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Photo: Joe Putrock

Nanotech—It’s Not Just About Semiconductors Anymore

While a lot of attention has gone to the arrival of International Sematech and Tokyo Electron at the Albany Nanotech Campus on Fuller Road, Pradeep Halder wants people to know nanotech can do a lot more than make semiconductor chips.

Albany Nanotech’s Energy & Environmental Technology Application Center, which Halder directs, is expected to receive a grant from NASA in next year’s federal budget to develop power electronics that can work at very low temperatures, for use in space. Currently, expensive warming mechanisms are needed to keep the solar panels working on NASA’s spacecraft. Nanotechnology can alter how a material behaves at different temperatures.

But it’s not just space exploration that will benefit from this research. Halder said that the methods developed will also be relevant for all-electric ships and airplanes for the armed forces, electric cars, and anywhere that super-efficient motors are needed.

The grant was secured with the help of Rep. John Sweeney (R-Clifton Park). A new lab will be formed in two to three months to start the work.

—Miriam Axel-Lute

A Positive Agenda

AIDS advocacy found a new Internet home on World AIDS Day last Monday, with the launch of, a Web site created by many of the nation’s leading HIV/AIDS advocacy groups.

The new Web site is intended to inform 2004 presidential candidates and voters about basic policies necessary to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS around the world. By providing a list of the fundamental requirements for slowing the spread of the disease and caring for those infected with it, the organizations responsible for hope to assist candidates in creating productive agendas, as well as provide voters with a simple method for comparing the candidates’ platforms.

“The recommendations we make in are proven,” said Michael Kink of the Albany-based HIV/AIDS advocacy group Housing Works. “We know that lives will be saved if [the recommendations] are adopted. Our hope is that they’ll become one-stop shopping for the candidates.”

Most leading Democratic presidential candidates have already voiced their agreement with several policies in the platform, including a significant increase in the amount of funding dedicated to the global fight against AIDS and measures that favor affordable generic medication. In a statement issued by Democratic candidate Dennis Kucinich, the Web site’s recommendations were endorsed in their entirety.

“I am joining in committing to invest at least $30 billion over the four years of my first term as president to the global fight against AIDS,” said Kucinich.

Along with the model HIV/AIDS platform, will feature the results of surveys that were recently distributed to the major presidential candidates. The candidates’ responses will be presented to facilitate comparison by voters.

“It’s a nonpartisan effort,” said Kink. “We ask some detailed questions to determine their stance on the policies we feel are important.”

Visitors to can also choose to endorse the Web site’s platform by filling out a few short forms. These endorsements, whether from individuals or groups, will be recorded on the site to gauge public support for the platform it presents. By providing candidates with both an informational source for HIV/AIDS issues and a simple method for measuring public approval of each aspect of the platform, the organizations behind hope to increase the effectiveness of future HIV/AIDS policies.

“We just plan on telling them what works,” Kink said, “and then we hope that they make the right decision.”

—Rick Marshall

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