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Nanoparticles

A new study suggests that for thousands of years, humans have been exposed to nanoparticle...

Nanoparticles have been a key part of numerous recent technological advances. Biofuels, solar cells, medical imaging systems and even sunscreen - there's virtually no field of science or technology that they couldn't potentially transform. There are concerns however, about the risks posed by the countless tiny particles of materials such as silver, gold and titanium dioxide that are now entering our environment and our bodies, but a recent University of Oregon study suggests that if not completely harmless, nanoparticles are at least nothing new. In fact, it states, humans have been exposed to them for millennia.  Read More

A new study suggests that exposure to titanium oxide nanoparticles causes rainbow trout to...

In just the past few years, nanotechnology has brought technological advances in almost every field imaginable – patches that regenerate heart tissue, water-powered batteries and better biofuels are just a few examples. As with just about any new technology, however, concerns have been raised regarding its safety. We’ve never experienced anything quite like it before, so how far should we trust it? According to a recent study conducted at the University of Plymouth, the answer to that question might be “Not very far.” In tests on rainbow trout, titanium oxide nanoparticles were found to cause damage to the brain and other parts of the central nervous system.  Read More

Researchers have boosted the efficiency of organic solar cells by 20 percent through the u...

Carbon-based organic photovoltaic cells, which use organic polymers or small molecules as semiconductors, are significantly thinner and cheaper than their inorganic silicon-based counterparts. Unfortunately, they are also much less efficient at converting sunlight into electricity. That could be on its way to changing, however, as an international team of researchers have reportedly boosted the efficiency of organic photovoltaic cells by 20 percent ... with some help from gold nanoparticles.  Read More

Newly designed nanoparticles can quickly locate a tumor, then set off a chemical reaction ...

To minimize the toxic effects of chemotherapy, many researchers have been working to develop nanoparticles that that deliver drugs directly to tumors. But researchers at MIT claim that even the best of these nanoparticles are typically only able to deliver about one percent of the drug to their intended target. Now, a team has developed a new delivery system that sees a first wave of nanoparticles homing in on a tumor that then calls in a larger second wave that dispenses the cancer drug. In a mouse study, the new approach was found to boost drug delivery to tumors by over 40-fold.  Read More

A diagram depicting how a nanobead-equipped chemical assay device could work (Image: OSU)

Handheld biosensors and diagnostic devices could be taking a huge step forward, thanks to recent advances made in the use of ferromagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles – also known as magnetic nanobeads. According to scientists from Oregon State University (OSU), the use of such particles in chemical detection systems could make those systems much smaller, faster, cheaper to produce, and more accurate than they are presently.  Read More

Professors Cor Koning (left) and Paul van der Schoot (right), with their new transparent c...

With its two chief properties of excellent electrical conductivity and optical transparency, indium tin oxide (ITO) can be found in transparent conductive coatings for displays found in all kinds of products, such as TVs, mobile phones and laptops, and is also used as a transparent electrode in thin-film solar cells. Unfortunately indium is a rare metal and available supplies could run out in as little as ten years. This has prompted researchers to search for alternatives with some success already reported using carbon nanotubes and copper nanowires. The latest ITO replacement material also uses carbon nanotubes, as well as other commonly available materials, and is environmentally friendly.  Read More

Microscopic image of the biodiesel emulsion fuel created by researchers

Nanoparticles have added yet another string to their microscopic bows with a new study showing that the addition of alumina nanoparticles can improve the performance and combustion of biodiesel, while producing fewer emissions. In the study, a team at India’s National Institute of Technology in Tiruchirappalli used nanoparticles with an average diameter of 51 billionths of a meter. The high surface-to-volume ratio of the nanoparticles means they have more reactive surfaces, which allows them to act as more efficient chemical catalysts and results in increased fuel combustion.  Read More

Scientists have created paper filters covered with silver nanoparticles, that could be use...

Silver is well-known for its antibacterial qualities, which has led to the use of silver nanoparticles in devices such as an experimental water filtration system developed by Stanford University. That system is intended as a relatively permanent setup, and it requires a small electrical current. Researchers from Montreal’s McGill University, however, have come up with a silver-based water treatment system that could conceivably be used instantly, in any place and at any time. While not intended as a routine method of killing water-borne bacteria, it could be very useful in emergency situations such as disaster relief.  Read More

Immune cells, tagged with green fluorescent protein, are surrounded by nanoparticles (red)...

Vaccines work by exposing the body to an infectious agent in order to prime the immune system to respond quickly when it encounters the pathogen again. Some vaccines, such as the diphtheria vaccine, consist of a synthetic version of a protein or other molecule normally made by the pathogen, while others, such as the polio and smallpox vaccines, use a dead or disabled form of the virus. However, such an approach cannot be used with HIV because it's difficult to render the virus harmless. MIT engineers have now developed a new type of nanoparticle that could safely and effectively deliver vaccines for infectious diseases such as HIV and malaria, and could even help scientists develop vaccines against cancer.  Read More

A nanoparticle-based process allows blood clots to show up on a new type of CT scan (Image...

Every year, millions of people come into emergency rooms complaining of chest pains, yet those pains are only sometimes due to heart attacks. Unfortunately in many of those cases, the only way to be sure of what’s going on is to admit the patient for an overnight stay, and administer time-consuming and costly tests. Now, however, a new procedure could reveal the presence and location of a blood clot within hours. It’s made possible by the injection of nanoparticles, each containing a million atoms of bismuth – a toxic heavy metal.  Read More

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