UW News

Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute


October 4, 2019

New metasurface design can control optical fields in three dimensions

An image showing how the optical element focuses light to a specific point in 3D space above the element's surface.

A team led by scientists at the University of Washington has designed and tested a 3D-printed metamaterial that can manipulate light with nanoscale precision. As they report in a paper published Oct. 4 in the journal Science Advances, their designed optical element focuses light to discrete points in a 3D helical pattern.


August 9, 2019

Scientists can now control thermal profiles at the nanoscale

Scientists have designed and tested an experimental system that uses a near-infrared laser to actively heat two gold nanorod antennae — metal rods designed and built at the nanoscale — to different temperatures. The nanorods are so close together that they are both electromagnetically and thermally coupled. Yet the team measured temperature differences between the rods as high as 20 degrees Celsius and could change which nanorod was cooler and which was warmer, even though the rods were made of the same material.


July 17, 2019

First-ever visualizations of electrical gating effects on electronic structure could lead to longer-lasting devices

Image of a 2D material

Scientists have visualized the electronic structure in a microelectronic device for the first time, opening up opportunities for finely tuned, high-performance electronic devices. Physicists from the University of Washington and the University of Warwick developed a technique to measure the energy and momentum of electrons in operating microelectronic devices made of atomically thin — so-called 2D — materials.


July 9, 2019

UW professors to receive 2019 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers

Six University of Washington professors are to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, according to an announcement July 2 from the White House. The award, also known as the PECASE, is the highest honor given by the U.S. government to early-career scientists and engineers “who show exceptional promise for leadership in science and technology.”


May 20, 2019

Scientists use molecular tethers and chemical ‘light sabers’ to construct platforms for tissue engineering

In a paper published May 20 in the journal Nature Materials, a team of researchers from the University of Washington unveiled a new strategy to keep proteins intact and functional in synthetic biomaterials for tissue engineering. Their approach modifies proteins at a specific point so that they can be chemically tethered to the scaffold using light. Since the tether can also be cut by laser light, this method can create evolving patterns of signal proteins throughout a biomaterial scaffold to grow tissues made up of different types of cells.


May 3, 2019

Researchers take a bottom-up approach to synthesizing microscopic diamonds for bioimaging, quantum computing

Two people operating a laser to heat material and make nanodiamonds.

Researchers at the University of Washington, the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory discovered that they can use extremely high pressure and temperature to introduce other elements into nanodiamonds, making them potentially useful in cell and tissue imaging, as well as quantum computing.


March 21, 2019

UW, Microsoft, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory establish new Northwest Quantum Nexus for a quantum revolution in science, technology

Portraits of two people

The University of Washington, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Microsoft Quantum announced this week that they have joined forces in a new coalition, the Northwest Quantum Nexus, to bring about a revolution in quantum research and technology.


February 25, 2019

It’s all in the twist: Physicists stack 2D materials at angles to trap particles on the nanoscale, creating a unique platform to study quantum optical physics

A depiction of single-layer semiconductors.

In a paper published Feb. 25 in the journal Nature, a University of Washington-led team of physicists report that it has developed a new system to trap individual excitons — bound pairs of electrons and their associated positive charges. Their system could form the basis of a novel experimental platform for monitoring excitons with precision and potentially developing new quantum technologies.


January 16, 2019

Three awards from US Department of Energy to fuel UW solar cell research

Three teams led by University of Washington researchers — Scott Dunham, Hugh Hillhouse and Devin MacKenzie — have received competitive awards totaling more than $2.3 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office for projects that will advance research and development in photovoltaic materials, which are an essential component of solar cells and impact the amount of sunlight that is converted into electricity.


November 13, 2018

Scientists engineer a functional optical lens out of 2D materials

An image of four lenses under a microscope.

In a paper published Oct. 8 in the journal Nano Letters, a team from the University of Washington and the National Tsing Hua University in Taiwan announced that it has constructed functional metalenses that are one-tenth to one-half the thickness of the wavelengths of light that they focus. Their metalenses, which were constructed out of layered 2D materials, were as thin as 190 nanometers — less than 1/100,000ths of an inch thick.


July 25, 2018

And then there was (more) light: Researchers boost performance quality of perovskites

an image of an experimental disk

In a paper published online this spring in the journal Nature Photonics, scientists at the University of Washington report that a prototype semiconductor thin-film has performed even better than today’s best solar cell materials at emitting light.


February 20, 2018

Using a laser to wirelessly charge a smartphone safely across a room

Five people posing

Engineers at the University of Washington have for the first time developed a method to safely charge a smartphone wirelessly using a laser.


February 15, 2018

Five UW scientists awarded Sloan Fellowships for early-career research

Five faculty members at the University of Washington have been awarded early-career fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The new Sloan Fellows, announced Feb. 15, include Maya Cakmak, assistant professor of computer science and engineering; Jiun-Haw Chu, assistant professor of clean energy and physics; Arka Majumdar, assistant professor of electrical engineering and physics; Jessica Werk, assistant professor of astronomy; and Chelsea Wood, assistant professor of aquatic and fishery sciences.


February 12, 2018

Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

A portion of the team’s experimental setup for capturing an image using a metalens. The researchers capture an image of flowers through a metalens (mounted on a microscope slide) and visualize it through a microscope.

In a paper published Feb. 9 in Science Advances, scientists at the University of Washington announced that they have successfully combined two different imaging methods — a type of lens designed for nanoscale interaction with lightwaves, along with robust computational processing — to create full-color images.


January 16, 2018

Researchers program biomaterials with ‘logic gates’ that release therapeutics in response to environmental triggers

four people in a laboratory

Drug treatments can save lives, but sometimes they also carry unintended costs. After all, the same therapeutics that target pathogens and tumors can also harm healthy cells. To reduce this collateral damage, scientists have long sought specificity in drug delivery systems: A package that can encase a therapeutic and will not disgorge its toxic cargo…


November 16, 2017

UW receives top honors from CleanTech Alliance for research and support in energy innovation, industry partnerships

People posing at an award ceremony

The CleanTech Alliance has presented the University of Washington with the organization’s 2017 CleanTech Achievement Award. The honor recognizes the UW’s dedication to research and development of transformative clean energy technologies, facilities, pipelines for startups and industry partnerships. The award was announced on Nov. 8 at the annual meeting and 10th anniversary of the CleanTech…


September 25, 2017

UW to host $15.6M NSF-funded center for innovation, education in materials science

The University of Washington is home to a new national center of excellence for research, education and training in materials science. The Molecular Engineering Materials Center is funded by a $15.6 million, six-year grant from the National Science Foundation as part of its highly competitive Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) program.


September 12, 2016

Graduate education in clean energy due for ‘big data’ overhaul

A sunset

Jim Pfaendtner, University of Washington associate professor of chemical engineering, is leading a new endeavor funded by the National Science Foundation to bring big data to graduate education in clean energy research at the UW.


September 22, 2014

New degree programs aplenty starting with school year

The University of Washington is offering a number of new degree programs with the start of fall quarter 2014.

Through new degree programs starting this fall, students will learn architecture from a liberal arts perspective, complete social sciences degrees online, become expert in the teaching of science, and much more.