News Release

Nanotechnology's progress and challenges addressed during ACS meeting

Peer-Reviewed Publication

American Chemical Society


SAN DIEGO — From promising diagnostic tests to tomorrow's electronics, nanotechnology — the science and technology of the ultra-small — is getting bigger all the time. More than 60 presentations, in symposia ranging from medicine to the environment to business, highlight nanotechnology's progress and challenges during the 229th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, in San Diego, March 13-17. Highlights from selected symposia and research presentations are highlighted below:

Monday, March 14

How do you name a nanomaterial?—When the field of molecular genetics emerged, scientists often found themselves calling a new gene by different names. Nanotechnology researchers now face a similar challenge. What's more, this name game has regulatory importance: Today, the government evaluates and regulates the toxicity of a named chemical entity without considering different-sized versions of it. But nanoparticles bear unique electronic and mechanical features. Now, to clear up these concerns and more, a researcher at Rice University is leading the call to build a nomenclature for nanotechnology. (IEC 116, Monday, March 14, 4:00 p.m., Hyatt Regency, Room Ford A, during the symposium "Nanotechnology and the Environment.")

Growing the business of nanotechnology — Since nanotechnology emerged, dozens of businesses in California have launched big dreams for tiny tools. Illustrating this boom is Nanosys, launched in 2002 in Palo Alto, Calif. Nanosys has built early versions of nano-enabled solar cells, flexible electronics, and nano chips for drug discovery research. Along the way, the company has formed strategic relationships with industry giants such as Intel, Dupont, In-Q-Tel, SAIC, Sharp, and Matsushita. The company hopes its platform technology will find success in renewable energy, defense, macroelectrics, healthcare and information technology. (COLL 121, Monday, March 14, 8:30 a.m., Convention Center, Room 22, during the symposium "Colloid and Surface Chemistry Award Symposium Honoring Paul Alivisatos.")

Tuesday, March 15

Bio-barcode may help diagnose Alzheimer's disease in living persons — Alzheimer's is hard to diagnose in living persons and is only definitively diagnosed upon autopsy. Now, in a preliminary study led by noted scientist Chad Mirkin, researchers at Northwestern University have used a "bio-barcode" assay to detect, in the spinal fluid of study participants, a brain protein thought to be associated with Alzheimer's. The bio-barcode assay fixes antibodies to magnetic particles and gold nanocrystals laced with strands of DNA, referred to as bar code DNA. Somewhat like a consumer bar code, these DNA barcodes are identified on a chip designed to sort and measure their concentrations. The assay also holds promise for detecting HIV, cancer and heart problems. It could be available to researchers within a year or two, according to the researchers. (ANYL 331, Tuesday, March 15, 9:50 a.m., Convention Center, Room 29B, during the symposium, "ACS Nobel Laureate Signature Award Symposium: Spectroscopy at the Nanoscale.")

Wednesday, March 16

Quantum dots make colorful labels — Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Quantum Dot Corporation in Hayward, Calif., have created fluorescent semiconductor nanocrystal labels for cells and other biological material. The researchers recently used light-scattering techniques to probe the distance between two gold nanocrystals at the single molecule level. These nanocrystals hold promise as flags of biological reactions in living cells that can serve as probes far longer than current dyes.(PHYS 241, Wednesday, March 16, 4:30 p.m., Convention Center, Room 15A, during the symposium "Novel Directions in Photonics: Nanophotonics and Biophotonics.")

Thursday, March 17

Building a greener nanotechnology — Researchers with the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI) contend that nanotechnology and green chemistry are uniquely compatible. Nanoscience can enable the discovery of greener products and processes. At the same time, the tools of green chemistry can guide nano developments. A University of Oregon chemist, who last year received a patent for a greener method of synthesizing gold nanoparticles, explores this synergy. (I&EC 182, Thursday, March 17, 8:30 a.m., Hyatt Regency, Del Mar A, during the symposium "Nanotechnology and the Environment.")



IEC 116 Naming nanotechnology: Creating a dictionary for the nanoscale

Vicki L. Colvin, Department of Chemistry, Rice University, MS 60, PO Box 1892, Houston, TX 77251,

The importance of terminology and nomenclature to chemistry generally cannot be overstated. Systems of nomenclature and accurate terminology improve communication, enhance the utility of the scientific literature, and define how we teach subjects to students. The need for terminology in nanotechnology is growing substantially and this talk will address the ongoing efforts in this area. Both at the national and international level early approaches to this large problem will be highlighted. Additionally, this venue will permit ample audience input and commentary on the various emerging strategies for nomenclature systems for nanomaterials.


COLL 121 Nanotechnology and business

Larry Bock, Nanosys Inc, 2625 Hanover St., Palo Alto, CA 94303, Fax: 858 759 8299,, Phone: 858-759-8693

I will give a non technical, business overview of how Nanosys is attempting to build a leading pure play nanotechnology venture. My presentation will describe how we are building an important platform technology focused on high performance, fully integrated, inorganic semiconductor nanostructures, how we are applying this platform technology in multiple muti-billion dollar industries from renewable energy to defense to macroelectroics (flexible electronics) to healthcare to information technology. I will also describe, how we capitalized the company in under three years with over $75M in equity and non equity capital and formed strategic relationships with such companies as Intel, Dupont, In-Q-Tel, SAIC and Matsushita.


PHYS 241 New Nanocrystal assemblies for photonic structures

A. Paul Alivisatos, Department of Chemistry, University of California, Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Materials Sciences Division, D-43A Hildebrand Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-1460, Fax: 510-642-6911,, Phone: 510-643-7371

This talk will focus on two recent projects relating to applications of nanocrystals in photonics. The first project concerns the use of discrete groups of nanocrystals as novel biological labels. For example, colloidal quantum dot emission can be altered by the placement nearby of Au nanocrystals. Similarly, the distance between two Au nanocrystals can be probed at the single molecule level by light scattering. The second area of interest is in the creation of specific patterns of nanocrystals on lithographically patterned surfaces by capillary force assembly.

ANYL 331 Biobarcode assay: PCR-like sensitivity for proteins, nucleic acids, and small molecules

Chad Mirkin, Chemistry Dept, Northwestern University, 2145 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208, Fax: 847-467-5123, Phone: 847-467-7302

An ultrasensitive method for detecting protein analytes has been developed. The system relies on magnetic microparticle probes with antibodies that specifically bind a target of interest [prostate specific antigen (PSA) in this case] and nanoparticle probes that are encoded with DNA that is unique to the protein target of interest and antibodies that can sandwich the target captured by the microparticle probes. Magnetic separation of the complexed probes and target followed by dehybridization of the oligonucleotides on the nanoparticle probe surface allows one to determine the presence of the target protein by identifying the oligonucleotide sequence released from the nanoparticle probe. Because the nanoparticle probe carries with it a large number of oligonucleotides per protein binding event, there is substantial amplification and one can detect protein targets in the 500 zeptomolar to picomolar concentration range. Comparable clinically accepted conventional assays for detecting the same targets have sensitivity limits of ~ 3 pM, 6 orders of magnitude less sensitive than what is observed with this method. The assay has been developed for prostrate cancer, HIV, cardiac markers and Alzheimers disease.


IEC 182 Environmentally-benign nanomanufacturing: Merging green chemistry and nanoscience

James E. Hutchison, Department of Chemistry and Materials Science Institute, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403,

Nanotechnology promises considerable benefit to society and the environment. However, the products of nanotechnology and the manufacturing processes used to produce these products may pose threats to human health, the environment, worker safety, and security. The challenge will be to develop nanotechnology to provide maximum benefit, while minimizing the hazards. Green chemistry and engineering principles can be adopted to guide the early stages of product and process development to meet this challenge. Discoveries in nanoscience will provide new opportunities for the development of sustainable technologies. In this presentation, I will discuss how green chemistry and engineering principles can guide the responsible development of nanotechnology and how nanoscience can enable the discovery of greener products and processes. Examples of greener materials, processes and applications of nanoscience will be presented, with an emphasis on nanomanufacturing.

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