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Smaller Getting Better All the Time


October 9, 2009 — Consider these human endeavors:

  • smaller, faster and more energy-efficient electronic devices;
  • more efficient solar cells;
  • blood substitutes to reduce the dangers of disease and contamination;
  • improved delivery of cancer drugs to tumors.

What could possibly connect such large and widely-diverse research outcomes?

The answer is research on the smallest of scales, but with enormous potential, called nanotechnology-and all of it is happening in Utah.

Nanotechnology derives its name from the size of a particle called a nanometer. One nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. The comparative size of a nanometer to a meter is the same as that of a marble to the size of the earth, or the amount a man’s beard grows in the time it takes him to raise the razor to his face.

Successful research on dozens of projects is taking place at institutions across the state, and results will be presented at the fifth nanoUtah Conference October 15 and 16, 2009 in Salt Lake City.

Attendees from academic, industrial and government agencies across the state of Utah will gather for the annual conference to share the latest in research and advances in areas ranging from materials to medicine to energy.

Marc Porter, USTAR professor at the University of Utah and program chair of nanoUtah09 states, “This meeting brings together investigators from all disciplines, from all over the state, for a common purpose-to work together in one of the most dynamic emerging fields of science. The collaborations taking place among researchers, educators and entrepreneurs are not only exciting, but delivering results that put our state at the leading edge of this important field.”

Presentation Highlights:

  • Natalya Rapoport, University of Utah, is reporting on her research combining ultrasound and nanoparticles to enhance the imaging and delivery of drugs to tumors. In mice, the approach has shown to effectively reduce the size of breast, ovarian and pancreatic tumors. Current research is focused on preventing tumor recurrence.
  • Matthew Linford and his research team (BYU and the Max Planck Institute, Germany) will describe their research to create nanocircuits using DNA as a template for assembly. These minute circuits will permit even smaller computers and sensors.
  • Agnes Ostafin from the University of Utah will report on development of nanoparticle-based artificial oxygen carriers as blood substitutes for surgery, traumatic injury, chronic anemia and combat casualties. These new carriers can potentially avoid health complications that have plagued previously developed substitutes.
  • Research by Elizabeth Lund and James Nagel from the University of Utah may assist in the development of more efficient and lower cost alternative energy sources. Their results show that depositing gold and silver nanoparticles onto the surfaces of silicon solar cells can increase their efficiency.

All events will take place at The Marriott City Center in Salt Lake City, beginning at 3:00pm on Thursday, October 15 and concluding Friday evening, October 16.

For additional information on program, schedule or registration, consult the nanoUtah 2009 web site: http://www.nanofab.utah.edu/nanoutah09.