National Nanomanufacturing Network

Graphene Frontiers Secures Patent for Commercial-Scale Material Production

National Nanomanufacturing Network - October 28, 2014 - 7:42am
Graphene Frontiers LLC (http://www.internano.org/index.php?option=com_internanodirectory task=vieworg id=776 Itemid=179), a prominent developer of graphene materials and device technology, announces the issuance of a key industry patent. U.S. Patent 8,822,308, titled “Methods and Apparatus for Transfer of Films among Substrates,” covers the transfer of graphene films between surfaces using roll-to-roll manufacturing processes. “We were aggressively pursuing this patent and securing it is a testament to the hard work and resiliency of the entire team,” Graphene Frontiers’ CEO Mike Patterson said.This was the final hurdle in creating a cost-effective production process for graphene. With Graphene Frontiers’ etch-free transfer solution, manufacturers now have the option of not dissolving or consuming the substrate metal. The approach is also compatible with other materials, and is particularly useful for nanomaterials, which are often difficult to develop.“Graphene is a remarkable material, but it is only a building block,” Chief Science Officer Bruce Willner said. “The ability to handle graphene and place it among other materials – where and how we want – is critical to taking advantage of this technology.” Recently, the company entered into an agreement to ramp-up production with The Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany NY. It’s an alliance that will increase the amount of employees working at the company, as well as form relationships with potential buyers. About Graphene Frontiers Graphene Frontiers is a leading nanotechnology materials and device company based in Philadelphia. Graphene Frontiers has developed innovative and exclusive manufacturing processes that makes it economically viable for companies to begin using graphene, the revolutionary nanomaterial with potential for disrupting numerous industries with its unique sensitivity and mechanical properties. Graphene Frontiers is building on its core strengths in graphene growth, transfer, device fabrication, and functionalization by developing specific products and solutions for industry. Graphene Frontiers’ flagship product is the Six™ Sensor platform, which offers distinct performance advantages in medical diagnostics, environmental monitoring and scalable, low-cost production. The company will capture value by licensing, spinning out, and selling application specific technologies. For more information, please visit graphenefrontiers.com (http://www.internano.org/graphenefrontiers.com) .Source: Graphene Frontiers

New nanodevice to improve cancer treatment monitoring

National Nanomanufacturing Network - October 28, 2014 - 7:28am
In less than a minute, a miniature device developed at the University of Montreal can measure a patient's blood for methotrexate, a commonly used but potentially toxic cancer drug. Just as accurate and ten times less expensive than equipment currently used in hospitals, this nanoscale device has an optical system that can rapidly gauge the optimal dose of methotrexate a patient needs, while minimizing the drug's adverse effects. The research was led by Jean-François Masson and Joelle Pelletier of the university's Department of Chemistry.

Nano-Bio Manufacturing Consortium Selects Project Proposed by Arizona Center for Integrative ...

National Nanomanufacturing Network - October 23, 2014 - 6:48am
The Nano-Bio Manufacturing Consortium (NBMC), an industry-academia partnership with the United States Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL), has chosen a project proposed by the Arizona Center for Integrative Medicine (AzCIM) at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson, to receive research funding. The AzCIM project’s goal is to assess different sweat collection methods and devices for their ability to collect different volumes of sweat under a variety of human-body conditions, the results of which will help determine the best method for integrating into a wearable sensor system. Funding for the one year program will total $200,000. As part of the project, at least one analytical method, including offline immunoassay or mass spectrometry-based, will be developed to determine the levels of each of several AFRL-preferred biomarkers in sweat samples collected from multiple skin regions. Two molecules, one small and one large protein, will be selected for analysis from the following biomarkers: Orexin-A (impacts arousal and alertness); Neuropeptide Y (associated functions include stress reduction and lowering pain perception); Interleukin 6 (stimulates immune response); cortisol (released in response to stress); and Oxytocin (associated with various reproductive and bonding functions). Because the biomarker levels may be low and thus more difficult to detect by some analytical techniques, different methods for sweat concentration and purification will also be assessed. The various sweat collection methods will then be assessed for the desired volume, under a variety of conditions, including whole-body hyperthermia. Esther Sternberg, M.D., project technical lead and AzCIM director of research, noted, “Participating in this program is a natural extension of AzCIM’s research focus on mind-body science. Brain-immune connections are critical in decision-making and alertness, which can be greatly compromised by stress and fatigue, particularly for military personnel and others in high-pressure situations. Trauma related immune activation can also directly compromise performance and brain function. Devising a way to accurately detect these parameters in real time before problems set in, is essential to helping ensure physical and mental wellness for these individuals.” In addition to Dr. Sternberg, the AzCIM project team includes Min Jia, Ph.D., AzCIM research assistant professor, as alternate technical representative. The AFRL program manager for the project is Laura Rea. “Reproducibly collecting and analyzing sweat in a range of conditions and scenarios is a central challenge of enabling human performance monitoring,” said Dr. Benjamin Leever, AFRL Lead for Additive Manufacturing of Functional Materials. “This capability could significantly impact a large variety of Air Force missions.” “AzCIM and Dr. Sternberg possess a sterling reputation for successful collaboration on initiatives that investigate the relationship between wellness and one’s environment,” said NBMC CEO Malcolm Thompson. “Ensuring that we are looking at the right biomarkers and collecting samples in the most optimal manner provides a crucial foundation for helping achieve NBMC’s objective to develop a technology platform for a lightweight, low-cost, wearable biosensor patch.” About NBMC The Nano-Bio Manufacturing Consortium (NBMC) was formed by the FlexTech Alliance, in collaboration with a nationwide group of partners, for the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). The mission of the partnership is to bring together leading scientists, engineers, and business development professionals from industry and universities in order to work collaboratively in a consortium, and to mature an integrated suite of nano-bio manufacturing technologies to transition to industrial manufacturing. Initial activities focus on AFRL/ DoD priorities, e.g., physiological readiness and human performance monitoring. Specifically, NBMC matures nano-bio manufacturing technologies to create an integrated suite of reconfigurable and digitized fabrication methods that are compatible with biological and nanoparticle materials and to transition thin film, mechanically compliant device concepts through a foundry-like manufacturing flow. The long-term vision is that NBMC operates at the confluence of four core emerging disciplines: nanotechnology, biotechnology, advanced (additive) manufacturing, and flexible electronics. The convergence of these disparate fields enables advanced sensor architectures for real-time, remote physiological and health/medical monitoring. CONTACT: Lisa Gillette-Martin, MCA Public Relations, Phone: 650-968-8900, ext. 115, Email: lgmartin@mcapr.comSource: Nano-Bio Manufacturing Consortium (http://www.nbmc.org/nano-bio-manufacturing-consortium-selects-project-proposed-by-arizona-center-for-integrative-medicine-to-optimize-human-performance-monitoring-techniques/)

Nanoenhanced 'smart' lithium-ion battery warns of potential fire hazard

National Nanomanufacturing Network - October 15, 2014 - 3:47am
Stanford University scientists have developed a "smart" lithium-ion battery that gives ample warning before it overheats and bursts into flames. The new technology is designed for conventional lithium-ion batteries now used in billions of cellphones, laptops and other electronic devices, as well as a growing number of cars and airplanes. "Our goal is to create an early-warning system that saves lives and property," said Yi Cui (http://web.stanford.edu/group/cui_group/), an associate professor of materials science and engineering. "The system can detect problems that occur during the normal operation of a battery, but it does not apply to batteries damaged in a collision or other accident." Cui and his colleagues describe the new technology in a study published in the Oct. 13 issue of the journal Nature Communications (http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/NCOMMS6193). Lowering the odds A series of well-publicized incidents in recent years has raised concern over the safety of lithium-ion batteries. In 2013, the Boeing aircraft company temporarily grounded its new 787 Dreamliner (http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/2013/boeing_787/boeing_787.html) fleet after battery packs in two airplanes caught fire. The cause of the fires has yet to be determined. In 2006, Sony Corp. recalled millions of lithium-ion batteries after reports of more than a dozen consumer-laptop fires. The company said that during the manufacturing process, tiny metal impurities had gotten inside the batteries, causing them to short-circuit. "The likelihood of a bad thing like that happening is maybe one in a million," Cui said. "That's still a big problem, considering that hundreds of millions of computers and cellphones are sold each year. We want to lower the odds of a battery fire to one in a billion or even to zero." A typical lithium-ion battery consists of two tightly packed electrodes – a carbon anode and a lithium metal-oxide cathode – with an ultrathin polymer separator in between. The separator keeps the electrodes apart. If it's damaged, the battery could short-circuit and ignite the flammable electrolyte solution that shuttles lithium ions back and forth. "The separator is made of the same material used in plastic bottles," said graduate student Denys Zhuo, co-lead author of the study. "It's porous so that lithium ions can flow between the electrodes as the battery charges and discharges." Manufacturing defects, such as particles of metal and dust, can pierce the separator and trigger shorting, as Sony discovered in 2006. Shorting can also occur if the battery is charged too fast or when the temperature is too low – a phenomenon known as overcharge. "Overcharging causes lithium ions to get stuck on the anode and pile up, forming chains of lithium metal called dendrites," Cui explained. "The dendrites can penetrate the porous separator and eventually make contact with the cathode, causing the battery to short." Smart separator "In the last couple of years we've been thinking about building a smart separator that can detect shorting before the dendrites reach the cathode," said Cui, a member of the photon science faculty at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (https://www6.slac.stanford.edu/) at Stanford. To address the problem, Cui and his colleagues applied a nanolayer of copper onto one side of a polymer separator, creating a novel third electrode halfway between the anode and the cathode. "The copper layer acts like a sensor that allows you to measure the voltage difference between the anode and the separator," Zhuo said. "When the dendrites grow long enough to reach the copper coating, the voltage drops to zero. That lets you know that the dendrites have grown halfway across the battery. It's a warning that the battery should be removed before the dendrites reach the cathode and cause a short circuit." The buildup of dendrites is most likely to occur during charging, not during the discharge phase when the battery is being used. "You might get a message on your phone telling you that the voltage has dropped to zero, so the battery needs to be replaced," Zhuo said. "That would give you plenty of lead time. But when you see smoke or a fire, you have to shut down immediately. You might not have time to escape. If you wanted to err on the side of being safer, you could put the copper layer closer to the anode. That would let you know even sooner when a battery is likely to fail." Locating defects In addition to observing a drop in voltage, co-lead author Hui Wu was able to pinpoint where the dendrites had punctured the copper conductor simply by measuring the electrical resistance between the separator and the cathode. He confirmed the location of the tiny puncture holes by actually watching the dendrites grow under a microscope. "The copper coating on the polymer separator is only 50 nanometers thick, about 500 times thinner than the separator itself," said Wu, a postdoctoral fellow in the Cui group. "The coated separator is quite flexible and porous, like a conventional polymer separator, so it has negligible effect on the flow of lithium ions between the cathode and the anode. Adding this thin conducting layer doesn't change the battery's performance, but it can make a huge difference as far as safety." Most lithium-ion batteries are used in small electronic devices. "But as the electric vehicle market expands and we start to replace on-board electronics on airplanes, this will become a much larger problem," Zhuo said. "The bigger the battery pack, the more important this becomes," Cui added. "Some electric cars today are equipped with thousands of lithium-ion battery cells. If one battery explodes, the whole pack can potentially explode." The early-warning technology can also be used in zinc, aluminum and other metal batteries. "It will work in any battery that would require you to detect a short before it explodes," Cui said. Stanford graduate student Desheng Kong also co-authored the study. Support was provided by the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Source: Stanford University (http://news.stanford.edu/news/2014/october/smart-battery-cui-101314.html)