Thursday, June 28, 2012

US Patents 8208661 and 8208675 - Headphones and loadspeaker with CNT thermoacoustic material

In the last few years Foxconn has been obtaining several basic patents for applications of carbon nanotubes as acoustic transducers. These latest patents focus on headphones and loudspeakers incorporating these carbon nanotube transducers.

Claim 1 of US 8208661:

1. An apparatus comprising:

a headphone, the headphone comprising:

at least one housing; and

at least one sound wave generator disposed in the at least one housing, the at least one sound wave generator comprising at least one carbon nanotube structure, the at least one carbon nanotube structure is capable of producing sound by a thermoacoustic effect;

wherein the at least one carbon nanotube structure is capable of producing sound in response to an electrical signal, the electrical signal is capable of causing the at least one carbon nanotube structure to increase in temperature;

the carbon nanotube structure is in contact with a medium and is capable of transmitting heat to the medium.

Claim 1 of US 8208675:

1. A loudspeaker, the loudspeaker comprising:

an enclosure; and

at least one sound wave generator disposed in the enclosure,

wherein the at least one sound wave generator comprising at least one carbon nanotube structure, the carbon nanotube structure is capable of converting electrical signals into heat and transferring the heat to a medium in contact with the at least one carbon nanotube structure to cause a thermoacoustic effect.                             


US Patent 8207549 - LED package with CNT electrodes

LED packaging includes metal electrodes which reduce the light emission efficiency. This patent from Foxconn teaches instead using carbon nanotube material to overcome this problem. Claim 1 reads:

1. A light emitting diode package, comprising:

a housing; and

a light emitting unit received in the housing, the light emitting unit comprising:

a first carbon nanotube layer;

at least two spaced light emitting chips formed on the first carbon nanotube layer; and

a second carbon nanotube layer covering the at least two spaced light emitting chips;

wherein the light emitting unit further comprises a light reflective layer formed on an outer surface of the first carbon nanotube layer.


US Patent 8207521 - Catalyst-free single crystal silicon nanowires

Metal catalysts are conventionally used to fabricate semiconductor nanowires but the catalyst material introduces impurities in the nanowires. This patent from Samsung teaches how to fabricate silicon nanowires without catalysts and includes some broad claims for the catalyst-free nanowires. Claim 1 reads:

1. A catalyst-free single crystal silicon nanowire consisting of:

silicon; and

at least one dopant,

wherein the catalyst-free single crystal silicon nanowire has a diameter of about 2 nanometers to about 200 nanometers and a length of about 10 nanometers to about 1,000 micrometers.


Wednesday, June 27, 2012

US Patent 8207449 - Non-metallic nanowire electronics

This patent from General Electric has priority going back to 2003 and teaches the in situ growth of non-metallic nanowires for applications as electronic sensors or nanoelectromechanical devices. Claim 1 reads:

1. An electronic device, said electronic device comprising:

a) at least one substrate;

b) a plurality of electrodes, wherein said plurality of electrodes are disposed on said substrate, and wherein said plurality of electrodes comprises a first electrode and a second electrode in electrical communication with each other via at least one non-metallic nanowire conductor extending from said first electrode to said second electrode, and wherein the at least one non-metallic nanowire grows from a portion of a catalyst disposed on an edge of the first electrode, and wherein the non-metallic nanowire comprises an oxide, a nitride, a boride, a carbide, or combinations thereof.                             


US Patent 8207431 - Transmission electron microscope grid formed from nanotube film

There is increasing interest in using microgrids in transmission electron microscopy to support powder samples and observe high resolution images but metal mesh grids include undesirable metal oxide impurities. This patent from Beijing FUNATE Innovation Technology teaches using carbon nanotube material instead to avoid impurities in the microgrid. Claim 1 reads:

1. A transmission electron microscope (TEM) micro-grid comprising:

a pure carbon grid having a plurality of holes defined therein;

at least one carbon nanotube film covering the holes; and

wherein the pure carbon grid is a sheet of carbon nanotube structure.


US Patent 8207290 - Generating polymeric nanoparticles

Polymeric nanoparticles can be used for nanoscale drug delivery systems but there is difficulty in controlling the particles size and uniformity. This patent from Cerulean Pharma teaches a new forming process that enables more control over the size of nanoparticles. Claim 1 reads:

1. A process for forming polymeric nanoparticles, comprising:

introducing an anti-solvent into a static mixer to create a mixed flowing stream of the anti-solvent,

introducing a polymer-carrying liquid into said mixed flowing stream of the anti-solvent so as to form polymeric nanoparticles.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

US Patent 8206824 - Particle-rod nanostructures

This patent from Wayne State University teaches interconnecting organic rod shaped nanostructures with inorganic particle shaped nanostructures for electronic, optical, and bio-sensing applications. Claim 1 reads:

1. A particle-rod nanostructure comprising: an inorganic nanoparticle coated with a capping agent; and one or more organic crystalline rods nucleated on the capped inorganic nanoparticle in a one-dimensional growth pattern.


US Patent 8206803 - Nanocrystal HDD

Commercial HDDs (hard disk drives) typically use magnetic disks to store information but it is difficult to achieve recording densities higher than 500 Gb per square inch. This patent from Seagate teaches using a disk formed from a nanocrystal layer sandwiched between insulating layers to trap charge and obtain recording densities of greater than 1 Tb per square inch. Claim 1 reads:

1. An information storage medium comprising:

a conductive layer;

a first insulating layer formed on a surface of the conductive layer;

a nanocrystal layer that is formed on the first insulating layer and comprises conductive nanocrystal particles; and

a second insulating layer formed on the nanocrystal layer,

wherein the conductive nanocrystal particles are configured to trap electrons that tunnel through the second insulating layer and thereby record information.


US Patent 8206674 - Production of boron nitride nanotubes

Since 1995 laboratories have been able to produce few-walled boron nitride nanotubes but only in small batches. This patent from researchers at NASA teaches a new fabrication process to increase the yield of boron nitride nanotubes providing high strength-to-weight, high temperature resistance, and radiation shielding properties for aerospace applications. Claim 1 reads:

1. A process for producing boron nitride nanotubes and nanostructures, which process comprises thermally exciting a boron-containing target in a chamber under nitrogen pressure which is elevated above 2 atmospheres and less than 250 atmospheres.


Monday, June 25, 2012

US Patent 8204407 - CNT corona wires

Corona wires are important components of electrophotographic laser printers used for creating electric charge on a photosensitive drum. This patent from Xerox teaches how carbon nanotubes can produce corona wires with improved durability. Claim 1 reads:

1. A charging device comprising:

a receptor; and

a wire coronode disposed opposing and spaced apart from the receptor,

wherein the wire coronode comprises one or more carbon nanotube yarns arranged to emit a corona charge to the receptor using a low operating voltage, and each of the one or more carbon nanotube yarns has a minor dimension of about 100 microns or less and a resistivity of about 4×10−4 Ω-cm or less.                             


US Patent 8203864 - Forming nanotube ReRAM

Sandisk, a major player in flash drive technology, has begun patenting various solutions for ReRAM memory in the last few years. This latest patent focuses on fabricating ReRAM using carbon nanotube material. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of forming a memory cell, the method comprising:

forming a first conductor;

forming a steering element above the first conductor;

forming a carbon nanotube material coupled in series with the steering element; and

forming a second conductor above the carbon nanotube material.                            


Thursday, June 21, 2012

US Patent 8203179 - Complex oxide nanodot memory transistor

This patent from Micron Technology teaches using "nanodot" structures in a perovskite thin film for a charge trapping layer in order to scale memory transistors beyond the capability of SONOS or Flash non-volatile memory. Claim 1 reads:

1. A device having a memory cell, the memory cell comprising:

an active area formed of a semiconductor material;

a first dielectric over the semiconductor material;

a second dielectric comprising a material having a perovskite structure over the first dielectric, wherein the second dielectric comprises a plurality of spaced-apart nanodots, wherein the nanodots have a density in the range of about 1×1011/cm2 to about 1×1014/cm2;

a third dielectric over the second dielectric; and

a gate electrode over the third dielectric.                             


US Patent 8203171 - Defective graphene "memristor"

Despite the fact that Chua's memristor theory is an incorrect model for ReRAM switching processes HP continues to use the term in their patents to make the term generic. This latest patent of HP teaches a graphene variation of ReRAM. Another variation of graphene ReRAM was patented by SanDisk 3D (US 8048074). It will be interesting to see whether HP's incorrect use of the memristor term will introduce any 35 USC 112 enablement issues if their patents are litigated. Claim 1 of this HP patent reads:

1. A defective graphene-based memristor, comprising:

a first electrode;

a defective graphene structure adjacent the first electrode, the defective graphene structure comprising a defective graphene layer having one or more engineered defects, wherein an engineered defect comprises a nanopore;

a memristive material adjacent the defective graphene structure, the memristive material comprising a plurality of ions;

a second electrode adjacent the memristive material; and

a voltage source that generates an electric field between the first and the second electrodes, wherein the plurality of ions in the memristive material, under the influence of the electric field, form an ion conducting channel between the second electrode and the defective graphene structure.                             


US Patent 8203136 - Nanorod LED

This patent from Sino-American Silicon Products Inc. claims to reduce the manufacture cost and increase the production speed of LED structures formed from semiconductor nanorods. Claim 1 reads:

1. An epitaxial substrate, comprising:

a crystalline substrate being formed of a first material and having a crystal surface; and

a plurality of non-aligned nanorods having non-fixed lattice constant and being formed of an oxide of a second material different from the first material, and randomly arranged on the crystal surface of the crystalline substrate.                             


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

US Patent 8202817 - Nanohorn aggregate

Sumio Iijima of NEC is most famous for his analysis of carbon nanotube structures in the early 1990's but his most recent patents involve another carbon nanostructure called nanohorns for use as catalysts in fuel cells. This latest patent covers nanohorns supported on petal-shaped graphene sheets. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nanocarbon aggregate comprising:

a graphite aggregate including one or a plurality of graphene sheets and having a petal shape as a whole; and

a plurality of nanohorns supported on said petal-shaped graphite aggregate.


US Patent 8202614 - Superhydrophobic microparticles

Superhydrophobic coatings provide advantages for self-cleaning surfaces, microfluidics, and micro fuel cell chips. This patent from Luna Innovations teaches a microparticle/nanoparticle system providing a superhydrophobicity. Claim 1 reads:

1. An additive particle comprising

a carrier microparticle,

a plurality of nanoparticles adhered to and substantially covering a surface of the microparticle, and

a hydrophobic surface treatment material in contact with exposed surfaces of the carrier microparticle and/or the nanoparticles sufficient to impart a superhydrophobic contact angle to the additive particle of greater than 150°.


US Patent 8202607 - Transfer belt formed from nanodiamond

This is the latest in a series of patents from Xerox focusing on the use of nanomaterials to improve the operation and lifespan of laser printers. Specifically this patent teaches an improved image transfer belt formed from graphene coated nanodiamond material. Claim 1 reads:

1. An intermediate transfer member comprised of a nano diamond comprised of a diamond core and a graphite shell thereover, and wherein said nano-diamond core is present in an amount of from about 20 to about 99.9 weight percent and said shell includes functional groups thereon.


Sunday, June 17, 2012

Memory Resistor Patents at ICAP Patent Auction

In the last year several semiconductor companies including Hewlett-Packard (in collaboration with Hynix Semiconductor), Sharp (in collaporation with Elpida), Panasonic, and Sandisk have estimated that a new form of nonvolatile memory called ReRAM would begin replacing Flash, DRAM, and SRAM starting in 2013. Researchers from HP and several academics have also brought attention to a theoretical circuit element from the 1970's called a memristor. Although the memristor theory is flawed as a theoretical model (link) it has increased interest in resistance switching materials leading to funding by DARPA and NSF in exploring new applications for these materials.

Back in 2006, while a graduate student at George Mason University, I had begun research in resistance switching materials and patenting electronic circuit designs based on these materials. At the time I approached a few different companies (HP, Micron Technologies, Unity Semiconductor) with my ideas but there was not much interest. However, since there seems to be more interest now I decided to put my patents related to memory resistors up for auction at ICAP's patent brokerage. A presentation from the 1st memristor and memristive systems symposium at UC Berkeley describing my patented technology is available on slideshare (link). Below is a quote from the ICAP patent lot summary (link):

Value Proposition: With priority dates from 2006, the patents in this portfolio describe programmable crossbar circuit architectures using memory resistor materials. The disclosures provide for a crossbar array circuit architecture that offers solutions to the sneak path problem of ReRAM memory arrays and the integration of memory resistor materials with semiconductor electronics. This architecture can be used in physical devices to make them capable of performing a linear transformation of the input signals into output signals. The disclosed crossbar arrays are programmable and can be used in signal processing applications such as wave function generation, control systems, signal filtering, communications, and pattern recognition. This architecture also improves the speed and flexibility of electronic devices.

More information is available by contacting ICAP (link) or by e-mailing

Thursday, June 14, 2012

US Patent 8198707 - Forming thin dielectric layer on graphene

In order to fabricate MOSFETs it is necessary to form a uniform thickness insulation layer on the semiconductor active layer. In the case of graphene MOSFETs it has been proposed to expose the graphene to reactive oxygen but this leads to the creation of defects leading to unreliable manufacture. This patent from the University of Texas teaches a new technique which may solve this problem and facilitate graphene transistor manufacturing. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for forming a uniformly thin dielectric layer on graphene, the method comprising:

transferring graphene onto a surface of one of a first dielectric layer and a substrate;

depositing a layer of one of a metal and a semiconductor on said graphene;

subjecting said layer of one of said metal and said semiconductor to an oxidation process; and

depositing a second dielectric layer on one of said oxidized metal and said oxidized semiconductor.


US Patent 8198622 - Nanoparticle doped nanowires

This patent from Panasonic teaches a way to engineer the light emission or detection properties of semiconductor nanowires by integrating nanoparticle material into the nanowire structure. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nanowire comprising:

a nanowire body made of a first semiconductor material which contains a plurality of elements; and

a plurality of nanoparticles made of a second semiconductor material which contains at least one of the plurality of elements and is different from the first semiconductor material, the plurality of nanoparticles being located at least one of an interior and a surface of the nanowire body.


US Patent 8198349 - Self-healing and scratch resistance using graphene

Nanoparticles have often been suggested to enable "self-healing" properties of materials to repair wear and damage and increase lifespan. This patent from GL Global teaches a new variation using graphene in a shape memory polymer. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for improving the scratch resistance and self healing powers of a polymeric material including a shape memory polymer material, the method comprising:

introducing a graphene material to the shape memory polymer material in an amount that improves the scratch resistance and self healing powers of the shape memory polymer material,

wherein said graphene material comprises between about 0.005 and 0.025 weight percent of the shape memory polymer material.


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

US Patent 8197888 - Dispersion, alignment, and deposition of nanotubes with nanoplatelets

This patent is from Texas A+M University and teaches methods of precision placement of carbon nanotubes. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nanocomposite comprising at least one nanotube; wherein said nanotube is associated with at least one nanoplatelet, and wherein said nanotube is an exfoliated nanotube.


US Patent 8197789 - Selective elimination of metallic carbon nanotubes

The fabrication of single walled carbon nanotubes usually results in a mixture of nanotubes with metallic and semiconducting properties. This patent from Samsung teaches using xenon or infrared lamps to remove the metallic nanotubes. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for selectively eliminating metallic carbon nanotubes, the method comprising:

irradiating carbon nanotubes with light having a continuous spectrum of wavelengths of about 180 nm to about 11 μm and an intensity of about 30 mW/cm2 to about 300 mW/cm2 to selectively eliminate metallic carbon nanotubes.


US Patent 8197720 - Non-blinking semiconductor nanocrystals

Blinking is a problem well known to quantum dots used as biological tags. This patent from Konica Minolta Medical and Graphic teaches a core/shell quantum dot structure which overcomes this problem. Claim 1 reads:

1. Core shell-type semiconductor nanoparticles having an average particle size of from 2 to 50 nm and comprising

an intermediate layer between a core portion and a shell portion,

wherein band gap widths of bulk crystals which have the same compositions as those of the core portion, the intermediate portion and the shell portion, respectively, are in the order of: core portion, shell portion, intermediate layer.


Tuesday, June 12, 2012

US Patent 8197716 - EM wave suppressing nanomaterial

There have been several patents over the past few decades suggesting the use of nanomaterials in suppressing electromagnetic interference and noise. This latest patent from Sharp teaches one variation using a combination of nanoparticles and an ionic liquid to optimize both the EM suppression and the viscosity to allow for ease of processing. Claim 1 reads:

1. An electromagnetic-wave suppressing device including an electromagnetic-wave suppressing material, the electromagnetic-wave suppressing material comprising:

an ionic liquid; and

nanometer-order particles mixed with the ionic liquid,

wherein 10 wt % or more of the nanometer-order particles is mixed with respect to 100 wt % of the ionic liquid.                             


US Patent 8197471 - Core-excited nanoparticles used in cancer treatment

This patent from inventor Samuel Harry Tersigni teaches a way to increase the thermal energy that can be produced by nanoparticles used in cancer therapies to improve the effectiveness of the therapy. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for generating heat in an amount sufficient to kill or damage target cells or tissue, comprising:

a) delivering on, in or nearby cells or tissue to be killed or damaged, nanoparticles comprising a core of a first chemical composition surrounded by a shell of a second chemical composition, wherein the core comprises core-exciting energy absorbing species which transfer energy to the shell in an amount sufficient for the shell to heat the cells or tissue to be killed or damaged, when the nanoparticles are exposed to core-exciting energy, and

b) exposing the nanoparticles to the core-exciting energy in a manner and duration such that the nanoparticles emit heat in sufficient quantity to kill or damage the cells or tissue.

US Patent 8197241 - Nanocomposite Moineau pump

Moineau pumps are commonly used to extract oil from wells in addition to other areas of fluid transport. This patent from Schlumberger Technology Corporation teaches the use of carbon nanotube materials to increase the durability of these devices. Claim 1 reads:

1. An apparatus for use with a fluid, comprising:

a stator with a profiled helical inner surface; and

a rotor with a profiled helical outer surface that interfaces to said profiled helical inner surface of said stator to form cavities for the fluid between said stator and said rotor, said cavities progressing axially as said rotor is rotated relative to said stator,

wherein at least one of said stator or said rotor comprises a nanocomposite material that includes a polymeric matrix with carbon nanotubes dispersed therein wherein the nanocomposite material improves thermal conductivity,

the improved thermal conductivity inhibiting excessive build up of heat in said stator or said rotor.                             


Sunday, June 10, 2012

US Patent 8196218 - Measuring molecular conductivity

This patent is from the University of Georgia Research Foundation and includes some basic claims useful for studying the electrical properties of molecules. Claim 14 reads:

14. A method of characterizing a molecule or substance, comprising:

applying a sample bias across a first and a second electrode bridged by a single molecule of the substance;

tuning the sample bias and

measuring conductivity while separating the first electrode from the second electrode under a defined stretching behavior.


US Patent 8195596 - Interconnected quantum processor topology

In recent years D-Wave has been on the forefront in commercializing quantum computers capable of solving computationally complex problems beyond the capability of conventional microprocessors. This is one of their latest patents including some broad claims for analog quantum processing. Claim 1 reads:

1. An analog processor system comprising:

a plurality of quantum devices forming a fully interconnected topology of at least 5 quantum devices; and

a plurality of controllable coupling devices wherein there exists a controllable coupling device between each pair of quantum devices in the plurality of quantum devices.


US Patent 8193455 - Graphene electronics fabrication

The electron mobility of graphene makes the material extremely attractive for high speed microelectronics. However, graphene is very sensitive to adsorbents, defects, and impurities which makes practical electronic devices difficult to manufacture. This patent from Hitachi Global Storage Technologies teaches a graphene electronic design which may overcome this problem. Claim 1 reads:

1. A circuit structure comprising:

a plurality of layers of graphene formed one on another; and

first and second electrical contacts, both of the first and second electrical contacts being electrically connected with a single graphene layer of the plurality of layers of graphene,

wherein at least a portion of the plurality of graphene layers have first and second edges that define first and second sides, and

wherein the single layer of graphene extends beyond the first and second sides.


Thursday, June 07, 2012

US Patent 8193030 - ReRAM with nanotube stabilization layer

This patent from Samsung teaches using a carbon nanotube layer to stabilize the resistance switching properties of ReRAM memory cells. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of fabricating a storage node useable in a nonvolatile memory device, the method comprising:

forming a lower metal layer;

forming a first oxide on a surface of the lower metal layer;

forming a middle metal layer on the first oxide;

forming a second oxide on a surface of the middle metal layer;

forming an upper metal layer on the second oxide;

forming a carbon nanotube layer on the upper metal layer; and

forming a passivation layer on the carbon nanotube layer.                             


US Patent 8193029 - Nanowire PCRAM

This patent from Samsung teaches scaling phase change memory to dimensions in the range of 1-25 square nanometers. Additional advantages include a smaller switching current and higher operational speed. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of manufacturing a phase-change random access memory (PRAM) device, comprising:

forming a lower electrode through an insulating layer;

forming a phase-change nanowire to be electrically connected to the lower electrode using a single element; and

forming an upper electrode electrically connected to the phase-change nanowire.


US Patent 8193010 - Microcontact printing of quantum dots

This patent from the University of Texas System discloses a method to transfer a uniform thickness of quantum dots to a substrate using nanoscale stamping. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of uniformly transferring luminescent quantum dots onto a substrate, comprising:

a) preparing a colloidal suspension of luminescent quantum dots in a hydrophobic solvent, wherein the density of the hydrophobic solvent is from 0.67 g/cm3 to 0.96 g/cm3;

b) dispensing the suspension onto a convex aqueous surface;

c) allowing the hydrophobic solvent to evaporate, thereby forming a film of luminescent quantum dots;

d) contacting the film of luminescent quantum dots with a hydrophobic stamp; and

e) depositing the film of luminescent quantum dots onto a substrate with the hydrophobic stamp.                             


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

US Patent 8192998 - Nucleic acid analysis via nanowire electrical measurements

This patent teaches a way to use nanowire conductors as a probe to analyze nucleic acids for applications including clinical diagnostics and therapeutics, forensics, and analysis of bio-terrorism agents. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of analyzing a nucleic acid, comprising:

coupling a semiconductor nanowire to a nucleic acid analyte to form a nanowire assembly, the nanowire coupled to first and second electrodes;

inducing a current through the nanowire assembly;

contacting the nanowire assembly with at least one reagent, wherein the reagent covalently modifies the nucleic acid analyte based on the nucleic acid's structure;

measuring an electrical characteristic of the nanowire assembly to determine whether the at least one reagent produced a covalent modification of the nanowire assembly; and

providing structural information about the nucleic acid analyte.

US Patent 8192920 - Nanolithography using rotatable mask

This patent is from a company called Rolith Inc. which has developed a new form of high throughput large surface area nanolithography based on a rolling lithography mask. Claim 1 reads:

1. A lithography method, comprising:

a) depositing a self-assembled monolayer on substrate surface;

b) providing a rotatable mask having a shape of a cylinder or a cone and a nanopattem on an exterior surface of said rotatable mask;

c) contacting said nanopattem with said self-assembled monolayer;

d) distributing radiation through said nanopattem, while rotating said rotatable mask over said self-assembled monolayer,

whereby an image having a feature size less than 500 nm is created in said self-assembled monolayer.


US Patent 8192595 - Metal oxide/carbon nanotube composite

Capacitive deionization is a technique for removing ionic material in a medium by absorbing the ions into a carbon electrode. This patent from Samsung teaches an electrode material based on a mixture of carbon nanotubes and nickel-cobalt oxide which is capable of an improved ionic removal rate. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nanotube composite comprising:

a carbon nanotube; and

a transition metal oxide coating layer disposed on an entire surface of the carbon nanotube, wherein the transition metal oxide coating layer comprises a nickel-cobalt oxide,

wherein a molar ratio of nickel to cobalt in the nickel-cobalt oxide is about 1:2.