National Nanomanufacturing Network

SUNY Poly CNSE and NIOSH Launch Federal Nano Health and Safety Consortium

National Nanomanufacturing Network - May 20, 2015 - 8:58am
SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (SUNY Poly CNSE) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) today announced the launch of the Nano Health Safety Consortium (NHSC). The initiative enables expanded collaboration in advancing research and guidance for occupational safety and health in the nanoelectronics and other nanomanufacturing industry settings. The consortium will be anchored at the SUNY Poly CNSE Nanotech Megaplex in Albany and extend across the full 10-campus SUNY Poly network throughout New York. “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s successful high tech blueprint for New York State is setting a global standard for next generation technology development, and that is why SUNY Poly has the opportunity to lead this consortium with a federal agency like NIOSH,” said Dr. Michael Liehr, SUNY Poly Executive Vice President of Innovation and Technology and Vice President of Research. “Anchoring the consortium at our world class facilities and leveraging the combined expertise of SUNY Poly and NIOSH will further the development of the highest health and safety standards, as the nanotechnology industry continues its rapid growth.” “Realizing the full potential societal benefit of nanotechnology depends in great measure on effective health and safety practices for workers who produce and use nanomaterials,” said NIOSH Associate Director for Nanotechnology and Nanotechnology Research Center Manager, Dr. Charles Geraci. “Because of the strong partnership we’ve established, NIOSH’s health and safety experts and the world-class scientists and partners at SUNY Poly are poised to make great strides in safeguarding workers as nanotechnology applications and uses continue to expand at an amazingly rapid pace.” The NHSC will build upon the existing partnership between SUNY Poly and NIOSH and link government, academia and industry leaders to advance health and safety for the nanotechnology workforce by aligning research efforts, expertise, and resources through the existing and rapidly expanding infrastructure of the SUNY Poly network. In addition to advancing worker health and safety research, the consortium will provide training and education for students, faculty, researchers, and private sector members of the network. The leadership and success of the SUNY Poly CNSE-NIOSH partnership in Nano Health Safety was discussed this morning at a meeting of select invitees at the White House hosted by the Office of Science Technology Policy (OSTP) and the National Economic Council (NEC). SUNY Poly CNSE Assistant Vice President for NanoHealth Initiatives and Assistant Professor of Nanobioscience, Dr. Sara Brenner, detailed the leadership and success of the SUNY Poly-NIOSH partnership and the opportunities presented by SUNY Poly’s statewide network of innovation hubs at today’s White House Forum on Small Business Challenges to Commercializing Nanotechnology in Washington, DC. “SUNY Poly CNSE is a global resource for nanotechnology R D. As more and more businesses, both large and small, incorporate the benefits of nanotechnology applications in their goods and services, it is critical that we understand their needs, as well as the latest materials, tools, methods, and workplace environments, to develop effective nano health and safety guidelines and recommendations,” said Dr. Brenner. “The collaborative work to be done by SUNY Poly, NIOSH, and NHSC will facilitate and accelerate commercialization, help strengthen and protect our workforce, and clear the path for innovation and enable the continued advancement of the field of nanotechnology.” SUNY Poly and NIOSH, as founding members of the consortium, have created a one-of-a-kind opportunity for academia, government, and industry to propel proactive research that will enable and accelerate the responsible development of nanotechnology. The NHSC is poised to lead the nation in the development and implementation of innovative protocols and procedures to conserve resources and safeguard occupational and environmental health and safety in nanotechnology-enabled industries. At the White House forum today, Dr. Brenner and Dr. Geraci, along with other national leaders, discussed how the SUNY Poly CNSE-anchored network and NIOSH will provide the premier public-private framework that will play a critical, enabling role in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) 2.0. The NHSC has identified that occupational and environmental health and safety is an essential and enabling component of forward progress in nanotechnology research and development and commercialization. SUNY Poly and NIOSH are in the process of engaging private partners and Federal Agencies participating in the NNI to join and contribute to missions of the consortium. The framework being built will facilitate not only health and safety, but also advanced manufacturing, commercialization, entrepreneurship, workforce development, training, and education. Source: SUNY Polytechnic Institute (https://sunypoly.edu/apps/blogs/news/2015/05/20/suny-poly-cnse-and-niosh-launch-federal-nano-health-and-safety-consortium/)

Carbon Sciences Develops Low Cost CVD Process to Produce Quality Graphene

National Nanomanufacturing Network - May 15, 2015 - 4:09am
Company funded research project at UCSB completes initial development of a graphene fabrication process and system Carbon Sciences, Inc. (CABN (http://click.icptrack.com/icp/relay.php?r= msgid=0 act=11111 c=144987 destination=http%3A%2F%2Ffinance.yahoo.com%2Fq%3Fs%3Dcabn)), focused on the development of a breakthrough technology to mass-produce graphene, today announced that the research project funded by the company at the University of California, Santa Barbara (“UCSB”), has successfully demonstrated the production of high quality graphene using a low cost chemical vapor deposition (“CVD”) process. Due to its breakthrough natural properties, many experts believe that graphene is the miracle material that will power the next generation of electronics, communication and composites. However, the key obstacle to the widespread use of graphene today is the high manufacturing cost of high quality graphene. The least expensive method, CVD, currently used in the electronics industry is still too expensive for enabling mass-market graphene applications such as flexible electronics, unbreakable touchscreens, sensors, and energy. The UCSB research team led by, Dr. Kaustav Banerjee, has successfully engineered a low cost CVD system that is optimized for graphene production using proprietary processes, catalysts and techniques. By fully optimizing and innovating various steps in the process the team has produced very high quality graphene. The system can also be used to customize doping to create application specific graphene. Bill Beifuss, CEO of Carbon Sciences, commented, “After a very intense and highly focused development effort by Dr. Banerjee’s team, we are finally seeing very promising results. Now that the team has demonstrated a low cost laboratory method with proprietary processes, we can begin to look at transforming that into a viable commercial technology. Some of the steps in the process are truly innovative and are very likely to dramatically reduce the cost of making large quantities of graphene.” Carbon Sciences is currently funding a year long sponsored research program at UCSB for the development of a low cost graphene manufacturing process. About Carbon Sciences, Inc. Carbon Sciences is focused on the development of a breakthrough technology to mass-produce graphene, the new miracle material. Graphene, a sheet of pure carbon that is only one atom thick, is flexible, transparent, impermeable to moisture, stronger than diamonds and more conductive than gold. Ever since the Nobel Prize was awarded for its discovery, experts believe graphene to be the miracle material that will enable revolutionary applications such as bendable touchscreen displays, rapid charge batteries, super-capacitors, low cost solar cells, extreme high-speed semiconductors, biosensors, as well as water purification. While the raw materials to make graphene are readily available, the lack of an industrial scale manufacturing process has hindered its commercial use. Carbon Sciences has targeted the development of a breakthrough process that will transform natural gas into commercial size sheets of graphene that can be fine-tuned with application-specific electrical and materials properties. Source: Carbon Sciences (http://www.carbonsciences.com/view_news.php?id=141)

NanoBCA Interview: Harry Bushong, President, Nano Risk Assessment International, Ltd.

National Nanomanufacturing Network - May 7, 2015 - 4:50am
The NanoBCA is pleased to share the following interview with Harry Bushong, a long-time member of our community and a pioneer and staunch advocate for nanosafety. The NanoBCA has always kept the topic of nanotech EHS (Environment Health Safety) at the forefront of its agenda and has strived to keep the community informed and engaged on this very important topic. NanoBCA Nano Risk Assessment International, Ltd. was the first risk assessment firm focused on nanosafety. Can you tell us how your business has evolved over the years and describe its focus today as well as that of the sister companies that it is affiliated with? Mr. Bushong Nano Risk Assessment International, Ltd. was indeed the first firm dedicated to providing nanosafety services. It’s hard to believe, but we’ve just marked our tenth anniversary. It’s been quite a ride and the landscape has changed dramatically over that time. To answer your question, I’ll describe briefly how we’ve evolved as a company, or rather I should say “a group of companies”, and what our focus is today. We started in Texas as a single company, nanoTox, Inc., focused on providing safety consulting services to nanomaterials companies in the U.S. Our headquarters remains in Texas to this day. However, as the demands for our services have evolved and the needs of our customers changed, we gradually expanded to be a group of companies with a worldwide reach and a more diversified array of services which include customized research support, government compliance, safety data design and collection, IP assessment, insurance assessment, and manufacturing scale-up. Along the way, we’ve established or acquired several business units that all now fall under our international umbrella organization, Nano Risk Assessment International, Ltd., (“nRai”) which is incorporated in the UK. We continue to provide nanosafety services to clients worldwide, including Fortune 500 companies, smaller to midscale companies, and universities. We have a division in Dublin, Ireland, nTI, which is affiliated with the Center for BioNano Interactions at the University College Dublin. nTI develops proprietary analytical procedures and kits for safety assessment of nanomaterials optimized according to the “Corona Patent”. We also assist nanomaterials manufacturing companies to scale-up their production capacities through Nano-PM, Inc. In addition to these, we have a few other business units in development which we hope to announce publicly in the near future. NanoBCA You have been a pioneer in the area of nanotech safety; what inspired you to go into this field? Mr. Bushong Early on as a businessman based in Houston, I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to interact with world-class nanotechnologists at Rice University. These were very exciting and inspirational times led by the preeminent work of Nobel Laureate, Dr. Richard Smalley. From this exposure we quickly realized that it was inevitable that nanosafety would become a cornerstone of the successful development of commercialization of nanotechnologies. So, we rolled up our sleeves and started to put together a team, and a group of companies, that could provide valuable counsel in this burgeoning sector. NanoBCA You have built one the most impressive boards that I have seen in our nanotech community. How did you attract such an esteemed group? Mr. Bushong Thank you for saying that, and I agree. We have been blessed to have some of the forefathers of nanotechnology, and other very prominent and capable businessmen, statesman and leaders join us. For instance: Dr. Malcolm Gillis (President Emeritus of Rice University) who funded Dr. Smalley’s Noble Prize lab, the Texas UK Collaborative with Lord Sainsbury, and helped form the Nano Health Alliance; former Governor of Virginia George Allen; and our Chairman, now retired Honorary Consul General Jan Dryselius are just a few of the elite caliber of leaders who have helped us develop this business. When he was the U.S. Senator from Virginia, Gov. Allen, as you very well know, was the Lead Co-Sponsor of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research Development Act, which your organization, the NanoBusiness Commercialization Association, was instrumental in developing widespread support for through your advocacy. I’d also like to mention Allen Gelwick who is one of the thought leaders and visionaries in the insurance industry with regard to the importance of standards for potential insurance risk assessment and underwriting pertaining to nanomaterial use. NanoBCA Thank you Harry. We at the NanoBCA have been in the trenches with you every step along the way. In your opinion, how have things changed regarding perception of safety issues from when you started this journey? Mr. Bushong That’s a great question. Things have changed so much from the early days. Ten years ago, as a society we were still very much in the research and development days of nanotechnology. At that time, safety beyond the lab space was not of major concern to most stakeholders for a variety of reasons. We simply did not have the data or the standardization needed to establish significant regulatory oversight, and frankly the very early days of commercialization were just beginning. This makes me think of our good friend Dr. Mihail Roco, whom I was with just a month or so ago in London where we facilitated his presentation at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. His predictions (and well-known chart) regarding the timeline of nanotechnology development and commercialization, as you also know, highlights this year, 2015, as the year that global market impact of nanotechnologies will reach $1 Trillion. That represents a very slow but steady growth from $200 Million in 2000. So, it took 15 years to grow from $200 Million to $1 Trillion. What is most interesting to me is that Dr. Roco predicts a jump from $1 Trillion to $3 Trillion in just five years time, from 2015 to 2020. That’s an exponential leap. Dr. Roco’s predictions have been exceptionally accurate. So, it’s fair to say that we are now truly in the midst of a rapid growth phase of nanotechnology commercialization. And with that, we see rapidly increasing interest in issues of nanosafety across the lifecycle of nanomaterials from research to development to commercialization and with regard to worker safety on the manufacturing floor to the consumer and right through to the environmental disposal of these materials. NanoBCA You mentioned Dr. Roco’s presentation in London. Can you tell us more about that? Mr. Bushong Last year we started a Leadership Series in London at the Royal Institution of Great Britain where we showcase nanotechnology leaders from across the world. It’s been very successful and continues to grow. We wanted a nanotechnology event that engaged the business community, and especially the insurance industry. Without insurance, there would be no nano-enabled products. We’ve attempted to engage all insurers and reinsurers, helping to educate the insurance and risk management community. This included support for a not-for-profit organization known as the "Nano Insurance Forum" that was well received, but a limited number of markets were willing to support with a preference to each company developing their own approach to address this emerging risk. The number of insurance companies with underwriting questions or hazard classifications relating to engineered nanomaterials produced by insured or are part of the supply chain, but not disclosed remains limited. Our main benefactor for the Leadership Series is Lockton Companies, and we also have a number of nano industry corporate leaders who support the events. Our first event at The Royal Institution of Great Britain included presentations by both Dr. Malcolm Gillis and Royal Commissioner Michael Depledge. Our second event featured Dr. Mihail Roco. We are excited to announce that Dr. Michael A. Meador, Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office, has agreed to be our next presenter in the series, on Tuesday October 20, 2015 in London. The Royal Institution of Great Britain has been a perfect venue for the Leadership Series. As you know, it is also the home of the highly regarded Faraday Museum, which focuses on the history of science. I highly encourage everyone to join us for Dr. Meador’s presentation in October. NanoBCA What are your impressions of the regulatory environment in the U.S. as compared to abroad? Mr. Bushong After a few years, our company was quickly drawn to the European Union because the EU was a few years ahead of the U.S. with regard to formal oversight of nanosafety. We encountered a great amount of interest and demand for our expertise in Europe. And while we were not intentionally looking for business in Europe (we were focused in the U.S. at the time), it really turned out to be a godsend for us because it introduced us to so many important players and truly allowed us to globalize our team and our markets. Now, the U.S. regulatory environment is very rapidly catching up with the EU as you can see in the ramped up activities of the EPA and FDA over the past year or so. NanoBCA How do you see the regulatory environment developing over the coming 5 years? Mr. Bushong Given the truth of Dr. Roco’s predictions which we can all see evolving before our eyes, there is no doubt that the massive increase of nanomaterials in the marketplace will coincide with a similar increase in interest and oversight of their safety, not only by regulators but by other interested parties. The truth of the matter is that all Fortune 500 and FTSE 100 companies that manufacturer anything, are utilizing nanomaterials, either directly or through their supply chain. Increased regulatory oversight is bound to occur. The Japanese and Koreans are implementing rules as well. The bottom line is that industry needs to be responsible and test the safety of their engineered nanoparticles before they scale-up production and expose either their employees, consumers or the environment to unknown risks. Industry leaders that are proactive on Health and Safety will have a competitive advantage in the market place. We are starting to see it now. NanoBCA What other “interested parties” are you referring to? Mr. Bushong Well, there have been some very significant developments in the last year or so outside the realm of just the regulatory agencies. First, the class action litigation against Johnson Johnson subsidiary DePuy Orthopaedics which involved alleged damage done to patients related to a nanocoating on their hip implants has caused a significant increase in interest to better understand safety data of nanomaterials in products. Johnson Johnson’s settlements in that case are at around $3 Billion and still growing. Secondly, Dunkin’ Donuts, as you know, just acquiesced to pressure from an advocacy group to remove titanium dioxide nanoparticles from its powdered donuts. This development just scratches the surface of nanomaterials that are currently in the marketplace in food, food packaging and cosmetics, not to mention many other products. The visibility and broad media coverage of the Dunkin’ Donuts decision has put a spotlight on the issue of nanosafety and has greatly increased interest among a broad spectrum of stakeholders. And finally, in light of these developments, the insurance sector has taken a much more focused approach to issues of nanosafety. And so, there are a lot of forces at work outside of the regulatory agencies that are driving serious interest in the services that we provide at Nano Risk Assessment International, Ltd. and our affiliated companies. NanoBCA Harry, can you provide us with a little more technical detail of why companies should engage with Nano Risk Assessment International, Ltd. Mr. Bushong Great question. Let me start with the basic summary and we can expand from there. As we all know, the physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials are particles known to be significantly unique from materials having larger crystallites but with the same chemical composition. This allows for optimal business applications of these unique nanoparticle properties that companies engineer into their products which function better than the commonly used micro-scaled materials of the 20th Century. Characterization of these nanomaterials is possible, and highly recommended by us, with analytical chemical methods in typical environments, from a life-cycle management perspective, recognizing the cost of ownership perspective from cradle-to-grave. This is very important for responsible advanced material development. By “responsible”, I mean that companies that engage in this effort will greatly reduce the risks that they potentially adverse action by regulatory agency action, consumer legal action, or that they fall short of requirements demanded by sought after investors, or insurers. In the long run, adherence to these emerging national standards for safety, also reduces regulatory burden and oversight, thus creating a total cost of ownership savings not just a business cost. At Nano Risk Assessment International, Ltd., we have the team and knowhow to assist and we are seeing that a growing number of companies are finding value in making strategic and smart decisions regarding their safety program. NanoBCA Thank you for inviting the NanoBCA to serve on the judges’ panel for your NanoArt Contest. It’s a terrific program and an honor for us to be involved. How did the NanoArt Contest get started? Mr. Bushong The contest has exceeded our expectations and continues to engage great young minds across the world. The first year we focused on French PhD students in STEM education fields. In Year 2, we expanded to include students across Europe. This year, we’ve included U.S. PhD students. You can learn more at: www.fondation-nanosciences.fr/ (http://www.fondation-nanosciences.fr/) . I encourage everyone to spread the word. We have great prizes: a monthly $200 winner, and our top 3 annual prizes are $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000. Our contest organizer is the Foundation Nanoscience based in Grenoble, France. NanoBCA Harry, thank you for your time and thoughtful responses. We wish you luck and look forward to seeing you and your team at the 2015 NanoBCA DC Roundtable (https://www.nanobca.org/about/events/), May 19-20th, in Washington, DC.

Three-Dimensional Printing/Additive Manufacturing Incorporating Nanomaterials

National Nanomanufacturing Network - April 30, 2015 - 5:39am
Additive manufacturing for the creation of complex three-dimensional (3D) structures has gained significant attention in recent years as a means to manufacture enhanced structural and functional architectures that retain the properties of the materials utilized, for example mechanical strength and thermal properties. 3D printing has emerged as a versatile approach to build such structures from ink formulations incorporating nanomaterials dispersions that have been engineered to provide the necessary properties desired within the physical structure. While 3D printing of a range of nanomaterials has been demonstrated, graphene has recently been explored for the printing of 3D structures of various dimensions having controlled properties. Example applications include printed electronics, biosensors, strain sensors, battery electrodes and separators, or filtration wherein the electrical, physical, chemical, or mechanical properties of the structures are controlled to provide targeted functionality by design. Utilizing processes such as inkjet or nanoimprint lithography, structures have been realized for printed electronics and sensors. More recently, a 3D printing strategy has been demonstrated for the fabrication of 3D graphene aerogels with designed macroscopic architectures, enabling a method to further control the mechanical and surface area properties of complex macroscale structures. This technique reported by Zhu, et. al. employs a three-axis motion stage to assemble 3D structures by robotically extruding a continuous ‘ink’ filament through a micronozzle at room temperature in a layer-by-layer scheme to create 3D periodic graphene aerogel macroarchitectures. This approach, based on the precise deposition of grapheme oxide (GO) ink filaments on a pre-defined tool path to create architected 3D structures, first addresses the challenge of tailoring the composition and rheology of the inks in order to readily flow through the nozzle while maintaining sufficient viscosity to support the shape after deposition. The authors added a fused silica powder to the ink suspension as a means to increase its’ viscosity and enhance the printability of the GO ink. The use of the silica filler in the ink provided several benefits including longer pot life, better control over viscosity, and GO density in the resulting aerogel matrix which tend to have high porosity and therefore low density of GO nanostructures within the porous structure. The authors demonstrated 3D printed aerogel microlattices printed having properties that met or exceeded those of bulk aerogel materials. These graphene microlattices, constructed in a log-pile configuration, possess large surface areas, good electrical conductivity, low relative densities and supercompressibility, and are much stiffer than bulk graphene of comparable geometric density. The authors demonstrated that the microstructure and density of the graphene aerogel can be modified by changing the ink formulation, while the mechanical properties of the microlattices can be tuned. Thus work demonstrates a manufacturing method for creating periodic or engineered structures using this novel material which will further expand the range of applications where graphene can be utilized, opening up the possibility to explore the properties and applications of graphene in a self-supporting, structurally tunable and 3D macroscopic form, and could further lead to new types of graphene-based electronics. Reference: Zhu C, Han YJT, Duoss EB, Golobic AM, Kuntz JD, Spadaccini CM, Worsley MA. Highly Compressible 3D Periodic Graphese Aerogel Microlattices. Nature Communications. 2015; 6: 6962 doi: 10.1038/ncomms7962 (http://www.nature.com/ncomms/2015/150422/ncomms7962/abs/ncomms7962.html)

3D-printed graphene for electronic and biomedical applications

National Nanomanufacturing Network - April 30, 2015 - 3:56am
Exploiting graphene's exceptional electronic, mechanical, and thermal properties for practical devices requires fabrication techniques that allow the direct manipulation of graphene on micro- and macroscopic scales. Finding the ideal technique to achieve the desired graphene patterning remains a major challenge. One manufacturing route that researchers have been exploring with increased intensity is inkjet printing where liquid-phase graphene dispersions are used to print conductive thin films. Inkjet printing, however, doesn't help much when trying to build three-dimensional (3D) graphene structures. This is where 3D-printing comes in. Applying 3D printing concepts to nanotechnology could bring similar advantages to nanofabrication – speed, less waste, economic viability – than it is expected to bring to manufacturing technologies. These 3D printing techniques are reaching a stage where desired products and structures can be made independent of the complexity of their shapes – even bioprinting tissue and entire organs is now in the realm of the possible. "From a 3D printing perspective, graphene has been previously incorporated into 3D printed materials, but most of these constructs comprise no greater than about 20 volume % of the total solid of the composite, resulting in electrical properties that are significantly less than what we describe in our recent work," says Ramille N. Shah (http://shahlab.northwestern.edu/), Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering and Assistant Professor, Surgery (Transplant Division), Simpson Querrey Institute for BioNanotechnology at Northwestern University. In new work, Shah and her team, who worked with Mark Hersam's group (http://www.hersam-group.northwestern.edu/) at Northwestern, show that high volume fraction graphene composite constructs can be formed from an easily extrudable liquid ink into multi-centimeter scaled objects. The results have been published in a paper in the April 10, 2015 online edition of ACS Nano ("Three-Dimensional Printing of High-Content Graphene Scaffolds for Electronic and Biomedical Applications" (http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1021/acsnano.5b01179)). The researchers developed a solution-based, scalable graphene ink (3DG) that can be 3D-printed under ambient conditions via simple extrusion into arbitrarily shaped, electrically conductive, mechanically resilient, and biocompatible scaffolds with filaments ranging in diameter from 100 to 1000 µm. Despite being comprised primarily of graphene (60 vol % of solid), which is stiff and brittle, the resulting material is very flexible and can be easily printed into small or large scale (multiple centimeters) objects. "Our resulting 3D printed constructs contains majority graphene while maintaining structural integrity and handability, which is enabled by the particular biocompatible elastomer binder – PLG – that we chose in combination with the solvent system," explains Shah. She notes that a significant motivating factor behind this work was the need for more innovative biomaterials for nervous tissue regeneration, and also biomaterials that are translatable – i.e. scalable and not so expensive to produce. Theses novel 3D printable graphene inks are relatively easy to produce in a scalable fashion, can be rapidly fabricated into an infinite variety of forms (including patient specific implants), and are also surgically friendly (can be trimmed to size and sutured to surrounding tissue). It was known previously that graphene and conductive materials could influence cell behavior, particularly those related to neurogenic stem cell lines. Many previous studies, however, used neural stem cells, which are already predisposed to become neuron-like cells but are difficult to translate clinically. A highly interesting result for stem cell researchers is the demonstration of neurogenic differentiation of adult mesenchymal stem cells without added biological factors – such as nerve growth factor – or electrical stimulation (unlike neural stem cells, adult mesenchymal stem cells are a more translatable cell source since they can be easily obtained from patients). "In our experiments, we have shown the ability of 3DG scaffolds to induce neurogenic differentiation of adult mesenchymal stem cells without the need for any other neurogenic growth factors or external stimuli," Shah points out. "This is a major finding that supports the use of materials themselves for inducing specific cellular responses that can be leveraged for tissue engineering and regenerative medicine applications." The researchers' results suggest that the unique physical, electrical, and biological properties of 3DG could open the door to addressing a variety of medical problems requiring the regeneration of damaged, degenerated, or otherwise non-functional electrogenic tissues such as nerves, bone, or skeletal and cardiac muscle. Beyond regenerative medicine applications, there are a number of other potential medical applications including using 3DG in implantable biosensors and/or electrical devices. Outside of medicine, there is potential for 3DG to be used for biodegradable electronics or sensors in consumer products. This work is an excellent example of how 3D printing can aid in developing entirely new kinds of functional material systems, with unique, and highly advantageous properties, such as those exhibited by 3DG. Particular challenges to realize this include the creation of 3D printable functional material inks that are also scalable and translatable. Another challenge is the ability to 3D print multiple types of materials to create functioning devices. Last but not least, innovations in 3D printers themselves are still needed to be able to easily scale and multi-material print at a commercial manufacturing level. Source: Nanowerk (http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=39905.php)

NIST and NSF Partner to Launch Industry-University Consortium to Provide Input on National ...

National Nanomanufacturing Network - April 30, 2015 - 3:44am
The U.S. Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today that they will establish a consortium to provide private‐sector input on national advanced manufacturing research and development priorities. NSF has released a solicitation (http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505203), calling for applications from organizations to administer the consortium through a cooperative agreement. The consortium is being established in response to one of the primary recommendations published in Advanced Manufacturing National Program Office (http://manufacturing.gov/about_adv_mfg.html) and the Advanced Manufacturing Subcommittee of the President's National Science and Technology Council. The solicitation (http://www.nsf.gov/funding/pgm_summ.jsp?pims_id=505203) issued today by NSF explains that the agencies will provide funding of up to $6 million total (up to $2 million per year for up to three years), with no cost share required. Applications are due July 20, 2015. NSF will have primary administrative responsibility for the consortium. NIST will have responsibility for consortium-organized conferences and outreach activities. NSF and NIST also are collaborating with NASA and the departments of Defense, Education and Energy to build the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation (http://manufacturing.gov/nnmi.html), a network of research and development centers aimed at scaling up cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to enable the rapid commercialization of made-in-America products. The Obama Administration has made investing in cutting-edge manufacturing technologies a priority, increasing federal manufacturing research and development investment by a third to nearly $2 billion annually. U.S. leadership in transformative emerging manufacturing technologies anchors U.S. competitiveness for advanced manufacturing jobs and investment. The new consortium will play an important role in informing these critical investments in the future of U.S. advanced manufacturing. As a non-regulatory agency of the Commerce Department, NIST promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by advancing measurement science, standards and technology in ways that enhance economic security and improve our quality of life. To learn more about NIST, visit www.nist.gov (http://www.nist.gov/). Source: NIST (http://www.nist.gov/director/2015422nistnsf.cfm)

MIT sensor detects spoiled meat

National Nanomanufacturing Network - April 30, 2015 - 3:39am
Tiny device could be incorporated into “smart packaging” to improve food safety. MIT chemists have devised an inexpensive, portable sensor that can detect gases emitted by rotting meat, allowing consumers to determine whether the meat in their grocery store or refrigerator is safe to eat. The sensor, which consists of chemically modified carbon nanotubes, could be deployed in “smart packaging” that would offer much more accurate safety information than the expiration date on the package, says Timothy Swager, the John D. MacArthur Professor of Chemistry at MIT. It could also cut down on food waste, he adds. “People are constantly throwing things out that probably aren’t bad,” says Swager, who is the senior author of a paper describing the new sensor this week in the journal Angewandte Chemie. The paper’s lead author is graduate student Sophie Liu. Other authors are former lab technician Alexander Petty and postdoc Graham Sazama. The sensor is similar to other carbon nanotube devices that Swager’s lab has developed in recent years, including one that detects the ripeness of fruit (http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2012/fruit-spoilage-sensor-0430). All of these devices work on the same principle: Carbon nanotubes can be chemically modified so that their ability to carry an electric current changes in the presence of a particular gas. In this case, the researchers modified the carbon nanotubes with metal-containing compounds called metalloporphyrins, which contain a central metal atom bound to several nitrogen-containing rings. Hemoglobin, which carries oxygen in the blood, is a metalloporphyrin with iron as the central atom. For this sensor, the researchers used a metalloporphyrin with cobalt at its center. Metalloporphyrins are very good at binding to nitrogen-containing compounds called amines. Of particular interest to the researchers were the so-called biogenic amines, such as putrescine and cadaverine, which are produced by decaying meat. When the cobalt-containing porphyrin binds to any of these amines, it increases the electrical resistance of the carbon nanotube, which can be easily measured. “We use these porphyrins to fabricate a very simple device where we apply a potential across the device and then monitor the current. When the device encounters amines, which are markers of decaying meat, the current of the device will become lower,” Liu says. In this study, the researchers tested the sensor on four types of meat: pork, chicken, cod, and salmon. They found that when refrigerated, all four types stayed fresh over four days. Left unrefrigerated, the samples all decayed, but at varying rates. There are other sensors that can detect the signs of decaying meat, but they are usually large and expensive instruments that require expertise to operate. “The advantage we have is these are the cheapest, smallest, easiest-to-manufacture sensors,” Swager says. “There are several potential advantages in having an inexpensive sensor for measuring, in real time, the freshness of meat and fish products, including preventing foodborne illness, increasing overall customer satisfaction, and reducing food waste at grocery stores and in consumers’ homes,” says Roberto Forloni, a senior science fellow at Sealed Air, a major supplier of food packaging, who was not part of the research team. The new device also requires very little power and could be incorporated into a wireless platform Swager’s lab recently developed (http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2014/wireless-chemical-sensor-for-smartphone-1208) that allows a regular smartphone to read output from carbon nanotube sensors such as this one. The researchers have filed for a patent on the technology and hope to license it for commercial development. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation and the Army Research Office through MIT’s Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies. Source: MIT News (http://newsoffice.mit.edu/2015/sensor-detects-spoiled-meat-0415)

Nanotechnology Enabling the Possibility of Alternative Fuels: Electrolytic Water Splitting ...

National Nanomanufacturing Network - April 23, 2015 - 6:51am
In an effort to transition from petroleum-based fuels, vehicles such as the Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell are becoming more widespread. However, the inherent safety and cost of compressed hydrogen tanks are still in question. Electrolytic water splitting represents the most environmentally friendly alternative to generate hydrogen gas; however, the kinetics of the oxygen evolution reaction (OER) are slow and require a catalyst. Most catalysts to date have been limited to transition metal oxides or noble metals – both of which are expensive and unsustainable. The report by Lu et al. reports that unexpectedly high OER catalytic activity was achieved by oxidized multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs). A variety of precursors may be used to synthesize MWCNTs, which has resulted in lower costs and ready availability of these nanostructures. In this work detailing the development of metal free electrocatalysts, it was discovered that surface-oxidized MWCNTs, post-treated by hydrothermal and electrochemical activation treatments, showed unprecedented OER activity even in the absence of surface metal oxide catalysts. This OER activity was rationalized by the oxygen containing functional groups such as ketonic C-O, which altered the electronic distribution of the surrounding carbon atoms at the MWCNT surfaces, thereby facilitating the adsorption of water oxidation intermediates. These findings open the door to new applications of surface-oxidized MWCNTs for catalyzing a class of important anodic reactions in water splitting and fuel cells. Further improvements of the activity of the surface-oxidized carbon nanomaterials may enable the fine-tuning of the structure and compositions of hybrid carbon materials for specific applications. These findings provide a prime example of sustainable pathways for nanotechnology to solve critical environmental and societal issues. Reference: Lu X, Yim W-L, Suryanto BHR, Zhao C. Electrocatalytic Oxygen Evolution at Surface-Oxidized Multiwall Carbon Nanotubes. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2015; 137 (8): 2901-2907 doi: 10.1021/ja509879r (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/full/10.1021/ja509879r#showFigures) Image reprinted with permission from American Chemical Society

The world's first drug test printed on paper

National Nanomanufacturing Network - April 15, 2015 - 10:15am
VTT is the first in the world to have developed a drug test printed on paper. VTT used antibodies – produced by methods of molecular biology – as morphine sensing molecules when creating this printing technology-based morphine test. Using printing technology to manufacture rapid tests enables high production volumes and low production costs. A paper-based test enables a rapid analysis of whether a compound – in this case, morphine – is present in a given sample. Possible future applications of the developed test include drug testing at workplaces and in connection with traffic control. This method, developed by VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, provides several advantages, such as high production volumes, low material costs and disposability as well as design freedom based on bendability and foldability of paper. "In 2010, we proved that the VTT method works in a hemoglobin assay. Through our continued development efforts, we wanted to confirm that the method also works in mass-production of more demanding tests. Morphine as a small-sized molecule places major requirements on the analytical performance of the test. In the future, the new method will also present an opportunity to simultaneously analyse other drugs of abuse and residues of pharmaceuticals and their metabolites from one and the same sample", says Tomi Erho, Principal Scientist at VTT. Morphine and hemoglobin tests have shown that paper is an excellent platform for various antibody-based tests. In rapid testing, paper can replace nitrocellulose, which is typically used as a reaction and flow substrate, to provide a very low-cost, lightweight and biodegradable material alternative. In the future, paper could also become a competitive alternative for commonly used plastic-based assay platforms. Printing technology will be a low-cost method for the manufacture of rapid tests designed for the use of consumers, businesses and authorities for instance in the areas of health, welfare and the environment. Rapid diagnostics and the expansion of testing outside clinical and analytical laboratories to patients and other end-users is a rising trend. Printing of tests on paper will provide entirely new opportunities for innovations based on the mass production of home test kits. The research was performed at VTT as part of research projects mainly funded by Tekes – the Finnish Funding Agency for Innovation. The VTT study "A paper-based lateral flow assay for morphine (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00216-014-8001-7) " was published in the Analytical Bioanalytical Chemistry journal: http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs00216-014-8001-7 (http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00216-014-8001-7) Source: VTT (http://www.vttresearch.com/media/news/vtt-printed-a-morphine-test-on-paper)

UCLA scientists create quick-charging hybrid supercapacitors

National Nanomanufacturing Network - April 8, 2015 - 5:44am
Charge storage device created at California NanoSystems Institute is vast improvement over existing modelsThe dramatic rise of smartphones, tablets, laptops and other personal and portable electronics has brought battery technology to the forefront of electronics research. Even as devices have improved by leaps and bounds, the slow pace of battery development has held back technological progress. Now, researchers at UCLA’s California NanoSystems Institute have successfully combined two nanomaterials to create a new energy storage medium that combines the best qualities of batteries and supercapacitors. Supercapacitors are electrochemical components that can charge in seconds rather than hours and can be used for 1 million recharge cycles. Unlike batteries, however, they do not store enough power to run our computers and smartphones. The new hybrid supercapacitor stores large amounts of energy, recharges quickly and can last for more than 10,000 recharge cycles. The CNSI scientists also created a microsupercapacitor that is small enough to fit in wearable or implantable devices. Just one-fifth the thickness of a sheet of paper, it is capable of holding more than twice as much charge as a typical thin-film lithium battery. The study (http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2015/03/20/1420398112.full.pdf), led by Richard Kaner, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry and materials science and engineering, and Maher El-Kady, a postdoctoral scholar, was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “The microsupercapacitor is a new evolving configuration, a very small rechargeable power source with a much higher capacity than previous lithium thin-film microbatteries,” El-Kady said. The new components combine laser-scribed graphene, or LSG — a material that can hold an electrical charge, is very conductive, and charges and recharges very quickly — with manganese dioxide, which is currently used in alkaline batteries because it holds a lot of charge and is cheap and plentiful. They can be fabricated without the need for extreme temperatures or the expensive “dry rooms” required to produce today’s supercapacitors. “Let’s say you wanted to put a small amount of electrical current into an adhesive bandage for drug release or healing assistance technology,” Kaner said. “The microsupercapacitor is so thin you could put it inside the bandage to supply the current. You could also recharge it quickly and use it for a very long time.” The researchers found that the supercapacitor could quickly store electrical charge generated by a solar cell during the day, hold the charge until evening and then power an LED overnight, showing promise for off-grid street lighting. “The LSG–manganese-dioxide capacitors can store as much electrical charge as a lead acid battery, yet can be recharged in seconds, and they store about six times the capacity of state-of-the-art commercially available supercapacitors,” Kaner said. “This scalable approach for fabricating compact, reliable, energy-dense supercapacitors shows a great deal of promise in real-world applications, and we’re very excited about the possibilities for greatly improving personal electronics technology in the near future.”Source: UCL (http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/ucla-scientists-create-quick-charging-hybrid-supercapacitors)

Natural nanocrystals shown to strengthen concrete

National Nanomanufacturing Network - April 2, 2015 - 11:07am
Cellulose nanocrystals derived from industrial byproducts have been shown to increase the strength of concrete, representing a potential renewable additive to improve the ubiquitous construction material. The cellulose nanocrystals (CNCs) could be refined from byproducts generated in the paper, bioenergy, agriculture and pulp industries. They are extracted from structures called cellulose microfibrils, which help to give plants and trees their high strength, lightweight and resilience. Now, researchers at Purdue University have demonstrated that the cellulose nanocrystals can increase the tensile strength of concrete by 30 percent. "This is an abundant, renewable material that can be harvested from low-quality cellulose feedstocks already being produced in various industrial processes," said Pablo Zavattieri (http://engineering.purdue.edu/~zavattie), an associate professor in the Lyles School of Civil Engineering (https://engineering.purdue.edu/CE). The cellulose nanocrystals might be used to create a new class of biomaterials with wide-ranging applications, such as strengthening construction materials and automotive components. Research findings were published in February in the journal Cement and Concrete Composites. The work was conducted by Jason Weiss (https://engineering.purdue.edu/CE/People/view_person?resource_id=2284), Purdue's Jack and Kay Hockema Professor of Civil Engineering and director of the Pankow Materials Laboratory (https://engineering.purdue.edu/~concrete/weiss/index.html); Robert J. Moon (http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/people/bios/employee_level_bio.php?employee_id=185), a researcher from the U.S. Forest Service's Forest Products Laboratory; Jeffrey Youngblood (https://engineering.purdue.edu/MSE/People/ptProfile?id=11541), an associate professor of materials engineering; doctoral student Yizheng Cao; and Zavattieri. One factor limiting the strength and durability of today's concrete is that not all of the cement particles are hydrated after being mixed, leaving pores and defects that hamper strength and durability. "So, in essence, we are not using 100 percent of the cement," Zavattieri said. However, the researchers have discovered that the cellulose nanocrystals increase the hydration of the concrete mixture, allowing more of it to cure and potentially altering the structure of concrete and strengthening it. As a result, less concrete needs to be used. The cellulose nanocrystals are about 3 to 20 nanometers wide by 50-500 nanometers long - or about 1/1,000th the width of a grain of sand - making them too small to study with light microscopes and difficult to measure with laboratory instruments. They come from a variety of biological sources, primarily trees and plants. The concrete was studied using several analytical and imaging techniques. Because chemical reactions in concrete hardening are exothermic, some of the tests measured the amount of heat released, indicating an increase in hydration of the concrete. The researchers also hypothesized the precise location of the nanocrystals in the cement matrix and learned how they interact with cement particles in both fresh and hardened concrete. The nanocrystals were shown to form little inlets for water to better penetrate the concrete. The research dovetails with the goals of P3Nano (http://www.usendowment.org/p3nano.html), a public-private partnership supporting development and use of wood-based nanomaterial for a wide-range of commercial products. "The idea is to support and help Purdue further advance the CNC-Cement technology for full-scale field trials and the potential for commercialization," Zavattieri said. This research was funded by the National Science Foundation. Reference: The influence of cellulose nanocrystal additions on the performance of cement paste (http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cemconcomp.2014.11.008), Yizheng Cao, Pablo Zavaterri, Jeff Youngblood, Robert Moon, Jason Weiss. Cement and Concrete Composites, Volume 56, February 2015, Pages 73–83 Source: Purdue University News (https://www.purdue.edu/newsroom/releases/2015/Q1/natural-nanocrystals-shown-to-strengthen-concrete-.html)

Nanomanufacturing: Building a Community of Practice

National Nanomanufacturing Network - March 27, 2015 - 4:58am
Establishment of a sustainable nanomanufacturing ecosystem faces numerous challenges due to the inherent nature of nanotechnology, which intersects multiple industries, involves multidisciplinary scientific researchers, while encompassing an extensive range of highly unique technologies including materials, processes, and equipment. As such, building a community of practice entails a broad range of activities from standards, education and workforce development, technology roadmaps, best practices, informatics, environmental health and safety, to commercialization. To ensure progress on all of these fronts, community involvement is essential for providing broad perspectives from a range of stakeholders in industry, government, and academia in order to better understand where fundamental and applied research intersects emerging and established regulatory and commercialization activities and roadmaps. While these issues may be relatively clear cut for specific segments of nanotechnology commercialization, it is not always clear where best practices translate to adjacent application and industry roadmaps. An important activity for building the nanomanufacturing community of practice is thematic workshops involving a group of experts and practitioners in the field. To this end, the NNN has sponsored several thematic workshops since inception including collaborative workshops with NSF (2008 Research Challenges for Integrated SystemsNanomanufacturing (http://eprints.internano.org/49/)), NNIN (2010 Synergies in Nanoscale Manufacturingand Research (http://eprints.internano.org/2230/)), NIST (2012 Nanofabrication Technologies forRoll-to-Roll Processes (http://eprints.internano.org/1842/)), and a series of workshops on Nanoinformatics (2007-present). The essence of these workshops is to incorporate different viewpoints on topics relevant to the workshop theme in order to better understand methods, challenges, emerging R D, and gaps in research activities towards addressing the associated challenges. The NNN has strived to enhance these workshops by convening a balance of industry, academic, and government participants which, when combined with topical questionnaires distributed prior to the workshop assist in focusing the content of the presentations, discussions, and breakout sessions thereby enabling a productive event with measurable outcomes. Typical work products for these workshops include reports, roadmaps, publications, collaborations amongst participants, proposals, and broader initiatives or funding opportunities. With the goal of contributing towards the establishment of a nanomanufacturing roadmap, as well as formulating a NNN 2.0 initiative, the NNN solicits comments, suggestions and ideas for future topical workshops in nanomanufacturing from our members and stakeholders. Along with suggestions for topics and subtopics, further details including suggested experts and participants, relevant gaps and questions to be addressed in the workshop with respect to the nanomanufacturing enterprise. These activities are an essential component of the NNN and it is critical to our mission that we consider these activities with input from the community as a whole, as well as reach out to the relevant stakeholders, industry and government agencies having significant stake in the topic of interest to obtain their contributions or involvement. We look forward to receiving ideas and suggestions for potential workshops, and will provide feedback in the future in order to prioritize the topics.

EPA proposes reporting and record keeping requirements on nanomaterials

National Nanomanufacturing Network - March 27, 2015 - 3:58am
For the first time the agency will use TSCA authority to collect health and safety information on nanoscale chemicals already in use The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is proposing one-time reporting and recordkeeping requirements on nanoscale chemical substances in the marketplace. Nanotechnology holds great promise for improving products, from TVs and vehicles to batteries and solar panels,” said Jim Jones, EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention. “We want to continue to facilitate the trend toward this important technology. Today’s action will ensure that EPA also has information on nano-sized versions of chemicals that are already in the marketplace.” EPA currently reviews new chemical substances manufactured or processed as nanomaterials prior to introduction into the marketplace to ensure that they are safe. For the first time, the agency is proposing to use TSCA to collect existing exposure and health and safety information on chemicals currently in the marketplace when manufactured or processed as nanoscale materials. The proposal will require one-time reporting from companies that manufacture or process chemical substances as nanoscale materials. The companies will notify EPA of: certain information, including specific chemical identity; production volume; methods of manufacture; processing, use, exposure, and release information; and, available health and safety data. Nanoscale materials have special properties related to their small size such as greater strength and lighter weight, however, they may take on different properties than their conventionally-sized counterpart. The proposal is not intended to conclude that nanoscale materials will cause harm to human health or the environment; Rather, EPA would use the information gathered to determine if any further action under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), including additional information collection, is needed. The proposed reporting requirements are being issued under the authority of section 8(a) under TSCA. The agency is requesting public comment on the proposed reporting and recordkeeping requirements 90 days from publication in the Federal Register. EPA also anticipates holding a public meeting during the comment period. The time and place of the meeting will be announced on EPA’s web page at: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/nano/ (http://www.epa.gov/oppt/nano/) Additional information and a fact sheet on the specifics of the proposed rule and what constitutes a nanoscale chemical material can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/oppt/nano/ (http://www.epa.gov/oppt/nano/) Source: EPA (http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/d0cf6618525a9efb85257359003fb69d/36465ec76a3b4efd85257e13004e8c95!opendocument)

National Nanotechnology Initiative publishes report assessing the status of EHS risk science

National Nanomanufacturing Network - March 27, 2015 - 3:38am
The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) today published the report from the workshop, “Stakeholder Perspectives on Perception, Assessment,and Management of the Potential Risks of Nanotechnology” (R3 Workshop), which was held September 10-11, 2013, in Washington, D.C. The goal of the workshop was to assess the status of nanotechnology environmental, health, and safety (EHS) risk science three years after the development of the 2011 NNI EHS Research Strategy and to identify the tools and best practices used by risk assessors to address the implications of nanotechnology. A wide range of stakeholders including Federal and State regulators, small and large businesses, insurance companies, academic researchers, occupational safety specialists, and public and environmental advocacy groups shared their perspectives on the risk management process; discussed strategies and approaches for improving risk science methods; and examined ways that NNI agencies can assist stakeholders in the image002.jpgresponsible development of nanotechnology. Stakeholders participating in the workshop presented their perspectives and methods used to assess and manage the potential risks of nanotechnology. Research presented at the workshop shows that technical risk data alone will not enable decisions; risk evaluations by different stakeholders with varying biases, values, and stances can affect the perceptions and behaviors (e.g., investment or personal safety decisions) of consumers, regulators, developers, manufacturers, and insurers. Following a robust dialogue among participants, including a variety of stakeholder perspectives, participants identified needs in four areas. (The following list is not prioritized): Communication Resources, including improved transparency in reporting the presence of engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) and continued collaboration among diverse stakeholder groups.Decision Tools, such as improved detection and characterization tools; improved methods for assessing both actual exposure to and potential risk from ENMs; tools to address nanotechnology-related environmental, health, and safety (“nanoEHS”) issues sooner in the product life cycle.Data Resources, such as repositories or databases to facilitate access to or organization of existing information on nanoEHS; methods for accessing and investigating potentially protected information; and continued toxicology studies on the effects of ENMs.Standards and Guidance Resources, in order to facilitate navigation of nanotechnology-enabled applications through the regulatory process and improved data quality and methods for reporting data used in nanomaterial risk assessment. You can download full document from the InterNano Library (http://eprints.internano.org/2229/) Source: National Nanotechnology Initiative (http://www.nano.gov/node/1350)

Solar Cells with Tunable Colors

National Nanomanufacturing Network - March 26, 2015 - 5:27am
With rising levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide and indicators for global climate change increasingly apparent, the search has intensified for more sustainable and renewable alternative energy sources. Photovoltaic (PV) energy has been of interest for the last 40 years; however, the cost of Si-based solar panels is still not cost-effective for widespread usage. In addition to the overall cost, consumer adoption of this technology has been slow due to the unattractive aesthetics of traditional solar panels. Building integrated photovoltaics (BIPVs) such as Dow PowerhouseTM Solar Shingles have reached the market, but have not yet been widely adopted. In order for PV technology to be widely accepted, it will need to be seamlessly incorporated into existing infrastructures such as building and automotive materials, and be available in a variety of colors. Among the various types of emerging PV technologies such as dye-sensitized solar cells (DSSCs), organic cells, and quantum dots (QDs), perovskite solar cells represent one of the most promising sectors. In a span of only 5 years, the efficiency of perovskite PVs has increased from ca. 3% to a current level in excess of 20%. This efficiency is now comparable to that of crystalline Si and semiconductor thin films (e.g., copper indium gallium selenide (CIGS), CdTe) that have been in development since the 1970’s. Perovskite solar technology utilizes a hybrid inorganic-organic halide perovskite (e.g., CH3NH3MI3 where M = Sn, Pb) in combination with n- and p-type charge collection layers. In a promising step toward aesthetically attractive solar panels, Zhang and coworkers describe the fabrication of perovskite photovoltaic devices that are color-tunable. In order to maximize the refractive index contrast among the layers in the device, nanoparticulate films of porous SiO2 (50% porosity) and dense TiO2 (4% porosity) were deposited by simple spin-coating. The combination of the photonic properties of the oxide nanoparticle films and absorptive properties of the overlying perovskite material was used to fine-tune the observed color range from orange to blue. Interestingly, the strategy employed by these researchers may be considered as a biomimetic approach, since beetles and butterflies also employ reflective and absorptive layers that yield a characteristic and often tunable color. Many gemstones such as opals also utilize the photonic crystal effect to give rise to iridescent colors. The use of a photonic phenomenon for color generation in this multilayered PV device is preferred rather than using dyes or pigments, since the latter would likely fade over time. The best power conversion efficiency observed in this work was 8.8% for blue-colored cells. While this is low relative to traditional perovskite-based PV devices, this may be compared to 9.5% for a reference cell employing mesoporous SiO2. Hence, the operating efficiency of the device is not significantly deteriorated by the reflective processes occurring in the photonic component of the device, which is responsible for the observable colors. Further fine-tuning of the perovskite layers, interfaces, and nanoparticle sizes and porosities will likely improve the overall efficiency, while expanding its color palette. It would be interesting to extend this approach to other emerging technologies and thin film semiconductors to introduce other options for colorful solar panels. As decorative options become more plentiful and efficiencies continue to rise, consumers will more likely adopt this technology to power their homes and begin to wean themselves from nonrenewable fossil fuels. Electric and hybrid vehicles employing solar panels that match the color of the exterior paint would also be much more attactive to consumers relative to traditional solar panels already used by some vehicles (e.g., Fisker Karma). Reference: Zhang W, Anaya M, Lozano G, Calvo ME, Johnston MB, Míguez H, Snaith HJ. Highly Efficient Perovskite Solar Cells with Tunable Structural Color. Nano Letters. 2015; 15 (3): 1698-1702 doi: 10.1021/nl504349z (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl504349z) Image reprinted with permission from American Chemical Society.

Handwritten Patterning of Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes

National Nanomanufacturing Network - March 19, 2015 - 4:29am
Although there are many potential applications for carbon nanotubes (CNTs), their wide scale consumer applications to date have been limited to serving as polymer additives to yield higher-strength composites. Even though bulk nanotubes exhibit tensile strengths much less than individual nanotubes (especially single-walled varieties), bulk CNT additives have been shown to enhance the strength:weight ratio of a variety of sporting equipment such as bicycles, skies, baseball bats, hunting arrows, and surfboards. Beyond their high-strength properties, the extraordinary electrical conductivity of CNTs makes these nanostructures ideal for microelectronics circuitry applications. Using advanced techniques such as near-field electrospinning (NFES), it is now possible to generate conductive nanotube fibers that span up to a few hundred meters. However, current fiber processing techniques are difficult to scale up, and often experience difficulties with nanotube alignment during fiber spinning. This latter limitation is an important consideration for microelectronics applications, since unaligned nanotubes would deleteriously affect the conductivity of the deposited fibers. The recent report by Huang et al. describes an improved fiber-drawing technique that consists of simple handwriting of conductive fibers using a common pen tip. Patterns may easily be placed onto both planar and non-planar substrates using this strategy. The fiber drawing speed is reported to be ca. 10 cm/s, which represents a large improvement relative to other techniques that are much too slow for commercial scale up, with patterning speeds of < 1 mm/s (most often in the mm/s range). Patterning consists of using poly(ethylene oxide), PEO, in the presence of surfactants and carbon nanotubes, which forms a polymeric ‘ink’. The choice of PEO was due to its desirable viscoelastic properties, which allowed for the continuous pulling of fibers from the solution without breakage. In contrast, fibers drawn from solutions of poly(methyl methacrylate), PMMA, commonly used in other patterning techniques, have much larger diameters and inconsistent conductivities due to less effective alignment of nanotubes comprising the fiber. Whereas PEO in the absence of CNTs dried to form nanofibers with diameters of ca. 60 nm, the diameter range of PEO-CNT composite fibers was ca. 300 nm – 3 mm. One is able to vary the diameter of the composite PEO-CNT fibers, based on the solution concentration and volume used in the pen tip. Fiber lengths in excess of 50 cm were achieved using this technique, and featured a high degree of nanotube alignment – especially for low-diameter fibers. Consequently, the conductivity of the fibers were significantly higher than isotropic CNT thin films. In contrast to other techniques that require the use of micro/nanomanipulators to appropriately position fibers into electronic circuitry, this direct-writing procedure is able to place the conductive fibers directly into desired positions with submicron control. The fibers may also be transferred to other substrates after drying without changing their morphologies or electrical conductivities. With a surge in flexible and wearable electronic devices on the horizon, it is essential that techniques exist for the fabrication of flexible conductive wires. This work represents an attractive strategy, and results in fibers that may be easily fabricated using a common pen tip and placed onto a variety of surfaces. Furthermore, the conductivity of the fibers is not altered by repeated bending tests, which should enable this technique to be used for the next generation of flexible touchscreens, wearable electronics, and the batteries or supercapacitors that will be needed to power these devices. Further testing is needed to assess the adsorption of the PEO-CNT fibers to textiles, LCDs, and other surfaces. However, this technique shows promise for the fast assembly and precise placement of conductive fibers into electronic circuits. Reference: Huang S, Zhao C, Pan W, Wu H. Direct Writing of Half-Meter Long CNT Based Fiber for Flexible Electronics. Nano Letters. 2015; 15 (3): 1609-1614 doi: 10.1021/nl504150a (http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/nl504150a) Image reprinted with permission from American Chemical Society.

NNI Publishes Report on Carbon Nanotube (CNT) Commercialization

National Nanomanufacturing Network - March 13, 2015 - 4:35am
The National Nanotechnology Initiative today published the proceedings of a technical interchange meeting on “Realizing the Promise of Carbon Nanotubes: Challenges, Opportunities, and the Pathway to Commercialization" (http://www.nano.gov/node/1339) held at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Headquarters on September 15, 2014. This meeting brought together some of the Nation’s leading experts in carbon nanotube materials to identify, discuss, and report on technical barriers to the production of carbon nanotube (CNT)-based bulk and composite materials with properties that more closely match those of individual CNTs and to explore ways to overcome these barriers. A number of common themes and potential future research and development priorities emerged: Increased efforts devoted to manufacturing, quality control, and scale-up.Improvements in the mechanical and electrical properties of CNT-based bulk materials to approach the properties of individual CNTs.More effective use of simulation and modeling to provide insight into the fundamentals of the CNT growth process.Improved understanding of the properties of bulk CNT-containing materials at longer length scales.Standard materials and protocols to guide the testing of CNT-based products for commercial applications.Life cycle assessments for gauging commercial readiness.Use of public-private partnerships or other collaboration vehicles to leverage resources and expertise to solve these technical challenges and accelerate commercialization. The outcomes of this meeting, as detailed in this report, will help inform the future directions of theNNI Nanotechnology Signature Initiative “Sustainable Nanomanufacturing: Creating the Industries of the Future,” (http://nano.gov/NSINanomanufacturing) which was launched in 2010 to accelerate the development of industrial-scale methods for manufacturing functional nanoscale systems. You can download full document from the InterNano Library (http://eprints.internano.org/2228/) .

U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative 2016 funding brings total to $22 billion

National Nanomanufacturing Network - March 12, 2015 - 5:53am
The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 provides $1.5 billion for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a continued Federal investment in support of the President’s priorities and innovation strategy. Cumulatively totaling more than $22 billion since the inception of the NNI in 2001, this funding reflects nanotechnology’s potential to significantly improve our fundamental understanding and control of matter at the nanoscale and to translate that knowledge into solutions for critical national needs. Nearly half of the requested budget is dedicated to applications-focused R D and support for the Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives (NSIs), reflecting an increased emphasis within the NNI on accelerating the transition of nanotechnology-based discoveries from lab to market. The NSIs are multiagency initiatives designed to accelerate innovation in areas of national priority through enhanced interagency coordination and collaboration. Furthermore, the NNI has continued to grow its hallmark environmental, health, and safety (EHS) activities, which now account for more than 10% of the NNI’s total budget (7% in dedicated EHS investments, as shown in the figure at left, plus approximately 3% in additional EHS-related investments within the NSIs). “Right now, the NNI is focused on innovations that support national priorities, while maintaining a strong foundation of fundamental research in nanoscience,” says Dr. Michael Meador, Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. “Our goal is to create an environment to foster technology transfer and new applications today, while supporting the basic research that will provide a continuing pipeline of new discoveries to enable future revolutionary applications tomorrow.” The President’s 2016 Budget supports nanoscale science, engineering, and technology R D at 11 agencies; another 9 agencies have nanotechnology-related mission interests or regulatory responsibilities. The NNI Supplement to the President’s 2016 Budget documents activities of these agencies in addressing the goals and objectives of the NNI. You can download full document from the InterNano Library (http://eprints.internano.org/2227/).Source: nano.gov (http://nano.gov/node/1326)

Lower Cost, Roll-to-Roll Production of Carbon Nanotube Based Supercapacitors

National Nanomanufacturing Network - March 5, 2015 - 8:03am
Ultra- or supercapacitors are emerging as a key enabling storage technology for use in fuel-efficient transport as well as in renewable energy systems (for instance as power grid buffer). These devices combine the advantages of conventional capacitors – they can rapidly deliver high current densities on demand – and batteries – they can store a large amount of electrical energy. Supercapacitors offer an alternative source of energy to replace rechargeable batteries for various applications, such as power tools, mobile electronics, and electric vehicles. Although the energy density of capacitors is quite low compared to batteries, their power density is much higher, allowing them to provide bursts of electric energy that for instance can help electric cars to accelerate at comparable or better rates than traditional petrol-only engine vehicles, while achieving a significantly reduced fuel consumption (read more about supercapacitors and other nanotechnologies to mitigate global warming (http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=16126.php) ). "Among the various types of supercapacitors, carbon nanotube (CNT) based devices have shown an order of magnitude higher performance in terms of energy and power densities," Ramakrishna Podila (http://people.clemson.edu/~ramakrp/Welcome.html) , an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Clemson University, tells Nanowerk. "The bottleneck for transferring this technology to the marketplace, however, is the lack of efficient and scalable nanomanufacturing methods." Reporting their findings in Applied Physics Letters ("Roll-to-roll production of spray coated N-doped carbon nanotube electrodes for supercapacitors (http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.1063/1.4905153) "), Podila's team at Clemson University, in collaboration with Professor Apparao Rao's lab (http://www.raonanolab.net/) , has now developed a new scalable method to to directly spraycoat CNT-based supercapacitor electrodes. "Much like painting a car or a wall in your home, we can spray CNT solutions on flexible electrodes, porous aluminum foils in our case, to achieve high energy density supercapacitor electrodes without the need of any binder," explains Podila. The resulting supercapacitors have a 10 times higher energy density compared to the state-of-the-art supercapacitors on the market. Theoretically, CNTs offer an ultra-high surface area; in practice, though, the net capacitance of the CNT electrodes is smaller than the predicted values – based on surface area – due to the presence of a so-called small quantum capacitance in series. In this work, the Clemson researchers together with Cornell Dubilier, Inc (a leading capacitor manufacturer in Liberty, SC) and Sai Global Technolgies (a newly founded manufacturer of tailored nanomaterials in San Antonio, TX), have demonstrated that nitrogen doped CNTs electrodes overcome the quantum capacitance limitations and exhibit high power density along with high energy density on par with thin film Li-ion batteries. "The quantum capacitance must be increased, ideally to infinity, for realizing the true potential of nanocarbons in energy storage," remarks Rao, who is director of the Clemson Nanomaterials Center. "Heteroatomic doping, which has been a valuable tool in the semiconductor industry, can provide a solution," adds Podila. "Here we showed that doping provides a handle to control the energy states where electrons could reside in supercapacitor electrode materials and thereby increase the quantum capacitance." The team points out that their supercapacitors show excellent cycle stability with very little degradation over at least 10000 cycles. "At the end point of the electrode lifetime, the CNTs from the used electrode could be recycled to make another new electrode," Rao notes. "The recycled electrode could perform as efficiently as 60% of the original method-a great advantage in terms of sustainability." Another advantage of the roll-to-roll spray-coating process is a significantly lower cost. As the researchers report, the final price of the spray coated CNT electrodes could be reduced by almost 17%, which includes material and production cost. "The industrial collaboration with Cornell Dubilier and Sai Global Technologies is a vital component of this research and is expected to translate the lab-based technology to the market place," note Podila and Rao. "We are thankful to the National Science Foundation for granting an award to undertake such projects which would have lasting impact on the global energy landscape." Source: Nanowerk (http://www.nanowerk.com/spotlight/spotid=39245.php)

Next Round of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes Include Nanomanufacturing Opportunities

National Nanomanufacturing Network - February 27, 2015 - 2:48am
Recent announcements by the federal government identifying the next rounds of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MIIs) have selected topics for public-private funding opportunities that potentially provide opportunity for nanomaterials and nanomanufacturing technologies. The selected topics, which include $200M in public-private funding for an Integrated Photonics Institute (IP) (http://manufacturing.gov/ip-imi.html), and $150M a Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Institute (http://www.manufacturing.gov/fhe-mii.html), each have critical aspects enabled through nanotechnology. Flexible hybrid electronics inherently incorporate printed electronics that involve the processing of various inks containing nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, or metallic and metal oxide nanoparticles. Similarly integrated photonics exploit innovative materials and processes in order to create integrated optical or photonic devices and systems utilizing nanostructures and nanoscale patterning techniques. Flexible Hybrid Electronics are enabled through innovative manufacturing processes adapted from traditional industry approaches that preserve the full operation of traditional electronic circuits in flexible architectures. The technology demonstrators for manufacturability are intended to exhibit novel flexible form factors that are conformal, bending, stretching, or folding, and address a range of emerging applications in human activity and health monitoring, ubiquitous sensors (i.e.; the Internet of Things), or wearable electronics. The manufacturing institute will address issues including standards, materials, process scale-up, design tools, and advanced manufacturing. The Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute will focus on developing an end-to-end photonics ecosystem in the U.S., including domestic foundry access, integrated design tools, automated packaging, assembly and test, and workforce development. The manufacturing innovation institute will serve as a regional hub, bridging the gap between applied research and product development by bringing together companies, universities, and other academic and training institutions and Federal agencies to co-invest in key technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S.