Tagged With nanotechnology

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In the classic 1966 American science fiction film Fantastic Voyage, a submarine crew was miniaturised and injected into a body to fix a blood clot in the brain. That obviously isn't how future medical science is going to work, but the notion of creating microscopic machines to perform complex tasks is certainly on point. A recent advance, in which robots made from DNA were programmed to sort and deliver molecules to a specified location, now represents an important step in this futuristic direction.

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The Planet of the Apes prequels did much to explain how humans lost their status as the dominant species on the planet -- a cataclysmic set of events fuelled by a global pandemic known as the "Simian Flu". This virus, the product of a medical experiment gone horribly wrong, wiped out the vast majority of humans, but it boosted the brains of apes. And in the latest instalment of the franchise, the virus has mutated into an insidious new form, affecting humans in some disturbing new ways.

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If the idea of a robot fish swimming through your veins elicits a Cronenberg-ian chill up your spine, you might want to brace yourself. Researchers at U.C. San Diego have created the first nanofish, the New Scientist reports -- a magnet-powered bot that they hope to use for targeted delivery of medication, non-invasive surgery and single-cell manipulation.

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Oil spills at sea, on the land and in your own kitchen could one day easily be mopped up with a new multipurpose fabric covered with semi-conducting nanostructures, developed by a team of researchers from QUT, CSIRO and RMIT.

"The fabric could also potentially degrade organic matter when exposed to light thanks to these semi-conducting properties," says Associate Professor Anthony O'Mullane, from QUT's School of Chemistry, Physics and Chemical Engineering, who collaborated with researchers from CSIRO and RMIT on this project.

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Futurists have long speculated that nanotechnology -- the engineering of materials and devices at the molecular scale -- will revolutionise virtually every field it touches, medicine being no exception. Here's what to expect when you have fleets of molecule-sized robots coursing through your veins.

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Spider silk is nature's Kevlar. It's stronger than steel, it's waterproof, and you can stretch it as much as 30 to 40 per cent before it snaps. Now biophysicists at Johns Hopkins University think they know the secret to spider silk's remarkable elasticity: protein threads that serve as stretchy "superstrings". The researchers describe their work in a recent paper in the journal Nano Letters.