Ancient Roman Nanotechnology —- The Lycurgus Cup

In the 1950’s the British Museum acquired one of the most amazing archaeological finds from Ancient Rome.  The Lycurgus Cup is a beautiful 1,600 year old goblet crafted from glass by the Ancient Romans.  The cup depicts the punishment of Lycurgus, a mythical king who was ensnared in vines for committing evil acts against the Greek god Dionysus.  The craftsmanship and artwork of the cup are certainly amazing on their own. During the age of the Roman Empire the Romans were master glassmakers, producing some of the finest pieces of glassware in history.   However the Lycurgus cup has one incredible property that goes far beyond traditional glassmaking.  When exposed to light, the cup turns from jade green into a bright, glowing red color.  For decades historians, archaeologists, and scientists had no idea why this occurred or how the Romans made the cup with such light changing properties.  Then in 1990 a small fragment of the cup was examined by scientists under a microscope.  What they discovered is truly amazing.

The Lycurgus cup is not only made of glass, but is impregnated with thousands of small particles of gold and silver.  Each of the gold and silver particles are less than 50 nano-meters in diameter, less than one-one thousandth the size of a grain of table salt.  When the cup is hit with light, electrons belonging to the metal flecks vibrate in ways that alter the color depending on the observer’s position.  What is even more amazing is that the addition of the particles to the glass was no accident or coincidence.  The Romans would have had to have known the exact mixture and density of particles needed to give the cup light changing properties.  This would have been done without the aid of a microscope, without the knowledge of atomic theory, and 1,300 years before Newton’s Theory of Colors.

Today the Lycurgus Cup has profound affects on modern nanotechnology.  After studying the cup, researchers and engineers are looking to adapt the technology for modern purposes.  A researcher from the University of Illinois named Gong Gang Liu is currently working on a device which uses the same technology to diagnose disease.  Another application of the technology is a possible device which can detect dangerous materials being smuggled onto airplanes by terrorists.  

The legacy of Ancient Rome continues.  Arena’s, baths, arches, and  nanotechnology. 

How Nanotechnology Could Reengineer Us

from Keithly:

Nanotechnology is an important new area of research that promises significant advances in electronics, materials, biotechnology, alternative energy sources, and dozens of other applications. The graphic below illustrates, at a personal level, the potential impact on each of us. And where electrical measurement is required, Keithley instrumentation is being used in an expanding list of nanotechnology research and development settings.

[source]

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Viral Membrane Protects Medical Nanorobots From Immune System

Scientists say they have developed a cloaking device to spirit medical nanorobots of the future past immune systems into diseased cells. Their innovation comes from stealing a powerful weapon viruses wield to infect their hosts.

Some viruses wrap themselves in a protective membrane to avoid detection by their host’s immune system and enter cells they are trying to infect. A team at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering have been able to construct their own version of a viral membrane.

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Tiny, Logical Robots Injected into Cockroaches

Nanotechnology just got a little bit smarter.

At the Institute of Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, Ido Bachelet led a team of scientists in building tiny robots that can respond to chemical cues and operate inside a living animal. More than that, they can operate as logic gates, essentially acting as real computers.

That gives the nanobots — on the order of nanometers, or one-billionth of a meter — the ability to follow specific instructions, making them programmable. Such tiny robots could do everything from target tumors to repair tissue damage.

The experimenters used a technique called “DNA origami” to make the robots. DNA comes in a double-helix shape, making long strings. And like yarn, the strings can be linked together to make different shapes. In this case, the researchers knitted together DNA into a kind of folded box with a lid, a robot called an “E” for “effector.” The “lid” opened when certain molecules bumped into it.

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Nanotechnology on the Runway

The clothes we wear allow us to express ourselves, influenced by our moods and tastes. Fashion brand CuteCircuit goes one step further, allowing technology to help make a statement in our next fashion choice.

Most of the clothes designed at CuteCircuit have thousands of micro LEDs sewn into the fabric, which allow one garment to have different colours and patterns on it. As co-founder of CuteCircuit Francesca Rosella states:

"We are living in a digital future, so we do not need to sell 10,000 skirts. We could sell 500 skirts, but then could sell thousands of patterns that you download to your skirt."

These ‘smart textiles’ have the potential to evolve into even more drastic creations, especially with constant advancements in nanotechnology. One already impressive piece made by CuteCircuit is the “Kinetic Dress” (2010). This Victorian-style evening dress has sensors in the fabric which communicate to the electroluminescent embroidery when the wearer is moving. The faster the movement, the brighter the embroidery; it is translating movement into art and fashion.

If you would like to learn more about the different projects at CuteCircuit, check out this video: http://vimeo.com/104636495

-Anna Paluch

Nanomotors Operate Inside Living Cells 

For the first time, researchers from Penn State University have created “nanomotors” that can be controlled while inside a living cell. These microscopic synthetic motors can move inside a cell, spin around and bump against cell membranes.

According to the researchers, this breakthrough has the potential to improve cancer treatments and change the way medicine is administered, and could one day help treat diseases by mechanically manipulating cells.

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Making a Gem of a Tiny Crystal

Nature builds flawless diamonds, sapphires and other gems. Now a Northwestern University research team is the first to build near-perfect single crystals out of nanoparticles and DNA, using the same structure favored by nature.

“Single crystals are the backbone of many things we rely on — diamonds for beauty as well as industrial applications, sapphires for lasers and silicon for electronics,” said nanoscientist Chad A. Mirkin. “The precise placement of atoms within a well-defined lattice defines these high-quality crystals.

“Now we can do the same with nanomaterials and DNA, the blueprint of life,” Mirkin said. “Our method could lead to novel technologies and even enable new industries, much as the ability to grow silicon in perfect crystalline arrangements made possible the multibillion-dollar semiconductor industry.”

His research group developed the “recipe” for using nanomaterials as atoms, DNA as bonds and a little heat to form tiny crystals. This single-crystal recipe builds on superlattice techniques Mirkin’s lab has been developing for nearly two decades.

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Next Nature: NANO Supermarket introduces new line of products

The NANO Supermarket presents speculative & probable nanotechnology products from the next ten years, to discuss desirable and unwanted futures.

During the next Dutch Design Week, the supermarket staff from Next Nature (they are also the inventors of the in-vitro meat cuisine) will introduce a new line of items and goods:

Among the fresh items are the Healing Game, the videogame that keeps you healthy and PastaMarine, the high protein pasta that everyone can cultivate at home. Other newcomers include the allergy sensitive cutlery, the spray to bake food, the genetically modified rose that increases the libido and more!

Come visit the NANO Supermarket to discover all the products and experience the impact of nanotechnology on everyday life.

NANO Supermarket @ Dutch Design Week Location: 18 Septemberplein in Eindhoven Dates: 18 – 26 October 2014 – 10:00-18:00

Be sure to check the new collection and buy some nano socks, cloud cryons, coating cola or keratin ink.

[NANO supermarket] [next nature]

New Laser Fabrication Techniques Unlock the Incredible Potential of Metamaterials

Researchers have long believed that it would someday be possible to produce artificial materials, or “metamaterials,” and that they would bring about some stunning, otherworldly technologies—the sort that have figured in science fiction tales for years. These innovations include invisibility cloaks that could mask the presence of objects or their electromagnetic signatures, “unfeelability cloaks” that could mechanically mask the tactile feel of an object, superlenses that could resolve features too small to be seen with ordinary microscope lenses, and power absorbers that could capture essentially all of the sunlight hitting a solar cell.

To achieve these advances we’ll need better metamaterials, and those are on the way. Metamaterials are made up of “meta-atoms”—small two- or three-dimensional structures made of polymer, dielectric material, or metal. When these structures are arranged in regular, repeating crystals, they can be used to manipulate electromagnetic radiation in new ways. Ultimately, the capabilities of a metamaterial are determined by the size, shape, and quality of these structures. And the technology to fabricate meta-atoms has recently turned a corner.

Over the past few years, research groups around the world have succeeded in developing a way to draw meta-atoms using lasers. The resulting structures can now take on nearly any shape and be stacked in three dimensions in dense, crystal-like arrangements. What’s more, they can be made small enough to exhibit unique mechanical and thermal properties and to alter the flow of light in a range of wavelengths—including the long-inaccessible visible chunk of the spectrum. Thanks to this microscopic fabrication technology, we can finally see a path beyond the materials nature has provided us into entirely new realms that are limited only by our imaginations.

(via How to Make a Better Invisibility Cloak—With Lasers - IEEE Spectrum)

Welcome to nanoscale fall, y’all. 

These lovely leaves are actually the dendritic sprawl of lithium growing inside a battery. We use a technique called transmission electron microscopy to study the emergence of the atomic structures that cause batteries to age so poorly. Mapping what goes wrong on this fundamental scale helps us design new and improved nanotechnology for everything from smartphones to electric vehicles.

Plus, the data is stunning.

DNA clamp to grab cancer before it develops

As part of an international research project, a team of researchers has developed a DNA clamp that can detect mutations at the DNA level with greater efficiency than methods currently in use. Their work could facilitate rapid screening of those diseases that have a genetic basis, such as cancer, and provide new tools for more advanced nanotechnology. The results of this research is published this month in the journal ACS Nano.

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Blood Scrubbing Nano Magnets

SciShow explains a new breakthrough in our battle against pathogens: nano magnets that clean the blood!