Image Captions and Credits
Liposomes, a fabricated lipid sac filled with water, are prime candidates for drug delivery because they can pass through the skin virtually unnoticed. Shown here are nested microbubbles that pop and split open the liposome to release medicine when exposed to sound or vibrations with an ultrasonic frequency. Drexel University researchers Steven Wrenn and Peter Lewin are trying to expand the possibilities of this system, called transdermal delivery. A significant advantage of their approach over current transdermal delivery methods is that it could easily be customized to work for a broad array of drugs and other biological products.
Credit: Drexel University
At the Smart America Expo, Nainesh Rathod of the Indiana startup company Imagenestics was part of a team that demonstrated the potential impact of "Smart Shape Technology" on 3-D printing and local manufacturing hubs. Using this system, you can take a picture of a part of a larger device with a mobile phone, and then either identify a local retailer where this part can be found or instantly print it at a local 3-D printing service provider. The demonstration showed how Smart Shape Technology--using novel shape search, active label, smart hubs and 3-D printing technologies--can create local jobs and increase local skills. Rathod was twice a recipient of NSF's Small Business Innovation Research grants, which helped to turn his radical idea into a business with several hundred employees.
One of the major hurdles to commercializing nanotechnology is how to manufacture some of the new products on a large scale. University of Massachusetts Amherst chemical engineer Jim Watkins and his team are working to make nanotechnology more practical for industrial-scale manufacturing. One of the projects they're working on at the NSF Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing (CHM) is a roll-to-roll process for nanotechnology that is similar to what is used in traditional manufacturing. They're also designing a process to manufacture printable coatings that improve the way solar panels absorb and direct light. They're even investigating the use of self-assembling nanoscale products that could have applications for many industries.
A middle-school student at the Next Generation School in Champaign, Ill., creates a 3-D object with a classroom 3-D printer. Students in grades K-12 can "print" 3-D objects from computer-generated sources right in the classroom using a rapid prototyping or 3-D lithography process. The process is based on a research project that was headed by Nicholas Fang, an assistant professor in the Mechanical Engineering Lab at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and developed at the NSF Center for Nanoscale Chemical-Electrical-Mechanical Manufacturing Systems (NanoCEMMS) at the university.
Credit: Joe Muskin, University of Illinois
Researchers funded by the National Science Foundation are creating a new biosensor that uses laser light, engineered viruses and advanced manufacturing techniques to more accurately detect the smallest amounts possible of biological molecules--in our food, in our water and even in our own blood. Shown here is a cross-sectional view of a circular optical cavity or resonator showing whispering gallery modes total internally reflected along the surface of a fiber. To learn more about other light-enabled technologies, visit NSF.gov/light.
Credit: Joe Cheeney, University of California-Riverside
The engineers and scientists of the International Open Facility Advancing Biotechnology, or BIOFAB, have created best practices for designing and characterizing biological parts -- DNA sequences that code for a particular function. With the help of microbes, BIOFAB successfully designed and produced broadly useful collections of reliable, standard and freely available DNA parts to researchers around the world. BIOFAB also developed a method to identify, evaluate, score and improve part types. Researchers can use the these DNA parts to bioengineer new functions and products, for example, microbes that produce antibiotics and other drugs. BIOFAB was established by NSF in December 2009 as the world's first biological design-build-test facility within the NSF Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC).
Credit: Vivek K. Mutalik, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
In an age where 3-D printers are becoming a more and more common tool to make custom-designed objects, some researchers are using the technology to quickly manufacture replacement parts for the most individual and unique object of all--the human body. With NSF funding, a husband and wife duo--materials scientist Susmita Bose and materials engineer Amit Bandyopadhyay--are leading a team of researchers at Washington State University to create implants that more closely mimic the properties of human bone, and can be custom-designed for unusual injuries or anatomy. The new implants integrate into the body more effectively, encouraging bone regrowth that ultimately results in a stronger, longer lasting implant.
Credit: Robert Hubner, WSU Photo Services
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