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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 National Science Foundation)

Penn State researchers have reported advancing the development of “smart glass,” or glass equipped with automatic sensing properties. The Penn State team integrated atomically thin molybdenum disulfide in photosensors with durable materials such as those currently used in smartphone screens. This technology could be applied in biomedical imaging, security surveillance, environmental sensing, optical communication, night vision, motion detection, and collision avoidance systems for autonomous vehicles and robots. 

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

Scientists at the University of Washington have developed a nanoparticle-based drug delivery system that can ferry a potent anti-cancer drug through the bloodstream safely and inhibit tumor growth in mice. The nanoparticle is derived from chitin, a natural and organic polymer that makes up the outer shells of shrimp. The nanoparticles showed no adverse side effects, likely since they are derived in part from naturally occurring polymers.

(Funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology and colleagues have demonstrated a room-temperature method that could significantly reduce carbon dioxide levels in fossil-fuel power plant exhaust. Previous methods of removing carbon dioxide have required high temperature or pressure and employed costly precious metals. The team relied on the energy harvested from traveling waves of electrons, known as localized surface plasmons (LSPs). Aluminum nanoparticles were able to transfer the LSP energy to graphite at room temperature, enabling the reduction of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide.

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

Scientists at Rice University have modified their method for making flash graphene to enhance it for recycling plastic into graphene. Instead of raising the temperature of a carbon source with direct current (DC), as in the original process, they first expose plastic waste to around eight seconds of high-intensity alternating current, followed by the DC jolt.

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

Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of California, Irvine have created fundamental electronic building blocks out of quantum dots and used them to assemble functional logic circuits. The innovation promises a cheaper and manufacturing-friendly approach to complex electronic devices that can be fabricated in a chemistry laboratory via simple, solution-based techniques, and offer long-sought components for a host of innovative devices.

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

A team of engineers at Penn State are attempting to pioneer a type of computing that mimics the efficiency of the brain's neural networks while exploiting the brain's analog nature. Like synapses connecting the neurons in the brain that can be reconfigured, the artificial neural networks the team is building can be reconfigured by applying a brief electric field to a sheet of graphene, the one-atomic-thick layer of carbon atoms.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Michigan State University are testing a liquid nanofoam liner, a material full of tiny nanopores, that could prolong the safe use of football helmets. When a helmet withstands an impact severe enough to cause a concussion to the player wearing it, the safety features of the helmet are compromised, rendering equipment unsafe for further use.

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

Scientists at Ames Laboratory have discovered and confirmed a method which could serve as an easy but reliable way to test the quality of graphene and other 2D materials. It takes advantage of the very broad background in surface electron diffraction, named the Bell-Shaped-Component (BSC) which strongly correlates to uniformly patterned, or "perfect" graphene. Understanding the correlation has implications for reliable quality control of 2D materials in a manufacturing environment.

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

Rice University researchers have expanded their theory on converting graphene into 2D diamond, or diamane. They have determined that a pinpoint of pressure can trigger connections between layers of graphene, rearranging the lattice into a cubic diamond.

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

An international multi-institution team of scientists has synthesized graphene nanoribbons—ultrathin strips of carbon atoms—on a titanium dioxide surface using an atomically precise method that removes a barrier for custom-designed carbon nanostructures required for quantum information sciences. When fashioned into nanoribbons, graphene could be applied in nanoscale devices; however, the lack of atomic-scale precision in using current state-of-the-art "top-down" synthetic methods stymie graphene's practical use. Researchers developed a "bottom-up" approach by building the graphene nanoribbon directly at the atomic level in a way that can be used in specific applications.