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Nano This and Nano ThatLast Updated: Saturday, 27-Jun-2009 22:35:48 PDT
We've all seen articles, papers, and predictions based on
Nanotubes - they seem to be everywhere these days. Here is just one prediction: "Nanofibers (nanotubes) may offer the potential for creating some astoundingly large and strong space structures; they may make the prospect of rotating orbital colonies feasible." See The Use of Nanofibers in Space Construction for one speculative view.
Nanoshells: Nanoscale metal spheres, which can absorb or scatter light at virtually any wavelength. "The nanoshells act as an amazingly versatile optical component on the nanometer scale: they may provide a whole new approach to optical materials and components," Professor Naomi Halas. See Metal Nanoshells in Bioengineering and Nanoshells May Be Key To Next Wave Of Light-Based Technology and Physics of Nanoshells.
Nanohorns: One of the SWNT (single walled carbon nanotube) types, with an irregular horn-like shape, which may be a critical component of a new generation of fuel cells. "The main characteristic of the carbon nanohorns is that when many of the nanohorns group together an aggregate (a secondary particle) of about 100 nanometers is created. The advantage being, that when used as an electrode for a fuel cell, not only is the surface area extremely large, but also, it is easy for the gas and liquid to permeate to the inside. In addition, compared with normal nanotubes, because the nanohorns are easily prepared with high purity it is expected to become a low-cost raw material." See NEC uses Carbon Nanotubes to Develop a Tiny Fuel Cell for Mobile Applications and here is a TEM image.
Nanowires: "Semiconductor nanowires are one-dimensional structures, with unique electrical and optical properties, that are used as building blocks in nanoscale devices." See Nanowires within nanowires and Learning how to Fabricate Nanowire. "Striped or 'superlatticed' nanowires can function as transistors, LEDs (light-emitting diodes) and other optoelectronic devices, biochemical sensors, heat-pumping thermoelectric devices, or all of the above, along the same length of wire." See Nanowires Get Their Stripes.
Nanosprings: A nanowire wrapped into a helix. Speculation is that they "may someday make highly sensitive magnetic field detectors, perhaps finding application in hard drive read heads. Alternatively, nanosprings could serve as positioners, or even as tiny conventional springs, for nanomachines of the future." See Spiraling in on Nanosprings and Nanosprings jump into place.
Nanorods: Another nanoscale material with unique and promising physical properties, such that may yield improvements in high-density data storage, and allow for cheaper flexible solar cells. See Three Element Nanorods and Flexible and Inexpensive Solar Cells Based on Inorganic Nanorods.
Nanopores: Essentially itty bitty tiny holes. Nanoscopic pores found in purpose-built filters, sensors, or diffraction gratings to make them function better. See Influencing structure in the heart of nanoland. As activated carbon, they may also be used as an alternative fuel storage medium, due to their massive internal surface area. "Scientists believe nanopores, tiny holes that allow DNA to pass through one strand at a time, will make DNA sequencing more efficient." See Understanding Nanodevices -- Nanopores. In biology, they are "complex protein assemblies that span cell membranes and allow ionic transport across the otherwise impermeable lipid bilayer. Nanopores are important because while some pores help maintain cell homeostasis, others disrupt cell function." See Towards Fabrication of Solid-State Mimics of Biological Nanopores. "A nanopore can be a protein channel in a lipid bilayer or an extremely small isolated 'hole' in a thin, solid-state membrane" such that "DNA and RNA, can be registered and characterized singly ..." See Developing Nanopores as Probes and The Nanopore Project.
Nanofilters: One opportunity for nanoscale filters is for the separation of molecules, such as proteins or DNA, for research in genomics. See Selective nanofilters for proteins, DNA Another, as "masks to prevent exposure to biological pathogens such as viruses that can be as small as 30 nanometers in diameter." See Biologically inspired nanotechnology. And another use is in water filtration. See Softer, Purer Water.
Nanopens & Nanopencils: (AKA: Atomic Pencil) "Analogous to using a quill pen but on a billionth the scale", and may transform dip-pen nanolithography. Allows for drawing electronic circuits a thousand times smaller than current ones. The "pen" is an atomic force microscope (AFM). See Nanopipettes and Nanoplotter for further details.
Nanopipettes: "Cantilevered/Straight Nanopipettes can be used as nanopens for controlled chemical delivery or removal from regions as small as 100 nanometers. They can also be used as vessels for containing molecules whose optical properties change in response to their chemical environment." Other uses include "controlled chemical etching with the precision of atomic force microscopy; chemical imaging of surfaces; delivering femtosecond laser pulses; and performing NSOM/SNOM imaging using a UV excimer laser." See Cantilevered/Straight Nanopipettes Modifying the nanopipette yields other nanotools, such as Nanotweezers and Nanoheaters. See Nanotools.
Nanoplotter: A multi-tip nanopen. "A device that can draw patterns of tiny lines just 30 molecules thick and a single molecule high. ... produces eight identical patterns at once and extends ... dip-pen nanolithography towards mass producing nanoscale devices and circuits by converting what was a serial process to a parallel one. May be use to "... miniaturize electronic circuits, pattern precise arrays of organic and biomolecules such as DNA and put thousands of different medical sensors on an area much tinier than the head of a pin." See Plotting Chemicals and Nanoplotter with Parallel Writing Capabilities (PDF).
Nanobeads: Polymer beads with diameters of between 0.1 to 10 micrometers. Also called nanodots, nanocrystals and quantum beads. Impregnating fluorescent crystal chips into these beads allows simultaneous measurement of thousands of biological interactions, a stepping stone for breakthroughs in the diagnosis and treatment of disease. ... with the potential to accelerate drug discovery and clinical diagnostics." See Nanodots and Local Mechanical Properties of Cells.