Inventions Using Nanotechnology

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Scientists Develop "Nano Bubble Water" In Japan

Scientists Develop
A man holds a bottle containing 'nano bubble water' in front sea bream and carp which are kept together in the same aquarium during the Nano Tech exhibition in Tokyo, Japan. Koichi Kamoshida/Getty Images

The National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and REO developed the world's first 'nano bubble water' technology that allows both fresh-water fish and saltwater fish to live in the same water.

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How to View Nanoscale Objects

single atomic zig-zag chain of Cs atoms
Image of single atomic zig-zag chain of Cs atoms (red) on the GaAs(110) surface.


The scanning tunneling microscope is widely used in both industrial and fundamental research to obtain atomic-scale aka nanoscale images of metal surfaces.

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Nanosensor Probe

nanosensor probe carrying a laser beam
A nanosensor probe carrying a laser beam (blue) penetrates a living cell to detect the presence of a product indicating that the cell has been exposed to a cancer-causing substance.


A "nano-needle" with a tip about one-thousandth the size of a human hair pokes a living cell, causing it to quiver briefly. Once it is withdrawn from the cell, this ORNL nanosensor detects signs of early DNA damage that can lead to cancer.

This nanosensor of high selectivity and sensitivity was developed by a research group led by Tuan Vo-Dinh and his coworkers Guy Griffin and Brian Cullum. The group believes that, by using antibodies targeted to a wide variety of cell chemicals, the nanosensor can monitor in a living cell the presence of proteins and other species of biomedical interest.

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Nanoengineers Invent New Biomaterial

Optical images of polyethylene glycol scaffolds expanding in response to stretching
Optical images of polyethylene glycol scaffolds expanding in response to stretching.

UC San Diego / Shaochen Chen

Catherine Hockmuth of UC San Diego reports that a new biomaterial designed for repairing damaged human tissue doesn't wrinkle when it is stretched. The invention from nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego marks a significant breakthrough in tissue engineering because it more closely mimics the properties of native human tissue.

Shaochen Chen, professor in the Department of NanoEngineering at the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering, hopes future tissue patches, which are used to repair damaged heart walls, blood vessels, and skin, for example, will be more compatible than the patches available today.

This biofabrication technique uses light, precisely controlled mirrors and a computer projection system -- shined on a solution of new cells and polymers -- to build three-dimensional scaffolds with well-defined patterns of any shape for tissue engineering.

Shape turned out to be essential to the new material's mechanical property. While most engineered tissue is layered in scaffolds that take the shape of circular or square holes, Chen's team created two new shapes called "reentrant honeycomb" and "cut missing rib." Both shapes exhibit the property of negative Poisson's ratio (i.e. not wrinkling when stretched) and maintain this property whether the tissue patch has one or multiple layers.

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MIT Researchers Discover New Energy Source Called Themopower

A carbon nanotube
A carbon nanotube can produce a very rapid wave of power when it is coated by a layer of fuel and ignited, so that heat travels along the tube.

MIT/Graphic by Christine Daniloff

MIT scientists at MIT have discovered a previously unknown phenomenon that can cause powerful waves of energy to shoot through minuscule wires known as carbon nanotubes. The discovery could lead to a new way of producing electricity.

The phenomenon, described as thermopower waves, “opens up a new area of energy research, which is rare,” says Michael Strano, MIT’s Charles and Hilda Roddey Associate Professor of Chemical Engineering, who was the senior author of a paper describing the new findings that appeared in Nature Materials on March 7, 2011. The lead author was Wonjoon Choi, a doctoral student in mechanical engineering.

Carbon nanotubes are submicroscopic hollow tubes made of a lattice of carbon atoms. These tubes, just a few billionths of a meter (nanometers) in diameter, are part of a family of novel carbon molecules, including buckyballs and graphene sheets.

In the new experiments conducted by Michael Strano and his team, nanotubes were coated with a layer of a reactive fuel that can produce heat by decomposing. This fuel was then ignited at one end of the nanotube using either a laser beam or a high-voltage spark, and the result was a fast-moving thermal wave traveling along the length of the carbon nanotube like a flame speeding along the length of a lit fuse. Heat from the fuel goes into the nanotube, where it travels thousands of times faster than in the fuel itself. As the heat feeds back to the fuel coating, a thermal wave is created that is guided along the nanotube. With a temperature of 3,000 kelvins, this ring of heat speeds along the tube 10,000 times faster than the normal spread of this chemical reaction. The heating produced by that combustion, it turns out, also pushes electrons along the tube, creating a substantial electrical current.