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

The following news releases describe the results of research activities that are funded by Federal agencies that participate in the National Nanotechnology Initiative.
  • September 01, 2020
    (Funded in part by the National Science Foundation)

    Engineers at MIT have developed a novel platform for the controlled delivery of drugs and nutrients to human cells. Their simple approach creates small capsules containing thousands of nanosized droplets loaded with a drug or other active ingredient. The ingredient-loaded droplets can easily pass through cell walls, are exceptionally stable, and can carry a large amount of active ingredient for their size.

  • August 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Institutes of Health)

    Scientists have demonstrated that lipid-based nanoparticles carrying two sets of protein-making instructions have the potential to function as therapies for two genetic disorders. In one experiment, the payload-containing nanoparticles prompted the production of the missing clotting protein in mice that were models for hemophilia. In another test, the nanoparticles' cargo reduced the activation level of a gene that, when overactive, interferes with clearance of cholesterol from the bloodstream.

  • August 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, and the U.S. Department of Defense)

    Researchers at the University of Washington School of Medicine and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle have demonstrated a new way to precisely target cells by distinguishing them from neighboring cells that look quite similar. The researchers have designed new nanoscale devices made of synthetic proteins that target a therapeutic agent only to cells with specific, predetermined combinations of cell surface markers.

  • August 21, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at Cornell University have used an ultrathin graphene “sandwich” to create a tiny magnetic field sensor that can operate over a greater temperature range than previous sensors, while also detecting miniscule changes in magnetic fields that might otherwise get lost within a larger magnetic background. 

  • August 21, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at Cornell University have discovered a way to bind and stack nanoscale clusters of copper molecules that can self-assemble and mimic these complex biosystem structures at different length scales. The clusters provide a platform for developing new catalytic properties that extend beyond what traditional materials can offer.

  • August 19, 2020
    (Funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy)

    Researchers at Washington State University have made a first step in economically converting plant materials to fuels. One big hurdle is that oxygen has to be removed from the plant materials before they can be used. Iron-based catalysts show promise for removing oxygen, but the iron also oxidizes, or rusts, during the reaction, and then the reaction stops. The researchers discovered that one way around this issue is to get the iron to remove the oxygen from the plant materials without taking up so much oxygen that the reaction stops. This was achieved with an iron-based catalyst surrounded by a thin layer of graphene.

  • August 18, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation and the U.S Department of Energy)

    Scientists at Stanford University have demonstrated a new way to slow light significantly and to direct it at will. The researchers structured ultrathin silicon chips into nanoscale bars to trap light and then release or redirect it later. These “resonators” could lead to novel ways of manipulating and using light for quantum computing, virtual and augmented reality, and light-based Wi Fi.

  • August 18, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense)

    The mantis shrimp uses its two dactyl clubs to strike prey at over 50 miles per hour without appearing to incur any damage. Researchers at the University of California, Irvine have discovered that the clubs have a uniquely designed nanoparticle coating that absorbs and dissipates energy. The researchers determined that the nanoparticles are spheres made of intertwined organic and inorganic nanocrystals.

  • August 18, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation)

    Researchers at Rice University have developed the strongest and most conductive fibers yet, made of long carbon nanotubes through a wet spinning process. The researchers noted that wet-spun carbon nanotube fibers have doubled in strength and conductivity every three years, a trend that spans almost two decades. The threadlike fibers, with tens of millions of nanotubes in cross section, are being studied for use as bridges to repair damaged hearts, as electrical interfaces with the brain, and for use in cochlear implants.

  • August 18, 2020
    (Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy)

    One promising approach to turn sunlight and water into fuel is to use mixtures of tiny nanoparticles, whereby different particles play different roles. For example, gold nanoparticles absorb sunlight well, but they can’t efficiently make fuel by themselves. They need particles of another material nearby. The trick is to transfer electrons produced by the gold donor particles, as they absorb light, to the acceptor particles that start the chemical reaction to produce. Now, scientists have found a way to count how many electrons transfer between the two materials, which could help develop more efficient donor-acceptor combinations.