Monday, July 23, 2012

Nanoscale devices will be found in every room in your home

Nanoscale devices will be found in every room in your home

Last year 27 Sep 2011, I was in the Harvard University where I visited laboratories of many eminent professors from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

I recall, how Professor Hongkun Park, showed me his invention of nano needles/Wires, which can pierce and deliver content into individual targeted cells. That’s how nano particle sciences are shaping the bio sciences.

He is using his nanoscience expertise to develop new nano- and microelectronic tools that can interface with live cells, cell networks, and living organisms. Specifically, he is investigating vertical nanowire arrays as a platform to perturb cellular functions in a massively parallel, arrayed fashion, and patch-clamp and nanowire arrays for recording real-time dynamics of in vitro and in vivo neuronal ensembles.

These tools will impact a broad range of high-throughput discovery efforts in biology and help scientists to unravel the design principles of complex cellular networks.

Nanoscale Electronics, Optoelectronics, and Plasmonics
Nanometer-sized materials represent a natural size limit of the miniaturization trend of current technology, and they exhibit physical and chemica lproperties significantly different from their bulk counterparts. The Park group is developing cutting-edge experimental methods to incorporate individual molecules and nanostructures into electronic, optoelectronic, and plasmonic devices. Using these methods, he is characterizing their behaviors in detail to gain insights about their behavior and exploring the potential of these devices for future technological applications.

Hongkun Park thinks small to get big results.

Professor Hongkun Park of chemistry and of physics recently made an electronic switch the size of a molecule, too tiny to see directly or even to visualize in your mind. One of his goals is to determine how minute you can make an electronic device and still have it do useful work. He talks about sizes measured in atoms and gadgets millionths of an inch in size.

He is trying to couple his molecule-size switches to functioning brain cells to see how a memory or thought is made, or a sensation felt. In other words, he wants to get down to the basics.
He had already made his mark in the nanoworld when he wired an individual molecule so that it serves as an electronic switch, a transistor that turns the flow of electricity on or off. Harvard Magazine noted that this device is so small that it wiggles when a single electron, one of the lightest particles in the universe, passes through it.

Now Park is trying to modify such molecules so they can emit or detect a single photon, or unit of light, a thing even more ethereal than an electron. There's no doubt that circuits of light will handle more information more quickly in the future than electric circuits do today.

Park also researches the peculiar properties of nanowires made from certain metal oxides that change their physical characteristics as they become smaller. Such wires may hasten the day when nanoscale devices will be found in every room in your home.

By William J. Cromie, Harvard News Office says that Prof. Park is trying to connect his molecular detectors and switches to functioning networks of brain cells. He aims to track exactly what kind of chemistry and physics occurs when a memory is made, a face is recognized, an emotion is felt. That's an unnerving goal that Park is not sure he can attain. "I don't know if I can do it," he admits, "but it will be a lot of fun to try."


Neha Sharma

nEw SmS