BIG DEVELOPMENTS IN NANOTECHNOLOGY

December 1, 2000

SCIENCE & ENGINEERING NEWS

San Francisco, CALIF. — Carl T. Hall reports for the San Francisco Chronicle that big news is breaking this week in the “nanoworld,” the tiny but fast- growing scientific realm of such oddities as “dancing tin,” molecule-sized “helicopters” and incredible shrunken computer parts.

Using an electron microscope two stories tall, a team of scientists at the University of California at Santa Barbara and in Japan unveiled weird three- dimensional images of finely etched glass.

They look like fantasy scenes from a mathematician’s dreamworld, but turn out to represent a new reality of chemical-trapping “cages,” molecular pores and other structural elements as small as one-thousandth the diameter of a human hair.

The new images, published in the journal Nature, provide an early glimpse at some of the basic building blocks in nanotechnology, where researchers seek to make useful things that measure on a scale of the nanometer, or a billionth of a meter.

Meanwhile, a half-dozen research reports and scientific reviews are being issued in the journal Science, part of a special section on the latest nanotech developments.

“It’s extraordinarily exciting,” said Carlo Montemagno, a nanotechnology researcher at Cornell University. He is co-author of a report showing how biomolecular motors – driven by ATP, the same energy molecule that makes our muscles work – can be used to spin tiny fabricated propellers.

The resulting “helicopter” can’t really fly and has no apparent practical purpose – other than simply to demonstrate how biological and engineered components can be linked together with amazing precision.

“There’s no book to tell how to do this,” Montemagno said, recounting a seven-month effort to construct the first propellers, which he said were deliberately made large enough to be photographed, but could be much, much smaller.

It’s a prototype of hybrid bioengineered machinery that someday might be used to deliver drugs to individual cells in the body.

In fact, no one knows what they might be used for because practical nanotech devices are a long way off. But it now appears the essential first steps are starting to fall into place.

“We’re in the discovery phase,” said Harold Craighead, a physicist at Cornell and a pioneer in nanoscale electronic devices. “But you can see hints of applications starting to emerge already.”

They include finely tuned chemical sensors and devices capable of sniffing out chemicals, such as toxins in the environment, one molecule at a time.

Galen Stucky, a research chemist who led the three-dimensional imaging experiments at UC Santa Barbara, said scientists are starting to get “a direct handle” on objects too small to be seen directly with visible light.

Stucky’s team developed the mathematical formulas needed to produce nanoscale images in 3-D, a system for making “topographic maps” of structured glass. It is a way to see what you’re doing while attempting what’s known as three-dimensional chemical lithography, a type of industrial sculpture where nanoscale control is essential.

That, in turn, is a fundamental step toward fancy chemical-packaging systems and “smart materials,” where each little dip in the 3-D landscape might represent a holding tank for a different molecule or enzyme. Those could make up the working elements of much-anticipated new kinds of lasers, biochemical sensors and powerful shrunken computers where virtually every tiny detail is engineered into place. “Now we can visualize how we do it,” Stucky said.

Other intriguing images of nanotech at work include movie clips of tin crystals “dancing” across a surface of copper at Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

The crystals are little “islands” of tin atoms floating on the copper. The islands spontaneously sweep across the copper dance floor, propelled by free energy and subtle atomic interactions at the surface.

It’s a phenomenon closely related to the so-called “camphor dance” first observed some 300 years ago, in which camphor particles were noted to move across a liquid surface. The phenomenon was used by the 19th century British scientist Lord Rayleigh to calculate the surface tension of water.

Now, scientists are reporting progress in gaining some ability to direct the choreography.

“What we’ve done is convert chemical energy into motion at a very small scale,” said Norman Bartelt, a materials physicist at Sandia and co-author of a report on the dancing tin in Science.

Bartelt and colleagues now are experimenting with other elements besides tin and copper. Later, they hope to gain precise control over the molecular dance steps by building chemical gradients into surface materials.

“There’s a long way to go and a lot of basic research to be done,” Bartelt said. “We want to understand things like this tin-island dance in atomic detail. And probably only when one can understand something like that can one hope to make something out of this.”

Meanwhile, Stanford University scientists are part of a global rush to make computer circuits out of extremely small components, including unimaginably thin wires made of carbon nanotubes.

Those are stretched filaments of thin-walled, precisely structured carbon whose properties can be manipulated by changing how the wires are assembled.

“It’s building structures from the bottom up,” said Stanford’s Hongjie Dai, whose team reported a way to chemically modify nanotubes in order to turn them into what are known as positive-negative junction devices.

These are the devices computer users take for granted – the working innards of logic circuits, in which functionality springs from networks of switches that allow precise manipulation of electrical signals.

The more of these switches that can be packed into a given amount of space, the more powerful the computer. The new nanotube semiconductor junctions are small enough to fit inside a molecule.

There are several other approaches aimed at the same goal of making small supercomputers. Nobody knows yet just how all the pieces might come together, but Dai maintains that will become clear soon enough.

“Within a few years,” Dai said, “we’ll have a much better idea about how to make this into a real technology.”

============================================================

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Penguin Computing Brings Cascade Lake-AP to OCP Form Factor

July 7, 2020

Penguin Computing, a subsidiary of SMART Global Holdings, Inc., is announcing a new Tundra server, Tundra AP, that is the first to implement the Intel Xeon Scalable 9200 series processors (codenamed Cascade Lake-AP) in t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia's Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 "Accelerator Optimized" VM A2 instance family on Google Compute Engine. The instances are powered by t Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Q&A: HLRS’s Bastian Koller Tackles HPC and Industry in Germany and Europe

July 6, 2020

HPCwire: Let's start with HLRS and work our way up to the European scale. HLRS has stood out in the HPC world for its support of both scientific and industrial research. Can you discuss key developments in recent years? Read more…

By Steve Conway, Hyperion

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center Offers a Virtual Tour of Its MareNostrum Supercomputer

July 6, 2020

With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to threaten the world and disrupt normal operations, facility tours remain a little difficult to operate, with many supercomputing centers having shuttered facility tours for visitor Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: Fugaku, Congress, De Novo Design & More

July 2, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Maxar Builds HPC on AWS to Deliver Forecasts 58% Faster Than Weather Supercomputer

When weather threatens drilling rigs, refineries, and other energy facilities, oil and gas companies want to move fast to protect personnel and equipment. And for firms that trade commodity shares in oil, precious metals, crops, and livestock, the weather can significantly impact their buy-sell decisions. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time last year, IBM announced open sourcing its Power instructio Read more…

By John Russell

Google Cloud Debuts 16-GPU Ampere A100 Instances

July 7, 2020

On the heels of the Nvidia's Ampere A100 GPU launch in May, Google Cloud is announcing alpha availability of the A100 "Accelerator Optimized" VM A2 instance fam Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Q&A: HLRS’s Bastian Koller Tackles HPC and Industry in Germany and Europe

July 6, 2020

HPCwire: Let's start with HLRS and work our way up to the European scale. HLRS has stood out in the HPC world for its support of both scientific and industrial Read more…

By Steve Conway, Hyperion

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This yea Read more…

By John Russell

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Re Read more…

Top500 Trends: Movement on Top, but Record Low Turnover

June 25, 2020

The 55th installment of the Top500 list saw strong activity in the leadership segment with four new systems in the top ten and a crowning achievement from the f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC 2020 Keynote: Hope for the Future, Praise for Fugaku and HPC’s Pandemic Response

June 24, 2020

In stark contrast to past years Thomas Sterling’s ISC20 keynote today struck a more somber note with the COVID-19 pandemic as the central character in Sterling’s annual review of worldwide trends in HPC. Better known for his engaging manner and occasional willingness to poke prickly egos, Sterling instead strode through the numbing statistics associated... Read more…

By John Russell

ISC 2020’s Student Cluster Competition Winners Announced

June 24, 2020

Normally, the Student Cluster Competition involves teams of students building real computing clusters on the show floors of major supercomputer conferences and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers

Contributors

Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This