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Self-assembled nanobatons surrounding oil droplets suspended in water.  (Source: Rice University)
New self-aligning nanoparticles show promise for environmental cleanups.

Nanotechnology research is paving the way to future technology. Various microscopic particles show promise in fields from medical science to solar power. Now, researchers at Rice University are throwing another carbon nanotube-based particle into the ring. Their carbon and gold nanobatons show some fantastic properties when exposed to various chemical agents. Two of the uses they envision include cleaning up chemical contaminants and use as a drug delivery system.

What makes the Rice nanobatons so useful for these cases is that they have the property of being self-assembling in certain situations. Their work, which was published in last week’s Nano Letters, uses a standard carbon nanotube, with a gold nanowire attached to one end.

Carbon is hydrophobic, or repelled by water, while gold is hydrophilic, the opposite. When the nanoparticles were exposed to oil droplets suspended in water, they assembled themselves into tiny BB-shaped sacks around the oil due to these properties. Exposing the batons to water droplets suspended in oil had exactly the same results, though reversed. Surrounded oil droplets took on a gold color as the hydrophobic carbon aligned the tubes with the gold tips out -- towards the water -- while the captured water droplets were a dark color as the gold tips aligned inwards.

Using various other types of metals or chemicals on the tips of the nanotubes, the researchers feel that the batons could be used for many other purposes. A magnetic baton could be used to carry drugs, and then manipulated to disperse them when at a given location. Chemical-tipped batons could be used to find toxic chemicals in water and disable them while captured in the BB.

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But how do we clean up the nanotubes?
By GreenEnvt on 6/2/2008 3:14:16 PM , Rating: 3
Well that's the beauty of it! Once the carbon nanotubes isolate the oil, we send in some snakes to get the carbon, then some lizards to eat the carbon, and some Chinese needle snakes to eat the lizards, then some gorilla's to eat the snakes. The gorilla's can't swim, so they'll die off quickly.

By fake01 on 6/2/2008 7:09:05 PM , Rating: 2
For some reason that reminds me of an episode of the Simpsons. I think it was the one where Bart hatched two eggs which he thought belonged to a bird he killed. But after the eggs hatched they turned out to be lizards.

Than at the end of the episode Skinner said something similar to what you said.

By dluther on 6/2/2008 7:30:36 PM , Rating: 2
I know an old lady
Who swallowed a dog

Oh what a hog
She swallowed a dog!

She swallowed the dog
to catch the bird

she swallowed the bird
to catch the spider

that wiggled and jiggled
and tickled inside her

She swallowed the spider
to catch the fly

But I don't know why
she swallowed the fly

I guess she'll die

The Annunaki needed gold why?
By wingless on 6/3/2008 2:22:03 PM , Rating: 2
Now we know why the Annunaki used humans as slaves to mine gold for them 12000 years ago. It took us a while but we caught up finally....

If you don't know who the Annunaki are, then Google Babylonian literature. They wrote about "Gods"(aliens) that made mankind in jars(or test tubes) and made us mine gold for them. Now thats some old sci-fi huh?

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