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

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

Researchers from Arizona State University, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, and the Institute of Biophysics of the Czech Academy of Sciences are exploring a basic building block used in the fabrication of many DNA nanoforms, called a Holliday junction. The researchers used crystallography techniques to describe the characteristics of 36 basic variants of the Holliday junction and showed that the effectiveness of a given Holliday junction for the construction of crystalline nanoarchitectures depends not only on the arrangement of the four nucleotide pairs forming the junction but also on sequences forming the junction's four protruding arms. 

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

The world's whitest paint -- seen in this year's edition of Guinness World Records and "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" -- keeps surfaces so cool that it could reduce the need for air conditioning. Now the Purdue University researchers who created the paint have developed a new formulation that is thinner and lighter -- ideal for radiating heat away from cars, trains, and airplanes. The new formulation is a nanoporous paint incorporating a two-dimensional material called hexagonal boron nitride as the pigment.

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

Researchers from the University of Michigan and the University of Virginia have developed a new heat-resistant nanophotonic material that has broken records for stability at high temperatures and shows promise for use to turn heat into electricity. The new nanomaterial could be used in photovoltaic solar panels, thermal imaging, environmental barrier coatings, and camouflage from infrared surveillance.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

Researchers at The Johns Hopkins University have developed a new molecular detection platform to help researchers design more efficient and effective mRNA vaccines against SARS-CoV-2 virus and its variants. The platform works by tagging mRNA and lipid nanoparticle components with fluorescent signals of up to three colors and passing the sample through a detection plane. The data analysis tells the researchers how many mRNA copies are inside the lipid nanoparticles and the mRNA distribution in the sample.

(Funded in part by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation)

Researchers from the University of Central Florida; North Carolina A&T University; Oakland University in Rochester, MI; CMC Materials in Aurora, IL; the University of Huddersfield, UK; and the University of Sheffield, UK, have designed cerium oxide nanoparticles that protect bones against damage from radiation. The researchers showed that these nanoparticles can also improve bone regeneration, reduce loss of blood cells, and help kill cancer cells.

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

Researchers from Drexel University and Poland's Warsaw Institute of Technology and Institute of Microelectronics and Photonics have developed a new way of looking at the atoms that make up two-dimensional materials called MXenes and their precursor materials by using a technique called secondary ion mass spectrometry. In doing so, the researchers discovered atoms in locations where they were not expected, as well as imperfections. The scientists also demonstrated the existence of an entirely new subfamily of MXenes, called oxycarbides, in which up to 30% of carbon atoms are replaced by oxygen atoms.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers from the University of Central Florida have developed a nanomaterial-based disinfectant that can combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus, the Zika virus, and the vesicular stomatitis virus, among other viruses. The disinfectant contains the nanomaterial yttrium silicate, which has antiviral properties that are activated by white light, such as sunlight or light-emitting diode (LED) lights. 

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

Researchers from Iowa State University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Ames Laboratory have developed a colloidal synthesis method for alkaline earth chalcogenides – semiconductors with a variety of possible applications, such as bioimaging, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), thermal sensors, and optical materials that convert light into energy. With this method, the scientists were able to control the size of the nanocrystals in the materials, study the surface chemistry of the nanocrystals, and assess the purity and optical properties of the materials.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Iowa State University have developed a new approach to making nanocarriers for drug delivery. Their approach features a soft, fat-like, liposome surrounded by a hard shell of gold nanoparticles. The researchers’ main goal is to use the hybrid nanocarriers to transport medicine for Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy, and other disorders across the body’s blood brain barrier, which is set up by the body to protect the brain from pathogens.

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

One of the most powerful tools for peering deep into the microscopic and nanoscopic realm is the scanning tunneling microscope. Rather than an optical lens, its powerful eye comes from an electrical current that passes between the tip of the microscope and the sample material. The tip scans across the sample and produces a signal that changes based on how atoms are arranged within a given material. Now, a team of researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign has added a twist to their scanning tunneling microscope by replacing the tip with a nanowire.