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

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a new chemical catalyst that could enable the production of more propylene, the feedstock for polypropylene, the world's second most widely used plastic. The new catalyst, which can make propylene from natural gas, is at least 10 times more efficient than current commercial catalysts and lasts 10 times longer before needing regeneration. It is made of platinum and tin nanoparticles supported by a framework of silica.

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, have found a way to simultaneously increase the strength and ductility of an alloy by introducing nanoprecipitates into its matrix and tuning their size and spacing. The nanoprecipitates are nanometer-sized solids that separate from the metal mixture as the alloy cools. The researchers carefully kept the composition of the matrix and the total amount of nanoprecipitates the same in different samples. However, they varied nanoprecipitate sizes and spacings by adjusting the processing temperature and time. As a result, the strength of the alloy increased by 20%–90% and its elongation increased by 300%.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Kansas State University have demonstrated potential ways to manufacture graphene-based nano-inks for additive manufacturing of supercapacitors in the form of flexible and printable electronics. The researchers have also developed additive manufacturing of small supercapacitors – called micro-supercapacitors – so that one day, they could be used for wafer-scale integration in silicon processing.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation)

Bioengineers and medical researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have designed a proof-of-concept microfluidic device containing 128 mixing channels working in parallel. The channels mix a precise amount of lipid and mRNA, crafting individual lipid nanoparticles on a miniaturized assembly line. The researchers tested the lipid nanoparticles produced by their device in a mouse study, showing that they could deliver therapeutic mRNA sequences with four-to-five times greater activity than those made by conventional methods.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation)

Bioengineers and medical researchers at the University of Pennsylvania have designed a proof-of-concept microfluidic device containing 128 mixing channels working in parallel. The channels mix a precise amount of lipid and mRNA, crafting individual lipid nanoparticles on a miniaturized assembly line. The researchers tested the lipid nanoparticles produced by their device in a mouse study, showing that they could deliver therapeutic mRNA sequences with four-to-five times greater activity than those made by conventional methods.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense)

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine are developing a new brain stimulation technique to treat neurological disorders, including pain, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. The technique uses a new type of magnetoelectric nanoparticles that can be delivered to a specific part of the brain using a magnetic field. The method is noninvasive and is more efficient than traditional methods of brain stimulation.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense)

Researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine are developing a new brain stimulation technique to treat neurological disorders, including pain, traumatic brain injury, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. The technique uses a new type of magnetoelectric nanoparticles that can be delivered to a specific part of the brain using a magnetic field. The method is noninvasive and is more efficient than traditional methods of brain stimulation.

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation)

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a patch that plants can "wear" to monitor continuously for plant diseases or other stresses, such as crop damage or extreme heat. Plants emit different combinations of volatile organic compounds under different circumstances. The rectangular patch is 30 millimeters long and consists of a flexible material containing graphene-based sensors and flexible silver nanowires. By targeting volatile organic compounds that are relevant to specific diseases or plant stress, the sensors can alert users to specific problems. 

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the National Science Foundation)

Researchers from North Carolina State University have developed a patch that plants can "wear" to monitor continuously for plant diseases or other stresses, such as crop damage or extreme heat. Plants emit different combinations of volatile organic compounds under different circumstances. The rectangular patch is 30 millimeters long and consists of a flexible material containing graphene-based sensors and flexible silver nanowires. By targeting volatile organic compounds that are relevant to specific diseases or plant stress, the sensors can alert users to specific problems. 

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense)

A Rutgers-led team of researchers has developed a microchip that can measure stress hormones in real time from a drop of blood. Currently, measuring cortisol (a stress hormone) takes costly and cumbersome laboratory setups, so the Rutgers-led team looked for a way to monitor its natural fluctuations in daily life and provide patients with feedback that allows them to receive the right treatment at the right time. The researchers used the same technologies used to fabricate computer chips to build a nanowell array biosensor that can detect biomolecules at low levels. They validated the device's performance on 65 blood samples from patients with rheumatoid arthritis.