Monday, April 30, 2007

US Patent 7209341 - Carbon nanohorn supercapacitor

While carbon nanotubes are by far the more common nanostructure, other carbon nanostructures such as carbon nanohorns may have some advantages in achieving higher surface area to volume ratios, which is particularly advantage in forming electrodes for supercapacitors. This patent from NEC claims:

1. A polarizing electrode composed of a carbon composite: wherein, as a carbon material of said carbon composite, a single-layer carbon nanohorn aggregate, which is made in such a manner that the single-layer carbon nanohorns are aggregated spherically, is used; and wherein said single-layer carbon nanohorn aggregate is supported by a carbon fiber or a carbon nanofiber.

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US Patent 7208784 - SET for detecting biomolecules

This patent from Quantum Logic Devices teaches single electron transistor structure including a nanoparticle with a binding agent designed for bio-molecule detection. Claim 1 reads:

1. A single-electron transistor comprising: a substrate having a projection that projects from a face thereof, wherein said projection includes a plurality of sides and a vertex; a first electrode on a first side of said projection and including a first electrode end that extends adjacent said vertex; a second electrode on a second side of said projection and including a second electrode end that extends adjacent said vertex and that is spaced apart from said first electrode end; at least one nanoparticle on said vertex, and an analyte-specific binding agent on a surface of said at least one nanoparticle to provide a chemically gated single-electron transistor, wherein said analyte-specific binding agent is a polynucleic acid selected from the group consisting of DNA, oligonucleotides, aptamer and RNA.

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Thursday, April 26, 2007

US Patent 7208720 - Molecular manipulation using proximal probe array

This is a fairly interesting patent from IBM concerned with molecular manipulation. IBM's research labrotories have lead the way in many fields of technology with the creation of scanning probe microscopes and atomic force microscopes (often collectively referred to as proximal probes) and the use of these proximal probes to manipulate individual atoms and molecules. This patent extends molecular manipulation by the provision of a proximal probe array capable of creating a controllable electrostatic field used to regulate molecular motion. Such a device could possibly allow for individual molecule control in chemistry experiments or supramolecular fabrication. Claim 1 reads:

1. A device for manipulating a molecule, the device comprising: a set of two or more proximal probes; a substrate, wherein the set of proximal probes are held by the substrate; a set of conductive wires that connect the set of proximal probes to controlling circuitry; first controlling circuitry for asserting an electrostatic pattern on the set of proximal probes to capture a molecule using electrostatic forces that are exerted by the electrostatic pattern; and second controlling circuitry for manipulating the molecule while the molecule remains captured by the set of proximal probes.

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US Patent 7208439 - AuPt nanoparticles for fuel cells

While bi-metallic AuPt have been used as a reduction agent in fuel cells, this patent from the State University of New York proposes using nanoparticulate AuPt as an alternative to provide both reduced poisoning within the fuel cell by carbon monoxide by-products and the advantage of high catalytic potential. Claim 1 reads:

1. A bifunctional fuel cell catalyst comprising highly monodisperse, core-shell nanoparticles of gold/platinum (AuPt) alloy supported upon an electrically conductive, non-metallic particulate substrate.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

US Patent 7208429 - Nanoparticles for toilet tissues or paper towels

This patent from Procter+Gamble teaches applying nanostructured material toward the achievement of better toilet paper. Claims 1 and 13 read:

1. A finished fibrous structure comprising a solid additive comprising a nanoparticle additive wherein the solid additive is present on a surface of the finished fibrous structure at a greater level by weight than within the finished fibrous structure and wherein the finished fibrous structure exhibits a stretch at peak load of at least about 10%.

13. A finished fibrous structure comprising a solid additive comprising a nanoparticle additive wherein the solid additive is present on a surface of the finished fibrous structure at a greater level by weight than within the finished fibrous structure and wherein the finished fibrous structure exhibits a density of less than about 0.10 g/cm^3.

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US Patent 7208204 - Nanocluster magnetic recording media

This patent from Singapore's Agency for Science, Technology, and Research focuses on the fabrication of magnetic recording media with smaller grain size via the use of nanoclusters and with improved grain distribution width control. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for forming a thin film magnetic recording media, the method comprising: generating magnetic nanoclusters in gas phase; heating the magnetic nanoclusters; crystallizing the magnetic nanoclusters; and depositing the magnetic nanoclusters onto a substrate to form a thin film of magnetic particles thereon; wherein the generating, heating, crystallizing, and depositing steps are performed sequentially.


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

US Patent 7208134 - Magnetic nanoparticles for CO2 absorption

This patent from M.I.T. possesses a fairly basic claim to inorganic nanoparticles (such as iron oxide nanoparticles) which is combined with organic phases (hydrocarbons) to bind gases (such as CO2). Claim 1 reads:

1. A nanoparticle comprising an inorganic compound associated with an organic phase, wherein the organic phase is capable of reversibly solubilizing a gas.

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US Patent 7208094 - Nanowire growth from vertical surfaces

Nanotubes and nanowires are often grown from catalytic particles and can be formed in large arrays using such catalytic growth. However, this type of fabrication often results in arrays of vertically oriented nanowires which, while useful in some applications such as field emission displays, are often less useful in providing circuit interconnections. This patent from HP teaches growing nanowires from the side surfaces of a silicon substrate to establish horizontally oriented nanowires that may be more useful as interconnects or crossbar circuit elements. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of growing a nanowire in a lateral direction comprising: forming vertical surfaces on or in a horizontal surface of a silicon substrate, the vertical surfaces being vertical relative to the horizontal surface, the vertical surfaces being (111) silicon lattice planes; activating a first vertical surface of the vertical surfaces with a nanoparticle catalyst; and growing a semiconductor nanowire laterally from the activated first vertical surface in a direction toward a second surface of the vertical surfaces, the second vertical surface being spaced from and opposite to the first vertical surface.

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Monday, April 23, 2007

US Patent 7205370 - Nanoflower

The interest in nanostructured materials has generated a plethora of new terms for various nanostructures such as nanotubes, nanohorns, nanowhiskers, nanopores, etc. This patent claims a polymer nanostructure with a flower-like morphology with substantially no chain ends to assure compatibility with a larger range of matrix materials and which may be suitably dubbed a nanoflower. Claim 1 reads:

1. A flower-like nano-particle composition comprising: a. a poly(alkenylbenzene) core which is crosslinked with a di- or tri-vinyl-substituted aromatic hydrocarbon, and b. a polyalkylene surface layer comprising at least one alkylene contributed monomer unit, wherein said nano-particles have a mean average diameter of less than about 100 nm; and said polyalkylene surface layer has substantially no free chain ends.


Friday, April 20, 2007

US Patent 7205069- SWNT membrane for batteries

This patent from Richard Smalley's group at Rice University teaches basic carbon nanotube arrays with advantageous applications in lithium ion batteries. Claim 1 reads:

1. A battery comprising a membrane, wherein the membrane comprises an array of at least 10.sup.6 single-wall carbon nanotubes in a substantially parallel relationship, wherein the array is a substantially two-dimensional array.

US Patent 7205048 - Histidine coated fluorescent nanoparticle

Nanoparticles are an attractive alternative to other more conventional fluorescent biomarkers which suffer from fading under intense light. However, prior fluorescent nanoparticles have had difficulty in balancing water solubility with fluorescent efficiency. This patent teaches the use of a particular aminio acid coating to optimize fluorescent efficiency, solubility, and other desirable properties of a nanoparticle biomarker. Claim 1 reads:

1. A functionalized fluorescent core/shell nanocrystal comprised of: a fluorescent core/shell nanocrystal; a coating material, said coating material being histidine-based.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2007

US Patents 7205021 and 7205940 - Carbon nanotube antennas - AMBIT CORP. patent - FUJI XEROX patent

One of the reasons I created this blog was to recognize the early potential commercialization of nanostructured materials for which patents, as opposed to scientific literature, can be a better judge. There have been several patents, such as the basic nanotube electron emitter patent by Till Keesmann, which have the potential to create entire industries (such as surface emitting displays) and from which hundreds of further patents have been filed.

Another group of fundamental nanotube patents with a lot of potentia,l but for which less of a patent thicket exists, are based on the optical reception and transmission properties of nanotubes. Robert Crowley of Ambit Corp. is arguably the first to patent the uses of carbon nanotubes in antenna elements and US Patent 7,205,021 is a continuation application based on earlier patents with priority going back to 1997. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of manufacturing and using a device having an array of carbon nanotubes for the receipt and radiation of electromagnetic energy therefrom, comprising: providing a substrate; arranging a predetermined pattern of nanotube growth sites on said substrate; growing at least one electromagnetic energy receiving carbon nanotube from said growth sites on said substrate; receiving electromagnetic energy by said at least one carbon nanotube; and radiating said electromagnetic energy by a carbon nanotube.

Coincidentally another nanotube antenna patent issued this week from Fuji Xerox with priority going back only to 2003. Claim 1 reads:

1. An antenna characterized by comprising: a radiator formed of a carbon nanotube, an electrode that is connected with a part of the carbon nanotube and is for operating the antenna as a monopole antenna.

One of Crowley's earlier patents was cited by the Patent Examiner but the Examiner did not consider Crowley's design to fall under the category of "monopole" antennas since Crowley uses an array of nanotubes. The Examiner used an obviousness type rejection that was successfully refuted by the attorney. However, it seems to me that Crowley's design could be considered a monopole antenna in some sense. Fuji Xerox's patent specification defines a monopole antenna as follows

"That is, the present invention is directed to an antenna characterized by including a radiator made up of a carbon nanotube, and as a specific structure, for example, an antenna characterized by including an electrode that is connected with a part of the carbon nanotube and is for operating the antenna as a monopole antenna. The "monopole antenna" is directed to an antenna that has an electricity feeding portion (an antenna that is provided with an electrode) on an end portion of the radiator, whereas the "bipolar antenna" is directed to an antenna having an electricity feeding portion in the center of the radiator."

Figure 3 of Ambit's patent seemingly illustrates several examples of monopoles by this definition when the nanotube extends from only one side of substrate 11 (although the bipolar type are also included).

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Tuesday, April 17, 2007

US Patent 7205002 - Selenium picoparticle

Selenium is toxic in large doses but can provide some therapeutic applications in small doses. This patent gets the record for the smallest possible dose. Claim 1 reads:

1. A composition comprising: elemental selenium (Se(0)) particles having a diameter of 0.4 to 1 nanometer; and a pharmaceutically acceptable delivering medium.

US Patent 7204970 - 95% SWNT composition of matter

The late Richard Smalley was one of the pioneers in carbon nanotechnology and, although the basic single walled nanotube (SWNT) patent belongs to IBM, the patents produced by Smalley and others from Rice University cover many of the basic fabrication processes and stuctures of SWNTs. This patent (with priority going back at least to 1999) claims:

1. A composition of matter comprising single wall carbon nanotubes wherein at least 95% of said single wall carbon nanotubes have a diameter in the range of 0.6 nm to 0.8 nm.

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Friday, April 13, 2007

US Patent 7203789 - Impedance programmed logic

Conventionally binary logic values are stored in electronic devices using electrical charge. This patent from HP is one of a series of patents devoted to the use of high or low impedance (resistance) states to store digital data. This is particularly interesting to programmable logic design (FPGAs, etc.) since it enables reprogramming of logic structures using a simple structure that can be scaled down to the nanoscale. It is possible that extensions of this type of electronics could have some impact on machine learning and artificial intelligence since it allows for components of computer hardware (such as electrical resistance) to be altered not just in the design stage but as the hardware is used allowing for a new type of learning in electronic systems beyond the software stage. Claim 1 reads:

1. An architecture for computing, comprising: nanometer scale crossbar switches configured to perform a logical function in response to a sequence of pulses that encode logic values in the nanometer scale crossbar switches as impedances, wherein input data is latched at input latches within the nanometer scale crossbar switches and wire-AND junctions are open/closed with the result being driven out of an output latch.


US Patent 7202763 - MEMS inductive switch

Due to the difficulty of microfabricating inductive elements such as coils in comparison to capacitive elements such as parallel plates, micromechanical inductive switches are rare. However, this patent teaches one way of achieving such as inductive switch by microfabrication. Claim 1 reads:

1. A micro-electromechanical switching device including at least one pair of inductive elements electrically connected in series, said inductive elements being intended to generate two magnetic fields when current is flowing through said inductive elements, the interaction between these two fields resulting in a displacement of at least one of the inductive elements and a displacement of a mobile contact element linked to said at least one inductive element and intended to switch between two positions, at least one of said positions enabling an electrical connection between at least two conductive elements.


Tuesday, April 10, 2007

US Patent 7202586 - Carbon nanofiber electrical contact brush material

Metal-graphite brushes are common contact elements in motors. However, due to the constant friction with which the contacts undergo they gradually wear out. This patent from Shinano uses carbon nanofibers (or nanotubes) that protrude from a contact surface to reduce such wear. Claim 1 reads:

1. An electrical contact member, comprising: at least one from conductive metal particles and conductive metal fibers; and carbon nanofibers or carbon nanotubes embedded at least partially into the at least one from the conductive metal particles and the conductive metal fibers such that at least a portion of the carbon nanofibers or the carbon nanotubes protrudes from outer circumferential surfaces of the at least one from the conductive metal particles and the conductive metal fibers, wherein the at least one from the conductive metal particles and the conductive metal fibers having the embedded carbon nanofibers or the carbon nanotubes form a contact layer of the electrical contact member through which current flows.

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US Patent 7202552 - Flexible packaging for MEMS

The housings for MEMS devices have traditionally been formed from a limited number of materials including metals or ceramics. However, in order to take advantage of MEMS in diverse applications such as biotechnology and flexible electronics a wider variety of packaging is desired. This patent from Silicon Matrix discloses a polymer material substrate for a MEMS device. Claim 1 reads:

1. A MEMS package comprising: at least one MEMS device located on a flexible substrate; and a metal structure surrounding said at least one MEMS device wherein a bottom surface of said metal structure is attached to said flexible substrate and wherein said flexible substrate is folded over a top surface of said metal structure and attached to said top surface of said metal structure thereby forming said MEMS package.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

US Patent 7198966 - Manufacture of uniform CNT electron emitters

Last week a patent to Nano-Proprietary issued for removing excess nanotubes from a substrate using scotch tape. Similarly, this patent from Canon uses voltage pulses to remove excess nanotubes to create uniform electron emission regions from the nanotubes. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for producing an electron-emitting device, comprising the steps of: (A) disposing a cathode electrode having a plurality of carbon fibers on a surface of a substrate; (B) providing an electrode opposite the cathode electrode; and (C) applying repeatedly a pulse voltage between the cathode electrode and the electrode opposite the cathode electrode within a depressurized atmosphere such that a potential of the electrode opposite the cathode electrode is higher than a potential of the cathode electrode, thereby partially removing the plurality of carbon fibers.

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US Patent 7197804 - Aligning carbon nanotube in copper conductor

This patent from The Aerospace Corporation takes advantage of the thermal conductivity of carbon nanotubes to form heat sinks by rolling the nanotubes into alignment on a copper sheet. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of manufacturing thermal conductor sheet, the method comprising the steps of, mixing copper and carbon fibers together in a mixture at a predetermined ratio, and rolling the mixture to flatten the thermal conductor into a sheet with the carbon nanotubes being aligned within the plane of the sheet of the thermal conductor.

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