December 07, 2007

Nanotube-producing bacteria show manufacturing promise

The research team believes this is the first time nanotubes have been shown to be produced by biological rather than chemical means. It opens the door to the possibility of cheaper and more environmentally friendly manufacture of electronic materials

Genus Shewanella. The nanotube filaments produced by biological means could point toward semiconductor manufacturing processes with a smaller energy and environmental footprint. Image credit: Hor-Gil Hur, GIST

The photoactive arsenic-sulfide nanotubes produced by the bacteria behave as metals with electrical and photoconductive properties. The researchers report that these properties may also provide novel functionality for the next generation of semiconductors in nano- and opto-electronic devices.

Foresight, Battelle, Waite Family Foundation and others have released the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems

CORRECTION: The Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems has finally been released. Many groups were involved in the creation of the report. It was organized and led by Battelle with:

Technical Leadership team
K. Eric Drexler, Nanorex;
Alex Kawczak, Battelle Memorial Institute;
John Randall, Zyvex Labs

Project Management Team
Alex Kawczak, Battelle Memorial Institute;
K. Eric Drexler, Nanorex;
John Randall, Zyvex Labs;
Pearl Chin, Foresight Nanotech Institute;
Jim Von Ehr, Zyvex Labs

K. Eric Drexler, Nanorex;
John Randall, Zyvex Labs;
Stephanie Corchnoy, Synchrona;
Alex Kawczak, Battelle Memorial Institute;
Michael L. Steve, Battelle Memorial Institute

I have looked over the reports. They are useful and quite comprehensive.

Some of the newer nanopatterning methods need to be included.

Nanopantography is for splitting an ion beam into one billion beams repeating the same work.

A big impact application area is quantum wells and quantum dots for thermoelectric technology.

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

Part 1—The Road Map

* Introduction
* Atomic Precision: What, Why, and How?
* Atomically Precise Manufacturing
* Atomically Precise Components and Systems
* Modeling, Design, and Characterization
* Applications
* Agenda for Research and Call to Action

Part 2—Topics in Detail

* Components and Devices
* Systems and Frameworks
* Fabrication and Synthesis Methods
* Modeling, Design, and Characterization

Part 3—Working Group Proceedings [14.5 MB]

* Atomically Precise Fabrication
* Nanoscale Structures and Fabrication
* Motors and Movers
* Design, Modeling, and Characterization
* Applications

Technical reports are
Atomically Precise Fabrication
01 Atomically Precise Manufacturing Processes
02 Mechanosynthesis
03 Patterned ALE Path Phases
04 Numerically Controlled Molecular Epitaxy
05 Scanning Probe Diamondoid Mechanosynthesis [not Atomistic Modeling of Nanoscale Systems, this correction is from the author Robert Freitas]
06 Limitations of Bottom-Up Assembly
07 Nucleic Acid Engineering
08 DNA as an Aid to Self-Assembly
09 Self-Assembly
10 Protein Bioengineering Overview
11 Synthetic Chemistry
12 A Path to a Second Generation Nanotechnology
13 Atomically Precise Ceramic Structures
14 Enabling Nanoscience for Atomically-Precise Manufacturing of Functional Nanomaterials
Nanoscale Structures and Fabrication
15 Lithography and Applications of New Nanotechnology
16 Scaling Up to Large Production of Nanostructured Materials
17 Carbon Nanotubes
18 Single-Walled Carbon Nanotubes
19 Oligomer with Cavity for Carbon Nanotube Separation
20 Nanoparticle Synthesis
21 Metal Oxide Nanoparticles
Motors and Movers
22 Biological Molecular Motors for Nanodevices
23 Molecular Motors, Actuators, and Mechanical Devices
24 Chemotactic Machines
Design, Modeling, and Characterization
25 Atomistic Modeling of Nanoscale Systems
26 Productive Nanosystems: Multi-Scale Modeling and Simulation
27 Thoughts on Prospects for New Characterization Tools
28 Characterization/Instrumentation Capabilities for Nanostructured Materials
29 Nanomedicine Roadmap: New Technology and Clinical Applications
30 Applications for Positionally Controlled Atomically Precise Manufacturing Capability
31 Piezoelectrics and Piezo Applications
32 Fuel Cell Electrocatalysis: Challenges and Opportunities
33 Atomic Precision Materials Development in PEM Fuel Cells
34 Hydrogen Storage
35 The Potential of Atomically Precise Manufacturing in Solid State Lighting
36 Towards Gaining Control of Nanoscale Components and Organization of Organic
Photovoltaic Cells
37 Impact of Atomically Precise Manufacturing on Transparent Electrodes
38 Atomically Precise Fabrication for Photonics: Waveguides, Microcavities
39 Impact of Atomically Precise Manufacturing on Waveguide Applications

Optimum cost efficiency for home energy efficiency

This 16 page PDF Building energy optimization. The most cost effective energy efficient house would not use current solar photovoltaic power

About 4.9% of the oil used in the United States is used to heat homes (mostly in the northeast). Adopting optimum cost effective energy efficiency can lower the cost of home ownership while saving oil and natural gas.

The combination of the building choices list above would be the most cost effective way to achieve high energy efficiency

the energy efficiency breakdown is charted above

There are large gains in heating and cooling

Initial energy efficiency gains reduce the monthly costs for a home. 50% energy efficiency can be cost neutral and 44% energy efficiency is near the maximum cost reduction.

Transitioning from oil plan

Thermoelectric technology for a lot of energy efficiency 2010+

Energy supplies in the USA

The Dept of Energy, has a section Energy Efficiency and renewable energy which is developing a lot of energy efficiency technology for buildings, commercial buildings, heating and cooling and lighting and vehicles. There are several technology roadmaps for more energy effiency.

The above chart breaks down the energy usage by major categories. The residential and commercial combine for a total building energy usage of 38%.

Industrial energy efficiency is another major area

Vehicle Energy efficiency technologies are another major area

Consider performing an energy audit of your home

Answers about home heating. Portable heating versus central heating cutoff points etc...

Former 'No Nukes' Protester: Gwyneth Cravens now supports nuclear power

Her conclusion? Every day spent burning coal for power translates into damaged lungs and ecosystem destruction. The only realistic -- and safe -- alternative is nuclear. I agree. Solar, geothermal and wind will help but currently nuclear fission is the best solution for high volume clean power.

A family in four in France, where they reprocess nuclear fuel, would produce only enough waste to fit in a coffee cup over a whole lifetime. A lifetime of getting all your electricity from coal-fired plants would make a single person's share of solid waste (in the United States) 68 tons, which would require six 12-ton railroad cars to haul away. Your share of CO2 would be 77 tons.

WN: What about clean coal plants, and carbon-sequestration technologies? Aren't they a practical alternative?

Cravens: At this point, no. There's one prototype in Colorado that the government is trying to sponsor. From a practical point of view, I think nuclear plants could be up and running and replacing fossil-fuel plants sooner than we get clean coal.

Electric Vehicle news roundup

For $500 you can now reserve your Aptera electric or super-hybrid vehicle. Deliveries should start October, 2008 The first Aptera prototype, the Mk-0, was a parallel hybrid Diesel and achieved an average of 230 MPG at a steady state of 55 MPH. This was pure Diesel/mechanical drive with no electric assist. The All Electric Aptera has about 120 mile range.

UPDATE: Li-tec, German company, claims lithium ion battery breakthrough.

The Aptera has "two plus one" seating allowing plenty of room for driver and passenger while an infant seat (newborn to age three) can be located in the middle behind the front seating. There is enough storage space to fit 15 bags of groceries, two full-size golf club bags or even a couple of seven foot surf boards.

The approximate price for the all electric version is $26,900 and the plug-in hybrid $29,900. These prices are subject to change any time before we begin production.

here is the latest Aptera prototype electric and high mileage car.

Here are the mileage numbers for a hybrid Aptera based on range driven per day

For Tesla electric cars prices have been increasing and delivery dates have been slipping

* 2007-2008 Roadster - $92,000-$100,000
* 2010 WhiteStar - $50,000-70,000
* 2013 (?) sedan compact - $30,000

Exxon Mobil's chemicals arm said at EVS-23 that it has developed a new heat-resistant separator film for the next generation of lightweight lithium-ion batteries.

Exxon Mobile already is manufacturing the stuff at a plant in Japan and said Sunday it has launched a feasibility study for a second plant, this time in South Korea.

The company believes battery makers, anticipating growing demand for the world's automakers as they launch new hybrid and all-electric vehicles, will be scaling up lithium-ion production over the next three to four years.

Harris wouldn't disclose revenue or sales projections for Exxon Mobile's film, but said that the business has been "growing an average of 15 percent a year" for the past several years and is "working with many" battery makers to quickly bring the new film to market.

There will be battery-electric trucks, thanks to the efforts of a British company, Tanfield Group, and its Smith Electric Vehicles Group.

The company broke the news at the annual Electric Vehicle Symposium conference being held in Anaheim this week.

The idea's a great one: a big delivery truck – Smith calls it the world’s largest high-performance electric truck – that can travel up to 150 miles at 50 miles an hour on an overnight charge, costs 75 percent less than a comparably sized diesel to operate (11 cents a mile versus 45 cents), can haul a payload of up to 15,800 pounds, and does it all without tailpipe emissions or that lovely diesel clatter that’s such a delight to the ear at 6 a.m.

The company believes there’s huge potential in the U.S., where the market for Class 5, 6 and 7 intra-city delivery trucks is about 200,000 a year. Smith hopes to have a 5 percent share, or 10,000 trucks a year, by 2010.

The trucks have a $150,000 starting price, but lower fuel and maintenance costs mean they pay for themselves in about five years.

The economics are better in Europe, where fuel prices are considerably higher than in the U.S., and where government policies favor vehicles with low greenhouse gas emissions

OEMtek, based in Northern California, can convert your Toyota Prius in half a day for between $12,500-$15,000. Average fuel economy is 125 mpg in combined urban and freeway driving. OEMtek can also offer fleet and volume discounts.

So a $21,000-23,000 Toyota Prius could be converted into a Plug-in hybrid for a total cost of $33,500 to 38,000.

You might be able to pick up a used 2004 Toyota Prius for about $16,000 and have a plug in hybrid after conversion for less than $30,000.

BREEZ is a Plug-and-Play after-market solution that delivers an additional 9 kWh of energy storage using Valence Technology's lithium phosphate batteries. (this is over 6x more energy than Toyota's battery.

No removal of spare tire or original battery
Hinged Structure allows access to spare tire
Installation Time of 1/2 day
12-month Warranty

OEMTEK's Ford Escape + BREEZ upgrades an existing Ford Escape Hybrid vehicle into a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle, or PHEV, to increase zero emissions miles by approximately 30 miles and to increase the Ford Escape Hybrid�s fuel economy from 30 mpg to over 70 mpg. We supplement the Ford Escape Hybrid�s original nickel metal hydride battery with Valence's lithium phosphate rechargeable battery pack, with 9 kWh of energy storage.

Cars that are more fuel efficient than a Toyota Prius

50% more energy is spent for buildings than vehicles. Here is my article on cost effective energy efficiency for buildings

Plug in hybrid conversion sources

Open source plug in hybrid wiki

Stem cells made from skin cells treats sickle cell anemia in mice

Using a new type of stem cells made from ordinary skin cells, U.S. researchers said on Thursday they treated mice with sickle cell anemia, proving in principle that such cells could be used as a therapy.

U.S. and Japanese researchers last month reported they had reprogrammed human skin cells into behaving like embryonic stem cells, the body's master cells. They call the cells induced pluripotent stem cells, or iPS cells for short.

Hanna and colleagues working in Rudolf Jaenisch's lab at Whitehead Institute took skin cells from diseased mice and inserted four genes that reprogram the cells into becoming iPS cells.

Pluripotent or multipurpose cells, such as embryonic stem cells and the new cells, can morph into any type of cell in the human body.

The researchers then coaxed these mouse master cells into becoming blood-forming stem cells and substituted the faulty gene that causes sickle cell anemia with a working one.

When they transplanted these cells into the diseased mice, tests showed normal blood and kidney function, they report in Friday's issue of the journal Science.

The four genes needed to turn skin cells into master cells are delivered using a type of virus called a retrovirus.

"Once they enter the genome, there is the danger that they can silence some genes that are important or they can activate some dangerous genes that shouldn't be activated," Hanna said.

Another obstacle is that one of the four genes used is c-Myc, which is known to cause cancer.

Hanna and colleagues got around that by removing the c-Myc gene after it had done its job of converting the skin cells into iPS cells. "It is far from solving the problem," he said.

Scientists hope to use stem cells to treat a host of diseases like diabetes, Parkinson's disease and spinal injuries. And the new technique for making stem cells will make them easier to study.

December 06, 2007

Interesting articles at Space Review on space logistics for space solar

Mike Snead talks about aerospaceplanes and space based solar power I agree some of the things in the article but Mike Snead had said:

While some argue that SBSP construction and operations can be undertaken with little or no direct human involvement—using robotic and self-assembly technologies—I [Mike Snead] do not share the optimism that these technologies will develop to the level of maturity to enable this to be undertaken in the early phases of SBSP construction and operation.

I believe that absent a cheap launch system then we have to develop and design with robotics and self assembly and simple assembly (inflated systems) in space to keep costs reasonable. Rushing to do more with people because the robotics and simply assembly designs are not ready will continue to waste money and accomplish relatively little.

Mike Snead has a lengthy (45 page) pdf about how we could spend 100-150 billion dollars over 25 years to achieve what is basically the space shuttle as originally promised. A high frequency and safe vehicle. However, I think developing a better chemically powered vehicle is a waste of time and money.

Mike breaks out the cost for the program to develop airplane like operations.

Mike Snead has a blog on making america space faring.

Enhancing magnetic sail launches using Light weight high volume magnet production

In theory, it is possible for a magnetic sail to launch directly from the surface of a planet near one of its magnetic poles, repelling itself from the planet's magnetic field. However, this requires the magnetic sail to be maintained in its "unstable" orientation. A launch from Earth requires superconductors with 80 times the current density of the best known high-temperature superconductors.

Other magnetic launching systems tend to use stronger magnets and shorter launch systems.

The earth's magnetic field is about 60 microtesla at the poles.

The above image is the traditional space pier invented by J Storrs Hall

The 3 columns (2 supporting columns and one main set of columns) with magnetized coating of magnetic material that could generate 4800 or more microtesla then existing superconducting wire would be sufficient to ground launch a magnetic sail.

Note: the main ramp could also be a cylinder that would guide and assist a laser array launch vehicle. The cylinder might pump out the air to assist the mirrored laser array luanched vehicle.

Compared to the skyhook, which is just barely possible with even the theoretical best material properties, a tower 100 km high is easy. Flawless diamond, with a compressive strength of 50 GPa, does not even need a taper at all for a 100 km tower; a 100-km column of diamond weighs 3.5 billion newtons per square meter, but can support 50 billion. Even commercially available polycrystalline synthetic diamond with advertised strengths of 5 GPa would work. Of course in practice columns would be tapered so as not to waste material; and the base of the tower would be broadened to account for transverse forces, such as the jet stream. Only the bottom 15 km (i.e. 15%) of the tower lies in the troposphere and would have to be built taking weather into account.

One of the interesting challenges in designing the structure is that simple diamond columns only thick enough to support its weight would be too thin to be rigid. Two strategies which can be brought to bear are truss structures and thin shells inflated for stiffness. At higher altitudes hydrogen could be used for inflation, since there is insufficient oxygen for combustion. At altitudes below the tropopause, some attention should be paid to reducing the structure's wind cross section to minimize the effects of hurricanes and the jet stream. It is not inconceivable that the jet stream, or cloud-to-ground voltages, could be used as energy sources

There has been discussion about augmenting the earth's magnetic field to enable ground launches of superconducting magnetic sails.

Magnetic sails have been considered for many space missions.

The magnetic sail was a target of speculation for science fiction games.

The team, led by UVic chemist Dr. Robin Hicks, discovered a simple method for making a new family of organic-based magnets by combining nickel and one of three different organic compounds. The discovery is the first step in designing the next generation of magnets which could, in theory, be easily manipulated at room temperature.

Rand Simberg makes the case for the primary space launch cost problem being the lack of economies of scale.

It should be clear that space launches are so expensive not because of the amount of energy required or the laws of physics in general, but because of the way we’ve chosen to undertake them, and the fact that we do so few of them. In the case of the expendables, it’s because we throw away expensive hardware with every flight; in the case of reusables, it’s because we don’t reuse them very much. This suggests that the key to low-cost and reliable launch is the following: (a) to stop throwing the launch vehicles away, in whole or in part, and (b) to fly them a lot.

The emphasis is on low cost from the outset. As Jeff Greason, president and co-founder of the private company XCOR Aerospace, has explained, it’s easier to figure out how to do something reliably and affordably and then get more performance out of it, than to focus on the ultimate performance first and try to reduce its costs and increase its reliability later.

Thus the suborbital spacecraft in private development today can be scaled up to reach greater altitudes, extending the performance envelope further with new vehicle designs, while still maintaining low costs per flight. And if there are multiple companies building such vehicles, they’ll be able to learn from each other’s mistakes and innovations as well. Mach 5 can become Mach 7, Mach 7 can become Mach 12, Mach 12 can eventually become Mach 25 and orbit, as experience is gained and designs evolve.

Spaceship two is to be revealed next month, January 2008, just before flight testing starts.

Following a series of 50–100 test flights, the first paying customers are expected to fly aboard the craft in late 2009. SpaceShipTwo will carry 6 passengers and 2 pilots and launch in midair at 15 km from its mother ship, WhiteKnightTwo. More than 65,000 would-be space tourists have applied for the first batch of 100 tickets to be available. The price will initially be US$200,000. The deposit for the passengers going in the first year, but after the first 100 is around $100,000. The deposit after the first year will drop to around $20,000.The duration of the flight will be approximately 2.5 hours, and weekly launches are planned.

Spaceshipthree and spaceshipfour are to be orbital spaceplanes.

Burt Rutan thinks the key is increasing safety.

A minimum is 1-in-30,000 chance of an accident, a level similar to that of modern fighters. However, that is more than two orders of magnitude better than current space systems, which have a 1-in-66 chance of a fatal accident. (almost 500 times safer).

Each SpaceShipTwo vehicle will be capable of two flights a day. Rutan did state at one point that SS2 will look “a lot different” from SS1, with a low wing instead of a high wing “because we had way too much dihedral effect, which gave us stability control problems on boost.”

“We hope to build at least 50 spaceships,” he said, “and we believe that at the direct operating costs that they will be operating under, ticket prices will come down to the level where millions of people can afford to do this.”

A high volume capacity for flights and a high volume market if not too many customers get killed. First sub-orbital and then orbital.

Beyond a high volume tourist and entertainment market is space mining, accessing space energy and space colonization.

5 tesla room temperature permanent magnet.

5.5 tesla permanent magnet.

Magnetic leviation

Island one survey of earth to orbit launch systems

Space fountain at wikipedia

Launch loop at wikipedia

Orbital rings at wikipedia

IBM makes a major advancement in the field of on-chip silicon nanophotonics

Using light instead of wires to send information between the computer cores of a computer chip can be 100 times faster and use 10 times less power than wires. The new IBM technology aims to enable a power-efficient method to connect hundreds or thousands of cores together on a tiny chip by eliminating the wires required to connect them.

UPDATE: Joel Hruska and Chris Lee of Ars Technica discuss the potential and the specific benefits of this technology and when it will appear. Probably 5-15 years with redesign of the chip to accomodate.

At present, the technology is too big and has no supporting on-chip light source. That said, the long-term potential for such a technology is good. Chip-level optical routing would allow cores to communicate much faster than even the best wired connection (IBM estimates its nanophotonic technology would be 100 times faster) and would almost certainly eliminate any bandwidth-related bottlenecks within a single core.

IBM's optical modulator performs the function of converting a digital electrical signal carried on a wire, into a series of light pulses, carried on a silicon nanophotonic waveguide. First, an input laser beam (marked by red color) is delivered to the optical modulator. The optical modulator (black box with IBM logo) is basically a very fast “shutter” which controls whether the input laser is blocked or transmitted to the output waveguide. When a digital electrical pulse (a “1” bit marked by yellow) arrives from the left at the modulator, a short pulse of light is allowed to pass through at the optical output on the right. When there is no electrical pulse at the modulator (a “0” bit), the modulator blocks light from passing through at the optical output. In this way, the device “modulates” the intensity of the input laser beam, and the modulator converts a stream of digital bits (“1”s and “0”s) from electrical input pulses into pulses of light. Credit: IBM

The breakthrough -- known in the industry as a silicon Mach-Zehnder electro-optic modulator -- performs the function of converting electrical signals into pulses of light. The IBM modulator is 100 to 1,000 times smaller in size compared to previously demonstrated modulators of its kind, paving the way for many such devices and eventually complete optical routing networks to be integrated onto a single chip. This could significantly reduce cost, energy and heat while increasing communications bandwidth between the cores more than a hundred times over wired chips.

The report on this work, entitled “Ultra-compact, low RF power, 10 Gb/s silicon Mach-Zehnder modulator” by William M. J. Green, Michael J. Rooks, Lidija Sekaric, and Yurii A. Vlasov of IBM’s T.J.WatsonResearch Center in Yorktown Heights, N.Y. is published in Volume 15 of the journal Optics Express. This work was partially supported by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through the Defense Sciences Office program “Slowing, Storing and Processing Light”.

December 05, 2007

George Church, the personal genome project and Knome, a whole genome sequencing company

Technology Review talks to George Church about gene sequencing and the first commercial whole-genome sequencing service he launched last week with his startup Knome, based in Cambridge, MA.

He is spearheading the Personal Genome Project, a nonprofit effort to make both the DNA sequence and the health records of many individuals publicly available. The project, which is now recruiting 100,000 people to have parts of their genomes sequenced, aims to serve as a test bed for technological, security, and ethical issues that might arise with the growing personal-genomics field. Church is also a cofounder of Knome, and he sits on the science advisory board of both Knome and 23andMe.

Climate change bill passes senate committee

A Senate committee approved a broad bill on Wednesday night to address climate change, a major step toward passage of a measure that would for the first time slow and then reverse emissions of the gases that scientists blame for the warming of the planet. I strongly support this legislation (and I would support stronger legislation.) I feel that it will address air pollution as well as reduce risks of possible climate change. The increased costs to carbon will mean more nuclear and renewable power. My previous articles have discussed the EIA forecast of the effect of a climate change bill. (Triple nuclear and renewables and possible reduction of coal to 11% by 2030.) I think this bill has a good chance of passing in 2008 or 2009 because many big businesses (car companies, dupont etc...) feel that after George Bush is gone the pressures (Al Gore and the Inconvenient truth lobby) will only increase for even stronger legislation.

The Environment and Public Works Committee split largely along party lines on the bill, which calls for a roughly 70 percent cut from 2005 levels by 2050 in the production of carbon dioxide and other climate-altering pollutants.

The committee, which approved the measure by an 11-to-8 vote, worked through dozens of amendments over nearly 10 hours of hearings on Wednesday.

The legislation, which is opposed by a powerful array of forces including utilities, oil companies and manufacturers, faces an arduous path through the full Senate and then in the House. Little action is expected before the first of next year.

Previously I had discussed the passage of the bill by a senate panel (a portion of this larger committee).

Carnival of space week 32

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