Innovative medical nanotechnology textiles eliminates bacteria


Posted: Nov 12th, 2012

Innovative medical nanotechnology textiles eliminates bacteria

(Nanowerk News) Scientists at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya BarcelonaTech (UPC) in Spain have succeeded in eliminating infectious bacteria from medical textiles by using an enzymatic pre-treatment combined with simultaneous deposition of nanoparticles and biopolymers under ultrasonic irradiation. This was an outcome of the SONO (‘A pilot line of antibacterial and antifungal medical textiles based on a sonochemical process’) project, which is funded under the ‘Nanosciences, nanotechnologies, materials and new production technologies’ (NMP) Theme of the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) to the tune of EUR 8.3 million. SONO is targeting the improvement of antimicrobial properties on medical textiles through the use of the state-of-the-art technique.
The researchers said the technique creates fully sterile antimicrobial textiles that help keep hospital-acquired infections at bay. One of the biggest challenges facing hospitals are nosocomial infections, which are infections not present and without evidence of incubation at the time of admission. These types of infections include bacterial and fungal infections, and they are aggravated by the reduced resistance of patients.
The SONO consortium, headed up by Bar-Ilan University in Israel and made up of 17 European partners, used enzymes that improve adhesion of the antimicrobial nanoparticles to the fabric under ultrasonic irradiation. The application of the enzymes allowed them to boost the durability of the nanoparticles on the fabric to a level that ensured their presence even after 70 laundry cycles.
Thanks to the results of this study, production of textiles with antimicrobial properties that are 100 % effective is possible. Another winning factor for the antimicrobial treatment’s effectiveness is to incorporate hybrid materials into the fabric. These materials are based on organic and inorganic components, including zinc and chitosan nanoparticles. So not only do these materials eradicate the bacteria that are present, they also hinder the growth of new microbes.
The researchers are already collaborating with producers to make hospital gowns and linens; two prototype machines are being used to accomplish this, with one at the facilities of the Italian firm Klopman International and the other at the Davo Clothing group in Romania. A hospital in Sofia, Bulgaria is testing the fabrics, and the results are positive so far.
The growing rate of nosocomial infections are due to various factors, including the appearance of resistant microorganisms, an increased number of immunocompromised patients, more complex medical interventions and the performance of invasive procedures.
Studies have shown that infections acquired in hospitals are strong triggers of mortality and increased morbidity in in-patients. Between 3 % and 10 % of in-patients become infected while at hospital and the mortality rate for nosocomial infections is 1 %. But this problem also puts a great deal of pressure on the health system. These infections lead to longer hospital stays, up to 10 days, thus exacerbating this growing problem.
Source: Cordis

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Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center Develops Revolutionary Nanotechnology Copper Solder


PALO ALTO, Calif., October 24, 2012 – Scientists in the Advanced Materials and Nanosystems directorate at the Lockheed Martin Space Systems Advanced Technology Center (ATC) in Palo Alto have developed a revolutionary nanotechnology copper-based electrical interconnect material, or solder, that can be processed around 200 °C. Once fully optimized, the CuantumFuse™ solder material is expected to produce joints with up to 10 times the electrical and thermal conductivity compared to tin-based materials currently in use. Applications in military and commercial systems are currently under consideration.

“We are enormously excited about our CuantumFuse™ breakthrough, and are very pleased with the progress we’re making to bring it to full maturity,” said Dr. Kenneth Washington, vice president of the ATC. “We pride ourselves on providing innovations like CuantumFuse™ for space and defense applications, but in this case we are excited about the enormous potential of CuantumFuse™ in defense and commercial manufacturing applications.”

In the past, nearly all solders contained lead, but there is now an urgent need for lead-free solder because of a worldwide effort to phase out hazardous materials in electronics. The European Union implemented lead-free solder in 2006. The State of California did so on January 1, 2007, followed soon thereafter by New Jersey and New York City.

The principal lead-free replacement – a combination of tin, silver and copper (Sn/Ag/Cu) – has proven acceptable to the consumer electronics industry that deals mostly with short product life cycles and relatively benign operating environments. However, multiple issues have arisen: high processing temperatures drive higher cost, the high tin content can lead to tin whiskers that can cause short circuits, and fractures are common in challenging environments, making it difficult to quantify reliability. These reliability concerns are particularly acute in systems for the military, aerospace, medical, oil and gas, and automotive industries. In such applications, long service life and robustness of components are critical, where vibration, shock, thermal cycling, humidity, and extreme temperature use can be common.

“To address these concerns, we realized a fundamentally new approach was needed to solve the lead-free solder challenge,” said Dr. Alfred Zinn, materials scientist at the ATC and inventor of CuantumFuse™ solder. “Rather than finding another multi-component alloy, our team devised a solution based on the well-known melting point depression of materials in nanoparticle form. Given this nanoscale phenomenon, we’ve produced a solder paste based on pure copper.”

A number of requirements were addressed in the development of the CuantumFuse™ solder paste including, but not limited to: 1) sufficiently small nanoparticle size, 2) a reasonable size distribution, 3) reaction scalability, 4) low cost synthesis, 5) oxidation and growth resistance at ambient conditions, and 6) robust particle fusion when subjected to elevated temperature. Copper was chosen because it is already used throughout the electronics industry as a trace, interconnect, and pad material, minimizing compatibility issues. It is cheap (1/4th the cost of tin; 1/100th the cost of silver, and 1/10,000th that of gold), abundant, and has 10 times the electrical and thermal conductivity compared to commercial tin-based solder.

The ATC has demonstrated CuantumFuse™ with the assembly of a small test camera board. “These accomplishments are extremely exciting and promising, but we still have to solve a number of technical challenges before CuantumFuse™ will be ready for routine use in military and commercial applications,” said Mike Beck, director of the Advanced Materials and Nanosystems group at the ATC. Solving these challenges, such as improving bond strength, is the focus on the group’s ongoing research and development.

The ATC is the research and development organization of Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company (LMSSC) and is engaged in the research, development, and transition of technologies in phenomenology & sensors, optics & electro-optics, laser radar, RF & photonics, guidance & navigation, space science & instrumentation, advanced materials & nanosystems, thermal sciences & cryogenics, and modeling, simulation & information science.

LMSSC, a major operating unit of Lockheed Martin Corporation, designs and develops, tests, manufactures and operates a full spectrum of advanced-technology systems for national security and military, civil government and commercial customers. Chief products include human space flight systems; a full range of remote sensing, navigation, meteorological and communications satellites and instruments; space observatories and interplanetary spacecraft; laser radar; ballistic missiles; missile defense systems; and nanotechnology research and development.

Headquartered in Bethesda, Md., Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company that employs about 120,000 people worldwide and is principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products and services. The corporation’s net sales for 2011 were $46.5 billion.

EC Adopts Communication on Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials


Posted on October 3, 2012 by Lynn L. Bergeson

On October 3, 2012, the European Commission (EC) announced its adoption of a Communication on the Second Regulatory Review on Nanomaterials, which assesses the adequacy and implementation of European Union (EU) legislation for nanomaterials, indicates follow-up actions, and responds to issues raised by the European Parliament (EP), EU Council, and the European Economic and Social Committee. The Communication concludes that “nanomaterials are similar to normal chemicals/substances in that some may be toxic and some may not.” Since possible risks are related to specific nanomaterials and specific uses, nanomaterials should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. The Communication states: “Current risk assessment methods are applicable, even if work on particular aspects of risk assessment is still required.” According to the Communication, the EC “remains convinced that REACH sets the best possible framework for the risk management of nanomaterials when they occur as substances or mixtures but more specific requirements for nanomaterials within the framework have proven necessary. The Commission envisages modifications in some of the REACH Annexes and encourages ECHA to further develop guidance for registrations after 2013.” To improve the availability of information, the EC states that it “will create a web platform with references to all relevant information sources, including registries on a national or sector level, where they exist. In parallel, the Commission will launch an impact assessment to identify and develop the most adequate means to increase transparency and ensure regulatory oversight, including an in-depth analysis of the data gathering needs for such purpose. This analysis will include those nanomaterials currently falling outside existing notification, registration or authorisation schemes.”

The Communication is accompanied by an EC Staff Working Paper on Types and Uses of Nanomaterials, Including Safety Aspects, which responds to the EP’s concern that the EC’s approach to nanomaterials is jeopardized by a lack of information on the use and safety of nanomaterials that are already on the market. The Staff Working Paper provides detailed information on the definition of nanomaterials, nanomaterial markets, uses, benefits, health and safety aspects, risk assessment, and information and databases on nanomaterials. According to the Staff Working Paper, in response to the EP’s call on the EC to compile a public inventory of the different types and uses of nanomaterials on the European market, the EC has compiled information on existing databases and intends to create an EC web platform on nanomaterial types and uses, including safety aspects.