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Nanotechnology takes on the world

Tiny science meets the world's biggest challenges

Northwestern scientists and engineers have been using nanotechnology for more than 20 years to attack some of the world's biggest challenges in areas from the environment and homeland security to energy and medicine. At the center is the University's International Institute for Nanotechnology, which brings together more than $1 billion in nanotechnology research, educational programs and infrastructure. The institute has had a significant economic impact as well. More than 2,000 products and systems have been commercialized worldwide, and 23 start-up companies have been launched, attracting more than $1 billion in venture capital funding. Northwestern's nanotechnology researchers have made recent breakthroughs that include a system to detect viruses and bacteria with unprecedented sensitivity, efficient organic solar cells and better lithium-ion batteries.

New Strategy

The far side of violet: where cancer lurks

Laser focused

Biomedical engineer Vadim Backman has developed a stunning and effective new strategy using nanotechnology to detect cancer in its earliest stage — essentially a Pap smear for most cancers.

Read about it in Northwestern magazine

Nanotechnology Stories

Read about other Northwestern breakthroughs

Nanolaser could function inside living tissue

Nanolaser has potential to treat neurological disorders or sense disease biomarkers
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Anticancer drug disguises itself as fat

Promising system delivers chemo drug straight into tumors with fewer side effects
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Vaccine design can dramatically improve cancer immunotherapies

Effectiveness depends on molecular architecture and 3D presentation of components
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Mimicking the strength of a spider's web on the nanoscale

Black widow spiders' steel-strength silk webs could lead to equally strong synthetic materials
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Using nanotechnology to develop materials as dynamic as living things

Highly dynamic synthetic superstructures provide new clues on brain, spinal cord injuries and neurological disease
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New blueprint for optimizing complex nanoparticles

Guidelines have the potential to transform the fields of optoelectronics, bio-imaging and energy harvesting
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Collaborative Nanotechnology

Northwestern is working with the Air Force

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Using nanotechnology, Northwestern scientists are teaming up with researchers at the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory to develop advanced bioprogrammable nanomaterials for solutions to challenges in energy, environment, security and defense.

Published: November 01, 2019. Updated: November 04, 2019.

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