NNCO Quarterly Newsletter: Winter 2020 Edition

February 20, 2020

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



Let’s celebrate! I personally feel it is so important to pause from our busy lives and celebrate; the big things and those that are very small. And there is so much to celebrate! For World Cancer Day, we celebrated research advances in nanotechnology that enable better detection, imaging, and treatment of cancer, including nanoparticles that can activate a patient’s immune system to fight cancer (e.g., A nanotechnology approach to cancer treatment and How nanotechnology is helping to develop the next-generation of cancer therapeutics). For National Battery Day, we highlighted batteries powered by nanotechnology that can store more energy and last longer (e.g., New electrode design may lead to more powerful batteries).

This week, we are celebrating engineers and entrepreneurs. In celebration of National Engineers Week, we have highlighted the contributions of engineers who are developing nanofilms to produce dynamic windows that transmit infrared energy indoors in the wintertime and deflect it in the summertime; creating highly sensitive nanosensors that can detect contaminants in water; using nanomaterials to turn textiles into wearable and washable technology; and using nanomaterials to make closing wounds and surgical incisions safer. During National Entrepreneurship Week and all year we welcome participation in the Nanotechnology Entrepreneurship Network.

For the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we announced plans to celebrate Women's History Month (March) by honoring women in nanoscience. Beginning on March 1, we encourage you to share Tweets about inspiring women nanoscientists in your life (#WomenInNano, #WomenInScience). See here for our celebration of Women's History Month last year.

We are joining the year-long celebration of the 70th anniversary of the National Science Foundation, one of the founding agencies of the NNI. NSF has supported research that has led to countless discoveries, vastly expanding the boundaries of nanoscience. NSF’s education and training programs have produced a vibrant generation of nanoscientists making new discoveries and the savvy workforce with the skills to take these discoveries into the market. We also celebrate the Foundation’s critical support for the nanotechnology infrastructure that enables access to cutting-edge tools and models required by researchers and industry developers alike.

And it is not too early to start thinking about what you will do to celebrate National Nanotechnology Day on October 9th (for 10-9, of course)! I plan to run a 100 billion nanometer dash, will you?



The following examples highlight research advances that were recently announced: New nanoparticle therapy offers potential new treatment for aggressive breast cancer (funded by the National Institutes of Health); Controlled phage therapy can target drug-resistant bacteria while sidestepping potential unintended consequences (funded by the National Science Foundation, the Army Research Office, and the National Institutes of Health); Nano-engineering technique could aid exploration, scalability of next-gen electronics (funded by the Department of Energy); Scrubbing carbon dioxide from smokestacks for cleaner industrial emissions (funded by the Department of Energy); Maxwell’s electromagnetism extended to smaller scales (funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the Army Research Office, and the National Science Foundation); Researchers develop a mass-producible, centimeter-scale metalens for VR, imaging (funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the National Science Foundation); Structurally designed DNA star creates ultra-sensitive test for dengue virus (funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation); Army project may improve military communications by boosting 5G technology (funded by the Army Research Office); Light-sensing camera may help detect extraterrestrial life, dark matter (funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency); New nanosensor detects microscopic contaminants in water (funded by the Department of Agriculture); Researchers develop thin heat shield for superfast aircraft (funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research).

On Jan. 21, 2020, NASA invited small businesses to submit proposals under its Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program solicitation. The FY 2020 SBIR/STTR solicitation, which is open until March 20, 2020, includes several topics related to nanotechnology, such as spacecraft water sustainability through nanotechnology, nanoelectronics and nanomagnetics, and advanced telescope technologies.

USDA/NIFA is requesting applications for six Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) priority areas through the Foundational and Applied Science Program for FY 2020. The goal of this program is to invest in agricultural production research, education, and extension projects for more sustainable, productive, and economically viable plant and animal production systems. Some priority areas are related to nanotechnology, such as nanotechnology-based sensing mechanisms and smart sensors for detection of pathogens, allergens, and contaminants in food; nano-encapsulation to enhance bioavailability of bioactive components in food; and characterization of hazards, exposure levels, transport, and fate of engineered nanoparticles in food, crops, soil, and water. Proposals are due March 19, 2020.

On Jan. 2, 2020, NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases posted a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) that encourages applications from institutions and organizations proposing original research addressing barriers that limit progress toward effective open- and closed-loop glucose control systems. Proposed research may contribute to development of affordable and user-friendly technologies to improve glucose control in patients with type 1 diabetes. All applications are due on April 7, 2020. 



This week is National Entrepreneurship Week (Feb. 15–22)! Check out the Nanotechnology Entrepreneurship Network (NEN). NEN brings new and seasoned entrepreneurs together with the people and resources available to support them. This emerging network provides a forum for sharing best practices for advancing nanotechnology commercialization and the lessons learned along the technology development pathway. Activities include a monthly podcast series, webinars, workshops, and town-hall discussions. The first podcast featured Joe Sprengard, CEO and Founder of Veelo Technologies, who discussed his journey as an entrepreneur and shared the advice he received when he was getting started. Elizabeth Dougherty and Craig Morris, from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, discussed types of intellectual property, intellectual property strategies, the patent process, and issues related to trademarks in the first NEN webinar on Feb. 5, 2020. The presentation slides and transcripts will be coming soon at https://www.nano.gov/PublicWebinars. Contact nen@nnco.nano.gov to join the conversation!

An MIT spinout is developing nanotechnologies for industrial sensing. Its technology allows modified carbon nanotubes to react in highly sensitive ways to specific compounds, such as those released from ripening apples. The company has received an SBIR award from NSF and has raised over $3 million in private capital.

A University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee spinout holds an exclusive patent license for graphene monoxide that the company will use to develop lithium-ion battery components. The company founders are co-inventors of a novel 2D, solid crystalline graphene monoxide aimed at increasing energy storage and safety. The company recently received a Phase 2 STTR award from DOE for high-energy safe anodes for lithium ion batteries. The founders credited the DOE I-Corps experience with making their start-up possible.

Using a technology that combines nano- and ultra-filtration methods, an MIT spinout is working to commercialize an industrial filtration membrane technology. The food and beverage industry is the first commercialization target. The company has received three SBIR awards (NSF, USDA) and has participated in the NSF I-Corps program.

In collaboration with the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center, a New Mexico company is using quantum dots to tailor the spectrum of sunlight for optimized crop growth for in-space and planetary exploration missions. The company has received four SBIR/STTR awards (NASA, NSF, DOE). 

A Wisconsin-based company is commercializing a new wound care matrix made with bioresorbable polymers and a patented antimicrobial silver nanotechnology. The company has received five SBIR awards (DHHS, NSF, NIH). 

According to Diabetes Care, diabetic foot ulcers impose health care costs between $9 billion and $13 billion annually – over and above other diabetic care costs. A company located in New York City is using a patented printed graphene sensor to detect small changes in foot temperature, which is indicative of diabetic foot ulcers. The company has received two SBIR awards (NSF).



Are you working on the potential environmental, health, and safety (EHS) implications of nanomaterials? If so, you might be interested in participating in the U.S.-EU NanoEHS Communities of Research (CORs), which provide a platform for scientists to collaboratively identify and address key research needs through community-led activities such as conference calls, webinars, publications, and an annual in-person meeting. The seven NanoEHS CORs address the following research areas: (1) nanomaterial characterization, (2) databases and computational modeling, (3) ecotoxicity, (4) human toxicity, (5) exposure through product life, (6) risk assessment, and (7) risk management and control. Contact CORmembership@nnco.nano.gov for more information or to be added to the distribution lists for any of these groups.

Near-term nanoEHS COR activities include an Exposure COR teleconference to discuss measurements of indoor air quality on March 19th, and the Risk Assessment COR has planned a series of discussions to explore novel risk assessment methodologies and strategies for nanomaterials. The next nanoEHS COR workshop is being planned for September in Washington, DC.

The Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications (NEHI) Working Group is planning nanoEHS webinars to present progress in the following areas: (1) nanomaterial measurement infrastructure, (2) human exposure assessment, (3) human health, (4) environment, (5) risk assessment and risk management methods, and (6) informatics and modeling. These are the research areas identified in the NNI Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy. More information will be posted on www.nano.gov/publicwebinars as it becomes available.



Undergraduates, we welcome you to get involved! NextTech is an active and growing network of undergraduate students with a focus on emerging technologies. NextTech holds monthly phone calls with student groups and hosts professional development webinars. The first two webinars in the series focused on creating engaging presentations and building effective resumes, respectively. A calendar of events for the network is located on the NextTech website. For more information about NextTech, please contact nanoed@nnco.nano.gov.

Today (Feb. 20, 2020), join a free professional development webinar organized by NextTech on using LinkedIn effectively. The guest speaker, Josh Henkin, founder of STEM Career Services, LLC, will provide tips on how to create a strong LinkedIn profile and grow a network that can be tapped when searching for a job. To register, please email nanoed@nnco.nano.gov.

The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) National Conference on Science Education will be held in Boston on April 2–5, 2020. This conference will offer the latest in science content, teaching strategy, and research in science education. Join science teachers, science supervisors, administrators, scientists, and business and industry representatives who are involved in and committed to science education. Stop by the NNI booth in the Exhibit Hall!

The USA Science & Engineering Festival (USASEF) will be held in Washington, DC, on April 25–26, 2020. As the Nation's largest celebration of science, technology, engineering & mathematics, this festival will feature more than 3,000 hands-on activities and more than 50 stage shows geared toward students, teachers, and families. Mark your calendars and stop by the NNI booth!



Let's celebrate Women's History Month (March) by honoring women in nanoscience! On the International Day of Women and Girls in Science (Feb. 11), NNCO launched a social media campaign inviting members of the NNI community to recognize the inspiring women nanoscientists in their lives. Tweet using #WomenInNano and #WomenInScience throughout the month of March. Who are the inspiring women nanoscientists in your life?

Researchers engaged in nanomedicine are welcome to participate in the growing Nanomedicine Community of Research (COR). This collaborative effort, co-chaired by Anil Patri (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) and Ruth Schmid-Baumberger (SINTEF), provides a platform for nanomedicine scientists to identify and share resources and best practices. For more information or to be added to the Nanomedicine COR distribution list, please contact CORmembership@nnco.nano.gov. The next annual gathering of this community will take place at the 12th European and Global CLINAM-Summit in Basel, Switzerland, on May 17–20.

Thank you to all the nanotechnology professionals from academia, government, and industry who participated in the 46 weekly episodes of the “Stories from the NNI” audio podcast celebrating the 15-year anniversary of the 21st Century Nanotechnology R&D Act! In these episodes, experts shared their perspectives on key research and development advances in nanotechnology. In the final four episodes, perspectives from scientists and experts were compiled in four key themes: the critical role of interdisciplinarity in nanotechnology, advances that have been made over the past 15 years, areas in which nanotechnology will make a big impact in the future, and advice to nanotechnology students and those who are interested in starting a company.

The NNI podcast family is growing. Guests explore nanotechnology topics from different perspectives:

  • Stories from the NNI episodes are conversations with experts from the NNI community who share their perspective on advances that have been made and future prospects for nanotechnology;
  • Nano Matters episodes explore specific nanotechnology topics for a broad audience;
  • Nano Entrepreneurship Network episodes highlight best practices, resources, and advice from nanotechnology entrepreneurs and those who support them.

Recent episodes of the Nano Matters podcast were released on Jan. 6 (Chad Mirkin), Jan. 20 (LaShanda Korley), Feb. 3 (Angelique Johnson), and Feb. 17 (Paul Weiss), and the first episodes of the Stories from the NNI podcast for 2020 were released on Jan. 13 (Gerhard Klimeck), Jan. 27 (Chris Ober, Ron Olson, and Don Tennant), and Feb. 10 (LaShanda Korley).



NNCO will showcase teacher resources and nanotechnology demonstrations at the upcoming National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) National Conference on Science Education (April 2–5, 2020) and USA Science & Engineering Festival (USASEF) (April 24–26, 2020), respectively. Volunteers to help with demos at the USASEF are welcome! Please contact us at nanoed@nnco.nano.gov.

NNCO Deputy Director Stacey Standridge presented an overview of the Sensors Nanotechnology Signature Initiative (NSI) at the 5th Annual Sensors Summit (December 10–12, 2019, in San Diego, California). Participants represented over 150 organizations from 12 countries, and presentations covered a wide range of topics, including healthcare applications, chemical and biological sensing, and manufacturing.

Lisa Friedersdorf and Stacey Standridge, NNCO Director and Deputy Director, respectively, attended nano tech 2020 in Tokyo, Japan, January 29–31. In addition to talking with company representatives commercializing nanotechnology from all over the world, they had the opportunity to meet with colleagues representing nanotechnology associations from several countries and regions. Nanotechnology remains an active area of research and development around the globe and is recognized as an enabler of other priority areas, including quantum information science and artificial intelligence.



March 18, 2020: Brussels, Belgium
Nanotechnology Industries Association Annual Symposium

April 2–5, 2020: Boston, MA
National Science Teaching Association National Conference on Science Education

April 25–26, 2020: Washington, DC
USA Science & Engineering Festival

May 17–20: Basel, Switzerland
12th European and Global CLINAM-Summit

June 29–July 1, 2020: National Harbor, MD
TechConnect World Innovation Conference & Expo

August 23–26, 2020: Montreal, Canada
15th International Conference on the Environmental Effects of Nanoparticles and Nanomaterials (ICEENN2020)

October 14–15, 2020: Edison, NJ
The Nanotechnology Show


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