The Center for Nano- and Molecular Science and Technology (CNM), founded in October 2000, is a multidisciplinary research center within the Texas Materials Institute (TMI). The Center's mission is to foster research, education, and outreach in nanotechnology at the University of Texas at Austin (UT Austin). The CNM has made substantial progress toward establishing UT as one of the leading university programs in Nano-science and Nanotechnology. Development has been rapid in critical areas such as the CNM/TMI core Nano instrumentation facility, the building project for the CNM's new home (North Wing in the Experimental Science Building, ESB), faculty recruiting, educational programs, and outreach activities.
Research in the center is presently comprised of four multidisciplinary research groups (MRG), although collaboration across MRG boundaries is also extremely active. The MRGs are focused in the following research areas:
Molecular Nanoscale Electronic Materials
Quantum-dot and Quantum-wire Nanoscale Material
Nano-patterning and Nano-imaging
These research thrusts have been the focus of several successful research collaborations and group grants at the University, involving faculty in the Biomedical Engineering Program, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Physics, Chemical Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and other Departments in the Colleges of Natural Sciences and Engineering. Many of these faculty are active participants in the CNM through the MRG’s. The partial support of CNM activities by the Welch Foundation and SPRING is gratefully acknowledged.
The CNM/TMI facility, currently housed in the Engineering Science Building includes over $10M of equipment in four main areas of instrumentation and tools: electron microscopy, scanning probe microscopy, electronic and vibrational spectroscopy, nano fabrication and testing. The facility has grown rapidly and now offers a broad range of state-of-the-art tools in nanotechnology for use by UT Austin students, faculty, and staff. Over ninety faculty members and more than a hundred undergraduates, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers from eight departments within the Colleges of Natural Sciences and Engineering utilize CNM facilities. In 2003, the facility was used at a rate of 1,310 hours per month.
CNM Building Project:
The 90-plus Faculty Fellows and 300 research students using the CNM are anxiously awaiting the March 2005 groundbreaking for the new $35M building. The five-story, 25,000 sq. ft facility will house nanotechnology research laboratories, clean rooms and administrative offices. CNM has received tremendous support and commitment for this huge undertaking from the University. The five-floor wing located on the north side of the Experimental Science Building (ESB) will be complete in early 2006.
Education and Outreach:
Education is a priority for the CNM. Brian Korgel, with the support of many CNM faculty, has led a successful effort to establish the Doctoral Portfolio Program in Nanotechnology. This twelve hour certificate program will offer students a broad base of knowledge not generally available in any single degree program. It is an efficient and effective introduction to nanotechnology and will increase a student's marketability upon graduation.
CNM is also diligent in the effort to increase public literacy in nanotechnology. Our outreach initiatives are designed to expose a general audience, regardless of age or educational background, to nanotechnology through engaging presentations and hands-on activities. Each lecture emphasizes the fact that nanotechnology is the common thread unifying science, engineering, business and even architecture. Our message, especially to pre-college students, is that nanotechnology is a versatile field that can be incorporated into any career path.
Partnerships and Collaborations:
The formation of partnerships enables CNM to collaborate with other universities in the state and result in increased resources for our students and faculty. The Strategic Partnership for Research in Nanotechnology (SPRING) is a network of shared experimental centers that are rapidly advancing and promoting nanotechnology in Texas. SPRING is a collaborative effort between UT Austin, UT Dallas, UT Arlington and Rice University as well as the Air Force Research Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio. SPRING has received over $25M since its inception in 2003.
Another partnership is Nano at the Border, an affiliation with UT Brownsville and UT Pan-American as well as the UT System schools in SPRING. Nano at the Border makes the latest and most advanced information in nanoscience and nanotechnology available to researchers, faculty, students and staff at the participating universities. The Nano at the Border Consortium enables these universities to accelerate toward individual and collective goals in nanoscience and nanotechnology including faculty recruitment and retention, curriculum development through enhanced course offerings, student recruitment and human resource development especially, within the Hispanic community.
The CNM simultaneously emphasizes fundamental research, technology development and education. We strive to advance these three areas through a dynamic administrative structure that values excellence, innovation, progress, renewal and the integration of science and technology. Broad representation and effective communication with various departments and research facilities at UT ensures the vitality of this research center. As the CNM continues to expand, we look forward to reaching the ultimate goal of establishing UT as one of the top research and education universities in nanotechnology.
Five years ago nanotechnology barely existed on The University of Texas at Austin campus. Since its inception, the CNM has acquired 90 faculty Fellows who are leaders in research employing nanotechnology. According to Small Times Magazine, the state of Texas is currently ranked fifth in the nation for nanotechnology and microsystems. This ranking is a clear indicator of the widespread interest in nanotechnology by business, academia and government. CNM is taking advantage of this forward momentum. It is critical that CNM take this opportunity to increase public literacy on nanotechnology. Nanotechnology: The Next BIG Thing! will be an avenue to expose a general audience, regardless of age or educational background, to nanotechnology through an engaging, entertaining and educational website.