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South Korean scientists report nano-technology breakthrough
SEOUL (AFP) Nov 29, 2004
South Korean scientists reported an important breakthrough in nano-technology research Monday, saying they had found a safe and inexpensive way to mass-produce nano-particles used in next-generation applications from storage devices to drug delivery systems.

Seoul National University professor Hyeon Taeg-Hwan said that he and his colleagues have invented a cheap, safe and easy way to acquire a large amount of monodisperse nano-crystals using non-toxic salts in their experiments.

Until now scientists have failed to find a method to produce large quantities of nano-particles, or nano-crystals, without using expensive toxic chemicals.

The development of uniform nano-particles has interested scientific teams around the world because of their applications in next-generation storage devices, solar batteries, medical imaging equipment and drug delivery systems.

So far only very small quantities have been produced. One nanometer is equal to one billionth of a meter.

"These are truly revolutionary findings," Hyeon said, adding that the new technology would also enable very cheap production -- just 250 won (about 25 cents) per gram.

Hyeon's team used metal salts as a reactant to regularly produce as much as 40 grams in a single reaction.

"Our technology enables the large-scale production of nano-particles," Hyeon said.

Nature Materials, a scientific journal based in London, praised Hyeon and his colleagues for discovering "a cost-effective, environmentally friendly way" to produce nano-particles.

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