The National Science Foundation has awarded a $405,000 grant to a University of New Orleans chemistry professor to support research on fabricating microscopic structures.

John Wiley began his work in 2011.

The tiny chemical structures are about one ten-thousandth the size of a human hair. They consist of chains of particles surrounded by a ceramic-like sheet.

Wiley says the research could lead to advances in optical, electronic or medical devices and in using sunlight to convert water to hydrogen gas, a clean fuel source.

The grant is spread over a three-year period.