Nanotechnology Research at the London Centre for Nanotechnology - dummies

Nanotechnology Research at the London Centre for Nanotechnology

By Earl Boysen, Nancy C. Muir, Desiree Dudley, Christine Peterson

The London Centre for Nanotechnology (LCN) was founded in 2003 as a partnership between University College London and Imperial College London. LCN emphasizes that they are the only such facility located in the heart of a major city, which means that they can develop close ties to investment and industrial colleagues.

They also use the resources of both colleges to offer nanotechnology training across disciplines, such as electronic and mechanical engineering, chemistry, and earth sciences. In addition to educating nanotechnologists, LCN seeks to educate the public about the potential of nanotechnology in our world.

LCN’s purpose is to solve global problems in the three areas that they refer to as Grand Challenges because of their vital importance to the world:

  • Healthcare

  • Information technology

  • Planetcare (climate change and energy sources)

LCN has had successes in several areas. For example, LCN is working to make nanotubes more useful by developing a way to activate sites on the nanotubes’ surfaces to make it easier for molecules to bind to them. This work makes it possible to manufacture a variety of functionalized carbon nanotubes in large-scale production quantities.

Manufacturers of carbon nanotubes could essentially create nanotubes with specific chemical properties, making them compatible with other materials or useful for initiating catalytic reactions. Because so many molecules can bond with nanotubes, this capability offers some exciting opportunities.

Another accomplishment at LCN is speeding up of DNA sequencing. Recently, they used nanotechnology and single molecules to enable researchers to count the number of nucleotides in a DNA strand. They essentially tunnel a DNA strand through a nanopore and record the current of the strand as it passes through. This procedure would help to uncover the sequence in the strand because the four DNA nucleotides tunnel in different ways.

A nucleotide is a molecule that forms the units that make up the structure of DNA and RNA.