Nanotechnology Articles: Summaries and Reviews

Rating System
Readability: 1 (not readable) to 10 (well written)
Information: 1 (little info conveyed; simply a glitz piece) to 10 (very informative)
Level: 1 (elementary education required), 5 (high school level), 10 (PhD required)

EE Times
“Quantum Will Be the Normal State”
Summary: A discussion on Doctor Chuang, a PhD in electrical engineering who set out to disprove the idea of a quantum computer and eventually created one.
Readability: 6 / Information: 4 / Level: 7 / Overall: 6
Comments: The article focuses more on Chuang than on quantum computers; as a result, information is limited. The idea of the article (Chuang setting out to disprove q.c.’s and eventually creating one) is fascinating. However, the article is not terribly well written (there is a gap toward the beginning) and information is limited.

IBM Research News
“IBM’s Test Tube Quantum Computer Makes History”
Summary: IBM’s 7-qubit quantum computer is able to factor the number 15 into 5 and 3. The article speculates on possible implications of quantum computing and includes several pictures. It delves briefly into what a qubit is, but focuses more on the actual triumph of constructing a simple quantum computer.
Readability: 10 / Information: 7 / Level: 7 / Overall: 9
Comments: A very well-written and easily understandable article that gives a captivating look at the results of atomic manipulation and understanding. The information is somewhat limited, but the article should be excellent for undergraduates of any technical degree.

“Research Areas in Nanotechnology”
Summary: An IBM tutorial that gives definitions for Nanotechnology and briefly discusses areas within the nanotech field, as well as reasons for studying nanotechnology.
Ratings Not Applicable

“IBM Scientists Build World’s Smallest Operating Computer Circuits”
Summary: A discussion on IBM’s molecule cascade circuit. The article focuses on a description of how the circuit uses the basic interactions of molecules / atoms rather than the transfer of electrons to convey information. It talks about problems with the circuit, and includes a movie to show how the atoms interact to form a logic gate.
Readability: 10 / Information: 9 / Level: 6 / Overall: 10
Comments: With the included movie showing the molecule cascade, this article is a wonderful way to show progress in nanotechnology, and shows how nanotechnology is more than simply shrinking existing technology. I would highly recommend this article along with a presentation of the molecule cascade on computer.

Bell Labs Innovations

“Bell Labs to Collaborate on Flexible Displays”
Summary: A look at research into flexible displays that can be printed and rolled up. The article compares the possibilities of the flexible display versus modern glass screens.
Readability: 9 / Information: 3 / Level: 5 / Overall: 6
Comments: The article focuses a bit more on the glitz and glamour of nanotechnology. There is little information on how the flexible screens are to be created, but it is well-written and is a good look at industrial applications of nanotechnology. UC Berkley News

“Physicists Build World’s Smallest Motor Using Nanotubes and Etched Silicon”

Summary: A look at UC Berkley’s nano-scale motor. The article contrasts nano-motors with micro-motors and gives a glimpse of the possible uses of such a feat. The latter part of the article discusses the construction of the motor.
Readability: 8 / Information: 10 / Level: 8 / Overall: 10
Summary: The article is much more informative than most, but crams a lot of information into a somewhat short piece. As a result, it is probably necessary for most readers to go through it twice. The animated image imbedded in the article gives a good look at the difference between a motor on the nano-scale and a macroscopic device. Like the “molecule cascade” article from IBM, the piece from UC Berkley gives a great example of nanotechnology being more than shrinking modern machinery. I would highly recommend it as reading for class. Scientific American

“Nanotech: It’s Not Easy Being Green”

Summary: This article looks at the controversy surrounding research in nanotechnology, comparing it to a similar situation in which proponents of genetically engineered food found themselves. Arguments from both sides are included. Opponents are worried about the environmental impacts of nanotechnology while researchers insist that everything is being carried out in the open and can be accessed by virtually anyone who wants to study it.
Readability: 8 / Information: 6 / Level: 5 / Overall: 6
Comments: I feel that it is important to include all arguments when dealing with any field. This article does more that simply look at emerging technologies; it also looks at possible negative impacts of nanotechnology (even if one does not agree with the arguments). I am unclear how opponents can be against the entirety of the nanotech field, which appears to be the case. That is also why the rating is rather low. However, the article does name specific opposition groups, so if someone were interested, it would likely be easy to pursue it further.

“Little Big Science”

Summary: This article is several years old, but is an interesting insight into the beginnings of nano-research and government funding. It discusses some of the emerging nanotech research areas and the establishments of government funding programs.
Readability: 10 / Information: 6 / Level: 5 / Overall: 8
Comments: Students would have to keep in mind that some of the might-be’s have already happened, but this article should be good for an introductory look at nanotechnology.

“New DNA Computer Functions Sans Fuel”
Summary: A short article on the development of a biological computer. The research team of Ehud Shapiro has said that they have now done computations without an external fuel source. The rest of the article examines possible implications.
Readability: 9 / Information: 5 / Level: 5 / Overall: 7

“Researchers Put Rogue Proteins to Work Assembling”
Summary: A short article that discusses using proteins as a base for nano-wiring.
Readability: 7 / Information: 4 / Level: 6 / Overall: 5
Comments (for the 2 above articles): Both articles are a bit more glitzy than informative. The possibilities, however, are intriguing and may interest students more focused on medicine or biology.

United Press International

“Germ-Killing Joint Implants”
Summary: A look at implants that will incorporate nanotechnology to stave off infections, which cause 2 to 3 % of joint replacements to fail. Much of the article focuses on the problems associated with joint failure. There is a brief explanation of how the incorporated MEMS technology will work.
Readability: 10 / Information: 6 / Level: 5 / Overall: 7
Comments: A somewhat elementary application of MEMS, but one that will still save billions of dollars in the medical community. The technical focus of this article is minimal. New York Times

“Nanocontainers Deliver Drugs Directly to Cells”

Summary: Nano-scales polymers are fabricated to target cells, so that lower doses of potentially harmful medications can be used.
Readability: 10 / Information: 6 / Level: 5 / Overall: 7
Comments: Again, there is little description on the formation of the nano-containers. However, the medical possibilities that stem from nanotechnology are certainly shown.