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Spotlight on Innovation

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  • Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology

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Advances in Nanotechnology

In just the last few years, the number of products on the market that incorporate nanoparticles has exploded. According to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, more than a thousand nano-based consumer products are now available, compared to only 212 in March, 2006. Lux Research predicts that nanotechnology will generate $2.5 trillion in 2015.

Specks of Gold

Gold, prepared to the nanoscale, has properties that attract scientists hoping to diagnose and treat diseases. Qun Huo, chemist at the University of Central Florida, first turned her sights on using gold to create an inexpensive test for prostate cancer. In 2009, according to the American Cancer Society, there were almost 200,000 new diagnoses of prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer among American men.

What intrigued Huo, she says, are gold’s optical properties at the nanoscale. Gold becomes dark burgundy, and it absorbs and scatters light well. Huo, however, was particularly interested in scattering.

She partnered with researchers at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Orlando to develop a new test for prostate cancer detection based on these principles. The team coated gold nanoparticles with antibody molecules. These recognize and bind with specific target proteins in the sample and thus increase the particle size. With a dynamic light-scattering instrument, Huo can search for the enlarged proteins in small samples such as a drop of blood. While PSA tests are used today to detect prostate cancer, this new test is intended to increase the accuracy of tests for early detection.

“Basically, these nanoparticles are a hook,” says Huo. “When you’re fishing, you can feel it get heavy. And in my case, I’m able to see that the nanoparticle becomes bigger, that it caught something.” She believes this test could be available within a few years.  

Tools for the Trade

One of the challenges in developing nanoscale techniques and materials is ensuring the accuracy of the tools. Sarasota-based DTI is attempting to solve this challenge, offering high-precision devices for companies and researcher centers. DTI designed an ultrasonic piezomotor technology to manipulate and position objects at the nanoscale. It functions by means of a special ceramic ring that pulses at ultrasonic speed in response to pulses of electricity, which causes precise rotations of the motor. The result is a device that is both faster than a conventional electromagnetic motor and offers more than 1000 time greater resolution.

Says DTI’s CEO Mark Broderick, “We’re enabling our customers to manipulate a sample or procedure at the submicron level, so the applications are very broad.” One of the tools, a piezoelectric nanomanipulator, can be controlled by a joystick or a computer. A push of the joystick button allows researchers to penetrate the cell membrane without damaging the cell.

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Nanotech Videos and Podcasts

Advanced Composite Materials: Buckypaper

Advanced Composite Materials: Buckypaper

Developed at Florida State University, buckypaper is composed of carbon nanotubes (CNT) and it could revolutionize the way everything from airplanes to TVs are made. The High-Performance Materials Institute (HPMI) and FSU has produced the world's largest magnetically aligned buckypaper.

Innovative Nanotechnology Receives Award

Innovative Nanotechnology Receives Award

Researchers at Florida State University’s High-Performance Materials Institute receive international recognition for their work on Engineered Carbon Nanotube and Nanofiber Buckypapers.

Nanotechnology articles from technology review

Gold Nanosensors to Track Disease

Gold Nanosensors to Track Disease

Tiny chemical probes implanted into patients could identify proteins in trace quantities.

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Nanotube RFID: Better Barcodes?

Nanotube RFID: Better Barcodes?

Plastic RFID tags will be the first product to use printed nanotube transistors.

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Using Printed Nanocircuits to Sense Hormones

Using Printed Nanocircuits to Sense Hormones

Novel device could aid the treatment of infertility.

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Resources

Florida Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is already used in thousands of products looking to explore the amazing properties of nanoparticles. Industries as diverse as the life sciences, clean technology, aerospace and defense are seeing the dramatic possibilities that nanotechnology can open in their fields. The Advances in Nanotechnology White Paper describes some of these opportunities that are happening in Florida.

Learn more about Florida’s Life Sciences, Clean Energy, Aviation/Aerospace and Homeland Security clusters

Life Sciences Market Brief

Download a 12-page overview on Florida's Life Science Cluster, including size and location of the biotechnology, pharmaceutical, medical device, and health care industries in the state.
Register to download »

Clean Energy Market Brief

Florida holds tremendous possibility for the clean energy industry. For an in-depth look at the state's capabilities, register to download this 12-page clean energy overview.
Register to Download »

Aviation / Aerospace Market Brief

Florida's infrastructure, business development in Space and Aeronautics and its optimal geographic location and climate conditions contribute to its leading role in the aviation & aerospace industry.
Register to Download »

Homeland Security Market Brief

Florida has become a leader in Homeland Security and Defense. Download this 16 page market overview on Florida’s HSD Cluster, including Information Analysis & Security, Security Threat Detection & Prevention, Emergency Preparedness - Response & Recovery, Homeland Security and Defense Research, and Business Advantages.
Register to download »

Technology Review Videos

TR10: Green Concrete

TR10: Green Concrete
One of this year’s TR10 innovators is Novacem, a British startup trying to solve the emission problem with a new way of making cement. We asked the company’s chief scientist, Nikoloas Vlasopoulos, why traditional cement manufacture is responsible for so much carbon dioxide and how the new cement gets around the problem.

Nanotube Fibers

Nanotube Fibers
At Rice University in Houston, TX, researchers are making carbon nanotubes into long fibers that are lightweight, conductive, and strong.

Light-as-Air, Heatproof Nanotube Muscles

Light-as-Air, Heatproof Nanotube Muscles
A two-millimeter-wide strip of an airy carbon-nanotube material expands to more than three times its width when a five-kilovolt voltage is applied to it.

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