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

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

Researchers at Harvard University, MIT, and the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan have carried out a study aimed at investigating Chern insulator ground states in twisted bilayer graphene. In Chern insulator ground states, the bulk of the material is insulating, yet electrons can propagate along the edges without dissipating heat. The researchers provide evidence of the existence of a sequence of incompressible states with unpredicted Chern numbers in twisted bilayer graphene.

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

A new generation of electronics and optoelectronics may soon be possible by controlling twist angles in a particular type of bilayer 2D material used in these devices, strengthening the intrinsic electric charge that exists between the two layers. Researchers from Penn State, Harvard University, MIT, and Rutgers University have worked with 2D materials called regular transition metal dichalcogenides (TMDs) and Janus TMDs. In the case of Janus TMDs, the atoms on each side of these materials are different, leading to varied charge transfer when each side is in contact with other 2D materials.

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

Metasurfaces are nanoscale structures that interact with light. Today, most metasurfaces use monolith-like nanopillars to focus, shape, and control light. Researchers at Harvard University have developed a metasurface that uses deep and narrow holes, rather than tall nanopillars, to focus light to a single spot. The diameter of these long, thin holes is only a few hundred nanometers, making the aspect ratio – the ratio of the height to width – nearly 30:1. The metalenses were fabricated using conventional semiconductor-industry processes and standard materials, which could allow them to be manufactured at scale in the future.

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

Researchers at Northwestern University have developed a versatile composite nanomaterial that can deactivate both biological threats, such as the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, and chemical threats, such as those used in chemical warfare. The composite nanomaterial, which can be easily coated on textile fibers, builds on an earlier study in which the researchers created a nanomaterial that deactivates toxic nerve agents. With some manipulations, the researchers were able to also incorporate antiviral and antibacterial agents into the material.

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

At Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, researchers are looking into how to design metal oxide thin films that can be harnessed to produce clean energy. They discovered that varying the composition of lanthanum nickel iron oxide (LNFO) thin films affects their ability to convert water into oxygen. This reaction is important for clean energy production. LNFO has the potential to reduce the need for or replace expensive precious metal-based catalysts.

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

A team of scientists at Stanford University grew 2D layers of perovskites, interleaved with thin layers of other materials in large crystals that assembled themselves. The self-assembly takes place in vials in which the chemical ingredients for the layers tumble around in water, along with barbell-shaped molecules that direct the action. This simpler and faster method lays the foundation for making a wide array of complex semiconductors in a more deliberate way, including combinations of materials that have not been known previously to pair up in crystals.

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

Scientists from the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Gottingen, and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich have demonstrated the quantization of electrical resistance using two-layer graphene. The quantization effect occurs when the resistance adopts a fixed value that is independent of the basic material. The extremely clean double layers of graphene show this effect at low temperatures and at almost undetectable magnetic fields, with implications for the development of innovative computer components and data storage.

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

MIT physicists report on a new approach to achieving Bloch oscillations in graphene superlattices. Normally, electrons exposed to a constant electric field accelerate in a straight line, but electrons in a crystal can behave differently. Upon exposure to an electric field, they can oscillate in tiny waves, called Bloch oscillations. Bloch oscillations occur at a frequency value that is the same for all electrons and is tunable by the applied electric field.

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

Researchers at North Carolina State University have utilized two-dimensional hybrid metal halides in a device that allows directional control of terahertz radiation generated by a spintronic scheme. The device has better signal efficiency than conventional terahertz generators and is thinner, lighter, and less expensive to produce. This work could be a first step in exploring the use of 2D hybrid metal halide materials in other spintronic applications.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

The National Science Foundation has awarded 31.5 million for 22 new research and seed projects – half of which are related to nanotechnology – through its Future Manufacturing Program. These awards will allow scientists and engineers to advance research in the emerging areas of biomanufacturing, cyber manufacturing and eco manufacturing.