Overlay of the two images (LSPR, transmitted light) with a map of secreted antibody concentrations as generated by Finite Element  Analyses. The colored concentration scale has units of pM and the distance scale bar is 10 μm Imaging Protein Secretions from Single Cells in Real Time

We have developed a label-free technique based upon nanoplasmonic imaging which enables the measurement of individual cell secretions with time resolutions below one second and spatial resolutions below 10 µm. This is accomplished by lithographically patterning gold plasmonic nanostructures into arrays atop standard glass coverslips. The nanostructures are functionalized for biomolecular detection using standard thiol chemistries and the detection of analyte binding is imaged by a CCD camera. As a result, the technique integrates seamlessly on to commercially available wide-field and confocal microscopes, allowing real-time transmitted light and fluorescence imaging of the cells, as well as the plasmonic imaging of secreted proteins. We anticipate this technique will be broadly applicable to the real-time characterization of both paracrine and autocrine signaling pathways with applications in immunology, developmental biology, wound healing and numerous diseases such as cancer.

Metrology Workbench: 3D Measurement and Visualization of Displacement and Strain Fields

NRL has developed a metrology workbench for the measurement and visualization of displacement and strain fields in three dimensions. The NRL workbench uses two or more cameras to image a specimen and includes custom software the implements the 3D Meshless Random Grid method. A random pattern of optically distinct dots is applied on the specimen surface. This procedure greatly reduces specimen preparation time compared to other optical methods.

Metallized Nanotextured Thin Films for Sensing and Catalyst Applications

NRL and Pennsylvania State University have developed a novel method for the metallization of nanotextured polymeric films that have sensing and catalyst applications. The method takes advantage of nanotextured polymer thin films, which are ideal metallization templates. The metallized nanotextured thin films have uses in biomedical implantation, metal–dielectric composites, energy storage, and biosensing platforms depending on the type of metal (i.e. gold, cobalt, nickel, etc.).

Nanofilm with Directional Wetting and Adhesion Properties

NRL and Pennsylvania State University have developed a nanofilm comprised of structured poly-(p-xylyene) (PPX) with directional wetting, adhesion, and droplet transport properties. The direction and extent of adhesion and wetability is adjusted through the formation of the PPX nanorods, which are fabricated with commercially available vapor deposition equipment. The result is a pattern of columns oriented at a non-perpendicular angle and a nanoscale surface roughness with unidirectional wetting properties.

Multi-Ply Heterogeneous Armor

NRL has developed impact armor with unparalleled performance for its weight. The armor consists of alternating layers of an elastic polymer and a harder material such as aluminum, ceramic, or an alternative polymer. Performance is enhanced with as few as six alternating layers. The layers can be attached to a thicker front plate or backing for additional protection. The armor affords protection against a range of threats, including armor piercing munitions and explosion fragments.

Transparent Spinel Ceramic

NRL has developed a suite of processes to create transparent spinel (MgAl2O4) ceramic, which is superior to the glass, sapphire, and other materials traditionally used for applications such as high-energy laser windows and lightweight armor. Commonly-used vacuum hot presses are utilized to sinter spinel powder into transparent solid materials. The NRL method includes a novel spray-coating process to uniformly coat the spinel powder particles with a sintering aid.

Nanowire-Based, Highly Efficient and Versatile Plasmonic Material for Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy

Raman spectroscopy is often used for chemical fingerprinting. However, the Raman process is very inefficient and difficult to use for trace detection. Rough metal surfaces (usually Ag or Au) are used to increase the Raman signal of trace levels of molecules adsorbed on these surfaces. This SERS enhancement of molecules on the roughened metal surface is caused by local electromagnetic fields that are created by the laser excitation of surface plasmons at the metal surface. Enhancements of up to 8 orders of magnitude have been observed. NRL investigators have completed significant work using dielectric core/metal nanowire composites and nanoshell and NW arrays.

Broad-Spectrum Biocide and Antiviral Coating

NRL has developed a series of biocides that, when formulated with the proper resin systems, produce coatings and polymers that kill a variety of bacteria, molds and viruses on contact. The advantages of the NRL biocide stems from the novel design of the molecule, with one end being hydrophobic and the other hydrophilic. This structure causes the biocide to preferentially migrate to the surface, where it is most effective, while the resin or coating is still liquid. The structure also greatly reduces removal by leaching once dried or cured.

Lase and Place

NRL has developed a laser-based device-transfer process for placing/embedding on any surface millimeter- to micrometer-size structures, such as semiconductor bare die, surface-mount and optoelectronic devices, sensors, actuators, and microelectro-mechanical systems (MEMS). The technique is less likely to cause damage to fragile components compared to the mechanical “pick and place” process and has been demonstrated capable of transferring 10-µm thick bare die, which is impossible to achieve with the current mechanical process.

New Processable Cyanate Ester Resins

Novel cyanate ester (CE) resins have been discovered with enhanced processability and increased toughness. The synthesis uses high-yield reactions to produce resins of various compositions and properties. Most notable is the formation of liquid CE resins while still maintaining high-thermal stability of the thermoset. The new CE resins have relatively low-curing temperatures and high-thermal stability, giving them a distinct advantage over other resin systems.

Inorganic-Organic Hybrid Polymers for High Temperature Applications

NRL has developed a new class of polymeric materials with remarkable resistance to heat, dielectric breakdown, and oxidation at high temperatures. For applications that demand high temperature resistance coupled with greater strength, these polymers can be easily transformed into ceramics with extreme thermal and oxidative stability. NRL's new polymeric materials, which are made from resins derived from carboranes and either vinyl or acetylene siloxanes, can resist temperatures up to 510°C (950°F) in air, and are highly resistant to chemical attack. They can be molded, injected, or coated, and are also highly adhesive.

Inexpensive Synthesis of Carbon Nanotubes in Solid Domain

Our novel method of synthesizing carbon nanotube (CNT) and metal nanoparticle compositions involves melt processable organometallic compounds and polymers heat treated to elevated temperatures under atmospheric pressure. Formation of single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNTs) and metal nanoparticles occurs at the atomic and molecular levels in the solid carbonaceous domain during the carbonization process.

Pulsed Laser Deposition of Ceramic Films

Thin film electronic ceramics will play a prominent role in the next generation of electronic devices. At NRL, this technique has been applied to a broad spectrum of ceramic systems to meet specific device application needs. Sophisticated analysis techniques are employed to characterize film phase, structure, morphology (X-ray diffraction, Rutherford backscattering, SEM, and TEM), and film-specific properties (resistance, polarization, magnetization, and optic).

Extremity Armor

Scientists and engineers at NRL, Army Research Laboratory, FS Technologies, and Oklahoma State University have developed a protective equipment system for extremities, designed to reduce the likelihood of severe injury to arms and legs. The configuration of protection zones is based on known injury patterns and anatomical vulnerability. These economical protective suits were designed to optimize flexibility, mobility, and comfort. This equipment augments standard body armor and provides National Institute of Justice (NIJ) Level II protection against blast fragments and small arms fire.

Self-Decontaminating Filters, Clothing, and Disposable Wipes

NRL has developed a new self-decontaminating coating for use in filters, clothing, and disposable wipes that is capable of actively destroying pesticides, chemical agents, and certain bacteria on contact. The coating comprises a thin, layered, composite film containing enzymes, which actively degrade chemical toxins, and a polyelectrolyte binder. It is readily applied to substrates such as beads, fabrics, or paper by inexpensive methods such as dip coating, spin coating or spraying.

Rapid-Cure Coatings System

NRL has developed a durable, rapid cure coatings system that is designed for harsh environments. Developed for the maritime industry, it is suitable for the interior and exterior of shipboard structures and tanks as well as other applications where performance counts. The rapid cure of this coating system offers a near instant “walk-on time” and rapid return to service, typically within 30 to 45 minutes, with a single coat capability. This will greatly reduce the coatings application process time and cost during new construction and overhaul.

Nanochannel Glass Materials

Nanochannel glass materials are complex glass structures containing large numbers of parallel hollow channels. In its simplest form, the hollow channels are arranged in geometric arrays with packing densities as great as 1011 channels/cm2. Channel dimensions are controllable from microns to tens of nanometers, while retaining excellent channel uniformity. Exact replicas of the channel glass can be made from a variety of materials. This is a low cost method for creating identical structures with nanoscale features in large numbers.

Low Dielectric Constant Polymers

NRL has developed a polymer comprising fluoromethylene segments with triazine crosslinks that yield the desirable electrical and physical properties of PTFE (i.e., Teflon ®) with the facile processing and adhesion characteristics of a thermoset resin.

Laser Direct Writing Process for Microfabrication

The use of lithographic techniques for microfabrication of electronic and mechanical structures at the submillimeter level requires expensive facilities, extreme processing conditions, and timescales of the order of weeks to go from design to completed device. NRL has developed a novel laser-based direct-write approach for non-lithographic digital microfabrication of microelectronics and other devices that is simple, fast, economical and highly versatile.

Flame-Resistant, High-Temperature Phthalonitrile Composites

A major technological opportunity lies in the development of phthalonitrile-based composite systems for aerospace, marine, automobile, geothermal, electronic device, and oil rig platform applications. Phthalonitrile-based composites are easy to process from room temperature indefinitely stable prepreg or by resin transfer molding, exhibit high thermal and oxidative stability approaching 500°C (930°F) in air, have low-equilibrium moisture/water absorption, retain structural integrity in a flame environment, and show fire tolerance that exceeds Navy specifications for composite ship applications.

Controlled Release Antifouling Paint Additive

NRL has developed microtubules with a fixed diameter of 0.5 micron and a length varying from 10 to 150 microns have proven effective for encapsulation of antifouling agents (biocides) that can be controllably released after the microtubules are incorporated into antifouling coatings.

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