WASHINGTON, DCViruses are notorious villains. They cause serious human diseases like AIDS, polio, and influenza, and can lead to system crashes and data loss in computers.
A new podcast explores how nanotechnology researcher Angela Belcher, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is working with viruses to make them do good things. By exploiting a viruss ability to replicate rapidly and combine with semiconductor and electronic materials, she is coaxing them to grow and self-assemble nanomaterials into a functional electronic device. Through this marriage of nanotechnology with green chemistry, Belcher and her team are working toward building faster, better, cheaper and environmentally-friendly transistors, batteries, solar cells, diagnostic materials for detecting cancer, and semiconductors for use in modern electrical deviceseverything from computers to cell phones.
Unlike traditional semiconductor or battery manufacturing which requires expensive and toxic chemicals, Belchers nanofactories generate little waste, grow at room temperature, and promise to be inexpensive and largely biodegradable.
Does all this sound too good to be true" Judge for yourself. Listen to an interview with Dr. Belcher, a 2004 winner of a MacArthur Foundation Genius Award. It is second in an exciting new series of podcasts called Trips to the NanoFrontier. These podcasts are available online at www.penmedia.org/podcast, or directly from Apples iTunes music store.
These podcasts and a recent publication, NanoFrontiers: Visions for the Future (www.nanotechproject.org/114), are written by freelance science writer Karen F. Schmidt. Both focus on nanotechnologys ability to address the energy crisis, the need for better medical treatments, and the demand for clean water. They are based on a two-day NanoFrontiers forecasting workshop held in Februar
Contact: Julia Moore
Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies