Nanotechnology Research "Up Close"

Nanotechnology: A tiny danger? Difficult to study risks of nanotechnology

Lars SamuelsonNew cures for cancer... more efficient solar cells... even quicker and smaller computers... more energy-efficient lighting. Nanotechnology has huge potential in these and other fields, but there are also risks. And no-one can say whether the risks are enormous, or in fact quite small.

“The difficulty with this risk assessment is that we don’t know how much we don’t know. There are major gaps in our knowledge”, says Lund University ethics researcher Nils-Eric Sahlin. Genetic engineering has been labelled by many as shady corporate business, rightly or wrongly, and it would be unfortunate if the same thing happened to nanotechnology. Read more...

Super-efficient solar technology from Lund nano-solar cells

solar cells with nanowiresThe engineering research at LU which has a bearing on the climate includes solar cells with nanowires. They could make solar power more competitive and thus facilitate the transition to a sustainable society.

Today there are cheap solar cells made of silicon which can produce electricity for homes and sailing boats, for example. But they are inefficient – at most they use no more than 20 per cent of the sun’s energy. This is not because they are poorly made, but because one single material can only absorb a certain amount of the spectrum of the rays.

There are also more advanced solar cells with a number of layers of semiconductor materials on top of one another. The semiconductors are made of different materials and can therefore absorb different parts of the rays’ energy, which increases their efficiency to 35–40 per cent. However, the technology is very complicated and requires perfect placement of the semiconductors in relation to each other. These solar cells are therefore very expensive. Read more...

Medicine reaches the target with the help of magnets

If a drug can be guided to the right place in the body, the treatment is more effective and there are fewer side-effects. Researchers at Lund University in Sweden have now developed magnetic nanoparticles that can be directed to metallic implants such as artificial knee joints, hip joints and stents in the coronary arteries.

Reader in Biomedicine Maria Kempe, her brother and colleague Dr Henrik Kempe and members of staff at Skåne University Hospital in southern Sweden have shown that the principle works in animal experiments. They have succeeded in attaching a clot-dissolving drug to the nanoparticles and, with the help of magnets, have directed the particles to a blood clot in a stent in the heart to dissolve it. Thus the nanoparticles have been able to stop an incipient heart attack. Read more...

Facts about nanotechnology

NanometreA nanometre, nm, is a millionth of a millimetre. It is equivalent to 1/80 000th of the breadth of a hair, and 1/7 000th of the diameter of a human blood cell. Nanotechnology is the production and management of particles which are smaller than 100 nm.

Last year, the most active nanotechnology countries invested USD 12.4 billion in nano-research and sold nano-products for over USD 50 billion. In Sweden a few years ago, there were around 80 companies in the field – a comparably low number. Read more... 

- Research "Up Close" October 2011

This month's "Up Close" - Nanotechnology

Nano-implant in the brain - possible cure for several diseases
Jens SchouenborgCould nano-sized implants in the brain or spinal cord one day help the lame to walk, the deaf to hear or the blind to see?  This is in any case what the researchers at NRC, the Neuronano Research Centre, one of the Linnaeus environments from 2006, hope could happen. Read more...

Depressed or manic?
If you put an electrode into the brain of an extremely depressed patient, there is a risk that the procedure could lead to personality changes. On the other hand, the depression itself also causes changes to the sufferer’s personality. How can the risks best be balanced against the possibilities? These are topical issues for doctoral student in ethics Veronica Johansson, who works with LU’s Neuronano Research Centre. Read more...

A step closer to safe nano-electrodes in the brain
The biological safety of nanotechnology, i.e. how the body reacts to nanoparticles, is a hot topic. Researchers at Lund University have now, for the first time, conducted successful trials of injected ‘nanowires’. Read more...

First transistor developed with nanotechnology
Transistors are an indispensible component of electronic devices, where they strengthen weak electrical currents. Researchers have developed a new type of transistor which is 50 times more energy efficient than today’s models. It is also the first to be developed using nanotechnology.Read more...

About the Nanometre Structure Consortium
Nanometre Structure ConsortiumFor roughly the past 20 years, Lund University has hosted a major interdisciplinary research environment in Nanoscience, ranging from materials science and quantum physics to applications in the areas of electronics, photonics and the life sciences, with participating research groups from more than ten divisions at three faculties at Lund University. Read more... 


Bodil Malmström
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