UMass to Share $12M Nano Grant

08/26/2009
By From the Lowell Sun

Sun Staff Report

LOWELL -- The Nanoscale Science and Engineering Research Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing, which is based at three New England colleges, including UMass Lowell, has received a $12 million renewal grant from the National Science Foundation to continue its industry-leading research: translating nanoscale scientific processes into commercially viable technologies.

The center's three academic partners -- UMass Lowell, Northeastern University and the University of New Hampshire -- are conducting cutting-edge research that has the potential to revolutionize the manufacturing of smaller, more energy efficient electronic devices, officials said.

The five-year renewal grant will cover the center's funding through 2014. The NSF has provided $24.85 million to the center to date. In partnership with industry and foundations, the center is creating products such as nanobiosensors that can detect cancer at early stages; flexible, lightweight solar cells; nano-sized devices for therapeutic drug delivery; small, high-powered batteries; and flexible electronics, such as cell phones, that are lightweight and energy efficient.

With applications that promise to deliver everything from small, powerful computers to highly sensitive biosensors, nanotech products could command a $1 trillion market by 2015, according to the National Science Foundation. Researchers already know how to make nanoscale structures that can be used to make products, butmass-producing these structures is a tremendous challenge. Traditional manufacturing approaches for nanomaterials are expensive, very slow, and unsuitable for commercialization.

Established in 2004, the center now has more than 160 researchers and staff members working on developing nanoscale processes and applications.