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

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

Researchers from Arizona State University, the University of California, Davis, Washington State University, the University of Science and Technology of China, and the National Synchrotron Radiation Research Center in Taiwan have developed a new method to anchor single atoms of platinum-group metals on nanometer-sized islands, which could allow the efficient use of these expensive metals as catalysts for a wide variety of applications. The numerous islands lie on a commercial silicon-dioxide support that is widely used in many common catalytic reactions, but the metal atoms are excluded from the support.

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

Researchers from Northwestern University and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have made a significant advance in the way they produce exotic open-framework superlattices made of hollow metal nanoparticles. Using tiny hollow particles and modifying them with appropriate sequences of DNA, the team found they could synthesize open-channel superlattices with pores ranging from 10 to 1,000 nanometers in size. This newfound control over porosity will enable researchers to use these colloidal crystals in molecular absorption and storage, separations, chemical sensing, and catalysis.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

Researchers at Oregon State University, Oregon Health & Science University, and Duke University have taken a key step toward improving and lengthening the lives of cystic fibrosis patients, who experience chronically clogged airways and a dramatically shortened life expectancy. The team of scientists and clinicians engineered inhalable lipid nanoparticles that can effectively deliver messenger RNA (mRNA) to the lungs, prompting lung cells to manufacture the protein that thwarts the disease. 

(Funded by the National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Researchers from the National Institute of Standards and Technology have reviewed the many facets of nucleic acid nanotechnology and concluded that the technology holds the most promise for bridging the world of biology and semiconductors. Although the intriguing possibilities that nucleic acid nanotechnology offers have inspired and attracted researchers worldwide, economics must be considered when predicting the impact of this nanotechnology, the researchers emphasized.

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

Researchers from Drexel University and the University of Pennsylvania have developed a special coating that could help curtail the increasing electromagnetic interference that comes with the proliferation of electronic devices. The researchers discovered that combining MXene, a two-dimensional material they discovered more than a decade ago, with a conductive element, called vanadium, in a polymer solution produces a coating that can absorb, entrap, and dissipate the energy of electromagnetic waves at greater than 90% efficiency.

(Funded in part by the National Institutes of Health)

Researchers from Rice University and the University of California San Francisco have mapped the locations and activity of up to 1 million potential synaptic links in a living brain, thanks to a new 3D electrode array that records the split-second evolution of electrical pulses in tens of thousands of neurons in a cubic millimeter of brain tissue. The electrode array was made with a material called a nanoelectronic thread, which is thin, ultraflexible, and biocompatible – a trifecta of properties for making minimally invasive electrode implants. 

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

Researchers from Rice University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Virginia, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, Canadian Light Source Inc., and the University of Science and Technology of China have discovered a method that could make oxygen evolution catalysis in acids – one of the most challenging topics in water electrolysis for producing clean hydrogen fuels – more economical and practical. The researchers demonstrated that highly crystalline ruthenium dioxide nanoparticles with nickel dopants, used at the anode, facilitated water-splitting for more than 1,000 hours at a current density of 200 milliamps per square centimeter, with negligible degradation.

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

Researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Alicante in Spain are studying a novel material that grows crystalline hydrogen clathrates, which can store hydrogen. The material consists of a chemically optimized, porous activated carbon that can confine hydrogen at the nanoscale with excellent thermal stability.

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

Researchers from the University of Arkansas and Montana State University have discovered the atomic configuration of two-atom-thick paraelectric materials. The scientists studied how atoms arrange as they turn from a ferroelectric configuration onto a paraelectric one, and what they found turned out to be rather unusual: They observed that the paraelectric behavior is actually a time average of ferroelectric configurations swapping among two polarization states.

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

Researchers from Northwestern University, the University of Michigan, and the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory have engineered colloidal crystals – highly ordered three-dimensional arrays of nanoparticles – with complementary strands of DNA and found two things: (1) dehydration crumpled the crystals, breaking down the DNA hydrogen bonds; and (2) when water was added, the crystals bounced back to their original state within seconds. This new property, which is a type of "hyperelasticity coupled with shape memory," is controlled by the particle-interconnecting DNA's specific sequence and influences the object's structure and compressibility.