February 13, 2010

Hans Rosling, Swedish Statistician Predicts the Exact Date China and India Catchup to the West in Per Capita Income

Hans Rosling in a TED Talk discusses the history of individual health and wealth from 1858 through today and into the future.

He discusses the importance of national sovereignty, which helped Japan from 1858 to 1949 when India and China did not have it.

I will give the punchline date at the end of this article after the video.

Spoiler room before giving the date.

Here is the date that Hans Rosling gives -

June 27, 2048.

I think for China it will be 2044 and for India it will be 2055.

Increasing Civilization Robustness - preventing shorting out the grid, resist fire and damage

There is a 208 page EMP (electromagnetic Pulse)Commission report which discusses the interconnections between critical infrastructure and specific steps to increase robustness and recoverability

The Department of Homeland Security has responsibility in the USA to get these kinds of plans implemented. There is an office of infrastructure protection. The plans and documents that are on the Office of Infrastructure Protection Plan tend to be very general in terms of describing processes and communication. There is not a specific report of key facilities that have been hardened against EMP or other vulnerabilities. There have been congressional meetings on this topic and organizations that have been putting out reports on what needs to be done for the military and civilian facilities.

Department of Homeland Security has a budget of $42-50 billion $42 billion in 2007 and $50 billion in 2009.

The required steps to provide a lot of protection against EMP and other risks was a few billion dollars. So the key recommendations of the EMP commission should have been implemented.

The Electromagnetic pulse risk was discussed before at this site in 2008.

Smaller and cheaper e-bomb and emp devices are being developed. It would be criminal incompetence for the preventive protective steps to still be unfinished.

There are aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines with nuclear reactors of 40-150 megawatts of power. Recently one of the US aircraft carriers provided disaster relief for Haiti (desalination for fresh water and electricity.)

This site has suggested simple ways to re-invent civil defense for reduced vulnerability to earthquakes, hurricanes, and nuclear bombs and other military attacks

Blash resistant wall paper, hurriquake nails and sheltering in place

If the cities do not burn then there will be no nuclear winter. Nuclear winter assumes that the cities will burn and a lot of the burned material of the cities ends up in the stratosphere for an extended period to alter climate

Previous looks at robustness technology

Electrical Grid and Generation Hardening

* There are several thousand major transformers and other high-value components on the transmission grid. Protective relays and sensors for these components are more than that number but less than twice. A continual program of replacement and upgrade with EMP-hardened components will substantially reduce the cost attributable uniquely to EMP. Labor for installation is already a part of the industry work force. The estimated cost for add-on and EMP-hardened replacement units and EMP protection schemes is in the range of $250 million to $500 million.

* Approximately 5,000 generating plants of significance will need some form of added protection against EMP, particularly for their control systems. In some cases the fix is quite inexpensive and in others it will require major replacements. The estimated cost is in the range of $100 million to $250 million.

* The addition of nonsynchronous interfaces to create subregion islands is not known with reasonable certainty, but it might be in the order of $100 million to $150 million per island. The pace of creating islands and their priority will be established by DHS in consultation with NERC and FERC. Moving to at least six or more fairly rapidly is a fair assumption. There will be annual operating costs of around $5 million per island.

* The simulation and training centers are assumed at three — one for each interconnect — for a cost in the range of $100 million to $250 million plus annual operating costs of around $25 million per year.

* Protection of controls for emergency power supplies should not be too expensive since hard-wired manual start and run capability should be in place for many, which is adequate. Furthermore, the test, adjust, and verification will be carried out by the entity that owns the emergency power supply as part of normal operating procedures. Retrofit of protective devices such as filters might be accomplished at a cost of less than $30,000 per generator for newer generators with vulnerable electronic controls. Hardening the connection to the rest of the facility power system requires a protected internal distribution system from the backup generator.

* Switchable ground resistors for high-value transformers are estimated to cost in the range of $75 million to $150 million.

* The addition of new black start generation with system integration and protected controls is estimated to cost around $12 million per installation. Probably no more than 150 such installations will need to be added throughout the United States and Canadian provinces. Adding dual fuel capability to natural gas-fired generation is done for the economic purpose of the owner, yet it has the same value as the addition of black start generation. The addition of fuel storage for the existing black start units is relatively small, about $1 million each.

* The addition of emergency generation at the multitude of sites including fuel and transportation sites is probably around $2 million to $5 million each.

* The cost for monitoring, on a continuous basis, the state of the electric infrastructure, its topology, and key elements plus for assessing the actual EMP vulnerability, validation of mitigation and protection, maintenance, and surveillance data for the system at large cannot be estimated since it falls under many existing government-funded activities, but in any event, it is not considered significant.

* Research and development activities are a level-of-effort funding that needs to be decided by DHS. Redirection of existing funding is also likely to occur.

* Funding for the initiatives above is to be divided between industry and government. Government is responsible for those activities that relate directly and uniquely to the purpose of assuring continuation of the necessary functioning of U.S. society in the face of an EMP attack or other broadly targeted physical or information systems attack. Industry is responsible for all other activities including reliability, efficiency and commercial interests. Industry is also the best source for advice on cost effective implementation of the initiatives

The EMP Commission has chosen to address the following areas in separate sections of this Commission report:
* Electric power
* Telecommunications
* Banking and finance
* Petroleum and natural gas
* Transportation
* Food
* Water
* Emergency services
* Space
* Government
The separation of these infrastructures into different domains tends to obscure the real
interdependencies that sustain the effectiveness and daily operation of each one

Ebike Forecast to have 9% Growth Per Year worldwide thru 2016

(Via Greencarcongress- A new report from Pike Research anticipates that the global market for electric two-wheeled vehicles—e-bikes, e-scooters, and e-motorcycles—will grow at a compound annual rate of 9% through 2016.

China is currently the largest marketplace for electric two-wheel vehicles, commanding 98% of the global market in 2009. China’s compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.2% between 2009 and 2016 will contribute to Asia-Pacific’s sales of 78.6 million electric two-wheel vehicles in 2016 (with a CAGR of 8.9% for the region overall), according to the report, “Electric Two-Wheel Vehicles Electric Bicycles, Mopeds, Scooters, and Motorcycles: Market Analysis and Forecasts”.

Outside Asia, Pike Research forecasts Western Europe as having the largest market for electric two-wheel vehicles with 1.941 million vehicles for a CAGR of 17.3% between 2009 and 2016. In the e-bike market, the Western European region will garner a disproportionate share of revenue ($2.4 billion in 2016), relative to unit sales. Western Europe will account for 3.4% of the global e-bike marketplace by 2016, generating 12% of the revenue from the global market

A similar, albeit smaller scale, market dynamic will exist in North America by 2016, when North America’s share of global sales will be 1.9%, which will represent 5.6% of the global revenue ($1.2 billion in e-bike revenue in 2016).

The classification of electric two-wheelers varies substantially across the globe, Pike notes. Most countries define e-bikes as pedalled vehicles that can be human-powered and have limited speed capabilities. China, however, does not require e-bikes to have pedals, but limits them to 20 km/h (12 mph).

Natural and artificial atoms for quantum computation

Arxiv 21 page pdf - work by Japan Riken and University of Michigan - Remarkable progress towards realizing quantum computation has been achieved using natural and artificial atoms.

On the one hand, natural atoms (such as neutral atoms and ions) have long coherence times, and could be stored in large arrays, providing ideal “quantum memories”. On the other hand, artificial atoms (such as superconducting circuits or semiconductor quantum dots) have the advantage of custom-designed features and could be used as “quantum processing units”. Natural and artificial atoms can be coupled with each other and can also be interfaced with photons for long-distance communications. Hybrid devices made of natural/artificial atoms and photons may provide the next-generation design for quantum computers.

The experimental realization of Quantum Computation (QC) has been a challenge for more than a decade. While a fully operational quantum computer that could factorize thousand-digit numbers is still a distant goal, with the new technologies for the coherent manipulation of atoms, photons, and electrons, nowadays applications like quantum cryptography and quantum communication are already commercially available. Since potential QC implementations come in many shapes and sizes, it is difficult to quantify the overall progress in the field of QC. In order to assess the current state of the art in QC, a comparison between the various approaches is needed. However, because these approaches are very different (in terms of the underlying physical processes, experimental techniques, and how well the physical system is understood), we should be careful not to compare apples with oranges. We would rather like to compare apples with apples, or in our case, atoms with atoms. Therefore, in this paper we consider natural and artificial atoms for implementing QC.

In both natural and artificial atoms, almost all the basic requirements for realizing QC have been demonstrated (i.e., (i) a scalable system with well-characterized qubits; (ii) initialization of the qubits; (iii) reasonably long decoherence times; (iv) a universal set of quantum gates; (v) measurement of the qubits). The online supplementary material provides a brief snapshot of the current experimental status for several types of qubits.

The current challenges are to attain increased controllability (and minimize decoherence) and scale the existing systems to tens and hundreds of qubits and many-gate operations. At this stage, new milestones, such as the creation of many-particle entangled states, the implementation of small quantum algorithms, and other applications (i.e., quantum simulation), and the realization of quantum communication by interfacing the qubits with photons, are being targeted.

“Quantum supercomputers” for factorizing large numbers are still a distant goal. The first-generation of practical quantum computers may be either specialized devices for scientific applications like quantum simulations, or integrated in complex quantum networks. As the very positive results summarized above point out, the first-generation quantum computers may be available in the near future. Furthermore, they may come as hybrids consisting of natural atoms, artificial atoms, and photons.

3-dimensional batteries and fuel cells powered by sugar.

Bruce Dunn is a Professor of Materials Science at UCLA's Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science. Follow him (video below) around UCLA's campus as he discusses 3-dimensional batteries and demonstrates fuel cells powered by sugar.

Today’s batteries are two-dimensional, with a layer of anode, a layer of cathode and a layer of electrolyte. Dunn is working in the third dimension, which consists of “an array of pins that are all sort of sticking up in the air. So the area they take up is pretty small, but they go up into a third dimension,” providing more storage space for the chemical energy that will convert to electrical energy.

Dunn says he can build batteries so small they will fit on a semiconductor chip and power incredibly small devices.

UCLA chemists create synthetic 'gene-like' crystals for carbon dioxide capture

UCLA chemists report creating a synthetic "gene" that could capture heat-trapping carbon dioxide emissions, which contribute to global warming, rising sea levels and the increased acidity of oceans.

The research appears in the Feb. 12 issue of the journal Science.

"We created three-dimensional, synthetic DNA-like crystals," said UCLA chemistry and biochemistry professor Omar M. Yaghi, who is a member of the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA and the UCLA–Department of Energy Institute of Genomics and Proteomics. "We have taken organic and inorganic units and combined them into a synthetic crystal which codes information in a DNA-like manner. It is by no means as sophisticated as DNA, but it is certainly new in chemistry and materials science."

"We hope the materials we are creating will introduce a new class of structures that have controlled complexity," Yaghi said. "Chemists and materials scientists are now able to ask new questions we have never asked before. Also, new tools for characterizing the sequences and deciphering the codes within the crystals will have to be developed."

"DJ has illustrated that one member of a series of materials he has made has 400 percent better performance in carbon dioxide capture than one that does not have the same code," he said.

In the early 1990s, Yaghi invented a class of materials called metal-organic frameworks (MOFs), sometimes described as crystal sponges, in which he can change the components nearly at will. MOFs have pores — openings on the nanoscale in which Yaghi and his colleagues can store gases that are usually difficult to store and transport. Molecules can go in and out of the pores unobstructed. Yaghi and his research team have made thousands of MOFs.

"We have created crystals of metal-organic frameworks in which the sequence of multiple functionalities of varying kind and ratios acts as a synthetic 'gene,'" Yaghi said. "With these multivariate MOFs, we have figured out a way to incorporate controlled complexity, which biology operates on, in a synthetic crystal — taking synthetic crystals to a new level of performance.

"This can be a boon for energy-related and other industrial applications, such as conversion of gases and liquids like carbon dioxide to fuel, or water to hydrogen, among many others," he said.

Towards Real Time Computational Governance

In my 2010 Foresight presentation on high impact technology and processes, I initially mentioned an idea for computational governance.

Computational governance mechanisms would assist in better decisions in government and business. The goal would be to use technology (sensors, imaging etc...) to as quickly as possible get accurate feedback on the results of new policies so that the need for corrective action can be detected and acted upon. There is also a need for co-evolution of societal models and business market models/simulation systems and rapid feedback on the results of government and business plans. Models and Plans are all flawed and setting up better feedback processes can enable pre-implementation testing and validation and post implementation tracking and fine-tuning.

Ceridian Corporation and the UCLA Anderson Forecast jointly announced the release of a first-of-its-kind indicator able to track the status, and potentially the future direction, of the U.S. and regional economies. Dubbed the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index (PCI) by UCLA Anderson School of Management, the PCI is based on real-time diesel fuel purchases by over-the-road truckers using a Ceridian card at more than 7,000 locations across the United States.

The monthly index captures the real time monitoring of the movement of raw materials, goods-in-process and finished goods to retailers, factories and consumers across the country. Through Ceridian’s electronic card payment services for transportation industries, Ceridian is able to track and analyze the volume of fuel being used by truckers on a yearly, monthly, weekly and even daily basis. It is in short, a real-time data set that tracks fuel transactions around the United States, enabling economists to observe where and when goods are being transported around the country.

The PCI series is similar to an existing, after-the-fact survey from the American Trucking Association called the Transportation Service Index (TSI). But Leamer says the TSI data are simply too noisy, subject to both revision and the lack of incentive for survey respondents to be accurate. In comparison, he noted, the PSI is based on actual transactions on a second-by-second basis all over the country.

The Ceridian Index is here

According to the January Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index, the U.S. economy fell at an annualized rate of 36.8 percent which comes in the wake of December’s significant increase in GDP. The more reliable three-month moving average for January showed a 3.3 percent gain at an annualized rate following the significant annualized rate of 14.6 percent the month before.

According to the initial PCI release, there is a long-term relationship between real GDP and PCI. The two series track similarly, though the PCI demonstrates more volatility during recessions. This is due to the fact that the truckable goods sector suffers more than the service sector during recessions, as consumers and businesses postpone their purchases of durable goods and equipment, but continue to rent housing, go to school and visit doctors.

February 12, 2010

DNA Nucleosides in a Tunneling Gap and Carbon Nanotube Nanopore DNA Reading Could Speed DNA Sequencing 1000 Times

Tunneling measurements with functionalized electrodes. (A) A gold probe and a gold substrate are functionalized with a monolayer of 4-mercaptobenzoic acid, and the size of the gap between two electrodes maintained under servo control at a value such that the two monolayers do not interact with one another, resulting in a tunnel current signal that is free of spikes (B). When a solution of nucleosides is introduced, current spikes appear, as shown here for24 0.7 μM deoxyadenine in trichlorbenzene with a baseline tunneling current of 6 pA at a bias of 0.5 V (C). Hydrogen-bonding schemes for all four nucleosides are shown in panels D-F. “S” represents the modified deoxyribose sugar (Supporting Information) and the hydrogen bonds are circled.

Arizona State University scientists have come up with a new twist in their efforts to develop a faster and cheaper way to read the DNA genetic code. They have developed the first, versatile DNA reader that can discriminate between DNA's four core chemical components⎯the key to unlocking the vital code behind human heredity and health.

The present work shows that the two major impediments to sequence readouts by tunnelings - a wide range of molecular orientations and a large contact resistancescan be overcome using functionalized electrodes.

Next, Stuart Lindsay's group is hard at work trying to adapt the reader to work in water-based solutions, a critically practical step for DNA sequencing applications. Also, the team would like to combine the reader capabilities with the carbon nanotube technology to work on reading short stretches of DNA.

If the process can be perfected, DNA sequencing could be performed much faster than current technology, and at a fraction of the cost

In the current issue of Science, Stuart Lindsay, director of Arizona State University's Center for Single Molecule Biophysics at the Biodesign Institute, along with his colleagues, demonstrates the potential of one such method in which a single-stranded ribbon of DNA is threaded through a carbon nanotube, producing voltage spikes that provide information about the passage of DNA bases as they pass through the tube — a process known as translocation.

The team carried out molecular simulations to try to determine the mechanism for the anomalously large ionic currents detected in the nanotubes. Observation of current-voltage curves registered at varying ionic concentrations showed that ion movement through some of the tubes is very unusual, though understanding the precise mechanism by which DNA translocation gives rise to the observed current spikes will require further modeling. Nevertheless, the characteristic electrical signal of DNA translocation through tubes with high ionic conductance may provide a further refinement in ongoing efforts to apply nanopore technology for rapid DNA sequencing.

Critical to successful rapid sequencing through nanopores is the precise control of DNA translocation. The hope is that genetic reading can be significantly accelerated, while still allowing enough time for DNA bases to be identified by electrical current traces. Carbon nanotubes provide an attractive alternative, making the control of nanopore characteristics easier and more reliable.

If the process can be perfected, Lindsay emphasizes, DNA sequencing could be carried out thousands of times faster than through existing methods, at a fraction of the cost.

Nanoletters - Electronic Signatures of all Four DNA
Nucleosides in a Tunneling Gap

Nucleosides diffusing through a 2 nm electron-tunneling junction generate current spikes of sub-millisecond duration with a broad distribution of peak currents. This distribution narrows 10-fold when one of the electrodes is functionalized with a reagent that traps nucleosides in a specific orientation with hydrogen bonds. Functionalizing the second electrode reduces contact resistance to the nucleosides, allowing them to be identified via their peak currents according to deoxyadenosine > deoxycytidine > deoxyguanosine > thymidine, in agreement with the order predicted by a density functional calculation.

Brian Wang Interviewed for Public Access Show Future Talk on an Introduction to Nanotechnology

Public Access TV Show Future Talk has an episode on Nanotechnology and it's future applications Host Martin Wasserman interviews technology forecaster and research director of the Lifeboat Foundation Brian Wang, and managing partner of Cleantech Circle and co-founder of the MIT-Stanford-Berkeley Nanotechnology Forum Wasiq Bokhari.

The show is about 30 minutes long and was a basic introduction to the concepts and issues around Nanotechnology.

Future Talk is a cable TV show produced at the Midpeninsula Media Center in Palo Alto, California. The premise of the show is that technology is changing the world at a very rapid pace, and that these changes contain not only promises, but also perils. The show features leading edge guests who analyze the direction of technology, and what we can do to extract the maximum benefits from it, while minimizing the possibility of harm.


I had answered that I thought that DNA nanotechnology and carbon nanotube nanotechnology are two of the most interesting areas of nanotechnology today. DNA Nanotechnology has very interesting and high potential research and carbon nanotubes are being deployed for commercial use now. Not stated in the show is the graphene technology which is closely related to the carbon nanotube work.

DNA Nanotechnology is progressing to hierarchical tiling from the stapling method of DNA Origami

Eric Drexler talks about the self assembly pathway to molecular nanotechnology

Chris Phoenix suggests enhancing structural DNA to make centimeter scale constructs

The University of Florida developed light activated nanomotors of DNA

DNA was used to form sheets of metal nanoparticles

DNA box application of 3D DNA nanotechnology

More shapes and tools are being made from DNA

Another method for 3 dimensional DNA

Carbon Nanotubes fibers can be hundreds of meters long

Carbon nanotube factories with higher production levels are being opened In total about 1000 tons/year of carbon nanotubes will be made in 2010.

Carbon nanotubes are being put into electronics, displays, deguassing replacement for copper in planes and satellites and many other applications.

DNA origami is being used to place carbon nanotubes

The Computational chemistry work of Ralph Merkle and Robert Freitas is being experimentally tested by Philip Moriarty Merkle and Freitas have determined 9 pieces of a molecular toolset which should be usable to enable diamondoid molecular nanotechnology.

If Advanced Nanotechnology is Developed, What will it Mean?

Military Nanofactory level Nanotech

Not nanotech per se (except if you could use advanced nanotech to separate deuterium from hydrogen. Solar explosions (large solar flares) could be unleashed with future man made technology.

There are a lot more implications and possibilities and developments that are discussed and tracked here at nextbigfuture.

Norway Funds Innovative and Potentially More Cost Effective 10 Megawatt Wind Turbine

Enova will provide the Bergen-based company Sway AS with funding in the amount of NOK 137 million to demonstrate a new 10 Megawatt wind turbine prototype. The project represents a significant potential reduction in the cost of generating offshore wind power.

The funding from Enova will contribute to the construction of a 10 MW wind turbine in Øygarden in Hordaland County, where the new technology will be tested on land over the next two years. The wind turbine will be the world's largest of its kind, with a rotor diameter of 145 metres. In cooperation with the Norwegian technology firm Smartmotor AS, Sway has developed the concept with a view towards reducing turbine weight and the number of moving parts, as well as the use of a gearless generator system. Overall, the concept will result in higher energy generation for offshore wind power, and thus also lower operating costs. As many as 35-40 engineers have taken part in the work to develop the concept that will now undergo testing.

The SWAY system is a viable solution for the electrification of oil & gas platforms with electricity production costs, including capital costs, well below the operational costs alone for the gas and diesel turbines used currently in the offshore industry. A detailed case study for the integration of wind power to an oil platform off the coast of Norway was successfully completed in 2004. The study concludes that it is both technically and economically feasible to integrate wind power with the existing gas and diesel generators on the offshore oil & gas platforms. The benefits of this integration would be savingsin the form of lower electricity costs and reduced emissions.

Wind power production can be more efficient in deep water locations due to the presence of consistently higher average wind speeds. At 50 km off the coast of Norway, where the water depth is typically between 100-300m, the power production from each wind turbine would be 20-30% higher than the same wind turbine located at the Horn's Reef installation situated some 15 km off the west coast of Denmark. This improvement is simply due to the greater and more consistent winds further offshore.

The patented SWAY system is based on a floating tower which extends far below the water surface. The tower consists of a floating pole with ballast in the lower end, similar to a floating bottle. The tower, which is filled with ballast, has its center of gravity located far below the center of buoyancy of the tower. This gives the tower sufficient stability to resist the large loads produced by the wind turbine mounted on top of it.

The floating tower is anchored to the seabed with a single pipe and a suction anchor. When the wind hits the rotor the tower is tilting some 5-8 degrees. By tilting the rotor the opposite way which is made possible by placing the rotor downwind of the tower the rotor is kept perfectly aligned with the wind.When the wind changes direction, the entire tower turns around a subsea swivel. This, in turn, makes it possible to reinforce the tower with a tension rod system similar to wire stays on a sailboat mast. Due to the resulting reduction of stresses in the tower, the tower is capable of carrying a much larger turbine, which greatly enhances the total economy.

Mortar and RPG resistant Pillboxes that Assemble Like Legos in Minutes

McCurdy's Armor is a LEGO type system that can be assembled quickly into multiple configurations

• McCurdy's Armor provides protection for operators while still providing full situational awareness through transparent armor
• McCurdy's Armor can be used in situations where rapid deployment is needed as well as fixed posts.
• McCurdy's Armor conserves manpower, equipment and construction materials.
– Conserves resources because it is reused over and over
– Quickly "de-constructed" so no infrastructure is left behind
• Intuitive set up using universal components and common tools
– Minimal training is required
– Every part is a one-man carry and interchangeable with similar parts
• Includes transparent armor gun ports
– Quickly open into firing positions

The pieces looks like things that could be rapidly manufactured. How strong could rapidly manufactured pieces be using materials that are onsite ? With a smaller amount of additives like 6% carbon nanotubes and polymers you can make a stronger cement material. This would be adapting lunar cement to earth based purposes.

There is the possibility of adapting similar techniques for constructing buildings in developing countries for non-military purposes.

Direct metal methods for additive manufacturing usually start with powdered metals and are formed into any desired shape by lasers.

• Camp Guard Posts
• Observation Posts
• VCP/ECP Greeter stations
• Sniper Positions
• Cordon Security
• Police and Military Recruiting Stations
• Election Posts

• Anywhere our personnel will be exposed to enemy sniper fire, IDF, small arms, suicide bombers, and grenade attacks

University of Pennsylvania Material Scientists Turn Light Into Electrical Current Using a Golden Nanoscale System

Material scientists at the Nano/Bio Interface Center of the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated the transduction of optical radiation to electrical current in a molecular circuit. The system, an array of nano-sized molecules of gold, respond to electromagnetic waves by creating surface plasmons that induce and project electrical current across molecules, similar to that of photovoltaic solar cells.

The results may provide a technological approach for higher efficiency energy harvesting with a nano-sized circuit that can power itself, potentially through sunlight. Recently, surface plasmons have been engineered into a variety of light-activated devices such as biosensors.

It is also possible that the system could be used for computer data storage. While the traditional computer processor represents data in binary form, either on or off, a computer that used such photovoltaic circuits could store data corresponding to wavelengths of light.

Because molecular compounds exhibit a wide range of optical and electrical properties, the strategies for fabrication, testing and analysis elucidated in this study can form the basis of a new set of devices in which plasmon-controlled electrical properties of single molecules could be designed with wide implications to plasmonic circuits and optoelectronic and energy-harvesting devices.

Dawn Bonnell, a professor of materials science and the director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center at Penn, and colleagues fabricated an array of light sensitive, gold nanoparticles, linking them on a glass substrate. Minimizing the space between the nanoparticles to an optimal distance, researchers used optical radiation to excite conductive electrons, called plasmons, to ride the surface of the gold nanoparticles and focus light to the junction where the molecules are connected. The plasmon effect increases the efficiency of current production in the molecule by a factor of 400 to 2000 percent, which can then be transported through the network to the outside world.

In the case where the optical radiation excites a surface plasmon and the nanoparticles are optimally coupled, a large electromagnetic field is established between the particles and captured by gold nanoparticles. The particles then couple to one another, forming a percolative path across opposing electrodes. The size, shape and separation can be tailored to engineer the region of focused light. When the size, shape and separation of the particles are optimized to produce a “resonant” optical antennae, enhancement factors of thousands
might result.

Furthermore, the team demonstrated that the magnitude of the photoconductivity of the plasmon-coupled nanoparticles can be tuned independently of the optical characteristics of the molecule, a result that has significant implications for future nanoscale optoelectronic devices.

“If the efficiency of the system could be scaled up without any additional, unforeseen limitations, we could conceivably manufacture a one-amp, one-volt sample the diameter of a human hair and an inch long," Bonnell said.

The study, published in the current issue of the journal ACS Nano.

Current status and technical description of Chinese 210 MWe HTR-PM

Feb 2009 status of China's High Temperature modular pebble bed reactor project ( 8 page pdf) by Zhang

The expected project construction period from pouring the first tank of concrete to generating electricity for the grid is scheduled to be 50 months. Although the workload of building, construction and installation is relatively clear and straight forward, the project schedule, nevertheless, leaves certain time margins allowing for possible uncertainties. The current plan aims for feeding electricity to the national power grid in 2013

Current status and technical description of Chinese 2×250MWth HTR-PM demonstration plant

The HTR-PM plant will consist of two nuclear steam supply system(NSSS), so called modules, each one comprising of a single zone 250MWth pebble-bed modular reactor and a steam generator. The two NSSS modules feed one steam turbine and generate an electric power of 210MW. A pilot fuel production line will be built to fabricate 300,000 pebble fuel elements per year. This line is closely based on the technology of the HTR-10 fuel production line.

The main goals of the project are two-fold. Firstly, the economic competitiveness of commercial HTRPM plants shall be demonstrated. Secondly, it shall be shown that HTR-PM plants do not need accident management procedures and will not require any need for offsite emergency measures. According to the current schedule of the project the completion date of the demonstration plant will be around2013. The reactor site has been evaluatedand approved; the procurementof long-lead components has already been started.

After the successful operation of the demonstration plant, commercial HTR-PM plants are expected to be built at the same site. These plants will comprise many NSSS modules and, correspondingly, a larger turbine.

The spherical fuel element with a diameter of 60mm contains a multitude of ceramic coated particles. The coated fuel particles are uniformly embedded in a graphite matrix of 50mm in diameter; while an outer fuel-free zone of pure graphite surrounds the spherical fuel zone for reasons of mechanical and chemical protection. Each spherical fuel element contains about 12,000 coated fuel particles. A coated fuel particle with a diameter of nearly 1.0mm is composed of a UO2 kernel of 0.5mmdiameter and three PyC layers and one SiC layer (TRISO). The heavy metal contained in each spherical fuel element is chosen to be 7.0 g. The design burn-up will be 90GWd/tU, while the maximum fuel burn-up will not be in excess of 100GWd/tU. In order to reach a fairly uniform distribution of fissile material throughout the whole core a “multi-pass” scheme of fuel circulation had been adopted.

Main technical goals of the HTR-PM project

The HTR-PM should achieve the following technical goals:
(1) Demonstration of inherent safety features: the inherent safety
features of modularHTGRpower plants guarantees and requires that under all conceivable accident scenarios the maximum fuel element temperatures will never surpass its design limit temperature without employing any dedicated and special emergency systems (e.g. core cooling systems or special shutdown systems, etc.). This ensures that accidents (e.g. similar to LWRs coremelting) are not possible so that not acceptable large releases of radioactive fission products into the environment will never occur.

(2) Demonstration of economic competitiveness: the first HTR-PM demonstration power plant will be supported by the Chinese government, so that the owner can always maintain the plant operation and obtain investment recovery. However, this government supported demonstration plant has to prove that a cost overrun during the construction period will be avoided and that the predicted smooth operation and performance will be
kept. Hence, the demonstration plant must clearly demonstrate that follow-on HTR-PM plants will be competitive to LWR plants without any government support.

(3) Confirmation of proven technologies: in order to minimize the technical risks the successful experiences gained fromthe HTR-10 and from other international HTGR plants will be fully utilized in the HTR-PM project. The HTR-PM reactor design is very similar to the HTR-10. The turbine plant design will use the mature technology of super-heated steam turbines which is widely used in other thermal power plants. Besides, the manufacture of fuel elements will be based on the technology verified and proven during the HTR-10 project. In addition, the key systems and equipments of the plant will be rigorously tested in large-scale experimental rigs in order to guarantee the safety and reliability of all components. Furthermore, international mature technologies and successful experiences will be absorbed through international technical consultations.

(4) Standardization and modularization: the HTR-PM demonstration plant, consisting of two pebble-bed module reactors of combined 2×250MWth power, adopts the operation mode of two modules connected to only one steam turbine/generator set. This design allows to demonstrate the advantages and key benefits of employing and implementing a design of standardization and modularization. If the construction and operation of the HTR-PM demonstration plant proves to be successful, larger scale HTR-PM plants – using multiple-modules feeding one steam turbine only – will become a reality.

The economics of the HTR-PM
According to our investigations and regarding specific costs (Zhang and Sun, 2007), there is no significant difference between an HTR-PM plant and a PWR plant when the costs of infrastructure, R&D, project management, etc. are effectively shared in a commercial-scale, multiple-module HTR-PM plant.Compared with PWRs, inherently safe HTR-PM plants exhibit smaller power density, in total heavier PRVs and core internals, and higher specific cost. The other components of a nuclear power plant, however, depend upon the power to be generated, and no significant difference exists between PWRs and an HTR-PM plant. The reactor pressure vessel and the costs of reactor internals of a PWRaccounts for only ∼2% of the total plant costs (including financial cost, from the practical data in Chinese PWR project, Zhang and Sun, 2007), so the cost increase from RPVs and reactor internals in HTR-PM has a limited impact. This limited impact will be compensated by simplification of the reactor auxiliary systems, the I&C and electrical systems, aswell as by the benefit of mass production for the conventional island equipments, RPVs and reactor internals. In addition, it is expected that the costs of an HTR-PM plant will be further decreased through reducing the workload of design and engineering management, shortening construction schedules and lessening financial costs by making use of modularization.

In summing up it is expected that modular HTGR power plants will show to be economically competitive with PWRs due to the following reasons:
(1) simple systems;

(2) high operation temperature and the use of a high-pressure super-heated steam turbine-generator; this is similar to normal fossil power plants. Hence, amuchhigher thermal efficiency can be realized;

(3) multiple-module reactors coupled to one steam turbine generator, sharing common auxiliary systems, and further reducing the costs through modularization and standardization for manufacture and construction;

(4) the operation mode of on-line continuous fueling will improve
the availability of the power plant;
(5) the design burn-up of the fuel is expected to reach at least 100GWd/t or even more; this will reduce the fuel cycle costs. From our current knowledge and for Chinese market conditions we estimate the necessary budget excluding R&D and infrastructure costs for the first HTR-PM demonstration plant to be about 2000USD/kWe.

Of course, all these claims, drawn from our year-long analysis, must clearly be verified in detail. By successfully operating the HTRPM in the very near future we are confident to reach these our claims.

Fourth Generation Reactor Next

The HTR-PM project will establish the technical foundations to be able to realize Generation-IV nuclear energy system goals in the next stage, such as:
(1) Largely enhanced safety features: a successful HTR-PM will have already proven this technical target of Generation-IV nuclear energy systems.

(2) Achieving outlet temperatures beyond 1000 ◦C [very hightemperature gas-cooled reactor (VHTR)]: the reactor of current design and using current fuel element technologies has already the potential of realizing a gas outlet temperature of 950 ◦C. A further improvement of the fuel element performance is already foreseeable which will allow reaching this goal of attaining an outlet-temperature of 1000 ◦C.

(3) Hydrogen production, use of helium turbine or supercritical steam turbine: the current reactor design, verified by the HTR-PM, can readily be applied for the helium turbine or super-critical steam turbine or for the generation of large-scale production of hydrogen by nuclear energy.

HTGR plants can achieve a thermal efficiency of 42% by even employing subcritical superheated steam turbines or reaching ∼45% when supercritical steam turbines are installed. The efficiency could be improved even further when adopting direct helium gas turbines with recuperators or when choosing a combined cycle.

On the basis of the HTR-10, the ongoing Chinese HTR-PM project is considered to be a decisive new step for the development of Chinese HTGR technology. Its main target is to finish building a pebble-bed HTR-PM demonstration plant of 210MWe around 2013. Through the mutual efforts of all relevant scientific research organizations nd industrial enterprises, and having the strong support of the Chinese government, the HTR-PM project will certainly play an important role in the world-wide development of Generation-IV nuclear energy technologies.

A presentation on buying and building six packs of these pebble bed reactors.

Estimating the Cost of the Google Super-Fiber Network

Business Week reports that analysts like Broadpoint AmTech believe that Google's 1 Gigabit per second network will cost about $3000-$8000 per home to implement

Google wants to offer 1 gigabit-per-second speeds to some 50,000 to 500,000 people. At 2.6 people per household, that roughly translates to 20,000 to 200,000 homes. Our friend Ben Schachter, Internet analyst with Broadpoint AmTech, estimates that it will cost Google between $3,000 and $8,000 per home, or roughly $60 million to $1.6 billion, depending on the final size and footprint of the network. If Google reaches, say, 100,000 homes, it would cost the company about half a billion dollars.

Calix Networks has developed an equation that allows them to calculate the cost per household depending on population density (the single most important factor for per house cost of FTTH.)

This is why densely populated places like Hong Kong and some Japanese cities already have gigabit per second internet.

A typical PON is made of two pieces: an optical line terminal (OLT) at the service provider's central office, and an optical network terminal (ONT), which is used to terminate the fiber-optic line and is typically outside the customer's premises. A single ONT costs about $330, according to Fox. Since PON is a shared fiber technology, OLT costs are calculated in terms of ports and are about $80 per port. So the total per household is about $410. The fewer the number of ports, the higher the per-home costs.

It costs more than $600 in electronics for an Active Ethernet-based network. This is closer to what Google has in mind, according to some experts I spoke with.

Mike Day, chief technology officer at ADC Telecommunications, told me this network is going to be a lot more expensive than somewhat similar ones. It would need a really fast switching fabric that in turn would be connected to the Internet backbone at astonishingly fast speeds. This seamlessness is what will bring true speed to the homes on the test network. Think of this as building a smooth Autobahn from the home to the backbone. Day said the network would need to overcome some major design challenges, such as different data center architecture and a different style of servers that don't become a bottleneck and are able to leverage the 1 Gbps speeds.

Google Motivations

* Google needs to explore the outer limits of broadband.
* push the FCC to accelerate its examination of using TV white spaces for wireless broadband

Progress on Laser Systems for Destroying Mosquitos and Missiles

1. Intellectual Ventures Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft’s former chief technology officer, has assembled commonly available technology — parts used in printers, digital cameras and projectors — to make rapid lasers to shoot down mosquitoes in mid-flight.

The laser mosquito zapping work was first covered here in early 2009

After hundreds of mosquitoes (which were kept in the hotel bathroom until showtime) were released into a glass tank, a laser tracked their movements and slowly shot them down, leaving their carcasses scattered on the bottom of the tank. While the demonstration was slowed down for public viewing, Mr. Myhrvold said that normally the lasers could shoot down anywhere between 50 to 100 mosquitoes per second.

Mr. Myhrvold said he thinks there is particular potential in the Blu-ray laser technology, because blue lasers are more powerful than red ones and there are a lot of them being made cheaply now.

He estimates that the devices could potentially cost as little $50, depending on the volume of demand. However, his company would not manufacture them. Rather, it built the technology mostly as a proof of concept. (Among other things, his company is also working on cooking technology.) Other companies would have to take the laser technologies to market, so the timeline for seeing the lasers in common use is uncertain.

The laser detection is so precise that it can specify the species, and even the gender, of the mosquito being targeted. “The women are bigger. They beat at a lower frequencies,” Mr. Myhrvold said. Since it is only the female mosquitoes who bite humans, for the sake of efficiency, his system would leave the males alone.

2. A 747 based laser finally has shot down a missile in a test firing

A short-range, Scud-like ballistic missile was launched from an at-sea mobile launch platform near the Point Mugu Naval Air Warfare Center, off of the central California coast. “Within seconds, the Airborne Laser Test Bed [ALTB] used onboard sensors to detect the boosting missile and used a low-energy laser to track the target. The ALTB then fired a second low-energy laser to measure and compensate for atmospheric disturbance. Finally, the ALTB fired its megawatt-class High Energy Laser, heating the boosting ballistic missile to critical structural failure. The entire engagement occurred within two minutes of the target missile launch, while its rocket motors were still thrusting,” according to a statement from the Missile Defense Agency.

Gates told Congress last year. “The reality is that you would need a laser something like 20 to 30 times more powerful than the chemical laser in the plane right now to be able to get any distance from the launch site to fire.”

So, right now the [jet] would have to orbit inside the borders of Iran in order to be able to try and use its laser to shoot down that missile in the boost phase. And if you were to operationalize this you would be looking at 10 to 20 747s, at a billion and a half dollars apiece, and $100 million a year to operate. And there’s nobody in uniform that I know who believes that this is a workable concept.

A New Live Action Star Wars TV Show in 2011 and Terminator 5 and 6 Could Get James Camerons Terminator 1 and 2 Writing Partner

1. The Celebrity Cafe reports a new, and still untitled Star Wars live-action TV series is still trudging on, and will hopefully be ready for viewers in 2011.

According to Wookieepedia.com, it will take place in between the last prequel and the first original, A New Hope, during the dark times Obi Wan mentioned to Luke in Episode IV. The show will be set in a gritty, dark and malevolent frame for whichever characters will be thrown in. The Empire will be in full swing, and we will probably see more anti-heroes than actual heroes in the show, as it will be told from the perspectives of relatively minor characters in the Star Wars universe. While they say relatively minor characters, Boba Fett, C-3PO, and Emperor Palpatine are all rumored to be in the show, with their original actors from the films (Fett being played by Daniel Logan from Attack of the Clones, not Jason Wingreen from Empire Strikes Back) in the show.

The show will be filmed in Australia and will be written by Tony McNamara and Fiona Seres, veterans of the drama TV scene.

George Lucas said in an interview with Total Film Magazine that the show will be more like the original series, ". . . funny and there's action, but it's [a] lot more talky. It's more of what I would call a soap opera with a bunch of personal dramas in it. It's not really based on action-adventure films from the '30s - it's actually more based on film noir movies from the '40s!" He also said it would be like Deadwood meets The Sopranos, but in space.

With Lucas saying, "We're going to do something that would normally cost ($20 million-$30 million) and try to do it for $1 million," story will have to come before special effects and production. The show is said in Wookieepedia.com to run over 100 episodes initially, with Lucas producing for the first year or so

The show could be a revitalizing push for die-hard fans of the original three movies.

2. Deadline.com reports that James Cameron's writing partner on the first two films, William Wisher, has scripted a detailed 24-page treatment for Terminator 5, and a 4-page concept outline for Terminator 6

The plot that accepts the story lines from Jonathan Mostow’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines and McG’s Terminator: Salvation. Most interestingly, he turns the story back to the core characters and time travel storyline of the first two films that Wisher crafted with Cameron.

Wisher has created a role for Arnold Schwarzenegger that is as surprising as his shift from villain in the first film, to John Connor’s bodyguard in the second. Schwarzenegger wouldn’t be needed until the final film, which wouldn’t shoot until after he ends his term as California Governor. And who wouldn’t want to see Linda Hamilton back in aerobic top fitness form as Sarah Connor?

There are several new villains, and plenty of firepower. For instance, a swarm of “Night Crawlers,” 4 1/2-foot tall border sentries that are set like mines to spring up out of the ground and ambush rebel fighters with 10 MM pistols built into their wrists, and fingers and feet that are razor sharp. Also fresh off the Skynet assembly line are new shape-shifting cyborgs that can morph together in Transformers-like mode, and are more lethal than anything we’ve seen in previous Terminator installments.

Wisher presents a satisfying conclusion to what by then would be a 6-picture struggle between Skynet’s machines and John and Sarah Connor to preserve a future that allows mankind to prevail over the machines.

Nuclear power in China, France, India, Russia and Uranium in Canada

1. Business Week reports Cameco Corp., the world’s second- largest uranium producer, crews safely re-entered the main working level of the Cigar Lake mine in Canada’s Saskatchewan province yesterday after the site was fully drained of water.

Cigar Lake, which sits atop the world’s richest untapped uranium deposit, flooded in October 2006 and again in August 2008. Work to secure the underground is expected to be completed before October and an update on the project will be included in Cameco’s earnings release on Feb. 24, the company said.

2. China Daily reports that construction of two or three inland nuclear power plants is expected to start by the end of 2010

The new plants will use the AP1000 technology developed by US-based nuclear equipment firm Westinghouse. Indications are that the projects would be Taohuajiang power plant in Hunan province, Xianning in Hubei province and Pengze in Jiangxi province, said industry insiders. The three projects are the first batch of inland nuclear power plants in the country. The Hubei project is expected to generate electricity four years later.

3. Bloomberg reports on increased profits at EDF, France's nuclear utility company
Electricite de France SA, Europe’s biggest power generator, expects “significant” profit growth this year as international expansion adds to earnings and nuclear plants at home boost output. Reactor availability must increase by 1.5 to 2 percentage points this year, Chief Executive Officer Henri Proglio told reporters today in Paris. Profit will also be helped by recent acquisitions in the U.K., the U.S. and Belgium. Expansion also helped offset the impact of strikes and storms, which reduced French output last year (2009) to the lowest level in a decade.

EDF ran its reactors at an availability rate of 78 percent over the year, compared with 79.2 percent in 2008 and 80.2 percent in 2007. The utility had targeted an 85 percent rate by 2011, and now expects to achieve that level in the “medium term,” after 18 months and within 10 years, Proglio said.

EDF’s 59th domestic reactor, being built in Normandy at a cost of about 4 billion euros, will be connected to the grid at the end of 2012 and will be operational the following year, Proglio said. The company also plans atomic plants in China, Britain and the U.S.

4. Indian nuclear scientists have planned for the design of a 1,000 MW fast breeder reactor that will compensate for the heavy demands of electricity in the country.
India has already planned a three-step procedure to design this fast breed reactor by 2018. In the first step, there will be a new 120 MW test reactor which would be powered by metallic fuel. In the second step, a 500 MW fast breeder reactor would be set up and in the last phase, the existing fast breeder test reactor's (FBTR) core will be modified to a metallic core.

As part of this three-stage nuclear reactor programme in the designing the 1,000 MW fast reactor, there would be initiation to get the right ratio of Plutonium to Uranium, which is to be kept as 20:80 in the new metallic fuel.

The mixed plutonium-uranium oxide (MOX) fuel has some technical challenges that is to be studied in detail.

The MOX fuel has the advantage in powering India's first seven fast reactors including the upcoming 500 MW prototype fast breeder reactor (PFBR). And, shortly one of them will have the capability to convert to metallic fuel.

The first step in realising that is to test the metallic fuel pins and sub-assemblies in the FBTR located at Kalpakkam. This will be followed by replacing FBTR's entire carbide fuel with metallic fuel". The target is 2013 for all metallic fuel in the 150 MW test reactor.

5. Only 3 out of India's 17 nuclear reactors are operating at maximum capacity because of uranium fuel supply issues The three are getting imported fuel after a ban on supplying india with fuel was lifted. The international Nuclear Suppliers' Group (NSG) lifted its three-decade-old sanctions on India's nuclear commerce in 2008. After that the first consignment of 60 tonnes of imported uranium from France landed on Indian shores in April 2009. The current installed capacity of nuclear power stands at 4,120 MW with an overall CF of around 60%.

India just started up its 19th reactor. Two reactors were started in 2010 (January and February).

The efficiency of nuclear power reactors is measured in terms of 'capacity utilisation factor (CF). Any plant that achieves a CF of 68.5% is said to be functioning to its potential. If the CF falls below this figure — as is the case with the 11 reactors in India — then the plant starts losing out on the amount of electricity it was built to produce.

Only the three nuclear reactors, which are getting imported uranium and are not dependent on local supplies, are working at their maximum capacity. Two of these reactors are in Mumbai and one of them achieved an impressive CF of 99% in 2009. The third is at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan

6. India's plan to scale up nuclear power by ten times has gotten underway
Imported Light Water Reactor units ranging from 1,000 MWe to 1,650 MWe from Russia, France and the US would make for over 80 per cent of the envisaged capacity, with indigenous Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors of 700MWe accounting for the rest.

“The units are planned to be constructed with a gestation period of about six years from the first pour of concrete to commercial operation. The plan is to start work on the first set of twin units at these sites by 2012,” a Government official said.

Site clearances, including primary environmental clearance, have been received for the second phase of the Koodankulam project (four additional Russian ‘VVER' series of reactors) and the Jaitapur site (in Maharashtra), where French nuclear major Areva NP would set up its ‘EPR' reactor units.

State-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd had initially set itself a target of achieving a total installed capacity of 20,000 MWe by 2020.

This, according to officials, could go up to 40,000 MW if the LWR programme gains momentum, with Toshiba-Westinghouse's AP1000 series of reactors, GE-Hitachi's ABWR reactor series, Areva's 1,650 MWe European Pressurised Reactors and the Russian ‘VVER' reactors set to be deployed at the earmarked sites. The current installed nuclear capacity is 4,120 MWe.

7. With uranium supplies perking up, Indian nuclear power generation surged 39 per cent in December 2009 and 19 per cent for the April-December period this fiscal

During April-December, Kaiga's PLF (plant load factor) rose to 56.10 per cent from 49.91 per cent last year, MAPS's was up 52.06 per cent (39.29 per cent) and Tarapur's rose to 64.31 per cent (49.84 per cent).

In the case of the fuel starved nuclear power stations, efficiency levels have gone up considerably following the doubling of uranium supplies from the Turamdih mill in Jharkhand.

8. Russian President Medvedev repeated the statement that nuclear energy is a Russian national priority

Tomsk Region Governor Viktor Kress, who attended the meeting, recalled government plans to build a nuclear power plant in Tomsk in 2015-2017, but said the project had been delayed.

"Anyway, once it is mentioned in our program, we will certainly build it, because our power sector has no future without nuclear energy," Medvedev said.

Soon after his appointment as head of Russia's state-run nuclear power corporation Rosatom in 2005, Sergei Kiriyenko announced an ambitious program to increase the country's share of nuclear energy generation to 25% by 2030 from the then 16%-17%. He also said Rosatom planned to build up to 40 new reactors at a cost of $60 billion to achieve the goal.

Kiriyenko said last spring that Rosatom's subsidiary, Atomstroyexport, was building 14 NPPs in various countries around the world with plans to sign a number of new contracts in the near future.

9. Rossing South Mine is being developed to start operation in 2013 and should reach about 7000 tons per year of uranium.

February 11, 2010

DNA Nanotechnology Progress- DNA Origami Tiles Instead of Staples Will Allow An Extra Factor of Scaling With Hierarchical Templating

Chemistry World - US researchers have found a way to scale up DNA origami into larger structures by using 'tiles' instead of 'staples' to pin them in place. Scaling up is crucial for the further development of DNA origami, which has great potential in providing cheap access to complicated nanostructures. A likely resulting application is nano-breadboard for assembling nanoscale circuits. DNA assembly is beginning to overlap the size domain of advanced lithography. Bottom up manufacturing is meeting up with top down manufacturing.

'One of the practical limitations of DNA origami has been the size,' Rothemund told Chemistry World. 'We have been limited to 2D structures roughly 100nm in size, due to the length of the scaffold strand that is used. The reason for this is because it is difficult to get long single-stranded scaffolds longer than around 7000-8000 nucleotides, inexpensively and in high yield.'

Instead of using many short DNA strands to pin together the DNA, the team instead used square tiles - each of which was also made from DNA origami. As proof of the concept, the team produced 'bricks' consisting of 5x5 and 7x8 arrangements of tiles, reaching up to 200nm in size

'Whatever size we can achieve with the basic technique, Yan and Liu's technique seems likely to buy us an extra factor of scale,' Rothemund says. 'Importantly, this increase in size should bring us into the range of state of the art optical lithography, which will allow us to start enabling the use of this process.'

William Shih, who works on DNA origami at Harvard University, US, is also impressed by the work. 'I think this is a terrific idea, and I'm confident that such a hierarchical templating approach will play a key role in allowing us to build increasingly complex devices on the nanoscale,' he says. 'One application might possibly be a nano-breadboard for assembling nanoscale circuits.'

IBM Makes Efficient Solar Cells From Cheap Materials and UK Researchers Make Hydrogen from Sunlight with 60% Efficiency

1. Researchers at IBM have increased the efficiency of a novel type of solar cell made largely from cheap and abundant materials by over 40 percent. According to an article published this week in the journal Advanced Materials, the new efficiency is 9.6 percent, up from the previous record of 6.7 percent for this type of solar cell, and near the level needed for commercial solar panels. The IBM solar cells also have the advantage of being made with an inexpensive ink-based process.

The new solar cells convert light into electricity using a semiconductor material made of copper, zinc, tin, and sulfur--all abundant elements--as well as the relatively rare element selenium (CZTS). Reaching near-commercial efficiency levels is a "breakthrough for this technology".

The IBM researchers are also investigating ways to improve the efficiency of the new solar cells, with the goal of reaching about 12 percent in the laboratory--high enough to give manufacturers confidence that they could be mass produced and still have efficiency levels of around 10 percent, says David Mitzi, at IBM Research, who led the work. Beard recommends targeting 15 percent efficiency in the lab, and Mitzi says this should be possible by improving other parts of the solar cell besides the main CZTS material, or by doping the semiconductor with other trace elements (which is easy with the ink-based process).

What's more, commercial cells will likely use different materials for conducting electrons. The experimental cells used indium tin oxide, which is limited by the availability of indium. But Mitzi says several other conductors could work as well.

One key next step is to completely replace the selenium in the solar cells with sulfur. For the record-efficiency cell, the researchers replaced half of the selenium used in a previous experimental cell. If all of the selenium could be replaced, the cells could, in theory, supply all of the electricity needs of the world. (Provided there are suitable means for storing and redistributing power for use at night or on cloudy days.)

2. Sunlight + water = hydrogen gas, in a new technique that can convert 60 per cent of sunlight energy absorbed by an electrode into the inflammable fuel.

Thomas Nann and colleagues at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, UK, dip a gold electrode with a special coating into water and expose it to light. clusters of indium phosphide 5 nanometres wide on its surface absorb incoming photons and pass electrons bearing their energy on to clusters of a sulphurous iron compound.

This material combines those electrons with protons from the water to form gaseous hydrogen. A second electrode – plain platinum this time – is needed to complete the circuit electrochemically.

The inorganic materials used in the University of East Anglia's system are more resilient. Their first generation proof of concept is "a major breakthrough" in the field, they say, thanks to its efficiency of over 60 per cent and ability to survive sunlight for two weeks without any degradation of performance.

Each cluster is 400 times better at netting photons than organic molecules used in previous systems

Single Step doping of Graphene

Applied Physics Letters - Single step, complementary doping of graphene

A single-step doping method capable of high resolution n- and p-type doping of large area graphene is presented. Thin films of hydrogen silsesquoxane on exfoliated graphene are used to demonstrate both electron and hole doping through control of the polymer cross-linking process. This dual-doping is attributed to the mismatch in bond strength of the Si–H and Si–O bonds in the film as well as out-gassing of hydrogen with increasing cross-linking. A high-resolution graphene p-n junction is demonstrated using this method

If this technique works for graphene (graphene with a lot of hydrogen) then other researchers have computed that p-dooped graphane would superconduct at 90 kelvin

So the combined work could accelerate graphene displacing silicon for electronics and computers and for a possibly superior superconducting material to be developed. The superconducting material (p-doped graphane) could also make vastly superior electronics.

Eurakalert has the press release

By applying a commercially-available spin-on-glass (SOG) material to graphene and then exposing it to electron-beam radiation, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology created both types of doping by simply varying the exposure time. Higher levels of e-beam energy produced p-type areas, while lower levels produced n-type areas.

For doping bulk areas such as interconnects that do not require patterning, the researchers simply coat the area with HSQ and expose it to a plasma source. The technique can make the nanoribbons up to 10 times more conductive than untreated graphene.

The technique was used to fabricate high-resolution p-n junctions. When properly passivated, the doping created by the SOG is expected to remain indefinitely in the graphene sheets studied by the researchers.

"This is an enabling step toward making possible complementary metal oxide graphene transistors," said Raghunath Murali, a senior research engineer in Georgia Tech's Nanotechnology Research Center.

Bringing Quantum entanglement from 4 Degrees Kelvin up to 50 Degrees

Arxiv- (11 page pdf) Bringing entanglement to the high temperature limit

We show the existence of an entangled nonequilibrium state at very high temperatures when two linearly coupled harmonic oscillators are parametrically driven and dissipate into two independent heat baths. This result has a twofold meaning: first, it fundamentally shifts the classical-quantum border to temperatures as high as our experimental ability allows us, and second, it can help increase by at least one order of magnitude the temperature at which current experimental setups are operated.

Technology Review has coverage

What about room temperature experiments? That would require a very strong coupling and may cause other problems. The squeezing causes the quantum states to become more delocalised, in other words they become smeared out in space. That could be a problem if the ions end up largely outside the trap in which they are supposed to be confined.

The exciting implication is that this may provide the theoretical foundations to finally understand the role that quantum mechanics plays in living things.

In addition it is notable that the strong coupling regime has been reached between a massive mechanical microresonator and light. Furthermore, a proposal for parametrically driving the coupling between a nanomechanical resonator and a superconducting electrical resonator has been given. Thus we might well foresee that these advances could be used to measure entanglement in yet unsuspected temperature regimes in the near future, while eliminating the need for complex and costly setups to cool objects to the quantum regime

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