Thursday, July 26, 2012

US Patent 8228575 - Holographic display using "nanomachines"

This patent from Verizon Patent and Licensing appears to me a little bit dubious in terms of enablement but suggests that it is possible to create 3D holographic images using iron-doped nanotubes (referred to as "nanomachines" in the claims) controlled by an electromagnetic field. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method, comprising:

receiving information representative of an image;

calculating vector points representative of points on the image;

calculating information indicative of the quantity of nanomachines needed to create a holographic representation of the image;

calculating axis-specific vector data; and

transmitting vector data and nanomachine instruction data to a display device, wherein an electromagnetic field is generated from the transmitted vector and nanomachine instruction data.


US Patent 8227979 - Quantum dot color matching

The color of quantum dots is determined by both the semiconductor material and the size of the quantum dots. This patent from Samsung teaches how to create customized LEDs with a color matching any physical material by properly selecting a population of quantum dots. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method comprising:

detecting a color of a material;

converting the color to an RGB/CMYK value; and

matching the color comprising:

mixing at least one population of a quantum dot into a matrix material; and

placing the mixture on a light emitting diode to convert a light output of the light emitting diode to a color matching the color of the material.                             


US Patent 8227957 - Piezoelectric nanowire electrical energy generator

This patent from Samsung teaches the use of piezoelectric nanowires in an auxiliary power source for mobile devices which can convert light or mechanical energy into electrical energy. Claim 1 reads:

1. An apparatus for generating electrical energy, comprising:

a first electrode;

a second electrode spaced apart from the first electrode;

a nanowire which includes a piezoelectric material and is disposed on the first electrode;

an active layer disposed on the first electrode;

a conductive layer disposed on the active layer; and

an insulating film disposed between the conductive layer and the nanowire, wherein the nanowire and the active layer are electrically connected to each other.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

US Patent 8227817 - Elevated nanowire LED

The light production of conventional solid state LEDs is limited to a planar growth layer so that a considerable amount of produced light will not contribute to illumination. This patent from QuNano teaches a nanostructured approach which includes bulb structures on vertical nanowires to improve the illumination efficiency. Claim 1 reads:

1. Upstanding nanostructured LED comprising a substrate and a nanowire protruding from the substrate, wherein a bulb is arranged in connection with the nanowire and at an elevated position with regards to the substrate, the bulb having a larger diameter than the nanowire, and the bulb comprising an active region to produce visible or longer wavelength light, wherein a distance from a lower end of the bulb to the substrate is equal to or greater than a quarter of a wavelength of the light emitted by the LED.


US Patent 8226863 - Production of 3D product having a nanoporous surface

This patent from Empire Technology Development teaches a way to manufacture nanoporous surfaces which may be useful for culturing cells and emulating biological organs. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for producing a three-dimensional product having a nanoporous surface, the method comprising:

preparing a yarn having a surface consisting of a material in which a plurality of nanoparticles is dispersed in a matrix;

knitting or weaving the yarn to form a knitted fabric or a woven fabric; and

immersing the knitted fabric or the woven fabric in a liquid which dissolves the nanoparticles but does not dissolve the matrix.


US Patent 8226015 - Orthogonal charge-based spectral coding with quantum dots

This patent based on U.S. Naval research teaches a method of preparing nanocrystals for applications as biological tags so as to distinguish between concurrent cellular events. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of preparing optical barcodes, comprising:

combining a plurality of populations of quantum dots with quantities of a modulator of photoluminescence to produce a plurality of optical barcodes,

wherein the plurality of optical barcodes have at least two distinguishable colors arising from varying quantities of a modulator of photoluminescence bound to the populations of quantum dots,

wherein the modulator of photoluminescence acts to quench or enhance photoluminescence.


US Patent 8225704 - Armor with transformed nanotube material

A variety of proposals have been made over the years for the use of carbon nanotubes to achieve stronger and lighter armor. This latest patent come from NanoRidge Materials and teaches pressure and heat treatment of a ceramic/nanotube mixture to form the armor. Claim 1 reads:

1. Armor comprising ceramic material, the ceramic material having therein transformed nanotube material, the transformed nanotube material produced by subjecting a matrix of the ceramic material and nanotube material to sufficient pressure and sufficient heat to transform the nanotube material, at least one layer of ballistic fabric connected to the ceramic material, the at least one layer of ballistic fabric containing carbon nanotubes.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

US Patent 8222190 - Graphene-modified lubricant

This latest patent from Nanotek Instruments teaches an improved lubricant based on graphene. Claim 1 reads:

1. A lubricant composition having improved lubricant properties, comprising:

(a) a lubricating fluid; and

(b) nano graphene platelets dispersed in said fluid,

wherein said nano graphene platelets have a proportion of 0.001% to 75% by weight based on the total weight of the fluid and the graphene platelets combined.


US Patent 8221934 - Titania nanofibers for fuel cells

This patent from GM Global teaches an improved catalyst layer for a fuel cell electrode based on titania and ionic nanotubes. Claim 1 reads:

1. A fuel cell component comprising:

an electrode having a non-carbon support material comprising nanotubes of titania and nanotubes of an ion conducting ionomer.                             


US Patent 8221716 - CNT synthesis using ultrasonic waves

Conventional carbon nanotube production processes require high temperatures and low pressure environments and produce unwanted byproducts. This patent from Samsung teaches a new way to manufacture single walled carbon nanotubes at room temperature and atmospheric pressure while reducing unwanted carbon byproducts. Claim 1 reads:

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

forming a solution including an organometallic compound containing catalyst particles and a solvent; adding at least one support to the solution; and

applying radiation to the solution to which the at least one support is added, after adding the at least one support to the solution,

wherein the carbon nanotubes are synthesized on a surface of the at least one support by applying the radiation to the solution and wherein the radiation includes one of ultrasonic and electromagnetic waves.


US Patent 8221715 - N-doping CNT material

Carbon nanotubes are usually in the p-doped state after being prepared because electron depletion occurs due to the use of an acid for the removal of the metal catalysts used in growing the nanotubes. This patent from Samsung teaches a method for n-doping the nanotubes using reducing agents and thus enables the creation of bipolar electronics from nanotubes. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for n-doping of carbon nano-tubes comprising:

n-doping carbon nano-tubes with a carbon nano-tube n-doping material comprising a compound containing at least two pyridinium derivatives in its molecular structure, the compound being in a reduced form thereof.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

US Patent 8220068 - Nanowire scanning probe array

Scanning probe microscopes are used to analyze semiconductor features on a nanoscale. In order to analyze 3D surfaces and trenches carbon nanotubes have been used as the tips of the scanning probes but it is difficult to mass produce nanotube tipped probes. This patent from IBM teaches a micromachining method for producing nanowire tipped probes so as to facilitate mass production. Claim 1 reads:

1. A structure comprising an array of scanning probes located on a semiconductor wafer, each scanning probe of said array is orientated in a same direction on said semiconductor wafer and comprises:

a cantilever having a bottommost surface on an upper surface of said semiconductor wafer;

a micromachined single-crystal pyramid formed on said cantilever; and

a single-crystal nanowire extending from a top portion of said pyramid, wherein said nanowire is epitaxial with respect to said single-crystal pyramid.                             


US Patent 8218930 - Nanotube coated optical fiber

Fiber optic technology is critical to operations in spacecraft such as the International Space Station and in military aircraft and submarines. Cracks or fatigue in the optical fiber can lead to catastrophic failure in these systems. This patent teaches using a carbon nanotube coating as a hermetic seal against moisture to increase the reliability of optical fibers. Claim 1 reads:

1. An optical fiber assembly comprising:

an optical fiber; and

a film surrounding the optical fiber, the film comprising a nanomaterial,

wherein the film is a nanocomposite film comprising the nanomaterial, and wherein the nanomaterial comprises a carbon nanotube material.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

US Patent 8217366 - Carbon ion generator for tumor treatment

It has been reported that carbon ions are 2.8 times higher in cancer cell kill rate than protons and are 2.5 times lower in cancer recurrence rate than X-rays or protons. This patent from the Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute teaches a nanotechnology approach to generating high purity carbon ions which may my enable the use of carbon ion sources in cancer therapy. Claim 1 reads:

1. A carbon ion generating device comprising:

a carbon nanostructure;

a carbon emitting structure configured to induce an emission of carbon atoms from one end of the carbon nanostructure; and

an ionizing structure configured to ionize the emitted carbon atoms;

a top electrode disposed adjacent to the one end of the carbon nanostructure;

a bottom electrode connected to the other end of the carbon nanostructure; and

a power supply unit configured to create a first potential difference between the top electrode and the bottom electrode.


US Patent 8217108 - Polymeric composite including nanoparticle filler

NaturalNano, Inc. is a company developing new nanomaterials for industrial polymers, plastics and composites, additives to cosmetics, agricultural, and household products. This latest patent teaches a composite that improves the binding of clay nanotubes to a polymer matrix. Claim 1 reads:

1. A polymeric nanoparticle composite, comprising:

a polymer matrix; and

a tubular clay filler consisting essentially of surface modified mineral nanotubes,

wherein said mineral nanotubes include at least one compatibilization agent.


US Patent 8216961 - Metal-metal oxide-silica nanoparticle

This patent from the Korea University Research and Business Foundation teaches forming nanoparticle chemical catalysts which are coated with silica to avoid problems of agglomeration. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for preparing a core-shell nanoparticle comprising:

providing a core material including a metal oxide having catalytic activity; and

coating the surface of the metal oxide with silica to form the core-shell nanoparticle,

wherein the core-shell nanoparticle includes a mesoporous shell, and

wherein the size of the core material comprises a range from about 5 nm to about 100 nm, and

wherein the core material comprises a metal core and a metal oxide shell.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

US Patent 8216636 - Flow alignment of nanotubes

Flow-based alignment has been proposed by Nanosys to orient nanowires in a particular direction. This patent from Nanyang Technological University teaches a similar technique in which a pre-alignment step is used to avoid clogs in flow channels. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method of aligning nanotubes comprising:

providing a plurality of channels on a substrate;

placing a suspension of nanotubes on or adjacent an open surface of the channels, and

allowing the suspension to flow into the channels to align the nanotubes substantially parallel to the longitudinal axis of the channels, wherein the channels are lengthwise-closed channels and the open surface is an open end; and

pre-aligning the nanotubes in the suspension before allowing the suspension to flow into the channels, thereby reducing blockage of the open end of the channels by randomly oriented nanotubes in the suspension.


US Patent 8216542 - Nanotube separation using microwaves

This patent from the Korea Institute of Machinery and Materials teaches a way to remove metallic nanotubes from a mixture of carbon nanotubes to produce high purity semiconducting nanotubes. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for separating semiconducting nanotubes from a nanotube mixture comprised of semiconducting nanotubes and metallic nanotubes, comprising:

dispersing the nanotube mixture into a liquid medium selected from water and ethanol and then applying the dispersion to a substrate made of a material selected from an insulating material or a nonpolar polymer;

selectively heating at least part of the metallic nanotubes in the nanotube mixture by applying microwave radiation to the nanotube mixture after a material comprising carbon black is arranged under the nanotube mixture; and

removing the metallic nanotubes.


US Patent 8216436 - Hetero-nanostructures for solar energy conversion

Titanium dioxide is well known to be useful for solar cells but has limited implementations due to low conductivity, poor absorption in the visible range of the solar spectrum, and the lack of matching p-type materials. This patent from the Trustees of Boston College teaches a heterostructure formed from nanobeams of silicide and TiO2 materials which may help overcome these limitations. Claim 1 reads:

1. A hetero-nanostructure comprising

a plurality of connected and spaced-apart nanobeams linked together at an about 90-degree angle,

the plurality of nanobeams including a conductive silicide core having an n-type photoactive titanium dioxide shell.


Monday, July 09, 2012

US Patent 8212237 - Surrounding gate nanowire flash memory

This patent from QuNano teaches a charge trap based memory which help reduce the footprint of flash memory cells while allowing vertical stacking for 3D memory. Claim 1 reads:

1. A nanostructured memory device comprising:

at least one semiconductor nanowire forming a current transport channel;

one or more shell layers arranged around at least a portion of the nanowire;

nano-sized charge trapping centres embedded in said one or more shell layers, wherein a change in an amount of charge stored in one or more of the charge trapping centres alters the conductivity of the nanowire; and

at least a first gate electrode arranged around at least a portion of said one or more shell layers in order to control the amount of charge stored in the charge trapping centres under the gate electrode;

wherein said one or more shell layers are made of materials having different band gap in order to give a graded or crested band profile.


US Patent 8212236 - II-VI core-shell doped nanowires

This patent from Eastman Kodak includes basic claims for doped core-shell nanowires formed from II-VI semiconductor materials used in applications including LEDs and lasers. Claim 1 reads:

1. A plurality of core-shell semiconductor nanowires each being fixed to a support includes II-VI materials for both the cores and the shells;

further including dopants in the core or shell or both of the nanowires which modify the conductivity of the nanowires; and

wherein the dopants are n-type and are selected from Al, In, Ga, Cl, Br or I.


US Patent 8212074 - Forming nanoscale urea particles

Urea is a colorless, odorless solid which is neither acidic nor basic, is highly soluble in water, and is used as a fertilizer. This patent teaches a more economical and efficient method for creating urea using a filter with nanoscale channels. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method comprising:

introducing ammonia and carbon dioxide into a nano-channel reactor; and

allowing the ammonia and carbon dioxide to react to form urea particles.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

US Patent 8211951 - High selectivity nanoporous particle membrane

This patent is from the University of Texas and teaches an optimized nanoscale gas filter combining the effectiveness of a continuous zeolite sheet with the flexibility and durability of a mixed matrix membrane. Claim 1 reads:

1. A membrane comprising:

at least one nano-porous particle;

a microporous polymer matrix; and

at least one microporous path in the microporous polymer matrix reaching across the membrane, wherein the microporous path is blocked by the nano-porous particle.


US Patent 8211594 - Nanometal particles for methanol fuel cathode

This patent from QuantumSphere Inc. deals with the problem of platinum cost in fuel cells using a composition including metal nanoparticles. Claim 1 reads:

1. A composition suitable for use in a direct methanol fuel cathode, the composition comprising nanoparticles comprising a metal core and a shell comprising an oxide of the core metal material, the composition further comprising platinum alloy particles substantially devoid of an oxide shell, and an ion-conducting polymer.


US Patent 8211593 - Low platinum fuel cell using nanostructured electrodes

Platinum is one of the most promising materials for fuel cell catalysts but the high cost makes its use problematic on a large scale. This patent from Intematix Corporation includes some basic claims for catalyst coated nanoparticles in which less material is necessary for the catalyst resulting in reduced cost. Claim 1 reads:

1. A composition comprising a substrate bearing nanoparticles,

wherein the nanoparticles are coated with an ionomer,

wherein the nanoparticles are coated with a substantially continuous thin film comprising a platinum alloy, and

wherein the alloy contains platinum, vanadium, nickel, and cobalt.


Tuesday, July 03, 2012

US Patent 8211399 - Making metal sulfide nanocrystals

This patent from Foxconn teaches a method to reduce the cost and complexity of producing metal sulfide nanocrystals which are useful for LED and solar cell devices. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for making metal sulfide nanocrystals comprising:

providing metal inorganic salt powder in a container;

adding superfluous mercaptan into the container;

stirring the superfluous mercaptan and the metal inorganic salt uniformly to obtain a precursor mixture and heating the precursor mixture to obtain the metal sulfide nanocrystals; and

separating the metal sulfide nanocrystals.

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US Patent 8211369 - Odor reduction using metal modified nanoparticles

This is a fairly broad patent from Kimberly-Clark Worldwide for using the large surface area-to-volume ratio of silica or alumina nanoparticles to remove odors produced by plastic packaging materials. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for neutralizing odor contained within the headspace of a product packaging comprising the steps of:

a) formulating a blend comprising metal modified nanoparticles, wherein the metal modified nanoparticles are formed from silica, alumina, or a combination thereof;

b) applying the blend to the inside of a product packaging.


US Patent 8211320 - Transferring carbon nanotubes to a flexible substrate

Carbon nanotubes are most commonly grown on silicon substrates using a CVD method but in some applications it is desirable to pattern the nanotubes on a flexible polymer substrate (e.g. flexible displays, photovoltaics, wide area sensors). This patent from Foxconn teaches one method of transferring carbon nanotubes from a rigid silicon substrate to a flexible substrate. Claim 1 reads:

1. A method for making a carbon nanotube device, comprising:

providing a rigid substrate with a plurality of carbon nanotube arrays grown thereon, the carbon nanotube arrays arranged in a predetermined pattern;

providing a flexible substrate with a plurality of recesses defined therein;

applying a curable adhesive in each recess; attaching the rigid substrate to the flexible substrate with the plurality of carbon nanotube arrays in contact with the curable adhesives;

curing the curable adhesives to fix the carbon nanotube arrays in the recesses; and

removing the rigid substrate, thereby obtaining the carbon nanotube device.


Sunday, July 01, 2012

New case law from CAFC for memresistor nanowire crossbars

In re Mouttet - CAFC Case No. 2011-1451

This is an interesting new piece of case law from the CAFC based on memory resistor crossbars used in arithmetic processing. The case is based on an obviousness rejection for an electrical memory resistor crossbar designed to perform arithmetic operations. The two primary references were Falk US 5249144 which teaches an optical crossbar configured to perform arithmetic processing and a technical article by Das et al. which teaches an electrical nanowire crossbar formed with resistance switching molecules. The CAFC supported the obviousness of changing an optical arithmetic crossbar into a resistance switching nanowire crossbar based on Falk and Das. A review of the CAFC decision from a legal perspective is given by the blog However, a problem with this case is that from a technical perspective it is difficult to uphold the obviousness claim.

The way optical crossbars (such as Falk’s) work is that you need some sort of optical detector (or detectors) to detect the light intensity at each crossbar intersection region in parallel. For example, in the case of a 2×2 optical crossbar you would need to detect 4 (=2×2) optical states in parallel. In column 3, lines 44-51 Falk describes that each intersection region can have one of three possible values according to the detected light intensity of intersecting light sources (2=both light sources on, 1 = one light source and the other off, 0 = both light sources off). Based on the light source inputs the array of optical intensities at the crossbar intersections are simultaneously detected (i.e. in parallel) and compared to a look-up table to determine the arithmetic result. For example, optically adding binary 10 and 10 (1=light on, 0=light off) would produce a detectable light intensity pattern of

2, 1,
1, 0

in the crossbar intersections which would be converted to 4=100(binary) when compared to a look-up table.

So the problem is how exactly do you do what Falk does electrically? Applied voltages do not work the same way light does. If you connect a row and column wire of an electrical crossbar to the same voltage you get zero current flow instead of the 2 units of light intensity as explained by Falk. There is no teaching in Das of an electrical equivalent for the light detection at each intersection region of the electrical crossbar so how is this achieved? Usually electrical crossbars only have sensing amplifiers at the outputs of each column wire rather than a sensor capable of reading each individual intersection and I am not sure how you would accomplish this without causing multiple current sneak paths which would ruin the workability of the design. Das does not offer a solution to these problems.

This case may help identify the differences between legal obviousness used in patent rejections and technical obviousness used by engineers. There are several examples in telecommunication and computing where it is useful to create optical devices which serve analogous function to electrical devices (e.g. optical transistors, optical logic gates, etc.) This case could potentially be used as legal precedent to support the "obviousness" of converting between electrical and optical components without regard to the engineering reality of the difficulty of such conversion. It will be interesting to see how and when this decision is used by the PTO and the courts.