Public Release: 

Nanotechnology highlights from the ACS national meeting in Anaheim, Calif., March 28-April 1

American Chemical Society


ANAHEIM, Calif. -- From stain-free clothing to scratch-resistant eyeglasses to longer lasting sunscreen lotions, nanotechnology -- the science and technology of the ultra small -- is already making an impact on our lives. Now, it's poised to make an even broader impact with promises of faster computers, better diagnostic tests and improved ways to remove toxins from contaminated sites. More than 15 symposia will feature these and other topics related to this growing field of research -- including its promises, challenges and potential risks -- during the 227th national meeting of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, in Anaheim, Calif., March 28-April 1.

On Sunday, March 28, the program features a special Presidential Colloquium: "Big Promise from 'Small' Science - How Nanotechnology will Change Our Lives," which includes several leaders in the field who will discuss what is and is not possible with the emerging science. ACS President Charles P. Casey will introduce the session, which concludes with a panel discussion on the topic.

Highlights from selected symposia and research presentations are described below:

Sunday, March 28

World's smallest lasers may pave the way for faster computers -- Researchers at Harvard University say they have developed the world's smallest lasers. The lasers, composed of cadmium sulfide nanowires, can be driven by simple electrical current. What's more, several different types of nanowire lasers can be bundled together on a single chip, allowing more versatile applications. The development could lead to faster, more efficient computers, high density information storage, improved fiber optics and more precise lithography. (PHYS 27, Sunday, March 28, 9:20 a.m., Convention Center, Room 210C, during the symposium, "Nanocrystals and Nanotubes.")

"Big Promise from 'Small' Science - How Nanotechnology will Change Our Lives" -- Nanotechnology is the highest priority funded science and technology effort since the space race and nearly every Fortune 500 company involved in manufacturing has entered nanotech. This special ACS Presidential Colloquium features several leaders in nanoscience who will discuss what is and what is not possible and what people can really expect to see from this field of research. The session will be followed by a panel discussion on the topic. (PRES 1-6, Sunday, March 28, 2-5:40 p.m., Hilton Anaheim, California Pavilion D.)

Monday, March 29

Tiny iron nanoparticles show promise for cleaning up big industrial sites -- Current methods for cleaning up contaminated soil and groundwater at thousands of industrial sites are generally regarded as slow and expensive, sometimes taking decades. Now, researchers have developed a method to make inexpensive iron nanoparticles that exceed conventional methods in efficiency and speed, cleaning up sites in a matter of weeks. The particles are effective in neutralizing a wide variety of environmental contaminants, including PCBs, DDT, trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchlorate. The particles, which will soon be mass produced, have already been used to effectively clean up several contaminated industrial sites in the United States and parts of Europe. (IEC 37, Monday, March 29, 9:35 a.m., Anaheim Marriott, Grand Ballroom F, during the symposium, "Nanotechnology and the Environment.")

Tuesday, March 30

Silver nanoparticles: A bright idea for cleaning contaminated water -- Titanium dioxide, a compound used in many consumer products such as toothpaste and sunscreens, is also a promising photocatalyst for the breakdown of many environmental pollutants, including pesticides and pharmaceutical residues. But its use is limited because activation requires ultraviolet light from an artificial source, which is generally inefficient. Now, researchers at Clemson University have figured out a way to coat nanoparticles of silver with titanium dioxide so that the resulting photocatalysts have the ability to respond to natural sunlight, creating a more efficient way to remove environmental pollutants from ponds and lakes as well as industrial wastewater. (IEC 96, Tuesday, March 30, 11:15 a.m., Anaheim Marriott, Orange County 1, during the symposium, "Nanotechnology and the Environment.")

Biological nanosensors may lead to improved diagnostics, noninvasive imaging -- Researchers have developed a new class of nano-sized, chemical sensors that could provide researchers unprecedented abilities to see the inner workings of cells, which could lead to better medical diagnostics and improved noninvasive imaging techniques. The sensors, made of special biological polymers similar to cell membranes, are more biocompatible with cells than conventional materials and better at detecting specific chemical signals. (ANYL 215, Tuesday, March 30, 4:25 p.m., Convention Center, Room 207B, during the symposium, "Nanoscale Chemical Analysis of Biological Systems.")

Wednesday, March 31

Toward greener car parts: Nanocomposites merge with bio-based plastics -- Bio-based plastics, which are often made from plant oil, win praise for their environmental friendliness, but structurally, they generally lack sufficient stiffness and strength for some applications. Now, researchers at Michigan State University have merged bio-based plastics with nanoreinforcements, including nano-sized clays, fibers and tubes, resulting in stronger, stiffer plastics that show promise for a variety of uses - from packaging to transportation to aerospace applications. This could ultimately lead to structural plastic composite materials, including car parts, which could be recycled through composting. (IEC 209, Wednesday, March 31, 9:35 a.m., Anaheim Marriott, Orange County 1, during the symposium, "Nanotechnology and the Environment.")

Nanoparticles from agricultural waste yield "fruitful" plastics -- What do you do when life gives you apples and oranges? Try making nanoparticles. Researchers at the State University of New York are using waste products from the juice industry to make cellulose nanoparticles that show promise as biodegradable plastics. (IEC 210, Wednesday, March 31, 9:55 a.m., Anaheim Marriott, Orange County 1, during the symposium, "Nanotechnology and the Environment.")

Thursday, April 1

Nanoparticle used in sunscreens also show promise for reducing arsenic in drinking water -- Removal of arsenic from drinking water to meet the proposed new EPA standard is a technological challenge, researchers say. Scientists at Oklahoma State University have shown that zinc oxide nanoparticles, used in some sunscreens for their ability to absorb harmful ultraviolet light, can also remove arsenic from water. They claim to have found a method to prepare the particles in an ideal form for treatment of drinking water. (IEC 254, Thursday, April 1, 8:35 a.m., Anaheim Marriott, Grand Ballroom F, during the symposium, "Nanotechnology and the Environment.")

Movement of nanoparticles in groundwater -- As fullerenes and other nanoparticles make their way into the environment, there's growing concern about what effect they will have on the water supply. Researchers have conducted laboratory experiments in simulated groundwater conditions on seven different nanomaterials and found that they have widely different transport behaviors, indicating that potential exposure to nanomaterials must be considered on a case by case basis. (IEC 277, Thursday, April 1, 1:35 p.m., Anaheim Marriott, Grand Ballroom F, during the symposium, "Nanotechnology and the Environment.")

Better bone implants through nanotechnology -- Experimental bone implants that are nano-engineered appear not only more durable but also better able to integrate with natural bone tissue than the artificial joints and other micron-scale implants now on the market, according to researchers at Purdue University. They have studied the nano-properties of ceramics, polymers and metals and propose that the roughness of nanoparticles in metals creates a surface that bone cells are more likely to recognize. (COLL 535, Thursday, April 1, 3 p.m., at the Marriott, Orange County 5, during the symposium, "Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.")


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