Friday, August 29, 2008

US Patent 7417320 - CNT array patterning using base film

Carbon nanotube patterning often involves the processing of a catalytic film that can damage other areas of a substrate making integration with more conventional electronics difficult. This patent from Fujitsu teaches using a base film to facilitate the patterning to avoid processing of the catalytic film that can cause damage. Claim 1 reads:

1. A substrate structure, comprising:

a substrate;

a base film pattern-formed in a region on said substrate;

a catalyst material deposited on an entire surface on said substrate so as to cover said base film and having a first portion formed on said base film and a second portion formed on said substrate; and

a linear structure made of a carbon element and formed only on a portion corresponding to a portion on said base film of said catalyst material said first portion.


US Patent 7417119 - Protein processing using nanowire arrays

This patent from SRI International teaches a new way to conduct protein assembly to build complex molecular structures by using programmable charge patterns that can attract molecules in specified arrangements. Although I am generally sceptical of the popularized "nanorobot" version of nanotechnology, the technology covered by this patent has at least some possibility of leading in the direction of some sort of manufacturable nanobiorobot. Claim 1 reads:

1. A device for promoting the bonding of molecules from a medium containing unbound molecules of interest, said device comprising:

an addressable nanoscale array, said nanoscale array being multilayer and on a flexible substrate and wherein a charge pattern is imposable on a first surface of said addressable nanoscale array, such that the charge pattern is predetermined to selectively attract molecules from said medium and whereby, as a consequence of the attraction of the charge pattern, formation of bonds among said molecules of interest is effected.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

US Patent 7416993 - Nanowire fabric patterning

Nantero has focused most of their patents on nanomechanical switches formed from carbon nanotube fabrics. This patent extends the scope of their nanofabric technology to cover other possible nanowire based patterning. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of making a conductive article on a substrate, comprising:

forming a nanowire fabric on the substrate;

defining the nanowire fabric to have a pattern; and

forming a strapping layer that contacts at least a longitudinally-extending portion of the nanowire fabric.


US Patent 7416911 - Manufacture of molecular probes with hydrogenated surfaces

This patent from CalTech teaches forming a template which is possibly useful for the formation of molecular electronic devices using hydrogenated nanostructured surfaces including Si-H bonds. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for manufacturing molecular probes on semiconductor microstructures or nanostructures, the method comprising:

providing at least one microstructures or nanostructure, the microstructures or nanostructure comprising a surface region;

processing the surface region to form a hydrogenated surface on a portion of the surface region of the microstructure or nanostructure;

forming one or more electro active molecules overlying the surface region of the microstructure or nanostructure, selecting one or more microstructures or nanostructures by applying an electrical voltage from an external source with respect to a reference electrode to the one or more selected microstructures or nanostructures; and

forming one or more reactive sites on a portion of the one or more of the selected microstructures or nanostructures.


US Patent 7416699 - Nanotube interconnect between catalyst island contacts

This patent from Stanford University has an early priority date (Aug. 14, 1998) and includes some very basic claims to carbon nanotubes formed from catalyst islands used as electrical interconnects. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nanotube device comprising:

first and second conducting elements and at least one nanotube adapted to pass current between the first and second conducting elements, wherein a first end of said at least one nanotube is in electrical contact with the first conducting element and a second end of said at least one nanotube is in electrical contact with the second conducting element, and wherein at least one end of the at least one nanotube is rooted in a catalyst island.

A similar patent (with even broader claims) to nanotube interconnects was also issued to Canon as US Patent 7,148,619. The US priority of the Canon patent is Oct. 26, 1998 but the foreign priority is Oct. 30, 1997.


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

US Patent 7416108 - Superalloy brazing using microparticle/nanoparticle filler

Brazing is a process of joining materials using an alloy or filler at high temperatures (>400 C). This patent from Siemans Power Generation teaches using a combination of microparticle and nanoparticle superalloys to reduce the time required for brazing. Claim 1 reads:

1. A braze material for diffusion brazing of an article formed of a superalloy material, the braze material comprising a carrier and superalloy filler particles, the superalloy filler particles comprising a first portion of nano-sized particles and a second portion of micron-sized particles.


US Patent 7416019 - CNT thermal interface with >50% packing ratio

This patent from Johns Hopkins University teaches a high density multiwall carbon nanotube array forming a high efficiency thermal interface useful for integrated circuit cooling. Claim 1 reads:

1. A thermal interface comprising:

a first structure for making thermal contact with a second, different structure; and

a plurality of substantively aligned carbon nanotubes protruding substantively perpendicularly from a first surface of the first structure to improve thermal contact with the second structure, wherein a nanotube packing ratio is the quotient of the sum of cross section areas of carbon nanotubes in the plurality of carbon nanotubes divided by the area of the first surface of the first structure covered by the carbon nanotubes, and the nanotube packing ratio is greater than fifty percent.


Monday, August 25, 2008

US Patent 7414437 - Mechanical computer formed from nanoscale pillars

Nantero has started the ball rolling on nanoscale mechanical computers but others are also trying to develop similar devices. This patent from WARF discloses the formation of dual nanopillars to form electrical switches and connecting the electrical switches to form basic logic and computational structures. Claim 1 reads:

1. An electrical switching element comprising:

at least one first nanoscale pillar extending upward from a substrate between first opposed electrodes to flex between the first electrodes; and

at least one second nanoscale pillar extending upward from the substrate between second opposed electrodes, the second nanoscale pillar coupled to the first nanoscale pillar to flex with the first nanoscale pillar alternately toward and away from alternate second electrodes influenced by flexure of the first nanoscale pillar;

whereby flexure of the first nanoscale pillar promotes a charge transfer between the second opposed electrodes via the second nanoscale pillar.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

US Patent 7414294 - Intermediate band core/shell quantum dots provided in organic matrix

This patent discloses a quantum dot based composites useful for solar cells in which band matching is achieved between quantum dots and an organic matrix. Claim 1 reads:

1. A photosensitive device comprising:

a plurality of quantum dots, each quantum dot having a shell; and

an organic matrix, the quantum dots being embedded in the organic matrix, at least the quantum dots and the organic matrix being photoconductive semiconductors, the shell around each quantum dot being arranged as a tunneling barrier to require an electron in a lowest unoccupied molecular orbital (LUMO) of the organic matrix to perform quantum mechanical tunneling to reach the respective quantum dot, and a first quantum state above the band gap in each quantum dot being between the LUMO and a highest occupied molecular orbital (HOMO) of the organic matrix, wave functions of the first quantum state of the plurality of quantum dots to overlap as an intermediate band.


US Patent 7413973 - Nanogap electrode device fabrication

In order to create nanoscale sensors or electronics it is often necessary to create electrode gaps having nanometer scale dimensions. A variety of techniques exist to form such nanoscale gaps including electron beam lithography and the precise application of mechanical stress to an electrode to create a gap in the electrode. However, these techniques are not amenable to mass production and are difficult to control. This patent from the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute of South Korea teaches a method of forming lateral spaced apart electrodes using a spacer which may provide a more convenient road to large scale applications. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for manufacturing a nano-gap electrode device, comprising the steps of:

forming a first electrode on a substrate;

forming a spacer on a sidewall of the first electrode;

forming a second electrode on an exposed substrate at a side of the spacer; and

forming a nano-gap between the first electrode and the second electrode by removing the spacer, wherein, after the second electrode is formed, a portion of the spacer on the sidewall of the first electrode remains exposed.


Wednesday, August 20, 2008

US Patent 7413907 - Mass spectrometer using CNT mat

This patent from Rice University teaches using a functionalized mat of carbon nanotubes (i.e. bucky paper) as a binding matrix for analytes used in mass spectroscopy. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for analyzing molecules with MALDI-MS comprising the steps of:

a) providing a mat of functionalized carbon nanotubes;

b) making a solution of analyte molecules in a suitable solvent;

c) contacting the analyte molecules with the mat of carbon nanotubes by placing a quantity of the analyte solution on the mat;

d) removing the solvent to form an analyte mat; and

e) performing MALDI-MS on the analyte mat.


US Patent 7413633 - Belt with urethane-based coating including nanoparticles

Polyurethane is useful as a protective coatings and sealants in numerous applications. This patent from Albany International discloses adding nanoparticles to a urethane coating used as a belt in paper making processes to improve the crack and wear resistance of such belts. Claim 1 reads:

1. A papermaking process belt or textile belt, comprising:

a urethane-based coating comprising nanoparticles, wherein at least one of the following characteristics is improved: resistance to crack propagation, resistance to groove closure, or wear characteristics.


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

US Patent 7413598 - Mold containing boron nitride nanotubes

This patent from Hon Hai Precision teaches a mold used for glass manufacture which incorporates boron nitride nanotubes for improved chemical stability and thermal shock resistance. Claim 1 reads:

1. A mold comprising:

a mold matrix; and

a plurality of boron nitride nanotubes and an amount of noble metal powder sintered together with and uniformly distributed in the mold matrix, each boron nitride nanotube capsuling a plurality of fullerenes therein.


US Patent 7413550 - Bad breath detector using nanoparticles

This patent from Kimberly-Clark Worldwide teaches using silica or alumina nanoparticles in a high sensitivity bad breadth testing device. Claim 1 reads:

1. A breath testing device comprising nanoparticles and a visual indicating agent disposed on a substrate, wherein the visual indicating agent is color sensitive to at least one odorous compound present in the breath of a user, wherein the visual indicating agent is 4,4′-bis(dimethylamino)-benzhydrol.


Monday, August 18, 2008

US Patent 7412428 - Nanotechnology based neural network for applying Hebbian learning

This patent is one in a series of patents from Alex Nugent who has come up with a variety of techniques to use nanoparticle based interconnections to simulate physical neural networks. One of the limitations of current artificial intelligence approaches is the reliance on software solutions which have an intrinsic delay required for the transfer of information between memory and a processor. On the other hand physical neural networks have the potential to integrate memory with processing. This latest patent teaches a system for applying a Hebbian learning process to a physical neutral network formed from nanoparticles, nanowires, or nanotubes.

1. A system, comprising:

a physical neural network configured utilizing nanotechnology and integrated with feedback circuitry, wherein said physical neural network comprises a plurality of nanoconductors comprising at least one of nanotubes, nanowires, or nanoparticles, suspended and free to move about in a dielectric medium and which form neural connections between pre-synaptic and post-synaptic components of said physical neural network; and

a learning mechanism for applying Hebbian learning to said physical neural network.


US Patent 7411772 - Rotary Casimir effect

The Casimir effect is a quantum mechanical effect that results in the attraction of metal plates having nanoscopic separation distances. Usually the metal plates used are flat and the energy required to reset the plate separation makes applications involving the plate movement impractical. This patent from inventor Adrian Tymes teaches an interesting variation involving curved structures that exhibit a Casimir effect which may provide some energy output under rotary motion. Claim 1 reads:

1. Apparatus comprising:

a first structure effective to generate a Casimir effect between at least portions thereof; and

a second structure effective to alter or to convert the Casimir effect or a first type of force, field, or affect associated with the Casimir effect into a second type of force, field, or effect.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

US Patent 7411241 - Vertical nanotube transistor memory cell

This patent from Samsung with priority going back to March 28, 2005 presents some basic claims to vertically oriented carbon nanotubes channels connected to a bit line. Claim 1 reads:

1. An integrated circuit device, comprising:

a substrate;

an electrically conductive bit line on said substrate; and

a field effect transistor having a first current carrying terminal electrically connected to said bit line, said field effect transistor comprising a nanotube channel region and a gate electrode surrounding the nanotube channel region.

However, some examples of pertinent prior art seem to have been overlooked such as US Patent 6,515,325 which teaches forming a carbon nanotube transistor with an annular gate as part of a memory cell (see column 7, lines 5-17) or US Patent 6,740,910 which teaches a vertical nanotube channel formed in a through hole of a gate structure.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

US 7410697 - Nanoparticles derivatized as monomers in a polymer

This patent from SAIC is fairly basic to the incorporation of nanoparticles in polymers (priority: Nov. 1, 2001) and teaches methods of fabrication in which the agglomeration of the nanoparticles is avoided. Claim 1 reads:

1. A composition of matter comprising a polymer fiber with a plurality of controllably spaced nanoparticles integrated into the polymer fiber; wherein the nanoparticles are derivatized to function as a monomer in the polymer fiber.


US Patent 7410597 - Thermally conductive material formed from nanotubes in supercritical fluid

CPU cooling as a growing problem as electronic circuit densities continue to increase. Often a cooling fluid is used to transport heat away from a processor and this patent from Hon Hai Precision teaches a variation of this type of cooling using a supercritical fluid incorporated with carbon nanotube to achieve a high thermal conductivity and fluidity. Claim 1 reads:

1. A thermally conductive material comprising:

a supercritical fluid configured for an evaporation-condensation cycle; and

a plurality of carbon nanotubes incorporated in the supercritical fluid, a percentage by mass of the carbon nanotubes relative to the thermally conductive material being in the range from 0.5% to 5%.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

US Patent 7410564 - Biopolymer identification during translocation through nanopore

Nanopores are analytic devices used for single molecule sorting and DNA sequencing. This patent from Agilent Technologies teaches applying a ramping voltage to electrodes adjacent the nanopore to enhance the speed and efficiency of DNA sequencing. Claim 1 reads:

1. An apparatus for detecting a biopolymer in a nanopore, comprising:

(a) a first electrode;

(b) a second electrode adjacent to said first electrode;

(c) a nanopore adjacent to said first electrode and said second electrode and positioned to allow said biopolymer to be positioned between said first electrode and said second electrode; and

(d) potential means for electrically connecting said first electrode and said second electrode for applying a ramping voltage over an energy spectrum of the biopolymer from said first electrode, through a portion of said biopolymer in said nanopore, to said second electrode to produce a signal indicative of said portion of said biopolymer; wherein ramp-time of the applied voltage is short compared to a nucleotide translocation time through the nanopore.


US Patent 7409851 - Functionalized MEMS biosensor

This patent from Cornell Research Foundation with priority going back to March 29, 2005 includes some basic claims to MEMs oscillators used in bioassays. Although prior art was applied against the claims the applicant argued that the device operates using a "catalyzing adsorption site" which produces resonant shifts in non-aqueous environments such as air or vacuum which was alleged to be distinguished form the prior art. Claim 1 reads:

1. A MEMs device comprising:

a MEMs oscillator;

a catalyzing adsorption site supported by the oscillator, such that the sites provide control of chemical surface functionality for the detection of desired analytes, wherein the site is adapted to obtain a desired oscillator resonant frequency shift, such shift representing the difference between a site with attached analyte and without attached analyte.

However, some relevant prior art may have been overlooked such as

Mechanical Resonant Immunospecific Biological Detector 2000 (teaches micromechanical cantilevers used in air or vacuum for bioassays)


Attogram detection using nanoelectromechanical oscillators 4/2004 (teaches micromechanical cantilevers employing catalyzing capture sites, this at least should have been cited by the applicant since it shares two common inventors with the patent)


Microcantilever resonance-based DNA detection with nanoparticle probes 5/2003 (also employing catalyzing capture sites)


Monday, August 11, 2008

US Patent 7409375 - Nanoparticle neural interconnections for independent component analysis

Independent component analysis is a methodology for extracting distinct signals from a mixed signals such as being able to ascertain a single voice in a crowded party. This patent from Knowmtech teaches a system for using nanoparticles in a neural network interconnection system to facilitate such analysis. Claim 1 reads:

1. A system for independent component analysis, comprising:

a feedback mechanism based on a plasticity rule; and

an electro-kinetic induced particle chain forming a neural network, wherein said feedback mechanism and said electro-kinetic induced particle chain is utilized to extract independent components from a data set.


US Patent 7409375 - Optical memory formed from nanotube cells

Nantero has taken the lead in developing nanotube based memory over the past few years based on using the nanotubes as nanomechanical switches. However, a few companies are attempting to develop alternative approaches to nanotube memory. This patent from STMicroelectronics teaches a hybrid mechanical-optical memory system based on the use of a nanoactuator to "write" a carbon nanotubes geometrical structure in a memory cell and an optical sensor to read the structure. Claim 14 reads:

14. A memory, comprising:

a memory cell comprising nanotubes and operable to store a data value related to the bandgap energy of the cell, wherein the bandgap energy of the cell is related to the shapes of the majority of the nanotubes;

a nanoactuator operable to write the data value to the memory cell; and

an optical energy sensor operable to read the data value from the memory cell.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

US Patent 7408186 - Multi-segment linear nanostructures

This patent from Oak Ridge Labs. has priority going back to Feb. 6, 2002 and includes some basic claims to elongated nanostructures (e.g. nanowires, nanotubes) formed on a substrate having multiple interconnected segments. Claim 1 reads:

1. A composition, comprising:

an elongated nanostructure including a first elongated segment defining a first axis and a second elongated segment coupled to the first segment, the second elongated segment defining a second axis that is substantially nonparallel to the first axis;

a substrate coupled to the elongated nanostructure;

another elongated nanostructure coupled to the substrate; and

wherein the elongated segments are substantially linear.

However, some prior art seems to have been overlooked during the examination such as:

1) Li et al. "Growing Y-junction Carbon Nanotubes" published in 1999, or

2) Li et al. "Straight Carbon Nanotube Y Junctions" published in 2001.


US Patent 7408184 - Conjugated molecular switch

Reconfigurable molecular switches have been an active area of theoretical research for a few decades now and steps to prototype molecular electronic devices based on catenane and rotaxane molecules have been taken by Hewlett-Packard and others. This patent from Sony teaches a new type of molecular switch based on conjugated molecules boded to metal ions. Claim 1 reads:

1. A functional molecular element comprising:

a molecule with permittivity anisotropy and/or a dipole moment;

a metal ion; and

a conjugated molecule, wherein the molecule with permittivity anisotropy and/or the dipole moment and the conjugated molecule form a complex with the metal ion, and wherein conductivity of the conjugated molecule is changed by changing an orientation of the molecule with the permittivity anisotropy and/or the dipole moment by an action of an electric field.


Wednesday, August 06, 2008

US Patent 7407814 - Molecular detection nanoresonator array

This patent from Caltech has relatively early priority and claims a nanoelectromechanical resonator system for detecting plural analytes in solution. Claim 1 reads:

1. A molecular detector capable of detecting an analyte in solution comprising:

a solution reservoir;

at least one first nanometer-scale mechanical resonator which is disposed within the reservoir, wherein the at least one first resonator is biofunctionalized with a first receptor or a first ligand;

a substrate or a second mechanical resonator which is disposed within the reservoir, wherein the substrate or the second resonator is biofunctionalized with a second receptor or a second ligand, and wherein the first receptor or ligand and the second receptor or ligand are capable of binding to the analyte in solution such that the analyte binds to both the first receptor or ligand and to the second receptor or ligand at a same time; and

a detector in signal communication with the at least one first resonator for measuring a mechanical displacement of the resonator for detection of the analyte.


US Patent 7407704 - Nanoparticle-based bond joint for ease of separation

This patent from Henkel teaches the use of nanoparticles in a bonding adhesive that allows the bond to be more easily removed using electromagnetic fields. Claim 1 reads:

1. A separable bonded joint comprising an electromagnetically activatable primer layer and an adhesive layer adjacent to the primer layer, wherein the primer layer contains nanoscale particles with ferromagnetic, ferrimagnetic, superparamagnetic or piezoelectric properties.


Tuesday, August 05, 2008

US Patent 7407640 - Defunctionalizing CNT composites with radiation

Often in order to effectively incorporate carbon nanotubes in a polymer matrix the nanotubes need to be functionalized with another molecule for uniform distribution in the polymer and to avoid clumping of the nanotubes. However, this functionalization can also detract from the optimum properties offered by nanotubes such as high thermal and electrical conductivity. This patent from Rice University teaches defunctionalization of carbon nanotubes after incorporation in the polymer matrix to avoid the loss of the optimum properties of the nanotubes. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method comprising the steps of:

a) dispersing functionalized carbon nanotubes in a solvent to form a dispersion of functionalized carbon nanotubes;

b) incorporating the dispersion of functionalized carbon nanotubes into a polymer host matrix to form a functionalized carbon nanotube-polymer composite; and

c) modifying the functionalized carbon nanotube-polymer composite with radiation, wherein the modifying comprises defunctionalizing of the functionalized carbon nanotubes and wherein the radiation is selected from the group consisting of protons, neutrons, alpha particles, heavy ions, cosmic radiation, solar wind, and combinations thereof.


US Patent 7406859 - Piezoelectric cantilever rigidity control for AFM

Atomic force microscopes are tools which provide researchers the ability to manipulate and inspect individual atoms, molecules, and nanostructures. These tools usually employ cantilevers having a sharp tip combined with a piezoelectric feedback mechanism to regulate the distance between the tip and a sample. However, when choosing rigid cantilever materials for the AFM some sensitivity is lost in the manipulation/detection while less rigid cantilevers are more difficult to control. This patent from Michigan State University teaches a controlled rigidity piezoelectric cantilever which attempts to optimize cantilever performance between rigidity and flexibility. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nanomanipulation system for performing nanomanipulation operations in relation to a sample surface, comprising:

an atomic force microscope having a probe for performing nanomanipulation operations on the sample surface, where the probe includes a cantilever having a layer of piezoelectric material;

a position detector configured to ascertain deformation of the cantilever during a nanomanipulation operation;

an active probe controller adapted to receive data indicative of the deformation from the position detector and implements a control scheme based on the deformation data which maintains rigidity of the cantilever during the nanomanipulation operation, wherein the control scheme produces a control signal that is applied to the piezoelectric material of the cantilever.


Monday, August 04, 2008

US Patent 7405605 - Equilibration device for CNT switch

Nantero is a company working on a mechanical form of non-volatile memory based on carbon nanotubes. In order to avoid unwanted fluctuation of the states of the nanotube memory due to noise this patent teaches an "equilibration" device in the form of a circuit element for regulating the control voltages. Claim 1 reads:

1. A storage device, comprising:

a storage element constructed with at least one nanotube switching element having a control electrode and a release electrode; and

an equilibration device responsive to a control signal that when activated maintains the control electrode and the release electrode at the same potential.


US Patent 7405434 - Quantum dot conjugates in a nanofluidic channel

Quantum dot nanocrystals have often been employed as fluorescent tags for biomolecules and nanofluidic channels have been used for chemical sorting. This patent from Cornell Research combines both these techniques in a molecular analysis system. Claim 1 reads:

1. A device comprising:

a channel having a narrow detection portion sized to promote single molecule flow through the channel;

a laser for focusing light substantially uniformly across a width of the detection portion;

means for moving different types of quantum dot and molecule conjugates through the detection portion; and

a detector for detecting emissions from the quantum dots.


Friday, August 01, 2008

US Patent 7405420 - Chalcogenide nanowire memory

Phase change memory is a possible alternative to Flash memory in future applications and works based on the conversion of chalcogenide material between crystalline (low resistance) and amorphous (high resistance) states. This patent from Stanford University teaches using chalcogenide based nanowires in the memory construction. Claim 1 reads:

1. A chalcogenide-based memory device comprising:

chalcogenide-based nanowires;

a layer, between the chalcogenide-based nanowires, to provide at least some insulation therebetween;

a line electrically connected to at least some of the chalcogenide-based nanowires; and

a control circuit to control and to communicatively couple to at least one of the chalcogenide-based nanowires for accessing data.


US Patent 7405156 - Nanoparticle ink patterning using reversed tapered photoresist

Conventional fabrication processes for patterning used in semiconductor manufacturing often involves low pressure and/or high temperature systems which can add significant cost to the process. Printing processes such as roll-to roll processing and inkjet printing have been increasingly used in recent years to provide cheaper alternatives. This patent from NEC teaches using nanoparticles in a printing process to pattern tapered wiring structures. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of forming a wiring pattern on an insulating substrate using a nanoparticles-containing ink, comprising:

partitioning the insulating substrate into wiring regions using a photoresist film; and

drawing the wiring pattern on the insulating substrate by injecting the ink thereon, the ink comprising metallic nanoparticles, wherein patterns of the photoresist film which partition the insulating substrate into the wiring regions comprise a reverse tapered cross section, and wherein said drawing of said wiring pattern comprises leveling the ink formed on the wiring regions.