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

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Stanford University have developed a new material for printing at the nanoscale and used it to print minuscule lattices that are both strong and light. The researchers demonstrated that the new material can absorb twice as much energy than other 3D-printed materials of comparable density. In the future, their invention could be used to create better lightweight protection for fragile pieces of satellites, drones, and microelectronics.

(Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology)

Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology have created grids of tiny clumps of atoms known as quantum dots and studied what happens when electrons dive into these nanoparticles. The researchers made multiple 3-by-3 grids of precisely spaced quantum dots, each comprising one to three phosphorus atoms. Attached to the grids were electrical leads and other components that enabled electrons to flow through them. The grids provided playing fields in which electrons could behave in nearly ideal, textbook-like conditions, free of the confounding effects of real-world materials.

(Funded in part by the National Institutes of Health)

Researchers from Oregon State University and Oregon Health & Science University have developed a method for producing nanoparticles that can reach temperatures in cancer lesions of up to 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit) when exposed to an alternating magnetic field. Magnetic nanoparticles have shown anti-cancer potential for years, but they can only be used in patients whose tumors are accessible by a hypodermic needle (that is, not for people with hard-to-reach malignancies, such as metastatic ovarian cancer). In the case of this study, the nanoparticles can accumulate in metastatic ovarian cancer tumors and, when exposed to an alternating magnetic field, can rise in temperature to 50 degrees Celsius.

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

Researchers from the University of Chicago, the University of Southern California, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory, and Tongji University in China have developed a skin-like device that consists of a thin film of a plastic semiconductor combined with stretchable gold nanowire electrodes. Even when stretched to twice its normal size, their device functioned as planned without formation of any cracks.

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

Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the University of Minnesota, and the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology in South Korea have developed a new kind of camera that can detect terahertz pulses rapidly, with high sensitivity, and at room temperature and pressure. The new system uses nanoparticles, called quantum dots, which can emit visible light when stimulated by terahertz waves. The visible light can then be recorded by a device that is similar to a standard electronic camera's detector and can even be seen with the naked eye. 

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Rice University have described a strategy by which constraining carbon feedstock in a furnace helps to control the growth of nanotubes. In this method, a nanotube begins to form at the metal catalyst on a substrate, but lifts the catalyst as it grows, looking like a kite on a string.

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

A team of researchers at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center has developed a nanotechnology platform that can change the way the immune system sees solid tumor cells, making them more receptive to immunotherapy. The preclinical findings suggest that this adaptable immune conversion approach has the potential for broad application across many cancer types. 

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

Researchers from Vanderbilt University, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Western University in Canada, and Deep Science Fund – Intellectual Ventures in Seattle are working on a new approach to filter nanoparticles and ways to help decarbonize transportation. The researchers are developing one atom-thick filters that remove nanoparticles down to 5 nanometers from air streams. Such filters can enable applications for protecting soldiers and first responders from biological threats. The researchers are also exploring ways to create one atom-thick membranes for efficient and more sustainable transportation.

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

Researchers at Indiana University have developed a technology that can change skin tissue into blood vessels and nerve cells and might be used as a treatment for traumatic muscle loss. The technology uses a minimally invasive nanochip device that can reprogram tissue function by applying a harmless electric spark to deliver specific genes in a fraction of a second. The researchers found that muscle function improved when the device was used as a therapy for seven days following volumetric muscle loss in rats. Volumetric muscle loss is the traumatic or surgical loss of skeletal muscle that results in compromised muscle strength and mobility.

(Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have discovered that the binding of copolymers on the surface of nanoparticles that are already used in industrial manufacturing provides an economic and scalable route toward self-healing polymers with increased strength and toughness. The properties of the resulting materials can be varied by controlling the interactions between nanoparticle building blocks. This concept opens up new possibilities to vary properties of engineering materials without having to change their chemical composition—a feature that is highly beneficial in the context of recyclability.