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

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

Researchers from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and GlaxoSmithKline are using nanodiamonds to calibrate and assess the performance of high-powered microscopes. The stability and longevity of these particles ­­– which are a few nanometers to a few hundred nanometers in diameter ­­– allows their continuous reuse as a calibration tool, eliminating the labor-intensive preparation researchers typically undergo.

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

Researchers at the University of Chicago have found a new way to create and stabilize so-called “blue phase” liquid crystals, which are nanocrystals that have the properties of both liquids and crystals and can, in some cases, reflect visible light better than ordinary liquid crystals. Potential applications include display technologies that could be turned on and off with very small changes in size, temperature, or exposure to light, and sensors that can detect radiation within a certain wavelength. 

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

A team led by Georgia Tech researchers has discovered unexpectedly familiar behavior in an antiferroelectric material known as zirconium dioxide, or zirconia. They showed that as the microstructure of the material is reduced to a few nanometers in size, it behaves similarly to much better understood materials known as ferroelectrics. In the past few years, antiferroelectric materials have been increasingly studied for potential applications in modern computer memory devices.

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

Researchers have discovered familiar behavior in an antiferroelectric material. Prof. Nazanin Bassiri-Gharb, of Georgia Tech, who participated in this research, discusses the applications of SMART materials in a recent NNI podcast episode: https://youtu.be/PIjojolu7M8 

(Funded in part by the National Institutes of Health)

Researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Delft University of Technology have managed to scan a single protein. By slowly moving a linearized protein through a tiny nanopore, one amino acid at a time, the researchers were able to read off electric currents that relate to the information content of the protein. The new single-molecule peptide reader marks a breakthrough in protein identification, and opens the way toward single-molecule protein sequencing and cataloguing the proteins inside a single cell.

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

To build modern electrical circuits, researchers control silicon's current-conducting capabilities via doping. Silicon's 3D lattice, however, is too big for next-generation electronics, so researchers are experimenting with graphene, but the tried-and-true method for doping 3D silicon doesn’t work for 2D graphene. An interdisciplinary team of researchers led by Columbia University developed a technique to dope graphene via a charge-transfer layer made of low-impurity tungsten oxyselenide (TOS). This combination of high doping and high mobility gives graphene greater #electrical #conductivity than that of highly conductive #metals, such as copper and gold.

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

An international team of researchers from the City College of New York has created an “excitonic” wire, or one-dimensional channel for excitons. By depositing the atomically thin two-dimensional (2D) crystal on top of a microscopically small wire, a thousand times thinner than a human hair, the team created a small, elongated dent in the 2D material, slightly pulling apart the atoms in the 2D crystal and inducing strain in the material. This device could one day replace certain tasks that are now performed by standard transistor technology.

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

Space missions, such as NASA's Orion that will take astronauts to Mars, are pushing the limits of human exploration. But during their transit, spacecraft encounter a continuous stream of damaging cosmic radiation, which can harm or even destroy onboard electronics. To extend future missions, researchers from MIT and the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory have shown that transistors and circuits with carbon nanotubes can be configured to maintain their electrical properties and memory after being bombarded by high amounts of radiation.

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

Hydrogen is increasingly viewed as essential to a sustainable world energy economy because it can store surplus renewable power, decarbonize transportation, and serve as a zero-emission energy carrier. But conventional high-pressure or cryogenic storage pose significant technical and engineering challenges. To overcome these challenges, researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories have turned to metal hydrides because they provide exceptional energy densities and can reversibly release and uptake hydrogen under relatively mild conditions. The scientists focused on a metastable metal hydride called alane, or aluminum hydride, and developed a nanoconfined material with improved thermodynamics of alane regeneration.

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

Researchers at the University of Rochester have taken advantage of quantum entanglement to generate an incredibly large bandwidth by using a thin-film nanophotonic device. This advance could lead to enhanced sensitivity and resolution for experiments in metrology and sensing and higher dimensional encoding of information in quantum networks for information processing and communications.