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Using Nanotechnology to Remove Blood Clots and Detect Cancer

Advances in nanotechnology are leading to dramatic new devices that can fundamentally improve our quality of life in the healthcare field. While the potential applications are easily understood, the truly unique aspect about Dr. Yong Shi’s research is his unparalleled ability to develop and control these materials.

Dr. Yong Shi at the Active Nanomaterials and Devices Lab at Stevens Institute of Technology is a nanotechnology expert who works towards introducing new materials that have unparalleled precision and efficiency. He has introduced patented piezoelectric (PZT) nanofibers consisting of lead zirconate titanate and is also advancing the study of piezoresistive or conductive (indium tin oxide or ITO), thermal electric (both bismuth telluride and complex oxides) and photovoltaic materials (titanium oxide or TiO2).

The applications of these nanofibers are tremendous. What is truly special about these piezoelectric nanofibers is their ability to efficiently convert vibration or acoustic energy into electricity (sensors), or to do the exact opposite – convert electricity into movement (actuators).

Working in the Micro Devices Lab shared facility at Stevens, Dr. Shi was the first to fabricate and control PZT fibers on the nanoscale – a process that results in unique mechanical and electrical properties.

By manipulating these principles, he creates devices that are both tiny (Nanotechnology refers to development on the atomic level – a sheet of paper is about 100,000 nanometers thick) and can be maneuvered with precision, thus enabling amazing new technologies such as: tiny robots that navigate to the site of a blood clot in stroke therapy procedures and even monitor the vibrations involved in chemical bonding to detect cancer cells – all made possible through the application of Dr. Shi’s nanofibers and their specification as a sensor or actuator to determine functionality.

Stroke Therapy and the MEMS Umbrella-Shaped Actuator

Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 143,000 lives per year. Caused by a blood clot which blocks an artery, or by the breakage of a blood vessel, strokes result in a lack of oxygen, blood, and nutrients to the brain, and can invoke brain damage and even death.

Dr. Shi is particularly interested in assisting stroke victims and has worked collaboratively with Dr. Sundeep Mangla and Dr. Ming Zhang of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in the development of a blood clot retriever using his patented PZT fibers that have unique piezoelectric properties resulting in movement (actuation) as a response to electrical stimuli.

This principle allows for creation of a MEMS Umbrella-shaped Actuator that is inserted via catheter into the lower body of a stroke patient. The operator (in most cases a medical doctor) can control the device through the application of varying electrical signals and the location can be monitored with MRI and CAT SCAN technology. Navigating up and through the arteries, the device will ultimately reach the location of the blood clot and proceed by applying a fine-tuned shear force to facilitate the separation of the blood clot from the wall of the vascular artery due to the shearing-thinning phenomenon, thus enabling complete retrieval while minimizing the risk of damage to the arteries.

Cancer Diagnostics

As the second leading cause of death in the United States, early detection of cancer is a critical step in recovery. The Active Nanomaterials and Devices Lab aims to distinguish between a cancer cell and a normal cell through the use of high frequency ultrasound. The PZT materials once again play a critical role in their ability to detect vibration patterns and disseminate critical knowledge. By monitoring the absorption and attenuation of the cells using a specific frequency ultrasound, Dr. Shi will be able to distinguish cancer cells from normal cells.

Yong Shi is involved in vital research with Dr. Jian Cao of Stony Brook University which will introduce novel diagnostics that improve existing diagnostic methods resulting in early detection and the ability to save lives. Dr. Shi brings an expert understanding of Nanotechnology device engineering, while Dr. Cao is a leader in molecular and cellular biology of cancer. According to Dr. Cao, this synergistic collaboration will bridge the gap between basic science and translational research.

Their collaboration has led to recent government funding for the development of a device that will be used to detect the spread of breast cancer cells in circulation. This device will eventually be used for clinical diagnostics to determine the possible spread of breast cancer. In addition to improving the medical care for cancer diagnostics, technology innovations led by Dr. Shi and Dr. Cao will drastically reduce medical costs and enable greater care for a larger majority of patients.

Conclusion

As the first to fabricate and control PZT nanofibers as well as introduce further advancements in ITO nanofibers, Dr. Shi has uncovered an incredibly effective method of operating and powering mechanical devices. He does this through the application of an electrical potential, which creates movement (actuators) or receives information based on vibration, thermal or acoustic energy (sensors). This technology is dramatically increasing the efficiency of many groundbreaking disciplines including:

The development of a device that can actually remove a blood clot in the case of a stroke and monitor and diagnose cancer like never before with dramatically reduced costs to the patient.

As an entrepreneur Dr. Shi is also an innovator at bringing technology to the marketplace. He has instilled an environment consistent with the Technogenesis™ mission and encourages the application of research ideas to commercial solutions. One of Dr. Shi’s graduate students, Shi you Xu, explains further, Nanotechnology is currently a ‘hot’ research area, and most of it is on the scientific level. The unique aspect of our lab is Dr. Shi’s willingness to develop working devices that have the potential to be commercialized. We have seen this with nano piezoelectric generators and sensing devices, and are excited about future prototype developments.

For more information, please visit Dr. Shi’s home page!

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Nanotechnology – Its Role in Electronics and Its Effects

Summary: Nano as it implies small particles or atoms which is the building blocks of all materials is a 20th century shoot up technology is the centre for design & manufacturing of almost all products.

What is Nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology is the science of molecular scale which refers to the projected ability to manufacture highly performed products. In general it deals with very small structures or atoms. It is scaled by the nanometer scale and one nanometer is one billionth of a meter which is very small to see but very powerful to produce very high end products.

Role of Nanotechnology in electronics

Role of nanotechnology in electronics is to improve the capability of electronic products. The technology also made the devices very light making the product easy to carry or move and at the same time it has reduced the power requirement. Ever since the use of nanotechnology have implemented in the process of manufacturing electronic products it has brought a revolution in this industry particularly in telecommunications & information technology. Following subjects can give a broader idea about its major role in details:

• Change of display screens: LCD and its improved versions are example. The quality of display screens has improved a lot while its size became very thick, decreased weight and reduced power consumption.
• Memory Chips: Nanotechnology has made size of memory chip very small but storage capacity upto 1 terabyte per square inch.
• Power transistors: It has been reduced like a circuit where all the power can be stored.

Merits of Nanotechnology

• It stimulates mass production
• Produces energy at very cheaper cost
• Keeps pollution under control.

Demerits of Nanotechnology

• Cause of destruction of society- as it helps making destructive weapons
• Can enter into the brains blood stream causing harmful diseases as the particles are very small
• Threat to traditional workers of loosing the job-hence can widen economic differences.

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Nanotechnology

Introduction

Today governments are spending a huge share of their revenues after the research and development of nanotechnology; nevertheless, it is very difficult to state precisely the opportunities or possible uses of nanotechnology. Nanonscientists and technologists are facing a big challenge of communicating with non-scientific fraternity. After the years of contemplation, many fallacies have developed around the area; these fallacies make it difficult for the commons and even for business groups and financial tribes to understand what is a basic change that influences our interactions with the natural world. The article aims at eliminating these delusions and explaining the reason why nanoscientists, business houses and governments spend money and time on the research and development of nanoscale.

Know the Nanotechnology

If we ask a common person or other experts (scientists or engineers) of nanotechnololgy about nanotechnology, we will obtain countless answers. Many scientists do not consider the technology as newborn, because they believe that we have been working at the nanoscale for many years through electron microscopy, scanning probe microscopes, growing or analysing thin films. However, for many people nanotechnology is something far more ambitious, miniature submarines in the bloodstream, little cogs and gears made out of atoms, space elevators made of nanotubes and the colonisation of space. People are often confused between nanotechnology and science fiction.

Nanoscale

International Standards Organisation has explained metre as ‘the length of the path travelled by light in vacuum during a time of 1/299 792 458 of a second’ and according to this definition nanometer is 10- 9. Though International Standards Organisation has given the definitions of metre and nanometer, scientists are not able to communicate the nanoscale to those who are not scientists. People tend to compare sizes to the objects that are useful in our everyday life and the simplest analogy of nanotechnology is with the width of a human hair.

Unfortunately, growth of human hair is highly uneven; it ranges from billions of microns in diametre (10-6 of a metre). This growth depends on the colour, type and the part of our body from which hair is plucked; therefore, we need a model to which we can compare the nanoscale. Very few learned people know what is the millionth or billionth of something; in this situation, it would be easier to compare nanotechnology to atoms. Few non-scientists have knowledge of the size of an atom and therefore, comparing the size of nanometre to the size of 10 hydrogen or 5 silicon atoms in a row is understandable by human mind. It is immaterial to discuss the exact size of atoms; what matters is to spread the fact that nanotechnology is taking care of the tiniest parts of material we can operate.

Nanotechnology is not a science fiction

Most people are under the impression that nanotechnology is an ultramodern science having its applications in the forthcoming 25 years, but nanotechnology is not a science fiction at all. More than dozen Nobel prizes have been awarded in Nanotechnology in the last 15 years; the category of these prizes range from development of the scanning probe microscope (SPM) to the discovery of fullerenes. The Nanotechnology has its widespread influence on many companies from small venture capital supported beginners to some of the business heavyweights like IBM and Samsung. As per CMP Cientifica, more than 600 companies are engaged in Nanotechnology. Governments and corporations have spent more than $4 billion after nanotechnology in the last year alone. The technology has its presence in educational institutions of the world.

The commendable thing is that companies have started employing Nanotechnology to various products we are buying, such as automobile parts, clothing and ski wax. The omnipresence of Nanotechnology can be perceived only if we have eyes for that.

The pity is that many business people do not know where to find the information about Nanotechnology. This technology has a tremendous positive impact over the major electronic communication channels like computers, software, Internet and mobile phones. Additives for plastics, nanocarbon particles for improved steel, coatings and improved catalysts for the petrochemical industry are some of the material related primary functions of nanotechnology. All these industries are hinged on technology and, maybe not new ones, but lucrative in terms of finance.

The nanotechnology industry

The nanotechnology has become a common subject for people while discussing the technology in general. The word nanotechnology comes out of our mouths as easily as we talk about software and mobile phones, but what about the future of this technology. Companies using nanotechnology are implementing our knowledge of the nanoscale to present industries, whether it is improved drug delivery mechanisms for the pharmaceutical industry, or producing nanoclay particles for the plastic industry. It is difficult to digest the fact that nanotechnology does not have any independent existence because it is an empowering technology, which fortifies other industries against the cutthroat competition of 21st century. For instance, it would be incorrect to declare that Microsoft or Oracle are part of the electricity industry; however the fact is that software industry would stand still without electricity. Instead, nanotechnology is an essential awareness of how nature works at the atomic scale. This awareness will give birth to new industries, just as the knowledge of how electrons can be moved in a conductor by applying a potential difference led to electric lighting, the telephone, computing, the internet and many other industries, all of which would not have been thought without it.

For example, it is possible to buy a pack of nanotechnology, a gram of nanotubes; it would have least essential value. The real significance of the nanotubes would be in their function, be it within the existing industry or to bring about the formation of a completely new one.

Exotic Journey

It is an accepted idea of the advantages of nanotechnology to minimize the machines that can be installed into the human body to spot and heal diseased cells, and this idea is very much close to fact. Many companies have already opted this technology in clinical trials for drug distribution systems, but they do not include Lilliputian submarines. There are better methods than nanomachines for nanotechnology to strengthen better drug distribution systems.

To bring no-nonsense analysis, the idea of travelling one way round the body will have to be discarded. It is like going against the blood flow in artery – one cannot swim against the current in a fast flowing river when round rocks are coming in the form of red and white blood cells. Prevailing medical uses of nanotechnology do not involve advanced distribution methods, such as pulmonary or epidermal methods, encasement for both delivery and delayed release and eventually the integration of detection with delivery, in order that drugs might be delivered exactly where they are needed, thus reducing side effects on healthy tissue and cells.

Shrinking stuff

People believe that nanotechnology is involved in making things smaller; this is a mistaken belief people must get rid of it. This belief has been aggravated by images of tiny bulls and miniscule guitars that can be played with the tip of an AFM; it can be flashed in news, but nothing more than the display of our new control of matter at the sub-micron level. Unlike micro-technologies, which are much associated with macro-scale tools like transistors and mechanical systems and making them tinier, nanotechnology is rather dealing with our strength to create from the bottom. In the domain of electronics, there is an increasing consciousness that after the end of the CMOS roadmap in sight at around 10 nm, integrated with the indefinitely principal’s limit of Von Neuman electronics at 2 nm, that making things tinier will not help us. If CMOS transistors were replaced on a one for one basis with a type of nano tool, they would affect the fabrication costs, which might increase extremely, while they would introduce only an insignificant improvement over present technologies.

However, with the help of nanotechnology, we can find a way out of this technological and financial blind alley by erecting tools from the bottom. Methods such as self assembly, possibly supported templates formed by nano imprint lithography, united with our knowledge of the workings of polymers and molecules such as Rotoxane at the nanoscale open up an entire new bundle of possibilities. To fabricate intelligent and economical tools, our knowledge of behaviour of materials on the scale of small molecules offers a variety of alternative methods, no matter if it is bypassing Moore’s second law by shifting to plastic electronics or using molecular electronics. Our new knowledge will allow us to create new architectures; as a result, an authentic scale of functioning would be practicality and not the transistor density or operations per second.

Nanotechnology is new

It is beyond our belief that the Romans and Chinese were using nanoparticles centuries ago. Similarly, whenever one lights a matchstick, fullerenes are produced. Since 1920s, Degusssa have been producing carbon black, which is a substance making car tyres black and enhancing the wear resistance of the rubber. While using this technology, they did not know that it was nanotechnology and since they could not control the size of particle, they were unable to use nanotechnology as we use it today.

Today we are not only able to perceive and employ matter on the nanoscale, but also understand atomic scale interactions; and that is the new thing about nanotechnology.

Building atom by atom

In 1989, when Don Eigler employed an SPM to discern the letters IBM in xenon atoms, it proved one of the decisive moments in the history of nanotechnology. For the first time we were successful in making a perfect sequence of atoms, even if maintaining them above absolute zero was a big challenge. On the one hand, sequencing atoms can be proved useful to enhance our knowledge of nanoworld; on the other, it is useless in industrial processes. Suppose a Pentium 4 processor contains 42 million transistors, we would need 42 x 102 procedures to simplify the transistors to a cube of 100 atoms and that is before we consider the other material and tools required in a functioning processor.

Our strength to construct things atom by atom on a very large scale is called Physical Chemistry; this chemistry has been used for a century and producing everything from nitrate to salt. For this, we are not required to have any tabletop assembler; generally, few barrels of precursor chemicals and a catalyst are enough.

Our complication would increase while moving towards microscale; it would be better to reproduce, with cells, cytoplasm, mitochondria, chromosomes, ribosomes and many other highly complex items of natural engineering. Nanoscale is still more thorny area to take action; nucleic acids, nucleotides, peptides and proteins, which seem aliens to us, or expect to even have the computing power to understand in the near future are big challenges before us.

Attack of the killer nanobots

To take hold of the fancy of commons, it will be a popular practice to release a host of self-duplicating tools that escape from the lab and attack anything in their path. To our misfortune, nature, before many centuries, has defeated us to it. To avoid our attempts at eradication, as they do so, natural happenings of nanomachines cannot only copy and mutate, but can also escape their hosts and travel with alarming ease through the atmosphere. It is not a surprising fact that viruses are the most acknowledged living organisms, with most of their `machinery’ being well into the nano realm. Nevertheless, there are restrictions to the spreading of such `nanobots’, decided by their strength, or lack, of transforming a sufficiently wide range of material needed for future development. Even though the immune systems of many species are unable to render viruses ineffective completely without side effects such as running noses, they are so competent to take action on this type of danger as a result of the wide range of different technologies at hand to a large intricate living thing when brought face to face with a single purpose nano-sized one. From the nano world to become a peril, it would have to incorporate extra intellect and complaisance than we could possibly create into it.

Nature knows more about genomics and proteomics than we know and for the projected future, this picture will not be changed. A person who is much bothered about human race must take into account mutations in viruses such as HIV that would permit transmission through mosquitoes or more fatal versions of influenza virus, which should be given more attention than anything does nanotechnology may produce.

Conclusions

Like any other division of science, this technology deals with the functions of nature. In proportion to nature, we are still in our infancy in producing tools and manipulating matter. Nature is able enough to create highly proficient systems that function neither more nor less i.e. without waste.

Though many divisions come under the cover of nanotechnology are not aliens, our new strength of noticing and employing atomic scale combine with existing technologies makes nanotechnology so irrefutable from scientific, commercial and political perspectives.

From the cultured scientists of 17th and 18th centuries to the present academic infrastructure, scientists have been developing the amount of human knowledge and that has long been the motivating impulse behind discovery. If we want to understand the world near us, we have to understand Nanotechnology and this knowledge will provide motivation and encouragement for many scientists of future generations.

Businesspersons have a single use of this nanotechnology like any other technology: to enhance their profit share. This can be done by minimizing production expenses; for example, they can use catalysts that are more competent in chemical industry or develop new products like new drug delivery systems or stain resistant clothes, or create completely new markets.

In spite of fresh setbacks, with the effect of development and acceptance of information technology, US have taken dominating position in terms of financial growth. Thus, politically it can be said that fear is the leading motivation. Lead in Military technology is of equal importance as displayed by the use of manless drones for vigilance and attack in fresh combats. This technology will introduce more important changes in the areas of economy, armed forces and culture; since the technology is developing fast, and expansion and acceptance cycles becoming shorter, playing catch-up will not be an option for governments who are not already taking action.

Nanotechnology brings different physical and biological sciences, which have long been separated due to the features of education. This benefit has, of course, a short life. Apart from nanosubmarines and killer nanobots, the biggest use of nanotechnology is the union of scientific branches and the resulting strength of scientists, when come up against a problem, to call on the wherewithal of the whole of science, not just of one branch.

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Importance of Nanotechnology

The most efficient machine is the one that requires the least amount of parts to function properly. The more fundamental the design, the less likely there will be problems. A machine designed from the ground up from atoms would be the highest example of such efficiency. It is for this reason that chemical engineering will become one of the most useful fields to major in.

It is the developing field of nanotechnology that will eventually make the chemical engineer an even more valuable component to technology’s future. Nanotechnology has the capacity to create systems and devices which can accomplish things unheard of with modern methods. This is done by designing devices at a molecular level, at scales consisting of nanometers. Manufactured “quantum dots” are being developed and implemented within the plastics of solar cells which will allow them to be produced cheaply, with a more resilient form factor, and with the ability to harness infrared light. These same dots, which have the properties of a semi-conductor on a molecular scale, are also being implemented in nano-transistors. A computer based off of this technology would have exponential gains in processing power in relation to size, as well as a marked decrease in power requirements. Nanotechnology has also come into play in the fields of medicine and alternative fuel. Specifically engineered molecules could recognize and attack cancer cells without damaging the healthy parts of the body or the immune system. Enzymes assembled with nanotechnological principles have also helped to break down corn stalks in the production of ethanol.

Nanotechnology is a blanket term, and its principles and products are relevant to a wide range of fields. However, with such small quantities and measurements to work with, all out of visible range, design and production becomes a matter wholly unconventional. Chemical engineers will be the ones with the skill-set to function in this environment. The desired nanomachines will have to be assembled by specially produced molecules and the principles of molecular recognition. An understanding of chemical interactions is vital to this process. The quantum dots used in the solar panels, for example, can be grown efficiently through chemical processes creating nano-crystalline layers. As the field expands, nano-devices will become more complex, and a wide variety of chemical compounds will be required. These compounds will function much like DNA, in that linkages and recognition between molecules will allow for a predictable structure to be produced. Chemical engineering will be necessary to create these molecular “factories.”

Both quantum physics and chemistry, as well as the study of bio-chemical systems, will be necessary and equally important in advancing the nanotechnology field. It will be the chemical engineer, however, who implements the theories and actually creates these tiny devices. And with its nearly ubiquitous applications, and potentially revolutionary promises, nanotechnology will continue to expand, assuring the chemical engineer an important and useful place in almost any field.

Sally is a dedicated writer for StudentScholarships.org. She is an expert in Nanotechnology Scholarships, Financial Aid, Career Advice, and most other things college related.

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