Rice University: Carbon-Capture from Asphalt Based Nano-Materials: 154% of its Weight in CO2


rice-tour-asphalt-0916-id44535

 

A Rice University laboratory has improved its method to turn plain asphalt into a porous material that can capture greenhouse gases from natural gas. In research detailed this month in Advanced Energy Materials (“Ultra-High Surface Area Activated Porous Asphalt for CO2 Capture through Competitive Adsorption at High Pressures”), Rice researchers showed that a new form of the material can sequester 154 percent of its weight in carbon dioxide at high pressures that are common at gas wellheads.

Raw natural gas typically contains between 2 and 10 percent carbon dioxide and other impurities, which must be removed before the gas can be sold. The cleanup process is complicated and expensive and most often involves flowing the gas through fluids called amines that can soak up and remove about 15 percent of their own weight in carbon dioxide. The amine process also requires a great deal of energy to recycle the fluids for further use.

“It’s a big energy sink,” said Rice chemist James Tour, whose lab developed a technique last year to turn asphalt into a tough, sponge-like substance that could be used in place of amines to remove carbon dioxide from natural gas as it was pumped from ocean wellheads.

rice-tour-asphalt-0916-id44535

 

Rice University scientists have improved their asphalt-derived porous carbon’s ability to capture carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, from natural gas. The capture material derived from untreated Gilsonite asphalt has a surface area of 4,200 square meters per gram. (Image: Almaz Jalilov/Rice University) 

 

Initial field tests in 2015 found that pressure at the wellhead made it possible for that asphalt material to adsorb, or soak up, 114 percent of its weight in carbon at ambient temperatures.

Tour said the new, improved asphalt sorbent is made in two steps from a less expensive form of asphalt, which makes it more practical for industry.

“This shows we can take the least expensive form of asphalt and make it into this very high surface area material to capture carbon dioxide,” Tour said. “Before, we could only use a very expensive form of asphalt that was not readily available.”

 

 micropores in carbon capture material
A scanning electron microscope image shows micropores in carbon capture material derived from common asphalt. The material created at Rice University sequesters 154 percent of its weight in carbon dioxide at 54 bar pressure, a common pressure at wellheads. (Image: Tour Group/Rice University)

 

 

The lab heated a common type asphalt known as Gilsonite at ambient pressure to eliminate unneeded organic molecules, and then heated it again in the presence of potassium hydroxide for about 20 minutes to synthesize oxygen-enhanced porous carbon with a surface area of 4,200 square meters per gram, much higher than that of the previous material.

The Rice lab’s initial asphalt-based porous carbon collected carbon dioxide from gas streams under pressure at the wellhead and released it when the pressure was released. The carbon dioxide could then be repurposed or pumped back underground while the porous carbon could be reused immediately.
In the latest tests with its new material, Tours group showed its new sorbent could remove carbon dioxide at 54 bar pressure. One bar is roughly equal to atmospheric pressure at sea level, and the 54 bar measure in the latest experiments is characteristic of the pressure levels typically found at natural gas wellheads, Tour said.
Source: Rice University

 

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From start-up to scale-up: what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur — World Economic Forum | Agenda


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Ellen Olafsen of the World Bank on how to turn start-ups into successful firms.

via From start-up to scale-up: what it takes to become a successful entrepreneur — World Economic Forum | Agenda

What do you think of when you hear the term “entrepreneur”? What about “growth entrepreneur”? Do Elon Musk and Tesla come to mind? Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp of Uber? Jack Ma of Alibaba?

Forget for a moment the immense scale that these few, highly successful tech giants have achieved. Such cases will always be outliers. Instead, imagine the potential collective impact of companies in developing countries growing from a $50,000 to a $1 million company, or from a $1 million to a $10 million company. Imagine how this could help generate dynamism in the local economy and ultimately increase competitiveness, incomes and jobs.

 

fourth-ir-051416-aaeaaqaaaaaaaatfaaaajgezy2e0nwvilwu4ogitndzkzi1hymzilta1yty1nzczngqznaAlso Read: Nanotechnology and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ ~ Solving the World’s Biggest Challenges with the ‘Smallest of Things’

 

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University of Waterloo: Opening Access to Energy: 4 Interconnected Research Areas Helping to Power a Global Revolution (with Videos)


E5_UWaterlooTHE WATERLOO RESEARCHERS HELPING POWER A GLOBAL REVOLUTION

There is no magic bullet, no single solution that will address the massive global energy inequities that leave billions of people with little or no access to electricity. Instead, change will come from connecting the ideas, innovations and experience of some of the world’s top minds.

Affordable Energy for Humanity (AE4H) focuses on four broad areas of research with the greatest opportunity to create meaningful, sustainable energy change.

RESEARCH AREA 1

Generation, Devices And Advanced Materials

Promise and potential: Next-generation batteries

Watch the Video

Next-generation batteries are an emerging market with unlimited potential — and Waterloo chemistry professor Linda Nazar is eager to see her team’s extraordinary labours pay off.

Nazar, who was recently named an Officer of the Order of Canada for her advancements in battery systems and clean-energy storage, is contributing to breakthroughs in the design of rechargeable batteries for grid storage, electric vehicles and other clean-energy technology.

“Our research team and others at the University of Waterloo are working on a lot of different battery technologies where we’re starting to see the hard efforts that we’ve put in over the last decade really paying off in terms of making batteries that have higher energy density, that are safer and also have longer cycle life,” says Nazar, who along with colleagues at the Waterloo Institute for Nanotechnology, Zhongwei Chen and Michel Pope, are planning to launch an Electrochemical Energy Research Centre at the University.

Their work could have huge ramifications for energy-poor developing countries.

“In impoverished countries where there’s an abundance of sunshine, it’s critical to be able to store renewable energy in affordable energy storage systems to allow for load leveling and also for storage at night or even off-season storage,” Nazar says.

“That allows communities that are limited in their electrical resources to have a cheap, abundant source of energy to power activity in the evening and when the sun isn’t shining.”

RESEARCH AREA 2

Information And Communication Technologies
For Energy System Convergence

Reducing the carbon footprint, improving energy efficiency

Watch the Video

Energy poverty is one of the biggest challenges facing humanity, according to Waterloo computer science professor Srinivasan Keshav.

“More than one billion around the world don’t have access to good forms of energy,” Keshav says. “The only energy they have is their own human labour, so if they want to dig a trench they have to do it by hand. How much firewood they can carry determines what they’re going to cook. That’s really what it comes down to.”

Keshav and his research team are focusing on greener, more efficient sources of energy that will ultimately help address these inequities.

“The work I’m doing in this lab is focused on two things,” Keshav explains. “One is to reduce the carbon footprint. The other is to improve the energy efficiency of systems that generate, transmit and consume energy — everything from power plants to the solar panels on your roof.

“Solar efficiency is going up and the costs are coming down at the same rate as costs have gone down for electronics. The same thing is happening with lighting. The technology is now coming into place which allows us to put a panel on the roof, [add] storage and efficient lighting — and you have the ability to transform lives.

“At some level the changes come not just from technology but from policy, not from research but from imagination. We make it possible for somebody to imagine a different future — and that perhaps is the biggest thing we do.”

A smart grid for smarter energy

Watch the Video

Just as smartphone technology has come to dominate the way we communicate, the future of 21st-century electricity may well belong to the smart grid.

The smart grid is an intelligent infrastructure that uses information technology — sensors, communications, automation and computers — to improve the way electricity is delivered. It also allows for renewables such as wind and solar power to be part of the equation.

“A lot of people do not have access to the electrical grid the way we do,” says Catherine Rosenberg, a professor of engineering and Canada Research Chair in the Future Internet at Waterloo. “There are two types of technologies that can have a major impact on the smart grid. The first technology is renewables — solar, wind. The second is energy storage.”

Rosenberg, who is collaborating with computer science professor Srinivasan Keshav, says that having access to renewable energy — solar panels, for example — and some storage would allow communities without grid access or with poor grid access to be self-sufficient.

Just as importantly, access must be affordable, and Rosenberg is optimistic that storage will become cost-efficient in the near future.

“Because there are more and more needs for energy storage— for example for electric vehicles — the price of energy storage is going to decrease,” she says. “We are in the business of designing systems by integrating many technologies and showing how those systems should be operated in a cost-efficient manner.”

fourth-ir-051416-aaeaaqaaaaaaaatfaaaajgezy2e0nwvilwu4ogitndzkzi1hymzilta1yty1nzczngqznaAlso Read: Nanotechnology and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’: Solving Our Biggest Challenges with the Smallest of Things

RESEARCH AREA 3

Environmental and Human Dimensions Of Energy Transitions

Energy and sustainability: Lessons from the North

Watch the Video

Energy poverty is not confined to the developing world. There are nearly 300 remote communities across northern Canada — about 170 of them First Nations — and most rely on diesel generators with fuel flown in or trucked in via ice road.

It’s not only environmentally damaging, it’s also incredibly expensive — up to $1 per kilowatt hour — so building capacity to get energy from renewable sources is the preferred option. Renewable Energy Pix

“In our First Nations communities, we see both huge need and huge opportunity,” says Paul Parker, a professor in the Faculty of Environment. “We are here to work with communities to achieve what they want. The first question is, ‘What future do you want?’ And then it’s, ‘How do we design, evaluate and implement it?’

“The University of Waterloo is probably most famous for its technical capacity, but we also realize that technical capacity needs to have social context. We need the social scientists to work with our engineers and technicians in the North. Our students are fantastic. We’ve trained economic developers for communities across the North where they look and they see an opportunity and they say, ‘Let’s take those solutions to as many communities as possible,’ ” Parker says.

“We already have the technology to make these things happen, so [it’s about] the implementation. And what we are learning in Canada has [global implications] in other parts of the world that experience energy poverty.” 

wef-end-of-an-era-jm0hpnwopjfmrubpbirem_j4cbxunbwppi2pn_zjn1aAlso Read: WEF: Are We at the End of an Economic Era? Smart Decisions for a Changing World: What’s Next

RESEARCH AREA 4

Mirogrids For Dispersed Power

Microgrids and the power of decentralization

Watch the Video

As flaws in centralized power grids become apparent — their vulnerability to disruption and dependence on planet-warming fossil fuels — the time has come for renewable energy microgrids to take centre stage.

“Here at Waterloo we have a lot of expertise to provide in microgrids, not only to Canada but to the world, from simulation and modelling to hardware and social interactions withcommunities,” says Claudio Cañizares, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Waterloo.

Scientists are trying to transform microgrids — which can operate independently or in conjunction with main power grids — into renewable energy-based systems by introducing solar and wind power. Challenges being addressed by research at Waterloo include making the systems economically feasible, and learning to manage the variability inherent to renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Cañizares and his fellow researchers are doing both theoretical work — simulation, modeling, optimization — and applied science so they can understand how the controls work in different environments.

“One of the main motivations for our work here is to try to improve or facilitate the introduction of these renewable sources and to move away from diesel in the remote, mostly indigenous, communities in Canada,” Cañizares says.

Ultimately, Cañizares believes the impact of affordable energy access will change lives.

His research partners in northern Chile, for example, are seeing young people who had left their communities return once affordable energy sources are introduced, and business opportunities cropping up that didn’t exist before.

“We have come a long way,” he says. “We believe Waterloo is particularly well-positioned … people are paying attention.”


Video: Matt Regehr and Light Imaging


Research and responsibility — what’s the right balance? And are we doing enough? Share your thoughts with us in our “Comments” section of our Blog.

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MIT: Seeking sustainable solutions through Nanotechnology – Engineer’s designs may help purify water, diagnose disease in remote regions of world.


mit-karnik-rohit-1“I try to guide my research by … asking myself the question, ‘What can we do today that will have a lasting impact and be conducive to a sustainable human civilization?’” says Rohit Karnik, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering. Photo: Ken Richardson

In Rohit Karnik’s lab, researchers are searching for tiny solutions to some of the world’s biggest challenges.

In one of his many projects, Karnik, an associate professor in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, is developing a new microfluidic technology that can quickly and simply sorts cells from small samples of blood. The surface of a microfluidic channel is patterned to direct certain cells to roll toward a reservoir for further analysis, while allowing the rest of the blood sample to pass through. With this design, Karnik envisions developing portable, disposable devices that doctors may use, even in remote regions of the world, to quickly diagnose conditions ranging from malaria to sepsis.

Karnik’s group is also tackling issues of water purification. The researchers are designing filters from single layers of graphene, which are atom-thin sheets of carbon known for their exceptional strength. Karnik has devised a way to control the size and concentration of pores in graphene, and is tailoring single layers to filter out miniscule and otherwise evasive contaminants. The group has also successfully filtered salts using the technique and hopes to develop efficient graphene filters for water purification and other applications. Silver Nano P clean-drinking-water-india

In looking for water-purifying solutions, Karnik’s group also identified a surprisingly low-tech option: the simple tree branch. Karnik found that the pores within a pine branch that normally help to transport water up the plant are ideal for filtering bacteria from water. The group has shown that a peeled pine branch can filter out up to 99.00 percent of E. coli from contaminated water. Karnik’s group is building up on this work to explore the potential for simple and affordable wood-based water purification systems.

“I try to guide my research by long-term sustainability, in a specific sense, by asking myself the question, ‘What can we do today that will have a lasting impact and be conducive to a sustainable human civilization?’ Karnik says. “I try to align myself with that goal.”

From stargazer to tinkerer

Karnik was born and raised in Pune, India, which was then a relatively quiet city 100 miles east of Mumbai. Karnik describes himself while growing up as shy, yet curious about the way the world worked. He would often set up simple experiments in his backyard, seeing, for instance, how transplanting ants from one colony to another would change the ants’ behavior. (The short answer: They fought, sometimes to the death.) He developed an interest in astronomy early on and often explored the night sky with a small telescope, from the roof of his family’s home.

“I used to take my telescope up to the terrace in the middle of the night, which required three different trips up six or seven flights of stairs,” Karnik says. “I’d set the alarm for 3 a.m., go up, and do quite a bit of stargazing.”

That telescope would soon serve another use, as Karnik eventually found that, by inverting it and adding another lens, he could repurpose the telescope as a microscope.

“I built a little setup so I could look at different things, and I used to collect stuff from around the house, like onion peels or fungus growing on trees, to look at their cells,” Karnik says.

When it came time to decide on a path of study, Karnik was inspired by his uncle, a mechanical engineer who built custom machines “that did all kinds of things, from making concrete bricks, to winding up springs,” Karnik says. “What I saw in mechanical engineering was the ability to building something that integrates across different disciplines.”

Seeking balance and insight

As an entering student at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay, Karnik chose to study mechanical engineering over electrical engineering, which was the more popular choice among students at the time. For his thesis, he looked for new ways to model three-dimensional cracks in materials such as steel beams.

Casting around for a direction after graduating, Karnik landed on the fast-growing field of nanotechnology. Arun Majumdar, an IIT alum and professor at the University of California at Berkeley, was studying energy conversion and biosensing in nanoscale systems. Karnik joined the professor’s lab as a graduate student, moving to California in 2002. For his graduate work, Karnik helped to develop a microfluidic platform to rapidly mix the contents of and test reactions occurring within droplets. He followed this work up with a PhD thesis in which he explored how fluid, flowing through tiny, nanometer-sized channels, can be controlled  to sense and direct ions and molecules.

Toward the end of his graduate work, Karnik interviewed for and ultimately accepted a faculty position at MIT. However, he was still completing his PhD thesis at Berkeley and had less than 4 years of experience beyond his bachelor’s degree. To help ease the transition, MIT offered Karnik an interim postdoc position in the lab of Robert Langer, the David H. Koch Institute Professor and a member of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research.

“It was an insightful experience,” Karnik remembers. “For a mechanical engineer who’s never been outside mechanical engineering, I basically had little experience how to do things in biology. It opened up possibilities for working with the biomedical community.”

When Karnik finally assumed his position as assistant professor of mechanical engineering in 2007, he experienced a tidal wave of deadlines, demands, and responsibilities — a common initiation for first-time faculty.

“By its nature the job is overwhelming,” Karnik says. “The trick is how to maintain balance and sanity and do the things you like, without being distracted by the busyness around you, in some sense.”

He says several things have helped him to handle and even do away with stress: walks, which he takes each day to work and around campus, as well as yoga and meditation.

“If you can see things the way they are, by clearing away the filters your mind puts in place, you can get a clear perspective, and there are a lot of insights that come through,” Karnik says.

Carbon-coated iron catalyst structure could lead to more-active fuel cells


fuel-cells-illinois-160912141951_1_540x360Illinois professor Andrew Gerwith and graduate student Jason Varnell developed a method to isolate active catalyst nanoparticles from a mixture of iron-containing compounds, a finding that could help researchers refine the catalyst to make fuel cells more active.
Credit: Photo by L. Brian Stauffer

Fuel cells have long held promise as power sources, but low efficiency has created obstacles to realizing that promise. Researchers at the University of Illinois and collaborators have identified the active form of an iron-containing catalyst for the trickiest part of the process: reducing oxygen gas, which has two oxygen atoms, so that it can break apart and combine with ionized hydrogen to make water. The finding could help researchers refine better catalysts, making fuel cells a more energy- and cost-efficient option for powering vehicles and other applications.

Led by U. of I. chemistry professor Andrew Gewirth, the researchers published their work in the journal Nature Communications.

Iron-based catalysts for oxygen reduction are an abundant, inexpensive alternative to catalysts containing precious metals, which are expensive and can degrade. However, the process for making iron-containing catalysts yields a mixture of different compounds containing iron, nitrogen and carbon. Since the various compounds are difficult to separate, exactly which form or forms behave as the active catalyst has remained a mystery to researchers. This has made it difficult to refine or improve the catalyst.

“Previously, we didn’t know what these catalysts were made of because they had a lot of different things inside them,” Gewirth said. “Now we’ve narrowed it down to one component. Since we know what it looks like, we can change it and work to make it better.”

The researchers used a chlorine gas treatment to selectively remove from the mixture particles that were not active for oxygen reduction, refining the mixture until one type of particle remained: a carbon-encapsulated iron nanoparticle.

“We were left with only nanoparticles encapsulated within a carbon support, and that allows them to be more stable,” said Jason Varnell, a graduate student and the first author of the paper. “Iron oxidizes and corrodes on its own. You need to have the carbon around it in order to make it stable under fuel cell conditions.”H2 fuelcell 041116

The researchers hope that narrowing down the active form of the catalyst can open new possibilities for making purer forms of the active catalyst, or for tweaking the composition to make it even more active.

“What’s the optimal size? What’s the optimal density? What’s the optimal coating material? These are questions we can now address,” Gewirth said. “We’re trying alternative methods for synthesizing the active catalyst and making multicomponent nanoparticles with certain amounts of different metals. Previously, people would add some metal salt into the tube furnace, like cooking — a little of this, a little of that. But now we know we also need to do things at different temperatures to put other metals in it. It gives us the ability to make it a more active catalyst.”

Ultimately, the researchers hope that improved catalyst function and manufacturability will lead to more-efficient fuel cells, which could make them useful for vehicles or other power-intensive applications.

“Now we understand the reactivity better,” Varnell said. “This could lead to the creation of more viable alternatives to precious metal catalysts.”


Story Source:

The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Andrew A. Gewirth et al. Identification of carbon-encapsulated iron nanoparticles as active species in non-precious metal oxygen reduction catalysts. Nature Communications, September 2016 DOI:10.1038/ncomms12582

Silicon nanoparticles (Quantum Dots) replace expensive semiconductors – Increasing ‘Photo-Lumenesence’


09edc-auoquantumdottvfromcite2015An international team of researchers led by Russian scientists has developed a new method of using silicon nanoparticles instead of expensive semiconductor materials for certain types of displays and other optoelectronic devices.

Lomonosov MSU physicists found a way to “force” silicon nanoparticles to glow in response to radiation strongly enough to replace expensive semiconductors used in the display business. According to Maxim Shcherbakov, researcher at the Department of Quantum Electronics of Moscow State University and one of the authors of the study, the method considerably enhances the efficiency of nanoparticle photoluminescence.

The key to the technique is photoluminescence—the process by which materials irradiated by visible or ultraviolet radiation respond with their own light, but in a different spectral range. In the study, the material glows red.

In some modern displays, , or so-called quantum dots, are used. In quantum dots, electrons behave completely unlike those in the bulk semiconductor, and it has long been known that possess excellent luminescent properties. Today, for the purposes of quantum-dot based displays, expensive and toxic materials are used; therefore, researchers have explored the use of silicon, which is cheaper and well understood. It is suitable for such use in all respects except one—silicon nanoparticles weakly respond to radiation, which is not appealing for optoelectronic industry.

Scientists all over the world have sought to solve this problem since the beginning of the 1990s, but until now, no significant success has been achieved. The breakthrough idea about how to “tame” silicon originated in Sweden, at the Royal Institute of Technology, Kista. A post-doctoral researcher named Sergey Dyakov, a graduate of the MSU Faculty of Physics and the first author of the paper, suggested placing an array of silicon nanoparticles in a matrix with a non-homogeneous dielectric medium and covering it with golden nanostripes.

“The heterogeneity of the environment, as has been previously shown in other experiments, allows to increase the photoluminescence of silicon by several orders of magnitude due to the so-called quantum confinement,” says Maxim Shcherbakov.

 

“However, the efficiency of the light interaction with nanocrystals still remains insufficient. It has been proposed to enhance the efficiency by using plasmons (quasiparticle appearing from fluctuations of the electron gas in metals—ed). A plasmon lattice formed by gold nanostripes ‘held’ light on the nanoscale, and allowed a more effective interaction with nanoparticles located nearby, bringing its luminescence to an increase.”

The MSU experiments with samples of a “gold-plated” matrix with brilliantly confirmed the theoretical predictions—the UV irradiated shone brightly enough to be used it in practice.

Explore further: Cheap and efficient solar cell made possible by linked nanoparticles

More information: Optical properties of silicon nanocrystals covered by periodic array of gold nanowires. Physical Review B. DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.93.205413

Journal reference: Physical Review B search and more info website

Provided by: Lomonosov Moscow State University search and more info

QDOTS Cad Free 100115 id41477Quantum dot

A quantum dot is a semiconductor whose excitons are confined in all three spatial dimensions. As a result, they have properties that are between those of bulk semiconductors and those of discrete molecules. They were discovered by Louis E. Brus, who was then at Bell Labs. The term “Quantum Dot” was coined by Mark Reed.

Researchers have studied quantum dots in transistors, solar cells, LEDs, and diode lasers. They have also investigated quantum dots as agents for medical imaging and hope to use them as qubits.

 

Taking on a BIG disease with a “small” solution ~ “Great Things from Small Things” ~ Nano Enabled Cancer Therapeutics 



In the near future, chemotherapy is expected to move from the ‘body flooding’ approach currently adopted, towards a more controlled and localized delivery.

Many of the current cancer chemotherapeutics work through mechanisms that do not differentiate between cancerous and healthy cells, resulting in the common adverse side effects associated with prolonged chemotherapy. 

For that reason, cancer therapy researchers are redirecting their efforts toward finding more sophisticated alternatives to administer chemotherapeutics instead of the classic ‘pill and syringe’ techniques.

The field of nanotechnology has received a fair share of attention over recent years due to the therapeutic potential it holds in terms of localized delivery of cancer drugs. 

Scientists have confidently shown that ultra-small particles or nanoparticles of various metals and synthetic material can be employed as vessels for cancer drugs.

The human body, however, is a hostile place for foreign substances.The synthetic nature of nanoparticles is not well received by the body’s immune system, nor is it compatible with the way that the body removes waste material, making nanoparticles toxic in their crude form.

Dr. Warren Chan from the Institute of Biomaterials and Biomedical Engineering at U of T; recent PhD graduate Dr. Vahid Raeesi; and Dr. Leo Chou from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have made a huge stride towards finding an effective nanotechnology-based approach for localized delivery of cancer drugs. Their technology does so while simultaneously overcoming the body’s immune rejection mechanisms and reducing toxicity.

The novel design was the coming together of a number of previous findings from the Chan lab and other labs in the field. This cancer-targeted structure can be described as a ‘modular nanosystem,’ with ‘modular’ referring to its multi-components, and ‘nanosystem’ reflecting that is on the order of a nanometre or a millionth of a millimetre.

At the core of this intricate structure is a nanorod, an oblong structure made of gold, dubbed by Raeesi as a “nano heat generator” due to its ability to generate heat when struck by light of a certain energy. This core is orbited by a number of spherical gold nanoparticles or satellites docked onto the nanorod using threads of DNA, commonly used by biological engineers as an adhesive due to its great flexibility and potential for precise design, as Raeesi explained.

DNA exists in nature as two strands or thread-like structures bound together along their length. This gives DNA the ability to firmly sandwich certain chemicals between the strands. Subjecting it to high temperatures results in the immediate separation of the strands. For that reason, the research team cleverly proceeded to soak the DNA strands used in the nanostructure with common cancer drugs like Doxorubicin.

As soon as the nanostructure is delivered into the heart of the tumour through the blood supply, infrared light, which is able to harmlessly penetrate the human body, can be shone at the tumour. This results in heat radiating from the gold nanorod, which in turn splits the DNA strands and ­— like a Trojan horse — releases the cancer-killing molecule. The core-emitted heat also doubles as a controlled way to damage the nearby cancer cells to provide an additive effect, leaving distant healthy cells unharmed.

Raeesi emphasized the importance of the nanoparticles’ size, dictating it as necessary for the particles to be able to pass through the pore in the walls of the blood vessels feeding the tumours. Previous nanoparticle designs of larger sizes led them to get stuck in the vicinity of the tumour and eventually pushed back into the bloodstream, reducing the amount of the drug that makes it to the tumour.

Additionally, the modular, multi-unit nature of this novel nanosystem means that after finishing the job, the now disconnected parts can be easily removed from the body, a feature that is missing from earlier, single-unit designs.

A primary feature of the nanosystem is that the orbiting satellites are covered by a layer of a plastic-like substance or polymer known as polyethylene glycol. Although technically synthetic in nature, this substance was curiously found to interfere with white blood cells, the components responsible for the attack of foreign substances, helping the nanoparticles to escape the body’s immune system.

But why not put the protective polymers right on the nanorod? It all comes to ‘bioaccumulation,’ or as Raeesi describes it, the percentage of particles that make it into the tumour. Putting the polymers on the spheres results in higher degree of surface coverage that cannot be achieved by putting the polymer directly on the nanorod core. This in turn provides a better disguise against the body’s immunity and a higher chance of an uninterrupted journey to the tumour.

Raeesi hopes that his research along with others’ will pave the way to refining the system towards targeting metastasized and deeply embedded tumours, as well as developing systems with tumour-imaging properties.

What Happens When You Change the World and No One Notices?


orville-wright-i-9

Wilbur and Orville Wright conquered flight on December 17th, 1903. Few inventions were as transformational over the next century. It took four days to travel from New York to Los Angeles in 1900, by train. By the 1930s it could be done in 17 hours, by air. By 1950, six hours.

Also Read:  Supersonic jet will travel from New York to London in 3 hours at half the price of the Concorde

But here’s the most amazing part of the story: Hardly anyone paid attention at the time.

Unlike, say, mapping the genome, a lay person could instantly grasp the marvel of human flight. A guy sat in a box and turned into a bird.

But days, months, even years after the Wright’s first flight, hardly anyone noticed.

Here’s the front page of The New York Times the day after the first flight. Not a word about the Wrights:

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two days after. Again, nothing:

2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Three days later, when the Wrights were on their fourth flight, one of which lasted nearly a minute. Nothing:

3

This goes on. Four days. Five days, six days, six weeks, six months … no mention of the men who conquered the sky for the first time in human history.

The Library of Congress, where I found these papers, reveals two amazing details. One, the first passing mention of the Wrights in The New York Times came in 1906, three years after their first flight. Two, in 1904, the Times asked a hot-air-balloon tycoon whether humans may fly someday. He answered:

Count

That was a year after the Wright’s first flight.

In his 1952 book on American history, Frederick Lewis Allen wrote:

Several years went by before the public grasped what the Wrights were doing; people were so convinced that flying was impossible that most of those who saw them flying about Dayton [Ohio] in 1905 decided that what they had seen must be some trick without significance – somewhat as most people today would regard a demonstration of, say, telepathy. It was not until May, 1908 – nearly four and a half years after the Wright’s first flight – that experienced reporters were sent to observe what they were doing, experienced editors gave full credence to these reporters’ excited dispatches, and the world at last woke up to the fact that human flight had been successfully accomplished.

 

So .. What’s the Point?

The Wrights’ story shows something more common than we realize: There’s often a big gap between changing the world and convincing people that you changed the world.

Jeff Bezos once said:

“Invention requires a long-term willingness to be misunderstood. You do something that you genuinely believe in, that you have conviction about, but for a long period of time, well-meaning people may criticize that effort … if you really have conviction that they’re not right, you need to have that long-term willingness to be misunderstood. It’s a key part of invention.”

It’s such an important message. Things that are instantly adored are usually just slight variations over existing products. We love them because they’re familiar. The most innovative products – the ones that truly change the world – are almost never understood at first, even by really smart people.nano-and-four-ways-051416-aaeaaqaaaaaaaas7aaaajdgyy2flngq1lwuzy2etndqzns04odkwltrmm2mxnwi4ymi1ma

It happened with the telephone. Alexander Graham Bell tried to sell his invention to Western Union, which quickly replied:

This `telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a practical form of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us. What use could this company make of an electrical toy?

It happened with the car. Twenty years before Henry Ford convinced the world he was onto something, Congress published a memo, warning:

Horseless carriages propelled by gasoline might attain speeds of 14 or even 20 miles per hour. The menace to our people of vehicles of this type hurtling through our streets and along our roads and poisoning the atmosphere would call for prompt legislative action. The cost of producing gasoline is far beyond the financial capacity of private industry… In addition the development of this new power may displace the use of horses, which would wreck our agriculture.

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Also read: How Nanotechnology and the ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’ Will Change Everything

 

It happened with the index fund – easily the most important financial innovation of the last half-century. John Bogle launched the first index fund in 1975. No one paid much attention to for next two decades. It started to gain popularity, an inch at a time, in the 1990s. Then, three decades after inception, the idea spread like wildfire.

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It’s happening now, too. 3D printing has taken off over the last five years. But it’s hardly a new invention. Check out this interview with the CEO of 3D Systems in … 1989. 3D printing, like so many innovations, had a multi-decade lag between invention and adoption. Solar is similar. Photovoltaics were discovered in 1876. They were commercially available by the 1950s, and Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the White House in the 1970s. But they didn’t take off – really take off – until the late 2000s.

Big breakthroughs typically follow a seven-step path:

  • First, no one’s heard of you.
  • Then they’ve heard of you but think you’re nuts.
  • Then they understand your product, but think it has no opportunity.
  • Then they view your product as a toy.
  • Then they see it as an amazing toy.
  • Then they start using it.
  • Then they couldn’t imagine life without it.

This process can take decades. It rarely takes less than several years.

Three points arise from this.

1. It takes a brilliance to change the world. It takes something else entirely to wait patiently for people to notice. “Zen-like patience” isn’t a typical trait associated with entrepreneurs. But it’s often required, especially for the most transformative products.

2. When innovation is measured generationally, results shouldn’t be measured quarterly. History is the true story of how long, messy, and chaotic change can be. The stock market is the hilarious story of millions of people expecting current companies to perform quickly, orderly, and cleanly. The gap between reality and expectations explains untold frustration.

3. Invention is only the first step of innovation. Stanford professor Paul Saffo put it this way:

It takes 30 years for a new idea to seep into the culture. Technology does not drive change. It is our collective response to the options and opportunities presented by technology that drives change.

Re-Posted from MORGAN HOUSEL

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Genesis Nanotechnology, Inc. 

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Creating the Future of Batteries


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We need better ways to store and use energy, that’s no secret. Cell phones need charging every day, electric cars only have a range of about a hundred miles and our ability to use solar and wind energy to feed the power grid is still very limited. These are things we’ve taken for granted, but if you look, historically, at the rate in which our technology improves — just think about cell phones and computers in the last 20 years — it’s easy to see that this area of technological development has severely lagged.

energy storage device.jpgWhile there are a number of political, philosophical and theoretical explanations for why energy storage development has fallen behind, experts agree that if the problem is going to be fixed in our lifetime, it needs to start now.

Energy storage is a limiting factor that researchers have been aware of for quite a while, but their work to improve our storage devices has taken many, disparate directions. In a recent edition of Nature Communications, Drexel materials science and engineering researchers Yury Gogotsi, PhD, and Maria Lukatskaya, PhD, who have been surveying the landscape of energy storage research for years, offer a unified route for bringing our energy storage and distribution capabilities level with our energy production and consumption.

rice-nanoporus-battery-102315-untitled-1You May Also Want To Read: Nanoporous Material Combines the Best of Batteries and Supercapacitors for ESS (Energy Storage Systems)

 

Read about the work of Dr. Jim Tour at Rice University – “Changing the Equation” for how we think about Batteries, Super Capacitors and Energy Storage.        Rice logo_rice3

 

 

Lukatskaya and Gogotsi unpacked the problem for the News Blog and offered up three ways in which energy storage research and development need to change right now to get things moving in the right direction:

 So, the directions where we want our energy storage devices — such as batteries — to go are pretty intuitive: we want them to store more energy per unit of volume (or mass) so that it would provide longer autonomy times for portable electronics without making them bulkier. We also want to enable fast charging of the devices, so that five minutes of charging would provide full-day power for device operation. And last, but not least, we want to increase the lifespan of batteries — meaning the number of charge/discharge cycles they can undergo without performance degradation.  

To achieve that, we need to rethink conventional electrode architectures and materials that are currently used in energy storage devices, such as batteries and supercapacitors.

  1. Clean up all the wasted space

For example, in state of the art batteries, too much volume is occupied by the cell components that do not store charge. It is estimated that in smaller devices more than 80 percent of the volume is occupied by the inert cell components: current collectors, separators and casings. So new design concepts that minimize use of current collectors would lead to substantial improvement in energy that can be stored per unit of mass or volume of the device.

  1. Come up with a better recipe

Secondly, new electrolyte and electrode chemistries should be explored. Currently, oxide materials dominate the “insides” of batteries. Oxides have many advantages, being among the most studied material, and they provided a reliable energy storage solution for quite a while, but in order to address growing needs for high-energy batteries, other electrode materials should be explored that have high electrical conductivity and can enable multielectron redox reactions (storing more charges per atom than lithium).

  1. Get electrons and ions on the expressway

In order to make energy storage devices fast, it is again necessary to reconsider electrode architectures to ensure rapid accessibility of ions and electrons toward active sites. Basically, we need to create such architectures where, instead of a “maze,” ions can move on “highways” providing fast charging.

 

Gogotsi is Distinguished University and Trustee Chair professor in the College of Engineering and director of the A.J. Drexel Nanomaterials Institute. Lukatskaya, was a doctoral candidate in the Department of Materials Science and Engineeringwhen she worked with Gogotsi on this research. She is now a post-doctoral research fellow at Stanford University.

You can read their Nature Communications paper “Multidimensional materials and device architectures for future hybrid energy storage” here:http://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms12647

 

U of Alberta awarded $75 million for energy research – Including ‘Low-Cost’ Solar on Par with Hydrocarbons


 

Government of Canada investment establishes the Future Energy Systems Research Institute.

The University of Alberta will launch a new institute aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of fossil fuels and developing new low-carbon energy systems, thanks to a $75-million federal grant.

The U of A’s Future Energy Systems Research Institute will bring together researchers across disciplines to improve energy systems related to unconventional hydrocarbon resources—tailings ponds, greenhouse emissions, water use, land reclamation, and safe, efficient energy transportation.

The institute will also build on U of A strengths in advanced materials, smart electrical grids and bioprocessing to help move Canada to a low-carbon energy economy.

The $75-million federal investment is part of the Canada First Excellence Research Fund to strategically invest in areas where post-secondary research institutions have a competitive advantage and can become global leaders.

“I thank the Government of Canada’s historic investment in the Canada First Excellence Research Fund. This funding marks a major step forward for Canada and our collective ability to provide global leadership in response to a diverse set of grand challenges,” said U of A President David Turpin.UniversityOfAlberta_UglyLogo_1-796768

Turpin said the Future Energy Systems Research Institute pushes Canadian energy and environment research “onto a new level.”

“We will build on our broad historic strengths in these areas and spearhead provincial, national and international research partnerships and projects that envision and deliver solutions to the world’s most urgent energy challenges—reducing the environmental footprint of today’s energy system and making the transition to a cleaner, safer and more abundant low-carbon energy future.”

Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s minister of science, unveiled the latest round of investments Sept. 6 at the University of Waterloo. In total, the Government of Canada invested $900 million in 13 Canadian research universities.

“The Canada First Research Excellence Fund will equip Canada to respond to some of the most pressing issues it will face in the future: brain health, sustainable food and water supplies, environmental concerns, future energy supplies. The research supported through this fund will make the country stronger,” Duncan said.

Low-cost solar on par with hydrocarbons

Jillian Buriak’s work toward low-cost solar cells is the kind of innovative energy research that will benefit from $75 million in new federal funding announced today.

U of A chemistry professor Jillian Buriak represents the type of research innovator who could apply for funding through the new institute. Buriak is developing low-cost solar cells, including a version that uses a spray-coating technology.

Buriak said some estimates predict energy use by humans will double by 2050 and triple by 2100. The sun is the largest source of power we can access, and the cost of solar power is now on par with hydrocarbons, making it an increasingly viable alternative, she said.

“A clean, low-carbon source of plentiful energy is needed to maintain the social and economic security of humanity. From climate change to escalating conflict over energy and resources, our future is at risk unless we transition to a low-carbon future,” said Buriak. “The Canada First Excellence Research Fund allows the University of Alberta to pioneer a made-in-Alberta solution to help solve the world’s energy challenges, helping us to transition to a low-carbon economy.”

The U of A will work collaboratively with the University of Calgary, which also received $75 million for its Global Research Initiative in Low Carbon Unconventional Resources. The U of C’s initiative aims to transform the extraction of unconventional energy resources such as the oil-sands to improve efficiency and reduce Canada’s carbon footprint.