalytic titanium dioxide guest, biscrolled yarns for self-cleaning fabrics were obtained. ...


My recommendation for a colloquial name for any nanofibre-encased substance: "nanwich."

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Thu, Dec 16, 2010
from ScienceDaily:
Earthworms Absorb Discarded Copper Nanomaterials Present in Soil
In a study funded by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a team of scientists from the University of Kentucky determined that earthworms could absorb copper nanoparticles present in soil. One crucial step in determining the uptake of nanomaterials was discerning whether uptake of metal ions was released from the nanomaterials or the nanomaterials themselves. Using x-ray analysis, researchers were able to differentiate between copper ions and copper nanoparticles by examining the oxidation state of copper in the earthworm tissues.... Jason Unrine, the lead author of the study said, "This was one of the first studies to demonstrate that engineered nanomaterials can be taken up from the soil by soil organisms and enter food chains, and it has significant implications in terms of potential exposure to nanomaterials for both humans and ecological receptor species." ...


Uh-oh! Looks like "ecological receptor species" and "humans" are an intersecting set!

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Mon, Sep 27, 2010
from EnvironmentalResearchWeb:
Geoengineering: nanoparticles could beat sulphates
Most geoengineering research today considers the effects of adding sulphate particles to the atmosphere. But David Keith of Canada's University of Calgary reckons that nanoparticles could overcome at least some of the problems such a solution would bring.... "Engineered nanoparticles would first need to be tested in laboratories, with only short-lived particles initially deployed in the atmosphere so any effects could be easily reversible," said Keith. In his paper Keith considers the geoengineering potential of a 50 nm-thick disk with a radius of roughly 5 microns.... While Keith believes that it is worth researching the potential of such nanoparticles, he says their use would create more unknowns than sulphate particles, which volcanoes have already released into the atmosphere. "We lack the direct natural analogue provided by volcanic injection of sulphur dioxide," he writes in PNAS. "This lack of analogue means that we should be more concerned about unexpected side effects, unknown unknowns, and consider how a careful progression from testing to monitored subscale deployment could constrain the risks."... According to Keith, geoengineering cannot offset the risks that come from increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. "If we don't halt man-made carbon dioxide emissions, no amount of climate engineering can eliminate the problems - massive emissions reductions are still necessary," he said. ...


A geoengineer with humility? What's up with that?

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Thu, Aug 19, 2010
from Scientific American:
Silver Beware: Antimicrobial Nanoparticles in Soil May Harm Plant Life
A new study finds that the popular microbicidal silver nanomaterial negatively impacts the growth of plants as well as kills the soil microbes that sustain them.... When it is nanosize--between one and 100 nanometers, which is smaller than many viruses (a nanometer is one billionth of a meter)--silver is even more effective at killing microbes. This antimicrobial potency has prompted manufacturers to include silver nanoparticles in a wide variety of consumer products, such as odor-resistant clothing, hand sanitizers, water treatment systems and even microbe-proof teddy bears.... In order to examine silver nanoparticles' ecosystemic impact the researchers prepared series of outdoor "mesocosms"--intermediate-sized "fields" of plants growing in rubber tubs. They applied 0.2 kilograms of biosolid to each tub, amending the fertilizer with 11 milligrams of silver nanoparticles per tub. This concentration is within the range that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported finding in a recent survey of biosolids from water treatment plants.... The nanoparticles reduced the growth of one of the tested plant species by 22 percent as compared with silver-free biosolid treatment. Similarly, microbial biomass was reduced by 20 percent. Colman presented the findings August 4 at the 95th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America. ...


Given the uncertainty, I suggest an uncontrolled experiment on the real environment.

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Thu, Aug 19, 2010
from AolNews:
EPA May Give 1st Approval of Nanosilver for Fabrics
A Swiss chemical producer may soon be the first company to receive approval by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to use nanosilver to make clothing smell better, stay cleaner and destroy germs. However, health scientists say the nanoparticles will wash out with the rinse water and could cause unknown environmental and health problems downstream. The EPA said that it may issue "conditional approval" to HeiQ Materials AG, a producer of nanosized additives, for the use of a nanosilver pesticide as a new active ingredient in fabrics. ...


Me, I like to look good while I'm dying from environmental contamination.

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Thu, May 27, 2010
from New Scientist:
The taste of tiny: Putting nanofoods on the menu
So what is a nanofood? It isn't just about nanoparticles. Many foods have a natural nanostructure - the proteins in milk form nanoscale clusters, for example - that can be altered on the nanoscale to enhance their properties. In fact, researchers have been changing the nanostructure of food for years, for example by adding emulsifiers to improve the texture of ice cream. It's the emergence of technologies such as atomic force microscopy that has changed the game by finally opening a window on the nanoworld. Rather than working blind, Morris can now take a close look at the tiny structures he works on, understand their behaviour and then make changes in a more rational and deliberate way.... "We know that the food industry is looking at encapsulating certain ingredients like omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins or minerals," says Frans Kampers, who researches bionanotechnologies at Wageningen University and Research Centre in the Netherlands. The idea is an attractive one. Oil-soluble nutrients can be poorly absorbed in the watery environment of the gut, with a proportion passing right through the body. Nano-encapsulation converts them to a dispersed form that is more easily taken up (Current Opinion in Colloid & Interface Science, vol 14, p 3). Wrapping them in nano packages also extends their shelf life, masks any unpleasant tastes and, in the case of nano-emulsions, makes them invisible to the naked eye so that they don't affect a food's appearance. ...


I'm sure any unintended consequences will be really small!

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Sun, May 2, 2010
from Environmental Health News:
Treated fabrics exposed to faux sweat release silver nanoparticles
Researchers find that fabrics laced with silver nanoparticles designed to limit bacterial growth release those particles when the fabric is exposed to artificial human sweat... This is the first study to use faux sweat to mimic conditions of human skin; it determined that silver nanoparticles can migrate out of fabric after exposure to the simulated perspiration. It is not known if the silver materials in sweat would be absorbed through human skin...There is concern that the the tiny particles may be more toxic than other, larger-sized and more traditional types of silver compounds, as the smaller particles could be more easily absorbed and distributed throughout the body. ...


No-no-technology.

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Fri, Mar 12, 2010
from University of Wisconsin-Madison via ScienceDaily:
Scavenging Energy Waste to Turn Water Into Hydrogen Fuel
Materials scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have designed a way to harvest small amounts of waste energy and harness them to turn water into usable hydrogen fuel. The process is simple, efficient and recycles otherwise-wasted energy into a useable form... The researchers, led by UW-Madison geologist and crystal specialist Huifang Xu, grew nanocrystals of two common crystals, zinc oxide and barium titanate, and placed them in water. When pulsed with ultrasonic vibrations, the nanofibers flexed and catalyzed a chemical reaction to split the water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen... "This is a new phenomenon, converting mechanical energy directly to chemical energy," Xu says, calling it a piezoelectrochemical (PZEC) effect. ...


Did somebody say something about pie?

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Tue, Mar 2, 2010
from Purdue, via EurekAlert:
Popular nanoparticle causes toxicity in fish, study shows
... [N]anosilver suspended in solution proved toxic and even lethal to the minnows. When the nanosilver was allowed to settle, the solution became several times less toxic but still caused malformations in the minnows. "Silver nitrate is a lot more toxic than nanosilver, but when nanosilver was sonicated, or suspended, its toxicity increased tenfold," said Maria Sepulveda, an assistant professor of forestry and natural resources whose findings were published in the journal Ecotoxicology. "There is reason to be concerned."... "These nanosilver particles are so small they are able to cross the egg membranes and move into the fish embryos in less than a day," Sepulveda said. "They had a potentially high dose of silver in them." ...


Only a really tiny reason to be concerned!

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Sun, Feb 21, 2010
from Stanford, via PhysOrg:
Nanotechnology sparks energy storage on paper and cloth
By dipping ordinary paper or fabric in a special ink infused with nanoparticles, Stanford engineer Yi Cui has found a way to cheaply and efficiently manufacture lightweight paper batteries and supercapacitors (which, like batteries, store energy, but by electrostatic rather than chemical means), as well as stretchable, conductive textiles known as "eTextiles" -- capable of storing energy while retaining the mechanical properties of ordinary paper or fabric.... While electrical energy storage devices have come a long way since Alessandro Volta debuted the world's first electrical cell in 1800, the technology is facing yet another revolution. Current methods of manufacturing energy storage devices can be capital intensive and environmentally hazardous, and the end products have noticeable performance constraints -- conventional lithium ion batteries have a limited storage capacity and are costly to manufacture, while traditional capacitors provide high power but at the expense of energy storage capacity. ...


Let's be sure they can be nanorecycled, without nanoreleases of maxitoxins, k?

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Tue, Feb 16, 2010
from Science Daily:
Energy-Efficient Lighting Made Without Mercury
RTI International has developed a revolutionary lighting technology that is more energy efficient than the common incandescent light bulb and does not contain mercury, making it environmentally safer than the compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb.... When the two nanoscale technologies are combined, a high-efficiency lighting device is produced that is capable of generating in excess of 55 lumens of light output per electrical watt consumed. This efficiency is more than five times greater than that of traditional incandescent bulbs.... Additionally, RTI's technology produces an aesthetically pleasing light with better color rendering properties than is typically found in CFLs. The technology has demonstrated color rendering indices in excess of 90 for warm white, neutral white, and cool white illumination sources.... It is anticipated that commercial products containing this breakthrough will be available in three to five years. ...


Faster! Get the lead mercury out!

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Mon, Feb 1, 2010
from Virginia Tech, via EurekAlert:
Engineers explore environmental concerns of nanotechnology
History has shown that previous industrial revolutions, such as those involving asbestos and chloroflurocarbons, have had some serious environmental impacts. Might nanotechnology also pose a risk? ... Scientists and engineers at the center have outlined plans to conduct research on the possible environmental health impacts of nanomaterials. The plans include new approaches, such as creating a predictive toxicology model based on cell assays and building ecosystems to track nanoparticles.... In their preliminary studies, results indicate that "oxidation does impact solubility, as absorbance after resuspending in water is lower for fullerenes exposed to ozone." The implication is that reactions in the atmosphere can transform nanoparticles and make them more likely to dissolve in water once they deposit back to earth. There, they can travel farther and come in contact with more organisms than if they were stuck to soil. ...


Everyone knows only good things come in small packages.

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Wed, Jan 13, 2010
from SciDev.net:
Safety ignored in nanotech rush, warn experts
Developing countries have embarked on a nanotechnology spree in the absence of health and safety guidelines, experts have cautioned. Countries including China, India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam are intensively seeking to commercialise nanotechnology. But unlike the European Union, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States -- which have taken public concerns on board and developed preliminary guidance documents on the use of the technology -- developing countries are not engaging in public discourse, said experts at a workshop on nanotechnology governance and regulation held in Delhi, India, last week (8 January).... Advertisements promote shirts made from nanofibres and washing machines that use nanomaterial-coated components to better remove dirt and stains. "It turns out none of the companies has performed any toxicology tests," said Dhawan, because there is no stipulation that they should do so. ...


Of course I buy my grey goo from the lowest bidder.

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You're still reading! Good for you!
You really should read our short, funny, frightening book FREE online (or buy a print copy):
Humoring the Horror of the Converging Emergencies!
We've been quipping this stuff for more than 30 months! Every day!
Which might explain why we don't get invited to parties anymore.
Fri, Aug 28, 2009
from SciDev.net:
Nanoparticles killed women, study claims
Nanoparticles have been blamed for two deaths at a Chinese factory, in a report that claims to be the first to document human disease caused by the particles. The study -- published in the European Respiratory Journal — describes seven women who fell ill after working in a printing factory in China, two of whom later died. All had symptoms indicating that their immune systems could not remove foreign objects from their lungs and had large amounts of fluid in the lung linings.... Particles of around 30 nanometres in size were found in the women's lungs and also in the plastic paste and a broken ventilation shaft in the workroom. "It is obvious the disease is not due to microparticles or vapours because the pulmonary epithelial cells are full of nanoparticles," says Yuguo Song, lead author and clinical toxicologist at the Beijing Chaoyang Hospital. ...


I'm only worried a really, really, really, really tiny amount.

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Sat, Jul 25, 2009
from TED talk, 2009:
Ray Kurzweil: Exponential solar
Our favorite part of this TED talk (which is worth watching in its entirety), is the exponential photovoltaic efficiency increase (starting around 5:43), "eight doublings away from providing 100 percent of our energy needs." Currently PV is doubling in efficiency:price every two years; now that nanotechnology is being applied, doubling could increase dramatically, he implies. Would it not be fabulous if this is true? We could then have the energy to de-carbonize and de-methanize our atmosphere and possibly de-acidify the ocean with floating solar-powered smartboats. Eight to sixteen years? If, as Kurzweil posits, the other developments in computing, nanotechnology, information interpretation, and general progress grows exponentially..., then in eight years, a radically different world awaits. And how will we make it? ...


And what will be left?

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Sat, Dec 13, 2008
from National Research Council:
Federal Plan to Study Risks Posed by Nanomaterials Is Inadequate
A new report from the National Research Council finds serious weaknesses in the government's plan for research on the potential health and environmental risks posed by nanomaterials, which are increasingly being used in consumer goods and industry. An effective national plan for identifying and managing potential risks is essential to the successful development and public acceptance of nanotechnology-enabled products, emphasized the committee that wrote the report.... [T]he plan fails to identify some important areas that should to be investigated; for example, "Nanomaterials and Human Health" should include a more comprehensive evaluation of how nanomaterials are absorbed and metabolized by the body and how toxic they are at realistic exposure levels. ...


This is a very, very, very small step in the right direction.

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Mon, Dec 8, 2008
from Yale University, via EurekAlert:
Nanotechnology 'culture war' possible, says Yale study
Rather than infer that nanotechnology is safe, members of the public who learn about this novel science tend to become sharply polarized along cultural lines, according to a study conducted by the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School in collaboration with the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. The report is published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.... When shown balanced information about the risks and benefits of nanotechnology, study participants became highly divided on its safety compared to a group not shown such information. The determining factor in how people responded was their cultural values, according to Dan Kahan, the Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor at Yale Law School and lead author of the study. "People who had more individualistic, pro-commerce values, tended to infer that nanotechnology is safe," said Kahan, "while people who are more worried about economic inequality read the same information as implying that nanotechnology is likely to be dangerous." ...


So pro-commerce folks tend to trust commerce, while others question commerce's motives. Wonder which side is "right"?

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Tue, Nov 4, 2008
from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, via EurekAlert:
Solar power game-changer: 'Near perfect' absorption of sunlight, from all angles
An untreated silicon solar cell only absorbs 67.4 percent of sunlight shone upon it -- meaning that nearly one-third of that sunlight is reflected away and thus unharvestable. From an economic and efficiency perspective, this unharvested light is wasted potential and a major barrier hampering the proliferation and widespread adoption of solar power. After a silicon surface was treated with Lin's new nanoengineered reflective coating, however, the material absorbed 96.21 percent of sunlight shone upon it -- meaning that only 3.79 percent of the sunlight was reflected and unharvested. This huge gain in absorption was consistent across the entire spectrum of sunlight, from UV to visible light and infrared, and moves solar power a significant step forward toward economic viability. ...


I see (and use all of) the light!

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Tue, Sep 30, 2008
from University of Rochester, via EurekAlert:
When particles are so small that they seep right through skin
... [S]ome nanoparticles are so small that they can actually seep through skin, especially when the skin has been damaged. The health implications of nanoparticles in the body are uncertain, said DeLouise, an assistant professor of Dermatology and Biomedical Engineering and an expert on the properties of nanoparticles. Other scientists have found that the particles can accumulate in the lymph system, the liver, the nervous system, and in other areas of the body. In her study, she found that the particles accumulate around the hair follicles and in tiny skin folds. ...


Why can't nanoparticles seep out of the body, too?

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Fri, Sep 19, 2008
from Purdue University, via EurekAlert:
'Buckyballs' have high potential to accumulate in living tissue
Research at Purdue University suggests synthetic carbon molecules called fullerenes, or buckyballs, have a high potential of being accumulated in animal tissue, but the molecules also appear to break down in sunlight, perhaps reducing their possible environmental dangers.... Findings indicated buckyballs have a greater chance of partitioning into fatty tissues than the banned pesticide DDT. However, while DDT is toxic to wildlife, buckyballs currently have no documented toxic effects, Jafvert said. ...


There's only a nanochance of toxic effects!

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Sun, Jun 8, 2008
from Natural News:
Nanosolar Price Barrier Breakthrough Makes Solar Electricity Cheaper Than Coal
A new combination of nano and solar technology has made it possible for solar electric generation to be cheaper than burning coal. Nanosolar, Inc. has developed a way to produce a type of ink that absorbs solar radiation and converts into electric current. Photovoltaic (PV) sheets are produced by a machine similar to a printing press, which rolls out the PV ink onto sheets approximately the width of aluminum foil. These PV sheets can be produced at a rate of hundreds of feet per minute. "It's 100 times thinner than existing solar panels, and we can deposit the semiconductors 100 times faster," said Nanosolar's cofounder and chief executive officer, R. Martin Roscheisen. "It's a combination that drives down costs dramatically." Nanosolar is ramping up production of its PowerSheets at factories in San Jose, California, and Berlin, and expects to have them commercially available before the end of the year. The buzz around the PowerSheets is so strong that the company already has a three to five year backorder. ...


That's three to five years too many -- jeez, ramp this up, outsource if you have to!

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Sat, May 31, 2008
from Washington Post (US):
Safety Studies on Nanoparticles Lag Behind Technology
One issue is that the explosion of products using nanomaterials has outpaced the research into what happens when the particles escape into the environment or the human body. "Safety studies are dribbling in, but new consumer products are pouring in... The system is backwards"... Silver, one of the most widely used nanomaterials, has potent antibacterial properties, "which can be a good thing or a bad thing"... When nanosilver and ionic silver reach wastewater treatment plants, they could kill beneficial bacteria used to remove impurities; if the particles get back into waterways, they could also harm fish and algae. Leftover sewage sludge is also used as agricultural fertilizer; nanosilver remaining there could damage soil used to grow food. ...


Heck, no problem. We'll just do what we always do: test it in the field, and then apologize, saying we didn't know.

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Fri, May 30, 2008
from DailyTech:
Buckyballs Versus Cell Membranes
The group, from the University of Calgary, used the computing power of WestGrid to run their simulations, which involved buckyball clusters interacting with lipid cell membranes. Their simulations found that the molecules were able to dissolve into the cell membrane, passing through it without causing mechanical damage, and reform in the cell's interior. Once inside the cell, the buckyballs could cause damage to the cells. Peter Tieleman, one of the study's leaders, explains "buckyballs are already being made on a commercial scale for use in coatings and materials but we have not determined their toxicity. There are studies showing that they can cross the blood-brain barrier and alter cell functions, which raises a lot of questions about their toxicity and what impact they may have if released into the environment." ...


"Good-ness, Grac-ious,
small balls of fi-ire!"

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Fri, May 30, 2008
from Angewandte, via Ars Technica:
Nanotechnology used to build artificial virus
The Lee research group at Yonsei University in Seoul, Korea found an alternate strategy, one that used pre-organized supramolecular nanostructures to construct, for the first time, a filament-shaped artificial virus.... The virus' simultaneous ability to deliver genetic materials and hydrophobic therapeutic reagents are particularly useful, and the researchers' approach is flexible and allows for a variety of structural changes to the virus. Until we study the toxicology of these artificial viruses, however, we cannot judge their full potential for treating diseases. ...


Yes, please, do study the toxicology. Oh, and while you're at it, whether this technique might be used for nontherapeutic purposes.

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Mon, May 26, 2008
from Chemical & Engineering News:
Nanotube Inflammation
"RIGID MULTIWALLED carbon nanotubes (MWNTs) longer than 20 µm elicit the same toxic response in mice that asbestos does, according to two new studies. The results suggest that in humans nanotubes could lead to mesothelioma, the hallmark cancer of asbestos exposure, if sufficient quantities of the material are able to reach the lungs by inhalation." ...


Maybe nanobots can cure the cancer that nanotubes cause!

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Wed, May 21, 2008
from Washington Post (US):
Effects of Nanotubes May Lead to Cancer, Study Says
Microscopic, high-tech "nanotubes" that are being made for use in a wide variety of consumer products cause the same kind of damage in the body as asbestos does, according to a study in mice that is raising alarms among workplace safety experts and others. Within days of being injected into mice, the nanotubes -- which are increasingly used in electronic components, sporting goods and dozens of other products -- triggered a kind of cellular reaction that over a period of years typically leads to mesothelioma, a fatal form of cancer, researchers said. ...


Hmm. I wonder if Haliburton's involved in nanotubes too?

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Sat, May 3, 2008
from Georgia Institute of Technology, via EurekAlert:
Environmental fate of nanoparticles depends on properties of water carrying them
The fate of carbon-based nanoparticles spilled into groundwater -- and the ability of municipal filtration systems to remove the nanoparticles from drinking water -- depend on subtle differences in the solution properties of the water carrying the particles, a new study has found. In slightly salty water, for example, clusters of Carbon 60 (C60) would tend to adhere tightly to soil or filtration system particles. But where natural organic compounds or chemical surfactants serve as stabilizers in water, the C60 fullerene particles would tend to flow as easily as the water carrying them. "In some cases, the nanoparticles move very little and you would get complete retention in the soil," said Kurt Pennell, a professor in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. "But in different solution conditions or in the presence of a stabilizing agent, they can travel just like water. The movement of these nanoparticles is very sensitive to the solution conditions." ...


Hmm. I think I'm made of "slightly salty water." But then, I'm also "natural organic compounds."
Will it nanostay or will it nanogo?

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Wed, Apr 30, 2008
from University of Missouri-Columbia, via EurekAlert:
Too much technology may be killing beneficial bacteria
For years, scientists have known about silver's ability to kill harmful bacteria and, recently, have used this knowledge to create consumer products containing silver nanoparticles. Now, a University of Missouri researcher has found that silver nanoparticles also may destroy benign bacteria that are used to remove ammonia from wastewater treatment systems.... Several products containing silver nanoparticles already are on the market, including socks containing silver nanoparticles designed to inhibit odor-causing bacteria and high-tech, energy-efficient washing machines that disinfect clothes by generating the tiny particles. The positive effects of that technology may be overshadowed by the potential negative environmental impact... "We found that silver nanoparticles are extremely toxic. The nanoparticles destroy the benign species of bacteria that are used for wastewater treatment. It basically halts the reproduction activity of the good bacteria." ...


This might be viewed as a nanocosm of our current situation.

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Fri, Apr 25, 2008
from Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, via EurekAlert:
New nanotech products hitting the market at the rate of 3-4 per week
The number of consumer products using nanotechnology has grown from 212 to 609 since PEN launched the world’s first online inventory of manufacturer-identified nanotech goods in March 2006. Health and fitness items, which includes cosmetics and sunscreens, represent 60 percent of inventory products.... Despite a 2006 worldwide investment of $12.4 billion in nanotech R&D, comparatively little was spent on examining nanotechnology's potential environmental, health and safety risks. "Public trust is the 'dark horse' in nanotechnology's future," says Rejeski in his testimony. "If government and industry do not work to build public confidence in nanotechnology, consumers may reach for the 'No-Nano' label in the future and investors will put their money elsewhere." ...


I've got nanointerest in putting "Swissdent Nanowhitening Toothpaste" [sic] anywhere near my mouth, thanks. At least until it's gotten more than nanoattention from people with nanovested interest in the outcome.

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Mon, Apr 7, 2008
from Vancouver Tyee:
Big Worries About Micro Particles
"The next "it" product is here. Some of you sleep on it. Some of you slap it on cuts. Some of you clean with it. Some babies suck on it. A few people study it, wondering if "it" will be an environmental and health disaster. Silver nanoparticles lace the insides of mattresses, bandages, washing machines, baby soothers, teddy bears and socks. Long known for its antimicrobial properties, silver is more effective at the nano-scale, particles a billionth of a metre in diameter. It's effective enough that the Environmental Protection Agency in the United States will consider it a pesticide under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act. Over 500 consumer products in North America hype their nano-sized composition, with silver the nano-star of the moment....The question of toxicity and human-engineered nanomaterials is one scientists and regulators struggle to understand. And one that consumers barely know about." ...


By all means let's mass produce this crap, THEN worry about the consequences.

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Tue, Feb 26, 2008
from Science Daily (US):
Cheap, Clean Drinking Water Purified Through Nanotechnology
"Tiny particles of pure silica coated with an active material could be used to remove toxic chemicals, bacteria, viruses, and other hazardous materials from water much more effectively and at lower cost than conventional water purification methods, according to researchers writing in the current issue of the International Journal of Nanotechnology." ...


Let's hope this process also filters out endocrine disrupters!

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