Tuesday, November 30, 2010

US Patent 7842271 - Mass production of carbon nanostructures


This patent is from a Russian inventor and claims a more energy efficient mass production method for carbon nanotubes and other fullerene nanostructures. Claim 1 reads:

A method of preparing a composition comprising a nanostructured carbon, the method comprising:

contacting a carbonaceous starting material with an activated acid catalyst to form an activated intermediate; and

providing thermal energy to the activated intermediate to thereby forming a graphene;

wherein the activated acid catalyst comprises an acidic solution previously subjected to an electromagnetic field, electromagnetic radiation, laser irradiation, or plasma activation.

US Patent 7842162 - Nanocoating for enhanced strength paper


This patent is from Louisiana Tech University foundation and teaches ways of improving electrostatic self-assembly of polymeric films using nanoparticles resulting in enhanced strength paper. Claim 1 reads:

A method for making paper with enhanced strength, comprising:

(a) forming a pulp of lignocellulose fibers;

(b) nanocoating said pulp of lignocellulose fibers by alternatively adsorbing onto the fibers multiple consecutively-applied layers of oppositely-charged nanoparticles and polymers, thereby making a modified pulp of multi-layer nanocoated lignocellulose fibers;

(c) draining the modified pulp to form one or more sheets of multi-layer nanocoated lignocellulose fibers;

(d) drying said formed one or more sheets of multi-layer nanocoated lignocellulose fibers; and

(e) processing the dried nanocoated sheet or sheets to make a finished paper having enhanced strength and surface properties.


US Patent 7841714 - Retinal light therapy with nanocrystal glasses


Retinal light therapy has been used to treat sleep and psychiatric disorders. This patent from Quantum Modulation Scientific Inc. teaches a lightweight light therapy system built into eyewear which incorporate quantum dots. Claim 1 reads:

A retinal melatonin suppressor comprising:

a lens and a photoluminescent material including nanocrystals applied to only a portion of the lens to emit photons at a selected wavelength toward a retina of a wearer of the suppressor.


Monday, November 29, 2010

US Patent 7838943 - Shared gate for hybrid nanoelectronics


CMOS device electronics requires the manufacture of both n-doped and p-doped transistors. However, it can be difficult to achieve both doping types using only carbon nanotubes and hybrid techniques using both conventional MOSFETs with nanotube MOSFETs may be preferable. This patent from IBM teaches such a configuration. Claim 1 reads:

1. A hybrid semiconductor structure comprising:

a semiconductor device comprising a semiconductor substrate having a source region and a drain region separated by a channel region, a first gate dielectric that is present on the channel region and a gate conductor that is present on the first gate dielectric; and

a carbon nanotube transistor comprising a second gate dielectric that is in direct contact with an upper surface of the gate conductor, and a carbon nanotube in direct contact with a portion of the second gate dielectric that is in direct contact with the upper surface of the gate conductor,

wherein said gate conductor is shared for both the semiconductor device and the carbon nanotube transistor.


US Patent 7838933 - Printing of aligned nanowire transistors


This patent teaches applying techniques of fluidic nanowire alignment to form high mobility transistors. Claim 1 reads:

1. A structure for forming a transistor comprising:

a dielectric substrate, the dielectric substrate having a first surface that includes a fluid accumulation region between an area for a source electrode and an area for a drain electrode, the fluid accumulation region being pre-patterned via changing surface energies or topologies; and,

a droplet of fluid in the fluid accumulation region, the droplet including semiconductor nanowires suspended in a carrier fluid, the droplet elongated due to the pre-patterned fluid accumulation region such that upon evaporation of the carrier fluid, the nanowires are aligned to form the active region of the transistor between a source electrode and a drain electrode as the droplet reduces in size.

US Patent 7838865 - Method for aligning elongated nanostructures


Last week HP received a patent for self-aligning nanowires deposited via ink drops. This patent from Palo Alto Research is along similar lines using nanowire alignment via a patterned surface. Claim 1 reads:

1. An intermediate structure for forming an electronic device comprising:

a patterned surface; and

an elongated droplet of solution on the patterned surface, the elongated droplet of solution including elongated nanostructures suspended in a carrier solution, the elongated nanostructures approximately aligned lengthwise to correspond to the elongation of the elongated droplet.


US Patent 7838422 - Al-doped nanodot FET


Silicon nanodots used to form charge trap layers in non-volatile memory have been found to produce unstable retention characteristics. This patent from Samsung teaches using aluminum doping to improve retention. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of forming a charge trap layer structure comprising:

forming an amorphous silicon film on a tunneling film;

forming a charge trap layer having a plurality of silicon nano dots and a silicon oxide layer covering the silicon nano dots by partially oxidizing the amorphous silicon film; and

doping the charge trap layer with aluminum (Al) at a concentration of about 0.1 to about 10 atom %.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

US Patent 7837968 - Carbon nanosphere


Fullerenes, carbon nanotubes, and carbon nanohorns have all been suggested as electrode materials for fuel cell catalysts. This latest patent from Samsung teaches another variety of carbon nanostructure to increase the surface area for catalyst support. Claim 1 reads:

1. A carbon nanosphere having at least one opening, and having a diameter of about 100 nm to about 350 nm and a thickness of about 5 nm to about 30 nm.


US Patent 7837892 - Rubber compound containing nanoscale magnetic fillers


This patent deals with a way to improve the thermal properties of rubber without sacrificing any of the mechanical properties by using nanoscale magnetic filler. Claim 1 reads:

1. A rubber compound comprising

at least one non-magnetic filler and

at least one nanoscale, magnetic filler, which is in the form of aggregates of non-magnetic metal oxide matrices having nanoscale, magnetic metal oxide domains.


US Patent 7837116 - Credit card with quantum dot IR blocking material


This patent from American Express is based on a series of continuations going back to 1999 and includes claims covering a transparent credit card having identification materials including quantum dots to provide proper sensing in an ATM as well as indicia for counting the cards on an assembly line during manufacture. Claim 1 reads:

1. A financial transaction card comprising:

a card body adapted to substantially transmit radiation in a visible light wavelength region;

said card body comprising a machine recognizable compound containing infrared blocking materials associated with said card body, said infrared blocking materials comprising a mixture of an IR-absorbing compound, a phosphor compound, and a quantum dot compound;

said machine recognizable compound blocks transmission of incident infrared radiation.


Monday, November 22, 2010

US Patent 7834530 - Nanotube bundle field emitters


Carbon nanotubes have been shown to produce superior electron emission at low electric field strength than other materials but when formed in high density arrays a field screening effect occurs that can diminish the emission density. This patent from CalTech teaches forming an optimized high field emission geometry based upon ordered arrays of nanotube bundles. Claim 1 reads:

1. A high density field emitter comprising:

a plurality of nanotube bundles disposed on a substrate each of said bundles comprising a plurality of individual nanotubes and being characterized by a nanotube bundle dimension defining the spatial cross-section of the individual nanotube bundles,

said bundles being arranged on said substrate in an ordered array characterized by an array dimension defining the edge-to-edge spacing between each said nanotube bundle,

wherein the array dimension is about 5.0 μm and a ratio of the bundle dimension to the array dimension ranges from about 0.2:100 to about 5:2.


US Patent 7834468 - IV-VI semiconductor nanoparticles


This patent from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has early priority (9/5/2001) and includes some broad claims to nanocrystals of PbSe and PbS which may be useful to thermal imaging devices. Claim 1 reads:

1. A plurality of semiconductor nanoparticles having an elementally passivated surface, wherein the nanoparticles comprise a IV-VI semiconductor material.


US Patent 7834331 - Laser microsurgery with nanoablation


Femtosecond laser microsurgery (FLMS) is a technique which allows for the precise manipulation of subcellular structures but requires submicron targeting to be effective. This patent from the University of Texas System teaches a method using metal or carbon nanostructures as a way to focus the laser energy with submicron precision. Claim 1 reads: 

1. A method comprising:

positioning a nanoparticle in proximity to a surface of a material;

irradiating the nanoparticle with a laser tuned to the nanoparticle's plasmonic frequency; and

allowing a near-field effect from the irradiated nanoparticle to photodamage the material.


Sunday, November 21, 2010

US Patent 7834264 - Heterostructure nanowire thermoelectrics


This patent from the Regents of the University of California has an early priority date (3/30/2001) and includes some basic claims to nanomaterials used in thermoelectric energy production. Claim 1 reads:

1. A thermoelectric device, comprising:

a matrix disposed on a substrate;

the matrix comprising one or more inorganic nanowires embedded within a dielectric material;

wherein the one or more nanowires comprise coaxial heterostructure nanowires.


US Patent 7833925 - Method of preparing metal nanoparticles


This patent from Samsung teaches a method of large scale production of metal nanoparticles to be used as catalysts in fuel cells. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of manufacturing metal nanoparticles, comprising:

preparing a mixed solution by mixing a metal precursor with a solvent; and

producing the metal nanoparticles by reducing the metal precursor by radiating the mixed solution with an ion beam radiated by accelerating ions to 10 MeV to 100 MeV with a current of 100 nA to 50 μA.


US Patent 7833801 - Free-standing nanowire chemical sensor


This patent from HP teaches a method of using arrays of vertically oriented metallic or semiconducting nanowires as a high sensitivity chemical sensor. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of detecting the presence of an analyte in a test fluid environment, comprising:

providing a first array of free-standing nanowires that is interactive with an analyte, said first array of free-standing nanowires having individual nanowires that are electrically interactive with one another, said first array of free-standing nanowires being electrically coupled to a chip or computer that is human- or machine-readable;

exposing the first array of free-standing nanowires to a test fluid environment suspected of containing the analyte;

measuring an electrical property provided by the first array of free-standing nanowires upon exposure to the test fluid environment.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

US Patent 7833653 - Reserve cell array nanostructured battery


Conventional electrolytic batteries are designed to provide a fixed operational voltage during the battery lifespan. However, this patent from Alcatel-Lucent teaches an electrolytic battery structure having segmented nanostructured electodes which allow for a controlled selection in the voltage or current provided and which can help extend battery life. Claim 1 reads:  

1. A method for generating a current from a battery, said battery comprising an electrode divided into a plurality of cells, each of said cells in said plurality having a plurality of nanostructures disposed thereon, said method comprising:

selectively contacting an electrolyte fluid with the electrode in a number of cells in said plurality of cells, wherein said number is a function of a desired current to be generated by said battery.


US Patent 7833616 - Self-aligning nanowire ink


For the past decade HP has been using techniques such as nanoimprint lithography to pattern aligned nanowire structures for crossbar electronics. This patent focuses on an alternative method which may be more cost effective based on chemically modified nanowires formed in an ink and capable of self-alignment. Claim 17 reads:

17. An ink formulation for an inkjet printer deposition system, the ink formulation comprising:

a plurality of self-aligning nanowires, a self-aligning nanowire comprising

a nanowire portion and an aligning member attached to the nanowire portion, the aligning member interacting with the aligning member of another self-aligning nanowire of the plurality to align the nanowires; and

 a carrier solution, the plurality of self-aligning nanowires being suspended in the carrier solution, wherein the carrier solution facilitates alignment of the self-aligning nanowires with each other.


US Patent 7833506 - Synthesis of metal-containing nanoparticles


This patent from Bayer Technology teaches a system to ramp up the mass production of nanoparticles to the range of kg/h using a liquid phase process. Claim 1 reads:

1. A liquid phase process for preparing metal-containing nanoparticles and/or nanoparticle dispersions in a reactor, wherein nucleation and growth processes are separated in time and space by controlling the temperature and the volume flows.


US Patent 7832983 - Nano-reinforced carbon fiber housing for aircraft engines


Carbon fiber composites exhibit a superior strength to weight ratio in comparison to most metals used in aircraft design but can introduce processing difficulties. This patent from the Goodrich Corporation and Rohr Inc. teaches incorporating a variety of different nanomaterials into such composites to ease processing and further improve strength. Claim 1 reads:   

1. A nacelle or nacelle component for use in aircraft engines and comprising a composite material including carbon fibers, wherein the carbon fibers comprise from 0.1 to 20 percent by weight nanoreinforcement material.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The Business Prospects of Memristive Electronics

Recently HP and Hynix announced a collaboration to produce a new type of nanoscale non-volatile memory by 2013 called ReRAM based on metal oxide thin films having memristive (i.e. memory resistive) characteristics. Sharp and Elpida have made a similar announcement for a competing type of ReRAM which is also expected to be available in 2013. In addition, start-ups companies such as 4DS, Adestos Technology, and Unity Semiconductor are also in development of variations of ReRAM as a way to simplify scaling beyond Flash memory. I published an article in the Nanotechnology Law & Business Journal this week which describes this technology and the various companies involved (link).

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

US Patent 7829935 - Si quantum dot flash memory


In recent years there have been efforts by companies such as Micron and Samsung to use quantum dots (i.e. semiconductor nanocrystals) in the floating gate of flash memory cells to facilitate scaling. This patent from Hiroshima University in Japan teaches one variety of such structures based on metal silicide core and silicon shell quantum dots. Claim 1 reads:

1. A semiconductor memory having a floating gate structure, comprising:

a charge storage node including first quantum dots and storing electrons; and

a control node including second quantum dots, injecting electrons to the charge storage node and emitting the electron from the charge storage node;

wherein each of the first quantum dots includes a core layer and a clad layer which covers the core layer; and

the electron occupied level in the core layer is lower than that in the clad layer.


US Patent 7829886 - Vertical MWCNT memory


Over the past 10 years the company Nantero has developed several memory cell designs based on micromechanical nanotube structures arranged in crossbars. This patent from Samsung represents a competing micromechanical design based on vertical multiwall carbon nanotubes having movable inner nanotube shells. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nonvolatile memory device comprising:

a substrate;

at least one first electrode on the substrate;

first and second vertical walls on the at least one first electrode spaced apart from each other;

a multiwall carbon nanotube on the at least one first electrode between the first and second vertical walls;

second and third electrodes on the first and second vertical walls, respectively; and

at least one fourth electrode spaced a variable distance D (where D≧0) from the multiwall carbon nanotubes.


US Patent 7829443 - GaN nanowire LEDs


This latest patent from QuNano teaches manufacturing techniques use to grow array of GaN nanowires for LEDs which can reduce defect densities relative to GaN films. Claim 22 reads:

22. A semiconductor device comprising a plurality of nanowires, the nanowires epitaxially connected to and upstanding from a substrate, wherein:

in at least a majority of the nanowires each nanowire has the same crystal structure through its respective entire length;

the nanowires are provided with a volume element comprising at least one shell layer;

the semiconductor device is a LED;

the plurality of nanowires are individual nanostructured LEDs; and

a pn-junction is provided by the nanowires combined with their respective volume elements, such that the nanowires are doped one of n or p-type and the volume element is doped another one of p or n type.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

US Patent 7829351 - Transfer coating of nanostructures


This patent from Nanosys has some relatively early priority (9/25/2003) and includes some basic claims to transferring films of nanofibers or semiconductor nanowires to a substrate. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method, comprising:

forming a plurality of nanostructures on a transfer substrate;

providing a receiving substrate which comprises one or more selected regions of an adherent material;

mating the transfer substrate with the receiving substrate wherein the nanostructures adhere to the one or more selected regions during the mating step; and

separating the transfer substrate from the receiving substrate to leave a population of nanostructures adhered to the receiving substrate.


US Patent 7829050 - Metal-silicide nanowire crossbars


Metal silicides are important to microelectronics for forming ohmic or Schottky contacts between metals and silicon. This patent from HP extends metal silicides to the nanoscale by using techniques of nanoimprint lithography. Claim 14 reads:

14. A nanowire structure, comprising:

a substrate comprising an electrically insulating layer;

a number of substantially single-crystal metal-silicide nanowires positioned on the electrically insulating layer.


US Patent 7829000 - 3D freeform fabrication with nanocomposites


A variety of rapid prototyping devices exist which allow the use of CAD techniques to build 3D structures at low cost. These devices often employ powders and binder jetted in multiple layers but the resultant structure formed from the powders can be deficient in flexural strength. This patent from HP teaches a variety of nanocomposite powders which can improve the strength of the finished product. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for creating a three-dimensional solid freeform fabrication object comprising:

spreading a reactive powder on a substrate, said reactive powder comprising at least one nanocomposite structurally reinforcing agent;

selectively dispensing a core binder in said reactive powder to form a core material; and

selectively dispensing a shell binder in said reactive powder to form a shell on said core material; and

polymerizing both binders with said reactive powder.


Wednesday, November 03, 2010

US Patent 7827131 - High density synapse chip using nanoparticles


This is one of several patents form Alex Nugent of KnowmTech proposing ways to converge elements of  nanotechnology and A.I. to form a new type of computational neural network. Claim 1 reads:

1. A physical neural network synapse chip, wherein said synapse chip comprises:

an input layer comprising a plurality of input electrodes and an output layer comprising a plurality of output electrodes wherein a gap is formed between said input layer and said output layer such that a direction of said gap is mutually perpendicular to said plurality of input electrodes and said plurality of output electrodes; and

a solution comprising a plurality of nanoconductors and a dielectric solvent, wherein said solution is located within said gap, wherein an electric field is applied across said gap from said input layer to said output layer to form nanoconnections of a physical neural network implemented by said synapse chip.


US Patent 7825405 - Core/shell nanocrystal heterostructure


This patent from M.I.T. teaches a variation of type-II heterostructure nanocrystals having enhanced photoconversion efficiency. Claim 1 reads:

1. A device comprising a coated nanocrystal comprising:

a core nanocrystal including a first semiconductor material;

an overcoating including a second semiconductor material on the core nanocrystal; and

an organic layer on a surface of the coated nanocrystal, wherein the first semiconductor material and the second semiconductor material are selected so that, upon excitation, one charge carrier is substantially confined to the core and the other charge carrier is substantially confined to the overcoating.


US Patent 7824653 - Water soluble quantum dots


This patent from Drexel University teaches manufacturing of CdS and ZnS quantum dots aapted for bioconjugation and a high quality emission spectra. Claim 1 reads:

1. A water soluble quantum dot comprising:

a metal sulfide capped with a material consisting essentially of one or more carboxylated molecules.


US Patent 7824619 - Molecular sensors for explosives


Conventional chemical sensors have been unable to compete with the sense of smell of trained animals such as dogs but this patent proposes a nanosensor which may be competitive in detecting minute amount of air-borne molecules of explosive materials. Claim 1 reads:

1. A sensor for detecting the presence of a target analyte comprising a nitro-containing explosive molecule, the sensor comprising:

a support substrate;

a pair of electrodes comprising a first electrode and a second electrode, wherein said first and second electrodes comprise the same or different materials, and wherein at least one of said first and second electrodes is at the substrate;

an electron donor molecule capable of forming an electron donor-acceptor complex with the nitro-containing explosive molecule, wherein the electron donor molecule is chemically bonded to said first electrode and to said second electrode, thereby forming a nanojunction between said first and second electrodes;

a means for detecting a change in the electrical resistance or in the capacitance of the sensor when the electron donor molecule forms an electron donor-acceptor complex with the nitro-containing explosive molecule, wherein said means for detecting a change in the electrical resistance or in the capacitance of the sensor is electrically connected to said pair of electrodes, the sensor thereby detecting the presence of the nitro-containing explosive molecule.