News 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.
  • October 28, 2019
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)

    How do we know when graphene, the most widely studied 2-D material, is a defect-free and uniform layer of atoms? Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy's Ames Laboratory have discovered an indicator that reliably demonstrates a sample's high quality. The researchers were investigating samples of graphene using low-energy electron diffraction and realized that a broad band of diffuse diffraction in the background was actually an intrinsic feature of graphene, but that broad band of diffuse diffraction had been ignored for the past 25 years.

  • October 28, 2019
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

    Using computer modeling and an imaging technique called liquid-phase electron microscopy, researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Northwestern University pinpointed the individual motions of nanoscale particles as they orient themselves into crystal lattices. The work confirms that synthetic nanoparticles—the fundamental building blocks of many synthetic and biological materials—can assemble in ways far more complex than larger particles, the researchers said, and paves the way to more general applications for mineralization, pharmaceuticals, optics and electronics.

  • October 28, 2019
    (Funded by the Army Research Office and the National Science Foundation)

    An international research team led by a physicist at the University of California, Riverside, has identified a process of electron spin dynamics in nanoparticles that could impact the design of applications in medicine, quantum computation, and spintronics.

  • October 24, 2019
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)

    While scientists have long known how to make nanoparticles of transition metal oxides, no one has found a controllable way to grow these 3D nanoparticles into nanosheets, which are thin 2D materials just a few atoms thick. Now, a team of scientists led by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has gained valuable insight into 3D transition metal oxide nanoparticles’ natural “edge” for 2D growth.

  • October 24, 2019
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research)

    A team of researchers at the University of Michigan has built catalysts that guide chemical reactions toward the right version of chiral molecules. This discovery could lead to more efficient production of some medicines. The catalysts, which are assemblies of mineral nanoparticles made chiefly from zinc oxide, are at least 10 times better at selecting a particular version of a chiral molecule than earlier catalysts of this type.

  • October 23, 2019
    (Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency)

    Much like some snakes use infrared to "see" at night, University of Central Florida researchers are working to create similar viper vision to improve the sensitivity of night-vision cameras. The ability to enhance night vision capabilities could have implications in improving what can be seen in space, in chemical and biological disaster areas, and on the battlefield. The trick in developing the new highly sensitive, but uncooled, infrared detector was engineering the two-dimensional nanomaterial graphene into a material that can carry an electric current.

  • October 23, 2019
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers have developed a new method for upcycling abundant, seemingly low-value plastics into high-quality liquid products, such as motor oils, lubricants, detergents, and even cosmetics. The catalyst used to convert plastics into value-added commercial products consists of platinum nanoparticles — just two nanometers in size — deposited onto perovskite nanocubes, which are about 50-60 nanometers in size. Northwestern University, Argonne National Laboratory, and Ames Laboratory led the multi-institutional team.

  • October 22, 2019
    (Funding by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research)

    An engineer at the University of California Santa Barbara has proposed a way to overcome the relatively low efficiency and performance of existing quantum computing prototypes that use light to encode and process information. To develop an all-electrical, all-on-chip quantum photonic platform, he proposes to integrate three technologies that have been developed for different platforms and applications: electrically driven quantum dot single-photon sources, silicon-based photonics for optical operations, and superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors.

  • October 21, 2019
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Most particles that disperse in liquids aggregate rapidly and eventually precipitate, thereby separating from the liquid phase. But there has been no easy-to-use method to quantitatively determine the hydrophobicity of these micro- and nanoparticles. Now, a scientist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Engineering has invented a groundbreaking method that allows for easy determination of the surface free energy of carbon nanotubes, graphene, and polystyrene particles as a quantitative measure of their hydrophobicity.

  • October 21, 2019
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

    Scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of South Florida Health Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa, Fla., have demonstrated that peptide-based nanoparticles can suppress pancreatic cancer growth without the toxic side effects and therapeutic resistance seen in drug trials. The nanoparticles deliver an RNA molecule that silences the chemical signal telling a gene to make mutated proteins that cause pancreatic cells to grow uncontrollably and resist existing cancer-killing drugs.