You may have heard the phrase ‘the best things come in small packages’ and that’s certainly the case with these new nanotechnology innovations. The 10 university-developed nanotechnologies profiled below are those most viewed on our platform by the industrial R&D community since the start of 2020. New nanotechnology innovations are rapidly changing the technological landscape across a range of sectors and these are set to be the next big (but also very small) thing.

Each of the following new nanotechnology innovations has been published on Inpart’s matchmaking platform by a university or research institute with a view to find new industry partners to work with on co-development and commercialization. Through the links below (after creating a free account for the platform) you can read the full summary article. If the nanotech opportunity aligns with your company’s priorities, you can submit technical questions or request further information directly through the platform, and the team behind the technology will send you a response via email.

Top 10 new nanotechnology innovations

Repairing tissues with oxygen-releasing cryogels

Hydrogels are proving increasingly valuable in biomedical applications for mimicking the extracellular matrix. However, their use can be limited by mechanical properties and bioactivity. Recent advances have led to the development of biocompatible cryogels that offer structural and functional properties similar to native tissues.

At Northeastern University, researchers have developed injectable biodegradable cryogels that can be delivered with minimal invasiveness. By utilizing biocompatible polymers, the Northeastern cryogels can function as tissue adhesives, space fillers for tissue repair, and drug delivery systems. Properties include oxygen generation and antimicrobial effects, with potential for significant improvements in tissue engineering and wound healing. The researchers are seeking licensing partners and research collaborations.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this new nanotechnology innovations feature.

Transcending the blood-brain barrier with gold liposomes

Treating glioblastoma is challenging, not least because the blood-brain barrier prevents over 98% of drugs from reaching the brain, but also because of the challenge of creating therapies targeting oncogenes. RNA interference (RNAi) therapy shows promise, but its clinical application is limited by poor RNA stability, rapid clearance, immune responses, and off-target effects.

At Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust, scientists have developed a hybrid nanoparticle technology combining gold nanoparticles and liposomes to deliver RNAi therapeutics effectively to the brain. Using their technology, spherical nucleic acids are encapsulated in brain-targeted liposomes, enhancing stability and delivery across the blood-brain barrier. This new method has shown positive pre-clinical results in reducing glioblastoma tumor growth, offering a new approach in treating brain cancers and potentially other central nervous system disorders. The team is seeking licensing and co-development partners.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this new nanotechnology innovations feature.

Leveraging DNA origami to assemble nanostructures into optical metamaterials

Metamaterials are materials that are engineered with customized physical properties, enabling precise control over light transmission, reflection, and absorption. However, many conventional metamaterial fabrication processes face limitations such as high cost, setup times, and scalability.

To overcome these limitations, researchers at the University of Huddersfield have created a new manufacturing process utilizing DNA origami to assemble nanostructures into optical metamaterials. These materials can be tailored for various applications, including defense, construction, and photonics. By leveraging the precision and scalability of DNA-based assembly, this technology promises significant advancements in light manipulation, energy efficiency, and sensor performance. The university is seeking collaboration and licensing partners to help bring their technology to market.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this new nanotechnology innovations feature.

A new frontier for droplets in droplets

Multiple emulsions (mixes of immiscible liquids formed as droplets inside droplets) are present in everyday life in a wide range of products, such as pharmaceuticals, paints and coatings, cosmetics and foods. However, current technologies to create these encapsulated products present some limitations as they are slow, require specific equipment and often create too-large droplets.

The researchers behind this project at the University of California, Santa Barbara have found a way to overcome such limitations and create multi-nanoemulsions and nanoparticles, with diameters as small as 100-200 nm. These nanoparticles are stable and can be created using standard, scalable equipment. This new nanotechnology innovation is set to have an impact on many industries: improving agricultural products, aiding the delivery of pharmaceutical drugs, and even creating low-calorie food emulsions by adding water droplets in fat oils.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this new nanotechnology innovations feature.

Futuristic blue-hued nanotech concept

The world’s smallest (and most useful) hacky sacks

If you asked someone what hacky sacks are good for, the response probably wouldn’t be drug delivery, gene therapy or a vaccine adjuvant. Yet, researchers at Puerto Rico Science, Technology & Research Trust have achieved precisely that through supramolecular formations in a hacky sack architecture based on the nucleoside, guanosine. 

Nanoparticle drug delivery has become an increasingly important strategy in healthcare, including in treatments for COVID-19, crossing the blood-brain barrier, and providing cell-specific targeting for disease treatments. These new nanoparticles from Puerto Rico scientists, formed by small molecules which self-assemble under specific temperature or pH conditions, display a number of key benefits: they are easy to synthesize and reproduce at different scales, they maintain integrity under various key conditions (freeze-drying, pipetting etc.), and exhibit encapsulation and controlled release of therapeutic agents such as nucleic acids and proteins.

This nanotechnology innovation is already patented and the team are seeking development or commercial partners as well as exclusive or non-exclusive licensing.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this new nanotechnology innovations feature.

New nanostructures revolutionizing cell culture and organoid growth

3D cell culture is a powerful research tool for replicating in vivo conditions and morphology, yet many current systems fall short in providing suitable environments and reproducibility. They may lack sustained release of growth factors and fail to support high-density cell growth, limiting their effectiveness in research and medical applications.

With this in mind, researchers at SUNY Polytechnic Institute have developed a versatile device and method for creating alginate hydrogel tubular structures. These structures can be made in various sizes including nanoscales and offer a simple and adaptable way to culture cells in 3-dimensions. Applications include culturing organoids, drug delivery, cryopreservation and biocatalysis, with potential to enhance reproducibility and scalability in cell culture, addressing key challenges in the field and benefiting biomedical research and therapies. The research team are seeking licensing and co-development partners.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this new nanotechnology innovations feature.

Charging the electric vehicle revolution

Lithium-ion batteries are becoming more common as an energy source for electric vehicles, but current battery technology has limitations such as long charging times and short driving range, and therefore can’t support the growing demands of the market. New developments are focussing on improving properties such as the energy density of lithium-ion batteries to increase driving range by replacing graphite anodes with silicon. Whilst silicon has a high capacity for lithium, it cracks easily in batteries, reducing the lifetime of an anode.

Silicon-based nanoparticles developed by scientists at the University of East Anglia can be compacted together, preventing cracking of the anode in a major leap forward for the industry. The nanoparticles also provide double the energy capacity of graphite anodes.

After successful testing in the laboratory, the team is looking to take the next step with industry collaborators.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this new nanotechnology innovations feature.

Expanding energy storage capacity using silicon anodes with a nano-vault structure

Silicon anodes have a theoretical capacity over ten times greater than graphite, offering significant potential for high-energy lithium-ion batteries. However, their practical application is currently limited by extensive swelling during cycling, which reduces efficiency.

A team of scientists at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology have developed a silicon anode design featuring stackable vault-like nanostructures. Their arched architecture accommodates swelling and enhances mechanical strength, resulting in crack-resistant electrodes for lithium-ion batteries with improved energy density and cyclic stability, holding promise for applications in hydrogen storage and bioimplants. The team are seeking co-development partners.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this new nanotechnology innovations feature.

A fireproof nanomaterial bringing the heat

Household fires are costly in more ways than one. The use of flammable materials including polystyrene for building insulation only propagates these fires, and the addition of flame-retardant additives like graphene oxide form toxic byproducts during a fire which are harmful to both humans and the environment.

A solution to these problems has been developed by researchers at Northeastern University in the form of a fire-retardant aerogel, consisting of cellulose nanofibres and metallic phase molybdenum disulphide, that is ultralight and high strength. The material has a crosslinking structure that limits the oxygen index and improves fire resistance, and a nano barrier that inhibits toxic substance release whilst suppressing external heat and oxygen permeation.

The team at Northeastern are looking for commercial and development opportunities to make a big impact with their new nanotechnology.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this new nanotechnology innovations feature.

Advancing nanoelectronics with graphene nanoribbons

Complementary Metal-Oxide-Semiconductor (CMOS) transistors are being continuously scaled to finer geometries, which has resulted in 5nm chips through extreme ultraviolet lithography, a costly and laborious process. With CMOS technology expected to hit a limit at 3nm, there is an urgent need for alternative technologies to pursue advancements in nanoelectronics.

With these challenges in mind, researchers at the Max Planck Society have developed graphene nanoribbons that can achieve the geometry required to advance nanoelectronics, whilst enabling precise control over their electronic properties. Their invention has potential applications in sensors, photovoltaics, nanoelectronics and quantum computing, and the team are seeking licensing and a partner for co-development.

Read the full project summary to learn more about this new nanotechnology innovations feature.

Production credits:

Technologies written by Jake Mitchell (5), Ella Cliff (9), Frances Wilkinson (7), Mireia Baizan-Urgell (4), Emily Jones (10, 8, 6, 3, 2 ,1) and and GPT-3.5.

Edited by Ruth Kirk, Alex Stockham and Emily Jones.

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