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

(Funding by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research)

An engineer at the University of California Santa Barbara has proposed a way to overcome the relatively low efficiency and performance of existing quantum computing prototypes that use light to encode and process information. To develop an all-electrical, all-on-chip quantum photonic platform, he proposes to integrate three technologies that have been developed for different platforms and applications: electrically driven quantum dot single-photon sources, silicon-based photonics for optical operations, and superconducting nanowire single-photon detectors.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

Most particles that disperse in liquids aggregate rapidly and eventually precipitate, thereby separating from the liquid phase. But there has been no easy-to-use method to quantitatively determine the hydrophobicity of these micro- and nanoparticles. Now, a scientist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa College of Engineering has invented a groundbreaking method that allows for easy determination of the surface free energy of carbon nanotubes, graphene, and polystyrene particles as a quantitative measure of their hydrophobicity.

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

A team of scientists at Argonne National Laboratory has developed a powerful technique for probing in three dimensions the crystalline structure of cathode materials at the nanoscale inside a battery. In particular, the technique probes what happens during the process of "intercalation" — the insertion of ions between the layers of a cathode when a battery generates electricity.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

Scientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and the University of South Florida Health Morsani College of Medicine, Tampa, Fla., have demonstrated that peptide-based nanoparticles can suppress pancreatic cancer growth without the toxic side effects and therapeutic resistance seen in drug trials. The nanoparticles deliver an RNA molecule that silences the chemical signal telling a gene to make mutated proteins that cause pancreatic cells to grow uncontrollably and resist existing cancer-killing drugs.

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

Physicists at the University of Oregon have developed a fast and sensitive bolometer that can measure light at and far above room temperature. A bolometer is a sensitive electrical instrument that measures the power of incident electromagnetic radiation. The new device, which consists of a trampoline-shaped piece of graphene suspended over a hole, offers an alternative to conventional electronic light detectors, such as those found in a smartphone's camera.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

Physicists at MIT and elsewhere have, for the first time, discovered fractal-like patterns in a quantum material—a material that exhibits strange electronic or magnetic behavior as a result of quantum, atomic-scale effects. A fractal is any geometric pattern that occurs again and again, at different sizes and scales, within the same object. The team made this discovery while measuring the material's magnetic domains at the nanoscale.

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

Trions consist of three charged particles bound together by very weak bonding energy. Although trions can potentially carry more information than electrons in applications such as electronics and quantum computing, trions are typically unstable at room temperature, and the bonds between trion particles are so weak that they quickly fall apart. Now a University of Maryland-led team of researchers has discovered a method to uses carbon nanotubes to synthesize and trap trions that remain stable at room temperature.

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

Researchers at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University have shown, for the first time, that a cheap catalyst can split water and generate hydrogen gas for hours on end in the harsh environment of a commercial device. The reactions that generate hydrogen and oxygen gas take place on different electrodes using different precious metal catalysts. In this case, the scientists replaced the platinum catalyst on the hydrogen-generating side with a catalyst consisting of cobalt phosphide nanoparticles deposited on carbon to form a fine black powder.

(Funded by the Office of Naval Research and the National Science Foundation)

While many nanomaterials exhibit promising electronic properties, scientists and engineers are still working to best integrate these materials together to eventually create semiconductors and circuits with them. Northwestern Engineering researchers have created two-dimensional heterostructures from two of these materials, graphene and borophene, taking an important step toward creating integrated circuits from these nanomaterials.

(Funded by U.S. Department of Energy)

Scientists at Rice University have demonstrated how to optimize a method that can sense small concentrations of molecules by amplifying the light they emit when their spectral frequencies overlap with those of nearby plasmonic nanoparticles. These nanoparticles emit coherent electron waves that ripple across the surfaces of the nanoparticles, act as antennas, and enhance the molecules’ emitted light up to 10 times when they are in the “sweet spot” near a given nanoparticle.