Wake Forest University

Wake Forest University
Type Disciplines
Private University Chemistry Engineering Mathematics Physics Nanomedicine Nanoparticles Nanostructures
Address Postal Code
1834 Wake Forest Road 27106
City State / Province
Winston-Salem NC
E-mail Country
Web Phone
link (336) 758-5255

Wake Forest University's School of Medicine's (North Carolina) Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials, which was established in 1999 with a grant from The U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research. The Center's nanotech research projects include: optical materials, ways fight antibiotic resistant organisms (i.e. cancer) and cancer therapeutics.

The Center is also funded by EPA to study remediation of airborne particulates using nanocoatings. The Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials has three divisions.

1. Alternative Energy Related Technologies
  •  Organic technologies based on electroactive nanocomposites: This program is sponsored by the U.S. Air Force and explores the fundamental nature of charge transfer between conjugated polymers and nanophase dispersants in ordered composites. By exploiting charge transfer phenomena at different length scales, novel functionalities can be engineered into conjugated polymers systems that were unobtainable previously. This leads naturally to the integration of these meso-architectures into device structures that include: Organic photovoltaics and sensors, organic light emitting diodes and bright light sources, organically based optical circuit elements (memory and switches), and organic thin film transistors. To date, this program has produced approximately 40 publications and four patent disclosures.
  • Organic Photovoltaics:  This program has recently produced thin film plastic photovoltaics that exceed 6% external conversion efficiencies. We continue to push the state of the art in these technologies by utilizing novel nanocomposite "structuring" or "meso-architectures" to improve charge balance and charge separation.
  • Solid State Lighting:  Upwards of 30% of electricity generated in the U.S. goes directly into lighting. Nanotech is actively developing inexpensive, robust, flexible and high performance lighting systems for home, office and transportation sector use. These systems are based on phosphorescence and can function even when punctured or damaged.
  • Ultra-high performance photovoltaics (Fiber-Cell):  This program utilizes the novel device architecture known as a "fiber-cell' to investigate routes to exceeding the highest known efficiencies (currently around 35%).
2. Nano-Medicine
In cooperation with researchers at the Wake Forest University Comprehensive Cancer Center, Nanotech is applying the principles of nanosciences and nanoengineering to address the challenges of diagnosis and intervention in human disease.

Current nanomedicine projects include:
  • Fullerene-based approaches to targeted reporting and drug delivery
  • Targeted heat delivery methods
  • Nanocontrast agents
  • Antibiotic resistance mechanisms and remediation
  • Pressure sensors for in vivo applications
  • Approaches to "Smart" Tissue Scaffolding
  • Bio-printing technologies
  • Toxicity

3. Scaled Metamaterials
Metamaterials are a class of "assembled" materials in which the "averaged" properties of the assembly are derived from a complex synergism of their sub-units or constituents.

Nanotech has programs that have produced two such materials.
  • The first class of metamaterials under study at Nanotech is photonic bandgap crystals. In this example "assemblies" of silica spheres are made. The properties of an inhomogeneous, well separated set of such spheres are very different from those of the crystal.
  • The second class of materials under study is negative index materials. This program is part of a Department of Defense Multidisciplinary University Research Initiative program which teams Wake Forest, Kent State, Michigan, and NYU.


The Center for Nanotechnology and Molecular Materials holds several key pieces of intellectual property in the field of alternative energy technologies. For licensing opportunites, please contact the Office of Technology Asset Management (OTAM) at Wake Forest University Health Sciences.

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