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

    Van der Waals crystals hold great promise for electronic, optoelectronic, and quantum devices, but manufacturing them has been limited by the lack of high-throughput techniques for exfoliating single-crystal monolayers with sufficient size and high quality. Researchers at Columbia University have invented a new method using gold films to disassemble single van der Waals crystals layer by layer into monolayers with near-unity yield and with dimensions limited only by bulk crystal sizes.

  • February 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have discovered a surprising feature in two-dimensional (2-D) magnets. Their finding is the first verification that a signal long thought to be due to vibrations in the lattice—the structure of the material itself—is actually due to a wave of electron spins.

  • February 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    There are many ways to build materials that have carbon-nanotube-based fibers, but combining nanotubes to make such materials can lead to a loss in important properties. So, scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign have developed a technique that improves the electrical and mechanical properties of these materials by creating chemical crosslinks among the nanotubes.

  • February 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at North Carolina State University have verified that it is possible to engineer two-layered nanofibers consisting of an ordered row of alternating peptides. The researchers also have determined what makes these peptides automatically assemble into this pattern. This discovery raises the possibility of creating tailored "ABAB" peptide nanofibers for a variety of biomedical applications.

  • February 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

    Researchers at Oregon State University have found that gene-infused nanoparticles used for combating disease work better when they include plant-based relatives of cholesterol, because their shape and structure help the genes get where they need to be inside cells. This discovery is important because many illnesses that can't be treated effectively with conventional drugs can be treated genetically – by delivering nucleic acids to diseased cells so they can make the correct proteins needed for health.

  • February 18, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation)

    Electrical engineers and microbiologists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst have created a device with electrically conductive protein nanowires (3 nanometers in diameter by 1–3 micrometers in length) produced by bacteria. The device uses these protein nanowires to create electricity from moisture in the air. The researchers say that this new technology could have significant implications for the future of renewable energy, climate change, and the future of medicine.

  • February 12, 2020
    (Funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research and the U.S. Department of Energy)

    Scientists at Rice University, the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory have created laser-induced graphene with a very small visible beam mounted to a scanning electron microscope (SEM). The SEM-mounted laser was used to burn the top five microns of polyimide, a commercial polymer, writing graphene features as small as 12 microns. The features of this laser-induced graphene are more than 60% smaller than the macro version and almost 10 times smaller than typically achieved with infrared laser. This discovery could lead to wider commercial production of flexible electronics and sensors.

  • February 12, 2020
    (Funded by the Army Research Office and the U.S. Department of Energy)

    Researchers at the University of Michigan have shown, for the first time, how a nanoscale thermal switch can be built by using nanoscale effects that arise when heat is transferred between a hot and cold nanoscale-thick membrane via thermal radiation. Compared to the vast array of devices, such as transistors and diodes, that are available to control the flow of electricity, there are few proposals for controlling the flow of heat, especially at the nanoscale. This research was performed to overcome this challenge.

  • February 12, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Office of Naval Research)

    A team of researchers at Northwestern University has developed a new method to view the dynamic motion of atoms in atomically thin two-dimensional materials. The imaging technique, which reveals the underlying cause behind the performance failure of a widely used two-dimensional material, could help researchers develop more stable and reliable materials for future wearables and flexible electronic devices.

  • February 10, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation)

    A team led by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology has cultured the human blood-brain barrier on a chip, re-creating its physiology more realistically than predecessor chips. In testing related to drug delivery, nanoparticles moved through this “blood-brain-barrier-on-a-chip” after engaging endothelial cell receptors, which caused these cells to engulf the nanoparticles and then transport them to what would be inside the human brain in a natural setting.