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New pump created for microneedle drug-delivery patch

ferropaperSept. 1, 2010 - Purdue University researchers have developed a new type of pump for drug-delivery patches that might use arrays of "microneedles" to deliver a wider range of medications than now possible with conventional patches.

The current "transdermal" patches are limited to delivering drugs that, like nicotine, are made of small hydrophobic molecules that can be absorbed through the skin, said Babak Ziaie, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering.

"There are only a handful of drugs that currently can be administered with patches," he said. "Most new drugs are large molecules that won't go through the skin. And a lot of drugs, such as those for treating cancer and autoimmune disorders, you can't take orally because they aren't absorbed into the blood system through the digestive tract."

Patches that used arrays of tiny microneedles could deliver a multitude of drugs, and the needles do not cause pain because they barely penetrate the skin, he said.

"It's like a bandage - you would use it and discard," Ziaie said.

[Read More]


Sensor important to understanding root, seedling development

ferropaperAugust 26, 2010 - A biosensor utilizing black platinum and carbon nanotubes developed at Purdue University will help give scientists a better understanding of how the plant hormone auxin regulates root growth and seedling establishment.

Marshall Porterfield, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering and biomedical engineering, created a new sensor to detect the movement of auxin along a plant's root surface in real time without damaging the plants.

The nanomaterials at the sensor's tip react with auxin and create an electrical signal that can be measured to determine the auxin concentration at a single point. The sensor oscillates, taking concentration readings at different points around a plant root. An algorithm then determines whether auxin is being released or taken in by surrounding cells.

"It is the equilibrium and transport dynamics that are important with auxin," said Porterfield, whose findings were published in the early online version of The Plant Journal.

[Read More]


Nanowick at heart of new system to cool 'power electronics'

ferropaperAugust 10, 2010 - Researchers have shown that an advanced cooling technology being developed for high-power electronics in military and automotive systems is capable of handling roughly 10 times the heat generated by conventional computer chips.

The miniature, lightweight device uses tiny copper spheres and carbon nanotubes to passively wick a coolant toward hot electronics, said Suresh V. Garimella, the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University.

This wicking technology represents the heart of a new ultrathin "thermal ground plane," a flat, hollow plate containing water.

Similar "heat pipes" have been in use for more than two decades and are found in laptop computers. However, they are limited to cooling about 50 watts per square centimeter, which is good enough for standard computer chips but not for "power electronics" in military weapons systems and hybrid and electric vehicles, Garimella said.

[Read More]


Birck selects inaugural class of graduate student ambassadors

August 10, 2010 - Nine top Purdue University graduate students at the Birck Nanotechnology Center will form the inaugural class in the Discovery Park center's new Graduate Ambassador Program.

As Birck Nanotechnology ambassadors, the student researchers will assist with Birck and Discovery Park outreach and engagements efforts, including tours, special events, presentations, research conferences and other activities over the next 12 months.

In return, the nine students will be eligible for travel grants of $500 or $250 to assist with attending and presenting their research at technical conferences, said Monica Allain, managing director at Birck. A year-end banquet also is planned to recognize the graduate student ambassadors for their efforts.

[Read More]


Findings show promise for nuclear fusion test reactors

ferropaperJuly 27, 2010 - Researchers have discovered mechanisms critical to interactions between hot plasma and surfaces facing the plasma inside a thermonuclear fusion reactor, part of work aimed at developing coatings capable of withstanding the grueling conditions inside the reactors.

Fusion powers the stars and could lead to a limitless supply of clean energy. A fusion power plant would produce 10 times more energy than a conventional nuclear fission reactor, and because the deuterium fuel is contained in seawater, a fusion reactor's fuel supply would be virtually inexhaustible.

Research at Purdue University focuses on the "plasma-material interface," a crucial region where the inner lining of a fusion reactor comes into contact with the extreme heat of the plasma. Nuclear and materials engineers are harnessing nanotechnology to define tiny features in the coating in work aimed at creating new "plasma-facing" materials tolerant to radiation damage, said Jean Paul Allain, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering.

One lining being considered uses lithium, which is applied to the inner graphite wall of the reactor and diffuses into the graphite, creating an entirely new material called lithiated graphite. The lithiated graphite binds to deuterium atoms in fuel inside fusion reactors known as tokamaks. The machines house a magnetic field to confine a donut-shaped plasma of deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen. [Read More]


New center to create models, simulations to improve solar cells

ferropaperJuly 27, 2010 - Purdue University will lead a new research center to improve photovoltaic solar cells as part of a national effort to bring alternative energy technologies to the marketplace.

The work is funded by the Semiconductor Research Corporation, a university-research consortium for semiconductors and related technologies. The SRC has established a $5 million energy research initiative, teaming companies with university research centers to work on alternative energy technologies.

The new Network for Photovoltaic Technology will be led by Ashraf Alam, professor of electrical and computer engineering, and Mark Lundstrom, the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Work in the center, based at the Birck Nanotechnology Center at Purdue's Discovery Park, will address performance, cost, reliability and manufacturing challenges of photovoltaic cells, which convert sunlight into electricity. [Read More]


Nanotechnology Delivers Revolutionary Pumpless Water Cooling

ferropaperJuly 27, 2010 - Forget traditional metal block coolers a nanowick could remove 10 times the heat of current chip designs

A collaboration of university researchers and top industry experts has created a pumpless liquid cooling system that uses nanotechnology to push the limits of past designs.

One fundamental computing problem is that there are only two ways to increase computing power -- increase the speed or add more processing circuits. Adding more circuits requires advanced chip designs like 3D chips or, more traditionally, die shrinks that are approaching the limits of the laws of physics as applied to current manufacturing approaches. Meanwhile, speedups are constrained by the fact that increasing chip frequency increases power consumption and heat, as evidence by the gigahertz war that peaked in the Pentium 4 era.

A team led by Suresh V. Garimella, the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson Distinguished Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University, may have a solution to cooling higher frequency chips and power electronics. His team cooked up a bleeding edged cooler consisting of tiny copper spheres and carbon nanotubes, which wick coolant passively towards hot electronics. [Read More]


Insectlike 'microids' might walk, run, work in colonies

ferropaperJanuary 26, 2010 - A new approach in the design of miniature, insectlike robots could lead to "microids" the size of ants that move their tiny legs and mandibles using solid-state "muscles."

Advanced computer simulations indicate these synthetic bugs would have significantly better dexterity than previous microscale robots. The robots also might be able to "scavenge vibrational energy" from the environment to recharge their power supply, said Jason Clark, an assistant professor of electrical, computer and mechanical engineering at Purdue University.

The new design differs from previous microscale robots that use complex moving parts meshing together or touching each other, which subjects them to wear from friction and jamming from dust particles, he said.

"The complex moving parts ultimately limit their lifetime and confine their use to a controlled laboratory environment," Clark said. "Because the microids are solid state without any discrete parts such as gears that wear due to frictional contact, they will likely be long-lasting and robust. If a microid were stepped on, it would probably just get up and walk away." [Read More]

'Ferropaper' is new technology for small motors, robots

ferropaperJanuary 5, 2010 - Researchers at Purdue University have created a magnetic "ferropaper" that might be used to make low-cost "micromotors" for surgical instruments, tiny tweezers to study cells and miniature speakers.

The material is made by impregnating ordinary paper - even newsprint - with a mixture of mineral oil and "magnetic nanoparticles" of iron oxide. The nanoparticle-laden paper can then be moved using a magnetic field.

"Paper is a porous matrix, so you can load a lot of this material into it," said Babak Ziaie, a professor of electrical and computer engineering and biomedical engineering.

The new technique represents a low-cost way to make small stereo speakers, miniature robots or motors for a variety of potential applications, including tweezers to manipulate cells and flexible fingers for minimally invasive surgery.

"Because paper is very soft it won't damage cells or tissue," Ziaie said. "It is very inexpensive to make. You put a droplet on a piece of paper, and that is your actuator, or motor."

Once saturated with this "ferrofluid" mixture, the paper is coated with a biocompatible plastic film, which makes it water resistant, prevents the fluid from evaporating and improves mechanical properties such as strength, stiffness and elasticity.

Findings will be detailed in a research paper being presented during the 23rd IEEE International Conference on Micro Electro Mechanical Systems on Jan. 24-28 in Hong Kong. The paper was written by Ziaie, electrical engineering doctoral student Pinghung Wei and physics doctoral student Zhenwen Ding.

[Read More]

Nanowires key to future transistors, electronics

nanowiresNovember 26, 2009 - A new generation of ultrasmall transistors and more powerful computer chips using tiny structures called semiconducting nanowires are closer to reality after a key discovery by researchers at IBM, Purdue University and the University of California at Los Angeles.

The researchers have learned how to create nanowires with layers of different materials that are sharply defined at the atomic level, which is a critical requirement for making efficient transistors out of the structures.

"Having sharply defined layers of materials enables you to improve and control the flow of electrons and to switch this flow on and off," said Eric Stach, an associate professor of materials engineering at Purdue.

Electronic devices are often made of "heterostructures," meaning they contain sharply defined layers of different semiconducting materials, such as silicon and germanium. Until now, however, researchers have been unable to produce nanowires with sharply defined silicon and germanium layers. Instead, this transition from one layer to the next has been too gradual for the devices to perform optimally as transistors. [Read More]

New 'finFETs' promising for smaller transistors, more powerful chips

nonoprobesNovember 11, 2009 - Purdue University researchers are making progress in developing a new type of transistor that uses a finlike structure instead of the conventional flat design, possibly enabling engineers to create faster and more compact circuits and computer chips.

The fins are made not of silicon, like conventional transistors, but from a material called indium-gallium-arsenide. Called finFETs, for fin field-effect-transistors, researchers from around the world have been working to perfect the devices as potential replacements for conventional transistors.

In work led by Peide Ye, an associate professor of electrical and computer engineering, the Purdue researchers are the first to create finFETs using a technology called atomic layer deposition. Because atomic layer deposition is commonly used in industry, the new finFET technique may represent a practical solution to the coming limits of conventional silicon transistors.

"We have just demonstrated the proof of concept here," Ye said.

Findings are detailed in three research papers being presented during the International Electron Devices Meeting on Dec. 7-9 in Baltimore. The work is led by doctoral student Yanqing Wu, who provided major contributions for two of the papers. [Read More]

New aluminum-water rocket propellant promising for future space missions

nonoprobesOctober 8, 2009 - Researchers are developing a new type of rocket propellant made of a frozen mixture of water and "nanoscale aluminum" powder that is more environmentally friendly than conventional propellants and could be manufactured on the moon, Mars and other water-bearing bodies.

The aluminum-ice, or ALICE, propellant might be used to launch rockets into orbit and for long-distance space missions and also to generate hydrogen for fuel cells, said Steven Son, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.

Purdue is working with NASA, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and Pennsylvania State University to develop ALICE, which was used earlier this year to launch a 9-foot-tall rocket. The vehicle reached an altitude of 1,300 feet over Purdue's Scholer farms, about 10 miles from campus.

"It's a proof of concept," Son said. "It could be improved and turned into a practical propellant. Theoretically, it also could be manufactured in distant places like the moon or Mars instead of being transported at high cost." [Read More]

Better control of carbon nanotube 'growth' promising for future electronics

nonoprobesOctober 1, 2009 - Researchers have overcome a major obstacle in efforts to use tiny structures called carbon nanotubes to create a new class of electronics that would be faster and smaller than conventional silicon-based transistors.
Carbon nanotubes, which were discovered in the early 1990s, could make possible more powerful, compact and energy-efficient computers, as well as ultra-thin "nanowires" for electronic circuits. The nanotubes might be ideal for future electronics because they conduct electricity more efficiently than any other metal, but their practical application requires that they be manufactured to specific standards.

Now scientists in the Materials Science Division at the Honda Research Institute USA Inc., Purdue University and the University of Louisville have learned how to control the formation of carbon nanotubes so that they have either metallic or semiconducting properties.

"This problem of how to control whether you have a metal or a semiconductor is the key stumbling block in making transistors out of carbon nanotubes," said Eric Stach, an associate professor of materials engineering at Purdue. "Solid-state electronics is built around the fact that you can control the semiconducting properties of silicon."

Findings will be detailed in a research paper appearing Friday (Oct. 2) in the journal Science. The research is led by Avetik Harutyunyan, principal scientist at the Honda Research Institute USA Inc. in Columbus, Ohio. [Read More]

Purdue, India researchers form center on nanomaterials and energynonoprobes

September 28, 2009 - Researchers at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center are collaborating with Indian colleagues at the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research and General Electric Co.'s John F. Welch India Technology Center to launch a center focused on how advancements in nanomaterials can address growing energy needs.

The Joint Networked Center on Nanomaterials for Energy, funded by the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum, is supporting the exchange of four graduate student researchers, two postdoctoral researchers and two faculty members annually between Purdue and Jawaharlal Nehru Center's International Center for Materials Science in Bangalore, India. The international program also is placing two Purdue graduate student interns at GE's Technology Center each year.

"Students will have the opportunity to spend several months at partner institutions, formulating and working on joint research projects to solidify and expand ongoing collaborations between the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research and Purdue for advancing research in how nanomaterials can address growing energy needs," said Pankaj Sharma, associate director of operations and international affairs for Purdue's Discovery Park. [Read More]

New findings could help hybrid, electric cars keep their cool

nonoprobesSeptember 22, 2009 - Understanding precisely how fluid boils in tiny "microchannels" has led to formulas and models that will help engineers design systems to cool high-power electronics in electric and hybrid cars, aircraft, computers and other devices.

Allowing a liquid to boil in cooling systems dramatically increases how much heat can be removed, compared to simply heating a liquid to below its boiling point, said Suresh Garimella, the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University.

However, boiling occurs differently in tiny channels than it does in ordinary size tubing used in conventional cooling systems.

"One big question has always been, where is the transition from macroscale boiling to microscale boiling?" said doctoral student Tannaz Harirchian. "How do you define a microchannel versus a macrochannel, and at what point do we need to apply different models to design systems? Now we have an answer."

Findings will be detailed in a research paper by Garimella and Harirchian and a keynote address to be presented by Garimella on Oct. 8 during the conference Thermal Investigations of ICs and Systems, or Therminic, from Oct. 7-9 in Leuven, Belgium. The researchers also have published several related papers in peer-reviewed journals. [Read More]

New nanolaser key to future optical computers and technologies

nonoprobesAugust 17, 2009 - Researchers have created the tiniest laser since its invention nearly 50 years ago, paving the way for a host of innovations, including superfast computers that use light instead of electrons to process information, advanced sensors and imaging.

Because the new device, called a "spaser," is the first of its kind to emit visible light, it represents a critical component for possible future technologies based on "nanophotonic" circuitry, said Vladimir Shalaev, the Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University.

Such circuits will require a laser-light source, but current lasers can't be made small enough to integrate them into electronic chips. Now researchers have overcome this obstacle, harnessing clouds of electrons called "surface plasmons," instead of the photons that make up light, to create the tiny spasers.

Findings are detailed in a paper appearing online in the journal Nature that reports on work conducted by researchers at Purdue, Norfolk State University and Cornell University.
Nanophotonics may usher in a host of radical advances, including powerful "hyperlenses" resulting in sensors and microscopes 10 times more powerful than today's and able to see objects as small as DNA; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; and more efficient solar collectors. [Read More]

New eco-friendly self-cleaning material tough on stains, light on effort

August 16, 2009 - Cleaning oily smears from kitchen countertops, mirrors, garage floors, and other surfaces with plain water — rather than strong detergents or smelly solvents — may seem like pure fantasy. But scientists in Indiana today describe what they believe to be a simple and effective state-of-the-art oil stain remover. They have developed a new coating for glass, plastics, and a range of other materials that would enable consumers to wipe away those pesky oils with plain water.

Their report at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society (ACS) points out that the same coatings can be added to common window cleaning sprays and used to prevent bathroom mirrors, automobile windshields and other surfaces from fogging up.

“You add water, and the oil just comes right off like magic,” said Jeffrey Youngblood, Ph.D., lead researcher on the project. “These are eco-friendly coatings — environmentally ‘green’ in the sense that they eliminate the need for harsh detergents and solvents in settings ranging from home kitchens to industrial machine shops that must contend with heavy oil spills.”

The materials could be used in a range of consumer and industrial products, Youngblood said. They include household cleaners, easy-to-clean paints, water filters that separate water from oil, sealants for concrete floors and walls that repel oil in home garages and auto repair shops. In addition, anti-fog coatings could be used on windshields or eyewear, including everyday lenses and fog-free scuba masks.

The eco-friendly plastics could reduce the need for detergents containing phosphates. “We put out tons of detergents and phosphates each year,” said Youngblood, adding that the polymer materials also could reduce the use of detergents for laundering clothes. This would cut down on the release of phosphates, which wash into lakes and streams and stimulate growth of algae, depleting oxygen supplies in ways that cause fish kills in waterways and make swimming unsafe for humans.

“The idea is to use these polymers to clean in situations where it’s inconvenient to apply soap or anywhere you would need to have oil cleaned off easily,” said Youngblood, a materials engineer at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. “Oil fouling is always a problem. A lot of people overlook the fact that pure water will generally not remove oil from a surface, but using this product transforms water into a super detergent.”

Youngblood’s group spent years in an effort to develop substances with the goal of making a surface that would repel oil more than water. Once successful, their framework for self-cleaning plastics was in place. “With these materials, if you stuck an oil droplet on them you could completely remove it with water. You could basically do soap-free rinsing.” [Read More]

Discovery to aid study of biological structures, molecules

nonoprobesAugust 11, 2009 - Researchers in the United States and Spain have discovered that a tool widely used in nanoscale imaging works differently in watery environments, a step toward better using the instrument to study biological molecules and structures.

The researchers demonstrated their new understanding of how the instrument - the atomic force microscope - works in water to show detailed properties of a bacterial membrane and a virus called Phi29, said Arvind Raman, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering.

"People using this kind of instrument to study biological structures need to know how it works in the natural watery environments of molecules and how to interpret images," he said.

An atomic force microscope uses a tiny vibrating probe to yield information about materials and surfaces on the scale of nanometers, or billionths of a meter. Because the instrument enables scientists to "see" objects far smaller than possible using light microscopes, it could be ideal for studying molecules, cell membranes and other biological structures.

The best way to study such structures is in their wet, natural environments. However, the researchers have now discovered that in some respects the vibrating probe's tip behaves the opposite in water as it does in air, said Purdue mechanical engineering doctoral student John Melcher.

Purdue researchers collaborated with scientists at three institutions in Madrid, Spain: Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Instituto de Ciencia de Materiales de Madrid and the Centro Nacional de Biotecnología.

Findings, which were detailed in a paper appearing online last week in the U.S. publication Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, are related to the subtle differences in how the instrument's probe vibrates. The probe is caused to oscillate by a vibrating source at its base. However, the tip of the probe oscillates slightly out of synch with the oscillations at the base. This difference in oscillation is referred to as a "phase contrast," and the tip is said to be out of phase with the base. [Read More]

Tiny 'MEMS' devices to filter, amplify electronic signals

nonoprobesAugust 10, 2009 - Researchers are developing a new class of tiny mechanical devices containing vibrating, hair-thin structures that could be used to filter electronic signals in cell phones and for other more exotic applications.

Because the devices, called resonators, vibrate in specific patterns, they are able to cancel out signals having certain frequencies and allow others to pass. The result is a new type of "band-pass" filter, a component commonly used in electronics to permit some signals to pass through a cell phone's circuitry while blocking others, said Jeffrey Rhoads, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University.

Such filters are critical for cell phones and other portable electronics because they allow devices to process signals with minimal interference and maximum transmission efficiency. The new technology represents a potential way to further miniaturize band-pass filters while improving their performance and reducing power use, Rhoads said.

The device is an example of a microelectromechanical system, or a MEMS, which contain tiny moving parts. Incoming signals generate voltage that produces an electrostatic force, causing the MEMS filters to vibrate.

Researchers have proposed linking tiny beams in straight chains, but Rhoads has pursued a different approach, arranging the structures in rings and other shapes, or "non-traditional coupling arrangements." One prototype, which resembles spokes attached to a wheel's hub, is about 160 microns in diameter, or comparable in size to a grain of sand. [Read More]

Twinkling nanostars cast new light into biomedical imaging

nonoprobesJuly 28, 2009 - Purdue University researchers have created magnetically responsive gold nanostars that may offer a new approach to biomedical imaging.

The nanostars gyrate when exposed to a rotating magnetic field and can scatter light to produce a pulsating or "twinkling" effect. This twinkling allows them to stand out more clearly from noisy backgrounds like those found in biological tissue.

Alexander Wei, a professor of chemistry, and Kenneth Ritchie, an associate professor of physics, led the team that created the new gyromagnetic imaging method.

"This is a very different approach to enhancing contrast in optical imaging," said Wei, who also is a member of the Purdue University Center for Cancer Research and the Oncological Sciences Center. "Brighter isn't necessarily better for imaging; the real issue is background noise, and you can't always overcome this simply by creating brighter particles. With gyromagnetic imaging we can zero in on the nanostars by increasing signal strength while cutting down on background noise."

The gold nanostars are about 100 nanometers from tip to tip and contain an iron-oxide core that causes them to spin when exposed to a rotating magnet. The arms of the nanostar are designed to respond to a light source and reflect light to a camera when properly aligned. This gives nanostars the appearance of twinkling at rates that can be precisely controlled by the speed of the rotating magnetic field. The unique signature of the twinkling nanostars enables them to be picked out easily from a field of stationary particles, some of which can be brighter than the nanostars.

Any signal that doesn't have the frequency corresponding to the rotating magnetic field can be suppressed in the images, eliminating background noise, Ritchie said. [Read More]

Re-thinking electronics – from the bottom up

July 28, 2009 - More than 70 graduate students from across the country and Purdue University are on campus this week to learn about a new approach to 21st century electronic materials and devices.

A team of Purdue faculty and students is developing this new approach to provide a conceptual and computational framework for applications of nanoelectronics to tackle challenges in information processing and storage, energy, the environment and in technologies for health care.

"Electronics from the Bottom Up" summer schools are conducted annually and then freely distributed through, a resource for the nanoscience and technology communities that serves nearly 100,000 users per year, half of them outside of the United States. Through a new collaboration with World Scientific, an international science publisher, low-cost lecture notes for these courses will be made available to students to complement lectures on the nanoHUB.

"More than 50 years ago, the inventors of the transistor and their colleagues at Bell Laboratories defined the intellectual foundation for the field of semiconductor electronics," said Mark Lundstrom, Purdue's Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "That framework has served the field well, leading to products from shirt pocket radios to supercomputers and cell phones. Today, it is widely felt that the future of electronics lies in nanotechnology."

When exploring new ideas for nanotechnologies, however, the traditional framework that has served researchers is frequently not the best way to think about these new problems, he said.

"What we need is to complement the traditional approach with the new insights and understanding emerging from research in nanoscience," Lundstrom said. "In the process we are led to a new, comprehensive framework that can guide the evolution of electronic devices and materials in the 21st century."

The new approach can be traced to pioneering research more than a decade ago on molecular electronics by a team at Purdue led by Supriyo Datta, the Thomas Duncan Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering. [Read More]

Indiana life-sciences firm signs deal to use research space at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center

nonoprobesJuly 16, 2009 - An Indiana medical-device company has signed a research agreement through the Purdue Research Foundation to use laboratories and equipment at Purdue University's Birck Nanotechnology Center, officials announced Thursday (July 16).

Nanovis Inc., a Columbia City, Ind.-based company with offices at the Purdue Research Park in West Lafayette, will work with Birck researchers and the center's facilities to improve the interactive process between medical implants and human tissues for reducing rejection or infection.

"This industry partnership opens the door at the Birck Nanotechnology Center for enhanced opportunities for joint research with industry partners," said Timothy Sands, the Mary Jo and Robert L. Kirk Director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center.

Nanovis, which was launched in 2006 in the Purdue Research Park from technology developed at Purdue, is commercializing a portfolio of nanostructured surfaces, materials and proprietary medical devices that better manage the interface with bone, soft tissue, nerves and cardiovascular cells. Thomas Webster, who was an associate professor of biomedical engineering at Purdue and is now a researcher at Brown University, discovered the technique.

"Through this collaboration, Nanovis will have access to some of the most advanced nanotechnology research facilities on a university campus in the world, with access to the expertise of the university's research community," said Matt Hedrick, Nanovis' president and chief operating officer. "Nanovis also will get to know many of Purdue's high-caliber graduate students who work with nanotechnology." [Read More]

Complete atom-by-atom transistor simulation run in 15 minutes

June 17, 2009 - A simulation of electrical current moving through a futuristic electronic transistor has been modeled atom-by-atom in less than 15 minutes by Purdue University researchersnonoprobes.

The work demonstrates that future electronic devices can be quickly simulated on advanced computers, opening the door to new nanoscale semiconductor components that are more powerful and use less energy.

The simulation was run on Oak Ridge National Laboratory's Jaguar supercomputer, the world's second fastest and one of just two computers capable of petascale performance.

The modeling of the transistor ran on more than 147,000 computer processors simultaneously, according to Gerhard Klimeck, professor of electrical and computer engineering and director for the National Science Foundation-funded Network for Computational Nanotechnology.

"If this had run on a single-processor computer it would have taken us 3.3 years to complete," Klimeck said. "This is the first time we've been able to do an atomic-level simulation of a transistor within the realm of engineering instead of as a once-in-a-lifetime computer run."

The transistor simulation represented 38,000 atoms and examined the current that passes through the experimental transistor. [Read More]

New 'broadband' cloaking technology simple to manufacture

May 20, 2009 - Researchers have created a new type of invisibility cloak that is simpler than previous designs and works for all colors of the visible spectrum, making it possible to cloak larger objects than before and possibly leading to practical applications in "transformation optics."nonoprobes

Whereas previous cloaking designs have used exotic "metamaterials," which require complex nanofabrication, the new design is a far simpler device based on a "tapered optical waveguide," said Vladimir Shalaev, Purdue University's Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Waveguides represent established technology - including fiber optics - used in communications and other commercial applications.

The research team used their specially tapered waveguide to cloak an area 100 times larger than the wavelengths of light shined by a laser into the device, an unprecedented achievement. Previous experiments with metamaterials have been limited to cloaking regions only a few times larger than the wavelengths of visible light.

Because the new method enabled the researchers to dramatically increase the cloaked area, the technology offers hope of cloaking larger objects, Shalaev said.

Findings are detailed in a research paper appearing May 29 in the journal Physical Review Letters. The paper was written by Igor I. Smolyaninov, a principal electronic engineer at BAE Systems in Washington, D.C.; Vera N. Smolyaninova, an assistant professor of physics at Towson University in Maryland; Alexander Kildishev, a principal research scientist at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center; and Shalaev. [Read More]

Innovation could make lab-on-a-chip devices easier to use, cheaper to make

April 21, 2009 - Researchers have designed a lab on a chip capable of being programmed to perform a variety of jobs, a step toward more widespread use of the miniature analytical tools used to measure everything from blood glucose to viruses, bacteria to genes.nonoprobes

Current lab-on-a-chip technology is expensive and time-consuming to develop because each chip must be specifically designed to perform certain assays, or chemical analyses.

Researchers at Purdue University have developed both the hardware and software to create a more versatile chip capable of being programmed for any number of tasks, said Steven T. Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

Doctoral students Han-Sheng Chuang and Ahmed Amin have worked with Wereley to create a prototype programmable chip, in research at the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue's Discovery Park. The students and other members of the research team have published four technical papers on the work since 2007, and their business plan for commercializing the technology was awarded a top prize in February during Purdue's 22nd annual Burton D. Morgan Business Plan Competition.

The work is part of a National Science Foundation-funded collaboration that also includes assistant professor Mithuna Thottethodi and associate professor T. N. Vijaykumar, both in Purdue's School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Stephen Jacobson, an associate professor of chemistry at Indiana University. [Read More]

Nanoscopic probes can track down and attack cancer cells

March 19, 2009 - A researcher has developed probes that can help pinpoint the location of tumors and might one day be able to directly attack cancer cells.nonoprobes

Joseph Irudayaraj, a Purdue University associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering, developed the nanoscale, multifunctional probes, which have antibodies on board, to search out and attach to cancer cells.

A paper detailing the technology was released last week in the online version of Angewandte Chemie, an international chemistry journal.

"If we have a tumor, these probes should have the ability to latch on to it," Irudayaraj said. "The probe could carry drugs to target, treat as well as reveal cancer cells."

Scientists have developed probes that use gold nanorods or magnetic particles, but Irudayaraj's nanoprobes use both, making them easier to track with different imaging devices as they move toward cancer cells.

The magnetic particles can be traced through the use of an MRI machine, while the gold nanorods are luminescent and can be traced through microscopy, a more sensitive and precise process. Irudayaraj said an MRI is less precise than optical luminescence in tracking the probes, but has the advantage of being able to track them deeper in tissue, expanding the probes' possible applications.

The probes, which are about 1,000 times smaller than the diameter of a human hair, contain the antibody Herceptin, used in treatment of metastatic breast cancer. The probes would be injected into the body through a saline buffering fluid, and the Herceptin would find and attach to protein markers on the surface of cancer cells. [Read More]

Researchers from Purdue, India lead nanomaterials conference

March 9, 2009 - Researchers at Discovery Park are joining colleagues from Indian and other U.S. institutions for a three-day conference this week at Purdue University on nanotechnology's growing role in creating future electronics.

Frontiers in Scalable Nanostructured Materials and Interfaces is scheduled for Tuesday through Thursday (March 10-12) at the Burton D. Morgan Center for Entrepreneurship, Room 121.

Leading the conference are researchers from Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center and the International Centre for Materials Science at the Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore, India.

The three-day event will feature lectures, presentations and panel discussions on the scalable use of nanomaterials, the physics of nanoelectronics, integrating nanomaterials for energy and biological applications, and nanomaterials and devices for clean energy and energy conservation.

A.K. Sood, professor and head of physics department at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, will deliver the keynote lecture 9 a.m. Tuesday (March 10). Sood, who has published 230 research papers and holds two patents in the United States and four in India, will talk about his research in replacing silicon transistors with carbon nanotubes. [Read More]

New Purdue fund ready to accept applications to help move innovations to the marketplace

NanocubeJanuary 28, 2009 - Individuals and startup companies now have another avenue to move their Purdue innovations to the marketplace through a new fund established by the Purdue Research Foundation and Purdue University.

The Emerging Innovations Fund is now accepting applications from early stage Purdue-related companies that seek funding support. The money to support the fund has been raised privately, and initial capitalization is $1.5 million, growing to $5 million.

Funds will be distributed based on the successful completion of agreed upon milestones and will be in the range of $20,000-$200,000. Purdue faculty, staff, students and Purdue Research Park-based companies are eligible to apply for funding, including all Indiana incubator and satellite campuses.

"The Emerging Innovations Fund provides support to companies to advance their companies and generate follow-on investor and market interest," said Julie Goonewardene, director of business development for the Purdue Research Foundation and Discovery Park. "This collaboration between Purdue Research Foundation and Purdue University strengthens our integrated emphasis of discovery, development and delivery." [Read More]

Nano-tetherball biosensor precisely detects glucose

NanocubeJanuary 22, 2009 - Researchers have created a precise biosensor for detecting blood glucose and potentially many other biological molecules by using hollow structures called single-wall carbon nanotubes anchored to gold-coated "nanocubes."

The device resembles a tiny cube-shaped tetherball. Each tetherball is a sensor and is anchored to electronic circuitry by a nanotube, which acts as both a tether and ultrathin wire to conduct electrical signals, said Timothy Fisher, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering.

The technology, which detects glucose more precisely than any biosensors in development, also might be used in medicine to detect other types of biological molecules and in future biosensors for scientific research, said Marshall Porterfield, an associate professor of agricultural and biological engineering at Purdue.

"It might be part of a catheter to continuously monitor blood glucose for diabetics," Porterfield said. "And it might have many other applications, including basic scientific research to study diseases and biological processes."

The tetherball design lends itself to sensing applications, Fisher said. [Read More]

New stretchable electrodes created to study stresses on cardiac cellsZiaie

January 22, 2009 - Engineers at Purdue and Stanford universities have created stretchable electrodes to study how cardiac muscle cells, neurons and other cells react to mechanical stresses from heart attacks, traumatic brain injuries and other diseases.

The devices are made by injecting a liquid alloy made of indium and gallium into thin microchannels between two sheets of a plastic polymer, said Babak Ziaie, a Purdue associate professor of electrical and computer engineering.

Cell cultures are grown on top of the new "stretchable cell culture platform."

"We designed a simple and cost-effective process for fabricating these stretchable platforms," said Ziaie, who is working with Beth L. Pruitt, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford, along with graduate students and other researchers at both universities. "What's special about this technology is that it allows you to electrically stimulate or monitor the cell population using electrodes while you are applying stress to the cells."

Stretching the cell cultures causes mechanical stresses like those exerted on tissues during heart attacks and traumatic brain injuries. The researchers have grown mice cardiac muscle cells on the platform and may grow cell cultures of neurons in future work. Cultures of stem cells also could be tested using the system to determine how mechanical stresses prompt the cells to differentiate into specific types of tissues, Ziaie said. [Read More]

Supriyo Datta to receive 2008 IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Graduate Teaching Award for inspirational approach to complex concepts of nanoelectronics

December 3, 2008 - The IEEE has named Supriyo Datta recipient of the 2008 IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Graduate Teaching Award for his innovative approach to the complex concepts of nanoelectronics and non-equilibrium quantum statistical mechanics. Datta has spent more than 20 years teaching graduate students around the world about current flow in nanoscale devices, utilizing online contributions and webinars to make his lessons more accessible to a global audience. The IEEE is the world's leading professional association for the advancement of technology.

The IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Graduate Teaching Award, sponsored by the IEEE Leon K. Kirchmayer Memorial Fund, recognizes Datta for his unique approach to quantum transport that has inspired and educated graduate students in the field of nanoscale electronic devices. The award will be presented to Datta on 16 December 2008 at the IEEE International Electron Devices Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. [Read More]

New holographic method could be used for lab-on-a-chip technologiesNanoassembly

December 2, 2008 - Researchers at Purdue University have developed a technique that uses a laser and holograms to precisely position numerous tiny particles within seconds, representing a potential new tool to analyze biological samples or create devices using nanoassembly.

The technique, called rapid electrokinetic patterning, is a potential alternative to existing technologies because the patterns can be more quickly and easily changed, said mechanical engineering doctoral student Stuart J. Williams.

"It's potentially a very versatile tool," said Williams, who is working with doctoral student Aloke Kumar and Steven T. Wereley, an associate professor of mechanical engineering.

The research is based at the Birck Nanotechnology Center in Purdue's Discovery Park.

The students won a research award for their work in October during the 12th International Conference on Miniaturized Systems for Chemistry and Life Sciences in San Diego. Four young researcher poster awards were selected out of more than 220 posters judged in the contest. Findings also have been recently published in two peer-reviewed journals, Lab on a Chip and Microfluidics and Nanofluidics.

[Read More]

Findings suggest nanowires ideal for electronics manufacturing

nanowiresNovember 13, 2008 - Researchers have discovered that tiny structures called silicon nanowires might be ideal for manufacturing in future computers and consumer electronics because they form the same way every time.

The researchers use an instrument called a transmission electron microscope to watch how nanowires made of silicon "nucleate," or begin to form, before growing into wires, said Eric Stach, an assistant professor of materials engineering at Purdue University.

The work is based at IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y., and at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center in the university's Discovery Park.

The nucleation process can be likened to the beginning of ice forming in a pool of water placed in a freezer. The liquid undergoes a "phase transition," changing from the liquid to the solid phase.

"What's unusual about this work is that we are looking at these things on an extremely small scale," Stach said. "The three major findings are that you can see that the nucleation process on this small scale is highly repeatable, that you can measure and predict when it's going to occur, and that those two facts together give you a sense that you could confidently design systems to manufacture these nanowires for electronics."

It was the first time researchers had made such precise measurements of the nucleation process in nanowires, he said. [Read More]

New research field promises radical advances in optical technologiestransformation optics

October 16, 2008 - A new research field called transformation optics may usher in a host of radical advances including a cloak of invisibility and ultra-powerful microscopes and computers by harnessing nanotechnology and "metamaterials."

The field, which applies mathematical principles similar to those in Einstein's theory of general relativity, will be described in an article to be published Friday (Oct. 17) in the journal Science. The article will appear in the magazine's Perspectives section and was written by Vladimir Shalaev, Purdue's Robert and Anne Burnett Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The list of possible breakthroughs includes a cloak of invisibility; computers and consumer electronics that use light instead of electronic signals to process information; a "planar hyperlens" that could make optical microscopes 10 times more powerful and able to see objects as small as DNA; advanced sensors; and more efficient solar collectors.

"Transformation optics is a new way of manipulating and controlling light at all distances, from the macro- to the nanoscale, and it represents a new paradigm for the science of light," Shalaev said. "Although there were early works that helped to develop the basis for transformation optics, the field was only recently established thanks in part to papers by Sir John Pendry at the Imperial College, London, and Ulf Leonhardt at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland and their co-workers." [Read More]

'Buckyballs' have high potential to accumulate in living tissue

September 18, 2008 - Research at Purdue University suggests synthetic carbon molecules called fullerenes, or buckyballs, have a high potential of being accumulated in animal tissue, but the molecules also appear to break down in sunlight, perhaps reducing their possible environmental dangers.

Buckyballs may see widespread use in future products and applications, from drug-delivery vehicles for cancer therapy to ultrahard coatings and military armor, chemical sensors and hydrogen-storage technologies for batteries and automotive fuel cells.

"Because of the numerous potential applications, it is important to learn how buckyballs react in the environment and what their possible environmental impacts might be," said Chad Jafvert, a professor of civil engineering at Purdue.

The researchers mixed buckyballs in a solution of water and a chemical called octanol, which has properties similar to fatty tissues in animals. Jafvert and doctoral student Pradnya Kulkarni were the first to document how readily buckyballs might be "partitioned," or distributed into water, soil and fatty tissues in wildlife such as fish. [Read More]

New 'nano-positioners' may have atomic-scale precision

ClarkAugust 20, 2008 - Engineers have created a tiny motorized positioning device that has twice the dexterity of similar devices being developed for applications that include biological sensors and more compact, powerful computer hard drives.

The device, called a monolithic comb drive, might be used as a "nanoscale manipulator" that precisely moves or senses movement and forces. The devices also can be used in watery environments for probing biological molecules, said Jason Vaughn Clark, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering and mechanical engineering, who created the design.

The monolithic comb drives could make it possible to improve a class of probe-based sensors that detect viruses and biological molecules. The sensors detect objects using two different components: A probe is moved while at the same time the platform holding the specimen is positioned. The new technology would replace both components with a single one - the monolithic comb drive.

The innovation could allow sensors to work faster and at higher resolution and would be small enough to fit on a microchip. The higher resolution might be used to design future computer hard drives capable of high-density data storage and retrieval. Another possible use might be to fabricate or assemble miniature micro and nanoscale machines. [Read More]

Purdue research team leads nanomaterials conference in India on energy transport, conversion, efficiency

July 25, 2008 - A research team from Purdue University's Discovery Park will travel to India next month to lead a joint India-United States workshop on how advancements in nanotechnology are helping address growing energy needs.

The conference, scheduled for Aug. 19-21 at the Jawaharlal Nehru Centre for Advanced Scientific Research in Bangalore, will focus on how to improve the energy transport, conversion and efficiency of nanomaterials. A session on Aug. 21, hosted by General Electric Co.'s John F. Welch Technology Centre in Bangalore, will highlight industry-university research partnerships.

"This workshop will bring together researchers in India, the United States and industry to initiate collaborative projects in nanomaterials for advancing energy science and technology," said Pankaj Sharma, associate director of operations and international affairs for Discovery Park. "This event also highlights Discovery Park's international efforts that are stimulating business opportunities and partnerships in India and at Purdue."

The workshop, "Scalable Nanomaterials for Enhanced Energy Transport, Conversion and Efficiency," is co-sponsored by the Indo-U.S. Science and Technology Forum. [Read More]

'Nanonet' circuits closer to making flexible electronics reality

July 23, 2008 - Researchers have overcome a major obstacle in producing transistors from networks of carbon nanotubes, a technology that could make it possible to print circuits on plastic sheets for applications including flexible displays and an electronic skin to cover an entire aircraft to monitor crack formation.flexible circuits

The so-called "nanonet" technology - circuits made of numerous carbon nanotubes randomly overlapping in a fishnet-like structure - has been plagued by a critical flaw: The network is contaminated with metallic nanotubes that cause short circuits.

The discovery solves this problem by cutting the nanonet into strips, preventing short circuits by breaking the path of metallic nanotubes.

"This is a fundamental advance in how nanotube circuits are made," said Ashraf Alam, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University. He is working with Kaushik Roy, Purdue's Roscoe H. George Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, and doctoral students Ninad Pimparkar and Jaydeep P. Kulkarni. [Read More]

Advance brings low-cost, bright LED lighting closer to reality

July 17, 2008 - Researchers at Purdue University have overcome a major obstacle in reducing the cost of "solid state lighting," a technology that could cut electricity consumption by 10 percent if widely adopted.

sandsThe technology, called light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, is about four times more efficient than conventional incandescent lights and more environmentally friendly than compact fluorescent bulbs. The LEDs also are expected to be far longer lasting than conventional lighting, lasting perhaps as long as 15 years before burning out.

"The LED technology has the potential of replacing all incandescent and compact fluorescent bulbs, which would have dramatic energy and environmental ramifications," said Timothy D. Sands, the Basil S. Turner Professor of Materials Engineering and Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The LED lights are about as efficient as compact fluorescent lights, which contain harmful mercury.

But LED lights now on the market are prohibitively expensive, in part because they are created on a substrate, or first layer, of sapphire. The Purdue researchers have solved this problem by developing a technique to create LEDs on low-cost, metal-coated silicon wafers, said Mark H. Oliver, a graduate student in materials engineering who is working with Sands. [Read More]

Nanotechnology conference to focus on the environment

The interactions of nanotechnology with the environment will be highlighted during a Purdue University conference to be held Aug. 5-6 in Indianapolis.

Called Nanotechnology and the Environment, the sessions will feature the latest research on the subject and future business possibilities in nanotechnology. Nanotechnology is the design and production of materials that are less than 100 nanometers in size.

"Applications in this science are relatively new, so we are just now finding out some of the implications," said conference coordinator Natalie Carroll, a Purdue professor of youth development and agricultural education. "Materials made on this very small scale have been found to have very different physical properties from the same substances made in more traditional ways.

"The goal of this conference is to bring to light what is known about this technology and help inform those who must make decisions about future opportunities and acceptance of nanotechnology."

Anyone interested in the topic is welcome to attend, particularly those in industry, government and research. The conference will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel and Conference Center. Rooms may be reserved by calling (317) 631-2221.

The conference fee is $200. The rate for government employees is $100. Registration is available at or by contacting John Wellman at, (765) 494-0243 or (800) 359-2968.

[Read More]

Virtual world is sign of future for scientists, engineers

July 16, 2008 - Purdue University is operating a virtual environment that enables scientists and engineers to interpret raw data collected with powerful instruments called dynamic atomic force microscopes.

The online tools, believed to be the first of their kind for the instruments, represent a research trend, with tools for other applications also being developed, said Arvind Raman, a Purdue professor of mechanical engineering.

"We will see more and more of this sort of thing for many other types of instruments that are being used around the world," he said. "This allows researchers to spend more time doing research and less time and money developing simulations."

More than 300 researchers from around the world have used the "virtual environment for dynamic atomic force microscopy," or VEDA, since it went online about a year ago.

The virtual environment is described in a research article featured as a cover story in the June issue of the journal Review of Scientific Instruments, published by the American Institute of Physics. The article focuses on two simulation tools needed for atomic force microscopes. [Read More]

Quantum computing breakthrough arises from unknown moleculeklimeck

June 26, 2008 - The odd behavior of a molecule in an experimental silicon computer chip has led to a discovery that opens the door to quantum computing in semiconductors.

In a Nature Physics journal paper currently online, the researchers describe how they have created a new, hybrid molecule in which its quantum state can be intentionally manipulated - a required step in the building of quantum computers.

"Up to now large-scale quantum computing has been a dream," says Gerhard Klimeck, professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University and associate director for technology for the national Network for Computational Nanotechnology.

"This development may not bring us a quantum computer 10 years faster, but our dreams about these machines are now more realistic."

The workings of traditional computers haven't changed since they were room-sized behemoths 50 years ago; they still use bits of information, 1s and 0s, to store and process information. Quantum computers would harness the strange behaviors found in quantum physics to create computers that would carry information using quantum bits, or qubits. Computers would be able to process exponentially more information. [Read More]

Tiny refrigerator taking shape to cool future computers

frigeJune 19, 2008 - Researchers at Purdue University are developing a miniature refrigeration system small enough to fit inside laptops and personal computers, a cooling technology that would boost performance while shrinking the size of computers.

Unlike conventional cooling systems, which use a fan to circulate air through finned devices called heat sinks attached to computer chips, miniature refrigeration would dramatically increase how much heat could be removed, said Suresh Garimella, the R. Eugene and Susie E. Goodson Professor of Mechanical Engineering.

The Purdue research focuses on learning how to design miniature components called compressors and evaporators, which are critical for refrigeration systems. The researchers developed an analytical model for designing tiny compressors that pump refrigerants using penny-size diaphragms and validated the model with experimental data. The elastic membranes are made of ultra-thin sheets of a plastic called polyimide and coated with an electrically conducting metallic layer. The metal layer allows the diaphragm to be moved back and forth to produce a pumping action using electrical charges, or "electrostatic diaphragm compression."

In related research, the engineers are among the first to precisely measure how a refrigerant boils and vaporizes inside tiny "microchannels" in an evaporator and determine how to vary this boiling rate for maximum chip cooling.

The research is led by Garimella and Eckhard Groll, a professor of mechanical engineering. [Read More]

Purdue Participating in Biotech Convention

June 10, 2008 - A delegation from Purdue's Discovery Park and the Purdue Research Park will join global leaders next week at the BIO 2008 International Convention, showcasing how they are working together at the state, national and international levels to help heal, fuel and feed the world.

Slated for June 17-20 at the San Diego Convention Center, the annual event, sponsored by the Biotechnology Industry Organization, is expected to draw 20,000 corporate executives, researchers, government officials and venture capitalists for three days of networking and learning.

Purdue Research Park and Discovery Park are among the event's 2,200 exhibitors, showcasing the latest in biotechnology and life science products and services. A new feature, the Emerging Technologies Zone, will provide a venue for first-time exhibitors, including early-stage and startup companies, to get their ideas and products in front of the industry's top decision makers.

"Purdue is demonstrating how a university can successfully and effectively take a discovery in the laboratory, move it into development through the Purdue Research Foundation and then deliver it to the public where it best benefits people,” said Joseph B. Hornett, senior vice president, treasurer and chief operating officer for the Purdue Research Foundation, which operates Purdue Research Park. "BIO 2008 provides the Purdue Research Park and Discovery Park a global audience to showcase the best ways to develop a technology, launch a company to commercialize a product, and create quality jobs in the biotech and life sciences arena." [Read More]

Imaging yields insights into 'nanomedicine' for cancer treatmentCheng

May 2, 2008 - Researchers at Purdue University have discovered a possible new pathway for anti-tumor drugs to kill cancer cells and proposed how to improve the design of tiny drug-delivery particles for use in "nanomedicine."

The synthetic "polymer micelles" are drug-delivery spheres 60-100 nanometers in diameter, or roughly 100 times smaller than a red blood cell. The spheres harbor drugs in their inner core and contain an outer shell made of a material called polyethylene glycol.

Purdue researchers showed for the first time how this shell of polyethylene glycol latches onto the membranes of cancer cells, allowing fluorescent probes mimicking cancer drugs to enter the cancer cells, said Ji-Xin Cheng, an assistant professor in the Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering and Department of Chemistry.

"This is an interesting new step in developing nanomedicine techniques in drug delivery," he said. [Read More]

'Sticky Nanotubes' Hold Key To Future TechnologiesRaman

ScienceDaily (Apr. 29, 2008) — Researchers at Purdue University are the first to precisely measure the forces required to peel tiny nanotubes off of other materials, opening up the possibility of creating standards for nano-manufacturing and harnessing a gecko's ability to walk up walls.

So-called "peel tests" are used extensively in manufacturing. Knowing how much force is needed to pull a material off of another material is essential for manufacturing, but no tests exist for nanoscale structures, said Arvind Raman, an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue.

Researchers are trying to learn about the physics behind the "stiction," or how the tiny structures stick to other materials, to manufacture everything from nanoelectronics to composite materials, "nanotweezers" to medical devices using nanotubes, nanowires and biopolymers such as DNA and proteins, he said.

Flexible carbon nanotubes stick to surfaces differently than larger structures because of attractive forces between individual atoms called van der Waals forces.

"Operating in a nanoscale environment is sort of like having flypaper everywhere because of the attraction of van der Waals forces," Raman said. "These forces are very relevant on this size scale because a nanometer is about 10 atoms wide." [Read More]

CCMB collaborates with Purdue University

April 15, 2008 - Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) in Hyderabad, India, was joined by researchers from Purdue University USA for a two day symposium on "Bionanotechnology and pharmaceuticals—a glimpse into the future", which was held on March 13 and 14. The two day conference discussed the advancements in bionanotechnology and pharma industry, and how these two fields are coming together to address the challenges of healthcare delivery. It spoke on how bionanotechnology is offering many new approaches to the field of medicine, ranging from advanced engineering of tissues and organs to nanoscale drug delivery that may target single diseased cells. The symposium highlighted laboratory advancements in microfabrication and nanofabrication and their roles in nanomedicine and drug delivery.

Microfabrication allows construction of cellular sized or smaller devices made of new materials for what is known as cell land-tissue engineering. Nanofabrication is used to create nanoscale devices for advanced targeting and delivery of pharmaceuticals to individual human cells through the emerging field of nanomedicine. "We are very pleased that Purdue partnered with CCMB for this event," said N Madhusudhana Rao, CCMB. India and the US face many similar challenges in healthcare, climate change and the environment, energy, improving manufacturing, development of adequate cyber infrastructure, and others. These challenges can be met more effectively when both countries work together to exploit new opportunities in life sciences and nanotechnology. [Read More]

Manufactured buckyballs don't harm microbes that clean the environment

Nanowerk News - April 9, 2008 - Even large amounts of manufactured nanoparticles, also known as Buckyballs, don't faze microscopic organisms that are charged with cleaning up the environment, according to Purdue University researchers.

In the first published study to examine Buckyball toxicity on microbes that break down organic substances in wastewater, the scientists used an amount of the nanoparticles on the microbes that was equivalent to pouring 10 pounds of talcum powder on a person. Because high amounts of even normally safe compounds, such as talcum powder, can be toxic, the microbes' resiliency to high Buckyball levels was an important finding, the Purdue investigators said.

The experiment on Buckyballs, which are carbon molecules C60, also led the scientists to develop a better method to determine the impact of nanoparticles on the microbial community.

"It's important to look at the entire microbial community when nanomaterials are introduced because the microbes are all interdependent for survival and growth," said Leila Nyberg, a doctoral student in the School of Civil Engineering and the study's lead author. "If we see a minor change in these microorganisms it could negatively impact ecosystems." [Read More]

ziaieNeedle-size Device Created To Track Tumors, Radiation Dose

ScienceDaily (Apr. 8, 2008) — Engineers at Purdue University are creating a wireless device designed to be injected into tumors to tell doctors the precise dose of radiation received and locate the exact position of tumors during treatment.

The information would help to more effectively kill tumors, said Babak Ziaie, an associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and a researcher at Purdue's Birck Nanotechnology Center.

Ziaie is leading a team that has tested a prototype "wireless implantable passive micro-dosimeter" and said the device could be in clinical trials in 2010. "Because organs and tumors shift inside the body during treatment, a new technology is needed to tell doctors the exact dosage of radiation received by a tumor," Ziaie said.

The prototype is enclosed in a glass capillary small enough to inject into a tumor with a syringe, said Ziaie, who has a dual appointment in Purdue's Weldon School of Biomedical Engineering.

Research findings are detailed in a paper appearing in the June issue of IEEE Transactions On Biomedical Engineering. The paper was written by doctoral student Chulwoo Son and Ziaie. [Read More]


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