News You Can Use

When it rains, it pours. And so it is, even on a nanometric level.

There have been a handful of truly encouraging stories regarding nanotech that have hit popular as well as trade media in the past week or so.

Instead of doing a “theme” article, which you’ve come to expect/dread, this issue I thought I’d run through some exciting items that are reinforcing the nano-world’s effect on the macro-world.

First off, you have to start with the amazing–and temptingly mind-numbing–glowing boxes we’ve all accumulated. No, not your monitor–the other one, the TV.

Motorola (NYSE: MOT) has developed a flat screen TV prototype using carbon nanotube (CNT) technology. As I wrote about previously, CNT screens will give you all the visual sharpness of viewing advantages of a plasma screen with the power consumption of a standard cathode ray tube set (that’s about 70 watts per hour–a light bulb–versus 700 watts per hour–a floor vacuum–for a plasma TV)

What’s more, Motorola predicts a 40” set would cost around $400. Did someone say price wars? For more on this story, check out EE Times or Slashdot and

Iomega (NYSE: IOM) has just patented a DVD-based nano-optical storage technology. It will allow DVDs to hold 40 to 100 times more data and operate 5 to 30 times faster than current DVDs.

Check out the press release here and an article in New Scientist here.

There are a few big stories off of Nanotechwire’s Web site as well. Pacific Northwest National Laboratories ( has developed a nanomaterial that absorbs mercury from industrial waste much more substantially and cheaply than any current process. Click here for the details.

PSI-TEC (NSDQ: PSIT) has reached the penultimate step in its process of creating electro-optical materials built atom by atom. The material is intended to be a breakthrough material to make optical interconnect technology viable.

This is huge stuff. It would mean computers that function on light, not electronics, creating computers that would function at the speed of light. All the big players are pumping serious R&D money and time into the optical interconnect field. For the whole story, go here.

Last, following up on an article I wrote on spintronics a while back, the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at SUNY Albany has demonstrated that silicon can maintain a permanent magnetic field well above room temperature.

This is a bold discovery for a number of reasons. Silicon is a relatively common material, so manufacturing it on a large scale is feasible.

Spintronics is a revolutionary technology that would be as transformative as optical or quantum computing would or will be–and it’s just steps away. One of the major challenges has been that, to maintain a ferromagnetic state, the materials needed to be kept very cold, which is a major challenge when most uses for spintronic “disk” drives would be incorporated into electronic devices that regularly function at higher-than-room temperature. This is no longer the case. The manganese-ion implanted silicon maintains its magnetic characteristics up to 127 degrees C (or for metric-phobes about 260 degrees F—127 x 9/5 + 32). Click here for the scoop.