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.

Nanotechnology research leads to super-elastic conducting fibers for artificial muscles, sensors


 

An international research team based at The University of Texas at Dallas has made electrically conducting fibers that can be reversibly stretched to over 14 times their initial length and whose electrical conductivity increases 200-fold when stretched.

The research team is using the new fibers to make artificial muscles, as well as capacitors whose energy storage capacity increases about tenfold when the fibers are stretched. Fibers and cables derived from the invention might one day be used as interconnects for super-elastic electronic circuits; robots and exoskeletons having great reach; morphing aircraft; giant-range strain sensors; failure-free pacemaker leads; and super-stretchy charger cords for electronic devices.

In a study published in the July 24 issue of the journal Science, the scientists describe how they constructed the fibers by wrapping lighter-than-air, electrically conductive sheets of tiny carbon nanotubes to form a jelly-roll-like sheath around a long rubber core.

The new fibers differ from conventional materials in several ways. For example, when conventional fibers are stretched, the resulting increase in length and decrease in cross-sectional area restricts the flow of electrons through the material. But even a “giant” stretch of the new conducting sheath-core fibers causes little change in their electrical resistance, said Dr. Ray Baughman, senior author of the paper and director of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute at UT Dallas.

One key to the performance of the new conducting elastic fibers is the introduction of buckling into the carbon nanotube sheets. Because the rubber core is stretched along its length as the sheets are being wrapped around it, when the wrapped rubber relaxes, the carbon nanofibers form a complex buckled structure, which allows for repeated stretching of the fiber.

“Think of the buckling that occurs when an accordion is compressed, which makes the inelastic material of the accordion stretchable,” said Baughman, the Robert A. Welch Distinguished Chair in Chemistry at UT Dallas.

“We make the inelastic carbon nanotube sheaths of our sheath-core fibers super stretchable by modulating large buckles with small buckles, so that the elongation of both buckle types can contribute to elasticity. These amazing fibers maintain the same electrical resistance, even when stretched by giant amounts, because electrons can travel over such a hierarchically buckled sheath as easily as they can traverse a straight sheath.”

Dr. Zunfeng Liu, lead author of the study and a research associate in the NanoTech Institute, said the structure of the sheath-core fibers “has further interesting and important complexity.” Buckles form not only along the fiber’s length, but also around its circumference.

“Shrinking the fiber’s circumference during fiber stretch causes this second type of reversible hierarchical buckling around its circumference, even as the buckling in the fiber direction temporarily disappears,” Liu said. “This novel combination of buckling in two dimensions avoids misalignment of nanotube and rubber core directions, enabling the electrical resistance of the sheath-core fiber to be insensitive to stretch.”

By adding a thin overcoat of rubber to the sheath-core fibers and then another carbon nanotube sheath, the researchers made strain sensors and artificial muscles in which the buckled nanotube sheaths serve as electrodes and the thin rubber layer is a dielectric, resulting in a fiber capacitor. These fiber capacitors exhibited a capacitance change of 860 percent when the fiber was stretched 950 percent.

“No presently available material-based strain sensor can operate over nearly as large a strain range,” Liu said. Adding twist to these double-sheath fibers resulted in fast, electrically powered torsional — or rotating — artificial muscles that could be used to rotate mirrors in optical circuits or pump liquids in miniature devices used for chemical analysis, said Dr. Carter Haines BS’11, PhD’15, a research associate in the NanoTech Institute and an author of the paper.

In the laboratory, Nan Jiang, a research associate in the NanoTech Institute, demonstrated that the conducting elastomers can be fabricated in diameters ranging from the very small — about 150 microns, or twice the width of a human hair — to much larger sizes, depending on the size of the rubber core. “Individual small fibers also can be combined into large bundles and plied together like yarn or rope,” she said.

“This technology could be well-suited for rapid commercialization,” said Dr. Raquel Ovalle-Robles MS’06 PhD’08, an author on the paper and chief research and intellectual properties strategist at Lintec of America’s Nano-Science & Technology Center. “The rubber cores used for these sheath-core fibers are inexpensive and readily available,” she said. “The only exotic component is the carbon nanotube aerogel sheet used for the fiber sheath.”

Last year, UT Dallas licensed to Lintec of America a process Baughman’s team developed to transform carbon nanotubes into large-scale structures, such as sheets. Lintec opened its Nano-Science & Technology Center in Richardson, Texas, less than 5 miles from the UT Dallas campus, to manufacture carbon nanotube aerogel sheets for diverse applications.


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The above post is reprinted from materials provided by University of Texas, Dallas. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Nanofibers twisted together to create structures tougher than bullet proof vests


Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have created new structures that exploit the electromechanical properties of specific nanofibers to stretch to up to seven times their length, while remaining tougher than Kevlar.

Testing-the-Bullet-Proof-Vest

The Science and the Materials have come a very long way!
These structures absorb up to 98 joules per gram. Kevlar, often used to make bulletproof vests, can absorb up to 80 joules per gram. The material can reinforce itself at points of high stress and could potentially be used in military airplanes or other defense applications.

In a study published by ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, a journal of the American Chemical Society, researchers twisted nanofiber into yarns and coils. The electricity generated by stretching the twisted nanofiber formed an attraction 10 times stronger than a hydrogen bond, which is considered one of the strongest forces formed between molecules.

Nano Fibers BP Vest 032715 150326112338-large

Dr. Majid Minary, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, was senior author of the study.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Texas, Dallas

Researchers sought to mimic their earlier work on the piezoelectric action (how pressure forms electric charges) of collagen fibers found inside bone in hopes of creating high-performance materials that can reinforce itself, said Dr. Majid Minary, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering in UT Dallas’ Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science and senior author of the study.

“We reproduced this process in nanofibers by manipulating the creation of electric charges to result in a lightweight, flexible, yet strong material,” said Minary, who is also a member of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech Institute. “Our country needs such materials on a large scale for industrial and defense applications.”

For their experiment, researchers first spun nanofibers out of a material known as polyvinylidene fluoride (PVDF) and its co-polymer, polyvinvylidene fluoride trifluoroethylene (PVDF-TrFE).

Researchers then twisted the fibers into yarns, and then continued to twist the material into coils.

“It’s literally twisting, the same basic process used in making conventional cable,” Minary said.

Researchers then measured mechanical properties of the yarn and coils such as how far it can stretch and how much energy it can absorb before failure.

“Our experiment is proof of the concept that our structures can absorb more energy before failure than the materials conventionally used in bulletproof armors,” Minary said. “We believe, modeled after the human bone, that this flexibility and strength comes from the electricity that occurs when these nanofibers are twisted.”

The next step in the research is to make larger structures out of the yarns and coils, Minary said.

Other UT Dallas authors on the paper are Mahmoud Baniasadi, Zhe Xu, Yang Xi and Salvador Moreno, all research assistants in the Jonsson School; alumnus Jiacheng Huang; Jason Chang, a biomedical engineering senior; and Dr. Manuel Quevedo-Lopez, professor of materials science and engineering. Dr. Mohammad Naraghi, an assistant professor of aerospace engineering at Texas A&M University, also participated in the work.

The work was funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research Young Investigator Research Programand the National Science Foundation.


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The above story is based on materials provided by University of Texas, Dallas. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Researchers use nanotechnology to increase solar power efficiency


UT Nano Solar ONLINE2015-02-06_Energy_Daulton_Venglar46247By Trevor Heise

Researchers at UT are working to improve the efficiency of solar panels, which could lead to lower energy costs in Texas, according to Brian Korgel, chemical engineering professor.

Korgel spoke at the UT Energy Symposium on Thursday about increasing access to solar and nanotechnology in Texas.

Korgel’s team is replacing silicon slabs in solar panels with cadmium telluride ink, a new synthetic material made of crystals, because the material is smaller and the crystals absorb sunlight better.

“In order to absorb light with silicon, you have to have layers of more than 50 microns [on the panel],” Korgel said. “A single junction cell is limited to 31 percent efficiency at most.”

Nanotechnology had not been used in the solar energy field before, Korgel said.

“At the time [we started], it wasn’t obvious you could actually make this material,” Korgel said. “Nobody had used nanomaterials to make solar cells. It was a really interesting synthetic challenge.”

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, California leads the nation in solar power production, while Texas ranks eighth. The oil lobby’s presence in Texas makes securing funding for solar technology advancement difficult, Korgel said.

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“The challenge in our state is the oil and the oil lobbying,” Korgel said.

Varun Rai, assistant professor of public affairs and the organizer of the UT Energy Symposium, said his goal for the symposium was to encourage dialogue between people throughout the University and city about pressing environmental issues.

“The seminar has great reach,” Rai said. “When my colleagues have someone important in mind, they’ll put [the potential speaker] in touch with me and I put them in.”

The symposium will help increase communication between professors across the University, according to Trevor Udwin, a public affairs and energy and earth resources graduate student.

“I think in a large college like this, I think a lot of people in different colleges who should be talking to each other, don’t,” Udwin said.

Korgel said he is optimistic about the prospects both for developing new nanotechnologies for solar power production and expanding research at UT. He said he believes the students at the University have the potential to fix environmental issues themselves.

10 Unconventional Uses Of Nanotechnology ~ “Great Things from Small Things” ~ An Irish Blessing for 2015


1-Ceramics New-Featherweight-Champion-Nano-Ceramics_heroIt’s hard to envision the future without the presence of nanotechnologies. Manipulating matter at an atomic and sub-molecular level has paved the way for major breakthroughs in chemistry, biology, and medicine. Yet, the unfolding applications of nanotechnology are far broader and more diverse than what we’ve imagined.

 

10. FILM MAKING

Without the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope (STM) in the 1980s, the field of nanotechnology might have remained science fiction. With its atomic precision the STM has enabled physicists to study the structure of matter in a way that was impossible with conventional microscopes.

The astonishing potential of STM was demonstrated by researchers at IBM when they created A Boy and His Atom, which was the world’s smallest animated film. It was produced by moving individual atoms on a copper surface.

The 90-second movie depicts a boy made of carbon monoxide molecules playing with a ball, dancing, and bouncing on a trampoline. Consisting of 202 frames, the animation takes action in a space as tiny as 1/1000 the size of a single human hair. To make the movie, researchers utilized a unique feature that comes with the STM: an electrically charged and extremely sharp stylus with a tip made of one atom. The stylus is capable of sensing the exact positions of the carbon molecules on the animation surface (which is the sheet of copper in this case). Therefore, it can be used to create images of the molecules as well as move them into new positions.

A BOY AND HIS ATOM: THE WORLD’S SMALLEST MOVIE

9. Oil Recovery

9 Oil
The global expenditure for oil exploration has risen exponentially during the past decade. However, efficiency in oil recovery has remained a major issue. When petroleum companies shut down an oil well, less than half of the oil in the reservoir is extracted. The rest is left behind because it is trapped in the rock where it is too expensive to recover. Luckily, with help from nanotechnology, scientists in China have discovered a way to work around this.

The solution is enhancing an existing drilling technique. The original technique involves injecting water into the rock pores where oil is located. This displaces the oil and forces it out. However, this method reveals its limitation as soon as the oil in the easily reached pores has been extracted. By then, water begins emerging from the well instead of oil.

To prevent this, Chinese researchers Peng and Ming Yuan Li have come up with the idea of infusing the water with nanoparticles that can plug the passages between the rock pores. This method is intended to make the water take narrower paths into the pores that contain oil and force the oil out. With successful field studies conducted in China, this method has proven highly efficient in recovering the 50 percent of the black gold that otherwise remains out of reach.

8 High-Resolution Displays

8 High res
The images on computer screens are presented via tiny dots called pixels. Regardless of their sizes and shapes, the number of pixels on a screen has remained a determining factor of image quality. With traditional displays, however, more pixels meant larger and bulkier screens—an obvious limitation.

While companies were busy selling their colossal screens to consumers, scientists from Oxford University have discovered a way to create pixels that are just a few hundred nanometers across. This was achieved by exploiting the properties of a phase-change material called GST (a material found in thermal management products). In the experiment, the scientists used seven-nanometer-thick layers of GST sandwiched between transparent electrodes. Each layer—just 300 by 300 nanometers in size—acts as a pixel that can be electrically switched on and off. By passing electrical current through layers, the scientists were able to produce images with fair quality and contrast.

The nano-pixels will serve a variety of purposes where the conventional pixels have become impractical. For instance, their tiny size and thickness will make them a great choice for technologies such as smart glasses, foldable screens, and synthetic retinas. Another advantage of nano-pixel displays is their lower energy consumption. Unlike the existing displays that constantly refresh all pixels to form images, the GST-layer-based displays only refresh the part of the display that actually changes, saving power.seo-speed-of-light

7 Color-Changing Paint

7 paint
While experimenting on strings of gold nanoparticles, scientists at the University of California have stumbled upon an astonishing observation. They’ve noticed that the color of gold changes when a string of its particles is stretched or retracted, producing what one of the scientists described as a beautiful bright blue that morphs into purple and then red. The finding has inspired the scientists to create sensors out of gold nanoparticles that change colors when pressure is applied to them.

To produce the sensors, gold nanoparticles have to be added to a flexible polymer film. When the film is pressed, it stretches and causes particles to separate and the color to change. Pressing lightly turns the sensor purple while pressing harder turns it red. The scientists noticed this intriguing property not only in gold particles but also in silver where the particles change into yellow when stretched.

The sensors could serve a variety of purposes. For instance, they could be incorporated into furniture, such as couches or beds, to assess sitting or sleeping positions. Despite being made of gold, the sensor is tiny enough to overcome the cost issue.

6 Phone Charging

6 Smart phone
Whether it’s an iPhone, Samsung, or different type of phone, every smartphone that leaves the factory comes with two notorious downsides: battery life and the time it takes to recharge. While the first is still a universal problem, scientists from the city of Ramat Gan in Israel have managed to tackle the second problem by creating a battery that requires only 30 seconds to recharge.

The breakthrough was attributed to a project related to Alzheimer’s disease that was carried out by researchers from the University of Tel Aviv. The researchers discovered that the peptide molecules that shorten the brain’s neurons and cause disease have a very high capacitance (the ability to preserve electric charges). This finding has contributed to the foundation of StoreDot, a company that focuses on nanotechnologies that target consumer products. With help from researchers, StoreDot has developed NanoDots—technology that harnesses the peptides’ properties to improve the battery life of smartphones. The company demonstrated a prototype of its battery in Microsoft’s ThinkNext event. Using a Samsung Galaxy S3 phone, the battery was charged from zero to full in less than a minute.

5 Sophisticated Drug Delivery

5 Medicine
Treatments for diseases such as cancer can be prohibitively expensive and, in some cases, too late. Fortunately, several medical firms from around the world are researching cheap and effective ways of treating illnesses. Among them is Immusoft, a company that aims to revolutionize how medicines are delivered to our bodies.

Instead of spending billions of dollars on drugs and therapy programs, Immusoft believes that we can engineer our bodies to produce drugs by themselves. With help from the immune system, cells of a patient can be altered to receive new genetic information that allows them to make their own medicine. The genetic information can be delivered via nano-sized capsules injected into the body.

Cancer Nano 5-promisingnewThe new method hasn’t been tested out on a human patient yet. Nevertheless, Immusoft and other institutions have reported successful experiments conducted on mice. If proven effective on humans, the method will significantly reduce the treatment and therapy costs of cardiovascular diseases and various other illnesses.

4 Molecular Communication

4 Molecules
There are circumstances in which electromagnetic waves, the soul of global telecommunication, become unusable. Think of an electromagnetic pulse that could render communication satellites, and every form of technology relying on them, useless. We are quite familiar with such terrifying scenarios from doomsday movies. Furthermore, this issue has been contemplated for years by researchers from the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom and the York University in Canada before ultimately coming up with an unexpected solution.

The researchers observed how some animal species, particularly insects, employ pheromones to communicate across long distances. After collecting the data, they were able to develop a communication method in which messages are encoded in the molecules of evaporated alcohol. The researchers successfully demonstrated the new technique using rubbing alcohol as a signaling chemical and “O Canada” as their first message.

Two devices were employed with this method including a transmitter to encode and send the message and a receiver to decode and display it. The method works by keying in a text message on the transmitter using Arduino Uno (an open-source microcontroller) that comes with an LCD screen and buttons. The controller then converts the text input into a binary sequence which is read by an electronic sprayer containing the alcohol. Once the binary message is read, the sprayer converts it into a controlled set of sprays where “1” represents a spray and “0” equals no spray. The alcohol in the air is then detected by the receiver which consists of a chemical sensor and a microcontroller. The receiver reads and converts the binary data back to text before displaying it on a screen.

The researchers were able to send and receive the “O Canada” message across several feet of open space. As a result, a number of scientists have expressed confidence in the method. They believe it might be helpful in environments such as underground tunnels or pipelines where electromagnetic waves become useless.

3 Computer Storage

3 Computer
During the past few decades, computers have grown exponentially in both processing power and storage capacity. This phenomenon was accurately predicted by James Moore around 50 years ago and later became widely known as Moore’s Law. However, many scientists—including the physicist Michio Kaku—believe that Moore’s Law is falling apart. This is due to the fact that computer power cannot keep up with the exponential rise of the existing manufacturing technologies.

Though Kaku was emphasizing processing power, the same concept applies to storage capacity. Luckily, it’s not the end of the road. A team of researchers from RMIT University in Melbourne are now exploring the alternatives. Led by Dr. Sharath Sriram, the team is on the verge of developing storage devices that mimic the way the human brain stores information. The researchers took the first step and built a nano film that is chemically designed to preserve electric charges in on and off states. The film, which is 10,000 times thinner than a human hair, might become the cornerstone for developing memory devices that replicate the neural networks of the brain.

2 Nano Art

2 Art
The promising development of nanotechnology has earned a great deal of admiration from the scientific community. Nevertheless, breakthroughs in nanotechnology are no longer confined to medicine, biology, and engineering. Nano art is an emerging field that allows us to view the tiny world under the microscope from an entirely new perspective.

As its name implies, nano art is a combination of art and nanoscience practiced by a small number of scientists and artists. Among them is John Hart, a mechanical engineer from the University of Michigan, who made a nano portrait of President Barack Obama. The portrait, which was named Nanobama, was created to honor the President when he was a candidate during the 2008 presidential elections. Each face in Nanobama measures just half a millimeter across and is entirely sculpted from 150 nanotubes. To produce the portraits, Hart first created a line drawing of the iconic “Hope” poster. He then printed the drawing on a glass plate coated with the nanoparticles needed to grow nanotubes. Using a high-temperature furnace, it was only a matter of time before the portrait was ready for a photo shoot.

1 Record Breaking

1 Book
Humanity has always sought to build the strongest, fastest, and largest things. But, when it comes to building the smallest, nanotechnology emerges on the stage. Among the tiniest things ever created using nanotechnology is a book called Teeny Ted From Turnip which is currently regarded as the world’s smallest printed book. Produced in the Nano Imaging Laboratory at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada, the book measures just 70 micrometers by 100 micrometers and is made of letters carved on 30 crystalline silicon pages.

The book’s story, written by Malcolm Douglas Chaplin, features Teeny Ted and his triumph at the turnip contest at the annual county fair. Over 100 copies of the book have been published. But to buy one of them you will need a deep pocket—a single book costs over $15,000. An electron microscope will also be required to read it, adding even more to the cost.

We at Genesis Nanotechnology, Inc. would like to take this opportunity wish all of our Readers, Subscribers, Business Partners and Associates a most Blessed and Prosperous New Year!

It truly has been an amazing year for us. Every day the ‘World of Small Things’ has delivered new learning opportunities, a renewed sense of ‘wonderment’ in the unseen world around us and the opportunity to build new relationships with an ever expanding horizon of commercial opportunity.

And so .. a “Irish” Blessing for ALL of you for 2015

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

All the Best,

Bruce W. Hoy

CEO, Managing Partner

Genesis Nanotechnology, Inc.

Prolonged Power for Mobile Devices: New Technology from U of Texas


Prolonged Power 42-newtechnologResearchers from The University of Texas at Dallas have created technology that could be the first step toward wearable computers with self-contained power sources or, more immediately, a smartphone that doesn’t die after a few hours of heavy use.

This technology, published online in Nature Communications, taps into the power of a single electron to control energy consumption inside transistors, which are at the core of most modern electronic systems.

Researchers from the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science found that by adding a specific atomic thin film layer to a transistor, the layer acted as a filter for the energy that passed through it at room temperature. The signal that resulted from the device was six to seven times steeper than that of traditional devices. Steep devices use less voltage but still have a strong signal.

Prolonged Power 42-newtechnolog

Dr. Jiyoung Kim (left) and Dr. Kyeongjae “K.J.” Cho examine a wafer used to make transistors. The two created new technology that could reduce energy consumption in mobile devices and computers.

“The whole semiconductor industry is looking for steep devices because they are key to having small, powerful, mobile devices with many functions that operate quickly without spending a lot of battery power,” said Dr. Jiyoung Kim, professor of materials science and engineering in the Jonsson School and an author of the paper. “Our device is one solution to make this happen.”

Tapping into the unique and subtle behavior of a single electron is the most energy-efficient way to transmit signals in . Since the signal is so small, it can be easily diluted by thermal noises at room temperature. To see this quantum signal, engineers and scientists who build electronic devices typically use external cooling techniques to compensate for the thermal energy in the electron environment. The filter created by the UT Dallas researchers is one route to effectively filter out the thermal noise.

Dr. Kyeongjae “K.J.” Cho, professor of and engineering and physics and an author of the paper, agreed that transistors made from this filtering technique could revolutionize the .

“Having to cool the thermal spread in modern transistors limits how small consumer electronics can be made,” said Cho, who used advanced modeling techniques to explain the lab phenomena. “We devised a technique to cool the electrons internally—allowing reduction in operating voltage—so that we can create even smaller, more power efficient devices.”

Continuous Wave and Linear Imagers Academic & Industrial Applications

Each time a device such as a smartphone or a tablet computes it requires electrical power for operation. Reducing operating voltage would mean longer shelf lives for these products and others. Lower power devices could mean computers worn with or on top of clothing that would not require an outside power source, among other things.

To create this technology, researchers added a chromium oxide thin film onto the device. That layer, at room temperature of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit, filtered the cooler, stable electrons and provided stability to the device. Normally, that stability is achieved by cooling the entire electronic semiconductor device to cryogenic temperatures—about minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another innovation used to create this technology was a vertical layering system, which would be more practical as devices get smaller.

“One way to shrink the size of the device is by making it vertical, so the current flows from top to bottom instead of the traditional left to right,” said Kim, who added the thin layer to the device.

Lab test results showed that the device at had a signal strength of electrons similar to conventional devices at minus 378 degrees Fahrenheit. The signal maintained all other properties. Researchers will also try this technique on electrons that are manipulated through optoelectronic and spintronic—light and magnetic—means.

The next step is to extend this filtering system to semiconductors manufactured in Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) technology.

“Electronics of the past were based on vacuum tubes,” Cho said. “Those devices were big and required a lot of power. Then the field went to bipolar transistors manufactured in CMOS technology. We are now again facing an energy crisis, and this is one solution to reduce energy as devices get smaller and smaller.”

Explore further: Team uses nanotechnology to help cool electrons with no external sources