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

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

The silicon-based computer chips that power our modern devices require vast amounts of energy to operate, so researchers in the electronics and materials sciences communities are seeking ways to sustainably manage the global need for computing power. Now, a team of researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California, Berkeley, have identified an energy-efficient route by creating films of barium titanate just 25 nanometers thin, whose orientation of charged atoms, or polarization, switches as quickly and efficiently as in the bulk version of a computer chip.

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

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University have developed an electronic tattoo that can be worn comfortably on the wrist for hours and deliver continuous blood pressure measurements at an accuracy level exceeding nearly all available options on the market today. Graphene, one of the strongest and thinnest materials in existence, is a key ingredient in this electronic tattoo.

(Funded by the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration)

After exposing silicon carbide to conditions similar to those found around dying stars, researchers at the University of Arizona have observed the spontaneous formation of carbon nanotubes. The work builds on previous work by the same researchers showing that they could create buckyballs using the same experimental setup. This new work suggests that buckyballs and carbon nanotubes could form when silicon carbide dust made by dying stars is hit by high temperatures, shock waves, and high-energy particles, leaching silicon from the surface and leaving carbon behind.

(Funded in part by the National Institutes of Health)

In a study with mice, MIT researchers have designed sensors that can distinguish between viral and bacterial pneumonia infections within two hours, which they hope will help doctors choose the appropriate treatment. The sensors consist of nanoparticles coated with #peptides that can be cleaved by enzymes present in the body. Each peptide is labeled with a reporter molecule that is freed when the peptides are cleaved by the enzymes. The reporter molecules are eventually excreted in the urine, which can then be analyzed to determine which of these enzymes are most active in the lungs.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

Researchers from Wake Forest University School of Medicine have used nanoparticles to deliver a small molecule, called ARL67156, to promote an anti-tumor immune response in mouse models of colon, head and neck, and metastatic breast cancer, resulting in increased survival. Also, the researchers tested how the nanoparticles worked in combination with a common immunotherapy that uses anti-PD-1 antibodies. The researchers noted that the treatment worked well and synergistically with this immunotherapy.

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers from the University of Colorado-Boulder, the University of Cambridge in England, and the University of Grenoble Alpes in France have confirmed the second-ever documented case of a plant creating blue-colored fruits with layered fat molecules. The two plants are among only six in the world known to make their fruits' colors (not all blue) using a trick of the light, known as structural color. To create its unique color, the blue fruits use nanostructures in their skin to manipulate light and reflect the wavelengths our eyes perceive as blue, giving it a distinctive metallic finish. 

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

Materials engineers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison have developed a new method that may allow the industrial-scale fabrication of graphene nanoribbons, enabling them to be used as next-generation transistors on computer chips. A graphene nanoribbon is a one-atom-thick material that can conduct five to 10 times more current than silicon and use one-fifth to one-tenth of the power.

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

A team of researchers at MIT, the University of California, Irvine, and other institutions has found a way to map phonons – vibrations in crystal lattices – in atomic resolution, enabling deeper understanding of the way heat travels through quantum dots, which are engineered nanostructures in electronic components. In particular, the researchers probed the dynamic behavior of phonons near a single quantum dot of silicon-germanium by using vibrational electron energy loss spectroscopy in a transmission electron microscope.

(Funded by the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense)

Several years ago, researchers showed that a promising therapeutic – using a protein, called stem cell factor, that can stimulate the growth of stem cells – could treat a variety of ailments, such as ischemia, heart attack, stroke, and radiation exposure. But during clinical trials, numerous patients suffered severe allergic reactions, and development of this therapeutic stopped. Now, a research team led by engineers at The University of Texas at Austin has developed a related therapeutic that they say avoids these major allergic reactions while maintaining its therapeutic activity. The key to the discovery was the use of a similar, membrane-bound version of the stem cell factor delivered in engineered lipid nanocarriers.

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

Researchers at Rice University have suggested, through computational models, that growing or stamping single-layer 2D materials on a carefully designed undulating surface would achieve "an unprecedented level of control" over their magnetic and electronic properties. The researchers say the discovery opens a path to explore interactions between multiple microscopic particles, including quantum systems. The researchers were inspired by recent discoveries that twisting or otherwise deforming 2D materials bilayers, such as bilayer graphene, induced interesting electronic and magnetic phenomena