National Science Foundation awards UT $4.5 million for nanotechnology experimentation

Catherine Marfin

The National Science Foundation selected UT as one of 16 sites across the nation that will receive part of an $81 million grant used to advance the field of nanoscience and technology.

Over the course of five years, UT will receive $4.5 million to expand their nanofabrication facility by adding faculty members and expanding their outreach programs. The goal of the program, according to project director Lawrence Goldberg, is to provide open user facilities for the community which will be used to develop nanotechnology.

“These grants will not be used for research by the institutions receiving them, but instead will be used to open nanotechnology capabilities to the country,” Goldberg said. “The program’s geographic distribution will enable universities and businesses to come up with new technologies and startup companies.”

Principal investigator Sanjay Banerjee has partnered with Keith Stevenson, Arumugam Manthiram and S.V. Sreenivasan, who will all serve as co-investigators for the program. Each of the 16 schools participating in the Foundation’s program will have their own unique area of study. UT’s research will include nanoscience for electronics, medicine, green energy and nanomanufacturing.

“We’re working on developing futuristic nanotechnology in ways that will make it more available to users in the community,” Sreenivasan said. “These new futuristic capabilities will allow users to create innovative and novel ideas they would not otherwise have the capability to pursue.”

Students, faculty and the surrounding community will all have access to the expanded facility. Companies will be able to send their scientists and engineers to the facility for research, experimentation and prototype development. The facility will also be open to students from universities in the surrounding area through research and internship opportunities that will be initiated over the course of the five years.

“This provides cutting-edge research tools to UT researchers as well as external ones from industry and academia,” Banerjee said. “UT has invested hundreds of millions of dollars over the years in nanotechnology to build labs and acquire tools to create a leading edge facility in the U.S..”

Goldberg said UT’s selection for the program will be important for advancing the future of nanotechnology education.

“UT’s program has a great emphasis on outreach and education,” Goldberg said. “The facility is providing important technological capabilities that will engage other universities and companies across the nation.”