New NIST Research Could Bring Down the Cost of Making Nickels

Nickels are ubiquitous in American life, tumbling around in pockets, rolling under car seats, and emerging from the back of dryers to be used over and over for countless purchases. But these resilient and somewhat humble-looking coins are also becoming costly to produce. Nickel, the coin’s own namesake, has become a prized ingredient in many modern products, pushing the market value so much that sometimes making the five-cent coin costs as much as seven cents a pop.

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- A team led by Penn State's Applied Research Laboratory, in collaboration with the Center for Innovative Processing thru Direct Digital Deposition (CIMP-3D), has received a $1.4 million grant by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) to examine the random flaws that arise during the process of powder bed fusion additive manufacturing (PBFAM).

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A biomimetic nanosystem can deliver therapeutic proteins to selectively target cancerous tumors, according to a team of Penn State researchers.

Using a protein toxin called gelonin from a plant found in the Himalayan mountains, the researchers caged the proteins in self-assembled metal-organic framework (MOF) nanoparticles to protect them from the body’s immune system. To enhance the longevity of the drug in the bloodstream and to selectively target the tumor, the team cloaked the MOF in a coating made from cells from the tumor itself.

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Bioengineers may be able to use the unique mechanical properties of diseased cells, such as metastatic cancer cells, to help improve delivery of drug treatments to the targeted cells, according to a team of researchers at Penn State.

Many labs around the world are developing nanoparticle-based, drug delivery systems to selectively target tumors. They rely on a key-and-lock system in which protein keys on the surface of the nanoparticle click into the locks of a highly expressed protein on the surface of the cancer cell. The cell membrane then wraps around the nanoparticle and ingests it. If enough of the nanoparticles and their drug cargo is ingested, the cancer cell will die.

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GAITHERSBURG, Md.—U.S. economic growth and national security depend on the approximately $150 billion invested annually in federal research and development (R&D) funding. To ensure that investment reaps the largest commercial and economic returns possible, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) are co-leading the Lab-to-Market Cross Agency Priority goal, part of the recently released President’s Management Agenda (link is external). To accelerate these efforts, NIST has launched an initiative to improve federal technology transfer.

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By: Scott Glancy

For this past Christmas my wife, Rebecca, gave me a T-shirt that says "Quantum mechanics: The dreams stuff is made of." This is an allusion to the book The Dreams That Stuff Is Made Of: The Most Astounding Papers of Quantum Physics—and How They Shook the Scientific World, edited by the late Stephen Hawking. For some time, I hesitated to wear the T-shirt because I found its message to be problematic. My feelings toward this very thoughtful gift have to do with NIST’s experiments in quantum foundations, the world’s most random numbers, and why I happily wear the T-shirt now.

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