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 01, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture)

    Researchers at the University of Central Florida are developing new technology to make sure people are getting the food they think they’re eating. The work is funded by a recent grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to create an easy-to-use and highly sensitive device to detect food fraud, such as the substitution of pork in beef products. The researchers will update existing detection technology, known as a colorimetric lateral flow assay, which uses gold nanoparticles to detect meat proteins. They will create a new metallic coating, made of platinum, palladium or iridium, that will go around the gold nanoparticles to increase their sensitivity.

  • July 01, 2020
    (Funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy)

    Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory, Japan’s High Energy Accelerator Research Organization (KEK), Japan’s National Institutes of Natural Sciences, Nagoya University, and Hiroshima University have discovered that photocathodes that produce electron beams for electron microscopes and advanced accelerators can be refreshed and rebuilt repeatedly if the electron-emitting materials are deposited on layers of graphene. The researchers proposed that the resilience of photocathodes deposited on graphene surfaces was due to weaker binding between the emitter atoms and the underlying carbon layer.

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

    U.S. Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette announced $100 million in funding for 10 Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs) to accelerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a twenty-first-century energy economy and strengthen U.S. economic leadership and energy security. In recognition of the importance of teams in energy research, the EFRC program brings together researchers from multiple disciplines and institutions. The current cohort of EFRCs includes six new centers and renewals of two existing ones, all to be funded for up to four years. An additional two existing centers were awarded two-year extensions to support the completion of research in progress. The list of the 10 EFRCs that received funding is available at: https://science.osti.gov/-/media/bes/pdf/Funding/EFRC_Awards_July2020.pdf

  • June 30, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)

    Current methods to prepare metal-oxide catalysts, the workhorses of chemical transformations, require high temperatures and pressures. Now, chemists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have described a new technique that produces iron-oxide-coated metal nanoparticles supported on solid iron oxide, in one step, at near room temperature. These materials display high activity for conversion of carbon dioxide to carbon monoxide, one of the components of an important fuel and chemical source called syngas.

  • June 30, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at Rice University have discovered details about a novel type of polarized light-matter interaction, with light that literally turns end over end as it propagates from a source. This discovery could help study molecules like those in light-harvesting antennas anticipated to have unique sensitivity to the phenomenon. The researchers observed the effect in the light scattered by a pair of closely spaced plasmonic metal nanorods, when they were excited by the cartwheeling light.

  • June 29, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation)

    Nitric oxide is an important signaling molecule in the body, with a role in building nervous system connections that contribute to learning and memory. It also functions as a messenger in the cardiovascular and immune systems. But it has been difficult for researchers to study exactly what its role is in these systems and how it functions. Now, a team of scientists and engineers at MIT and elsewhere has found a way of generating the gas at precisely targeted locations inside the body. The team's solution uses an electric voltage to drive the reaction that produces nitric oxide. The team's key achievement was finding a way for this reaction to be operated efficiently and selectively at the nanoscale. 

  • June 29, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Today, most soldiers wear a heavy, bullet-proof vest to protect their torso, but much of their body remains exposed to the indiscriminate aim of explosive fragments and shrapnel. Designing equipment to protect extremities against the extreme temperatures and deadly projectiles that accompany an explosion has been difficult. Now, Harvard University researchers, in collaboration with the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Soldier Center and West Point, have developed a lightweight, multifunctional nanofiber material that can protect wearers from both extreme temperatures and ballistic threats. 

  • June 29, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Institute of Standards and Technology)

    Researchers at Iowa State University, Northwestern University, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have used high-resolution printing technology and the unique properties of graphene to make low-cost biosensors to monitor food safety and livestock health. The sensors can detect histamine, an allergen and indicator of spoiled fish and meat, down to 3.41 parts per million. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has set histamine guidelines of 50 parts per million in fish, making the sensors more than sensitive enough to track food freshness and safety.

  • June 29, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense)

    By folding DNA into a virus-like structure, researchers at MIT have designed HIV-like nanoparticles that provoke a strong immune response from human immune cells grown in a lab dish. The DNA nanoparticles, which closely mimic the size and shape of HIV viruses, are coated with HIV proteins that are arranged in precise patterns designed to provoke a strong immune response. Such nanoparticles might eventually be used as an HIV vaccine.

  • June 29, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at Cornell University have developed a new imaging technique that is fast and sensitive enough to observe highly correlated electron spin patterns, called critical spin fluctuations, in two-dimensional magnets. This real-time imaging allows researchers to control the fluctuations and switch magnetism via a "passive" mechanism that could eventually lead to more energy-efficient magnetic storage devices.