NCSU Nanofabrication Facility Grand Re-Opening

Over the past several months, the NCSU Nanofabrication Facility (NNF) has been the recipient of a significant amount of internal investment including new equipment, a staff increase, and major building renovations.  In order to bring awareness to this investment — and usher in a “new era” — NNF will hold a grand re-opening on January 8, 2018 at 3 pmNNF Director of Operations Phil Barletta introduce some of the changes and improvements that are being initiated in NNF. He will be joined by Assistant Vice Chancellor Jon Horowitz (ORIED) and Dean John Gilligan (COE) who will say a few words from a University and College perspective.

Details and information on registering can be found on the event website.

Engineers Synthesize Nickel Nanoparticles with Increased Surface Area

Researchers at NC State have developed a technique to create nanoparticles with a unique structure: a core of nickel embedded in a silica shell with small orbs of nickel surrounding the core. This leads to an increased nickel surface area, making more of this metal available for catalysis. For more on this work, please see the NC State press release.

Synthesis and Chemical Transformation of Ni Nanoparticles Embedded in Silica

Authors: Brian B. Lynch and Joseph B. Tracy, North Carolina State University; Bryan D. Anderson, North Carolina State University and Air Force Research Laboratory; W. Joshua Kennedy, Air Force Research Laboratory

Published: Nov. 28, Nanoscale

DOI: 10.1039/C7NR06379B

Abstract: Ni nanoparticles (NPs) catalyze many chemical reactions, in which they can become contaminated or agglomerate, resulting in poorer performance. We report deposition of silica (SiO2) onto Ni NPs from tetraethyl orthysilicate (TEOS) through a reverse microemulsion approach, which is accompanied by an unexpected etching process. Ni NPs with an average initial diameter of 27 nm were embedded in composite SiO2-overcoated Ni NPs (SiO2-Ni NPs) with an average diameter of 30 nm. Each SiO2-Ni NP contained a ~7 nm oxidized Ni core and numerous smaller oxidized Ni NPs with diameters of ~2 nm distributed throughout the SiO2 shell. Etching of the Ni NPs is attributed to use of ammonium hydroxide as a catalyst for deposition of SiO2. Aliquots acquired during the deposition and etching process reveal agglomeration of SiO2 and Ni NPs, followed by dissociation into highly uniform SiO2-Ni NPs. This etching and embedding process may also be extended to other core materials. The stability of SiO2-Ni NPs was also investigated under high-temperature oxidizing and reducing environments. The structure of the SiO2-Ni NPs remained significantly unchanged after both oxidation and reduction, which suggests structural durability when used for catalysis.

RTNN Researchers Headline RTP180 Event

Last week, three RTNN faculty members highlighted the monthly RTP 180° event: Tori Miller (NC State), Daphne Klotsa (UNC), and Claudia Gunsch (Duke). RTP 180° is held at The Frontier and features people from triangle universities, local companies, and the community at-large who take the stage to speak passionately about what matters to them. Drs. Miller, Klotsa, and Gunsch related their work in nano to a packed house. Dr. Klotsa kicked off the evening, highlighting her work in modeling nanoparticle packing. Dr. Gunsch emphasized the importance in studying the unintended effects of silver nanoparticles in the environment. Dr. Miller closed the evening talks, giving an overview of her work in metallurgy.

If you missed the opportunity to see the event live, you can see a recording of the event here.


RTNN hosts XRD Symposium

Malvern PANalytical and the RTNN hosted a “Non-ambient X-ray Diffraction (XRD)” workshop at NC State November 8-9. The event brought together 48 attendees from 17 different universities and organizations to explore the research potential of non-ambient diffraction and practical advice for collecting accurate and useful data. On the evening of November 8, attendees learned more about on-going research during a poster session.

The picture shows Dr. Tom Blanton, the executive director of International Centre for Diffraction Data (ICDD), presenting his work on ‘Materials Characterization using the ICDD  PDF-4+’.

Researchers meet at the Carolina Science Symposium

On November 10, the Carolina Science Symposium (CSS) was held at NC State’s McKimmon Center. This event brought together over one hundred people from universities, non-profits, and industry. Attendees learned about ongoing work in diverse scientific disciplines in a series of talks and a student poster session. Dr. Yong Zhang from the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte opened the symposium. He discussed his work in light effect transistors for high speed and low energy switching. Dr. Jacqueline Cole (UNC/NC State Joint Department of Biomedical Engineering) highlighted her research in the role of vascular structure and perfusion in bone mechanics and health. Ian Haehnlein from Starfire Industries described the technique of high power impulse magnetron sputtering and its capabilities. Dr. Michael Daniele (NC State Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering) talked about his work in wearable biosensors and bioelectronic systems. These invited speakers were joined by students from across North Carolina: Islam Sayed (NC State), Michael Dryzer (Elon University), Ryan Fox (UNC), and Manish Sharma (North Carolina A&T State University).

Over $2,000 was awarded in prizes. Winners for best student oral presentations were  Ryan Fox and Islam Sayed. Awardees for best poster included Michael Spencer, Zhihui Cheng, Tasso von Windheim, and Ashish Kapoor. Hanhan Zhou took home the Hans Stadelmaier Award. The AIF Best Paper awards went to Kate Marusak and Nathalia Ortiz.

A photo contest was held in honor of Mike Rigsbee. Tasso von Windheim won for the black and white image, “Happy Accidents,” depicting molybdenum oxide crystals formed using a microwave plasma chemical vapor deposition process (left). Sahil Tahiliani won in the color competition with the image, “Blood Trapped in a Vessel,” showing blood cells (false colored red) in a vessel within a lung tissue section from a mouse exposed to ceria nanoparticles (right).

This annual event occurs each November. If you are interested in learning more or hearing about upcoming events, please contact

SMIF’s New Cryo-TEM joins Molecular Microscopy Consortium

Duke’s Shared Materials Instrumentation Facility will soon be home to a new cryo-transmission electron microscope: the FEI Krios. The microscope joins the FEI Talos Arctica (located at the the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NIEHS) as part of the Molecular Microscopy Consortium (MMC) in the Research Triangle. This consortium is a partnership between NIEHS, Duke University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The mission of the MMC is to enable the use of single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) and other tools in molecular microscopy to researchers across North Carolina. Cryo-EM is increasingly being used to determine the structure of macromolecules at atomic resolution. There is also emerging interest in applying the technology to the ultrastructure analysis of cellular compartments. The MMC was established to meet the growing demand for instrumentation and expertise in this area.

Director Mario Borgnia leads the MMC and is supported by a Core Team of expert personnel from each participating institution. The MMC functions as a space where projects are carried out as scientific collaborations with members of the Core Team. The following types of projects are currently being pursued:

  • Structural biology groups with an established cryo-EM expertise seeking access to imaging equipment or processing pipelines
  • Collaborative projects in which the lead is a structural biology group seeking to be trained and gain expertise in cryo-EM
  • Long term collaborative projects with non-structural groups where the MMC provides expertise by solving structures using cryo-EM
  • Collaborative projects in which there is a need for significant development of new techologies in cryo-EM

Researchers interested in using the MMC should contact Mario Borgnia (919-541-3120; for details regarding the application process. The MMC is open to applications from academic institutions in the Triangle and surrounding regions.

Professor Jim LeBeau Awarded NSF MRI for new $2M TEM

Professor Jim LeBeau, Associate Director of the Analytical Instrumentation Facility (AIF) and Associate Professor in NC State’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering has been awarded funds from NSF’s Major Research Instrumentation (MRI) program to acquire a new TEM. The instrument will be available to users starting in the summer of 2018.

More information about the instrument and its capabilities can be found here.

“Nanotechnology, A Maker’s Course” Launches on Coursera

RTNN faculty, staff, and students have launched a free online course on nano-fabrication and -characterization tools and techniques. Through instruction and lab demonstrations, this course gives students a rich understanding of the capabilities of nanotechnology tools, and how to use this equipment for nano-scale fabrication and characterization. Students will learn the fundamentals through engaging video lectures and exciting demonstrations in RTNN facilities. To learn more and enroll in the course, visit the course homepage. We also invite you to participate in our live Q&A sessions on October 10th! Experts will answer your questions on nano -fabrication and -characterization.

“Small Talk” Live Q&A on National Nanotechnology Day

National Nanotechnology Day will be held on October 9, 2017.  In the spirit of the day, RTNN will host two live nano Q&A sessions online on October 10th. Prior to the event, submit questions here. During the live sessions, email questions to or post questions via Facebook and Twitter (@RTNNsocial). More details regarding these events can be found here.

The National Nanotechnology Coordinating Office (NNCO) is spearheading the celebration, which includes a variety of community-led events and activities to raise awareness of the significance and importance of nanotechnology. Visit the NNCO website to learn about nano themed events occurring across the country.