Educating small tech’s revolutionaries

Institutions that teach skills and nurture innovation: A guide for students, researchers, inventors, and CEOs


Looking for an education or for a research partner? How about a commercialization cohort? Or perhaps employees for your growing small-tech company?

The micro-nano revolution needs revolutionaries. How will you fit into the picture-or find the people who will help you carry out your mission? To understand what might be the best options for you, you need information about higher-ed institutions focused on micro- and nanotechnology. You came to the right place.

Here is Small Times’ third-annual rankings report, based on the results of a survey conducted with dozens of universities and colleges. Our questionnaire included 26 questions, several of them multi-part, designed to reveal the institutions’ capabilities-so that you can find what you’re looking for. We analyzed the entries to determine relative strength in four key areas: research, education, facilities, and technology commercialization.

To provide a different perspective from what our analysis shows, the questionnaire asked respondents to rank peer institutions. This “academy-awards” type of approach reveals average assessment among academe and also enables us to discuss universities that did not respond-in detail or at all-to our call for entries.

The results of these ranking exercises are summarized in the sidebar, “Top 10, by category,” on p. 30.

The rest of our report is separated into three sections. Beginning on p. 19 we present summary descriptions of the universities that ranked among the top 10 in any category of either our analysis or the peer rankings.

On p. 28 we present information on a handful of community and technical colleges active in micro- and nanotechnologies.

On p. 32 you will find a listing of all the universities that responded to our survey. Here we briefly describe the institution and summarize its centers focused on micro- and nanotechnology research.

We hope the listings and descriptions that follow help you in selecting a university or college for your particular needs.

The University at Albany-SUNY

The University at Albany-SUNY (UAlbany) maintains its lead position in Small Times’ study, especially in terms of education, facilities, and commercialization. UAlbany is proud to say that its College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) is “the first college in the world that is dedicated to the conception and dissemination of nanoscale know-how.” CNSE oversees and coordinates all of UAlbany’s work in both nano- and microtechnolgies: educational, research and development, technology deployment, and economic outreach.

Launched three years ago, CSNE is widely recognized as a global resource for research, development, workforce education, and economic outreach in nanotechnology and its applications.

CNSE is organized to address four fundamental disciplines-nanoscience, nanoengineering, nanobioscience, and nano-economics-and has arranged these “constellations” as catalysts to encourage cross-disciplinary education and research. Each offers its own doctoral and Masters’ programs. In fact, UAlbany offers more micro- and nano-specific degrees than any other university: six in total, with small-tech minor/emphasis allowed in additional M.S. and Ph.D. degrees. The university offers 100 nano- and micro-focused courses.

CNSE integrates the educational, research, and outreach activities of students and faculty with those of more than 200 international corporate partners. The center has also developed a number of global educational and research partnerships.

UAlbany was awarded more nanotechnology patents (98) than any other respondent in the Small Times’ survey.

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Cornell University

Cornell encourages interdisciplinary academic programs and research. Its innovations include its nanofabrication facility and discovery in the field of nanobiotechnology. The university’s mission is to generate new knowledge about micro- and nanoscience and then to transfer that knowledge for the public good.

Among Cornell’s strengths are the following:

  • Molecular transistors and single molecule devices, micro- and nanoscale resonators, growth of complex materials, encapsulated organic dyes for fluorescence applications, and organic electronics;
  • High-resolution surface patterning of biological compounds, microfluidics, engineered DNA-probe constructs, ordered polymer nanofibers, and single molecule detection, observation, and manipulation techniques;
  • Nanomagnetism, nanoelectronics, and nanophotonics, e-beam lithography, and MEMS; and
  • Nanopatterning, (e-beam lithography), pattern transfer (dry etching), nanobiotechnology, and nanofabrication process integration.

Cornell’s micro- and nanoscience programs have strong links to biological and agricultural researchers and have a growing engagement with Weill Cornell Medical College.

Cornell does not offer micro- or nano-specific degrees, nor does it offer engineering or science degrees with a minor in micro- and/or nanotechnology. However, B.S./M.S./Ph.D. students in a number of departments have sufficient offerings to constitute an emphasis in micro- or nanotechnology-and in our survey, Cornell ranked highest among all respondents with regard to undergraduates focusing on MEMS and nano, both separately and together.

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University of Michigan

The University of Michigan’s research spans the physics underlying the creation and use of nanostructures, materials, and processes to their practical implementation in both micro- and macroscopic devices and systems. Nearly 100 faculty and more than 700 undergraduate and graduate students are engaged in this research, which is funded with more than $550 million.

Multi-disciplinary research centers devoted to small tech include the Engineering Research Center for Wireless Integrated Microsystems (WIMS ERC), which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). The WIMS ERC develops microsystems that merge micropower integrated circuits, wireless interfaces, advanced wafer-level packaging, and integrated sensors and actuators.

The university’s Solid-State Electronics Laboratory (SSEL) enables work in microelectronics, micromechanics, optoelectronics, and micro- and nanotechnologies based on silicon, compound semiconductor, and organic materials. It operates the Michigan Nanofabrication Facility (MNF), a nanofabrication user facility that consists of 6,500 sq. ft. of class 100/10 cleanroom space. The MNF has been part of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) since its creation in 2004.

All these activities are supported by university-wide facilities for crystallography, mass spectroscopy, electron microscopy, and large-scale computations. The University of Michigan offers three small-tech-specific graduate degrees: Ph.D. in Solid-State Electronics, Ph.D. in Circuits and Microsystems, and M.Eng. in Integrated Microsystems.

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) incorporates more than 16 major centers and laboratories and covers 10 colleges and schools as well as 30 departments. The Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) is the University’s premier center for nanotechnology research, education, and outreach activities. CNST says its strength comes from involving more than 150 faculty members and more than $200 million in micro/nanotechnology resources.

Last year, the Micro and Nanotechnology Laboratory (MNTL), a user facility that is one of the nation’s largest and most-sophisticated university-based centers of its kind, underwent an $18 million expansion. UIUC counts among its specialties bioimaging, bionanotechnology, computational nanotechnology, MEMS/NEMS, and a host of other nano-focused disciplines.

UIUC’s micro/nano research has spawned a number of companies in the past, including NanoInk in 2005, and already in fiscal year 2007, two small-tech companies have formed. Each year UIUC hosts events, including the CNST Annual Nanotechnology Workshops (since 2003) involving academia, industry, policy makers, and the general public.

In our survey, UIUC reported the greatest number of professors and the greatest number of grad students doing research in both MEMS and nanotechnology-separately and combined.

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Penn State University

Penn State University is a leader in micro/MEMS/nanotechnology education and research. In 1993, Penn State opened the Nanofabrication Facility (NanoFab), a part of the National Nanofabrication Infrastructure Network. Its Center for Nanotechnology Education and Utilization offers one of the nation’s leading nanotechnology workforce development programs.

Many consider Penn State to be first in the country for materials research and second in industrial support of research. The university’s strengths are embodied in collaborative materials research covering a broad range of nanomaterials, and employing expertise from disciplines spanning AgBio through Engineering to basic Materials Chemistry and Condensed Matter Physics. An interdisciplinary graduate degree program in materials brings students and faculty together across these disciplines.

Both local and international industrial collaborations grow out of Penn State’s research. All of the university’s centers and facilities possess a mix of faculty, research associates, undergraduate and graduate students, and industrial partners.

In our survey, Penn State placed second in number of both faculty and graduate students doing research in micro/MEMS technologies. The school also placed second overall in grad students focused on small-tech research-both micro and nano.

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Arizona State University

Arizona State’s specialties include nanofabrication, thin film transistors and OLEDs, and silicon nanostructures. To ASU, “the future lies in bringing together organic and biological molecules”-and so the university brings together the experts who study and make them.

The key efforts toward this vision are the Biodesign Institute and the Arizona Institute for Nano-Electronics (AINE): Traditional tools in nanoelectronics and nanoscale analysis combine with expertise in surface, bioconjugate, and organic chemistry. The Biodesign Institute joins these strengths with expertise in bioelectronics, biosensors, and nano-medicine; it incorporates the Center for Applied NanoBioscience, a facility for nanomanufacturing and prototyping.

AINE is a coordinated network of research centers focused on nanoelectronics, including nanophotonics, molecular electronics, nanoionics, and computational nanoscience. AINE’s goal is to strongly impact future technology areas related to ultra-low power/ultra-high speed electronics, and hybrid biomolecular electronics at the interface between the biological and electronics worlds.

In our survey, ASU reported the greatest number of MEMS patents (30) awarded in 2006 to any university.

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University of Washington

The research enterprise of the University of Washington (UW) includes top-ranked interdisciplinary programs that span engineering and the physical and biomedical sciences. Over the past 10 years, UW built on these strengths and positioned itself as a leader in micro- and nano research, education, and technology transfer.

In 2001, the UW launched its first Ph.D. program in nanotechnology. Successful completion of the program leads to a dual Ph.D. degree in nanotechnology and a traditional science, engineering, or medicine discipline. Thirty-three students have earned such a Ph.D. since 2001, and 48 are currently enrolled. Established through a $2.7 million NSF award, the program was renewed by the NSF and NIH-NCI at the level of $3.2 million for the 2005-to-2010 period.

Including these doctoral students, more than 600 graduate students, 350 undergrads, and 100 faculty members are engaged in micro/nano research at the UW; their projects involve researchers from bioengineering, biochemistry, physiology, and biophysics; molecular and cellular biology; engineering; chemistry; oceanography; medicine; and more.

Many of the UW’s nanoscale research and educational programs are coordinated through its Center for Nanotechnology (CNT). CNT has actively partnered with North Seattle Community College (NSCC) to develop a new two-year associate degree in nanotechnology.

The university’s NanoTech User Facility (NTUF) was established in 1998; in 2004, it became one of 13 nodes in the U.S. National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network.

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North Carolina State University

To coordinate North Carolina State University’s (NCSU) expanding efforts in micro- and nanotechnology, the school is developing a Nanotechnology Institute that will foster interactions among university researchers and enhance nanotechnology education and outreach.

NCSU’s micro- and nanotechnology efforts made impressive advancements during fiscal year 2006. Researchers received eight micro- and 26 nanotechnology patents, as well as 81 intellectual property licenses.

The university is notable for its outreach to industry; NCSU facilities were shared with more than 200 companies last year.

NCSU is actively developing academic programs related to nanotechnology. The Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering Department offers a nanotechnology option for B.S. students. Approximately 700 graduate and undergraduate students learn about the subject through courses in various fields: physics, chemistry, engineering, agriculture, education, medicine, and business. For instance, NCSU’s College of Engineering (COE) actively collaborates with the College of Textile’s Nonwovens Cooperative Research Center to address emerging issues in nano fibers and related textile-based technology. And COE researchers in nanomaterials are collaborating with researchers at the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and College of Veterinary Medicine to address issues in nanomaterials toxicology.

At the College of Education, researchers are producing nanoscience instructional materials for K-12 teachers and students.

NCSU is a participant in the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network.

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University of Maryland

The University of Maryland’s physics and materials community has achieved recognition by exploiting scanning surface nanoprobes for science and developing derivatives of the scanning tunneling microscope (and commercializing some). The university’s Materials Research and Engineering Center (MRSEC) and Center for Superconductivity Research Center have partnered to develop expertise in complex nanomaterial systems. Combinatorial approaches to nanomaterials engineering and discovery have become a strength.

Having made a strategic investment in MEMS research, Maryland now has a strong position in the micro arena. More recently the university assembled a team of leaders in various approaches to nanoparticle synthesis, which supports work in intelligent drug delivery, nanocatalysts, nanosystems assembly, and organics-based electronics. These areas enable the school to add biotech strength in partnership with other institutions.

Across the board Maryland is emphasizing the key issues of nanomanufacturing, in concert with NIST and including its new Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST).

The University of Maryland is located near the largest assortment of federal laboratories in the country, and most faculty members collaborate with one or more. The university boasts major new facilities and seeks to recruit 25 new nanotechnology faculty over the next few years.

In Small Times’ survey, the University of Maryland ranked second only to Cornell in terms of undergraduates focused on MEMS or nanotechnology.

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Rice University

Rice is known for its Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology, which encompasses the NSF-funded NSEC, Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN), the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory (CNL), and the Shared Equipment Authority (SEA), and shares support for the Laboratory for Nanophotonics (LANP).

Rice’s strengths include nanotechnology for energy and for health, nanomaterials, carbon nanotubes, computational nanotechnology, nanotechnology for electronics and for photonics, environmental and toxicological nanotechnology, and issues in society, ethics, and economics. With 120 faculty and research faculty across 16 departments as members of the Smalley Institute, Rice guesses it has someone working in every subfield of nano.

Rice also aims to broaden public understanding of nanotechnology and its potential-for instance to children through the NanoKids initiative and to public and corporate audiences with specifically designed courses in the School of Continuing Studies.

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Rutgers University

The Institute for Advanced Materials, Devices and Nanotechnology (IAMDN) leads nanoscience and technology research and development at Rutgers. It acts as an oversight organization, helping to coordinate interdisciplinary research, technology transfer, incubation, funding, and education.

IAMDN includes about 100 faculty and their research groups. Rutgers estimates the nano-related facilities used by the IAMDN faculty are worth $100 million; a new building-planned to open in three years-will consolidate the facilities and interaction among faculty members. This year, however, Rutgers is focused on new faculty hires and recently signed on a permanent director for the IAMDN.

The IAMDN has begun coordinating access to the many shared facilities in a dozen centers and laboratories, including the Micro Electronics Research Lab cleanroom and nanofabrication facilities.

Extensive incubator space is located near campus. The Rutgers technology transfer office works to quickly move ideas from research to prototype development.

Nine departments offer micro- and nanotechnology classes. Eight courses focus almost exclusively on nanoscience and technology, and another several dozen have a significant nano component. Rutgers awards degrees with concentration in nanomaterials and nanotechnology, and all electrical engineering degrees include the option of a specialty in micro- and nanoelectronics.

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Stanford University

While Stanford does not award micro or nano-specific degrees, minors, or emphases, the university is a leader in small tech as evidenced by the publication of 65 papers in nanotechnology and 37 in microtechnology during the 2006 school year. Stanford says it is committed to supporting the use of micro- and nanotechnologies in non-traditional research applications.

Last year, Stanford received a five-year, $20 million award from the National Cancer Institute to develop nanotechnologies for detecting and treating cancer. In 2005, it opened the Stanford Nanocharacterization Laboratory (SNL), whose mission is to provide high-quality, useful materials characterization data and insight for as wide a range of users as possible.

The Stanford Nanofabrication Facility (SNF) is a shared-equipment, open-use, device fabrication cleanroom. It facilitates the work of researchers from a wide variety of disciplines, such as optics, MEMS, biology, and chemistry, as well as process characterization and fabrication of more-traditional electronics devices. The SNF is supported by the NSF through the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN).

Stanford is a leader in small-tech commercialization.

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University of California at Los Angeles

UCLA combines its MEMS and microsystems’ expertise with a number of nano-related centers. The university’s California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) brings together researchers from the sciences, engineering, and medicine faculty to explore the use of nanotechnology to advance information technology, energy production, storage and saving, environmental well-being and diagnosis, and disease prevention and treatment.

To support the research, the $149 million, newly constructed CNSI building provides three floors of core facilities, including both wet and dry laboratories, and imaging and measurement equipment, high-throughput robotics, and class 100 and 1000 cleanrooms.

The Center on Functional Engineered Nano Architectonics (FENA) explores nanotechnology for information processing systems. The Western Institute of Nanoelectronics (WIN) develops advanced research devices, circuits, and nanosystems to exploit the spin property of electrons.

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University of Pittsburgh

Pitt’s strength in nanoscience is in the study of nanostructures at the core “essentially nano” level. The university’s Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering aims to solve large, complex scientific and engineering challenges in nanoscience and engineering by facilitating interdisciplinary teams. The Institute comprises more than 50 faculty who form teams for various research topics, covering nanomaterials, devices/systems, and nano-instrumentation. During fiscal year 2006, the institute added nine new nanotechnology faculty.

Pitt’s NanoScale Fabrication and Characterization Facility (NFCF) is a user facility with 4,000 sq. ft. of cleanroom space, and advanced equipment with core nano-level (10nm or below) capability. This facility also enables vertical integration of structures from nano to micro and macro level in conjunction with the facilities existing on campus for micro- and macroscale structures and packaging.

Pitt has ranked the sixth among the U.S. universities in creating spin-off companies-including three in nanotechnology. Pitt offers a certificate in photonics.

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Purdue University

Purdue says that the strength of its nanotechnology research and its Birck Nanotechnology Center begins with people. Since 2002, Purdue has hired 16 faculty in various areas of nanotechnology. Faculty membership in the Birck Nanotechnology Center, a shared-use facility, is currently 146, representing 36 departments.

The design of the Birck building follows that of the NIST Advanced Measurement Laboratory in Maryland for the general nanoscale research labs. It boasts low-vibration assets, including a metrology laboratory with NIST-A1 floating mass floor (within a EMI shielded room that is temperature stable to ±0.01°C). The 25,000-sq.-ft. semiconductor nanofabrication cleanroom operates at classes 1, 10, and 100, and the integrated 2,500 sq. ft. bio-pharma cleanroom has separate airflow and personnel gowning. An airlock glove box that allows materials and devices to move between these two cleanroom spaces is the first such arrangement in the nation. The 60Hz electromagnetic fields from building power distribution are below 0.01 milligauss in selected labs and below 0.1 milligauss generally.

More than 350 educational resources-including seminars, tutorials, podcasts, and online nanotechnology simulation tools-are available through nanoHUB, a project of the Purdue-lead Network for Computational Nanotechnology.

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University of Louisville

The University of Louisville says the strength of its micro/nano centers lies in the breadth and depth of the processes and services they offer. Over the past 10 years, the university has built collection of multi-user core facilities to serve most disciplines of small-tech research and education, from nanoscale material synthesis to application-specific device prototyping.

The university’s Micro/Nano Technology Cleanroom provides fabrication and design services for numerous MEMS, microelectronic, and nanotechnology applications. The center is housed within two on-campus cleanrooms, the newest of which is a 10,000-sq.-ft., seven-bay, Class 100 facility equipped with $10 million of fabrication and characterization tools. Complementary to the cleanroom are additional dedicated multi-user core facilities for modeling, packaging, and testing.

U of L’s B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in electrical, mechanical, and chemical engineering-as well as chemistry-all allow a small-tech emphasis (as do its B.S. and M.S. degrees in bioengineering and physics).

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Louisiana Tech

Louisiana Tech offers several small-tech-specific degrees-more than any other university participating in the survey, save for the University at Albany-SUNY. The degrees include a B.S. in Nanosystems Engineering, an M.S. in Microsystems Engineering, an M.S. in Molecular Science and Nanotechnology, and a Ph.D. in Computational Analysis and Modeling. In addition, all undergraduate engineering degrees allow emphasis in micro/nanosystems, as do Ph.D. degrees in engineering and biomedical engineering.

Louisiana Tech’s Institute for Micromanufacturing (IfM) started more than 15 years ago with a micromanufacturing emphasis. Now, its expanded research and educational efforts cover five main areas: nanotechnology, biotechnology, biomedical nanotechnology, environmental technology, and information technology. The activities carried out through these areas, coupled with the institute’s integrated nanomanufacturing and micromanufacturing resources, have led to the realization of a broad range of research, educational, and commercialization efforts. The institute’s vision is to be a world class resource for the realization of commercially viable micro and nanosystems.

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University of Minnesota

The University of Minnesota has a history of strength in the area of novel materials, especially in recent years in nanostructured materials. This has led to the development of facilities for synthesizing and characterizing novel nanostructures. The U of M boasts a well-equipped materials characterization lab; together with the NanoFabrication Center and the Particle Technology Lab, it comprises one of 13 nodes in the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network.

Recently the university founded the Center for Nanostructure Applications, a resource for seeding ideas related to the development of novel active nanodevices based on these nanostructured materials. This multidisciplinary effort crosses boundaries among science, engineering, medicine, energy, and systems to capitalize on the possibilities presented by this new class of materials.

The university offers a Nano Particles Science & Engineering minor (M.S.).

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Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Rensselaer provides leadership in the areas of hyper integration, integrated circuit (IC) back-end technology, functional nanobuilding blocks, multi-scale modeling, and packaging science. The university’s areas of expertise also include wearable electronics, solid-state lighting, tissue engineering, and bioreactors.

At the core of RPI’s small-tech efforts is the Rensselaer Nanotechnology Center, which provides interdisciplinary research programs and focuses on creating novel materials and devices.

The NSF-funded Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for Directed Assembly of Nanostructures was founded in September 2001 at RPI, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Los Alamos National Laboratory. It addresses the fundamental scientific issues underlying the design and synthesis of nanostructured materials, assemblies, and devices with dramatically improved capabilities for many industrial and biomedical applications.

Research at the Center for Integrated Electronics is facilitated by Rensselaer’s recently upgraded 10,000-sq.-ft. Class 100 microfabrication cleanroom, which supports three-, five-, and eight-inch wafer fabrication technology.

Recently, RPI announced a $100 million partnership with IBM and New York to create the Computational Center for Nanotechnology Innovations-the world’s most powerful university-based (and a global top 10) supercomputing center. Based on the RPI campus and at its Rensselaer Technology Park in Troy, N.Y., the CCNI will focus on reducing the time and costs associated with designing and manufacturing nanoscale materials, devices, and systems. This center promises to be an important resource for industry.

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Editor’s note: The following universities were chosen by survey respondents as outstanding for their work in micro- and/or nanotechnology. Some did not complete the Small Times’ survey, however, and therefore did not qualify for non-peer rankings.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

“Tiny Technologies” is an umbrella term MIT uses for a number of related areas of research in nano- and micro-scale technologies. Opportunities for study in this area are primarily at the graduate level and in the departments of Materials Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, or Chemical Engineering. Graduate students often arrange to study within one of the MIT laboratories to conduct research.

MIT’s major micro- and nano centers are the Microsystems Technology Laboratories, which provide microelectronics fabrication laboratories, including cleanrooms and design and testing facilities; the U.S. Army Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, which supports bottom-up nanotech research; the Center for Material Science and Engineering, which provides advanced materials characterization tools; and the Microphotonics Center.

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University of California at Berkeley

UC Berkeley addresses both micro- and nanotechnology. The university has identified nanoscale science and engineering as a top priority and has allocated seven new faculty positions for the Berkeley Nanosciences and Nanoengineering Institute (BNNI), which was established to expand and coordinate research and educational activities in nanoscale science and engineering. This is in addition to the significant number of new faculty in nanoscale science and engineering that are being recruited by departments. UC Berkeley currently has more than 90 faculty with active research programs in nanoscale science and engineering. The university has a close partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which is also investing heavily in nanoscience though user facilities such as the Molecular Foundry.

The Berkeley Sensor & Actuator Center (BSAC) is the National Science Foundation Industry/University Cooperative Research Center for microsensors and microactuators. The center’s mission is to conduct industry-relevant, interdisciplinary research on micro- and nanoscale sensors, moving mechanical elements, microfluidics, materials, and processes that take advantage of progress made in integrated-circuit, bio, and polymer technologies.

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Northwestern University

Northwestern established its Institute for Nanotechnology as an umbrella organization to support meaningful efforts in nanotechnology, house state-of-the-art nanomaterials characterization facilities, and nucleate individual and group efforts aimed at addressing and solving key problems in nanotechnology.

The Center for Nanofabrication and Molecular Self-Assembly, a $34 million, 40,000-sq.-ft. facility that was anchored by a $14 million grant from the Department of Health and Human Services, is one of the first federally funded facilities of its kind in the U.S. and home to the institute’s headquarters.

The multi-million-dollar interdisciplinary nanotechnology research efforts carried out in the Institute of Nanotechnology are supported by grants from government as well as from many industrial and philanthropic organizations.

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Georgia Institute of Technology

Georgia Tech won a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant in 1995 to open its Microelectronics Research Center. Today, construction is underway for Georgia Tech’s Nanotechnology Research Center, expected to open in 2008. The 160,000-sq.-ft. center promises to be one of the most sophisticated facilities in the country with 30,000 sq. ft. of cleanroom spaces that support research and instruction in microelectronics, semiconductors, materials, medicine, and pharmaceuticals.

In the meantime, the Center for Computational Materials Science in the School of Physics offers computer simulation and other tools to support research projects in nanotechnology and other fields. And the Georgia Tech Center for Nanostructure Characterization and Fabrication (CNCF) in the School of Materials Science and Engineering offers multi-user nanoscience and nanotechnology research services. Its mission is to provide state-of-the-art nanostructure tools for performing advanced research on a variety of materials.

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Harvard University

Harvard’s Center for Nanoscale Systems (CNS) focuses on how nanoscale components can be integrated into large and complex interacting systems. CNS is a member of the NSF’s National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) initiative to create a national network of world-class facilities available to all researchers.

Other centers at Harvard include the Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC), an NSF-funded project focused on interdisciplinary research whose participants represent five departments. The Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) is an NSF-funded collaboration among Harvard, along with other universities worldwide, national labs, and the Museum of Science, Boston.

When the National Cancer Institute awarded $26.3 million to establish seven Centers of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence in 2005 (as part of its $144.3 million five-year initiative for nanotechnology in cancer research), awardees included the MIT-Harvard Center of Cancer Nanotechnology Excellence, with Harvard’s Ralph Weissleder, M.D., Ph.D., as a principal investigator.

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California Institute of Technology

Caltech hosted the speech by heralded physicist Richard Feynman that envisioned the progress in nanotechnology we are now beginning to realize-and also hosted the unveiling of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in 2001.

Funded by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Kavli Foundation, Caltech supports a long-term program of innovative research in nanoscale science and engineering through the Kavli Nanoscience Institute. It emphasizes efforts that transcend traditional disciplinary boundaries, with two principal areas of focus: nanobiotechnology and nanophotonics. The institute’s common methodology in these areas is large-scale integration of nanoscale devices-that is, going beyond the present nanoscience of individual structures to realize interacting systems.

The university’s Microfluidic Foundry provides multi-layer soft lithography fabrication services

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Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon’s new Center for Nano-enabled Device and Energy Technologies (CNXT) aims to harness diverse nanometer-scale science and engineering work to help solve a few contemporary problems such as energy supply, environmental management, and terrorism. The center draws on expertise from various departments in engineering and science. The overarching goal of these activities is to enable the design of innovative systems. The unifying theme of the center is nanometer-scale materials that are deliberately synthesized, self-assembled, assisted to self-assemble, or structured by engineering know-how to create novel properties, processes, or principles. The current focus of the center is on nano-enabled sensor and energy technologies. Its secondary focus is nano-enabled information technologies, including devices and subsystems for electronic and photonic information manipulation.

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University of California-Santa Barbara

The University of California-Santa Barbara is a recognized leader in materials science, optoelectronic and electronic device research, and nanofabrication. Nanotech, UCSB’s nanofabrication facility, is located in the university’s new Engineering Sciences building and is part of the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network. It offers 12,700 sq. ft. of Class 100 and Class 1000 cleanroom space and a broad range of tools to support device fabrication for a variety of materials, including InP, GaAs, GaN, SiC, Si, and more.

UCSB partners with UCLA in the California NanoSystems Institute and in the Center for Nanoscience Innovation for Defense. UCSB’s Center for Nanotechnology in Society aims to serve as a national research and education center, a network hub for those concerned with nanotechnologies’ societal impacts, and a resource base for studying those impacts. The UCSB also features a Materials Research Laboratory, which is supported by the NSF.

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