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

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

Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center; the University of California, San Francisco; and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory have developed a new type of filter for kidney dialysis machines that can clean the blood more efficiently and improve patient care. The new filter uses carbon nanotubes – tiny tubes formed by a sheet of carbon atoms bonded in a hexagonal honeycomb mesh structure – that have very small, smooth channels. These channels make it easier to remove toxins and waste from the blood without letting important proteins escape, which can be a problem with traditional filters.

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

Late last year, researchers from Caltech revealed that they had developed a new fabrication technique for printing microsized metal parts containing features about as thick as three or four sheets of paper. Now, the Caltech team, along with researchers from the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research in Singapore, have reinvented the technique to allow for printing objects that are 150 nanometers in size. In doing so, the researchers also discovered that these objects can be three-to-five-times stronger than similarly sized structures.

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

Penn State researchers have developed a novel ultrasound imaging technique to view immune cells, called macrophages, continuously in mammal tissue. The researchers introduced nanoemulsion droplets to macrophages, which internalized them. A nanoemulsion is a mixture of oil droplets that are a few nanometers in diameter each. Under ultrasound, the nanoemulsion droplets turned into gas bubbles that helped to distinguish macrophages from other neighboring cells. 

(Funded by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers from Caltech have created a new kind of drug delivery system that, they say, may give doctors the ability to treat cancer in a more targeted way. The system uses drugs that are activated by ultrasound only where they are needed in the body. The researchers combined air-filled protein nanostructures (found in some bacteria) and mechanophores (molecules that undergo a chemical change when subjected to a physical force). 

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

A study showing how electrons flow around sharp bends, such as those found in integrated circuits, has the potential to improve how these circuits, commonly used in electronic and optoelectronic devices, are designed. The research team, composed of scientists from the University of California, Riverside, and Nanyang Technological University in Singapore imaged streamlines of electric current by designing an "electrofoil" – a new type of device that allows for the contortion, compression, and expansion of streamlines of electric currents in the same way airplane wings contort, compress, and expand the flow of air. The scientists designed the electrofoils in the lab as little wing shapes in nanoscale devices that make the electrons flow around them, similar to how air molecules flow around an airplane wing.

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

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory, the Air Force Research Laboratory, and KBR, Inc. (Beavercreek, OH) have grown a high-performing 2D semiconductor to a full-size, industrial-scale wafer. In addition, the semiconductor material, indium selenide, can be deposited at temperatures low enough to integrate with a silicon chip. Indium selenide has long shown promise as a 2D material for advanced computing chips, because it carries electrical charge exceptionally well. But producing large enough films of indium selenide has proven tricky because the chemistry of indium and selenium tends to combine in a few different molecular proportions, taking on chemical structures with varying ratios of each element and thus compromising its purity. 

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

Researchers from Auburn University; the University of North Carolina; the University of California San Diego; Oakland University in Rochester, MI; University College London; The University of Edinburgh; and the Institute for Basic Science in Seoul, South Korea, have provided an in-depth focus on spin dynamics – the study of how electron spins behave in these new 2D magnetic landscapes. Mastering spin dynamics is key to unlocking spin tunnel field-effect transistors and spin-filtering devices. These technologies could pave the way for faster, more energy-efficient computing and data storage systems, revolutionizing everything from smartphones to quantum computing.

(Funded in part by the National Institutes of Health)

Researchers from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center; The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas; and the Chinese Academy of Sciences in China have discovered that certain nanotechnology-based cancer therapies may be less effective in younger patients, highlighting the need for further investigation into the impact of aging on the body's ability to respond to treatment. The researchers found age-related differences are due to how effectively the liver filters the bloodstream. Younger livers are more efficient at this process, which helps limit toxins in the blood but also filters out beneficial treatments, potentially rendering them ineffective.

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

Some 2,000 years ago in ancient Rome, glass vessels carrying wine or water, or perhaps an exotic perfume, tumbled from a table in a marketplace, and shattered to pieces on the street. Now, these tiny pieces of glass have been uncovered by scientists at Tufts University; Carl Zeiss Microscopy LLC. (White Plains, NY0; and Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Venezia-Mestre in Italy and revealed themselves to be something extraordinary. On their surface is a mosaic of iridescent colors of blue, green and orange, with some displaying shimmering gold-colored mirrors. What the researchers were looking at was nanofabrication of photonic crystals by nature. "It's really remarkable that you have glass that is sitting in the mud for two millennia, and you end up with something that is a textbook example of a nanophotonic component," said Fiorenzo Omenetto, one of the scientists involved in this study.

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

Researchers at Vanderbilt University are leading innovative research to more effectively trap nanosized extracellular vesicles and particles, which can then be analyzed for their roles in cancer and neurodegenerative diseases. The researchers used an anapole antenna to condense the electromagnetic energy to the nanoscale and to successfully trap extracellular vesicles and particles using relatively low laser power.