Peptoid Nanosheets at the Oil/Water Interface


Peptides Ron-Zuckerman-nanosheets-300x156Berkeley Lab Reports New Route to Novel Family of Biomimetic Materials

 

 

From the people who brought us peptoid nanosheets that form at the interface between air and water, now come peptoid nanosheets that form at the interface between oil and water. Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) have developed peptoid nanosheets – two-dimensional biomimetic materials with customizable properties – that self-assemble at an oil-water interface. This new development opens the door to designing peptoid nanosheets of increasing structural complexity and chemical functionality for a broad range of applications, including improved chemical sensors and separators, and safer, more effective drug delivery vehicles.

“Supramolecular assembly at an oil-water interface is an effective way to produce 2D nanomaterials from peptoids because that interface helps pre-organize the peptoid chains to facilitate their self-interaction,” says Ron Zuckermann, a senior scientist at the Molecular Foundry, a DOE nanoscience center hosted at Berkeley Lab. “This increased understanding of the peptoid assembly mechanism should enable us to scale-up to produce large quantities, or scale- down to screen many different nanosheets for novel functions.”

 

Ron Zuckerman and Geraldine Richmond led the development of peptoid nanosheets that form at the interface between oil and water, opening the door to increased structural complexity and chemical functionality for a broad range of applications.

Zuckermann, who directs the Molecular Foundry’s Biological Nanostructures Facility, and Geraldine Richmond of the University of Oregon are the corresponding authors of a paper reporting these results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). The paper is titled “Assembly and molecular order of two-dimensional peptoid nanosheets at the oil-water interface.” Co-authors are Ellen Robertson, Gloria Olivier, Menglu Qian and Caroline Proulx.

Peptoids are synthetic versions of proteins. Like their natural counterparts, peptoids fold and twist into distinct conformations that enable them to carry out a wide variety of specific functions. In 2010, Zuckermann and his group at the Molecular Foundry discovered a technique to synthesize peptoids into sheets that were just a few nanometers thick but up to 100 micrometers in length. These were among the largest and thinnest free-floating organic crystals ever made, with an area-to-thickness equivalent of a plastic sheet covering a football field. Just as the properties of peptoids can be chemically customized through robotic synthesis, the properties of peptoid nanosheets can also be engineered for specific functions.

“Peptoid nanosheet properties can be tailored with great precision,” Zuckermann says, “and since peptoids are less vulnerable to chemical or metabolic breakdown than proteins, they are a highly promising platform for self-assembling bio-inspired nanomaterials.”

In this latest effort, Zuckermann, Richmond and their co-authors used vibrational sum frequency spectroscopy to probe the molecular interactions between the peptoids as they assembled at the oil-water interface. These measurements revealed that peptoid polymers adsorbed to the interface are highly ordered, and that this order is greatly influenced by interactions between neighboring molecules.

“We can literally see the polymer chains become more organized the closer they get to one another,” Zuckermann says.

Peptoid polymers adsorbed to the oil-water interface are highly ordered thanks to interactions between neighboring molecules.

The substitution of oil in place of air creates a raft of new opportunities for the engineering and production of peptoid nanosheets. For example, the oil phase could contain chemical reagents, serve to minimize evaporation of the aqueous phase, or enable microfluidic production.

“The production of peptoid nanosheets in microfluidic devices means that we should soon be able to make combinatorial libraries of different functionalized nanosheets and screen them on a very small scale,” Zuckermann says. “This would be advantageous in the search for peptoid nanosheets with the molecular recognition and catalytic functions of proteins.”

Zuckermann and his group at the Molecular Foundry are now investigating the addition of chemical reagents or cargo to the oil phase, and exploring their interactions with the peptoid monolayers that form during the nanosheet assembly process.

“In the future we may be able to produce nanosheets with drugs, dyes, nanoparticles or other solutes trapped in the interior,” he says. “These new nanosheets could have a host of interesting biomedical, mechanical and optical properties.”

This work was primarily funded by the DOE Office of Science and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Part of the research was performed at the Molecular Foundry and the Advanced Light Source, which are DOE Office of Science User Facilities.

Additional Information

For more about the research of Ronald Zuckermann go here

For more about the research of Geraldine Richmond go here

For more about the Molecular Foundry go here

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.  For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

– See more at: http://newscenter.lbl.gov/2014/09/03/peptoid-nanosheets-at-the-oilwater-interface/#sthash.61uDiBBR.dpuf

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Genesis Nanotech Headlines Are Out!


 

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  • New Wonder-Material Perovskite makes LED’s Cheaper & Easier to Manufactuer
  • U of Michigan Researchers Develop Graphene-Based Wearable Vapor Sensors
  • Supercomputer Speed from a Tiny “Chip” that Mimics the Human Brain

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Supercomputer Speed from a Tiny “Chip” that Mimics the Human Brain


IBM Super Chip hfjtdfjd
IBM’s new neurosynaptic processor intergrates 1 million neurons and 256 million (414) synapses on a single chip. Credit: IBMResearchers Thursday unveiled a powerful new postage-stamp size chip delivering supercomputer performance using a process that mimics the human brain.

The so-called “neurosynaptic” is a breakthrough that opens a wide new range of computing possibilities from self-driving cars to that can installed on a smartphone, the scientists say.

The researchers from IBM, Cornell Tech and collaborators from around the world said they took an entirely new approach in design compared with previous computer architecture, moving toward a system called “cognitive computing.”

“We have taken inspiration from the cerebral cortex to design this chip,” said IBM chief scientist for brain-inspired computing, Dharmendra Modha, referring to the command center of the brain.

He said existing computers trace their lineage back to machines from the 1940s which are essentially “sequential number-crunching calculators” that perform mathematical or “left brain” tasks but little else.

The new chip dubbed “TrueNorth” works to mimic the “right brain” functions of sensory processing—responding to sights, smells and information from the environment to “learn” to respond in different situations, Modha said.

It accomplishes this task by using a huge network of “neurons” and “synapses,” similar to how the human brain functions by using information gathered from the body’s sensory organs.

The researchers designed TrueNorth with one million programmable neurons and 256 million programmable synapses, on a chip with 4,096 cores and 5.4 billion transistors.

A key to the performance is the extremely low energy use on the new chip, which runs on the equivalent energy of a hearing-aid battery. This can allow a chip installed in a car or smartphone to perform supercomputer calculations in without connecting to the cloud or other network.

Sensor becomes the computer

ibmsynapseinfographic

Infographic: A brain-inspired chip to transform mobility and Internet of Things through sensory perception. Credit: IBM 

“You could have better sensory processors without the connection to Wi-Fi or the cloud.

This would allow a self-driving vehicle, for example, to detect problems and deal with them even if its data connection is broken.

“It can see an accident about to happen,” Modha said.

Similarly, a mobile phone can take smells or visual information and interpret them in real time, without the need for a network connection.

“After years of collaboration with IBM, we are now a step closer to building a computer similar to our brain,” said Rajit Manohar, a researcher at Cornell Tech, a graduate school of Cornell University.

The project funded by the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) published its research in a cover article on the August 8 edition of the journal Science.

The researchers say TrueNorth in some ways outperforms today’s supercomputers although a direct comparison is not possible because they operate differently.

But they wrote that TrueNorth can deliver from 46 billion to 400 billion “synaptic” calculations per second per watt of energy. That compares with the most energy-efficient supercomputer which delivers 4.5 billion “floating point” calculations per second and per watt.

The chip was fabricated using Samsung’s 28-nanometer process technology.

“It is an astonishing achievement to leverage a process traditionally used for commercially available, low-power mobile devices to deliver a chip that emulates the by processing extreme amounts of sensory information with very little power,” said Shawn Han of Samsung Electronics, in a statement.

“This is a huge architectural breakthrough that is essential as the industry moves toward the next-generation cloud and big-data processing.”

Modha said the researchers have produced only the chip and that it could be years before commercial applications become available.

But he said it “has the potential to transform society” with a new generation of computing technology. And he noted that hybrid computers may be able to one day combine the “left brain” machines with the new “right brain” devices for even better performance.

Explore further: IBM to spend $3 bn aiming for computer chip breakthrough

More information: “A million spiking-neuron integrated circuit with a scalable communication network and interface,” by P.A. Merolla et al. Science, 2014. www.sciencemag.org/lookup/doi/… 1126/science.1254642

Genesis Nanotech Headlines Are Out!


Organ on a chip organx250Genesis Nanotech Headlines Are Out! Read All About It!

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SUBCOMMITTE EXAMINES BREAKTHROUGH NANOTECHNOLOGY OPPORTUNITIES FOR AMERICA

Chairman Terry: “Nanotech is a true science race between the nations, and we should be encouraging the transition from research breakthroughs to commercial development.”

WASHINGTON, DCThe Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade, chaired by Rep. Lee Terry (R-NE), today held a hearing on:

“Nanotechnology: Understanding How Small Solutions Drive Big Innovation.”

 

 

electron-tomography

“Great Things from Small Things!” … We Couldn’t Agree More!

 

Wyss Institute’s Technology Translation Model Launches “Organs on a Chip” for Commercialization


Organ on a chip organx250The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University announced that its human “Organs-on-Chips” technology will be commercialized by a newly formed private company to accelerate development of pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic and personalized medicine products. The announcement follows a worldwide license agreement between Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD) and the start-up Emulate Inc., relating to the use of the Institute’s automated human Organs-on-Chips platform.

“This is a big win towards achieving our Institute’s mission of transforming medicine and the environment by developing breakthrough technologies and facilitating their translation from the benchtop to the marketplace,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber, MD, PhD and leader of the Wyss Institute’s Organs-on-Chips effort.

Created with microchip manufacturing methods, an Organ-on-a-Chip is a cell culture device, the size of a computer memory stick, that contains hollow channels lined by living cells and tissues that mimic organ-level physiology. These devices produce levels of tissue and organ functionality not possible with conventional culture systems, while permitting real-time analysis of biochemical, genetic and metabolic activities within individual cells.

The Wyss Institute team also has developed an instrument to automate the Organs-on-Chips, and to link them together by flowing medium that mimics blood to create a “Human-Body-on-Chips” and better replicate whole body-level responses. This automated human Organ-on-Chip platform could represent an important step towards more predictive and useful measures of the efficacy and safety of potential new drugs, chemicals and cosmetics, while reducing the need for traditional animal testing. Human Organs-on-Chips lined by patient-derived stem cells also could potentially provide a way to develop personalized therapies in the future.

Organ on a chip organx250

The Wyss Institute’s human “Organs-on-Chips” team has used the lung-on-a-chip shown here to study drug toxicity and potential new therapies. The technology will be commercialized to accelerate development of pharmaceutical, chemical, cosmetic and personalized medicine products. Image: Harvard’s Wyss Institute

The technology’s rapid development from demonstration of the first functional prototypes to multiple human Organs-on-Chips that can be integrated on a common instrument platform also speaks to the Institute’s ability to translate academic innovation into commercially valuable technologies in a big and meaningful way.

“We took a game-changing advance in microengineering made in our academic lab, and in just a handful of years, turned it into a technology that is now poised to have a major impact on society. The Wyss Institute is the only place this could happen,” added Ingber, who is also the Judah Folkman Professor of Vascular Biology at Harvard Medical School and Boston Children’s Hospital, and Professor of Bioengineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Since their 2010 publication on the human breathing lung-on-a-chip in Science, and with grant support from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institutes of Health (NIH), Ingber and his team have developed more than ten different Organs-on-Chip models, including chips that mimic liver, gut, kidney and bone marrow. The DARPA effort also has supported the engineering of the instrument that automates chip operations and fluidically links the different organs-on-chips together to more closely mimic whole body physiology, while permitting high-resolution imaging and molecular analysis.

The transition of the Organs-on-Chips technology to a startup was enabled by the Wyss Institute’s unique technology translation model, which takes lead high-value technologies that emerge from Wyss faculty efforts, and de-risks them both technically and commercially to increase their likelihood for commercial success.

Through numerous collaborations with industry, the Wyss Institute team refined their technology, and validated it for market need and impact by testing existing drugs and modeling various human diseases on-chip. And with an eye towards creating a technology that can be mass-manufactured cost effectively outside the lab, they formed industrial partnerships to achieve this goal and increase the likelihood of success in the marketplace.

Mature Institute projects are led by teams that include the lead faculty member, a technical champion with industrial experience on the Institute’s Advanced Technology Team, and a Wyss business development lead, working closely with Harvard OTD.

The Organs-on-Chips project leaders included Don Ingber, Geraldine Hamilton, PhD, Lead Senior Scientist on the Wyss Institute Biomimetics Microsystems Platform, and James Coon, a Wyss Institute Entrepreneur-in-Residence. Hamilton and Coon will be moving to take senior leadership positions at Emulate, along with multiple members of the research team, smoothing the transition from academia to industry.

“The ‘Organs-on-Chips’ story is a great example of how the Wyss Institute brings researchers with industrial experience into the heart of our research community and effectively bridges academia and industry,” said Alan Garber, Provost of Harvard University and Chair of the Institute’s Board of Directors.

Source: Harvard Univ.

Accelerating Innovation in Alberta


U of Alberta 140618-emerald-awards-ualberta-sign-teaserUAlberta partnership with TEC Edmonton, Innovate Calgary receives federal funding to help grow promising startups. By TEC Edmonton Staff on June 24, 2014 (Edmonton)

A partnership of the University of Alberta, TEC Edmonton and Innovate Calgary has been selected by the Canadian Accelerator and Incubator Program to help business accelerators and incubators deliver their services to promising Canadian firms.

TEC Edmonton, Edmonton’s leading business incubator and accelerator, will offer additional business services to health-based startup companies, including new companies spun off from medical research at the U of A. Innovate Calgary, TEC Edmonton’s counterpart in Calgary, will focus its funding on energy-related high-tech startups.

With the U of A, the two business incubator/accelerators will also put the new funding to work by linking investment-ready new companies to existing investor networks focused on new, made-in-Alberta technologies.

U of Alberta 140618-emerald-awards-ualberta-sign-teaser

“This is fantastic news,” said Lorne Babiuk, vice-president (research) at the U of A. “It’s another example of how the University of Alberta continues to transfer its knowledge, discoveries and technologies into the community via commercialization to benefit society, the economy and Canada as a whole. We are delighted to be partnering with Innovate Calgary and TEC Edmonton, which are Alberta’s largest and most successful incubators, and among the best in the country. I thank the Government of Canada for their support and for this valuable program.” “CAIP funding allows us and our partners to enhance and expand our services supporting the innovation community and Alberta’s overall economic prosperity,” said Peter Garrett, president of Innovate Calgary.

“With our shareholders the University of Calgary, the Calgary Chamber and the City of Calgary, Innovate Calgary is committed to accelerating the growth of early-stage companies and entrepreneurs.” “TEC Edmonton is a true community partnership,” said TEC Edmonton CEO Chris Lumb. “We were created by the University of Alberta and the City of Edmonton (through the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation) with strong support from the regional entrepreneurial community, technology investors, the Province of Alberta, the Canadian government and hundreds of volunteers.

With such support, TEC Edmonton has grown into one of Canada’s best tech accelerators. “This new federal funding strengthens TEC Edmonton and Innovate Calgary’s ability to help grow great new companies and to further commercialize research at Alberta’s post-secondary institutions.”

– See more at: http://uofa.ualberta.ca/news-and-events/newsarticles/2014/june/accelerating-innovation-in-alberta#sthash.whh0XCx4.dpuf

A Fresh Approach to the Business of Tech Transfer


 

Irish Times imageA new tech transfer body, KTI, will use novel ideas for exploiting research, says its head, Dr. Alison Campbell

A fresh approach to the commercialisation of research may be on the way following the recent launch of tech transfer body Knowledge Transfer Ireland.

Its head, Dr Alison Campbell, says she wants to try novel approaches to the business of exploiting research, including “easy IP”, in which a company might gain access to a licence for next to nothing with no strings attached. Impossible, you might say, and yet it makes sense here where a company might have to continue with its own research effort before managing to make a research discovery pay its way.

Irish Times image

Dr. Alison Campbell: “Engaging with the business community means you have a greater chance to see your research having a broader impact.”

Campbell has a clear view of what she wants to achieve in the coming years, and it is not all about fast bucks.

“We have to get away from looking only at the money because it is not just about that. This is about economic development and societal benefit. If we want to benefit the economy then we are not going to do the big fat licensing deals,” she says.

The new tech transfer office, KTI, is hosted by Enterprise Ireland, but is not wholly new given its previous incarnation as the Central Technology Transfer Office.

KTI is run as a joint operation by Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Universities Association and promises to open up a two-way street between business and academia. It will encourage companies to avail of higher education institution expertise, or to become purchasers of licences and technologies from their discoverers. It promises to be a one-stop shop for companies looking to buy into useful research findings, but; however, similar claims were made over the years by earlier efforts at streamlining this problematic area.

Secret ingredient Previous attempts to kick-start Ireland’s knowledge transfer have delivered only limited results, but this one promises to be different due to its secret ingredient: Campbell herself. She was hired by the IUA last July as its director of tech transfer and then took over as the head of the joint Enterprise Ireland/Irish Universities Association office. She has an extremely useful mix of experience and expertise that should serve very well as KTI gets underway.

One of the new approaches Campbell wants to try is easy IP, in which you might give a technology licence away for very little but with certain minor conditions. If the company can’t make proper use of the licence it has to return it so someone else can have a go. But if there is some success with it then the company has to let the higher education institution that made the original discovery know their original ideas worked.

There is a payback even though it won’t all be about money, she believes. “The IP becomes a tool to create relationships.” Adding in a “bonanza clause” to seek a payback if the IP becomes a blockbuster breakthrough is just another IP licence, she argues. “You have to be brave enough to go with it.”

Campbell has a PhD in biochemistry, specialising in protein engineering and conducted research within higher education but also in the biotech industry as a lab staffer, so she knows research from both camps. She enjoyed the contrast between the two and what could be achieved. “I began to get interested in commercialisation and the interaction between industry and academia,” she says.

She next joined a funder, the UK’s Medical Research Council, working in its tech transfer operation at a time in the 1990s when the whole business of commercialising the results of publicly funded research was really getting traction. “We became a wholly owned subsidiary of the MRC as MRC Technology and we began to concentrate on the transfer of applied research.”

 

Make connections The main thrust of her approach is quite simple: to get the business community and academics talking. “We want Irish companies to engage with the research community where appropriate and to make connections with experts that exist within the research organisations. There is knowledge in there that might help them.”

But there also have to be benefits for the researchers. “Engaging with the business community means you have a greater chance to see your research having a broader impact. Academics don’t do research in a vacuum – they want to see some benefit coming from it.

“Involvement with companies should also allow them to bring back insights, for example, knowledge of how a company works. The institutions that will be really successful in this are the ones where the heads see this as strategically important.”

She will not be drawn into the old argument about funding for applied versus basic research. “It is all about the knowledge so let’s get the knowledge out.” One way or the other, ultimately it will be about the researchers, she believes.

“You can build a technology transfer team but actually it is the researchers who will deliver this agenda.”

The KTI will be assessed on a number of metrics but Campbell has a clear idea of what success will look like.

“At the end of the day it will be when the business community become advocates for the KTI system,” she says.

Nanotechnology – a tiny solution to the global water crisis: University of Waterloo


Prof. Frank Gu, is a Canada Research Chair and Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo. He has established an interdisciplinary research program combining functional polymers and polymer-metal oxide hybrid materials to solve problems in medicine, agriculture and environmental protection.

 

Dr. Gu received his BSc from Trent University and Ph.D. from Queen’s University, Canada, where he majored in chemical engineering and was awarded with Canada Graduate Scholarship from Canadian Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC). Following completion of his graduate program, he was awarded a NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship to purse his research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Medical School. Under the co-supervisions of Institute Professor Robert Langer and Professor Omid Farokhzad, he developed novel nanofabrication technologies which were licensed to leading biotechnology companies including Bind Biosciences and Selecta Biosciences.

In July 2008, Dr. Gu joined the Department of Chemical Engineering at the University of Waterloo as an Assistant Professor. In 2012, he was awarded the Canada Research Chair position to advance his research in the development of targeted delivery systems using nanotechnology. His expertise in the development of functional nanoparticles for targeted delivery has generated over 100 scientific publications in peer reviewed journals and conference proceedings, as well as 15 US and World patent applications.

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized.* (*Subject to certain rules and regulations)

Fighting Cancer with Tissue-Penetrating New “Nano-Light”


BioGraphene-320(Nanowerk News) Researchers from UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center have developed an innovative cancer-fighting technique in which custom-designed nanoparticles carry chemotherapy drugs directly to tumor cells and release their cargo when triggered by a two-photon laser in the infrared red wavelength.
The research findings by UCLA’s Jeffrey Zink, a professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Fuyu Tamanoi, a professor of microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics, and their colleagues were published online Feb. 20 in the journal Small (“Two-Photon-Triggered Drug Delivery via Fluorescent Nanovalves”) and will appear in a later print edition.
Light-activated drug delivery holds promise for treating cancer because it give doctors control over precisely when and where in the body drugs are released. Delivering and releasing chemotherapy drugs so that they hit only tumor cells and not surrounding healthy tissues can greatly reduce treatment side effects and increase the drugs’ cancer-killing effect. But the development of a drug-delivery system that responds to tissue-penetrating light has been a major challenge.
To address this, the teams of Tamanoi and Zink, which included scientists from the Jonsson Cancer Center’s cancer nanotechnology and signal transduction and therapeutics programs, collaborated with Jean-Olivier Durand from France’s University of Montpellier to develop a new type of nanoparticle that can absorb energy from tissue-penetrating light.
These new nanoparticles are equipped with thousands of pores, or tiny tubes, that can hold chemotherapy drugs. The ends of the pores are capped with nanovalves that keep the drugs in, like a cork in a bottle. The nanovalves contain special molecules that respond to energy from two-photon light exposure, which prompts the valves to open and release the drugs.
The operation of the nanoparticles was demonstrated in the laboratory using human breast cancer cells.
Because the effective range of the two-photon laser in the infrared red wavelength is 4 centimeters from the skin surface, this delivery system would work best for tumors within that range, which possibly include breast, stomach, colon and ovarian tumors, the researchers said.
In addition to their light sensitivity, the new nanoparticles are fluorescent and can be monitored in the body using molecular imaging techniques. This allows researchers to track the progress of the nanoparticle into the targeted cancer cell before light activation. The ability to track a targeted therapy in this way has been given the name “theranostics” — a portmanteau of therapy and diagnostics — in the scientific literature.
“We have a wonderful collaboration,” Zink said. “When the Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center brings together totally diverse fields — in this case, a physical chemist and a cell signaling scientist — we can do things that neither one could do alone.”
“Our collaboration with scientists at Charles Gerhardt Institute was important to the success of this two-photon–activated technique, which provides controls over drug delivery to allow local treatment that dramatically reduces side effects,” said Tammanoi.
Source: By Shaun Mason, UCLA

Read more: New nanotechnology method to fight cancer with tissue-penetrating light

Big Solar And Renewable Energy In The Age Of Fracking


072613solarThe world’s largest solar power plant is up and running in California. We’ll look at where solar stands now, and the future of renewable energy.

– With Tom Ashbrook, NPR –

Solar Power Rising BY MICHAEL R. BLOOD and BRIAN SKOLOFF -- Some of the 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, each about 7 feet high and 10 feet wide, reflect sunlight to boilers that sit on 459-foot towers. The sun's power is used to heat water in the boilers' tubes and make steam, which in turn drives turbines to create electricity Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 in Primm, Nev.  (AP)

Some of the 300,000 computer-controlled mirrors, each about 7 feet high and 10 feet wide, reflect sunlight to boilers that sit on 459-foot towers. The sun’s power is used to heat water in the boilers’ tubes and make steam, which in turn drives turbines to create electricity Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014 in Primm, Nev. (AP)

A gigantic solar farm, biggest of its kind in the world, opened last week in the California desert. Three-hundred and fifty thousand huge mirrors reflecting sunlight on 40-story towers — to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit up there — making steam, turning turbines, generating clean electricity. And we not build another one like it. Solar and other renewable energies are up against an era of cheap, fracked natural gas. Environmentalists say cut back fossil fuel consumption, or climate change will croak us. The market’s saying here’s cheap gas.

– Tom Ashbrook –

Listen to the discussion here:

http://onpoint.wbur.org/2014/02/19/solar-energy-renewable-energy-fracking