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.
  • January 22, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)

    This article profiles Liam Collins, a scientist at the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences, a user facility at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Collins supports the center’s user program by advancing microscopy techniques that push the limits of observation and enable researchers to study materials and their properties on a nanometer length scale and gain insights that lead to new frontiers in energy, biology, and medicine.

  • January 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Scientists at the College of William & Mary’s Department of Applied Science have discovered that the brown recluse spider’s silk, which is stronger than steel, is made up entirely of nanofibrils— strands that are 3,000 times thinner in diameter than a human hair—that are laid in parallel, not twisted like strands of a rope. The scientists have also discovered that the brown recluse spider adds to the strength of the silk by spinning little loops into each strand.

  • January 21, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)

    Chemists at the University of California, Irvine have discovered nanoscale fragments of fungal cells in the atmosphere. The pieces are extremely small, measuring about 30 nanometers in diameter, and are more abundant than previously thought. These bits of fungus are easier to inhale deep into the lungs than intact cells, which means they may contribute to fungus-related allergic reactions and asthma among susceptible people.

  • January 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at Penn State have developed a thin, barely visible nanofilm made of light-interactive nanomaterials that can absorb and deflect solar infrared energy, or heat. The researchers are now testing these window-glazing materials to produce dynamic windows that adapt to climate conditions in real-time while reducing total building energy consumption. Also, these windows would maintain clarity and transparency without the visual tradeoffs of tinted or screened windows, increasing the comfort of a building occupant.

  • January 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Smart windows come in many different configurations, but the most popular ones are called electrochromic devices, because they change color when a voltage is applied. Scientists at Purdue University assessed the mechanical properties at the nanoscale of the thin-film electrochromic material used in these electrochromic devices and discovered that this material can expand up to 30% in volume. This “mechanical breathing” can cause the material to wrinkle and push up against the other layers of the substrate, causing the electrochromic device to stop functioning.

  • January 15, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at Penn State and Northeastern University have developed a highly sensitive, wearable gas sensor for environmental and human health monitoring. The sensor device is an improvement on existing wearable sensors because it uses a self-heating mechanism that enhances sensitivity. The researchers used a laser to pattern a highly porous single line of nanomaterial similar to graphene for sensors that detect gas, biomolecules, and in the future, chemicals. The nanomaterials used in this sensor are reduced graphene oxide and molybdenum disulfide, or a combination of the two; or a metal oxide composite consisting of a core of zinc oxide and a shell of copper oxide.

  • January 15, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

    Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine have developed a new nanoparticle drug formulation that targets a specific receptor on cancer cells and appears to be more effective than a standard nanoparticle therapy currently on the market to treat metastatic breast cancer. The study found that the new nanoparticles bypass healthy cells and tissues and bind to tumor cells, dispersing evenly throughout the tumor while releasing the chemotherapy drug paclitaxel.

  • January 15, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)

    Engineers at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln have shown how to create stacks of atomically thin crystal layers that are misaligned by 30 degrees from each other. That 30-degree rotation of each atomically thin layer relative to the one below it could lead to new electronic or optical properties, greater speed, and more functionality in less space.

  • January 14, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)

    Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have incorporated meticulously engineered colloidal quantum dots into a new type of light emitting diodes containing an integrated optical resonator, which allows them to function as lasers. These novel, dual-function devices clear the path towards versatile, manufacturing-friendly laser diodes. The technology can potentially revolutionize numerous fields, from photonics and optoelectronics to chemical sensing and medical diagnostics.

  • January 13, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institutes of Health)

    Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory, Columbia University, and Van Andel Institute have developed a platform for assembling nanosized material components, or "nano-objects," of very different types—inorganic or organic—into desired 3-D structures. Synthetic DNA frames were engineered in the shape of a cube, octahedron, and tetrahedron. Inside the frames are DNA "arms" that only nano-objects with the complementary DNA sequence can bind to. These material voxels—the integration of the DNA frame and nano-object—are the building blocks from which macroscale 3-D structures can be made.