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.
  • July 31, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Defense)

    Scientists at The University of Texas at Dallas have described how the ability of twisted bilayer graphene to conduct electrical current changes in response to mid-infrared light. When the graphene layers are misaligned, a new periodic design in the mesh emerges, so the scientists determined how mid-infrared light affected the conductance of electrons in this new periodic design. 

  • July 31, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

    Mimicking the structure of the kidney, scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Chicago have created a three-dimensional nanometer-thin membrane composed of two 3D interconnected channels, which are separated by a nanometer-thin porous titanium oxide layer. This unique biomimetic 3D architecture dramatically increases the surface area, and thus the filtration area, by 6,000 times, coupled with an ultra-short diffusion distance through the 2–4 nanometer-thin selective layer.

  • July 31, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)

    Two-photon lithography is a widely used 3-D nanoprinting technique that can print nanoscale features at very high resolution by focusing an intense beam of light on a precise spot within a liquid photopolymer material. Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and collaborators have turned to machine learning to address two key barriers to industrialization of two-photon lithography: monitoring of parts’ quality during printing and determining the right light dosage for a given material.

  • July 28, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

    Materials scientists at Rice University and the University of Pennsylvania are calling for a collective, global effort to fast-track the mass production of 2-D materials, such as graphene and molybdenum disulfide. In a perspective article published online in “Materials Today,” the scientists make a case for a focused, collective effort to address the research challenges that could clear the way for large-scale mass production of 2-D materials.

  • July 28, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers from Harvard University’s John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences and Harvard’s Department of Physics have designed a computational system to screen twisted multi-layer graphene stacks for twist angles associated with potentially interesting electronic properties. The approach can identify nanostructures with tailored properties that could help accelerate the development and commercialization of quantum and other technologies. 

  • July 22, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Science Foundation)

    Fluorescent markers for imaging biomolecules have transformed science, but they have a major limitation. Light doesn’t penetrate well through tissue, so biomolecules deeper in the body have remained invisible. Now, a research team at Caltech has developed a way to “hear” molecular processes: tunable acoustic biosensors that can be used to track biological processes pretty much anywhere within the body using ultrasound. The biosensors are balloon-like nanoparticles that vibrate in response to ultrasound waves.

  • July 22, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

    A team of researchers from the University at Albany, State University of New York has developed DNA nanoswitches that can detect the presence of ribonucleases, which are enzymes that degrade RNA. The team used structure-changing DNA nanoswitches that turn from "signal on" to "signal off" in the presence of ribonucleases, giving a direct readout using the common lab method of gel electrophoresis. In the study, the researchers were able to detect low levels of ribonuclease H and used the detection to screen enzyme inhibitors that are considered drug candidates for HIV.

  • July 22, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers have developed a way to use diamonds to see the elusive details of electrical currents. The team demonstrated the potential of the technique by revealing the unusual electrical currents that flow in graphene, a layer of carbon just one atom thick. Their results revealed, for the first time, details about how room-temperature graphene can produce electrical currents that flow more like water through pipes than electricity through ordinary wires.

  • July 22, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    A research team from Purdue University has developed self-powered wearable triboelectric nanogenerators with polyvinyl alcohol (PVA)-based contact layers for monitoring cardiovascular health. PVA offers a valuable material in future wearable self-powered devices. The PVA-based triboelectric devices can function as self-powered sensors to detect and monitor mechanical activities from the human body in applications such as health monitoring, human-machine interface, teleoperated robotics, consumer electronics, and virtual and augmented technologies.

  • July 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation)

    Biomedical engineers at Duke University have devised a method that uses nanoparticles called gold nanostars to simultaneously detect the presence of multiple specific microRNAs in RNA extracted from tissue samples without the need for labeling or target amplification. The technique could be used to identify early biomarkers of cancer and other diseases without the need for the elaborate, time-consuming, and expensive processes required by current technologies.