Building up nanotech research

'Build it and they will come' seems to sum up the collective philosophy of many in the nanotechnology field. While many of the practical nanotech applications are yet to be realized, the physical and intellectual infrastructure to advance nanotech research is growing by leaps and bounds, fueled by billions of dollars in investments, according to an article scheduled for the April 9 issue of Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

The cover story, written by C&EN senior correspondent Ann M. Thayer, surveys the new and dynamic infrastructure of nanotechnology. Since 2001, U.S. government agencies participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) have funded more than 60 facilities, centers and networks. In addition to conducting basic research, these centers will help train workers, facilitate collaborations between academia and industry, and educate the next generation of researchers, according to the article.

Although nanotech center initiatives are generally less than 15 years old, the numbers have been increasing, with estimates placing the total, including those under NNI, at more than 120. New and established centers at Cornell University, Northwestern University, Rice University and the University of California-Berkeley are among the case studies described in the article. Improvements in medical diagnostics, environmental systems and energy conversion are anticipated to be among the many payoffs emerging from the expanding nanotech pipeline, according to the article.-American Chemical Society