Plenty of Beauty at the Bottom 2023 Image Contest

In honor of National Nanotechnology Day, the RTNN and NNCI are supporting the second annual “Plenty of Beauty at the Bottom” image contest. Do you have an image that you think could win most stunning, most unique, or most whimsical? If so, learn more and submit your image at the Image Contest Website. The deadline for image submission has been extended to September 1, 2023. Check out last year’s winners here.

Join SMIF for a High Precision Capillary Printing Demonstration!

The Duke University SMIF Facility is hosting a demonstration of the Hummink high precision capillary printing “NAZCA” system on September 27 and 28.   NAZCA allows you to directly print any material (metals, polymers, etc) onto any surface with 0.3um to 50um linewidths without the need for photomasks or etching.  Additional information about this system can be found in the attached overview and data sheet. 


For the demonstration, the NAZCA system will have 1um and 5um pipette sizes and silver ink.   If you are interested in seeing this system in person, and/or trying it out on your own sample, please sign up for one or two 30-minute slots on September 27 or 28.  The demonstration will be in SMIF, Room 1577 of the Fitzpatrick CIEMAS building.   Directions and parking instructions for the SMIF facility can be found at   


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Congratulations to our 2022 Image Contest Winners!

A big thank you to everyone who submitted an image in the 2021 Image Competition. We are excited to announce the winners. These images were submitted as part of the annual  NNCI Image Contest, There’s Plenty of Beauty at the Bottom

Most Stunning

Beautiful Mistake
Aaron Bell and Jin Nakashima, NC State University

This was a negative stain that went wrong (but “oh so right”). We’re guessing that there was something in the buffer that made the uranyl acetate precipitate into these amazing shapes. The specimen itself was unusable for scientific purposes but the images themselves were quite striking.

Most Whimsical

Tree Under Night Sky
Sreekiran Pillai, NC State University

Image captured from the edge of a glass slide coated with icephobic material. The ice grows on the uncoated edge and propagates away from the surface, in a shape of which is identical to pine forests.

Most Unique Capability

Sunlit Nanowires
Samuel Bottum, UNC Chapel-Hill

This image depicts a device fabricated to measure the photovoltaic properties of single multijunction silicon nanowires. This process involves making metal contacts (purple) to silicon nanowires (red) on a marker pattern (grey numbers), which are etched into the substrate. Each device holds ~20 nanowires with two contacts to each wire. The process to make this device involves many CHANL capabilities, including e-beam lithography, e-beam evaporation, DRIE, and SEM.

RTNN User Spotlight: Baiyu Zhang

About Baiyu: My name is Baiyu Zhang and I’m a 2nd-year Ph.D. student from the department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Duke University under advisement from Professor Aaron Franklin.  My research focuses on high-performance field-effect transistors using two-dimensional nanomaterials. Using nanomaterials to replace silicon as transistor channel material has shown a lot of promise, but progress is still limited by challenges related to the fabrication, performance, and reproducibility of devices. My current project studies the influence of different transistor geometries on the ultimate performance of the devices, including an effect know as contact scaling. During my free time, I enjoy reading, traveling, hiking, and cooking. I also like learning different languages and am often thrilled to find out the correlation between languages and cultures.

Testing a finished device using vacuum probe station in Franklin Lab.

What RTNN facilities or instruments are you using in your research, and how do they help you? I spend the majority of my lab time in the Shared Materials Instrumentation Facility (SMiF) at Duke. For fabricating nanoscale devices in my projects, I use electron-beam lithography, electron-beam evaporation, atomic layer deposition, reactive ion etching and so forth. Then I also use various analytical tools such as scanning electron microscopy, atomic force microscopy, and Raman spectroscopy.


What about your research makes you excited about its impact? Transistors are the heart of all computing technology, so advancements in transistors can push forward virtually all areas of science and technology. Having the opportunity to study in such a pivotal field is simply an exciting privilege.

What is your favorite thing about using RTNN facilities? SMiF staff members at Duke are exceptional. Everyone is so kind and responsible. They are always helping us with their knowledge and endless patience. Their help has made our research work in SMiF feasible and efficient.

RTNN Research Experience for Teachers, Research Symposium – July 15

Please join us Friday, July 15th for poster presentations by local teachers participating in RTNN’s Research Experience for Teachers program. These educators worked incredibly hard in research labs this summer and developed lesson plans founded in this research to bring back to their classrooms. We encourage you to attend and help celebrate their work. Feel free to drop in anytime between 10:30 am and noon. Light refreshments will be served.
Friday, July 15th; 10:30 am – 12 pm
Plant Sciences Building, Seminar Room 1322A