Viruses that self-assemble as parts of batteries. New methods to quickly mass-produce tailored nanoparticles for medicine. Stronger, lighter airplanes constructed from carbon nanotube composites. Techniques to spin nanofibers a thousand times thinner than a human hair. Nanotechnology is not just producing new innovations—it’s enabling innovative ways to produce them.
Controlling the Structure of Nanowires
One MIT team has developed technology that precisely controls the composition and structure of nanowires as they grow by adjusting the reactive gas content used in the process. This work could make it possible to grow complex structures that are optimally tailored for specific applications. For example, precisely structured nanowires could facilitate a new generation of semiconductor devices with better functionality than conventional thin-film devices made of the same materials. Other likely applications include cheaper light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, for an eco-friendly alternative to conventional lighting, and lower-cost solar panels.
Associate Professor Silvija Gradečak
Making Nanospinning Practical
Electrospinning produces nanofibers that are incredibly thin—a thousand times thinner than a human hair—and easy to manufacture in large quantities. MIT groups are working to commercialize this technology for applications ranging from sensors and drug delivery to air filtration, water purification, energy storage, protective clothing, and tissue engineering.
Professors Gregory Rutledge PhD '90, Alan Hatton, Karen Gleason '82, SM '82, Robert Cohen, Gareth McKinley PhD '91, and Michael Rubner PhD '86
Mini-factories with nanoscale features could spell the future for manufacturing everything from nanoparticles to industrial chemicals. MIT researchers have developed several such "microreactors," such as one that squeezes large molecules through a cell membrane to help generate induced pluripotent stem cells with a success rate 10 to 100 times better than any existing method.
Professors Klavs F. Jensen, Robert Langer ScD '74, and Martin A. Schmidt SM '83, PhD '88