Single-walled nanotubes—cylinders of carbon about a nanometer in diameter—have been highly touted for potential applications such as ultrastrong fibers, electrical wires in molecular devices, or hydrogen storage components for fuel cells. Thanks to a new development by researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and five partners, you can add one more application to the list: detection and destruction of an aggressive form of breast cancer.

by Anne Trafton

MIT team’s nanoparticles could become a safer alternative to gene therapy delivered by viruses.

About five years ago, Professor Janet Sawicki at the Lankenau Institute in Pennsylvania read an article about nanoparticles developed by MIT’s Daniel Anderson and Robert Langer for gene therapy, the insertion of genes into living cells for the treatment of disease. Sawicki was working on treating ovarian cancer by delivering — through viruses — the gene for the diphtheria toxin, which kills tumor cells.

Single layers of carbon atoms, called graphene sheets, are lightweight, strong, electrically semi-conducting -- and notoriously difficult and expensive to make.

Now, a Cornell research team has invented a simple way to make graphene electrical devices by growing the graphene directly onto a silicon wafer. The work was published online Oct. 27 in the journal Nano Letters.

by Emil Venere

Researchers at Purdue University have discovered a new approach for repairing damaged nerve fibers in spinal cord injuries using nano-spheres that could be injected into the blood shortly after an accident.

The synthetic "copolymer micelles" are drug-delivery spheres about 60 nanometers in diameter, or roughly 100 times smaller than the diameter of a red blood cell.

by John Toon

Converting sunlight to electricity might no longer mean large panels of photovoltaic cells atop flat surfaces like roofs.

Using zinc oxide nanostructures grown on optical fibers and coated with dye-sensitized solar cell materials, researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have developed a new type of three-dimensional photovoltaic system. The approach could allow PV systems to be hidden from view and located away from traditional locations such as rooftops.

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—Brain implants that can more clearly record signals from surrounding neurons in rats have been created at the University of Michigan. The findings could eventually lead to more effective treatment of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's disease and paralysis.

Neural electrodes must work for time periods ranging from hours to years. When the electrodes are implanted, the brain first reacts to the acute injury with an inflammatory response. Then the brain settles into a wound-healing, or chronic, response.

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