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Thursday, October 11, 2007

Nobel For Catalyst Studies

Nobel prize for chemist who shed new light on ozone layer,

A German scientist whose work led to a profound understanding of the vanishing ozone layer, clean car exhausts and rusting iron celebrates his 71st birthday today as the latest Nobel prize winner in the field of chemistry.

Gerhardt Ertl, professor emeritus at the Fritz-Haber Institute in Berlin, was awarded the most prestigious honour in science, as well as a cheque for 10m Swedish kronor (£757,000), for his meticulous studies on the reactions between chemicals and solid surfaces.

His work laid the foundations for the field of research known as surface chemistry, which describes how atoms and molecules behave when they come into contact with pure surfaces.

Speaking to reporters, Professor Ertl said: "It is the best birthday present ... I was really speechless."

His studies led to breakthroughs in the development of catalysts which have become invaluable across industry. He described how carbon monoxide could be stripped from vehicle exhausts by fitting platinum catalytic converters, and how vital reactions that destroy atmospheric ozone took place on the surfaces of tiny ice crystals floating in the stratosphere.

"Gerhard Ertl was one of the first to see the potential of these new techniques. Step by step he has created a methodology for surface chemistry by demonstrating how different experimental procedures can be used to provide a complete picture of a surface reaction," the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences reported.

The scientist first studied the behaviour of hydrogen, including how the element was produced from the electrolysis of water, and how fuel cells could convert hydrogen into electricity. Later he worked on the Haber-Bosch process, a method which uses an iron catalyst to extract nitrogen from the air, and which has revolutionised agriculture with the advent of manufactured fertilisers.

This year's prize is unusual in rewarding just one researcher, and the exclusion of others who contributed is controversial. "There have been many key players in this area, including the government's chief scientific adviser, David King, and the great American surface chemist Gabor Somorja," said Andrea Sella, a chemist at University College London.

Catherine Hunt, president of the American Chemical Society, joined others in praise of Prof Ertl. "I am delighted the prize recognizes a field of chemistry that often receives little public attention, yet has transformed lives in so many ways

German scientist Gerhard Ertl got the birthday present of his dreams yesterday: the Nobel Prize in chemistry.

Ertl, who turned 71 yesterday, won the prestigious $1.5 million award for showing in unprecedented detail how molecules of gas behave when they land on solid surfaces -- an esoteric specialty that has generated such practical benefits as cleaner-running cars, corrosion-proof metals, better computer chips and more fertile fields.

"It is the best birthday present that you can give somebody," Ertl said during a teleconference soon after he got the coveted call from Stockholm. "I was really speechless."

He meant that literally, he said later in a telephone interview. The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences alerted him to the news in a call to his office at 11:30 in the morning and emphasized that he must not tell anyone for the next 25 minutes.

Ertl said he took that seriously and just sat in silence at his desk, not even calling his wife.

Asked if that was difficult, he averred that it was not. "It was time to digest it," he said.

That is the kind of discipline that no doubt helped Ertl succeed in the very challenging realm of chemistry in which he did his seminal experiments, experts said. Working first in Munich and later at the Fritz-Haber-Institut der Max-Planck-Gesellschaft in Berlin, Ertl spent years exploring in painstaking detail the microscopic nooks and crannies between atoms on the surfaces of various materials and figuring out what happens when gas molecules nestle into those spaces.

"It is very exacting work," said Katie Hunt, president of the Washington-based American Chemical Society, the world's largest organization of chemists. "But if we're trying to make better and greener materials by design, having this understanding at atomic and molecular levels is crucial."

Even seemingly inert surfaces, it turns out, such as the shiny veneer of a platinum pendant, can trigger surprisingly dynamic processes with surrounding gases. Electromagnetic forces in the metal can sunder the bonds that hold gas atoms together and then help those newly liberated atoms form new bonds with other atoms.

Such recombinations are the "reactions" that chemistry is all about. And Ertl's clarification of the rules of surface chemistry has allowed scientists to develop better catalysts -- materials, often metals, that help drive chemical reactions that would not otherwise occur.

For example, the surfaces inside catalytic converters grab molecules of carbon monoxide in auto exhaust and perform a shotgun marriage between them and oxygen atoms to create nontoxic carbon dioxide. Like all true catalysts, they do it endlessly, never getting used up in the process.

Similarly, scientists have harnessed Ertl's understanding of surface chemistry to more efficiently combine molecules of atmospheric nitrogen and hydrogen to make ammonia, the crucial ingredient in fertilizer, without which the world would be a far hungrier place.

In other cases, insights into surface chemistry have allowed scientists to block unwanted reactions. Some metal alloys, for example, have been designed to block the chemical reactions with air that would otherwise tarnish or corrode their surfaces.

In many of his experiments, Ertl had to measure the movements and fates of molecules on surfaces under extreme vacuum conditions so stray atoms drifting about in the air would not interfere. In a statement, the Nobel committee drew special attention to those experiments, which it said were "carried out with the greatest elegance."

Bruce E. Bursten, dean of the college of arts and sciences at the University of Tennessee and president-elect of the American Chemical Society, said Ertl's work, though largely unknown outside the halls of chemistry, has had a "huge impact" on people's lives and will continue to do so in the future.

Many chemical reactions that could help clean the environment or make new materials are impractical because they require massive inputs of energy, Bursten said. But an understanding of surface chemistry is allowing the creation of catalysts that "completely change the energetics of these reactions."

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Aeron chairs in 'Second Life'

Have you ever sat on Aeron chair?
If you've ever sat in an Aeron chair, you know what real office comfort can be like. Plus, they're just great-looking pieces of furniture.

That's true whether you're talking about a real-life Aeron or an Aeron in the virtual world Second Life, where there are plenty of copycat chairs available for sale at reasonable prices.

But now, according to Wagner James Au over at the blog New World Notes, Aeron manufacturer Herman Miller has launched a store in Second Life and is attempting to address the issue of illegitimate knockoffs through an interesting two-pronged approach.

For a limited time, Herman Miller is offering SL residents free trade-ins on any fake Aerons--or on some of its other iconic products--for an authentic SL Aeron. If you don't have a fake, you can buy an in-world Aeron for a small price.
But the company is taking a much harder, albeit polite (so far) approach to the makers of the knockoffs.

"We've contacted those parties and informed them of our trade dress protections, copyrights and trademarks they are infringing, asking politely but firmly that they cease and desist," a Herman Miller spokesperson told Au. "Some have complied, others have countered with proposed partnerships and some have yet to respond."

It's an intriguing dynamic, all around. The trade-in offer is an innovative way to reach out to the SL population, which appreciates being reached out to, as well as a thoughtful way of doing business on the part of real-world companies. It helps that the company's SL products look good. If they didn't, the whole question would be moot, as people wouldn't buy them.

As for Herman Miller's cease-and-desist demands of the knockoff creators, the result is an open question.

There are all kinds of real-product knockoffs in Second Life and other virtual worlds. One legal case everyone was watching that might have provided an answer to the question of whether such activity was kosher, Marvel v. NCSoft, was settled before a judge or jury could make a determination. In that case, Marvel sued City of Heroes maker NCSoft because the game's players could make avatars that looked like famous comic book heroes like Spider-Man or The Hulk.

Many experts had predicted that Marvel would lose its suit, so the settlement disappointed those in the virtual-world community who are interested in intellectual property issues because it deprived everyone of a final answer to the question.

For its part, Second Life publisher Linden Lab allows rights holders to file Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown notices in situations like the one Herman Miller is attempting to deal with.

But that process is slow, and Herman Miller is clearly trying to confront the situation head-on by attempting to scare those making Aeron knockoffs into compliance. Whether it will work is a question that remains to be answered, particularly because the burden of enforcing its IP rights would surely be huge if there are SL content creators who defy the company's demands.

For now, however, it's just interesting to see how Herman Miller is approaching the matter. My take is that the company is being smart. For now. We'll have to see what happens next.

An experiment on Ramadan :Malaysian Will Observe Ramadan in Space

Malaysian Will Observe Ramadan in Space
A Malaysian doctor who will spend the last days of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in space has vowed to follow the rituals of his faith even as he hurtles around Earth at 17,000 mph.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor lifted off Wednesday in a Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan, en route to the international space station where he will spend about 10 days.

The spacecraft — which also carried an American and a Russian — will take two days to reach the station, a period coinciding with the last days of Ramadan, the month when Muslims fast from dawn to dusk. Sheikh Muszaphar has said he will fast and pray in space, even though clerics said he could delay the fast.

"I am not sure how it would be done but I will share my experiences (with) all the Muslims all over the world when I get back," the 35-year-old Sheikh Muszaphar wrote in his Web journal. "After all, Islam is a way of life and I am quite sure I would not face much difficulties."

Sheikh Muszaphar is taking vacuum-packed Malaysian food, including skewered chicken, banana rolls, fermented soybean cakes and ginger jelly to mark the end of Ramadan.

A bachelor who has become a national heartthrob, the orthopedic surgeon will not be the first Muslim in space — Saudi Prince Sultan bin Salman joined the crew of the shuttle Discovery in 1985 and there have been several others since.

Still, the mission initially presented a dilemma about fulfilling religious duties such as fasting, kneeling for prayers in zero gravity or facing Mecca to pray.

After all, praying five times daily on a craft that goes around Earth 16 times a day would have meant praying 80 times in 24 hours. Also, it is virtually impossible to face Mecca continuously in a craft traveling at such high speed.

Muslims are required to wash their hands, feet, face and hair before prayers — a luxury on the Soyuz where water is so precious that even sweat and urine are recycled.

To get around these problems, 150 Malaysian scholars, scientists, and astronauts brainstormed and published an 18-page booklet of guidelines for Muslim astronauts.

If he follows the guidelines, Sheikh Muszaphar can forgo fasting in space and make up for it when he returns to Earth. He can pray three times a day instead of five, facing any direction, and he can do without the ritual washing.

On Tuesday, Sheikh Muszaphar told reporters his trip will be an inspiration for his Southeast Asian homeland as well as to other Muslims worldwide.

"It's a small step for me, but a great leap for the Malaysian people," he said, rephrasing Neil Armstrong's words after the 1969 moon landing.

Virtual Worlds conference: Differentiation from 'Second Life'

what you think about Virtual reality? Do you belive on second life ?
I'm down at the Virtual Worlds conference here, and one of the most interesting things I've noticed is that everyone is trying to differentiate themselves from Second Life.

It actually makes sense. The attendees of this conference are largely people who are only recently coming to the concept of virtual worlds, and if there's one everyone's heard of, it's Second Life.

So, this differentiation is happening in two ways.

First, in panels, like the one I'm sitting in right now, titled "Blurring the lines between virtual and real worlds," audience members are asking the speakers, who are from a platform company called Icarus Studios, how their technology differs from that of Second Life.

Then, I turn to the conference program, and I see, on the inside back cover, an ad for, a 3D social virtual world which, like Second Life, launched in 2003.

But hasn't gotten one-hundredth the amount of media attention that SL has, and so the problem becomes: how do you position your virtual world when everyone knows about that other one?

In the case of the ad, it's by pointing out, with big graphics, how it's different from SL.

For example, playing on the common fear of many companies interested in going into virtual worlds that Second Life is too beset by sexual content, the ad has a big no-porn-allowed logo. It attempts to position itself as the safe virtual world by not so subtly talking up how it's very different from the Second Life model, in which anyone can create any kind of content, and many do, and which some fear is a moral free-for-all.

" is a 'PG-13' environment, which means pornography, nudity and extreme language are strictly forbidden," the ad says. "Even though is comprised of 98 percent user-generated content, each item actually goes through an internal approval process before it is released into the world."

The funny thing is that all this proactive differentiation is going on even as Linden Lab, the publisher of Second Life, is largely absent at this conference. In the past, the company has been the major sponsor at many conferences, and has, in some ways, overwhelmed people with its message.

Now, its message is definitely out there, even as all the far-lesser-known companies in the virtual-world space are desperate to try to make sure that, in the end, everyone knows how their product or service is different than Second Life.

And while SL is definitely fighting a perception battle right now, it's clear that, in this community at least, it is still the standard bearer.

Smartphone performance : Monzilla

Iphone is turning to the mobile computer, to provide the customer satisfaction
The iPhone isn't a true mobile computer yet, but it's on the right track, according to a Mozilla executive.

"Getting a no-compromise web experience on devices requires significant memory (>=64MB) as well as significant CPU horsepower. High end devices today are just approaching these requirements and will be commonplace soon," wrote Mike Schroepfer, vice president of engineering at Mozilla, in a blog post Tuesday, implying that while the iPhone and its current competitors don't quite have what it takes under the hood to be full-fledged mobile computers, we're not all that far away.
It seems to me like there's a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing going on here. Are smartphones slower than people would like because the hardware is too rudimentary, or because truly useful software is too bloated for the limited memory and power requirements of smartphones? I don't think too many people bought an iPhone expecting it would be just as zippy as their PC, but just how much slower is it than a PC?

Schroepfer thinks, based on third-party tests, that the iPhone is about 10 to 100 times slower than a MacBook Pro on scripting benchmarks and about 3 to 5 times slower than a ThinkPad T40 laptop when operating on the same Wi-Fi network. "But rapid improvements in mobile processors will close this gap within a few years," he wrote.

He estimates that the iPhone is using about 128MB of system RAM, and a processor (known to be an ARM-based chip from Samsung) running at between 400MHz and 600MHz. Apple's iPhone application development policy means we're not going to see Firefox on the iPhone anytime soon, but that's information that Mozilla is using to work on future mobile browsers for devices like the iPhone that won't be able to run unmodified PC software for several years.

As Schroepfer notes, the nice thing about the chip industry is that we can be reasonably sure that there will be more performance to work with every couple of years. Both ARM and Intel have set aggressive performance and power consumption goals for chips due out over the next several years.

But Schoepfer seems to be operating under the assumption that it's the hardware that is holding back a true Internet experience on a smartphone. "Up until very recently, device limitations required writing new mobile browsers from the ground up," he wrote. I wonder if that was such a bad thing; I'm sure to save time and effort developers would rather port as much of their PC code as is feasible over to smartphones, but is it better to develop mobile software that's designed specifically for mobile devices or to investigate ways to move the multitude of software that's already out there for PCs to a new category of mobile devices?

Mozilla wants to work both sides of the fence, not wanting to throw away all the work they've done on PC development when mobile processors are bound to get more capable, but recognizing that mobile-computing requirements are different. "There is far from a dominant player in this marketplace and even the best mobile browsers today have compromises in user experience, performance, and compatibility. There is still *plenty* of room for innovation," Schroepfer wrote.

I'm no software developer, and I'd welcome feedback about this from those who are examining this problem. It seems pretty clear to me that true mobile computing is going to require new thinking about software development in addition to faster hardware, the same way multicore processors have shaken up the PC software development industry. And those concepts are even going to merge at some point: by 2010 ARM's partners will have multicore mobile processors on the market.

Does that mean personal-computing software development is headed down two different development paths or that smartphone developers and PC developers are converging at some point down the road? Let me know what you think.



What is intelligence?

Defining intelligence is highly problematic. Is there an 'intelligence' that equips us to solve all kinds of problems and answer all questions, regardless of their nature? Or are there different intelligences that help us deal with particular problems and solutions? The scientific community is divided on the issueOne of the main tenet's underpinning the idea of a single entity 'intelligence' is the concept of 'General Intelligence', or 'g'. Devised by English Psychologist, Charles Spearman, in the early 20th Century 'g' was a statistical measure of performance across a variety of tests.

Spearman found that the same people who did well in a variety of mental tests tended to use a part in their brains that he termed 'g'. This 'g' laid the foundation for the notion of a single intelligence, which enables us to undertake everyday mental tasks.

A recent study seems to endorse Spearman's theory. Research has found that a part of the brain called the 'lateral prefrontal cortex' is the only area of the brain to increase in blood flow when volunteers tackle complicated puzzles.

Spearman's concept, however, is still highly controversial with many people questioning both the statistical process and the simplistic nature of 'g'. There is also a body of research that states that our mental ability is a function of social factors such as education and not one's inherent biological make-up.

Intelligence and the brain

The early Greeks thought the brain was the home of your soul, rather than your intellect. They believed that thinking happened somewhere around the lungs! Not until the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was the brain seen as an organ of intelligence and thought, when the concept of the mind emerged.

Using new forms of technology, scientists have been able to look at how the brain performs when we undertake different tasks. Roll the pointer over the brain below to find out how our brain processes language.

Intelligence and racism

Intelligence tests have been involved in the promotion of eugenics, the idea that you could control the human race by selective breeding. Francis Galton - one of the pioneers of intelligence tests - was also a founding member of the Eugenics Society in the UK. The belief that intelligence is biologically determined in the make-up of the brain, and therefore to some extent genetically determined, is widely accepted. But a number of researchers over the years have used this idea to advocate social change. Using intelligence as one of their factors, Hernstein and Murray's controversial book, The Bell Curve (1994) argued that differences in IQ scores between racial groups reflect innate biological differences.
The Bell Curve

The Bell Curve is a graph that plots the range of IQ scores of an average population. However, it can be interpreted in many ways, and when the intelligence of the whole human race is in question, the stakes are high.

Critics argue that the way intelligence is measured contains a high level of random variation and therefore it's impossible to generalise it all into one graph. However, belief in the Bell Curve and in the genetic, rather than social, basis for intelligence has unfortunately led to the propagation of many racist ideas.

Evidence to suggest social factors are important in 'intelligence' is strong. The US military tested recruits to assign rank and found that black applicants scored lower than whites. However, analysis of the recruits were found to be due to educational differences; black recruits scored very low until the 1950s, when an increase in score corresponded to improved educational standards for all.

Is intelligence genetic?
In spring 1998, Robert Plomin claimed to have discovered a gene linked with intelligence. More recently, the Human Genome Project is cautious when approaching areas implying racial differences since research actually shows greater genetic differences within races than between races.

However, not all individuals are endowed with the same intelligence and many believe this must have something to do with our genes and the way they interact with the environment. Identical twins are more likely to obtain the same score in an IQ test than twins from two separate eggs that have a different genetic make up.

It is important to remember that genes work by interacting with the environment, so social factors will also influence intelligence. Intelligence tests may be more of an assessment of social factors, such as your educational background.

Black children adopted into white middle class families score significantly higher on average than those in working class families- implying a cultural slant to tests. It is impossible to devise questions without some cultural or gender bias; boys tend to do better in spatial tests whereas girls score higher on linguistic tests.

Recipe for intelligence

Better schooling, parenting and increased leisure time for activities are believed to have influenced improved IQ scores across the board. Good nutrition means an individual is able to function well both physically and mentally. Although many believe this plays a role in intelligence, it is very difficult to assess. A balanced diet will provide all the foods required to maintain the correct balance of neurotransmitters.

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence, or EI is the ability to understand your own emotions and those of people around you. The concept of emotional intelligence, developed by Daniel Goleman, means you have a self-awareness that enables you to recognise feelings and helps you manage your emotions.

On a personal level, it involves motivation and being able to focus on a goal rather than demanding instant gratification. A person with a high emotional intelligence is also capable of understanding the feelings of others. Culturally, they are better at handling relationships of every kind.

Just because someone is deemed 'intellectually' intelligent, it does not necessarily follow they are emotionally intelligent. Having a good memory, or good problem solving abilities, does not mean you are capable of dealing with emotions or motivating yourself.

Highly intelligent people may lack the social skills that are associated with high emotional intelligence. Savants, who show incredible intellectual abilities in narrow fields, are an extreme example of this: a mathematical genius may be unable to relate to people socially.

However, high intellectual intelligence, combined with low emotional intelligence, is relatively rare and a person can be both intellectually and emotionally intelligent.

Does socialising make you clever?

Both emotional and intellectual problems are more easily resolved when in a good mood, which to some extent depends on emotional intelligence. Self-motivated students tend to do better in school exams.

Studying and socialising

The ability to interact well with others and having a good group of friends, means students are more likely to remain in education, whereas those with emotional difficulties tend to drop out.

On the negative side, low emotional intelligence can affect intellectual capabilities. Depression interferes with memory and concentration. Psychological tests show feelings of rejection can dramatically reduce IQ by about 25%. Rejection increased feelings of aggressiveness and reduced self-control.

It is this quality of self-control, rather than being impulsive, which is regarded as necessary to perform well in IQ tests. So a low emotional intelligence may limit intellectual performance.

Both emotional and intellectual problems are more easily resolved when in a good mood, which to some extent depends on emotional intelligence. Self-motivated students tend to do better in school exams.

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Integrated Nano-Bio systems symposium at Bangalore

Further reinforced seeing a number of students and senior academics and entrepreneurs attending this symposium. The future of nano-biotechnology is here to stay in Bangalore, India.

The symposium itself covered a number of interesting topics ranging from biomedical devices, CNT based sensors, microbial enzymes and their applications to nanotechnology from the oceans! Prof. R. Ravi from Indian Institute of Technology delivered the plenary lecture on the development of artificial limb implants and described the long journey involved in generating resources, building the team and getting clinical trials done. His work demonstrated the interdisciplinary nature of R&D, particularly involving nanotechnologies. Prof. Ravi's research group has successfully developed indigenous technologies for various joint transplants and is currently undertaking research on visualization of bone tissues to help surgeons align the implant during operation.

Dr. Prashant Mishra from the same institute gave a thought provoking presentation on various applications based on microbial enzymes and the science behind them. His work focuses on use of proteins as building blocks and using them as templates for bottoms up synthesis of nanostructured devices. One of his successful projects has been synthesis of nano magnetite from bacterial cultures. Sustained and targeted drug delivery using the principle of slow release of proteins across a polymeric membrane is an ongoing area of research in his lab. He has worked on developing membranes for drug delivery and is now investigating molecular interactions of drugs on these surfaces. His work emphasized the parity of Indian scientific work with their western counterpart. My interaction with him focused on the lack of commercialization of technologies developed in Indian R&D institutions and the progress achieved in this area in the last few years. Various R&D institutes are now setting up business incubation centers in their campus to allow the students working on these technologies an opportunity to build companies based on the technologies developed in the lab. Mentoring is provided both by faculties and business partners. There have been a couple of success stories too, but mostly in the ITES sector. Without doubt, a slow transformation is taking place in Indian R&D centers and scientist are starting to think about filing patents before publishing results in open literature.

Presentation from National Institute of Oceanography highlighted the steps that the institute has taken in learning nanotechnology from under the oceans. Given the biodiversity under the water the task is humungous, and very important and interesting discoveries are being made. One such problem successfully addressed by the institute is that of biofouling of marine structures. Surfaces immersed in aquatic environment absorb dissolved organic matter, thereby conditioning them. Conditioned surfaces are then colonized by microorganisms forming a slimy layer inducing the settlement of macroscopic organisms like barnacle, oyster and mussel etc. Biofouling increases frictional flow resistance, impairs heat transfer capacity of heat conductors, and enhance electrochemical corrosion of metals and alloys. Billions of dollars are spent globally to control biofouling and corrosion. The institute has isolated and screened a number of plant and animal extracts for their potential to control fouling and corrosion. An antifouling compound, b-carbonil, was synthesized in laboratory and field tested for its performance. Such organic fouling inhibitors coatings have been found to be effective and environment friendly way to address the problem. Pilot scale trials are being undertaken in conjunction with some Indian vessels in high seas. Similar work with gas hydrates is focused on exploring the use of naturally occurring solids as fuel cells. Projects are underway on screening of marine organisms for industrially useful compounds and processes for applications in food, medicine, waste treatment and cosmetics.

For a material scientist, with a firm background in solid state physics all this information was overwhelming and I left the symposium with the thought "Is the era of Newton-Einstein physics going to be overtaken by the century of biology and biotechnology"? Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society recently conducted a survey of general public on potential benefits of nanotechnology. The participants were most excited about the benefits of nanotechnology in cancer treatment, drug delivery and other medical applications while potential of miniaturization, exciting new materials with enhanced mechanical, optical, electrical properties found few takers. Food for thought for nanoscientists, eh!

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NaturalNano teams up on nano cosmetics research

NaturalNano, Inc. (OTCBB:NNAN) (FWB:N3N) is a nanomaterials company developing proprietary technologies and processes to provide novel properties for a wide range of applications. Such applications include industrial polymers, plastics and composites; and additives to cosmetics, agricultural, and household products. NaturalNano holds over twenty issued or pending patents and proprietary know-how for extraction and separation processes, of halloysite and other nanotubes, in combination with other materials

Materials science company NaturalNano has announced that it has signed a licensing agreement with the US Naval Research Laboratory to develop a broad spectrum of controlled-release nanomaterials, a number of which will touch on both cosmetic and fragrance products.

The agreement covers ten patents that will also affect other areas, including agriculture, electronics and local drug delivery.

"This agreement is a great milestone for us," said Cathy Fleischer, president and chief technical officer of NaturalNano.

"It represents another step in our strategic plan to commercialize products across a diverse range of markets and to solidify our position as a leader in advanced nanomaterials."

The agreement means that NaturalNano can tap into the US Naval Laboratory's extensive expertise in the field of nanotechnology research, which incorportates the Nanoscience Institute - established in 2001 to conduct multidisciplinary research within this area.

The company currently has more than 25 patents or pending applications for control-released nanomaterials, which it either exclusively owns or has licensed out.

The company's research and development has focused on nanotubes, including naturally occurring nanotubes found in halloysite (HNT), which have a unique hollow-tube structure that allows chemicals, additives or other materials to be placed inside the tubes, creating a slow or controlled release of the materials.

For cosmetic and toiletry products, the development of nanomaterials for formulations has proved particularly useful to improve the efficacy of sunscreen, anti-aging products and fragrances.

NaturalNano's technology should prove particularly useful for sunscreen products as it allows for the slow release of active ingredients, allowing the product to last longer.

It is also useful in anti-aging formulations, as the technology enables the smaller particles to penetrate deeper into the skin's dermal layers, allowing for greater and longer-lasting efficacy.

For fragrance products nanotechnology has proved useful in the development of scents with time-controlled release, which means they can last longer and be used to maintain a more constant odor, as opposed to one that is strong immediately after application, but then evaporates quickly.

The inventory on nano-based consumer products, compiled by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Centers, was updated earlier this month, with health and beauty coming out as one of the biggest product categories to use nanotechnology.

It revealed that the number of personal care products using nanotechnology has risen to 85 from 58 when it was launched in March 2006. The cosmetic product count, which the center differentiates from personal care products, rose also to 89 from 75 and sunscreens to 27 from 18.

With The Nanotech Report: 4th Edition, by Lux Research, indicating that the market for nanotechnology manufactured goods is set to be worth $2.6 trillion by the year 2015, all the indications are that this is an area that is set to boom in the coming years.

About Natural Nano.

Company OverviewPDFPrintE-mail

Founded in 2004 in Rochester, New York, NaturalNano, Inc. develops unique and proprietary processes for refining naturally occurring nanotubes and other nanomaterials that add competitive properties to a range of applications.

The Company's near-term goal is to make commercial quantities of high-quality naturally occurring nanotubes -- along with licenses based on the Company's proprietary technologies -- available for a wide variety of uses. We have identified multiple applications including applications in engineered plastics and polymers, electronic components, cosmetics and other personal care products.

Patents have been filed covering numerous commercial applications, and additional patents are pending for processing and classification technologies being developed by NaturalNano that are related to the nanotubes found in halloysite clay.

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Nobel :German Scientist Wins Nobel Chemistry Prize

The Nobel Prize
Every year since 1901 the Nobel Prize has been awarded for achievements in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and for peace. The Nobel Prize is an international award administered by the Nobel Foundation in Stockholm, Sweden. In 1968, Sveriges Riksbank established The Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel, founder of the Nobel Prize. Each prize consists of a medal, personal diploma, and a cash award

In the picture :Gerhard Ertl of Germany who won the Nobel Chemistry Prize poses for a photo at the Fritz-Haber-Institute in Berlin on his 71st birthday, 10 Oct. 2007

The 2007 Nobel Prize for Chemistry has been awarded to Gerhard Ertl of the Max Planck Society in Berlin. Kevin Billinghurst has the story from Stockholm.

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences honors Professor Ertl for his groundbreaking studies of chemical reactions on solid surfaces.

He is credited with creating a methodology for demonstrating how different experimental procedures can be used to provide a complete picture of a surface reaction, observing how individual layers of atoms behave on the extremely pure surface of a metal.

Professor Gunnar von Heijne of the Academy of Sciences explains the importance of Ertl's work.

"From high school we tend to think of chemical processes as happening in water or perhaps in a gas, but in fact a whole lot of scientifically very interesting and practically important chemistry happens on solid surfaces," he noted. "Think of iron rust, think of catalytic converters on the exhaust pipes of our cars, think of technologies such as fuel cells. Gedrhard Ertl's scientific insights have laid a firm foundation for modern surface chemistry, and his careful methodological approach has become a model for both academic research and for industrial process development."

Nobel science prizes are given for contributions to basic understanding of nature, but Professor Ertl's work also has practical environmental applications. He has studied the process by which nitrogen can be extracted from air for inclusion in artificial fertilizers, a field of huge importance in agriculture. He has also explained oxidation of carbon monoxide on platinum, a reaction that takes place in catalytic converters to clean auto-exhaust emissions.

Professor Ertl was reached by telephone minutes after hearing he had been chosen, incidentally on his 71st birthday.

"I was really speechless," he said. "I am very surprised. This is the greatest honor you can think of in the life of a scientist."

On December 10, the 111th anniversary of the death of Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel, Professor Ertl and the other winners of the 2007 Nobel Prizes in science and literature will come to Sweden to receive their awards in a gala ceremony at Stockholm City Hall

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