Wednesday, March 28, 2012

US Patent 8143686 - Laser-induced nanostructures

Pulsed laser etching can be useful in shaping microstructures but is typically not feasible to create structures smaller than the laser wavelength. This patent from Harvard teaches a 2-step laser pulsing method which allows for nanoscale structures to be formed on micron structures. Claim 1 reads:

1. A semiconductor substrate, comprising a plurality of micron-sized structures disposed in a top surface layer of the substrate, and a plurality of rod-like nano-sized structures superimposed on said micron-sized structures.


US Patent 8143685 - Image sensor with nanodot focusing

This patent from Samsung teaches the use of metal nanoparticles to focus light into submicron size regions which may be useful to create high density imaging sensors of smaller size. Claim 1 reads:

1. An image sensor, comprising:

a plurality of pixels disposed in an array, each pixel comprising a plurality of sub-pixels, and each sub-pixel comprising a plurality of floating body transistors that receive light, wherein each floating body transistor comprises:

a back gate;

a gate insulating layer disposed on the back gate;

a source region and a drain region disposed on the gate insulating layer;

a semiconductor layer comprising a floating body region disposed between the source region and the drain region; and

at least one metal nanodot focusing the light onto the floating body region.


US Patent 8143339 - Silica nanocomposite polymers

This patent from the University of Massachusetts is based on the finding that blending silica nanoparticles with polymers can result in flame resistant composites applicable to garments, furniture, automobile components, etc. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nanocomposite composition comprising:

a graft polymer comprising a base polymer modified with a polar grafting agent; and

nano-sized silica particles comprising silanol surface groups,

wherein the graft polymer is blended with the silica particles, and

wherein 1% to 10% by weight of the composition is silica.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

US Patent 8143337 - Preparing composite with disperse long fibers and nanoparticles

This patent from Ohio State University teaches combining the advantages of fiber-reinforced and nanoparticle-doped polymers while improving nanoparticle dispersion. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of preparing a composite material including nanoparticles and fibers dispersed in a resin, comprising the steps of:

binding nanoparticles to said fibers;

adding said fibers having said bound nanoparticles thereon to said resin; and

unbinding said nanoparticles from said fibers so as to disperse said nanoparticles in said resin.


US Patent 8143144 - Nanowire hetero-growth

This patent from Panasonic teaches a way to manufacture silicon nanowires having regions of different dopant concentration for thin film transistor used in flat-panel displays. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for fabricating a semiconductor nanowire that has first and second regions, the method comprising:

putting a catalyst particle on a substrate;

growing the first region from the catalyst particle with a vapor-liquid-solid phase (VLS) grower;

forming a protective coating on a sidewall of the first region; and

growing the second region extending from the first region with the VLS grower.


US Patent 8143079 - Silicon nanoparticle white LED

This patent from Goeken Group Corp. teaches using silicon nanoparticles as both UV blockers and down converters of blue LEDs to create brighter white LEDs. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of producing a white light emitting diode comprising the steps of:

providing an ultraviolet/blue light emitting diode, and

providing a converter layer of silicon nanoparticles onto an active surface of the ultraviolet/blue light emitting diode.


US Patent 8142516 - Self-cleaning skin-line prosthetic using nanotubes

This patent from UT-Battelle teaches using carbon nanotubes to improve the thermal conductivity of synthetic skin-like polymers for prosthetic devices. Claim 1 reads: 

1. An external covering for hiding the internal endoskeleton of a mechanical device that provides skin-like qualities, the external covering comprising:

an internal bulk layer having a first side and a second side with the first side being in contact with the internal endoskeleton of the mechanical device; and

an external skin layer comprising a polymer composite with carbon nanotubes embedded therein disposed about the second side of the bulk layer, the orientation and spacing of the carbon nanotubes being predetermined to provide the skin layer with a gradient of mechanical properties;

the skin layer having an inner surface and an outer surface;

the inner surface being in contact with the bulk layer and the outer surface having multiple cone-shaped projections;

wherein the cone-shaped projections provide the external skin layer with superhydrophobicity, while the embedded carbon nanotubes provide the skin layer with enhanced thermal conductivity;

wherein the external skin layer has a higher level of toughness than the internal bulk layer.


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Crossbar, Inc. - a memresistor startup

Crossbar, Inc. is the latest start-up company focusing on resistive memory (ReRAM) as a replacement for Flash, DRAM, and SRAM. The company was formed based on research conducted at the University of Michigan led by Dr. Wei Lu (link) and has begun filing patent applications over the past few years for new forms of ReRAM based on silicon materials. Some pros and cons of this company are as follows:


1) Several major industry players (HP, Hynix, Samsung, Sharp, Sandisk 3D, Toshiba, Panasonic, Rambus) appear to be getting behind ReRAM and building an infrastructure and support system for ReRAM development as a replacement for Flash, DRAM, and SRAM. If successful this will certainly benefit start-ups in the ReRAM space by generating market acceptance.

2) Silicon is the most common semiconductor material used in industry. Gaining a strong patent position for silicon-based ReRAM may give Crossbar, Inc. an advantage with semiconductor memory manufacturing companies who want to stick with silicon instead of switching to metal oxide or chalcogenide materials used in other forms of ReRAM.

3) Dr. Wei Lu has some connection with researchers at HRL Labs who have been funded by DARPA in the SyNAPSE project to develop neuromorphic circuitry based on memresistor electronics (link). This relationship could lead to spin off applications outside of the semiconductor memory market in areas where there is more potential for exponential growth.


1)  There is no evidence yet of a strong management team for Crossbar Inc. A lack of experience and relationships within the semiconductor memory field could make deal-making difficult especially  with much larger companies.

2) The value of the patent portfolio for Crossbar, Inc. is unclear. Most of their patent applications have not yet been examined and some earlier examples of silicon-based ReRAM exist such as discussed in US 7345295 issued to Infineon Technologies. This may severely limit the scope of the claims for Crossbar, Inc.'s patents.

3) Dr. Wei Lu has foolishly adopted the "memristor" idea of Leon Chua in describing his technology. While this may seem beneficial in the short term to attract attention the actual scientific merit of Chua's memristor is highly questionable and is based more on the reputations of Chua and the researchers at HP than on legitimate reproducible evidence (link). In the long term companies such as HP and Crossbar that improperly rely on Chua's theory for attention may weaken the legitimacy of their own technology by association. 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

US Patent 8138874 - Nanomagnetic flip-flop

Flip-flops and shift registers are basic electronic circuits used to store binary data in digital electronics. this patent teaches a way to use nanomagnetic structures to reproduce these circuits on the nanoscale. Claim 1 reads:

1. A structure, comprising:

a substrate;

a plurality of nanomagnets on the substrate, each of the plurality of nanomagnets comprising a first easy axis and a first hard axis, wherein the plurality of nanomagnets are arranged substantially linearly on the substrate along a line extending through one of the first easy axis of each of the plurality of nanomagnets and the first hard axis of each of the plurality of nanomagnets, and wherein the first easy axis and the first hard axis of each of the plurality of nanomagnets are substantially in a first plane; and

a register nanomagnet on the substrate adjacent to one of the plurality of nanomagnets and having a second easy axis and a second hard axis, wherein the second easy axis is parallel to the first easy axis and the second hard axis is in a second plane that is not coplanar with the first plane.


US Patent 8138493 - Nanooptoelectronic semiconductor device

This patent from QuNano teaches the formation of nanostructured materials for increasing the efficiency of LEDs in the infrared to green wavelength region. Claim 1 reads:

1. An optoelectronic semiconductor device comprising at least one semiconductor nanowire, wherein:

the nanowire comprises a nanowire core and a shell layer arranged around at least a portion of the nanowire core; and

the nanowire core and the shell layer form a pn or pin junction that in operation provides an active region for carrier generation or carrier recombination;

the active region comprises quantum dots adapted to act as carrier recombination centres or carrier generation centres.


US Patent 8137750 - Catalytic gold on thermally treated nanoporous supports

This patent from 3M is relevant to membrane electrode assemblies (MEA) of fuel cells and teaches how thermally treated nanoparticles can provide physical adsorption of carbon monoxide so as to improve the efficiency of fuel cells. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of making a catalyst system, comprising the steps of:

a) providing a plurality of nanoparticles;

b) incorporating the nanoparticles into a support, wherein the nanoparticles are present as clusters of aggregated nanoparticles; and

c) using physical vapor deposition techniques to deposit catalytically active gold onto the support, wherein the nanoparticles have been subjected to a thermal treatment.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

US Patent 8137592 - Melt blending CNTs into polymer

This patent from Sabic Innovative Plastics IP B.V. includes some broad claims for melt blending carbon nanotubes into plastics. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of incorporating an additive into a polymer composition, comprising:

melt blending a polymer with a dispersion comprising a liquid carrier, an unmodified clay, and an additive;

wherein the additive comprises conductive carbon black, carbon nanotubes, or a combination thereof.


US Patent 8137526 - Attaching cells to electrochemical nanowires

This patent from Oklahoma State University teaches a method for growing nanowires in proximity to biological cells to facilitate experimentation in cell stimulation. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of growing a nanowire comprising:

providing a pair of electrodes;

immersing the electrode pair in a directed electrochemical nanowire assembly (DENA) compatible salt solution;

selectively applying a voltage signal to the electrode pair to induce growth of the nanowire between the electrode pairs; and

applying a negative electrical bias to one of the electrodes to stimulate self attachment of a living cell to the nanowire.


US Patent 8137442 - Producing nanoporous layer of nanoparticles

This patent from France's Commissariat a l'Energie Atomique teaches a method to simplify manufacturing of relatively high thickness (>10 microns) nanoporous films for corrosion resistant coatings. Claim 1 reads:

1. A process for producing at least one nanoporous layer of nanoparticles selected from the group consisting of nanoparticles of a metal oxide, nanoparticles of metal oxides, and mixtures of said nanoparticles, on a surface of a substrate,

wherein at least one colloidal sol, in which said nanoparticles are dispersed and stabilized, is injected into a thermal plasma jet that sprays said nanoparticles onto said surface, wherein the nanoparticles have a size of 1 to 500 nm.


US Patent 8136551 - CNT-based gas valve

For molecular and atomic layer deposition processes it is necessary to precisely control gas delivery at low concentrations and low pressures. This patent from Applied Materials teaches a carbon nanotube based valve structure to achieve this type of control. Claim 1 reads:

1. A valve for controlling flow of a gas, comprising:

a valve housing;

a block of aligned carbon nanotubes, said block and said valve housing being configured to direct said gas through the carbon nanotubes in said block; and

a device for applying a force to compress said block of aligned carbon nanotubes, wherein said block of aligned carbon nanotubes is compressed perpendicular to the walls of the carbon nanotubes in said block;

whereby the application of said force to said walls restricts the flow of said gas through said valve.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

US Patent 8135244 - Measuring shock pressure with nanocrystals

This patent from the US Department of Energy teaches an optical fiber pressure sensor using quantum dots to achieve an improved response time to measure shock waves. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method, comprising:

positioning nanocrystal quantum dots (NQDs) proximate to an energetic material, compressing said energetic material by detonation whereby a shift in band gap is produced in said NQDs; and

observing an electromagnetic product (EMP) of said shift in band gap during compression of said energetic material.


US Patent 8134774 - Dynamically reconfigurable negative index material with gain

This patent discloses a way to use nanowire crossbar structures to selectively control the resonant characteristics of negative index metamaterials. Claim 1 reads:

1. A negative index material crossbar comprising:

a first layer of non-crossing nanowires;

a second layer of non-crossing nanowires, each nanowire in the second layer overlaying the nanowires in the first layer;

resonant elements at intersections of nanowires in the first layer and nanowires in the second layer; and

a gain material incorporated in the crossbar such that transmitted electromagnetic radiation with wavelengths in a wavelength band of interest is enhanced when the crossbar is flood pumped with pump electromagnetic radiation.

US Patent 8134684 - Immersion lithography using hafnium-based nanoparticles

This patent is based on a collaboration between Sematech and Intel and teaches how hafnium dioxide nanoparticles can be used to create fluids to improve the resolution of immersion lithography tools. Claim 1 reads:

1. A composition of matter comprising:

a medium; and

Hafnium dioxide nanoparticles incorporated in the medium, the Hafnium dioxide nanoparticles having a diameter less than or equal to about 15 nanometers;

wherein said composition of matter is an immersion fluid or a resist.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

US Patent 8133585 - Reducing contact resistance of CNT material

Intel has been working on developing new forms of heat sink materials for microcircuit packaging using carbon nanotubes. This most recent patent teaches a thermally conductive nanotube material with improved adhesion and reduced contact resistance. Claim 1 reads:

1. A thermally and electrically conductive structure comprising:

a carbon nanotube having an outer surface;

a carbon coating covering at least a portion of the outer surface of the carbon nanotube;

a transition layer exterior to the carbon coating; and

a metal layer exterior to the transition layer.


US Patent 8133465 - Polymer-CNT composite for use as a sensor

This patent from the University of Dayton teaches using carbon nanotubes to form gas sensors with improved environmental stability. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of making a sensor comprising:

forming aligned carbon nanotubes on the surface of a substrate;

wherein said nanotubes are aligned perpendicularly with respect to said substrate;

partially coating said aligned carbon nanotubes from the top down along their length with a polymer to form a composite film;

removing said composite film from said substrate; and

attaching at least two electrodes to said film.


US Patent 8132746 - Low-temperature method of producing nanoscale graphene platelets

This patent from Nanotek Instruments teaches a new method of producing nanoscale graphene platelets (NGPs) at reduced temperature. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of exfoliating a layered material to produce separated nano-scaled platelets having a thickness smaller than 100 nm, said method comprising:

a) providing an acid-intercalated graphite compound;

b) exposing said graphite intercalation compound to an exfoliation temperature lower than 600° C. for a duration of time sufficient to at least partially exfoliate said layered graphite; and

c) subjecting said at least partially exfoliated graphite to a mechanical shearing treatment to produce said separated nano-scaled platelets.


Thursday, March 08, 2012

US Patent 8130438 - Nanoparticle alloys for printable transparent conductors

This patent from Ajjer LLC includes some broad claims for nanoparticle alloys used in transparent electrical connectors which may be useful to construct electrochromic and printable electronic displays. Claim 1 reads:

1. A transparent conductive layer formed by incorporating conductive nanoparticles into a transparent layer that is applied to a substrate, wherein the composition of the conductive nanoparticles comprises at least one of: (a) a silver alloy in which the alloying element is at least one of Be, Cu, Ge, Ni, Ru, Rh, Au, Pt, Ti, Zn, Mg, Mn, Pd, La, Ce, Nd, Sm and Eu; and (b) a copper alloy in which the alloying element is at least one of Ag, Be, Ge, Ni, Ru, Rh, Au, Pt, Pd, La, Ce, Nd, Sm and Eu.


US Patent 8129768 - Nanowire integrated circuit for display device

This patent is based on a collaboration between Sharp and Nanosys and teaches a way to construct integrated circuitry for display devices by combining different types of nanowires (i.e. p-type, n-type) to construct different electronic devices (transistors, LEDs, etc.) on the same substrate. Claim 1 reads:

1. An integrated circuit device, comprising

a substrate on which a plurality of nano wire elements are provided,

said plurality of nano wire elements including at least two types of nano wire element having different functions,

each of said at least two types of nano wire element being constituted by 10 to 200 nano wires,

each of said at least two types of nano wire element is constituted by nano wires, and the nano wires have lengths differing depending on the types of nano wire element, and

placement regions having different longitudinal lengths corresponding to different lengths of different types of nano wire are provided on the substrate, and

each of the placement regions includes nano wires having a corresponding length therein in rows.

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US Patent 8129463 - Mixed DWNT/MWNT nanocomposites

This patent from Applied Nanotech is based on the finding that mixtures of multiwall carbon nanotubes and double walled carbon nanotubes can produce improved mechanical properties to nanocomposites at a lower cost than using single walled or double walled nanotubes alone. Claim 7 reads:

7. A method for making a carbon nanotube composite by varying an amount of carbon nanotubes to be added to the composite as a function of the diameters of the carbon nanotubes to increase the flexural strength and the flexural modulus of the carbon nanotube composite.


Tuesday, March 06, 2012

US Patent 8129247 - Omega shaped nanowire FET

This patent from IBM teaches a method to improve the doping characteristics of nanowires used as the channels of field effect transistors by using epitaxial growth rather than ion implantation. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for forming a nanowire field effect transistor (FET) device, the method comprising:

forming a nanowire on a semiconductor substrate;

forming a first gate structure on a first portion of the nanowire;

forming a first protective spacer adjacent to sidewalls of the first gate structure and over portions of the nanowire extending from the first gate structure;

removing exposed portions of the nanowire left unprotected by the first spacer; and

epitaxially growing a doped semiconductor material from exposed cross sections of the nanowire to form a first source region and a first drain region.


US Patent 8128953 - Conductive therapeutic nanocoating for medical device

This patent from Medtronic teaches another variation of anti-infective coating for implantable medical devices based on silver nanoparticles. Claim 1 reads:

1. An implantable medical device comprising:

a metallic housing;

a coating disposed on the housing;

the coating consist of a conductive carrier and a metallic anti-infective agent, wherein the conductive carrier is iridium oxide and the metallic anti-infective agent is silver nanoparticles.


US Patent 8128901 - Purification of CNTs with liquid bromine

This patent from William Marsh Rice University teaches a method to purify single walled carbon nanotubes without significantly damaging the nanotubes. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of removing metal impurities from carbon nanotubes comprising:

treating carbon nanotubes with distilled anhydrous liquid bromine in a substantially oxygen- and water-free atmosphere; and

removing the distilled anhydrous liquid bromine from the carbon nanotubes.


Thursday, March 01, 2012

US Patent 8125878 - CNT touch panel and display

This patent from Chinese manufacturer Foxconn teaches how carbon nanotubes can improve the properties of future touch screen displays. Claim 1 reads:

1. A touch panel comprising:

a substrate comprising a first surface;

a transparent conductive layer located on the first surface, the transparent conductive layer comprising a plurality of carbon nanotube wires; and

a plurality of electrodes separately disposed from each other, two opposite ends of each of the plurality of carbon nanotube wires being directly and electrically connected to two of the plurality of electrodes.

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US Patent 8125824 - Nanotube RAM (NRAM)

The nanotube electronics pioneer Nantero have a partnership with Lockheed Martin. This patent from Lockheed Martin appears as a variation of Nantero's technology for nanotube random access memory. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nanotube random access memory (NRAM) structure, comprising:

a first substrate;

a first gate electrode disposed in the first substrate;

a first nanotube fabric disposed on the first substrate, the first nanotube fabric having a channel region spaced apart from the first gate electrode by a first portion of the first substrate;

a first drain contact contacting the first nanotube fabric;

a second nanotube fabric disposed on the first substrate and adjacent the first nanotube fabric, the second nanotube fabric connected to the first nanotube fabric; and

a first source contact contacting the second nanotube fabric,

wherein the first nanotube fabric is a high-voltage fabric compared to the second nanotube fabric such that when a voltage is applied across the first nanotube fabric and the second nanotube fabric via the first drain contact and the first source contact, the second nanotube fabric is permitted to switch without switching the first nanotube fabric.


US Patent 8125075 - CNT micro-chimney for die level cooling

This patent from Intel is the latest in a series of patents teaching ways carbon nanotubes can be used in semiconductor packaging for cooling. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of packaging a semiconductor comprising:

forming a cavity within a die near a region heated by an integrated circuit;

growing, within the cavity, a plurality of carbon nanotubes coupled to the die;

adding a saturated mixture of working fluid to the cavity; and

sealing the saturated mixture within the cavity.


US Patent 8124785 - Producing nanoparticles from ionic liquid

Manufacture of nanoparticles is typically performed either in solution (i.e. wet processes) or in vacuum (i.e. dry processes). The problem is that wet process steps lead to unwanted aggregation of nanoparticles making uniform distribution difficult and dry processes are difficult to scale up to produce large volumes of nanopowders. This patent from Japanese researchers teaches an alternative technique which may overcome these problems. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for producing nanoparticles, comprising attaching atoms or molecules from a nanoparticle precursor to an ionic liquid, without stirring, by evaporating the atoms or molecules from the nanoparticle precursor, thereby producing nanoparticles, the nanoparticles precursor being in the form of a solid.

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