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

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

Silicon-based fiber optics are currently the best structures for high-speed, long-distance transmissions, but graphene — an all-carbon, ultra-thin and adaptable material — could improve performance even more. Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have now fabricated graphene into the smallest ribbon structures to date using a method that makes scaling up simple. In tests with these tiny ribbons, the scientists discovered that they were closing in on the properties they needed to move graphene toward usefulness in telecommunications equipment.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Georgia State University have developed an intranasal influenza vaccine that is made of nanoparticles and that enhances the body's immune response to infection by the influenza virus. The vaccine uses recombinant hemagglutinin, a protein found on the surface of influenza viruses, as the antigen component of the vaccine. Hemagglutinin is integral to the ability of influenza virus to cause infection.

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

Scientists at the University of Connecticut and Ohio University have described the results of a study that looked at how nanoparticles of various sizes and shapes – including long and thin structures called nanoworms – move in blood vessels of different geometries, mimicking the constricted microvasculature. The scientists determined that nanoworms can travel more efficiently through the bloodstream, passing through blockages where spherical or flat shapes get stuck.

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

Researchers at the University of Georgia have developed an inexpensive, spark-free, optical-based hydrogen sensor that is more sensitive – and faster – than previous models. The new optical device relies on the nanofabrication of a nanosphere template covered with a palladium cobalt alloy layer. Any hydrogen present is quickly absorbed, then detected by a light-emitting diode, and a silicon detector records the intensity of the light transmitted.

(Funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation)

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Mississippi have built a biosensor by making an artificial version of the biological material that forms a cell membrane. Known as a lipid bilayer, it contains a tiny pore, about 2 nanometers wide in diameter, surrounded by fluid. Ions that are dissolved in the fluid pass through the nanopore, generating a small electric current. However, when a molecule of interest is driven into the membrane, it partially blocks the flow of current. The duration and magnitude of this blockade serve as a fingerprint, identifying the size and properties of a specific molecule.

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

Researchers at the University of California, Riverside, have used a nanoscale synthetic antiferromagnet to control the interaction between magnons. Magnons are quantum-mechanical units of electron spin fluctuations. When magnons interact with each other, they generate nonlinear features of the spin dynamics. Such nonlinearities play a central role in magnetic memory, spin torque oscillators, and other spintronic applications.

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

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory have discovered a new way to generate 2D superconductivity at a material interface at a relatively high -- though still cold -- transition temperature (2.2 Kelvin instead of 0.2 Kelvin). This interfacial superconductor has novel properties that raise new fundamental questions and might be useful for quantum information processing or quantum sensing.

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Stanford University have designed and made single-wall carbon nanotube thermoelectric devices on flexible polyimide substrates as a basis for wearable energy converters. Carbon nanotubes are known for having good thermoelectric properties, which means it is possible to develop a voltage across them in a temperature gradient. But carbon nanotubes also have high thermal conductivity, meaning it's difficult to maintain a thermal gradient across them, and they have been hard to assemble them into thermoelectric generators at low cost. The researchers used printed carbon nanotube networks to tackle both challenges.

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

Engineers at Duke University have developed the world's first fully recyclable printed electronics. The researchers created a completely recyclable, fully functional transistor with three carbon-based inks – based on carbon nanotubes, graphene, and nanocellulose – that can be easily printed onto paper or other flexible, environmentally friendly surfaces. Using the three inks in an aerosol jet printer at room temperature, the engineers showed that their all-carbon transistors performed well enough for use in a wide variety of applications, even six months after the initial printing.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

A new real-time, 3D motion-tracking system developed at the University of Michigan combines transparent light detectors with advanced neural network methods to create a system that could one day replace LiDAR and cameras in autonomous technologies. While the technology is still in its infancy, future applications include automated manufacturing, biomedical imaging and autonomous driving. The imaging system exploits the advantages of transparent, nanoscale, highly sensitive graphene photodetectors.