$16M Nanomanufacturing Research Centre for Massachusetts Uni

 
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 26, 2006 10:11 am    Post subject: $16M Nanomanufacturing Research Centre for Massachusetts Uni Reply with quote

[b]University of Massachusetts Announces Plans to Build a $16 Million Research Facility for Nanomanufacturing[/b]

The University of Massachusetts Amherst will host one of the nation’s elite nanotechnology centers, the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced today, awarding $16 million to establish the Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing. Combined with state matching funds, the investment will accelerate research and production of ultra-tiny devices, creating new manufacturing opportunities and stimulating economic development. The announcement was made at a State House news conference.

“Nanotechnology is truly our next great frontier in science and engineering,” said Michael Reischman, deputy assistant director for engineering at the NSF. “By tailoring molecules and even manipulating individual atoms, researchers now have the ability to design materials, medicines, electronics and machines at the tiniest, most fundamental level. This new center will address one of our greatest challenges—moving these innovations more quickly from the laboratory to manufactured components and devices.”

“Nanotechnology is an important part of our state’s economic future, and this center will show graduates and businesses that we are committed to this promising new field,” said Gov. Mitt Romney, noting that the John Adams Innovation Institute is contributing $2 million in state matching funds to connect the center’s research with Massachusetts companies. The governor said he is filing legislation to secure an additional $5 million in matching funds.

The UMass Amherst project will be one of only 16 Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers in the nation. More than 50 faculty work in nanotechnology, and including funding announced today they have secured $54 million in research money from government and industry since 1997. The center is headed by James Watkins, professor of polymer science and engineering, and Mark Tuominen, professor of physics. They will focus on nanoscale manufacturing that foresees many innovations—from memory chips capable of storing billions of bytes to tiny drug-delivery services that carry medicines into sickly cells.

“For years, we’ve known that UMass Amherst can compete with anyone when it comes to cutting-edge research, and this announcement removes any doubt,” said U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy. “This enormous accomplishment puts UMass Amherst on a national stage in one of the most transformative fields of 21st century research and development, and will strengthen our state’s competitive edge as a leader in innovation and invention. The center will draw investment and high-tech jobs for years to come.”

UMass President Jack M. Wilson said, “This center builds on an already impressive body of nanoscale research at the Amherst campus, and it directly supports the university’s role as a vital contributor to the state’s economic development. Today’s designation by the National Science Foundation clearly ranks UMass Amherst among the top American universities in nanotechnology research.”

Fundamental to the success of the Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing (CHM) will be partners in industry, academia, and government and non-profit agencies. Collaborators include TIAX LLC, Lucent Technologies and IBM Corp. TIAX, a technology development firm in Cambridge, Mass., will play a critical role in transforming the innovations that emerge from CHM into market-ready products and technologies. TIAX was chosen for its track record in collaboratively bringing a wide range of technological breakthroughs to market by applying a combination of hands-on R&D and multi-disciplinary teamwork.

Kenan Sahin, CEO and founder of TIAX, observed, “This project is essential because it will address the issue of getting nanotechnology into the marketplace. TIAX is honored to be part of this center because we have significant experience in implementing innovation. Unquestionably, the solutions to many current problems, the treatments for illnesses, and the pathways for new businesses have already been invented, but they can’t get to the next critical step for commercialization.”

Researcher Watkins noted that to create a useful product researchers must connect materials of many sizes, from tiny scale to human scale, for instance, linking a nanostorage device to a computer keyboard. To succeed, researchers must work at multiple levels, or hierarchies. The challenge is how to create nano-based devices that can be manufactured reliably and inexpensively, which plays to the strengths of UMass Amherst. “Many of our approaches are inherently manufacturable,” Watkins said. “While we are developing fundamentally new approaches to creating devices, we are focused on those techniques that can be inserted directly into the manufacturing processes that industry already uses, so it will be relatively easy to move from basic research to industrial application.”

In response to a national need, UMass Amherst will also initiate a national nanomanufacturing network that will connect nanoscience and manufacturing communities across the country, be they government, academic or industry labs. This network will serve as a reference point for essential nanomanufacturing information—with public databases, forums on technology transfer, a digital library clearinghouse and resources on manufacturing and implementation.

In addition, CHM will have extensive outreach and education on all levels. Graduate and undergraduate students working within the center will be at the forefront of a dynamic field of research and will be exposed to market analysis and commercialization efforts. Summer workshops in teachable nanoscience will be offered for middle and high school teachers, and engineering technology courses will be enhanced through a partnership with Springfield Technical Community College.

[b]The Focus: Nanolectronics, Bionanotechnology, Nanomaterials and Processing[/b]

At the scale of nanometers—one billionth of a meter—materials can behave differently than they do at a more ordinary size, and scientists are learning to exploit the properties that emerge when things get super-tiny. Magnets, for example, can be built of ultra-thin layers of material, which if confined closely enough—within a few nanometers—have much stronger magnetism per amount of material than today’s magnets. Precise manipulation of the magnetic, chemical and physical properties that are present on the nanoscale should allow scientists to engineer products that are lighter, stronger, faster and cleaner than their conventionally built counterparts.

CHM will concentrate on three areas of research: nanoelectronics, bionanotechnology, and nanomaterials and processing, the latter group providing the other two groups with the building blocks and tools necessary for engineering nanodevices.

The nanoelectronics group will focus on electronic, magnetic and photonic devices, such as nano-engineered insulating materials for ultra-tiny circuit wires that promise faster, smaller computer chips to reduce computing costs for businesses and consumers. Ultra-dense data storage media will be developed using hierarchical nanofabrication methods to meet the future needs of an information-based society. Smart sensors, built to detect minute quantities of a substance, eventually could serve as sentries, sniffing out toxins released into a public space. Solar cells that are more efficient, less fragile and less expensive than silicon will reduce the cost of clean energy.

The bionanotechnology group will create a range of materials for biomedical applications. Investigations include nanoparticles designed to target tumors that could be sent into the body to seek and destroy cancerous cells. Stiff, self-organizing gels that mimic cartilage will be developed as potential replacements for worn-out knee joints or hips. These same gels may eventually serve as scaffolding for damaged or diseased organs.

[b]Network of Partners [/b]

CHM will be the hub of a broad network of partners from academia, industry, and government and non-profit agencies.

Industry partners include Evolved Nanomaterials Sciences, Forge Partners LLC, IBM Corp., Lucent Technologies, Molecular Imprints Inc., Novellus Systems, Seagate Technologies, SCMaterials Inc. and TIAX LLC. Academic partners include the Interuniversity MicroElectronics Center (Belgium), Mount Holyoke College, Springfield Technical Community College, Toyohashi University of Technology (Japan), and University of Puerto Rico-R?o Piedras. Other partners include ENVIRON International, Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council, Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Society of Manufacturing Engineers.

Source: University of Massachusetts.

URL: [url]http://www.umass.edu/[/url]

This story was posted on 25 April 2006.
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