Nanotechnology applications are currently being researched, tested and in some cases already applied across the entire spectrum of food technology, from agriculture to food processing, packaging and food supplements. Specifically in agriculture, technical innovation is of importance with regard to addressing global challenges such as population growth, climate change and the limited availability of important plant nutrients. Nanotechnology applied to agricultural production could play a fundamental role for this purpose and research on agricultural applications is ongoing for largely a decade by now.
Nanotechnology, specifically nanomaterial engineering, has begun to find applications in agriculture and the food industry. Some nanomaterials have unique physicochemical properties that can be exploited for beneficial effects on foods, leading to increased shelf life, enhanced flavor release, and increased absorption of nutrients and other bioactive components. The ability to detect and to measure a given nanomaterial at key time points in the food lifecycle is critical for estimating the nanoscale properties of interest that dictate manufacturing consistency and safety, as well as understanding potential beneficial or adverse effects from food intercalation.
The capillarity-driven uptake of liquids by porous solids can be experienced in daily life, e.g., when a sponge or fabric absorbs water. This spontaneous imbibition or capillary rise phenomenon is also one of the most vivid manifestations of the capillarity of liquids: surface tension. Researchers have now demonstrated a strategy for achieving control over the imbibition kinetics. They show that this process can be switched on and off reversibly when nanoporous gold takes the role of the sponge and an electric potential is used to control the surface tension.
Researchers have demonstrated an active glucose-responsive self-powered fluidic pump based on transesterification reaction of acyclic diol boronate with glucose. The scientific principle of the project is to use well-known glucose/boronate chemistry to design a self-powered micropump device. Instead of synthesizing some new molecules with glucose/boronate reaction, a miniature pump utilizes the energy of this chemical reaction and pumps drugs when glucose levels are high.
Cytosine (C) modifications such as 5-methylcytosine (mC) and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (hmC) are important epigenetic markers associated with gene expression and tumorigenesis. However, bisulfite conversion, the gold standard methodology for mC mapping, can not distinguish mC and hmC bases. Recent studies have demonstrated hmC detection via peptide recognizing, enzymes, fluorescence and hmC-specific antibodies - nevertheless, a method for directly discriminating C, mC and hmC bases without labeling, modification and amplification is still missing. New results demonstrate that single base of C, mC and hmC can be discriminated at the latch zone of a nanopore.
A large part of low-energy photons, such as in the deep-red and infrared, are lost during conventional photovoltaic or photochemical processes. However, about half of all the solar energy reaching the Earth's surface can be found in these wavelengths.
Harvesting this light more efficiently is possible thanks to a process called photon energy upconversion. Researchers now have successfully synthesized a bioinspired upconverting solid-state-like film using nanocellulose.
So far, it has been generally accepted knowledge that boron nitride nanotubes (BNNTs) are highly inert to oxidative treatments and can only be covalently modified by highly reactive species. By contrast, oxidation of carbon nanotubes has been proven very convenient and fundamentally important to modify the nanotube structure and morphology via controlled corrosive effects. Now, researchers have discovered a convenient method to disperse and chemically modify the morphology of BNNTs by sonication in aqueous ammonia solutions.
DNA is constantly being damaged in our cells by radiation and other random sources. One of the major forms of this damage is called depurination, or the selective loss of A and G bases from the double helix structure. In our cells, there is a system in place to fix depurination. It usually is quite successful at repairing the damage, but can sometimes make mistakes that result in mutations. As a result, depurination is directly linked to a host of diseases, including anemia and cancer. In new work, researchers show that DNA depurination can be detected electrically using solid-state nanopores.