Medical gauze hasn't changed much since World War I: Medics can only stuff it into a gushing wound and pray.

Now chemists have infused cotton gauze with nanoparticles, giving it a vastly improved ability to halt blood loss -- even in tight spots like the neck or groin where it's hard to apply pressure. The new material could help save lives on the battlefield and in civilian situations, where trauma victims often bleed to death before they can be transported to a hospital or other medical facility.

"We are currently testing bandages because hemorrhage is a leading cause of death in military trauma patients," says Richard McCarron, head of trauma and resuscitative medicine at the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Md. "The recent tests with Combat Gauze indicate that it decreased blood loss and improved survival."

In this video, researchers test Combat Gauze on an anesthetized pig. The pig's aorta is slit, then the gauze is applied for a brief time, which stops the flow of blood. Warning: Content may be disturbing to some viewers.

For more, visit video.

The lifesaving fabric McCarron refers to is made by Z-Medica, a medical products company based in Connecticut. According to Z-Medica CEO Ray Huey, the new product has already saved two lives.

"In 2002, following the September 11 attacks, the military was looking at new technologies to stop bleeding," Huey says.

When the Navy conducted a test of high-tech medical products, Huey says the clear winner was Z-Medica's first product, QuikClot, a grainy powder that can be dumped into gushing wounds to stanch bleeding. Shortly thereafter, the military started sending it to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Unfortunately, the soldiers reported some problems: QuikClot would get hot when it came into contact with blood or water, and in some instances it caused serious burns. While burns are better than bleeding to death, it still wasn't an optimal solution.

The Navy turned to Galen Stucky, one of the top names in inorganic materials research, to work out the kinks. Stucky and several graduate students were able to solve the heating problem, file several patents, and form a business relationship with Z-Medica.

Ironically, the solution to the heating problem lay in replacing QuikClot with a material that has been used in medical tests for more than 50 years. The key ingredient in the new gauze is kaolin clay, which is often used to make pottery and happens to be rich in aluminosilicate nanoparticles -- which trigger blood clotting.

"Kaolin clay has been used since the 1950s as an activating agent for a clotting test that medical doctors routinely perform," says graduate student April Sawvel, who worked on the project. "We tested it against the original granular QuikClot and discovered that it worked just as well, but without the large heat release associated with the original QuikClot formulation."

Although researchers have raised concerns about the safety of nanoparticles, the aluminosilicates found in kaolin clay have been used on the human body, and introduced into it, for eons. Furthermore, by triggering blood clotting, the nanoparticles should effectively trap themselves at the site of the injury -- so they don't wind up wandering deep into the body.

Immediately following the researchers' discovery, Z-Medica quickly moved to combine the clay with gauze, making it much easier to use.

"We immediately started looking at ways to impregnate gauze with this material," Huey says. "We very quickly prototyped some material. When I say very quickly, I mean within less than two weeks."

Less than a year later, QuickClot Combat Gauze is in the hands of Special Forces operators, the Coast Guard and emergency-room doctors.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — In a surprise development that could have implications for powering electronics, cars and even the military, researchers at MIT have created the world's first batteries constructed at the nano scale by microscopic viruses.

A much-buzzed-about paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences earlier this month details the team's success in creating two of the three parts of a working battery—the positively charged anode and the electrolyte. But team leader Angela Belcher told PM Wednesday that the team has been seriously working on cathode technology for the past year, creating several complete prototypes.

"We haven't published those yet, actually. We're just getting ready to write them up and send them off," says Belcher, who won a MacArthur genius grant for her work in 2004 and a Breakthrough Award from PM in 2006. "The cathode material has been a little more difficult, but we have several different candidates, and we have made full, working batteries."

Instead of physically arranging the component parts, researchers genetically engineer viruses to attract individual molecules of materials they're interested in, like cobalt oxide, from a solution, autonomously forming wires 17,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper that pack themselves together to form electrodes smaller than a human cell.

"Once you do the genetic engineering with the viruses themselves, you pour in the solution and they grow the right combination of these materials on them," Belcher says.

The team is working on three main architectures: Filmlike structures—as small as a human cell—could form a clear film to power lab-on-a-chip applications to laminate into smart cards, or even to interface with implanted medical devices. Meshlike architectures—billions of tiny nano-components all interfaced together—might one day replace conventional batteries in larger applications such as laptops and cars. And fiberlike configurations—spun from liquid crystal like a spider's silk—might one day be woven into textiles, providing a wearable power source for the military. "We definitely don't have full batteries on those [fiber architectures]. We've only worked on single electrodes so far, but the idea is to try to make these fiber batteries that could be integrated into textiles and woven into lots of different shapes," Belcher says.

The M13 viruses used by the team can't reproduce by themselves and are only capable of infecting bacteria. At just 880 nanometers long—500 times smaller than a grain of salt—the bugs allow researchers to work at room temperatures and pressures with molecular precision, using and wasting fewer hazardous materials in the process. Now that they've demonstrated the construction of such tiny electronic components is possible, the challenge facing researchers is how to make them practical.

"What we're working on is not thinking about a particular device application, but trying to improve the quality of the anode and cathode materials—using biology just to make a higher quality material for energy density," Belcher says. "We haven't ruled out cars. That's a lot of amplification. But right now the thing is trying to make the best material possible, and if we get a really great material, then we have to think about how do you scale it.

Sound waves, moving from left to right, encounter an object surrounded by an “acoustic cloak” that causes the waves to re-form as if the object weren’t there.
Credit: New Journal of Physics

Acoustic Cloaking
Design for meta­materials that deflect sound waves

Source: "Acoustic cloaking in two dimensions: a feasible approach"
Daniel Torrent and José Sánchez-Dehesa
New Journal of Physics
10: 63015-63025

Results: Designs have been drawn up for a material that could lead to the first acoustic cloaking device. Computer models suggest that alternating layers of two types of patterned, elastic rods, called sonic crystals, would direct sound waves around an object so that they re-formed on the other side with no distortion, as if the sound waves had never encountered the object.

Why it matters: The cloak could make ships invisible to sonar and improve the acoustics of concert halls by allowing sound to pass around load-bearing columns. Buildings covered in the material would be shielded from street noise. Other researchers have designed and built materials that can cloak objects from microwaves, but they divert only particular wavelengths. The new research predicts that an acoustic cloak would shield objects from a broad spectrum of sounds, from high pitches to low.

Methods: The researchers developed computer models based on previous theoretical work and used them to simulate the movement of sound waves around acoustic cloaks with varying numbers of layers. The models showed that sound waves flow best around materials made of 200 layers of composite sonic crystals.

Next steps: The designed material would work only in two dimensions--with sound waves traveling in a plane. The researchers will extend their theoretical work, developing new designs for materials that work in three dimensions, and then build and test them.

Testing Nanotoxicity
A rapid assay offers a much-needed way to evaluate nano­materials' safety

Source: "Perturbational profiling of nanomaterial biologic activity"
Stanley Y. Shaw et al.
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
105: 7387-7392

Results: Researchers have developed a way to evaluate the safety of nanoparticles by quickly comparing them to nanoparticles already tested for toxicity. They determined the effects of different doses of nanoparticles on a ­variety of cell types in culture. Then they performed tests in mice, showing that their tests on cells could predict which nanoparticles would have effects in animals similar to those of previously screened nanoparticles.

Why it matters: Hundreds of products containing nanomaterials are already on the market, and more are under development. Few if any of the materials have been thoroughly tested. The new assay is faster and cheaper than testing in animals but appears to give a good approximation of the results; it represents an important step toward speeding up the process of evaluating new nanomaterials. The approach could help researchers choose between similar nanoparticles on the basis of potential safety risks.

Methods: The researchers tested 50 nanoparticles, most of which are being developed for medical imaging, in the four cell types that they are most likely to encounter in the body. Each nanoparticle was tested at four different concentrations in mouse immune cells, human liver cells, and two types of human blood-­vessel cells. Automated systems collected data on cell death, metabolic changes, and other signs of toxicity.

Next steps: The experiment, which focused mostly on iron-containing nanoparticles and tiny semiconductor particles called quantum dots, now needs to be extended to other nanomaterials. The assay works well for nanoparticles entering the body intravenously, but to test the properties of nanomaterials that might enter in other ways, including inhalation, future assays will need to use different cell types, such as lung cells.


Researchers from Monash University have designed a nano-sized "trojan horse" particle to ensure healing antioxidants can be better absorbed by the human body.

Dr Ken Ng and Dr Ian Larson from the University's Faculty of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences have designed a nanoparticle, one thousandth the thickness of a human hair, that protects antioxidants from being destroyed in the gut and ensures a better chance of them being absorbed in the digestive tract.

Antioxidants are known to neutralise the harmful effect of free radicals and other reactive chemical species that are constantly generated by our body and are thought to promote better health.

Normally our body's own antioxidant defence is sufficient, but in high-risk individuals, such as those with a poor diet or those at risk of developing atherosclerosis, diabetes or Alzheimer's disease, a nutritional source of antioxidants is required.

Dr Larson said orally delivered antioxidants were easily destroyed by acids and enzymes in the human body, with only a small percentage of what is consumed actually being absorbed.

The solution is to design a tiny sponge-like chitosan biopolymeric nanoparticle as a protective vehicle for antioxidants. Chitosan is a natural substance found in crab shells.

"Antioxidants sit within this tiny trojan horse, protecting it from attack from digestive juices in the stomach," Dr Larson said.

"Once in the small intestine the nanoparticle gets sticky and bonds to the intestinal wall. It then leaks its contents directly into the intestinal cells, which allows them to be absorbed directly into the blood stream.

"We hope that by mastering this technique, drugs and supplements also vulnerable to the digestive process can be better absorbed by the human body."

The research project will proceed to trials early in 2009.

Dr Ng said although the research was still in its early stages, the longer term aim of the project would be to include similarly treated nanoparticles into food items, similar to adding Omega-3 to bread or milk.

"For catechins — the class of antioxidants under examination and among the most potent dietary antioxidants -- only between 0.1 and 1.1 per cent of the amount consumed makes it into our blood. If we can improve that rate, the benefits are enormous."

Consumer Product Safety Commission Not Ready For Nanotech

Agency lacks budget, authority and expertise to ensure nanoproducts are safe

Washington, DC — The inability of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) to carry out its mandate with respect to simple, low-tech products such as children’s jewelry and toy trains bodes poorly for its ability to oversee the safety of complex, high-tech products made using nanotechnology, according to a new report released by the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN).

Two nanotech products under the jurisdiction of the CPSC are being used in the Olympic Games in Beijing – a pair of running shoes and a swimsuit. The products can be found in PEN’s consumer product inventory, which now contains more than 800 manufacturer-identified, nanotechnology-enabled items.

“The agency lacks the budget, the statutory authority and the scientific expertise to ensure the hundreds of nanoproducts now on the market, among them baby bottle nipples, infant teething rings, paints, waxes, kitchenware and appliances, are safe. This problem will only worsen as more sophisticated nanotechnology-based products begin to enter the consumer market,” argues E. Marla Felcher, who teaches at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and is the author of the report, The Consumer Product Safety Commission and Nanotechnology.

The CPSC is charged with protecting the public against unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with consumer products. More than 15,000 consumer goods fall under the CPSC’s jurisdiction, including toys and baby products, sports equipment, fitness equipment, home improvement and garden equipment, clothing, appliances, electronics and computers. The consumer product inventory maintained by PEN indicates that nanotechnology has already found its way into every one of these product categories.

“During the fall of 2007, many Americans faced a hazard in their products that had been banned for 30 years — lead. As millions of children’s toys coated with lead paint were recalled, it became clear that government oversight had failed, and that the CPSC, the agency primarily responsible for the oversight of these toys, was stretched too thin from years of neglect, underfunding and the challenges posed by an increasingly global manufacturing system,” says PEN Director David Rejeski. “It is against this background that we need to ask the question: Is the CPSC adequately prepared to deal with nanotechnology, which is now associated with more than 800 manufacturer-identified consumer products ranging from infant pacifiers to paints to appliances to clothing?”

The release of PEN’s new report comes on the heels of the president signing legislation that eliminates lead in toys and either permanently or temporarily bans six types of phthalates in children’s products, which are under the CPSC’s jurisdiction. Phthalates are a broad family of chemicals primarily used to make vinyl soft and flexible and are found in thousands of products including toys, garden hoses, wiring and cables, construction materials, flooring, automotive interiors and medical devices.

Felcher’s report identifies many similarities between the issues raised by phthalates and nanomaterials: many of the same products that contain phthalates are now being made with nanomaterials (e.g., infants’ pacifiers and teething rings); both phthalates and nanomaterials can enter the human body through multiple pathways, such as the lungs or digestive tract; and jurisdiction over phthalates in the United States, like jurisdiction over nanomaterials, is spread over multiple agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Food & Drug Administration.

But despite these similarities, phthalates and nanomaterials differ in two important respects, Felcher says. First, phthalates have been the subject of thousands of scientific studies documenting their effect on the health of animals and humans—some demonstrating a link between the chemicals and decreased sperm count and sexual malformation in boys—while little is known about possible chronic hazards associated with nanomaterials. Second, nanomaterials are scientifically far more diverse than phthalates, increasing the complexity involved in understanding their toxicology.

“It took decades of research before lawmakers found the political will to keep lead and phthalates out of toys. It could take a very long time to research and ensure that potentially dangerous nanomaterials are kept out, too,” says Rejeski.

The new PEN report includes a number of recommendations Felcher believes will help the CPSC to improve its oversight of nanomaterials in consumer products, including:

  • Building the CPSC’s nanotechnology knowledge base and expertise.

  • Identifying companies and industries that are currently manufacturing nanoproducts and request that they submit research studies, risk assessment data and any information they possess that will enable the CPSC scientists to assess nanoproduct safety.

  • Urging Congress to amend the Consumer Product Safety Act to give the CPSC the authority to require manufacturers to identify any nanomaterials in their products.

  • Encouraging Congress to adopt a section of the Consumer Product Safety Act bill recommended by the National Commission on Product Safety in its 1970 Final Report, which would give the CPSC the authority to promulgate safety standards for “new” consumer products based on new and emerging technologies, including nanotechnology.

Applications and Products: Putting Technology to Use

Over the past two decades, scientists and engineers have been mastering the intricacies of working with nanoscale materials.
Now researchers have a mucher clearer picture of how to create nanoscale materials with properties never envisioned before.

Products using nanoscale materials now available:

* anti-bacterial wound dressings use nanoscale silver.
* A nanoscale dry powder can neutralize gas and liquid toxins in chemical spills and elsewhere.
* Batteries for tools are being manufactured with nanoscale materials in order to deliver more power more quickly with less heat.

Cosmetics and food producers are “nano-sizing” some ingredients, claiming that improves their effectiveness. Sunscreens containing nanoscale titanium dioxide or zinc oxide are transparent and reflect ultraviolet (UV) light to prevent sunburns. Scratch- and glare-resistant coatings are being applied to eye glasses, windows, and car mirrors.

Entirely new products could result from nanotechnology too. Research in nanomedicine, for instance, is focused on finding new ways for diagnosing and treating disease.

Looking farther into the future, some researchers are working toward nanomanufacturing and a “bottom-up” approach to making things. The idea is that if you can put certain molecules together, they will self-assemble into ordered structures. This approach could reduce the waste of current “topdown” manufacturing processes that start with large pieces of materials and end with the disposal of excess material.
Drug-Delivery Techniques

Dendrimers are a type of nanostructure that can be precisely designed and manufactured for a wide variety of applications, including treatment of cancer and other diseases. Dendrimers carrying different materials on their branches can do several things at one time, such as recognizing diseased cells, diagnosing disease states (including cell death), drug delivery, reporting location , and reporting outcomes of therapy.

Different nanoscale materials can be used in thin films to make them water-repellent, anti-reflective, self-cleaning, ultraviolet or infrared-resistant, antifog, anti-microbial, scratch-resistant, or electrically conductive. Nanofilms are used now on eyeglasses, computer displays, and cameras to protect or treat the surfaces.

Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) are used in baseball bats, tennis racquets, and some car parts because of their greater mechanical strength at less weight per unit volume than that of conventional materials. Electronic properties of CNTs have made them a candidate for flat panel displays in TVs, batteries, and other electronics. Nanotubes for various uses can be made of materials other than carbon.
Nanoscale transistors

Transistors are electronic switching devices where a small amount of electricity is used like a gate to control the flow of larger amounts of electricity. In computers, the more transistors, the greater the power. Transistor sizes have been decreasing, so computers have become more powerful. Now, the industry's best commercial technology produces computer chips with features as small as 45 nanometers
Solar Plastics

Thin, flexible, lightweight rolls of plastics containing nanoscale materials are being developed that some people believe could replace traditional solar energy technologies. The nanoscale materials absorb sunlight and, in some cases, indoor light, which is converted into electrical energy. Thin-film solar cells paired with a new kind of rechargeable battery also are the subject of research today. This technology will be more widely used when researchers learn how to capture solar energy more efficiently.
Water-Filtration Techniques

Researchers are experimenting with carbon nanotube-based membranes for water desalination and nanoscale sensors to identify contaminants in water systems. Other nanoscale materials that have great potential to filter and purify water include nanoscale titanium dioxide, which is used in sunscreens and which has been shown to neutralize bacteria, including E. coli, in water.

Nanofood Defined and The Use Of Nanotechnology In Packaging, Producing and Growing Foods Now and Into The Future
Topics Covered



Farming Practices

Farming For Nanotechnology

Processing Foods

Future of Nanofoods

Nanotechnology in the food industry can take a number of forms. These include the use of nanotechnology in packaging materials, farming practices, food processing and also in the foods themselves. Nanofood as defined by the Nanoforum in their Nanotechnology in Agriculture and Food document is “that nanotechnology techniques or tools are used during cultivation, production, processing, or packaging of the food.”

The use of nanotechnology in food packaging is already a commonplace reality and can be separated into two types: active packaging and smart packaging. Active packaging includes materials that constantly provide a certain feature like stopping oxygen from spoiling food. Smart packaging reacts to changes in the environment such as to indicate the presence of a pathogen.

McDonalds in the USA now use burger containers and other cardboard products that incorporate nanomaterials. These include nanoparticle starch based glues sourced from renewable resources that replace petroleum based glues. In the burger containers, nanomaterials are being used to replace polyvinyl acetate (PVA) and polyvinyl alcohol (PVOH) that bond graphics to the cardboard containers.

Other packaging that uses nanotechnology include plastic beer bottles made with nanocomposite materials, plastic films that increase shelf life and antimicrobial or antifungal packaging.
Farming Practices

Nanotechnology offers huge promises for shaping farming practices and increasing precision in farming. Fields could be embedded with nanosensors for measuring everything from nutrient levels and water content to the presence of disease, fungii or other pests. These sensors could then interact with nanoparticles or nanocapsules to deliver precisely measured quantities of pesticides and fertilizers. This would result in reduced costs and less of these chemicals being released into the environment.

Animals could be tracked, identified and monitored though embedded nanochips. The same chips could deliver measured quantities of vaccines and other treatments for disease.
Farming For Nanotechnology

An emerging field is the use of plants to directly produce raw materials for the nanotechnology industry. An example of this is “particle farming” for gold nanoparticles by growing alfalfa plants in gold rich soil. The alfalfa concentrates the gold in the plant tissues and gold nanoparticles can be harvested from the plant by mechanical separation.
Processing Foods

Nanotechnology is already making an impact in processed foods. Nanoparticles and nanocapsules are being added to various foodstuffs to increase shelf life, alter properties, enhance nutritional values and change taste.

Tuna oil (a source of omega 3 fatty acids) in nanocapsules is being added to some types of bread. The capsules break and release the oil in the stomach so there is no unpleasant taste. In other areas nanotechnology enhanced emulsifiers are being developed to give low fat ice creams the flavour and texture of full fat ice creams.
Future of Nanofoods

At this point in time the term nanofood does not refer to foods produced directly using nanotechnology techniques. The future could bring dramatic changes in this area. Nanomachines might be able to produce foods molecule by molecule but this is many years away.

Future developments in the short term could include packaging that reflects heat to keep ice cream frozen in a hot car, self healing packaging that repairs itself when perforated and packaging that can change it’s properties under certain conditions e.g. a milk carton that changes colour if the milk has spoiled. A scientist with Kraft foods, Manuel Marquez-Sanchez, has outlined plans for a nanotechnology enabled drink, “The idea is that everyone buys the same drink, but you'll be able to decide its colour, flavour, concentration and texture”.

Consumer advocates taking part in a food safety conference in Orlando, Fla., this week said food produced by using nanotechnology is quietly coming onto the market, and they want U.S. authorities to force manufacturers to identify them.

Nanotechnology involves the design and manipulation of materials on molecular scales, smaller than the width of a human hair and invisible to the naked eye. Companies using nanotechnology say it can enhance the flavor or nutritional effectiveness of food.

U.S. health officials generally prefer not to place warning labels on products unless there are clear reasons for caution or concern. But consumer advocates say uncertainty over health consequences alone is sufficient cause to justify identifying nano-foods.

The 'new genetic engineering'
"I think nanotechnology is the new genetic engineering. People just don't know what's going on, and it's moving so fast," Jane Kolodinsky, a consumer economist at the University of Vermont, said at the conference.

American consumers are generally more complacent about genetically modified or cloned foods than their counterparts in Europe.

But Michael Hansen, a senior scientist with the Consumers Union, said polls show that 69 percent of Americans are concerned about eating cloned meat.

He said that in focus groups run by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, no parents were willing to feed their children meat from cloned animals or their offspring.

In a recent CBS/New York Times poll, 53 percent of Americans said they wouldn't buy genetically modified foods.

Who knew?
Hansen said there is scant public awareness, however, about foods produced through nanotechnology.

New consumer products created through nanotechnology are coming on the market at the rate of 3 to 4 per week, according to an advocacy group, The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), based on an inventory it has drawn up of 609 known or claimed nano-products.

Nano-products in common use today include lightweight tennis rackets and bicycles, and sunscreens containing clear, nonwhite versions of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

They also include lipsticks, and many items labeled as anti-microbial that contain silver ions such as socks, washing machines, salad spinners and food containers.

On PEN's list are three foods — a brand of canola cooking oil called Canola Active Oil, a tea called Nanotea and a chocolate diet shake called Nanoceuticals Slim Shake Chocolate.

According to company information posted on PEN's Web site, the canola oil, by Shemen Industries of Israel, contains an additive called "nanodrops" designed to carry vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals through the digestive system.

The shake, according to U.S. manufacturer RBC Life Sciences Inc., uses cocoa infused "NanoClusters" to enhance the taste and health benefits of cocoa without the need for extra sugar.

The tea, says manufacturer Shenzhen Become Industry & Trade Co., Ltd. of China, is prepared with nanotechnology to "release effectively all of the excellent essences of the tea" and increase by a factor of 10 "the selenium supplement function."

Hansen, whose organization publishes the nonprofit product-testing magazine Consumer Reports, said there is no requirement that nano-products be identified as such.

He called for stronger federal regulations to require safety testing and labeling.

'Scientists agree that size matters'
"Just because something is safe at the macro level, doesn't mean it's safe at the nano size," Hansen said. "All scientists agree that size matters."

Hansen said recent studies have shown that nano-sized particles in some cases can invade cells and breach the blood-brain barrier, and that some forms of nano-sized carbon could be as harmful as asbestos if inhaled in quantity.