BUCKYBALLS OR FULLERENES USING MOLECULAR MODELING SOFTWARE WOULD MAKE FOR A COOL SCIENCE PROJECT. THEY ARE IN THE FOREFRONT NOW IN DRUG DELIVERY AND NANOTECHNOLOGY.
From Small Times, Big Times News
"Oct. 17, 2003 - Buckyballs, the soccer ball-shaped molecules that helped kick-start interest in nanoscale science and technology in the 1990s, finally made the big time. The biotech startup C Sixty announced Thursday that it is partnering with the pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. to develop drugs based on buckyballs, formally known as buckminsterfullerenes. " for full article click here.
WHAT IS NANOTECHNOLOGY?
The web defines nanotechnology as any technology related to features of nanometer scale: thin films, fine particles, chemical synthesis, advanced microlithography, and so forth. Nanotechnology is therefore more of a 'catch-all' description of activities at the level of atoms and molecules that have applications in the real world. Although nanotechnology stocks are in a frenzy, and the media talks of nanotechnology as being the "new technology", research in the field has actually been ongoing for many years. In the last 15 years over a dozen Nobel prizes have been awarded in nanotechnology, including the development of the scanning probe microscope (SPM), and the discovery of fullerenes. It was perhaps the discovery and potential applications of the fullerene molecule (also called a buckyball) and a related structure, the buckytube (or nanotube), that has sparked the current interest in the field.
WHAT ARE THE APPLICATIONS FOR NANOTUBES AND FULLERENES?
Carbon nanotubes (CNTs) have caught the imagination of scientists for everything from superconductors to transistors and diodes, material strengtheners, ion storage for batteries and more. One of the most promising applications is a thin panel called a field emitter display (FED). Both Motorola and DuPont are presently investigating this application.
Depending on the charge, the flexible nanotube can bend upward, away from the electrode, or downward, into contact with the electrode. The resulting signals form the building blocks of a digital device. "The best thing is, these switches are working," Norm Armour from LSI said. "We built some test devices, and we fired them up the other day, and they worked." The nanotube-based memory can act like "flash" memory, a reprogrammable type of memory that can retain data even when power is switched off.
Fullerenes (C60) are being investigated for their potential use as a drug-delivery system for cancer, AIDS and other diseases.
A long term objective of nanotechnology is to build nano-sized machines which can be inserted into the human body in order to detect and repair diseased cells is a real possibility. Current research however, is only at the primitive levels designing simple components e.g., a carbon nanotube based gears.
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