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 14, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

    A research team led by scientists at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children's Hospital has developed a new approach called nano-radiomics that uses complex analyses of imaging data to assess changes in the tumor microenvironment that cannot be detected with conventional imaging methods. Nano-radiomics combines imaging technology using a nanoparticle contrast agent, with radiomics for computational mining of 3D imaging data. This approach provides the promise of a new noninvasive means to enhance current imaging methods in measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of cellular immunotherapies designed to specifically target the tumor microenvironment.

  • July 13, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at Columbia Engineering and Montana State University have found that placing sufficient strain in a two-dimensional material – tungsten diselenide – creates localized states that can yield single-photon emitters. Using sophisticated optical microscopy techniques, the team was able to directly image these states for the first time, revealing that even at room temperature, they are highly tunable and act as quantum dots – tightly confined pieces of semiconductors that emit light.

  • July 10, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense)

    Researchers at Northwestern University have synthesized a new form of melanin enriched with selenium. Called selenomelanin, this new material shows extraordinary promise as a shield for human tissue against harmful radiation. The researchers synthesized selenomelanin nanoparticles and used them to treat living cells. For comparison, they also prepared cells treated with synthetic pheomelanin and eumelanin, as well as cells with no protective melanin. After receiving a dose of radiation that would be lethal to a human being, only the cells treated with selenomelanin nanoparticles exhibited a normal cell cycle.

  • July 08, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture)

    Researchers at Penn State have developed nanoparticles that can inhibit the growth of cancerous tumors in mice. Attached to these nanoparticles are microRNA molecules which, when paired to messenger RNA molecules, prevent them from operating. In this case, the microRNA prohibits the messenger RNA in a cancer cell from creating proteins, which are essential for that cancer cell to survive, and, eventually, the cancer cell dies.

  • July 07, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

    In experiments in rats and mice, two researchers from Johns Hopkins University have reported the successful use of nanoparticles to deliver gene therapy for wet age-related macular degeneration – an eye disease characterized by abnormal blood vessel growth that damages the light-sensitive tissue in the back of the eye. The research provides evidence of the potential value of nanoparticle-delivered gene therapy to treat wet age-related macular degeneration as well as rare, inherited blinding diseases of the retina.

  • July 06, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Health)

    For the first time, researchers at Columbia University have observed a quantum fluid, known as the fractional quantum Hall states, in a monolayer 2D semiconductor. This observation demonstrates the excellent intrinsic quality of 2D semiconductors and establishes them as a unique test platform for future applications in quantum computing. The fractional quantum Hall state is a collective phenomenon that comes about when researchers confine electrons to move in a thin two-dimensional plane and subject them to large magnetic fields.

  • July 02, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a film made of tiny carbon nanotubes which has a combination of thermal, electrical, and physical properties that make it an appealing candidate for next-generation smart fabrics. The researchers were able to optimize the thermal and electrical properties of the material, allowing the material to retain its desirable properties even when exposed to air for many weeks. This material may enable the development of clothing that can heat or cool the wearer on demand.

  • July 02, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

    Researchers at Rice University, the University of Texas Health Science Center’s McGovern Medical School, and the Texas A&M Health Science Center have developed artificial enzymes made of oxidized charcoal nanoparticles that are highly effective at breaking down damaging reactive oxygen species produced in response to an injury. The oxidized charcoal nanoparticles can be made from an activated carbon source that is inexpensive, good manufacturing practice (GMP)-certified, and already being used in humans to treat acute poisoning.

  • July 02, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    The National Science Foundation (NSF) has announced that it is awarding 11 Materials Research Science and Engineering Centers (MRSEC) a total of $200 million over six years. With a program investment of nearly $350 million over six years in emerging fields such as quantum materials, synthetic biology, and artificial intelligence, MRSECs leverage diverse expertise in areas such as polymers, ceramics, and magnetic nanomaterials to forge new research endeavors driven by a vision of the materials of tomorrow. 

  • July 01, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense)

    Researchers at North Carolina State University have developed a computational model that helps users understand how changes in the nanostructure of materials affect their conductivity—with the goal of informing the development of new energy storage devices for a wide range of electronics.