Category Archives: podcasts

Nanotechnology reaches its adolescence?

They (American Association for the Advancement of Science [AAAS], the American Chemical Society [ACS], and the Georgetown University Program on Science in the Public Interest) will be hosting a discussion, Nanotechnology in the 2010s: The Teen Years, on Nov. 21, 2011 in Washington, DC.

This is part of a series, Science & Society: Global Challenges, hosted at the AAAS auditorium at 1200 New York Avenue. The reception starts at 5 pm EST, and the discussion begins at 6:00 pm and finishes at 7:30 pm. You do need to RSVP if you are attending at the AAAS  ‘Global Challenges’ webpage, which specifies, No powerpoint. No notes. Just candid conversations …

I did get a copy of the media release from the ACS, which you can view here in the Nov. 15, 2011 news item on Nanowerk.

From the media release, here’s a list of the expert discussants,

Experts:   Pedro Alvarez, Department of Civil and
Environmental Engineering, Rice  University

                    Omid Farokhzad, Brigham and Women’s
Hospital, Harvard Medical School

                    Debra Kaiser, Ceramics Division, National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Host:         David Kestenbaum, NPR [National Public

Here are the questions they will be discussing (from the ACS media release),

Since the 1990s, nanotechnology has been lauded as the key to transforming a wide array of innovative fields from biomedicine and electronics to energy, textiles and transportation, inspiring the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) in 2000.

Now in the 2010s, is nanotechnology coming of age? Is the anticipated explosion of new products such as lighting, electronic displays, pharmaceuticals, solar photovoltaic cells and water treatment systems coming to fruition, or is NNI still in its research and development infancy? How should the United States allocate funds for research with such a strong potential to deliver economic innovations? These questions and others will be addressed Monday, Nov. 21, as part of the 2011 Science & Society: Global Challenges Discussion Series.

The ACS podcasts these discussions but you may have to wait a few weeks before viewing the nanotechnology discussion. The most recent available podcast of a Global Challenges discussion is the Oct. 3, 2011 discussion about Cyber Attack. The Oct. 24 discussion about Fukushima and the Nov. 7 discussion about Infectious Diseases have not been posted as of 11 am PST, Nov. 16, 2011.

Omid Farokhzad, one of the Global Challenges nanotechnology experts, was last mentioned on this blog in conjunction with a deal his companies (BIND and Selecta) made with RUSNANO (Russian Nanotechnologies Corporation) in my Oct. 28, 2011 posting. He was also featured in part 2 (More than Human, which is available for viewing online) of The Nano Revolution series broadcast, Oct. 20, 2011, by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as part of The Nature of Things programming. I did comment on the episode in my Oct. 26, 2011 posting but did not mention Farokhzad.

Transcript of nanocellulose fibre podcast interview with Alcides Leão, Ph.D., from São Paulo State University

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has a podcast and transcript of an interview with Alcides Leão, Ph.D., from São Paulo State University College of Agricultural Sciences, São Paulo, Brazil. (I last mentiioned Leão in my March 28, 2011 posting where I profiled his and his colleagues’ work on using nanocellulose fibres in automotive plastics as a greener alternative to the plastics currently used.) You might prefer to listen to the podcast (made available through the ACS’s Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions project)  or you can read the transcript,

Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions
Promoting Public Health: “Green” cars made from pineapples and bananas

Combating disease . . .  promoting public health … providing clean water and safe food . . . developing new sources of energy . . . confronting climate change. Hello, from the American Chemical Society — the ACS. Our more than 163,000 members make up the world’s largest scientific society. This is “Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions: New Solutions 2011.” Global Challenges 2011 updates the ACS’ award-winning podcast series. In 2011, we are focusing on the four themes of the International Year of Chemistry: Health, energy, environment and materials. Today’s solution addressed the desirability of developing more “green” cars.

With manufacturers building hybrids that have excellent gas mileage, the next step appears to be new vehicles that are created through the fruits of workers’ labors, literally –– cars made, in part, out of bananas or pineapples. Their study, explaining how they can create stronger, lighter, and more sustainable materials for cars and other products, was presented this spring at the ACS 241st National Meeting & Exposition in Anaheim.Here’s study lead author Alcides Leão, Ph.D., with São Paulo State University College of Agricultural Sciences São Paulo, Brazil.

“The properties of these plastics are incredible. They are light, but very strong — 30 per cent lighter and 3-to-4 times stronger than the materials used today. We believe that a lot of car parts, including dashboards, bumpers, side panels, will be made of nano-sized fruit fibers in the future. For one thing, they will help reduce the weight of cars and that will improve fuel economy. They also will help us make more sturdy vehicles.”

Besides cutting down on weight and improving gas mileage, nano-cellulose reinforced plastics have mechanical advantages over conventional automotive plastics. These new plastics can reduce damage from heat and spilled gasoline [emphasis mine], for example.

“These new polymers can replace certain plastics used today or can be used to reinforce materials and this is a real advantage because the fruit plastics are biodegradable. Any source of cellulose-related material could be used. In fact, sludge from pulp and paper cellulose plants could be used. This sludge pulp accounts for a huge amount of waste in Brazil and other countries. How could you use fruit to build sturdier cars, some people have asked? The fact is that the nano-cellulose fibers that go into the plastics are almost as stiff as Kevlar, the renowned super-strong material used in armor and bulletproof vests. Unlike Kevlar and other traditional plastics, which are made from petroleum or natural gas, nano-cellulose fibers are completely renewable. We now have a partnership with a Malaysian company to use these fibers to develop a bullet-proof vest.”

The process, though expensive, has a major advantage which offsets the cost, and the approach looks promising for manufacturing other products in the future. Increasing production certainly will reduce the cost.“To prepare the nano-fibers, we inserted the leaves and stems of pineapples or other plants into a device similar to a pressure cooker. We then added certain chemicals to the plants and heated the mixture over several cycles, producing a fine material that resembles talcum powder. The process is costly, but it takes just one pound of nano-cellulose to produce 100 pounds of super-strong, lightweight plastic. So far, we’re focusing on replacing automotive plastics. But in the future, we may be able to replace steel and aluminum automotive parts using these plant-based nanocellulose materials. In addition, the new plastic could be used to build airplanes.”

Smart Chemists/Innovative Thinking

Smart chemists. Innovative thinking. That’s the key to solving global challenges of the 21st Century. Please check out more of our full-length podcasts on wide-ranging issues facing chemistry and science, such as promoting public health, developing new fuels and confronting climate change, at’s podcast was written by Michael Bernstein. I’m Adam Dylewski at the American Chemical Society in Washington.

I applaud the interest in providing solutions to our global challenges but let’s not forget that some of these challenges were created as a consequence of a failure to anticipate negative outcomes from  previous chemical solutions to challenges.

On a personal note, I’m intrigued to see that these new plastics could reduce damage from heat and spilled gasoline in light of last night’s events in Vancouver where after losing the Stanley Cup, some Canuck fans overturned and burned a few vehicles as well as smashing window storefronts and looting stores. Here’s a bit of a commentary from Elaine Lui (Lainey’s Gossip) on last night’s events and what’s happening today (Note: her language is a bit saltier than mine so I’ve compromised by replacing vowels with asterisks),

There’s nothing like running to your car to make sure it’s not vandalised. The crowd was already pretty angry when we went past. And we were early. We darted across the street to avoid a fight, were fortunate to find the car unharmed, and got out of there quickly, safely home to our dogs. Others, as you’ve probably seen, were not so lucky.

It sucks that the Canucks lost the Stanley Cup. But it sucks even more that this is the image you have of Vancouver today. They keep saying that a small group of d*ckh**ds deliberately destroyed the city and that their efforts should not represent who and what we are. But what about all those people just standing there, not leaving, so that they could photo bomb a fight, and post that sh*t on Facebook?

While you shake your head at the idiocy that went down last night, I wonder if you could take a moment to consider that there is profound heartbreak today for the people who love Vancouver to see, to know, that these *ssh*l*s, who are not true fans, have p*ss*d on the face of our awesome town.

The people of our awesome town are already trying to restore it. Thousands of Vancouver residents have already volunteered to assist with clean up efforts. Click here for more information and follow @vancouverclean for updates on how and where you can help.

Lui is a gossip columnist who generally concentrates on movie, television, and fashion industry gossip with an occasional foray into film and literary criticism.

ETA: I should credit Cameron Chai’s June 16, 2011 news item at Azonano for providing me with the information about the ACS podcast.

Multimedia Nano

Nano Today held an art competition for work to be featured on the six issues they’ll be publishing in 2009. Here’s one of the winners,

Pine tree-like nanowires

Spiraling pine tree-like PbS nanowires are evidence of nanowire growth driven by screw dislocations without the help of metal catalysts. Screw dislocation drives the rapid growth of the nanowire tree trunk and causes the lattice of the trunks to twist (called “Eshelby Twist”) and their epitaxial branches to spiral. See Science 2008, 320, 1060.
Matthew J. Bierman, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

And one of the runners up,

Nano Flower

The micrograph shows FeSEM image of ZnO nanoflower developed by ultrasonication method. The ZnO nanopetals have grown in all directions giving it an appearance of flower.
Prashant KR Singh and Ankit Mittal, Indian Institute of Technology Roorkee, India

They had over three hundred entries in the competition and you can see more winners and runners up here. Source for the images was Nano Today. You can also check out the Nano Werk article which alerted me to the art competition.

If your tastes run more to the audio side, Oxford University is producing podcasts on a variety topics. The series I’m excited about is called, “Caging Shrodinger’s Cat – Quantum Nanotechnology.” The series of three podcasts is here.