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What is Next Nature?

With our attempts to cultivate nature, humankind causes the rising of a next nature, which is wild and unpredictable as ever. Wild systems, genetic surprises, autonomous machinery and splendidly beautiful black flowers. Nature changes along with us.

Posts Tagged ‘Nanotechnology’

  • diatom circle

    Nanotech Diatoms

    No, those aren’t plastic trinkets or beads from a craft store. They’re diatoms, a group of single-celled algae, and unlike almost all of our current technologies, they can rapidly and reliably synthesize  nanoscale structures. Diatoms produce incredibly complex silica shells that are riddled with a regular pattern of pores. As can be seen above, diatoms come in an incredible variety of shapes – around 100,000 species in all. Strong, easy and quick-growing, and virtually unlimited, diatoms are drawing the attention of scientists who are interested in nanotechnology.

    As with many nanotechnologies, research into the use of diatoms is in its infancy. These microscopic algae have been studied for their ability of synthesize novel electrical devices, including new ways to detect pollution. A chemical process that converts their silica shells into silicon creates ready-made nano electronics. Since biologically active molecules attach to the pores in their shells, they may eventually function as a “lab on a chip” for detecting antibodies, traces of diseases, and other chemicals in the body. Diatoms also show promise in the fields of optics. Solar energy cells with diatom-based coatings capture three times more electrons that standard coatings. Genetic manipulation might refine the diatom’s natural precision engineering to create bespoke parts for nanosensors and nanoscale machines from diatoms. Further proof that guided growth is the future of manufacturing.

  • nanotechnology water bottle

    Nanotech Water Bottle Harvests Water from the Air

    The Namib desert gets less than a half an inch of rain per year, yet the stenocara beetle manages to survive in these punishing conditions. The beetle’s secret lies in an array of microscopic bumps and valleys on its shell. The bumps are hydrophilic (water-attracting) and the valleys are hydrophobic (water-repelling). During foggy days, tiny water droplets accumulate on the hydrophilic bumps. Once a droplet is big enough, it tumbles off the bump down into a hydrophobic trough, which funnels the water to the beetle’s mouth. Now, a company called NBD Nano is hoping to mimic stenocara’s shell to create the world’s first self-filling water bottles.

    NBD Nano co-founder Deckard Sorenson says that “We see this being applicable to anything from marathon runners to people in third-world countries, because we realize that water is such a large issue in the world today, and we want to try to alleviate those problems with a cost-efficient solution.” According to him, this technology could harvest three liters per square meter per hour in an area with 75% humidity. Unfortunately, the self-filling water bottle is still years from being realized, if ever. For those of you who are impatient for a solution to the world’s water crisis, GrabCAD is holding a contest to design devices that harvest water from the air.

    Story via BoingBoing. Image via GrabCAD.

  • ht_mission_impossible_ghost_protocol_thg_111215_wg

    Spider-Man Gloves

    Imagine how much easier the job of window cleaners would be if they could simply scale walls like Spider-Man instead of using elevators, ladders and other gear. Ever since the first Spider-Man comic appeared children and adults alike have been dreaming of these particular talents. Thanks to “gecko-tape”, these dreams are no longer  science fiction. Luckily, this new method of scaling walls doesn’t involve being bit by a radioactive spider.

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  • YouTube Preview Image

    Nanotech Generates the Blackest Black

    As the NANO Supermarket opens discussions on the ethics, purpose and usability of nanotechnology, Frederik De Wilde is researching its artistic possibilities. De Wilde is a guest professor at the Transmedia program at the LUCA School of Arts in Brussels and artist in residence at the University of Hasselt. For a few years he has used nanotechnology to generate “super-black” artworks.

    One technique is to ‘grow’ carbon nanotubes on a silicon wafer. When a photon approaches the surface it slips in between the nanotubes, and cannot be reflected. Because colors are generated through the reflection of photons, the surface of De Wilde’s artworks appear to be blacker than black. When applied to a complex 3D object it appears to be just a silhouette, because no reflections, highlights or shadows can be seen. The works of De Wilde are reminiscent of Anish Kapoor’s Descent into Limbo shown at De Pont in Tilburg, Netherlands.

    Frederik De Wilde takes part in a selection for the TED2013 programme with his talk. Good luck with this.

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  • lungless small

    Nano Product: Lungless

    350 million years after crawling from the sea, the Lungless suit will bring us back. Inspired by fish gills, the Lungless Aquatic Respiration Suit uses millions of cascading sheets of nano-membrane to filter oxygen from the water and deliver it to the diver’s mouth. Enjoy unlimited, tank-free exploration on the other 70% of the planet.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Sean Serafini. Enabling technology: Nano structures. Feasibility: Medium.

  • nansense

    Nano Product: Nansense

    For years, people have relied on harsh drugs and irritating alarms to control when they sleep and when they wake. Now, the Nansense wristwatch offers an all-natural way to determine your daily rhythms. Using painless nanoscale needles, Nansense monitors and regulates your levels of cortisol and melatonin, the hormones that govern circadian cycles. Have a deadline to meet? Spin the dial for a gentle way to stay awake. Drowsy from jet lag? Nansense will put you on local time in no time.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designers: Joshua Brevoort, Lisa Chun, Eric Baldwin, Ian Campbell. Enabling technology: Nano sensors, metabolic engineering. Feasibility: Medium.

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  • menoe_1500x877

    Nano Product: Menoé

    At the beginning of menopause, celebrate your reproductive past by giving “birth” to a unique peace of jewelry. By using Menoé’s nano-coated birth control pills over a lifetime, you can grow a gem-quality pearl inside your uterus. This beautiful heirloom will inspire a new rite of passage in any woman’s life.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Robin Pohl. Enabling technology: Programmable matter. Feasibility: Very low.

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  • info eggs_1500

    Nano Product: Honest Egg

    Do away with dishonest health claims for eggs and uncertain promises of organic, free-range hens. With eggshells that change color according to hormones, medicines, and nutrients, Honest Egg tells you the truth about your food. The color of each egg provides information on animal welfare, as well as how healthy the egg is for you. How much time did the chicken spend outside? How much room did it have? Is the egg rich in vitamins and wholesome fats? For ethical eaters, Honest Egg takes the guesswork out of shopping.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Soroka Grievink. Enabling technology: Genetic engineering. Feasibility: Very low.

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  • kreatin_ink_1500x877

    Nano Product: Keratin Ink

    Using genetically modified bacteria, Keratin Ink turns your fingernail clippings into a highly personal ink for writing and drawing. The bacteria transform the keratin in your hair and nails into a dark brown pigment. No need to worry about the microorganisms escaping: Each Keratin Ink well keeps the bacteria safely sealed away. A great gift for the eco-conscious recycler in your life.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection.Designer: Casper Vos. Enabling technology: Metabolic engineering. Feasibility: Medium.

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  • gloo-doo_1500x877

    Nano Product: Glo-Doo

    Dog feces are an unsightly blemish on city streets. With Glo-Doo, dog food laced with bioluminescent bacteria transforms each pile into an appealing way to light up the night. As the busy microbes get to work, they break down the poop and emit a blue glow in the process. Left long enough, Glo-Doo will decompose your dog’s doo into harmless, stink-free soil.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Sanne Kat. Enabling technology: Genetic engineering. Feasibility: Low.

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  • nico_bear

    Nano Product: Nico

    Nico is cute, cuddly and serious about your child’s health. Many adults smoke around children with no thought for their developing lungs. Covered in nicotine-sensitive nano-cloth, Nico monitors your child’s exposure to secondhand smoke by changing from brown to black. Log into the website or simply glance at the Nico keychain to see if your child is around a smoker – and if it’s time to fire the babysitter.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Vincent Hammingh. Enabling technology: Nano sensors. Feasibility: High.

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  • condom_1500x877

    Nano Product: Conception Control

    Using a condom impregnated with artificial nano-antigens, Conception Control only permits sperm with the right chromosome to pass through: X for girls, Y for boys. Conception Control guarantees a child of your chosen gender. Makes picking names and painting the nursery a snap. Perfect for families in need of a male heir.

    Designer: Aylin Groenewoud. Enabling technology: Nano filtration. Feasibility: Medium

  • energy belt_1500

    Nano Product: Energy Belt

    With Energy Belt, stop treating your excess fat like a liability, and instead embrace its untapped potential. Artificial protocells in the belt mimic natural  brown fat, taking the energy from white fat and converting it into ATP. This chemical energy can be used to power everything from cell phones to pacemakers. Eat what you want at dinner, and give up that gym membership for good. Energy Belt cuts down on electricity costs while you cut down on size.

    From the NANO Supermarket product collection. Designer: Emmy van Roosmalen. Enabling technology: Nano transporters, metabolic engineering. Feasibility: Medium.

  • nanocrystalline cellulose sample

    Using Nanoscale Wood Pulp to Replace Metal and Plastics

    Nanocrystalline cellulose (NCC) sounds almost too good to be true. The same microscopic particles that help trees to stand up straight are also lightweight, non-toxic, stronger than steel and just happen to be the most abundant organic compound on Earth. First studied in earnest in the early 1990s, manufacturers can now produce pure NCC from wood pulp.

    Some early boosters are predicting that NCC will replace metals, conventional glass, and petroleum-based plastics in everything from helicopters to office towers. The material is cheap, and doesn’t even require felling entire trees: It can be recovered from twigs, sawdust and presumably any plant with woody components. Though NCC is cheap, is potential profitability is anything but. The USDA anticipates that the nanocrystalline cellulose market will hit $600 billion by 2020. NCC might wean us off mining for nonrenewable resources, might lead to a second rush on the world’s forests, or may simply blow away in a puff of nanoscale hype.

    Via Atlantic Cities.

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  • Synapse Structure

    Replacing Synapses with a Single Switch

    Neural synapses in the human brain are extraordinarily complex structures. Responsible for relaying information between neurons, chemical synapses govern the release of over 100 different kinds of neurotransmitters, while electrical synapses deliver information via electricity for rapid-fire reflexes.

    Now, researchers in Japan have invented a simplified synapse in the form of a ”solid-state electrochemical nanodevice” that functions as a switch. The gap between these two synthetic synapses is bridged by a tiny copper wire, which changes in conductivity over time. Though at first it may seem a bit esoteric, this new device actually mimics what goes on in the construction of sensory memory, short-term memory, and long-term memory. The scientists behind this synapse are hopeful that it will lead to more life-like artificial minds, as well as treatments for the human brain.

    It’s interesting that this nanodevice may in some ways have improved upon a biological synapse. Evolution tends to lead to local maxima – it reaches the best design given existing structures, but it can’t invent entirely new solutions out of nothing. The “blind spot” is a classic example: Because the optic nerve connects through the retina, there is a blank region in our field of vision where the nerve cells have crowded out the sensory cells. The brain has evolved very clever ways to deal with this deficit, but evolution hasn’t actually been able to completely solve the problem.* Maybe science may soon find more “intelligent designs” that cut some of the evolutionary clutter. As always, we welcome our hyper-efficient cyborg overlords.

    *Except in squid and octopi.

    Via Io9. Image via Systemic Kids.

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  • Spray On Liquid Glass

    Spray On Liquid Glass

    Now here is a product that should soon find its way into the NANO Supermarket soon. At least, if supermarkets are willing to put it on their shelves, as they currently make huge profits from cleaning products and spray-on liquid glass would make virtually all of them obsolete.

    According to its creators “Spray-on liquid glass is transparent, non-toxic, and used to protect virtually any surface against almost any damage from hazards such as water, UV radiation, dirt, heat, and bacterial infections. The coating is also flexible and breathable, which makes it suitable for use on an enormous array of products.”

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  • Nanowine_bottle_530

    A Winery in your Microwave

    A delicious Montepulciano in only 6 seconds? This is now possible with the universal Nano wine. All you need is a microwave oven.

    In 5,64 seconds at 1000 watt you have a sublime Romanée-Conti. Or create a surprisingly young Mouton-Rothschild 1945 in only 2,34 seconds at 650 watt. The possibilities are endless. The wine contains millions of nano capsules which depending on your mood and taste preferences can be activated by microwaves. Inactivated nano capsules move unnoticed through the body, while the opened capsules alter the taste, smell and color of the wine. Sweet!

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  • electricity generating viruses

    To Generate Electricity, Just Tap on this Virus

    Is your friend impatiently tapping on her phone, or is she just charging the battery? Researchers at the Berkeley Lab have produced the first virus-powered generator that runs off taps. The device takes advantage of a special characteristic of certain viruses, piezoelectricity, that converts movement into electrical energy. By tapping on a small electrode coated in harmless viruses, the scientists were able to produce enough energy to power a liquid-crystal display. The viruses, which self-assemble into a thin, organized film, may also pave the way for simplified electronics manufacturing.

    This technology could potentially generate electricity from any object that’s subject to motion or vibration: Doors in apartment buildings, busy sidewalks and roads, even the soles of shoes. There’s stranger, next natural applications to consider as well. What about tiny surveillance devices that run on pigeons’ flapping wings? Or streetlights powered by leaves as they shake in the wind? Whatever the outcome, this piezoelectric generator represents a step away from mechanistic thought, and towards a more ecological approach to design.

    Via Berkeley Lab.

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