Nanomedical Devices

By Frank Boehm


Exploring the Possibilities of Nanomedical Devices


Conceptual Nanomedical Lipofuscin Removal Strategy

Nano-medical Robotics: Non-Invasive Surgery and Cell Repair

Upcoming Book Explores Nanomedical Device and Systems Design


How Medical Nanotech Will Change Humanity Forever


CBC Interview with Cathy Alex

Nanomedicine – past, present and future: an interview with Frank Boehm, CEO NanoApps Medical Inc.


Please also find attached an article that I co-authored with artist and scientist, Dr. Angelika Domschke, for NANOmagazine, UK. “Advanced Nanomedical Diagnostics: New and Future Paradigms for the Enhanced Measurement of Health.”


Also a Google Hangout called Nanomedicine Weekly that I recently did with Angelika.


Related/Additional Reading

Nanomedical Device and Systems Design: Challenges, Possibilities, Visions –

Nano Magazine – NANOmagazine Issue28


Stanford University Researchers Make Complex Carbon Nanotube Circuits | MIT Technology Review

Carbon nanotubes could help make computers faster and more efficient—if they can be incorporated into complex circuits.

Carbon complexity: This wafer is patterned with a complex carbon nanotube circuit that serves as a sensor interface.

Researchers at Stanford University have built one of the most complex circuits from carbon nanotubes yet. They showed off a simple hand-shaking robot with a sensor-interface circuit last week at the International Solid-State Circuits Conference in San Francisco.

As the silicon transistors inside today’s computers reach their physical limits, the semiconductor industry is eyeing alternatives, and one of the most promising is carbon nanotubes. Tiny transistors made from these nanomaterials are faster and more energy efficient than silicon ones, and computer models predict that carbon nanotube processors could be an order of magnitude less power hungry. But it’s proved difficult to turn individual transistors into complex working circuits (see “How to Build a Nano-Computer ”).

The demonstration carbon nanotube circuit converts an analog signal from a capacitor—the same type of sensor found in many touch screens—into a digital signal that’s comprehensible by a microprocessor. The Stanford researchers rigged a wooden mannequin hand with the capacitive switch in its palm. When someone graspsed the hand, turning on the switch, the nanotube circuit sent its signal to the computer, which activated a motor on the robot hand, moving it up and down to shake the person’s hand.

Other researchers have demonstrated simple nanotube circuits before, but this is the most complex made so far, and it also demonstrates that nanotube transistors can be made at high yields, says Subhasish Mitra , an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science, who led the work with Philip Wong , a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford.

The nanotube circuit is still relatively slow—its transistors are large and far apart compared to the latest silicon circuits. But the work is an important experimental demonstration of the potential of carbon nanotube computing technology.

“This shows that carbon nanotube transistors can be integrated into logic circuits that perform at low voltage,” says Aaron Franklin , who is developing nanotube electronics at the IBM Watson Research Center. This feat has been demonstrated by Franklin’s group at the single-transistor level, and been shown to be theoretically possible by others, but seeing it in a complex circuit is important, says Franklin.

Working with carbon nanotubes presents many challenges—as many as 30 percent of them are metallic, rather than semiconducting, with the potential to burn out a circuit. Nanotubes also tend to grow in a spaghetti-like tangle, which can cause circuits to switch unpredictably. The approach taken by the Stanford group is to work with their imperfections, coming up with error-tolerant circuit design techniques that allow them to build circuits that work even when the starting materials are flawed. “We want to build up the circuit complexity, then go back to improving the building methods, then make more complex circuits,” says Wong.

“This is no different from the early days in silicon,” says Ashraf Alam , professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University. Compared to the electronics in today’s silicon-based smartphones and supercomputers, the first silicon transistors were poor quality, as were the first integrated circuits. But silicon got through its growing pains, and the semiconductor industry perfected building ever-denser arrays of integrated circuits made up of ever-smaller transistors.

“Variation and imperfection are going to be the air we breathe in semiconductor technology,” says Wong, not just for those working with new materials, but for conventional silicon technology, too. Today’s state-of-the-art chips use 22-nanometer transistors—billions on each chip—and there is very little variation in their performance; the semiconductor industry has mastered making these tiny devices at tremendous scales, and with very high yields.

The drive to continually miniaturize transistors while maintaining scrupulous quality control has enabled technologies ranging from smartphones and supercomputers. But unavoidable flaws, at the level of single atoms, will soon lead to variation in performance that will have to be accounted for in circuit design. “Error-tolerant design has to be part of the way forward, because we will never get the materials completely perfect,” says Wong.

Modifications of a nanoparticle can change chemical interactions with cell membranes

In a recent article published along with cover art engineers showed how simple shape and charge modifications of a nanoparticle can cause tremendous changes in the chemical interactions between the nanoparticle and a cell membrane. (Credit: Image courtesy of Syracuse University)

Jan. 23, 2013 — Researchers at Syracuse University’s Department of Biomedical and Chemical Engineering at L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science are studying the toxicity of commonly used nanoparticles, particles up to one million times smaller than a millimeter that could potentially penetrate and damage cell membranes.

In a recent article published along with cover art in the journal Langmuir, researchers Shikha Nangia, assistant professor of biomedical and chemical engineering (BMCE), and Radhakrishna Sureshkumar, Department Chair of BMCE and professor of physics, showed how simple shape and charge modifications of a nanoparticle can cause tremendous changes in the chemical interactions between the nanoparticle and a cell membrane.

Nanomaterials, which are currently being used as drug carriers, also pose a legitimate concern, since no universal standards exist to educate and fully protect those who handle these materials. Nanoparticles are comparable to chemicals in their potential threat because they could easily penetrate the skin or be inhaled.

“Nanotechnology has immense potential that is starting to be being realized; a comprehensive understanding of toxicity of nanoparticles will help develop better safe handling procedures in nanomanufacturing and nano-biotechnology” says Sureshkumar and Nangia, In addition, the toxicity levels of various nanoparticles can be used to our advantage in targeting cancer cells and absorbing radiation during cancer therapy. Nanotoxicity is becoming a major concern as the use of nanoparticles in imaging, therapeutics, diagnostics, catalysis, sensing and energy harvesting continues to grow dramatically.

This research project has taken place over the past year utilizing a state of the art 448 core parallel computer nicknamed “Prophet” housed in Syracuse University’s Green Data Center. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation.

Langmuir is a notable, interdisciplinary journal of American Chemical Society publishing articles in: colloids, interfaces, biological interfaces, nano-materials, electrochemistry and devices and applications.

Silicon powder produces hydrogen on demand | TG Daily

Posted January 23, 2013 – 03:33 by Kate Taylor

Super-small particles of silicon react with water to produce hydrogen almost instantaneously, University at Buffalo researchers have discovered.

It means that soldiers or campers, for example, need only take a small hygrogen fuel cell and a bag of the powder to power electronics and other devices on the move.

“It was previously unknown that we could generate hydrogen this rapidly from silicon, one of Earth’s most abundant elements,” says research assistant professor Folarin Erogbogbo.

“Safe storage of hydrogen has been a difficult problem, even though hydrogen is an excellent candidate for alternative energy, and one of the practical applications of our work would be supplying hydrogen for fuel cell power. It could be military vehicles or other portable applications that are near water.”

Spherical silicon particles about 10 nanometers in diameter combine with water and react to form silicic acid – which is non-toxic – and hydrogen, a potential source of energy for fuel cells.

The reaction doesn’t require any light, heat or electricity – and also creates hydrogen about 150 times faster than similar reactions using silicon particles 100 nanometers wide, and 1,000 times faster than bulk silicon.

The reason’s down to to geometry. As they react, the larger particles form nonspherical structures whose surfaces react with water less readily and less uniformly than the surfaces of the smaller, spherical particles.

Though it does take significant energy and resources to produce the powder, the particles could help power portable devices in situations where water is available and portability is more important than low cost.

“Perhaps instead of taking a gasoline or diesel generator and fuel tanks or large battery packs with me to the campsite (civilian or military) where water is available, I take a hydrogen fuel cell (much smaller and lighter than the generator) and some plastic cartridges of silicon nanopowder mixed with an activator,” says Professor Mark Swihart.

“Then I can power my satellite radio and telephone, GPS, laptop, lighting, etc. If I time things right, I might even be able to use excess heat generated from the reaction to warm up some water and make tea.”

Chinese Physicists Build “Ghost” Cloaking Device | MIT Technology Review

A working invisibility cloak that makes one object look like ghostly versions of another has been built in China

Illusion cloaks that make one object look like another are a fascinating type of invisibility device. The general idea is that such a device would make an apple look like a banana or a fighter plane look like an airliner. Clearly this would have important applications.

But while materials scientists have made great strides in building ordinary invisibility cloaks that work in the microwave, infrared and optical parts of the spectrum, making illusion cloaks is much harder. That’s because the bespoke materials they rely on require manufacturing techniques that seem like a distant dream.

Today, Tie Jun Cui and buddies at Southeast University in Nanjing, China, say they’ve designed and built a practical alternative to illusion cloaks, which they call a “ghost cloak”.

Conventional illusion cloaks rely on a two stage process. The first is a kind of invisibility stage which distorts incoming light to remove the scattering effect of the cloaked object, an apple for example. The second stage then distorts the scattered light to make it look as if it has been scattered off another object, a banana, for example. The result is that the apple ends up looking like a banana.

But materials that can perform this two-stage process are too demanding to make with current techniques.

So Tie Jun Cui and co have developed a single stage process that achieves a slightly different effect. Their idea is to do away with the first stage that makes the apple invisible.

Instead, their device takes the light scattered from the apple and distorts it to look like something else such as a banana. The symmetry of the effect–light is scattered on both sides of the apple–mean that this approach produces two “ghost” bananas, one on each side of the apple. The technique does not remove the apple entirely but distorts it, making it appear much smaller.

So the result is that the apple is changed into a much more complex picture that is significantly different from the original.

The big advantage of this approach is that it can be achieved now with existing technology. Tie Jun Cui and co first simulate the effect of their ghost cloak on a computer model.

They then go on to build a working prototype using concentric cylinders of split ring resonators that operates in 2 dimensions. They say that the results of their tests on this device closely match the results of the simulation.

That’s an interesting advance. The ability to distort and camouflage objects is clearly useful. However, an important question is whether the distortion that this device offers is good enough for any practical applications. Tie Jun Cui and co mention “security enhancement” but just how effective this would be when the original object is still visible, albeit in shrunken form, is debatable.

It may be that there are ways of improving the performance so it’ll be interesting to see what this team comes out with next.

Ref: : Creation of Ghost Illusions Using Metamaterials in Wave Dynamics

Particle Trap Paves Way for Personalized Medicine

Scientists were able to trap a single particle between four microelectrodes, paving the way for a faster and cheaper way to sequence DNA. (Credit: Weihua Guan and Mark Reed/Yale University)

Sequencing DNA base pairs — the individual molecules that make up DNA — is key for medical researchers working toward personalized medicine. Being able to isolate, study and sequence these DNA molecules would allow scientists to tailor diagnostic testing, therapies and treatments based on each patient’s individual genetic makeup.

But being able to isolate individual molecules like DNA base pairs, which are just two nanometers across — or about 1/50,000th the diameter of a human hair — is incredibly expensive and difficult to control. In addition, devising a way to trap DNA molecules in their natural aqueous environment further complicates things. Scientists have spent the past decade struggling to isolate and trap individual DNA molecules in an aqueous solution by trying to thread it through a tiny hole the size of DNA, called a “nanopore,” which is exceedingly difficult to make and control.

Now a team led by Yale University researchers has proven that isolating individual charged particles, like DNA molecules, is indeed possible using a method called “Paul trapping,” which uses oscillating electric fields to confine the particles to a space only nanometers in size. (The technique is named for Wolfgang Paul, who won the Nobel Prize for the discovery.) Until now, scientists have only been able to use Paul traps for particles in a vacuum, but the Yale team was able to confine a charged test particle — in this case, a polystyrene bead — to an accuracy of just 10 nanometers in aqueous solutions between quadruple microelectrodes that supplied the electric field.

Their device can be contained on a single chip and is simple and inexpensive to manufacture. “The idea would be that doctors could take a tiny drop of blood from patients and be able to run diagnostic tests on it right there in their office, instead of sending it away to a lab where testing can take days and is expensive,” said Weihua Guan, a Yale engineering graduate student who led the project.

Story Continues -> Particle Trap Paves Way for Personalized Medicine

Novel Artificial Material Could Facilitate Wireless Power

Unique artificial materials should theoretically make it possible to improve the power transfer to small devices, such as laptops or cell phones, or ultimately to larger ones, such as cars or elevators, without wires, researchers say. (Credit: © Borodaev / Fotolia)

Electrical engineers at Duke University have determined that unique artificial materials should theoretically make it possible to improve the power transfer to small devices, such as laptops or cell phones, or ultimately to larger ones, such as cars or elevators, without wires.

This advance is made possible by the recent ability to fabricate exotic composite materials known as metamaterials, which are not so much a single substance, but an entire human-made structure that can be engineered to exhibit properties not readily found in nature. In fact, the metamaterial used in earlier Duke studies, and which would likely be used in future wireless power transmission systems, resembles a miniature set of tan Venetian blinds.

Theoretically, this metamaterial can improve the efficiency of “recharging” devices without wires. As power passes from the transmitting device to the receiving device, most if not all of it scatters and dissipates unless the two devices are extremely close together. However, the metamaterial postulated by the Duke researchers, which would be situated between the energy source and the “recipient” device, greatly refocuses the energy transmitted and permits the energy to traverse the open space between with minimal loss of power.

“We currently have the ability to transmit small amounts of power over short distances, such as in radio frequency identification (RFID) devices,” said Yaroslav Urzhumov, assistant research professor in electrical and computer engineering at Duke’s Pratt School of Engineering. “However, larger amounts of energy, such as that seen in lasers or microwaves, would burn up anything in its path.

“Based on our calculations, it should be possible to use these novel metamaterials to increase the amount of power transmitted without the negative effects,” Urzhumov said.

Story Continues – Novel Artificial Material Could Facilitate Wireless Power