Press Releases: Research Funded by Agencies Participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative

The following news releases describe the results of research activities that are funded by Federal agencies that participate in the National Nanotechnology Initiative.
  • January 30, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology)

    Researchers have, for the first time, created and imaged a novel pair of quantum dots – tiny islands (100 nanometers in diameter) of confined electric charge that act like artificial atoms. Such a ''coupled'' quantum dot could serve as a robust quantum bit, or qubit, the fundamental unit of information for a quantum computer.

  • January 29, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health)

    Researchers at the University of Wisconsin–Madison have developed nanoparticles that, in the lab, can activate immune responses to cancer cells. If they are shown to work as well in the body as they do in the lab, the nanoparticles might provide an effective and more affordable way to fight cancer. They are cheaper to produce and easier to engineer than the antibodies that underlie current immunotherapies, which, as drugs, cost tens of thousands of dollars a month.

  • January 29, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

    New cancer immunotherapies involve extracting a patient's T cells and genetically engineering them so they will recognize and attack tumors. But the alterations to the immune system immediately make patients very sick for a short period of time. Now, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated a new engineering technique that, because it is less toxic to the T cells, could enable a different mechanism for altering the way they recognize cancer. The new technique involves ferrying messenger RNA across the T cell's membrane via a lipid-based nanoparticle, rather than using a modified HIV virus to rewrite the cell's DNA.

  • January 28, 2020
    (Funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

    Contrary to common belief that butterfly wings consist primarily of lifeless membranes, a new study by researchers from Columbia Engineering and Harvard University has shown that butterfly wings contain a network of living cells whose function requires a constrained range of temperatures for optimal performance. The researchers found nanostructures in the wing scales that enable heat dissipation through thermal radiation and could inspire the design of radiative-cooling materials to help manage excessive heat conditions.

  • January 28, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research)

    To further shrink electronic devices and to lower energy consumption, the semiconductor industry is interested in using 2D materials, but manufacturers need a quick and accurate method for detecting defects in these materials to determine if the material is suitable for device manufacture. Now a team of researchers representing Penn State, Northeastern University, Rice University, and Universidade Federal de Minas Gerais in Brazil has developed a technique to quickly and sensitively characterize defects in 2D materials.

  • January 28, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation)

    Scientists from Michigan State University and Stanford University have invented a nanoparticle that eats away – from the inside out – portions of plaques that cause heart attacks. The scientists created a "Trojan Horse" nanoparticle that can be directed to eat debris, thereby reducing and stabilizing plaque. The discovery could be a potential treatment for atherosclerosis – a leading cause of death in the United States.

  • January 27, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the U.S. Department of Energy)

    Researchers at Rice University have discovered that virtually any source of solid carbon — from food scraps to old car tires — can be turned into graphene, which are sheets of carbon atoms prized for applications ranging from high-strength plastic to flexible electronics. Current techniques yield tiny quantities of picture-perfect graphene; the new method already produces grams per day of near-pristine graphene in the lab, and researchers are now scaling it up to kilograms. The researchers have already founded a startup company to commercialize their waste-to-graphene process.

  • January 24, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy)

    A team of engineers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has boosted the performance of its previously developed 3D inductor technology by adding as much as three orders of magnitudes more induction to meet the performance demands of modern electronic devices. The researchers filled the already-rolled membranes with an iron oxide nanoparticle solution using a tiny dropper, which allowed the microchip inductors to operate at higher frequency with less performance loss.

  • January 24, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Using straightforward chemistry and a mix-and-match, modular strategy, researchers at Penn State have developed a simple approach that could produce over 65,000 different types of complex nanoparticles, each containing up to six different materials and eight segments, with interfaces that could be exploited in electrical or optical applications. These rod-shaped nanoparticles are about 55 nanometers long and 20 nanometers wide, and many are considered to be among the most complex ever made.

  • January 22, 2020
    (Funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Army Research Office, and the Office of Naval Research)

    Researchers at the University of Chicago and the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have developed a new method to measure how photocurrents flow in a two-dimensional material— a substance with a thickness of a few nanometers or less. This ultra-sensitive method will help researchers better understand the material in the hopes of using it to create flexible electronics and solar cells.