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

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

Researchers at Georgia Tech have developed a new nanoelectronics platform based on graphene – a single sheet of carbon atoms – that is compatible with conventional microelectronics manufacturing. To create the new nanoelectronics platform, the researchers created a modified form of epigraphene – a layer of graphene that can spontaneously form on top of silicon carbide crystal, a semiconductor used in high-power electronics. In collaboration with researchers at Tianjin University in China, they produced unique silicon carbide chips from electronics-grade silicon carbide crystals. Then, the researchers used electron beam lithography to carve the graphene nanostructures and weld their edges to the silicon carbide chips. 

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

Scientists at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have created vertically aligned single-walled carbon nanotubes on metal foils. Vertically aligned carbon nanotubes have exceptional mechanical, electrical, and transport properties in addition to an aligned architecture, which is key for applications such as membrane separation, thermal management, fiber spinning, electronic interconnects, and energy storage.

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

Researchers at Penn State have discovered that a new type of active pixel sensors that use a novel two-dimensional (2D) material may both enable ultra-sharp cell phone photos and create a new class of extremely energy-efficient Internet of Things (IoT) sensors. The 2D material is molybdenum disulfide, a semiconductor that is sensitive to light.

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Princeton University have discovered the first known protein that catalyzes the synthesis of quantum dots. Quantum dots are fluorescent nanocrystals used in electronic applications from light-emitting diode (LED) screens to solar panels. Quantum dots are normally made in industrial settings with high temperatures and toxic, expensive solvents. But the researchers pulled off the process in a lab by using water as a solvent, making a stable end product at room temperature.

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health)

Triboelectric nanogenerators are energy-harvesting devices that convert mechanical energy into electricity. To enhance the design and performance of these devices, researchers at Penn State and Hebei University of Technology have combined a porous 2D material, known as MXene, and a laser-induced graphene foam nanocomposite to form a system that enables a triboelectric nanogenerator to be stretchy and perform on the human skin or the leaf of a plant.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

Engineers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have developed ultralight fabric solar cells that can quickly and easily turn any surface into a power source. These durable, flexible solar cells can provide energy on the go as a wearable power fabric or be transported and rapidly deployed in remote locations for assistance in emergencies. To produce the solar cells, the engineers used nanomaterials that are in the form of printable electronic inks. 

(Funded in part by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the National Science Foundation)

For decades, astronomers and physicists have been trying to solve one of the deepest mysteries about the cosmos: An estimated 85% of its mass is missing. Some kind of invisible matter, dubbed dark matter, could provide the extra gravitational glue. Scientists from the National Institute of Standards and Technology and elsewhere have used tungsten silicide superconducting nanowires as dark-matter detectors. Systems of such nanowires are exquisitely sensitive to extremely small amounts of energy imparted by particles of light, and perhaps dark matter particles, when they collide with these systems of nanowires.

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

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have serendipitously discovered that when they automated the beam of an electron microscope to precisely drill holes in the atomically thin lattice of graphene, the drilled holes closed up. They expected the heat to make atoms easier to remove, but they saw the opposite effect.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health)

Engineers from Duke University, Virginia Tech, the University of Pittsburgh, Harvard University, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Los Angeles have developed a device that uses sound waves to separate and sort the tiniest particles found in blood in a matter of minutes. Tiny biological nanoparticles called "small extracellular vesicles" are released from every type of cell in the body and are believed to play a large role in cell-to-cell communication and disease transmission. The new technology not only pulls these nanoparticles from biofluids in under 10 minutes but also sorts them into size categories believed to have distinct biological roles.

(Funded in part by the National Institutes of Health)

Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute have engineered cell-like nanoparticles that target only the immune cells driving an autoimmune reaction, leaving the rest of the immune system intact and healthy. The nanoparticles greatly delayed, and, in some animals, even prevented, severe disease in a mouse model of arthritis. On its surface, each nanoparticle bore copies of a target self-antigen and a sugar-related molecule that can bind to a special “off switch” receptor on B cells, and each nanoparticle also was laced with a powerful compound to stimulate the production of regulatory T cells.