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

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

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed and tested an atomically thin graphene coating for photocathodes – materials that can convert photons to free electrons, which are used to create electron beams. Photocathodes need to have a protective coating because the chemical reaction from photons striking the photocathodes to emit electrons also produces a corrosive gas that can quickly degrade the photocathodes. Graphene possesses high gas impermeability, yet electrons can still pass through it.

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

Researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have demonstrated that a novel combination of two drugs that act as targeted inhibitors, delivered in a nanoparticle formulation, extend the survival of mice with medulloblastoma – an aggressive brain tumor that can spread to other parts of the brain as well as the spinal cord.  The researchers showed that the combination of palbocicbib and sapanisertib, delivered in nanoparticles, was more effective than either drug alone, as well as being more effective than combinations of other drugs with palbociclib.

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

Zeolites are crystalline porous materials widely used in the production of chemicals and fuels. So far, zeolites have been made as 3D or 2D materials, but researchers at Georgia Tech, Penn State, and Stockholm University have now discovered crystalline zeolites in a nanotubular (1D) shape. This 1D material, termed a zeolitic nanotube, is unlike any zeolite ever synthesized or discovered in nature previously.

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

Researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory have transformed a common household plastic into a reusable adhesive with a rare combination of strength and ductility, making it one of the toughest materials ever reported. The researchers aimed at upcycling a rubbery polymer material that is easy to process but not engineered for tough adhesion. They modified its chemical structure with dynamic crosslinking to make it more robust. Boronic esters were used to couple the polymer material with silica nanoparticles, a filler material used to strengthen polymers, yielding a novel crosslinked boronic ester-silica nanoparticle composite material.

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

Researchers from Texas Tech University have investigated how novel hydrophilic nanoparticles, known as nanoantibiotics, can kill pathogens that lead to human infection without affecting healthy cells. Nanoantibiotics look like tiny hairy spheres, each composed of many hydrophilic polymer brushes grafted onto silica nanoparticles. The researchers discovered that the degree of antibiotic activity is affected by the size of the hairy spheres. Those measuring 50 nanometers and below appear to be much more active than those whose size exceeds 50 nanometers.

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

Two brothers working in a Rice University laboratory have described the real-time analysis of laser-induced graphene production through sound. Laser-induced graphene is prepared by direct laser writing with a laser on carbon materials in ambient conditions. Audio analysis allows for quality control capabilities that, the scientists say, are orders of magnitude faster than characterization of laser-induced graphene by microscopy techniques. 

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

Researchers at Cornell University have developed new nanophotonic tweezers that can fit on a chip less than one square inch, making it easier and more efficient to manipulate single molecules using light to investigate biological systems. The nanoscale device can apply enough force to perform a range of standard single-molecule experiments, including stretching and unzipping DNA molecules and disrupting and mapping protein-DNA interactions. This advance is the first demonstration of a nanophotonic platform – rather than a bulky tabletop setup – for high-force single-molecule manipulation.

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

Researchers at the University of Michigan have shown that when nanoparticles form a crystal structure (when they are crowded together), they are held together by a type of interaction, called entropic bonding, that is analogous to the chemical bonds formed by atoms. But unlike atoms, there aren't electron interactions holding these nanoparticles together. 

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

Over the past few decades, #transplanting groups of #pancreatic cells that secrete #insulin has emerged as a potential cure for type 1 #diabetes. But transplantation efforts have faced setbacks as the #immune system eventually rejects the transplanted cells, and #immunosuppressive drugs offer inadequate protection for transplanted cells and are plagued by undesirable side effects. Now, a team of researchers at Northwestern University has discovered a technique to help make #immunomodulation more effective. The method uses nanoparticles to re-engineer the commonly used #immunosuppressant #rapamycin. Using these rapamycin-loaded nanoparticles, the researchers generated a new form of immunosuppression capable of targeting specific cells related to the #transplant without suppressing wider immune responses.