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.
  • April 27, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas have developed a promising method for remotely stimulating activity in deep brain regions, advancing understanding of how molecules act in the brain and paving the way for better cancer treatments and therapies for infectious diseases. The approach is based on the powerful combination of gold nanoparticles and lasers.

  • April 27, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research)

    Researchers at Florida State University have created a hollow nanostructure for metal halide perovskites that would allow the material to emit a highly efficient blue light. Metal halide perovskites are materials that have shown great potential for photon-related technologies such as light-emitting diodes and lasers.

  • April 27, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy)

    A research team at the University of Maryland has developed a new method for mixing metals generally known to be immiscible, or unmixable, at the nanoscale to create a new range of bimetallic materials. This new method exposes copper-based mixes to a thermal shock of approximately 1,300 degrees Celsius for 20 milliseconds and then rapidly cools them to room temperature. The research team was able to prepare a collection of homogeneous copper-based alloys. Typically, copper only mixes with a few other metals, such as zinc and palladium. But by using this new method, the team broadened the miscible range to include copper with nickel, iron, and silver.

  • April 24, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation)

    Ellagic acid has been shown to mitigate Parkinson's and Alzheimer's diseases. But for ellagic acid to be effective, its cytotoxic potential needs to be reduced so only its anti-oxidant potential can be exploited. Researchers at The University of Texas at El Paso have developed a nanohybrid — a combination of two nanomaterials through chemical bonding — that can be used to optimally deliver ellagic acid into the human body. The researchers discovered that a nanohybrid made by combining ellagic acid and a sugar called chitosan reduces the cytotoxicity of ellagic acid while enhancing its anti-oxidant properties. This nanohybrid is uniquely suited for drug release over extended time periods.

  • April 24, 2020
    (Funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health)

    Flipping the standard viral drug targeting approach on its head, engineers at the University of California San Diego have developed a promising new method for preventing HIV from proliferating in the body: coating polymer nanoparticles with the membranes of T helper cells and turning them into decoys to intercept viral particles and block them from binding and infiltrating the body's actual immune cells. This technique could be applied to many different kinds of viruses.

  • April 23, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

    Researchers at Caltech have developed an electronic skin that could be applied directly to human skin. Made from soft, flexible rubber, the electronic skin can be embedded with sensors to monitor heart rate, body temperature, and levels of blood sugar. The electronic skin can also monitor nerve signals that control muscles by running on biofuel cells made from carbon nanotubes and powered by human sweat.

  • April 23, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at Penn State have developed a new way to deliver therapeutic proteins inside the body by using an acoustically sensitive nanoscale carrier to encapsulate the proteins and ultrasound to image and guide the carrier to the exact location required. Ultrasound then breaks the carrier, allowing the proteins to enter the cell. The scientists are leveraging this technology to deliver antibodies that can alter abnormal signaling pathways in tumor cells.

  • April 22, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Education)

    This summer, NASA plans to launch its next Mars rover, Perseverance, which will carry with it the first aircraft to ever fly on another planet, the Mars Helicopter. Penn Engineers are suggesting a different approach to exploring the skies of other worlds: a fleet of tiny aircraft that each weighs about as much as a fruit fly and has no moving parts. These flyers are plates of "nanocardboard," which levitate when light  is shone on them. A "nanocardboard" is made of an aluminum oxide film with a thickness of tens of nanometers and is the ultrathin equivalent of corrugated paper cardboard. One square centimeter of nanocardboard weighs less than a thousandth of a gram and can spring back into shape after being bent in half. (see Penn Engineers Develop Ultrathin, Ultralight ‘Nanocardboard’)

  • April 22, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense)

    A team of biomaterials scientists and dentists at the UCLA School of Dentistry has developed a nanoparticle that, based on initial experiments in mice, could improve treatment for bone defects. In a six-week study using mice with bone defects in their skulls, the researchers saw an average reduction of roughly 50% in the size of the defects after the drug-loaded scaffold was implanted.

  • April 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health)

    A team of researchers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst has discovered how to use protein nanowires, which are biological, electricity-conducting filaments, to make a neuromorphic memristor, or "memory transistor," device. The device runs extremely efficiently on very low power, as brains do, to carry signals between neurons.