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Nov. 11, 2004

 

U-M, state of Michigan gain from $70 million nanotech access grant

ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan College of Engineering is a member of the winning team of universities that landed a $70 million National Science Foundation grant over five years to open access to nanotechnology resources.  

The National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network is a group of 13 nanoscience powerhouse institutions that will receive $14 million annually to support additional staff at their respective nanoscience facilities, said Khalil Najafi, director of U-M's Solid State Electronics Laboratory in the College of Engineering. The NNIN's goal is to open access to nanotechnology resources and equipment to all universities and private companies.

"This is one of the largest activities that NSF has funded," Najafi said. "It's not research but it's an important part of the plan of the NSF for making sure that the nation as a whole has access to the greatest and latest tools and facilities to foster working in nanotech."

Nanotechnology, the ability to manipulate matter at the level of individual atoms, is important because all manufactured products are made of atoms. Our best manufacturing today moves molecules around; nanotech can move atoms—sub-units of those molecules. That's the way nature makes things. It's the difference between sliding a big pile of jigsaw puzzle pieces from one place to another on a table, or the ability to fit together a couple of the puzzle pieces perfectly. That means products can be made easier, faster, cheaper and stronger—in the same ways that they are made in nature.

The NSF projects a $1 trillion annual market by 2015 for nanotechnology alone, and both

U-M and the state of Michigan are aggressively positioning themselves as research and business players in that market. U-M's College of Engineering hopes to raise $35 million for nanoscience as part of its $300 million ongoing capital campaign. The money will double the size of the current Solid State Electronics Laboratory.

The Michigan Economic Development Corp. created the Michigan Small Tech Association in late 2002, and launched a dedicated small tech website at www.michigansmalltech.com. In March, Small Times magazine named Michigan eighth in the country for the development of micro and nanotechnology, up from ninth the year before.

In Michigan, the auto industry will benefit first from nanotechnology, John Bedz, director of Michigan Small Tech Association, said this week. Though it's still too early for accurate economic impact projections, but nanotechnology will impact all industries in Michigan, Bedz said.

"It's not going to create X number of jobs, but job preservation will outpace job creation as competency with these technologies sustains the region as the place where high tech development continues," he said.

The money from the NNIN grant will be used to hire staff to support the additional users in the facilities, and also to fund outreach and education.

Besides Michigan, the NNIN team includes nanoscience powerhouses such as Harvard University, Stanford University, Cornell University, Howard University, University of Washington, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Minnesota, Penn State, University of Texas Austin, University of New Mexico, University of California at Santa Barbara, and North Carolina State University.

For information on NNIN see: http://www.nnin.org/

For information on Najafi, see: http://www.eecs.umich.edu/najafi/

For information on Michigan Small Technology Industry Association, see: http://www.michigansmalltech.com

Contact: Laura Bailey
Phone: (734) 647-7087 or (734) 647-1848
E-mail: baileylm@umich.edu