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

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

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a new method for 3-D printing living microbes in controlled patterns, expanding the potential for using engineered bacteria to recover rare-earth metals, clean wastewater, and detect uranium. The researchers are also working on creating new bioresins and are evaluating conductive materials, such as carbon nanotubes and hydrogels, to enhance production efficiency in microbial electrosynthesis applications.

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

Antimicrobial packaging is being developed to extend the shelf life and safety of foods and beverages. However, there is concern about the transfer of potentially harmful materials, such as silver nanoparticles, from these types of containers to consumables. Now, researchers have shown that silver embedded in an antimicrobial plastic can leave the material and form nanoparticles in foods and beverages, particularly in sweet and sugary ones.

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

MIT researchers and colleagues have discovered an important—and unexpected—electronic property of graphene. The researchers show that bilayer graphene can be ferroelectric, which means that positive and negative charges in the material can spontaneously separate into different layers. This work could usher in new, faster information-processing paradigms, one potential application being neuromorphic computing, which aims to replicate the neurons in the body responsible for everything from behavior to memories.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Stanford University have made temperature-resistant, injectable gels that are made of two solid ingredients – polymers and nanoparticles. When the researchers exposed this gel to the body's temperature, it did not liquefy, like ordinary gels do. This gel could prove valuable for providing anti-malarial or anti-HIV treatments in under-resourced areas, where it is difficult to administer the short-acting remedies currently available.

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

A team of researchers from the United States and China has developed a new kind of wearable health sensor that uses micro- and nanotechnology and would deliver real-time medical data to people with eye or mouth diseases. The sensors would be placed near the tear duct or mouth to collect samples, which would then produce data viewable on a user's smartphone or sent to their doctor.

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

When two sheets of graphene are stacked atop each other at just the right angle, the layered structure morphs into an unconventional superconductor. The MIT scientists who made that discovery now report observing superconductivity in a sandwich of three graphene sheets, the middle layer of which is twisted at a new angle with respect to the outer layers. This new trilayer configuration exhibits superconductivity that is more robust than its bilayer counterpart.

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

Researchers with the Kansas City Veterans Affairs Medical Center and North Dakota State University have designed a new way to deliver pancreatic cancer drugs that could make fighting the disease easier. They designed a nanoparticle delivery system that stops the drugs from breaking down and releases them specifically to cancer cells in the pancreas and not to other areas of the body.

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

For more than 15 years, researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas and their collaborators in the United States, Australia, South Korea, and China have made artificial muscles by twisting and coiling carbon nanotube or polymer yarns. When thermally powered, these muscles actuate by contracting their length when heated and returning to their initial length when cooled. Such thermally driven artificial muscles, however, have limitations. The researchers have now created powerful, unipolar electrochemical yarn muscles that contract more when driven faster, thereby solving important problems that have limited the applications for these muscles.

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

Researchers at Harvard University have developed a two-millimeter achromatic metalens that can focus red, blue, and green colors without aberrations. Like previous metalenses, this lens uses arrays of titanium dioxide nanofins to focus wavelengths of light and eliminate chromatic aberration. In a virtual or augmented reality platform, the metalens would sit directly in front of the eye, and the display would sit within the focal plane of the metalens.

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

Bulk hexagonal boron nitride is cheap and easy to obtain, but exfoliating it into atomically thin nanosheets has been a challenge. Now, chemists at Rice University have found a way to get the maximum amount of quality 2D hexagonal boron nitride nanosheets (from its natural bulk form) by processing it with surfactant and water. The surfactant surrounds and stabilizes the nanosheets, preserving their properties.