Thursday, November 30, 2006

US Patent 7141518 - Charged Nanoparticle Fabrics

This patent proposes the use of charged nanoparticle coatings on fabrics and other substrates to facilitate odor absorption and chemical removal. Claim 1 reads:

1. A fibrous substrate comprising: nanoparticles having a surface area of at least about 50 square meters per gram, wherein the nanoparticles are modified with a metal ion and have a negative zeta potential prior to modification with the metal ion, and wherein the zeta potential of the modified nanoparticles is from about -5 millivolts to about -15 millivolts and is greater than the zeta potential of the nanoparticles prior to modification; and a binder that durably adheres the modified nanoparticles to the substrate.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

US Patent 7141431 - Nanoparticles Coupled to Polymeric Microparticle

This patent to a company called Luminex seems to claim a very basic use of identifiable (i.e. fluorescently stained) nanoparticles. Priority goes back as faras Aug.17, 1999. Claim 1 reads:

1. A carrier particle, comprising a polymeric microparticle coupled to a nanoparticle of a nanoparticle population, wherein the nanoparticle has a diameter in the range of about 1 and 1,000 nm, and wherein the nanoparticle has a characteristic that is distinguishable from a characteristic of nanoparticles of a different nanoparticle population.

US Patent 7141179 - Nanocavity Detection

This patent supposedly teaches a method of detecting cavities sized below 0.1 nanometer, which is slightly less than the diameter of atoms. I might be wrong but it seems to me that the U.S. application makes the mistake of confusing 0.1 nanometer with 0.1 micrometer (several references in the specification reciting 0.1 nanometer and 1000 Angstroms in the alternative seem to support this contention.) Nevertheless the patent teaches enhancing small scale defect detection so as to be observable by conventional techniques such as optical microscopy. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of detecting a defect cavity sized below 0.1 nanometer with commonly used low-sensitivity monitoring equipment, comprising: a) selecting a wafer from a lot; b) applying a treatment to the selected wafer, the treatment removing a 1 to 100 nanometer thick portion of the selected wafer and enhancing a size of a defect cavity in the wafer to above 0.1 nanometer; and c) applying a 1 to 50 nanometer thick metallic layer on the treated wafer: d) scanning the wafer for cavity defects using 0.1 nanometer detection threshold monitoring equipment.

Monday, November 27, 2006

US Patent 7138331 - Nanogap Electrode Sensor

In order to achieve detection on the nanoscale it is often necessary to position sensing electrodes within nanometers of one another. Unfortunately it is difficult to position and/or reliably reproduce identical seperation distances which would be required for mass production of such sensors. This patent proposes a fairly elegant solution which takes advantage of the ability to form uniform thickness films in the production of a nanogap electrode. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for manufacturing a nano-gap electrode device, comprising: forming a first electrode on a substrate; forming a separation layer with a predetermined thickness all over the substrate including the first electrode; removing a portion or all of the separation layer on the first electrode; forming a second electrode on the separation layer, which is formed on the substrate at a side of the first electrode; and forming a nano-gap between the first electrode and the second electrode, by completely removing the separation layer remained therebetween; wherein the separation layer is formed with the same thickness as a width of the nano-gap, and deposited with the same thickness on a surface and a sidewall of the first electrode, and the substrate.

US Patent 7138098 - Nanocrystal Fabrication without Organometallic Reagents

Nanocrystal fabrication techniques include pyrolysis (high heat transformation) of organometallic reagents. Unfortunately such reagents can be costly, dangerous, and difficult to handle. This patent from M.I.T. teaches an alternative methodology that does not require such reagents. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of manufacturing a nanocrystal comprising heating a mixture including a coordinating solvent, an amine or a reducing agent, a chalcogen or pnictide source, and a metal-containing compound to form a nanocrystal, wherein the metal-containing compound is free of metal-carbon bonds.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

US Patent 7137803 - Fluid Pressure Nanostamp

In order for a nanoimprint lithography stamp to transfer a pattern uniformly equal pressure has to be applied to all areas of the stamp. This is difficult with traditional stamps that employ mechanical presses to apply the pressure. This patent proposes the use of pressurized fluid as an alternative. Claim 1 reads:

1. Apparatus for processing a substrate comprising: a moldable layer disposed on a surface of the substrate; a mold with a molding surface comprising a pattern having a plurality of protruding features disposed adjacent the moldable layer wherein at least two of the protruding features are spaced apart less than 200 nanometers; and a seal for sealing a region between the moldable layer and the molding surface from the pressurized fluid; and a pressure vessel containing pressurized fluid for supplying pressurized fluid to isostatically press together the molding surface and the moldable layer thereby imprinting the pattern in the moldable layer.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

US Patent 7137336 - Nanoimprint Lithography Stamp with Repairable Anti-Sticking Layer

Nanoimprint lithography is a method that employs a stamp to transfer a nanoscale pattern onto an opposing substrate and is useful for both electronic and biological device manufacture. One limitation of this approach is that the stamp is subject to wear which limits it's life expectancy. This patent proposes an anti-sticking layer that may more easily be repaired to extend the life of these tools. Claim 1 reads:

1. A stamp for use in transferring a pattern in nanoscale comprising a stamp having a monomolecular antisticking layer, said antisticking layer having molecular chains, which are covalently bound to a surface of the stamp and which each contains at least one fluorine-containing group and at least one silane group, each molecular chain containing a group Q present between the at least one fluorine-containing group and the at least one silane group, which Q group has a bond which is weaker than the other bonds in the molecular chain as well as the covalent bond that binds the molecular chain to the surface of the stamp, said bond in the group Q being capable of being split to create a group Q1 that is attached to a part of the molecular chain including the at least one silane group that is bound to the surface of the stamp when the bond in the group Q is split and which group Q1 is capable of reacting with a fluorine-containing compound to restore the antisticking layer.

Monday, November 20, 2006

US Patent 7135728 - Nanowire Array Transistor using Single Nanowire Type

This is a fairly basic patent from Nanosys for a nanowire array transistor and differentiates itself from the prior art by using only a single type of conductivity for the nanowires. Allegedly the prior art techniques included semiconducting and metallic nanowire mixtures.

1. A device comprising: a substrate; a thin film consisting of a plurality of nanowires or a plurality of nanowires in solution-on the substrate, wherein each of said plurality of nanowires have a same conductive property as each of the other nanowires in said thin film; a first source contact and a first drain contact formed in or on the substrate, wherein at least two or more of the plurality of nanowires form a channel between said first source and drain contacts; and a first gate contact formed on, above or below said at least two or more nanowires.

US Patent 7135172 - Buckpaper for Eye Repair

This patent owned by NASA proposes a use of buckypaper (i.e. 2D mesh of carbon nanotubes) as a carrier to support stem cell treatment of damaged or diseased cells of an eye's retinal system. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for preparing a retinal system of an eye for repair, the method comprising: providing a support material, comprising bucky paper having a selected thickness and a selected porosity, as a patch having a selected size; transferring at least one of (i) a retinal pigment epithelial cell, referred to as an RPE cell, (ii) an iris pigment epithelial cell, referred to as an IPE cell and (iii) a stem cell, to the support material, to provide a cell-covered support material; and attaching the cell-covered support material to a selected region in a sub-retinal space of an eye that is to be repaired.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

US Patent 7135160 - Spheroidal Single Walled Nanotube Aggregate

This patent from Carbon Nanotechnologies (founded by Richard Smalley, who surprisingly is not a listed inventor) possesses some basic claims toward purification of carbon nanotube material and macroscale carbon nanotube material. Claims 1 and 26 read:

1. A method for separating single-wall carbon nanotubes from an aqueous slurry, comprising: a) adding a water-immiscible organic solvent to an aqueous slurry comprising single-wall carbon nanotubes; b) isolating at least some of the single-wall carbon nanotubes in the solvent; and c) removing the solvent from the single-wall carbon nanotubes to form dried single-wall carbon nanotubes.

26. An aggregate comprising single-wall carbon nanotubes wherein the aggregate is spheroidal and has a diameter in a range of about 0.1 mm and about 5 mm, and wherein the aggregate contains at least about 80 wt % single-wall carbon nanotubes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

US Patent 7135057 - Nanowire Fuel Cartridge

I'm a little skeptical of this patent especially since the specification includes carbon nanotubes as a candidate material for the nanowires. Carbon nanotubes have been proposed for hydrogen fuel cells for a while now (see for example Nevertheless claim 1 of this patent reads:

1. A fuel cartridge comprising a storage medium for gas molecules, including: a) a nanowire core having an exterior surface; and b) a plurality of organic molecules, each organic molecule having one or more functional groups attached thereto, the plurality of organic molecules being attached to the exterior surface of the nanowire core, and the one or more funcitonal groups being adapted to releasably hold the gas molecules.

US Patent 7135054 - Silver Nanoprism

I believe this patent sets a new record for the broadest U.S. nanotechnology patent. Assigned to Northwestern U. (connected to NanoInk, a company working on dip pen nanolithography), this patent presents a very basic claim to a new type of nanoparticle with special optical properties. Claim 1 reads:

1. A silver nanoprism comprising a single silver crystal.

Monday, November 13, 2006

US Patent 7133725 - Medical Diagnostic Nanorobot

Nanotechnology is often associated with the idea of "nanorobots" based on speculative science and science fiction writings. So far the patent literature has been somewhat more practical with regards to nanotechnology and has focused on inventions with nearer term enablement. However, this patent seems to propose a nanorobot type system for medical diagnosis or treatment. I'm not exactly sure how enabling the disclosure is but what disturbs me is that no non-patent literature was cited and I'm sure that there are a lot of pertinent prior art scientific articles which would at least have been useful to determine the enablement of the disclosed approach. Claim 7 reads:

7. A medical method comprising: providing an implantable microscopic medical device including a nanostructure provided with a ligand; inserting said medical device into a patient; effectively attaching said nanostructure via said ligand to an instance of a predetermined type of target structure inside the patient; and after the attaching of said nanostructure to said instance of said target structure, utilizing said nanostructure to perform a preselected medical diagnostic or therapeutic function, the utilizing of said nanostructure includes activating said nanostructure, said medical device including a battery, the activating of said nanostructure including using a body fluid to enable ion migration under a potential generated by said battery.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

US Patent 7132994 - Resonant Nanotube Antenna

This patent from Ambit Corp. has priority going back as early as 1997 and lays the basic foundation for the use of arrays of nanotubes as antenna elements responsive to optical wavelengths. It is interesting to note that Ambit Corp. also has a fundamental patent for nanotube-based actuators (US 7099071). Claim 1 reads:

1. A resonant nanotube structure responsive to electromagnetic energy, said nanotube structure comprising: a substrate; and an ordered array of resonant nanotubes arranged on said substrate.

US Patent 7132714 - Vertical Nanotube Transistor

Nanotube channel FETs have been suggested and experimented with for a while now but one of the key problems is in mass producing large arrays of transistors based on nanotubes. Positioning of individual nanotubes using such tools as AFMs is too time consuming to be practical. Currently there is consideration of insitu growth of vertical arrays of nanotubes using techniques more well established for mass production such as CVD. This patent from Samsung provides a teaching of such a structure. Claim 1 reads:

1. A carbon nanotube (CNT) field effect transistor comprising: a first electrode formed on a substrate; a CNT aligned vertically with respect to the first electrode; a second electrode overlying the CNT; a first buried layer overlying the first electrode; a second buried layer that is separated by a predetermined distance from the first buried layer and underlies the second electrode; a gate insulating layer formed along a portion of the CNT exposed between the first and second buried layers; and a gate enclosing the gate insulating layer between the first and second buried layers.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

US Patent 7132679 - Nanotube Heterojunction Using Armchair and Zigzag Tubes

All modern electronics requires the formation of a junction or connection between metallic material (such as aluminum) and semiconductive material (such as silicon) in order to connect electrical wiring to transistors. The nanotube equivalent of metals is found in the form of armchair nanotube while the nanotube equivalent of semiconductors is zigzag nanotubes (not always though, about 1/3 of the zigzag type have metallic characteristics). This patent from Kia Silverbrook (with priority going back to 1998) presents a broad claim to a metallic/semiconductor nanotube junction. Claim 1 reads:

1. An electrical device having controlled properties comprising: a central nanotube of a zigzag type interconnected between two nanotubes of an armchair type.

US Patent 7132275 - Multisegmented Magnetic Nanowires

Functionalized nanowires are currently being employed for biosensing applications. However, often more than one type of biomolecule is desired to be sensed. This patent from Johns Hopkins proposes using a nanowire formed of different segments which are functionalized independently to bond with different biomolecules so as to form a more versatile detection mechanism. Claim 1 reads:

1. A magnetic nanowire comprising: a plurality of segments, wherein said segments are formed from metal or metal alloys, and wherein at least one of said plurality of segments is magnetic; and functional groups associated with at least one of said segments or ligands associated with at least one of said segments.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

US Patent 7132126 - Room Temperature Synthesis of Multiwalled Carbon Nanostructures

Usually carbon nanotube, buckyball or other fullerene fabrication requires high temperature and low pressure. This patent is based on a sonication method used to form multilayered carbon nanostructures in solution at room temperature and standard pressure. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for the synthesis of carbon nanostructures comprising the step of reacting non-carbon silicon nanostructures in an organic solvent, wherein said non-carbon silicon nanostructures and said organic solvent are subjected to bath sonication.

US Patent 7132039 - Magnetic Field Assisted Nanotube Fabrication

One of the main ways used to manufacture carbon nanotubes is the arc discharge method in which a high voltage potental is applied between graphite electrodes in an inert gas environment. However, impurity is often found in the nanotubes made in this fashion. This patent is based on the discovery that magnetic fields can increase the resultant purity. Claim 1 reads:

1. An apparatus for manufacturing a carbon nanotube, comprising: at least two electrodes whose tips oppose to each other; a power supply which applies a voltage between the electrodes so as to generate discharge plasma in a discharge area between the electrodes; a plurality of magnets which generates at least one of a magnetic field of multiple directions and a magnetic field having a component in parallel with the direction of a discharge current in the generation area of the discharge plasma; and a magnet cooling unit which cools the magnets.

Monday, November 06, 2006

US Patent 7131105 - MEMS Analysis Software

Software for computer aided circuit design and simulation is quite common. The techniques used to model circuits have been extended over the past few years to MEMS and even to modeling theoretical molecular systems. This patent proposes an improved software analysis system for MEMS designs which uses a computer generating mesh tool as opposed to the prior art which employed user input to generate the mesh. (Note: mesh refers to the way of dividing a continuous element into discrete portions to enable numerical evaluation.)

1. In a Computer Aided Design (CAD) Environment, a method for automatic mesh generation comprising the steps of: composing a schematic MEMS(Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems) design suitable for system-level simulations, said MEMS design including a plurality of components, each said component of said plurality of components being associated with a mesh generator, each said mesh generator being computer instructions describing how to create a mesh for the associated component; providing a mesh generation tool, said mesh generation tool using at least one of said plurality of mesh generators to automaticlly generate at least one mesh that represents at least one of a MEMS device that is the subject of said schematic MEMS design and a user-defined sub-assembly; and using said at least one mesh automatically generated from said schematic MEMS design as input for a numerical PDE (Partial Differential Equation) solver in a simulation environment, said PDE solver verifying approximations made in said system-level simulations of said MEMS design.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

US Patent 7129554 - Nanowire Biosensor

The Lieber research group of Harvard University is actively exploring the science of nanowire based electronics and exploiting the resulting technology of nanowire electronics via the associated startup Nanosys. This patent which has been pending for several years has broad claims directed toward functionalized semiconductor nanowire sensors. It is notable that the specification includes semiconducting nanotubes as a potential candidate for the nanowires. Claim 1 reads:

1. An article for detecting an analyte by allowing the analyte to bind to a reaction entity selected to interact with the analyte, the article comprising: a sample exposure region, a semiconductor nanowire deposited after growth proximal the sample exposure region, at least a portion of which is addressable by a sample in the sample exposure region, and a chemical or biological reaction entity positioned relative to the nanowire such that an interaction between the reaction entity and an analyte in the sample causes a detectable change in a property of the nanowire, whereby the detectable change in the property of the nanowire can be determined to detect the analyte.