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

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

Researchers from Penn State have successfully altered 2D materials for applications in many optical and electronic devices.  By altering the material in two different ways—atomically and physically—the researchers were able to enhance light emission and increase signal strength, expanding the bounds of what is possible with devices that rely on these materials.  In the first method, the researchers modified the atomic makeup of the materials, creating a new type of 2D material by replacing atoms on one side of the layer with a different type of atom, creating uneven distribution of the charge. In the second method, the researchers strengthened the signal that resulted from an energy up-conversion process by taking a layer of molybdenum disulfide and rolling it into a roughly cylindrical shape.

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

Engineers at Rice University and Texas A&M University have identified a 2D perovskite-derivative material that could make computers faster and more energy-efficient. Their material has the ability to enable the valleytronics phenomenon. In valleytronics, electrons have degrees of freedom in the multiple momentum states — or valleys — they occupy. These states can be read as bits, creating a possible platform for information processing and storage.

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

Scientists at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have discovered a way to control the growth of twisting, microscopic spirals of materials just one atom thick. The standard practice for making twisting two-dimensional structures has been mechanically stacking two sheets of the thin materials on top of each other and carefully controlling the twist angle between them by hand. But when researchers grow these two-dimensional materials directly, they cannot control the twist angle because the interactions between the layers are very weak. The scientists found out how to control the growth of these twisting nanoscale structures by thinking outside the flat space of Euclidean geometry.

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

Scientists at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Construction Engineering Research Laboratory have demonstrated the ability to reproduce the nanostructures that help cicada wings repel water and prevent bacteria from establishing on the surface. The new technique – which uses commercial nail polish – is economical and straightforward, and the researchers said it will help fabricate future high-tech waterproof materials.

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

Researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University are spinning liquid crystals into fibers that change color at different temperatures. These "smart fabrics" are made of soft, lightweight and elastic material, such as polymer nanomaterials made of plastics like nylon or polyethylene, and could be used in clothing such as camouflage or for detecting the presence of a pathogen like a virus.

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

Scientists at Washington State University have developed a method to detect biomarkers for Alzheimer's disease that is 10 times more sensitive than current blood testing technology. The researchers created an artificial enzyme using a single-atom architecture that was able to work as efficiently as natural enzymes. Their artificial enzyme, called a nanozyme, is made of single iron atoms embedded in nitrogen-doped carbon nanotubes.

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

Researchers at The University of Alabama in Huntsville have invented a new way to deposit thin layers of atoms as a coating onto a substrate material at near room temperatures. The researchers used an ultrasonic atomization technology to evaporate chemicals used in atomic layer deposition (ALD). ALD is a three-dimensional thin film deposition technique that plays an important role in microelectronics manufacturing.

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

Researchers at Purdue University are taking cues from nature to develop 3D photodetectors for biomedical imaging. The researchers used some architectural features from spider webs to develop the technology. The assembly technique presented in this work enables the deployment of 2D deformable electronics in 3D architectures, which may foreshadow new opportunities to better advance the field of 3D electronic and optoelectronic devices.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

Researchers at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center and Michigan Medicine C.S. Mott Children's Hospital have demonstrated that a new liquid biopsy approach, which uses nanopore genetic sequencing technology, overcomes traditional barriers to quickly and efficiently diagnose and monitor high-grade pediatric gliomas. The nanopore system works by measuring changes in electrical current as biological molecules pass through tiny holes in a collection surface; different values correspond to different letters in the genetic code, thus allowing a DNA sequence to be read.

(Funded in part by the National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have adapted a low-cost optical method of examining the shape of small objects so that it can detect certain types of nanocontaminants smaller than 25 nanometers in height. The researchers originally developed the technique to record the three-dimensional shape of small objects, not to detect nanocontaminants. But by optimizing both the wavelength of the light source and the alignment of an optical microscope, the team produced images with the sensitivity required to reveal the presence of nanocontaminants in a small sample of semiconductor material.