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Techtonic

More than meets the eye

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CLOTHES THAT CLEAN THE AIR Within just two years, we could all be wearing clothes that purify the air. A collaboration between British researchers at the University of Sheffield and London College of Fashion has resulted in a liquid laundry additive called 'CatClo' (Catalytic Clothing), which contains nano pollutioneating particles that fight nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxides produced by car exhausts are a major source of ground-level air pollution in cities, aggravating asthma and other respiratory diseases. Items of clothing only need to be washed in CatClo once for the nanoparticles of titanium dioxide to grip tightly onto fabric fibres. When these particles come into contact with nitrogen oxides in the air, they react with these pollutants and oxidize them. The nitrogen oxides treated in this way are colourless and odourless, and pose no hazard as they are removed harmlessly when the piece of clothing is washed (if they haven't already been dissipated harmlessly in sweat). The additive itself is also perfectly safe and the nanoparticles are unnoticeable from the wearer's point of view. One person wearing clothes treated with CatClo would be able to remove around 5g of nitrogen oxide from the air in the course of an average day - roughly equivalent to the amount produced each day by an average car. "If thousands of people in a typical town used the additive, the result would be a significant improvement in local air quality, " says Professor Tony Ryan, one of the project leaders. "This additive creates the potential for community action to deliver a real environmental benefit that could help to cut disease and save lives. " The team is currently working closely with a manufacturer of environmentallyfriendly cleaning products to commercialize CatClo. "Using the additive in a final rinse with a full washing load could potentially cost as little as eight rupees, " Ryan adds.

More than meets the eye

Mihir Patkar | March 2, 2013


CLOTHES THAT CLEAN THE AIR Within just two years, we could all be wearing clothes that purify the air. A collaboration between British researchers at the University of Sheffield and London College of Fashion has resulted in a liquid laundry additive called 'CatClo' (Catalytic Clothing), which contains nano pollutioneating particles that fight nitrogen oxide. Nitrogen oxides produced by car exhausts are a major source of ground-level air pollution in cities, aggravating asthma and other respiratory diseases. Items of clothing only need to be washed in CatClo once for the nanoparticles of titanium dioxide to grip tightly onto fabric fibres. When these particles come into contact with nitrogen oxides in the air, they react with these pollutants and oxidize them. The nitrogen oxides treated in this way are colourless and odourless, and pose no hazard as they are removed harmlessly when the piece of clothing is washed (if they haven't already been dissipated harmlessly in sweat). The additive itself is also perfectly safe and the nanoparticles are unnoticeable from the wearer's point of view. One person wearing clothes treated with CatClo would be able to remove around 5g of nitrogen oxide from the air in the course of an average day - roughly equivalent to the amount produced each day by an average car. "If thousands of people in a typical town used the additive, the result would be a significant improvement in local air quality, " says Professor Tony Ryan, one of the project leaders. "This additive creates the potential for community action to deliver a real environmental benefit that could help to cut disease and save lives. " The team is currently working closely with a manufacturer of environmentallyfriendly cleaning products to commercialize CatClo. "Using the additive in a final rinse with a full washing load could potentially cost as little as eight rupees, " Ryan adds.

<b>BANDAGES THAT STOP BLEEDING INSTANTLY </b><br><br><br>Scientists have formulated a nanotech emulsion, which when sprayed on bandages can halt bleeding almost instantaneously. This medical dressing, developed by engineer Paula Hammond's team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), can be stored and carried by soldiers during wartimes - and prove invaluable in hospitals during natural disasters. <br>The magic formula? A nano mixture made out of thrombin - a natural clotting protein found in human blood - and tannic acid, a molecule found in tea. <br>Using nanotechnology, researchers are able to pack a large amount of thrombin into cotton pads and bandages;coating even the interior fibres. Once sprayed, the dressings can then be stored for months, and can also be moulded to fit the shape of any wound. <br>"The ability to easily package the bloodclotting agent in this sponge system is very appealing because you can pack them, store them and then pull them out rapidly, " Hammond says. <br>In tests with animals, the coated bandages applied with light pressure stopped bleeding in 60 seconds. Cotton pads lacking thrombin required at least 150 seconds, while a simple gauze patch did not stop the bleeding even in 12 minutes. <br>The MIT team is currently working on combining this blood-clotting nano-solution with the antibacterial vancomycin to be used in a single dressing.

More than meets the eye

Mihir Patkar | March 2, 2013


BANDAGES THAT STOP BLEEDING INSTANTLY


Scientists have formulated a nanotech emulsion, which when sprayed on bandages can halt bleeding almost instantaneously. This medical dressing, developed by engineer Paula Hammond's team at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), can be stored and carried by soldiers during wartimes - and prove invaluable in hospitals during natural disasters.
The magic formula? A nano mixture made out of thrombin - a natural clotting protein found in human blood - and tannic acid, a molecule found in tea.
Using nanotechnology, researchers are able to pack a large amount of thrombin into cotton pads and bandages;coating even the interior fibres. Once sprayed, the dressings can then be stored for months, and can also be moulded to fit the shape of any wound.
"The ability to easily package the bloodclotting agent in this sponge system is very appealing because you can pack them, store them and then pull them out rapidly, " Hammond says.
In tests with animals, the coated bandages applied with light pressure stopped bleeding in 60 seconds. Cotton pads lacking thrombin required at least 150 seconds, while a simple gauze patch did not stop the bleeding even in 12 minutes.
The MIT team is currently working on combining this blood-clotting nano-solution with the antibacterial vancomycin to be used in a single dressing.

<b>ANTI-FOGGING, SELFCLEANING GLASS </b><br><br><br>Engineers have found a way to make glass that is anti-fogging, self-cleaning, water-proof and free of glare. In essence, it is glass coated with a surface of nanotextures that produces an array of conical features. The end result is a 'multifunctional' glass that eliminates reflections - and from which water droplets bounce off like tiny rubber balls. <br>Such glass could have varied uses, say the MIT researchers who built it. It could be applied to optical devices, the screens of smartphones, solar panels, windshields and even windows in buildings. For example, in touch-screen devices, the glass would not only eliminate reflections, but would also resist contamination by sweat. <br>"We drew inspiration from nature, where textured surfaces ranging from lotus leaves to desert-beetle carapaces and moth eyes have developed in ways that often fulfil multiple purposes at once, " researchers Kyoo-Chul Park, Hyungryul Choi, Chih-Hao Chang, Robert Cohen, Gareth McKinley and George Barbastathis wrote in a paper published in the journal ACS Nano. <br>In the case of the multifunctional glass, the surface pattern - consisting of an array of nanoscale cones that are five times as tall as their base width of 200 nanometres (the width of hair is 50, 000 nanometres) - provides the unique characteristics. <br>Fabrication begins by coating a glass surface with several thin layers, which are then illuminated with a grid pattern and etched away;successive etchings produce the conical shapes. <br>Although the arrays of pointed nanocones on the surface appear fragile when viewed microscopically, the researchers say they are resistant to a wide range of forces, ranging from impact by raindrops in a strong downpour or wind-driven pollen and grit to direct poking with a finger.

More than meets the eye

Mihir Patkar | March 2, 2013


ANTI-FOGGING, SELFCLEANING GLASS


Engineers have found a way to make glass that is anti-fogging, self-cleaning, water-proof and free of glare. In essence, it is glass coated with a surface of nanotextures that produces an array of conical features. The end result is a 'multifunctional' glass that eliminates reflections - and from which water droplets bounce off like tiny rubber balls.
Such glass could have varied uses, say the MIT researchers who built it. It could be applied to optical devices, the screens of smartphones, solar panels, windshields and even windows in buildings. For example, in touch-screen devices, the glass would not only eliminate reflections, but would also resist contamination by sweat.
"We drew inspiration from nature, where textured surfaces ranging from lotus leaves to desert-beetle carapaces and moth eyes have developed in ways that often fulfil multiple purposes at once, " researchers Kyoo-Chul Park, Hyungryul Choi, Chih-Hao Chang, Robert Cohen, Gareth McKinley and George Barbastathis wrote in a paper published in the journal ACS Nano.
In the case of the multifunctional glass, the surface pattern - consisting of an array of nanoscale cones that are five times as tall as their base width of 200 nanometres (the width of hair is 50, 000 nanometres) - provides the unique characteristics.
Fabrication begins by coating a glass surface with several thin layers, which are then illuminated with a grid pattern and etched away;successive etchings produce the conical shapes.
Although the arrays of pointed nanocones on the surface appear fragile when viewed microscopically, the researchers say they are resistant to a wide range of forces, ranging from impact by raindrops in a strong downpour or wind-driven pollen and grit to direct poking with a finger.

<b>SPRAY ON ANTENNAS </b><br><br><br>Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? But it's true. Chamtech Enterprises, based out of Utah in the US, have developed an aerosol formulation that allows you to convert any vertical body - including a tree, pole, wall or fence - into a radio antenna. "Our material uses thousands of nanocapacitors in a solution that lays out in the right pattern when you spray it over any surface, " says company CEO Anthony Sutera. In experiments, the inventors sprayed their solution on to a tree and had a US government team monitor the results. "They came back to us and said, 'Hey, this is working better than a standard antenna', " Sutera boasts. Consider the applications: No network in any particular room of your house? Frequent call drops? Simply spray the wall opposite your window with Chamtech's spray. Lo and behold, you have a signal-boosting antenna - and all five network bars on your phone are up and running. In tests, Chamtech engineers also used a painted tree to transmit on VHF to an airplane 22 kilometres overhead;double the range that they could get on a standard antenna on the ground. "Think about the highway where you have a painted stripe running down the road. Now imagine broadband connectivity in your vehicle, you have a bunch of antenna all along the journey, " Sutera teases. The best part? Using this technology, you can get rid of all the ugly cell sites and microwave antennas, he says. "No more ugly towers;you just need to paint a few walls and trees. "

More than meets the eye

Mihir Patkar | March 2, 2013


SPRAY ON ANTENNAS


Sounds fantastic, doesn't it? But it's true. Chamtech Enterprises, based out of Utah in the US, have developed an aerosol formulation that allows you to convert any vertical body - including a tree, pole, wall or fence - into a radio antenna. "Our material uses thousands of nanocapacitors in a solution that lays out in the right pattern when you spray it over any surface, " says company CEO Anthony Sutera. In experiments, the inventors sprayed their solution on to a tree and had a US government team monitor the results. "They came back to us and said, 'Hey, this is working better than a standard antenna', " Sutera boasts. Consider the applications: No network in any particular room of your house? Frequent call drops? Simply spray the wall opposite your window with Chamtech's spray. Lo and behold, you have a signal-boosting antenna - and all five network bars on your phone are up and running. In tests, Chamtech engineers also used a painted tree to transmit on VHF to an airplane 22 kilometres overhead;double the range that they could get on a standard antenna on the ground. "Think about the highway where you have a painted stripe running down the road. Now imagine broadband connectivity in your vehicle, you have a bunch of antenna all along the journey, " Sutera teases. The best part? Using this technology, you can get rid of all the ugly cell sites and microwave antennas, he says. "No more ugly towers;you just need to paint a few walls and trees. "

<b>EARLY, EASY, CHEAP DIAGNOSIS </b><br><br><br>Scientists at Imperial College London have developed a prototype sensor that enables doctors to detect the early stages of diseases and viruses with the naked eye. <br>The team says that their visual sensor technology is ten times more sensitive than the current gold standard methods - and can indicate the onset of diseases such as prostate cancer and infection by viruses including HIV. <br>"Our approach affords for improved sensitivity, does not require sophisticated instrumentation and it is ten times cheaper, which could allow more tests to be performed for better screening of many diseases, " said Professor Molly Stevens, who led the effort. <br>In the study, the team tested the effectiveness of the sensor by detecting a biomarker called p24 in blood samples, which indicates HIV infection, and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), which is an early indicator for prostate cancer. The sensor can also be reconfigured for other viruses and diseases where the specific biomarker is known. <br>The sensor works by analysing serum, derived from blood, in a disposable container. If the result is positive for p24 or PSA, there is a reaction that generates irregular clumps of nanoparticles, which give off a distinctive blue hue in the solution. If the results are negative, the nanoparticles separate into ball-like shapes, creating a reddish hue. Both reactions can be easily seen by the naked eye. <br>"We have developed a test that we hope will enable previously undetectable HIV infections and indicators of cancer to be picked up, which would mean people could be treated sooner, " said Dr Roberto de la Rica, co-author of the study. "We also believe that this test could be significantly cheaper to administer, which could pave the way for more widespread use of HIV testing in poorer parts of the world. "

More than meets the eye

Mihir Patkar | March 2, 2013


EARLY, EASY, CHEAP DIAGNOSIS


Scientists at Imperial College London have developed a prototype sensor that enables doctors to detect the early stages of diseases and viruses with the naked eye.
The team says that their visual sensor technology is ten times more sensitive than the current gold standard methods - and can indicate the onset of diseases such as prostate cancer and infection by viruses including HIV.
"Our approach affords for improved sensitivity, does not require sophisticated instrumentation and it is ten times cheaper, which could allow more tests to be performed for better screening of many diseases, " said Professor Molly Stevens, who led the effort.
In the study, the team tested the effectiveness of the sensor by detecting a biomarker called p24 in blood samples, which indicates HIV infection, and Prostate Specific Antigen (PSA), which is an early indicator for prostate cancer. The sensor can also be reconfigured for other viruses and diseases where the specific biomarker is known.
The sensor works by analysing serum, derived from blood, in a disposable container. If the result is positive for p24 or PSA, there is a reaction that generates irregular clumps of nanoparticles, which give off a distinctive blue hue in the solution. If the results are negative, the nanoparticles separate into ball-like shapes, creating a reddish hue. Both reactions can be easily seen by the naked eye.
"We have developed a test that we hope will enable previously undetectable HIV infections and indicators of cancer to be picked up, which would mean people could be treated sooner, " said Dr Roberto de la Rica, co-author of the study. "We also believe that this test could be significantly cheaper to administer, which could pave the way for more widespread use of HIV testing in poorer parts of the world. "

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