Institute of Technology launches new nanotechnology initiative

A new Center for Nanostructured Applications in the University's Institute of Technology will bring together researchers from across the University to focus on the emerging applications of nanotechnology to create devices and systems for energy, biomedicine and information processing. Researchers will use existing facilities and develop new relationships with industry. The center was initiated by Institute of Technology Dean Steven Crouch who secured funding from the University as part of the University's strategic positioning efforts to boost research.

Steve Campbell, a professor of electrical and computer engineering who also serves as director of the University's Nanofabrication Center, has been selected by Dean Crouch as the director of the new center. Campbell has agreed to a two-year term as the center's first director.

"We are expecting the Center for Nanostructured Applications to increase the local, national and international profile of the University in the important area of nanotechnology," Dean Crouch said. "By bringing together researchers from medicine, biology, engineering, and the physical sciences to focus on the applications of nanotechnology we also intend to help University researchers become more competitive for federal research funding in nanotechnology."

The center is focusing its research in the area of "active nanostructures." Active nanostructures include applications of nanotechnology in areas as diverse as energy conservation and production, large-area displays and lighting, stain-repellant fabrics, electronic noses and other novel sensors, cancer therapy, and medical imaging. Up to $200,000 per year of internal support will be granted to two or three research teams. Researchers are expected to use the funds to help develop proposals for obtaining external support for their work.

The University has an international reputation in the field of nanostructured materials and is part of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NINN), a partnership of 13 user facilities nationwide providing nanotechnology research sponsored by the National Science Foundation. The University of Minnesota was also recently ranked in the top 10 among U.S. universities in nanotechnology industrial outreach and research by the nanotechnology trade publication Small Times.

In addition to research, the new Center for Nanostructured Applications will sponsor workshops, seminars, and conferences that will provide networking opportunities and bring top nano applications researchers to Minnesota.

Nanotechnology is the design, control, and manufacture of structures at the sub-100 nanometer scale. One nanometer is one-millionth of a millimeter. For comparison, a single human hair is about 80,000 nanometers wide.