Is Putin Pulling the Plug on Russian Nanotechnology?

By Dexter Johnson

Posted 27 Jun 2013 | 4:09 GMT

Russia’s generously funded and much ballyhooed nanotechnology initiative, Rusnano, has had its share of intrigue and certainly many detractors since its launch, not the least of which have been the leaders of the government, such as former president Dmitry Medvedev. But still it managed to continue on and seemed to be tracking fairly well with reported revenues of $300 million for 2011.

Just when it seemed Russia had found a shortcut into the nanotechnology arms race that has developed over the last decade and was sweeping up all the discarded nanotechnology companies that had run aground on the rocks of capitalism, Russian President Vladimir Putin last month looked to be sacrificing both Rusnano and another technology project Skolkovo—an attempt to build a Silicon Valley outside of Moscow—to  solidify his political aims.

As reported in last month’s Bloomberg, Putin was coming down hard on these two technology initiatives to project that he was tough on corruption and mismanagement of public funds.

NIST seeks proposals to establish new Center of Excellence on Advanced Materials Research

(Nanowerk News) The National Institute of Standards and  Technology (NIST) has announced a competition to create an Advanced Materials  Center of Excellence to foster interdisciplinary collaborations between NIST  researchers and scientists and engineers from academia and industry. The new  center will focus on accelerating the discovery and development of advanced  materials through innovations in measurement science and in new modeling,  simulation, data and informatics tools.        
Block Copolymer
Computer models of polymer mixtures studied at NIST can help develop  improved lithography resists for nanomanufacturing.
NIST anticipates funding the new center at approximately $5  million per year for five years, with the possibility of renewing the award for  an additional five years. Funding is subject to the availability of funds  through NIST’s appropriations. The competition is open to accredited  institutions of higher education and nonprofit organizations located in the  United States and its territories. The proposing institution may work as part of  a consortium that could include other academic institutions; nonprofit  organizations; companies; or state, tribal or local governments.                      
Advanced materials, such as new high-performance alloys or  ceramics, polymers, glasses, nanocomposites or biomaterials, are a key factor in  global competitiveness. They drive the development of new products and new  technical capabilities, and can create whole new industries. However, currently,  the average time from laboratory discovery of a new material to its first  commercial use can take up to 20 years. Reducing that lag by half is one of the  primary goals of the administration’s Materials Genome Initiative, announced in 2011.                      
In many cases, the lengthy time for materials development is due  to a repetitive process of trial and error experimentation that would be  familiar to Thomas Edison. The Materials Genome Initiative and the new NIST  center focus on dramatically reducing this through the use of measurement and  data-based research tools: massive materials databases, computer models and  computer simulations. The new center will provide a mechanism to merge NIST  expertise and resources in materials science, materials characterization,  reference data and standards with leading research capabilities in industry and  academia for designing, producing and processing advanced materials.                      
Full details of the solicitation, including eligibility  requirements, selection criteria, legal requirements and the mechanism for  submitting proposals are found in an announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity  (FFO) posted at under funding opportunity number  2013-NIST-ADV-MAT-COE-01.                     
Applications will only be accepted through the  website. The deadline for applications is 11:59 p.m. Eastern time, Aug. 12,  2013.                     
NIST will offer a webinar presentation on the Advanced Materials  Center of Excellence on July 15, 2013, at 2 p.m. Eastern time. The webinar will  offer general guidance on preparing proposals and provide an opportunity to  answer questions from the public about the program. Participation in the webinar  is not required to apply. There is no cost for the webinar, but participants  must register in advance. Information on, and registration for the webinar is  available at  
Source: NIST

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IEA: Renewable Energy Sources to Top Natural Gas by 2016

by Justin Loiseau, The Motley Fool Jun 28th 2013 4:29PM Updated Jun 28th 2013 4:30PM

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8Energy produced from renewable sources such as hydro, wind, and solar will exceed that from natural gas and more than double the outupt from nuclear by 2016, according to a recent International Energy Agency report, making it the second most important global electricity source, after coal.

According to projections, renewable power will increase by a whopping 40% over the next five years, despite what the report calls a “difficult economic context.” Renewables are currently the fastest-growing electricity source, and will make up almost a quarter of the global power mix by 2018, according to the IEA, up from an estimated 20% in 2011. Non-hydro sources (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) are expected to double by 2018, reaching 8%, according to the Medium-Term Renewable Energy Market Report (link opens in PDF).

“As their costs continue to fall, renewable power sources are increasingly standing on their own merits versus new fossil-fuel generation,” said Agency Executive Director Maria van der Hoeven during a presentation. “This is good news for a global energy system that needs to become cleaner and more diversified, but it should not be an excuse for government complacency, especially among OECD countries.”

In 2012, global renewable energy generation exceeded China’s overall electricity consumption. Van der Hoeven pointed to increased investment in emerging markets and cost-competitiveness as the two main drivers behind renewables’ ramp up.

The article IEA: Renewable Energy Sources to Top Natural Gas by 2016 originally appeared on

Chemists work to desalt the ocean for drinking water, 1 nanoliter at a time

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8(Nanowerk News) By creating a small electrical field  that removes salts from seawater, chemists at The University of Texas at Austin  and the University of Marburg in Germany have introduced a new method for the  desalination of seawater that consumes less energy and is dramatically simpler  than conventional techniques. The new method requires so little energy that it  can run on a store-bought battery.
The process evades the problems confronting current desalination  methods by eliminating the need for a membrane and by separating salt from water  at a microscale.
The technique, called electrochemically mediated seawater  desalination, was described last week in the journal Angewandte Chemie (“Electrochemically Mediated Seawater  Desalination”). The research team was led by Richard Crooks of The  University of Texas at Austin and Ulrich Tallarek of the University of Marburg.  It’s patent-pending and is in commercial development by startup company Okeanos  Technologies.
Desalination Microchannel
The  left panel shows the salt (which is tagged with a fluorescent tracer) flowing  upward after a voltage is applied by an electrode (the dark rectangle) jutting  into the channel at just the point where it branches. In the right panel no  voltage is being applied. (Image: Kyle Knust)
“The availability of water for drinking and crop irrigation is  one of the most basic requirements for maintaining and improving human health,”  said Crooks, the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry in the College of Natural  Sciences. “Seawater desalination is one way to address this need, but most  current methods for desalinating water rely on expensive and easily contaminated  membranes. The membrane-free method we’ve developed still needs to be refined  and scaled up, but if we can succeed at that, then one day it might be possible  to provide fresh water on a massive scale using a simple, even portable,  system.”
This new method holds particular promise for the water-stressed  areas in which about a third of the planet’s inhabitants live. Many of these  regions have access to abundant seawater but not to the energy infrastructure or  money necessary to desalt water using conventional technology. As a result,  millions of deaths per year in these regions are attributed to water-related  causes.
“People are dying because of a lack of freshwater,” said Tony  Frudakis, founder and CEO of Okeanos Technologies. “And they’ll continue to do  so until there is some kind of breakthrough, and that is what we are hoping our  technology will represent.”
To achieve desalination, the researchers apply a small voltage  (3.0 volts) to a plastic chip filled with seawater. The chip contains a  microchannel with two branches. At the junction of the channel an embedded  electrode neutralizes some of the chloride ions in seawater to create an “ion  depletion zone” that increases the local electric field compared with the rest  of the channel. This change in the electric field is sufficient to redirect  salts into one branch, allowing desalinated water to pass through the other  branch.
“The neutralization reaction occurring at the electrode is key  to removing the salts in seawater,” said Kyle Knust, a graduate student in  Crooks’ lab and first author on the paper.
Like a troll at the foot of the bridge, the ion depletion zone  prevents salt from passing through, resulting in the production of freshwater.
Thus far Crooks and his colleagues have achieved 25 percent  desalination. Although drinking water requires 99 percent desalination, they are  confident that goal can be achieved.
“This was a proof of principle,” said Knust. “We’ve made  comparable performance improvements while developing other applications based on  the formation of an ion depletion zone. That suggests that 99 percent  desalination is not beyond our reach.”
The other major challenge is to scale up the process. Right now  the microchannels, about the size of a human hair, produce about 40 nanoliters  of desalted water per minute. To make this technique practical for individual or  communal use, a device would have to produce liters of water per day. The  authors are confident that this can be achieved as well.
If these engineering challenges are surmounted, they foresee a  future in which the technology is deployed at different scales to meet different  needs.
“You could build a disaster relief array or a municipal-scale  unit,” said Frudakis. “Okeanos has even contemplated building a small system  that would look like a Coke machine and would operate in a standalone fashion to  produce enough water for a small village.”
Source: McGill University

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Linde Electronics’ Carbon Nanotube Inks to Drive Innovation in Next-generation Electronic Devices

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8(Nanowerk News) Linde Electronics, the global  electronics business of The Linde Group, launched a revolutionary new carbon  nanotube ink to drive innovation in the development of next generation displays,  sensors and other electronic devices. Linde’s carbon nanotube inks can be used  to manufacture completely new technologies, such as a smartphone with a screen  that rolls up like a window shade and a see-through GPS device embedded in the  windshield of a car.                      

Carbon nanotubes are an allotrope of carbon like graphite and  diamond, and they have unique physical and electronic properties. These include  a higher thermal conductivity than diamond; greater mechanical strength than  steel (orders of magnitude by weight); and a larger electrical conductivity than  copper. It is due to these properties that carbon nanotubes will enable  electronic device manufacturers develop more innovative electronic devices.                      

To help device manufacturers and the research and development  community to explore the full potential of carbon nanotube based technologies,  Linde is making its nanotube inks available to developers. These nanotube inks  contain individual carbon nanotubes and are produced without damaging or  shortening the nanotubes and therefore preserve the unique nanotube properties. 

This landmark development drastically improves the performance of transparent  conductive thin films made from the inks and opens the door for the development  of nanotube applications in not only consumer electronics, but also the  healthcare sector and sensor manufacturing.                      

“While we’ve seen a lot of excitement around nanotubes in the  past ten years, we’ve not yet seen a commercially viable nanotube solution in  the market because of challenges in the processing of this great material,” said  Dr Sian Fogden, Market and Technology Development Manager for Linde Electronics’  nanomaterials unit. “Our nanotube technology and our unique nanotube inks  overcome these challenges, paving the way for completely new types of  high-functionality electronic devices.”                      

Linde, which develops and supplies specialist materials and  gases for the world’s leading electronic manufacturers, is in the final  development stages with its single wall carbon nanotube technology. Alongside  the launch of the nanotube ink into the development community, the company will  also provide its nanotube ink at large scale directly to electronic device  manufacturers.                      

About The Linde Group                     

The Linde Group is a world-leading gases and engineering company  with around 62,000 employees in more than 100 countries worldwide. In the 2012  financial year, Linde generated revenue of EUR 15.280 bn. The strategy of the  Group is geared towards long-term profitable growth and focuses on the expansion  of its international business with forward-looking products and services. Linde  acts responsibly towards its shareholders, business partners, employees, society  and the environment — in every one of its business areas, regions and locations  across the globe. The company is committed to technologies and products that  unite the goals of customer value and sustainable development.

For more  information, see The Linde Group online at

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Watching solar cells grow

201306047919620(Nanowerk News) For the first time, a team of  researchers at the Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin (HZB) led by Dr. Roland Mainz and  Dr. Christian Kaufmann has managed to observe growth of high-efficiency  chalcopyrite thin film solar cells in real time and to study the formation and  degradation of defects that compromise efficiency. To this end, the scientists  set up a novel measuring chamber at the Berlin electron storage ring BESSY II,  which allows them to combine several different kinds of measuring techniques.  Their results show during which process stages the growth can be accelerated and  when additional time is required to reduce defects. Their work has now been  published online in Advanced Energy Materials (“Formation of CuInSe2 and  CuGaSe2 Thin-Films Deposited by Three-Stage  Thermal Co-Evaporation: A Real-Time X-Ray Diffraction and Fluorescence  Study”).

Today’s chalcopyrite thin film cells based on copper indium  gallium selenide are already reaching efficiencies of more than 20 percent. For  the fabrication of the extremely thin polycrystalline layers, the process of  coevaporation has lead to the best results so far: During coevaporation, two  separate elements are evaporated simultaneously, first indium (or gallium) and  selenium, then copper and selenium, and, finally, indium (or gallium) and  selenium again. This way, a thin film of crystals forms, which exhibit only a  small number of defects. “Until recently, we did not fully understand what  exactly happens during this coevaporation process,” says Dr. Roland Mainz of the  HZB’s Institute of Technology. The team of physicists worked for three years  using on-site and real-time measurements to find an answer to this question.

id31067_1Polycrystalline film growth during coevaporation in real time using in situ  X-ray diffraction and fluorescence analysis. (Figure: R. Mainz/C.Kaufmann/HZB)

Novel experimental chamber constructed

For these measurements they constructed a new kind of  experimental chamber, which allows for an analysis of polycrystalline  chalcopyrite film formation during coevaporation when exposed to synchrotron  light at BESSY II. In addition to the evaporation sources for the elements, this  vacuum chamber contains heating and cooling elements to control the evaporative  process. According to Mainz, “one of the main challenges was adjusting the  chamber, which weighs around 250 kilograms, with an accuracy of 10 micrometer.”  Because of thermal expansion during evaporation, the height has to be  automatically re-adjusted every few seconds.

Combination of x-ray diffraction and fluorescence analysis  

With this setup, for the first time worldwide they were able to  observe polycrystalline film growth using in situ X-ray diffraction and  fluorescence analysis during coevaporation in real time. “We are now able to see  how crystalline phases form and transform and when defects form during the  different stages of evaporation. “But we’re also able to tell when these defects  disappear again.” This takes place in the second process stage, when copper and  selenium are evaporated. Excess copper, which deposits at the surface in the  form of copper selenide helps to remove defects. “This was already known before  from previous experiments. But now, using fluorescence signals and numeric model  calculations, we are able to show how copper selenide penetrates the copper  indium selenide layer,” Mainz explains. Here clear-cut differences between  copper indium selenide and copper gallium selenide layers became apparent: While  copper is able to penetrate the copper-indium-selenide layer, in the case of  copper-gallium-selenide, which is otherwise pretty similar, it remains at the  surface. This could be one possible reason for why the use of pure copper  gallium selenide does not yield high efficiency solar cells.

id31067 2

Concrete steps for optimization
“We now know that for further optimization of the process it is  important to concentrate on the transition point into the copper-rich phase. Up  to now the process was performed very slowly throughout all stages to give  defects enough time to disappear. Our findings suggest that the process can be  accelerated at some stages and that it is sufficient to slow it down only at  points where defects are efficiently eliminated,” explains Mainz. Mainz is  already looking forward to future project EMIL, which is currently being set up  at BESSY II. Here even more powerful tools will become available for the study  of complex processes during growth of new types of solar cells in situ and in  real time.
Source: Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin

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NREL’s Keith Emery Awarded Prestigious Cherry Award: Efficiency of Solar Cells

Top PV award goes to researcher who brought credibility to testing of solar cells and modules

June 19, 2013

QDOTS imagesCAKXSY1K 8An engineer from the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) whose testing and characterization laboratory brings credibility to the measurement of efficiency of solar cells and modules has been awarded the prestigious William R. Cherry Award by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).

Keith Emery, a principal scientist at NREL, received the award at the 39th IEEE’s Photovoltaic Specialists Conference in Tampa Bay.

“Accredited measurements from Emery’s laboratories are considered the gold standard by the U.S. and international PV communities,” said NREL colleague Pete Sheldon, Deputy Director of the National Center for Photovoltaics on the NREL campus in Golden, CO. “His leadership in the development of cell and module performance measurement techniques and the development of standards, has set the foundation for the PV community for the last 25 years.”

The award is named in honor of William R. Cherry, a founder of the photovoltaic community. In the 1950s, Cherry was instrumental in establishing solar cells as the ideal power source for space satellites and for recognizing, advocating and nurturing the use of photovoltaic systems for terrestrial applications. The purpose of the award is to recognize an individual engineer or scientist who devoted a part of their professional life to the advancement of the science and technology of photovoltaic energy conversion.

Emery is the third consecutive Cherry Award winner from NREL. In 2011, Jerry Olson, who developed the multi-junction solar cell, won the award. Last year, Sarah Kurtz, who helped Olson develop the multi-junction cell and now is a global leader in solar module reliability, won the award. Three other NREL scientists won the Cherry Award previously – Paul Rappaport (1980), Larry Kazmerski (1993), and Tim Coutts (2005).

Emery says he was floored by the award, considered among the top one or two annual awards globally in the photovoltaic community.

Others aren’t surprised, citing his work to bring iron-clad certainty to the claims made by solar companies about the efficiency of their photovoltaic cells and modules – not to mention the 320 scientific publications he was able to write.

He has spent his career building the capabilities of that testing and characterization lab, making it one of a handful of premier measurement labs in the world – and the only place in the United States that calibrates primary terrestrial standards for solar-cell characterization.

Unbelievable claims of high efficiency would be out in the literature without any independent verification. “We decided that independent verification was critical for credibility,” Emery said.

“We have to thank DOE for this,” Emery said. “They’ve funded it. We’ve been able to offer the service to all terrestrial PV groups in the U.S. from national labs to universities to low-budget startups. They all get the same quality of service.”

The readily available service is so researchers and companies have equal access to the resources needed for independent efficiency measurement, he said. “We provide the same playing field for everyone.”

Emery spent the first 25 years of his life in Lansing, Michigan, attending public schools, then going on to Lansing Community College and Michigan State University where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. From there he went to Colorado State University to fabricate and test ITO on silicon solar cells, and then was hired at NREL. At NREL, in the 1980s, Emery developed the test equipment and put together the data-acquisition system for characterizing and measuring the efficiency of solar cells.

Emery gives much of the credit to the colleagues who work in his lab and who have on average about 16 years at NREL. “Take my team away and I wouldn’t have gotten this award – it’s that simple.”

Sheldon said Emery’s work “brings scientific credibility to the entire photovoltaic field, ensuring global uniformity in cell and module measurements. His getting the award is certainly well deserved.”

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by the Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.


Visit NREL online at

Nanoparticle Drug Delivery in Cancer Therapy

Published on Mar  3, 2013



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Nanobotmodels Company presents vision of modern drug delivery methods using  DNA-origami nanoparticles. In animation you can see cancer therapy using doxorubicin, delivered  by nanomedicine methods.

Super Science: Nanotechnology

Published on Jun 17, 2013

nanomanufacturing-2Imagine a tiny robot the size of a human cell, injected by the millions into your bloodstream on a search and destroy mission: to locate cancer cells, and kill them. Welcome to the scientific frontier of nanotechnology