Friday, January 30, 2009

PatentCluster - New Free Patent Analysis Tool

A new patent analysis tool debuted this month in beta mode based on technological concept clustering.

From the founder-

"PatentCluster employs accurate, efficient open source search and clustering algorithms to help the patent searcher discover diverse and relevant groups of semantically related patents described with meaningful labels. The site features powerful advanced search syntax which allows the user to construct precise queries.This site was launched in January this year and is beta mode with a partial collection of the US patents. We plan to add the entire US issued and application patents in the coming months."


Thursday, January 29, 2009

US Patent 7482608 - Nuclear powered quantum dot light source

This patent from Iso-Science Laboratories is based on the finding that quantum dots (semiconductor nanocrystals) exhibit radiation resistance and uses alpha or beta particles to power a narrow wavelength light source. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nuclear powered quantum dot light source, comprising:

quantum dots; and

a radionuclide.


US Patent 7482421 - Self-healing anti-corrosive nanoparticle coating

This patent from the University of Cincinnati teaches a superprimer based on nanoparticles. Claim 1 reads:

1. A hydrophilic composition capable of coating a substrate and curing to provide a hydrophobic film inhibiting corrosion, the composition comprising:

a bis-silane comprising between about 15 percent by weight to about 40 percent by weight of the composition;

a water soluble or dispersible polymer;

a water soluble solvent; and

nanoparticles having a mean particle size of ranging between about 0.01 nanometers to about 500 nanometers.


US Patent 7482332 - Telomere encoding synthetic DNA nanocircles

Telomeres are regions of DNA having some relationship to lifespan of cells and cancer. This patent from Stanford university teaches a nucleic acid "nanocircle" useful to cancer treatment based on a telomere repeat sequence. Claim 1 reads:

1. An isolated nucleic acid nanocircle consisting of an integral number of a telomere repeat sequence, wherein the length of the nanocircle is 30 nucleotides, 36 nucleotides, 42 nucleotides, 48 nucleotides, 54 nucleotides, 60 nucleotides, 66 nucleotides, 72 nucleotides, or 78 nucleotides.


US Patent 7482253 - Fusing nanowires

Patterned arrays of nanowires can exhibit a large resistivity which limit their potential for electrical interconnects. this patent from Hewlett-Packard describes a crystal growth technique used to fuse prefabricated nanowires and reduce the resistance. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of interconnecting nano-structures comprising:

performing crystal growth on prefabricated nano-structures immersed in a growth solution having a controllable saturation condition, such that interconnection between the nano-structures is facilitated.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

US Patent 7482163 - Chemical reactivity determination for nanoparticles

Due to their high surface-to-volume ratio metal nanoparticles such as platinum serve as excellent catalysts for the manufacture of fuels, polymers and drugs. This patent from Nanostellar teaches a method for characterizing the reactivity to achieve better process control. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of estimating chemical reactivity of a particle, comprising the steps of:

determining size and shape of the particle;

approximating atomic energy densities at various locations of atoms in the particle;

calculating local chemical softness values at said various locations of atoms based on the atomic energy densities;

calculating an average surface chemical softness of the particle based on the local chemical softness values; and

estimating the chemical reactivity of the particle based on the average surface chemical softness value of the particle.

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US Patent 7482059 - Semiconductor nanocrystal with metal coating

This patent from Evident Technologies teaches a solution to a problem of oxidation of semiconductor nanocrystals (quantum dots) that can reduce the fluorescence properties over time by providing a protective metal coating. Claim 1 reads:

1. A semiconductor nanocrystal complex comprising:

a semiconductor nanocrystal core having an outer surface and having a diameter between 1 nanometers and 20 nanometers; and

a metal layer formed on the outer surface of the semiconductor nanocrystal core after synthesis of the semiconductor nanocrystal core, wherein no linking molecules are used to attach the metal layer to the core.


US Patent 7482054 - TiO2/nanoparticle paint mixture

This patent from Behr Process Corporation teaches improving the effectiveness of titanium dioxide white paste using ZnO nanoparticles to improve the distribution of the particles which is taught to improve the tint strength. Claim 1 reads:

1. A process for preparing a titanium dioxide dispersion, comprising:

pretreating a plurality of titanium dioxide particles with a metal oxide;

dispersing a plurality of titanium dioxide particles in a first dispersion medium;

preparing a nanoparticle pigment;

mixing the nanoparticle pigment and the first dispersion medium containing the titanium dioxide; and

interacting the first dispersion medium, the nanoparticle pigment and the titanium dioxide to form an intervening dispersion of a plurality of nanoparticles around the titanium dioxide particles.


US Patent 7481990 - Nanotube segregation via osmylation or ruthenylation

This patent from the State University of New York (SUNY) teaches separation chemistries for sorting nanotubes based on osmium tetroxide or ruthenium tetroxide. Claims 1 and 2 read:

1. A method of aggregating carbon nanotubes, the method comprising:

(a) providing a nanotube dispersion, wherein the nanotube dispersion comprises a plurality of carbon nanotubes, osmium tetroxide and a solvent; and

(b) irradiating the nanotube dispersion with ultraviolet light until the carbon nanotubes aggregate, wherein the metallic carbon nanotubes are selectively osmylated.

2. A method of aggregating carbon nanotubes, the method comprising:

(a) providing a nanotube dispersion, wherein the nanotube dispersion comprises a plurality of carbon nanotubes, ruthenium tetroxide and a solvent; and

(b) irradiating the nanotube dispersion with ultraviolet light until the carbon nanotubes aggregate, wherein the metallic carbon nanotubes are selectively ruthenylated.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

US Patent 7481989 - Equal length nanotube separation

This patent based on original research from Richard Smalley's group at Rice University (priority 1997) includes some basic claims to forming uniform length segments of nanotube material. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for producing fullerene nanotubes, said method comprising the steps of:

(a) providing a fullerene nanotube-containing material;

(b) cutting the fullerene nanotube containing-material to form a mixture of fullerene nanotubes having lengths in the range of about 5 to 500 nm; and

(c) fractionating said mixture of fullerene nanotubes to form a fraction of said fullerene nanotubes having substantially equal lengths.


US Patent 7481952 - Electrically conductive PTFE tape including CNT mixture

This patent from Compagnie Plastic Omnium teaches an electrically conductive PTFE tape with improved electrical conductivity properties based on carbon nanotubes. Claim 1 reads:

1. A fluoropolymer tape having two sides,

at least one of the sides being an electrically conductive extrusion of a blended mixture, the blended mixture comprising dispersible carbon selected from the group consisting of vapor-grown carbon fibers (VGCF), and combinations of VGCF and carbon nanotubes and polytetrafluoropolymer;

wherein the sides comprise extrusions of different blended mixtures and wherein one side of the tape is more electrically conductive than the other side of the tape.


US Patent 7481267 - Anisotropic thermal CNT/ceramic film

This patent from the University of California System teaches an improved anisotropic thermal interface achieved by carbon nanotube ceramic composites. Claim 1 reads:

1. In an application requiring the conduction of heat between an exothermic device and a heat sink surface, the improvement comprising:

interposing between said exothermic device and said heat sink surface a heat-spreading layer of a composite comprised of carbon nanotubes dispersed in a matrix of ceramic material, said composite having been uniaxially compressed in a direction transverse to said heat sink surface to provide said composite with a thermal diffusivity in said transverse direction that is lower than the thermal diffusivity in directions parallel to said heat sink surface.

The basic research behind this patent is described in the article "Anisotropic thermal properties of single-wall-carbon- nanotube-reinforced nanoceramics" by Zhan et al.


US Patent 7480981 - Microelectromechanical disk drive

Magnetic disk drives allow for high data storage but miniaturization of the entire disk drive itself has been limited by requirements of high mechanical control. This patent from Sony teaches a solution based on microelectromechanical disk drives which may eventually compete with flash memory for portable electronics. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of forming a Hard Disk Drive (HDD) Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) system, the method comprising:

forming a substrate including a plurality of rotor elements and at least one layer of magnetic material, the rotor elements being connected to respective stator elements;

cutting the substrate to isolate the rotor elements to form corresponding MEMS rotors, each supporting at least one film of magnetic material;

forming a circular pattern of V-shaped grooves in the MEMS rotors such that, upon rotation of the MEMS rotors, positive air pressure reduces frictional contact between the MEMS rotors and the stator; and

providing magnetic heads for respective ones of the MEMS rotors, for communicating data with the magnetic material.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

US Patent 7479654 - Nanotube RRAM

The research into a variety of new materials in the last decade have resulted in potential for RRAM as a new form of non-volatile memory using resistance as a bit storage element. This patent from Nantero teaches an RRAM memory array based on their nanotube ribbon switches. Claim 22 reads:

22. A memory cell, comprising:

a cell selection circuit in electrical communication with a bit line and a first word line to select the memory cell in response to activation of at least one of the bit line and the first word line; and

a two-terminal nanotube switching device having only first and second conductive terminals to access and program the switching device wherein each of the first and second conductive terminals is coupled to a nanotube article, the first terminal in electrical communication with the cell selection circuit and the second terminal in electrical communication with a second word line,

wherein selecting the memory cell and applying a first electrical stimulus to at least one of the bit line, first word line, and second word line changes a resistance of the switching device between the first and second terminals from a relatively low resistance to a relatively high resistance, and

wherein selecting the memory cell and applying a second electrical stimulus to at least one of the bit line, first word line, and second word line changes a resistance of the switching device between the first and second terminals from a relatively high resistance to a relatively low resistance,

wherein the relatively high resistance between the first and second terminals corresponds to a first informational state of the memory cell, and wherein the relatively low resistance between the first and second terminals corresponds to a second informational state of the memory cell.


US Patent 7479404 - Nanoporous photonic crystal biosensor

This patent from the University of Illinois teaches a cheaper method of manufacturing high sensitivity protein sensors based on nanoporous films. Claim 16 reads:

16. A method of making a sensor comprising:

(a) curing a layer of nanoporous material having a low refractive index onto a substrate;

(b) depositing a high dielectric constant dielectric material on top of the nanoporous material; and

(c) patterning the high dielectric constant dielectric material into a sub-wavelength period grating structure.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

US Patent 7479325 - Isotope doped carbon nanotube

Isotopic labeling is a method for tracking a sample during chemical processing. This patent from Tsinghua University teaches an isotope doped carbon nanotube useful for such labeling. Claim 1 reads:

1. An isotope-doped nanotube of an element, comprising:

an elongated tube structure including a first nanotube segment made of first isotopes of said element, and a second nanotube segment made of second isotopes of said element, the first and second nanotube segments selectively occurring along an axial direction of said elongated tube structure.

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US Patent 7479052 - Growth of CNT field emitters in amorphous carbon layer

Carbon nanotube based field emission arrays have the potential to provide larger area flat panel displays with higher energy efficiency. However, if the density of the nanotubes is too high a field screening effect can result which reduces the efficiency. This patent from Samsung teaches one solution that uses an amorphous carbon layer to regulate the nanotubes grown from a substrate. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of growing carbon nanotubes, comprising:

preparing a substrate;

forming a catalyst metal layer on the substrate to promote growing of carbon nanotubes;

forming an amorphous carbon layer on the catalyst metal layer, the amorphous carbon layer partially covering the catalyst metal layer; and

growing carbon nanotubes from a surface of the catalyst metal layer, the carbon nanotubes being grown on a portion of the surface of the catalyst metal layer that is not covered by the amorphous carbon layer.


Friday, January 16, 2009

US Patent 7477441 - Nanowire array anti-stiction layer for MEMS

US Patent 7,477,441

Stiction is a critical problem to many micromachining devices that ultimately limits the ability to miniaturize mechanical structures via lithography. Some conventional solutions include chemical coatings having anti-sticking surfaces and the use of mechanical standoffs providing spacing. This patent from Hewlett-Packard teaches another alternative based on the use of nanowire arrays as standoffs which may facilitate the further miniaturization of micromachines. Claim 1 reads:

1. A MEMS device, comprising:

a first member having a first surface;

a second member having a second surface, said first and second surfaces being separated by a gap that is closable by a MEMS actuation force applied to at least one of said first and second members; and

a standoff layer disposed on said first surface of said first member, said standoff layer providing standoff between said first and second surfaces upon a closing of said gap by said MEMS actuation force;

wherein said standoff layer comprises a plurality of nanowires anchored to said first surface and extending outward therefrom.


US Patent 7476982 - Electrically conductive nanofiber adhesive

US Patent 7,476,982

This patent from the Regents of the University of California teaches a potential replacement for solder based IC connection in the form of nanofibers that could help eliminate problems of thermal mismatch during packaging which result in integrated circuit malfunction. Claim 1 reads:

1. An integrated circuit chip comprising:

a chip surface;

one or more contact pads disposed on the chip surface; and

one or more electrically conductive nano-fibers formed on the one or more contact pads, the one or more electrically conductive nano-fibers configured to provide an adhesive force by intermolecular forces and establish an electrical connection with one or more contact pads disposed on the surface of a chip package.


Thursday, January 15, 2009

US Patent 7476967 - Porous alumina/CNT thermal interface

US Patent 7,476,967

In order to maximize the thermal conductive properties of carbon nanotubes this patent from Intel teaches aligning the nanotubes in an nanoporous alumina template. Claim 1 reads:

1. A device comprising:

an integrated circuit die; and

a thermal interface device coupled with a surface of the die, the thermal interface device comprising a layer of a porous metal oxide, the layer comprising a first surface and an opposing second surface, and a number of carbon nanotubes disposed in pores of the porous metal oxide layer, the carbon nanotubes extending beyond the first surface and the second surface of the porous metal oxide layer.


US Patent 7476889 - Radiation protective clothing using nanomaterials

US Patent 7,476,889

This patent assigned to Meridian Research and Development with priority possibly going back as far as 1998 (via continuations-in-part) includes some very basic claims to using nanomaterial/polymer composites in clothing for radiation protection. Claim 1 reads:

1. An article of clothing comprising a flexible layer formed from a radiopaque polymeric mixture having a polymer and a radiopaque nano-material.

Although this may not be prior art a patent to Eikos teaches using carbon nanotubes in EMI shielding polymers has priority to 1999 (US Patent 6,265,466).


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

US Patent 7476765 - Addressable nanoparticle field enhancement microscopy

Sharp metallic tips or particles have the propery of electromagnetic field enhancement which is well known to be useful to molecular analysis techniques such as Surface Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy. This patent teaches a method to differentiate the signals from different nanoparticles. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method comprising:

illuminating a nanoscale array of islands with an electromagnetic signal;

addressing the nanoscale array to differentiate signals from different islands of the nanoscale array, the differentiated signals originating from illuminating the nanoscale array; and

applying the differentiated signals to microscopy of a specimen.

However, the broad claims appear to overlook a great deal of prior art involving the use of metal nanoparticles and quantum dots as biotags which would seem to read on the claims. See for example the article "Nanoparticles for bioanalysis" by Penn et al. published in 2003.


US Patent 7476596 - Fluidic nanowire alignment

This patent from Harvard professor and Nanosys co-founder Charles Lieber teaches a methodology for aligning parallel arrays of semiconductor nanowires via a fluidic flow and transfer process which provides a broader range of substrate materials on which transistors can be fabricated. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of assembling one or more nanoscale elongated structures on a surface of a substrate, the method comprising acts of:

(A) flowing a fluid that comprises the one or more nanoscale elongated structures onto the surface, which nanoscale elongated structures have at least one portion having a smallest dimension of less than 500 nm; and

(B) aligning the one or more nanoscale elongated structures on the surface to form an array of the nanoscale elongated structures; and

(C) transferring the array of nanoscale elongated structures from the surface of the substrate to a surface of another substrate.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

US Patent 7476442 - Ligand linked nanoparticle chain

This patent from M.I.T. appears to disclose a method of making a nanoparticle chain system analogous to polymeric chains of molecules. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for creating a multiple-nanoparticle assembly in a controlled fashion, comprising the steps of:

providing a plurality of nanoparticles;

providing a plurality of ligands, each of the ligands comprising at least one linker arm;

attaching at least one ligand to each of the plurality of nanoparticles; and

reacting at least one ligand linker arm with a linker arm of a ligand attached to another nanoparticle, forming an assembly of multiple nanoparticles.


US Patent 7476439 - Nanoporous carbon fiber matrix

This patent from Honda Motor Co. teaches an improved friction material based on a flexible carbon composite having improved dynamic friction performance due to nanoporous structure. Claim 1 reads:

1. A carbon fiber composite material comprising:

carbon fibers, and

a carbon matrix provided between the carbon fibers and joining the carbon fibers with each other, the matrix having fine pores having diameters of 3.5 nm to 100 nm.

However, there seems to have been some prior art overlooked related to carbon fiber based molecular sieves. An example is US Patent 5,827,355 - see column 6, lines 61-67.


US Patent 7476375 - Fullerene fuel for fusion

This patent from a company called Carbon Labs teaches a new molecular storage vessel based on fullerene (C60) used to facilitate the uniform compression and heating necessary for fusion reactions. Claim 1 reads:

1. A fusion fuel for use in a fusion reaction, comprising:

a cage-like molecule;

two light nuclei encapsulated in the cage-like molecule, wherein the two light nuclei are suitable for use as reactants in the fusion reaction;

a first light nuclei externally attached to the cage-like molecule; a second light nuclei externally attached to the cage-like molecule;

wherein the first external light nuclei is selected from the group consisting of: deuterium, tritium, and hydrogen; and

wherein the second external light nuclei is lithium.


Thursday, January 08, 2009

US Patent 7474811 - Nanowire array photonics

This patent from Hewlett Packard teaches a nanowire array useful to the integration between optical and electronic devices. Claim 1 reads:

1. A photonic apparatus comprising:

a low-index optical waveguide having a confined region; and

a plurality of nanowires, the nanowires being distributed within the confined region, wherein the plurality of nanowires is distributed to collectively one or more of produce, enhance, modulate and detect an optical field, the low-index optical waveguide confining the optical field in the confined region.


US Patent 7474602 - Bent CNT tip for thermal data storage

The IBM millipede project offers the prospect of higher density data storage using technology based on atomic force microscopy. The memory storage in these devices are based on thermal effects from a heated tip acting on a phase change medium. This patent teaches how the high thermal conductivity of carbon nanotubes can be used to enhance the functionality of the tips. Claim 1 reads:

1. Data storage device, comprising:

at least one write head, the write head comprising a heating element and a tip; and

a data storage medium, wherein in an operation mode of the data storage device the tip is in contact with a surface of the data storage medium and heat is applied to the tip by means of the heating element,

wherein the tip comprises a silicon tip body and a carbon nanotube element having a first portion extending in a first direction and a second portion extending in a second direction,

wherein the first direction is substantially perpendicular to a surface of the heating element and the second direction is substantially parallel to a surface of the silicon tip body, and

wherein the first portion of the carbon nanotube element is at least partially in contact with the surface of the data storage medium in the operation mode.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

US Patent 7473943 - Nanowire FET with overlapping contacts

Nanosys has developed many designs of field effect transistors (FETs) using multiple semiconductor nanowires to form the channels. This patent focuses on an individual core/shell nanowire structure for FET construction including an asymmetrical double gate arrangement for improved performance. Claim 1 reads:

1. An electronic device, comprising:

at least one nanowire having a core;

a gate contact positioned along at least a portion of a length of said at least one nanowire;

a dielectric material layer between said gate contact and said at least one nanowire, wherein said dielectric material is a shell layer formed around said core of said at least one nanowire;

a source contact in contact with an exposed portion of said core of said at least one nanowire;

a drain contact in contact with an exposed portion of said core of said at least one nanowire; and

wherein at least a portion of at least one of said source contact and said drain contact overlaps with said portion of said length of said at least one nanowire along which the gate contact is positioned.


US Patent 7473922 - Stacked quantum dot infrared detector with dark current reducing quantum wells

In photodetectors the dark current is defined as the amount of current flowing when no light is present. For higher sensitivity detectors it is desirable to decrease the dark current and this patent from Fujitsu teaches a quantum dot infrared detector using a quantum well capable of providing reductions in dark current. Claim 1 reads:

1. An infrared detector, comprising:

an infrared detecting section which includes stacked quantum dot layers; and

at least one dark current reducing layer which is provided at an end portion in a stacking direction of said infrared detecting section and has a quantum well structure.

However, one piece of prior art which may have some relevance, but which was not considered during the examination is the article "Low dark current quantum-dot infrared photodetectors with an AlGaAs current blocking layer" published in Applied Physics Letters in 2001.


Tuesday, January 06, 2009

US Patent 7473411 - Carbon nanotube foam

This patent from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute teaches a more compacted form of carbon nanotube foam applicable to a variety of high energy storage devices (e.g. fuel cells, Li-ion batteries, supercapacitors). Claim 1 reads:

1. A composition of matter comprising a carbon nanotube foam, wherein the foam comprises a cellular film containing an open cellular structure and the film is located on a substrate which promotes growth of carbon nanotubes in a direction normal to the substrate surface, wherein: the cellular structure of the cellular film comprises rims and depressions; the rims comprise carbon nanotubes substantially aligned in a first direction; and the depressions comprise carbon nanotubes substantially aligned in a second direction substantially perpendicular to the first direction.


US Patent 7472601 - Piezoresistive nanowire sensor

This patent from Radi Medical Systems teaches a higher sensitivity blood pressure and temperature sensor based on silicon nanowires. Claim 1 reads:

1. A sensor for intravascular measurement within a living body, comprising:

a guide wire, a sensor element, which is arranged at a distal portion of the guide wire, wherein the sensor element comprises at least one piezoresistive nanowire.


US Patent 7472576 - Nanoisland calibration standard for scanning probes

For purposes of nanoscale meterology atomic lattice spacing of crystalline silicon planes provide a good sub-nanometer calibration standard while microfabrabrication can produce standards on the order of 10s of nanometers. However, in the range of 1-20 nm there are fewer options to calibrate tools such as scanning probe microscopes. This patent teaches forming various "nano-islands" using epitaxial growth to serve as standards for this range. Claim 1 reads:

1. A calibration standard, comprising:

a substrate;

at least one nano-island situated at a surface of the substrate; and

an indicia associated with a crystallographic orientation of the at least one nano-island, wherein the indicia is fixed with respect to the nano-island.