NNCO Quarterly Newsletter: Spring 2019 Edition







A Quarterly Newsletter of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office (NNCO)



Perhaps the thing I like most about my position is the opportunity to continuously learn and to see the amazing advances in nanotechnology research and development, and to engage with the community. This spring I’ve had the pleasure of learning more about many areas where nanotechnology is being commercialized, I’ve learned that graphene is being used in foams for sound dampening in automobiles and trucks manufactured in America. I’ve learned about the nanotechnology used in coatings by several different companies through discussions during our podcast series, and about the applications of cellulosic nanomaterials at a workshop a few weeks ago. And I’m very excited to have learned of a nanotechnology unicorn (a tech start-up valued at over a billion dollars) involving research from one of our national labs in the area of electrochromic glass. These are just a few highlights, and I look forward to learning of more examples of companies commercializing nanotechnology at the annual SBIR/STTR meeting next week.

I am equally excited by the advances in the research community. I have enjoyed conversations with many experts about areas as diverse as tool development; strong, lightweight materials; water treatment; medicine; quantum science; and agriculture. As highlighted below, recent advances include bioabsorbable wound dressings, cancer treatments, and environmentally friendly alternatives to Styrofoam. I also love the concept of nanomaterials that can enable heating and cooling an individual instead of a large room, imagine the savings in your energy bill!

As we continue the year-long celebration of the NNI, I look forward to engaging with you and hearing what you are excited about. Join us for embedded sessions at conferences throughout the year and be sure to save the date for The Future of the NNI: A Stakeholder Workshop, August 1–2, in Washington, DC. I also encourage you to keep an eye on Nano.gov for news and highlights, and to tune in for a new Story from the NNI every Monday.


The NNI agencies continue to expand the boundaries of nanotechnology research and development. Here are a few recent highlights: Biopsy alternative: Wearable graphene oxide device captures cancer cells from blood (funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation); NIH begins first-in-human trial of a universal influenza vaccine candidate (funded by the National Institutes of Health); These nano-bugs eat CO2 and make eco-friendly fuel (funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institute of Standards and Technology); Antennas of flexible nanotube films an alternative for electronics (funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research); Nanotechnology treatment shows promise against multiple sclerosis (funded by the National Institutes of Health); Thwarting oil-pipeline corrosion by identifying a nanoscale villain (funded by the Department of Energy); Chemists develop nanoscale bioabsorbable wound dressing (funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration); Vaccine design can dramatically improve cancer immunotherapies (funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Office of Naval Research); Researchers develop viable, environmentally friendly alternative to Styrofoam (funded by the Department of Agriculture); Wearable cooling and heating patch could serve as personal thermostat and save energy (funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation); Ambient plant illumination could light the way for greener buildings (funded by the Department of Energy); Rare iron oxide could be combined with 2-D materials for electronic, spintronic devices (funded by the National Science Foundation); Sculpting super-fast light pulses (funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology).


On May 7–8, 2019, the Alliance for Pulp and Paper Technology and Innovation (APPTI) held a workshop on Advancing Commercialization of Nanocellulose: Critical Challenges. The workshop was organized by APPTI in collaboration with the USDA Forest Service and NNCO, in support of the NNI’s Sustainable Nanomanufacturing Signature Initiative. It included attendees from 44 companies, 5 government entities, and 14 universities. The technical focus of the workshop was on the state of the science for two prominent barriers to commercialization: drying/dewatering and compatibilization. A major highlight of the workshop was a series of rapid-fire presentations from the participating researchers showcasing their work. Presenters discussed a variety of promising nanocellulose applications, including biological growth agents/implants, sensors, anti-fog coatings, and biodegradable plastics.

NNCO contract staff attended the Offshore Technology Conference (oil and gas) conference in Houston, TX, May 6–9, 2019. Over 2,300 companies exhibited their products and services to more than 59,000 attendees. Large oil drillers collectively hold over 250 U.S. nanomaterial patents covering a wide variety of applications, including filtration, catalysts, drilling fluids, fracking fluids, well bore slurries, hydrogels, polymers, graphene fracking balls, lubricants, coatings, drill bits, and downhole seal elements.


The 2019 NanoEHS Webinar Series kicked off on April 9 with a presentation by Rob MacCuspie of Natural Immunogenics Corp. on the characterization and measurement of engineered nanomaterials. On May 16, a webinar co-hosted by the American Chemical Society discussed how to work safely with nanomaterials in the laboratory. Three speakers addressed this topic: Ken Kretchman, Director of Environmental Safety at North Carolina State University; Craig Merlic, Professor of Chemistry at UCLA; and Debbie Decker, Chemical and Laboratory Safety Officer at UC Davis. On June 11, Elijah Peterson of NIST discussed how to tackle measurement challenges posed by the unique behaviors of engineered nanomaterials. Transcripts for the webinars will be posted on the Public Webinars page on Nano.gov.


NNCO and the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI) hosted a booth at the National Science Teachers Association's Conference on Science Education on April 11–14, 2019 in St. Louis, MO, to raise awareness of nanotechnology and the resources available to teach nanotechnology in K–12 classrooms. Representatives from NNCO, NNCI, and nanoHUB showcased their resources and the searchable database on nanoHUB. Handouts included Nanooze Magazine, the NNI Nanotechnology: Big Things from a Tiny World brochure, and a flyer for Remotely Accessible Instruments for Nanotechnology (RAIN). Throughout the conference, more than 450 visitors came to the booth and learned about these resources. Teachers who visited the booth were encouraged to participate in the Teaching Nano and Emerging Technologies Network, to learn from the network’s webinars, and to participate (along with the students) in the 100 billion nanometer dash for National Nanotechnology Day on Oct. 9, 2019.

In collaboration with TechConnect World Innovation Conference & Expo, the 4th annual  Student Leaders Conference will connect student leaders with corporate, investment, and policy experts. The conference will be co-located with TechConnect and the Annual SBIR/STTR meeting, which will take place in Boston, MA, June 17–19, 2019.

The NNCO released the first in a series of short animated videos on nanotechnology present in nature. This video, Natural Nanotech: How Geckos Climb Walls, describes how scientists and engineers can develop new technologies by studying geckos’ wall-climbing abilities.


Join us in celebrating the 15-year anniversary of the authorization of the NNI! Fifteen years ago, on Dec. 3, 2003, the NNI was signed into law with the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. Ongoing and upcoming activities and events include:

  • A plenary keynote panel at Nanotech 2019, part of TechConnect World Innovation Conference & Expo, June 17–19, in Boston, MA.
    This panel will engage prominent experts to highlight recent nanotechnology advances, and perhaps more importantly, the future opportunities, challenges, and societal impact nanoscience and technology has in store for us all. The panel, moderated by Brent Segal (Lockheed Martin), will include Angela Belcher (MIT), Anita Goel (Nanobiosym), and (Celia Merzbacher (Quantum Economic Development Consortium). 
  • The Future of the NNI: A Stakeholder Workshop, August 1–2, in Washington, DC. SAVE THE DATE!
    The NNI has played a pivotal role in fostering and advancing a dynamic nanotechnology ecosystem in support of the initiative’s four goals: advance world-class research, foster commercialization, develop and sustain research and educational infrastructure, and support the responsible development of nanotechnology. Building on this strong foundation, experts from the nanotechnology community will share their perspectives on the key elements required for the nanotechnology enterprise to thrive over the next 15 years.

Tell us your stories or send highlights by email to: 15NNI@nnco.nano.gov!


On April 30, NNCO Director Lisa Friedersdorf presented the Federal landscape for nanotechnology at the annual meeting of the National Organization of Research Development Professionals meeting. She also had meetings scheduled throughout the day with professionals from several institutions to discuss opportunities to collaborate.

On June 2, NNCO Director Lisa Friedersdorf spoke at the opening session of the Gordon Research Conference: Environmental Nanotechnology: Preventing and Solving Problems with Environmental Nanotechnology, providing an overview of the NNI and highlighting some of the advances in nanoEHS.


June 17–19, 2019: Boston, MA
TechConnect World Innovation Conference & Expo

June 23-28, 2019: West Dover, VT
Gordon Research Conference: Cancer Nanotechnology

August 1–2, 2019: Washington, DC
The Future of the NNI: A Stakeholder Workshop

August 25–29, 2019: San Diego, CA
American Chemical Society Fall National Meeting: Chemistry and Water

October 15–16, 2019: Aix en Provence, France
NanoEHS U.S.-EU COR Workshop

November 15–17, 2019: Tampa, FL
NanoFlorida International Conference

www.nano.gov | info@nnco.nano.gov

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