News from the NNI Community - Research Advances Funded by Agencies Participating in the NNI

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

A University at Buffalo–led research team has published research on overcoming traditional limitations for using nickel nanoparticle-based catalysts to turn climate-warming methane emissions into useful commercial products. Methane is a byproduct in many industries, including natural gas and crude oil production, livestock farming, landfilling, and coal mining. The researchers developed an aerosolized process that created catalysts in one step, allowing them to identify the highest-performing catalysts. The resulting spherical nanoshell catalyst dramatically outperformed conventional catalysts in converting methane and carbon dioxide into useful products. The technology also has potential applications in semiconductors, biotechnology, electrochemistry and other fields in need of new and improved materials.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

Purdue University researchers have reported on their efforts to develop and validate poly (lactic-co-glycolic acid), or PLGA, nanoparticles modified with adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, to enhance immunotherapy effects against malignant tumors. They found that tumors grew slower in mice treated with paclitaxel ((a chemotherapy drug used to treat several types of cancers) ) enclosed within ATP-modified nanoparticles than in mice treated with paclitaxel in non-modified nanoparticles.

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

An international team of scientists has used the Advanced Light Source at the U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) to discover two new nanoscale calcium carbonate mineral phases on freshly deposited coral skeleton and nacre surfaces. These materials, which have been described and characterized only recently, have never been found in nature. These findings suggest that the biomineralization pathways used by marine animals are more complex and diverse than previously realized. This research provides insights on how marine life will respond to environmental changes such as more acidic oceans caused by climate change.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

A Stanford University research team has used a 3D nanoprinting technique to produce Archimedean truncated tetrahedrons (ATTs). ATTs, micrometer-scale tetrahedrons with trimmed tips, have been theorized as having geometries that could produce phase-shifting materials, but are challenging to create in the real world. 3D printing could allow for precise control of particle shape and geometry to produce materials with novel physical properties.

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

Engineers at the University of Pennsylvania have developed a novel method for manufacturing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, specialized receptors that help T cells eliminate cancer cells. The researchers used lipid nanoparticles (LNPs) to activate T cells and deliver the genetic instructions for CARs in a single step, simplifying the CAR T cell manufacturing process. LNPs are being used as delivery vehicles in vaccine and other biomedical developments.

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

A collaboration of Duke University engineers and immunologists have developed a method to test DNA bound to nanoparticles in the bloodstream. These complexes have been linked to autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). The study found that DNA adsorbed on the surface of polystyrene nanoparticles was resistant to degradation. These findings advance understanding of the inflammatory response to DNA on particle surfaces in immune-mediated diseases.

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

Researchers from Rice University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have developed an additive-free, water-based ink made of lignin and cellulose, the fundamental building blocks of wood. The ink can be used to produce architecturally intricate wood structures via a 3D printing technique known as direct ink writing. The researchers focused on optimizing the composition of the ink by adjusting the ratio of lignin, cellulose nanofibers, and nanocrystals while maintaining the natural lignin-cellulose balance.

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

Researchers at the University of Michigan have developed a new fabrication process for helical metal nanoparticles that provides a simpler, cheaper way to rapidly produce a material essential for biomedical and optical devices. "One of our motivators is to drastically simplify manufacturing of complex materials that represent bottlenecks in many current technologies," said Nicholas Kotov, one of the scientists involved in this study. 

(Funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and colleagues from the Joint Quantum Institute, a research partnership between NIST and the University of Maryland, have developed standards and calibrations for optical microscopes that allow quantum dots to be aligned with the center of a photonic component to within an error of 10 to 20 nanometers. Such alignment is critical for chip-scale devices that employ the radiation emitted by quantum dots to store and transmit quantum information.

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

Materials scientists at Rice University are shedding light on the intricate growth processes of 2D crystals, paving the way for controlled synthesis of these materials with unprecedented precision. The researchers have developed a custom-built miniaturized chemical vapor deposition system to observe and record the growth of 2D molybdenum disulfide crystals in real time. Through the use of advanced image processing and machine learning algorithms, the researchers were able to extract valuable insights from the real-time footage, including the ability to predict the conditions needed to grow very large, single-layer molybdenum disulfide crystals.