Home > Press > New center to research nanostructures
Nanobatteries, nanopumps, nanomotors and a slew of other nanoscale devices are among the promises of a new $11.9 million Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems (COINS).
New center to research nanostructures, design and build nanodevices
Berkeley , CA – November 08, 2004
Nanobatteries, nanopumps, nanomotors and a slew of other nanoscale devices – most with parts that move a mere fraction of the width of an atom – are among the promises of a new $11.9 million Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems (COINS) starting up this fall at the University of California, Berkeley.
The center, one of six new Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers funded for five years by the National Science Foundation (NSF), will harness the skills of theoretical and experimental physicists, chemists, biologists and engineers to explore the basic science of nanostructures and then use this knowledge to both create nanoscale building blocks and assemble them into working devices.
The goal is to merge nanotubes and a host of other Tinkertoy-like nanopieces with organic molecules – DNA, proteins or nanomolecular motors – to create sensors or nanomachines small enough to fit on the back of a virus. Each nanoscale building block ranges from a few to hundreds of nanometers across(a nanometer is a billionth of a meter, about one thousandth the width of a human hair).
“We can’t help getting excited about the richness and diversity of the science involved and the opportunities in coupling this to potential applications and making little devices,” said center director Alex Zettl, professor of physics at UC Berkeley. Zettl is at the forefront of research on nanotubes, which are extremely strong strands of pure carbon or boron nitride that can act as electrical conductors or semiconductors, yet also have interesting thermal and mechanical properties. To date, he has created nanobearings from a pair of telescoped nanotubes, a nanomotor with a nanotube as the shaft, and nanotube-based nanotransistors, chemical sensors and electron field emitters for flat panel displays.
“We’ll be designing new and modifying existing building blocks to make them accessible to assembling technologies to the point where you could order them like you order lumber at a lumberyard,” Zettl said. ”This is quite ambitious. There will be a lot of scientific and engineering challenges here.”
The advantage of nanoscale devices is not only small size but also small power consumption – the tinier the device, the less energy required to run it. Some of the devices, however, will generate energy, either chemically or mechanically or via light. Many of the building blocks and structures based on them will first be examined theoretically, with only the most promising candidates pursued experimentally.
The group consists of 28 researchers from UC Berkeley, UC Merced, Stanford University and the California Institute of Technology, and includes not only engineers, physicists, chemists and biologists, but an economist. While some of the researchers are synthesizing and characterizing various building blocks, others will integrate them and map out system properties, and still others will develop the tools to manipulate and construct new building blocks and systems. Several researchers will pursue the theoretical basics and limits of new devices. And Brad DeLong, a UC Berkeley professor of economics, will explore the social, ethical, legal and societal issues surrounding nanotechnology in light of historical technology revolutions. He also will encourage conversations between nanoscientists and scholars in the social sciences and humanities.
“What COINS will do is bring together faculty and students who can make nanoscale building blocks, predict and measure their unique properties, and assemble these building blocks into devices and systems. This, in turn, will lead to revolutionary new applications in information technology, energy and healthcare,” said UC Berkeley’s Tom Kalil, a special assistant to Chancellor Robert J. Birgeneau. Kalil helped meld the diverse group of researchers into a coherent center that captured the attention of the NSF.
Researchers in the center will be able to make advantage of the new research facilities that are being created by the two California Institutes for Science and Innovation located at UC Berkeley – the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) and the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3).
Some of the researchers and their projects include:
- Mechanical engineering professor Arun Majumdar has developed arrays of nanoscale cantilevers that flex like diving boards when molecules bind to them. Majumdar, along with Michael Roukes, professor of physics, applied physics and bioengineering at Caltech, and other collaborators will try to turn these into biosensors using lasers to detect the binding of minute quantities of chemicals.
- Electrical engineering professor Ron Fearing is working with Peidong Yang, associate professor of chemistry, and Thomas Kenny, professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford, to create artificial nanohairs that will adhere to surfaces as do the toe hairs of geckos.
- Carlos Bustamante, professor of physics, and other researchers are trying to convert the chemical energy in twisted DNA into mechanical energy that can crank a nanotube motor. Bustamante is working with physics professors Michael Crommie and Steve Louie; Kyeongjae Cho, professor of mechanical engineering at Stanford; and theoretical biologist George Oster, UC Berkeley professor of molecular and cell biology.
- A team led by Majumdar and Ramamoorthy Ramesh, professor of materials science and engineering and of physics, is studying the movement of fluids on the nanoscale in order to develop a battery. This research also could lead to a novel type of transistor based on nanofluidics.
- Researchers with the Berkeley Sensor and Actuator Sensor, which 18 years ago pioneered microscale devices or MEMS (microelectromechanical systems), are transitioning to the nanoscale with attempts to create devices from nanowires, such as a vibrating resonator. They include Roger Howe and Jeffrey Bokor, professors of electrical engineering and computer science, and Roya Maboudian, associate professor of chemical engineering.
- Zettl, Bustamante and Maboudian will work with chemistry professors Jean Frechet and Paul Alivisatos, as well as with other collaborators, to camouflage nanomaterials so as to allow the binding of tailored molecules, proteins and other biological molecules. These “functionalized” nanomaterials could mimic large biological molecules in the body.
A major education and outreach component of the center involves not only undergraduate education at UC Berkeley and UC Merced, but also public outreach through the Lawrence Hall of Science. And decision-makers in Sacramento will be briefed on nanotechnology and other important scientific issues through a new program called “Capitol Science,” organized with UC Berkeley’s Institute for Governmental Studies.
A student group, the year-old Berkeley Nanotechnology Club, has even been brought into the center to provide an important point of contact between student entrepreneurs in science, engineering, business and law to encourage technology transfer to the marketplace.
The club “encourages the formation of teams of science and engineering students with Haas School of Business students to develop business plans around some of the new technologies that will emerge from the new center,” Kalil said. He noted that UC Berkeley has already spun off several nanotechnology companies, including Nanomix Inc., Nanosys Inc., Quantum Dot Corp. and Kalinex, Inc.
Copyright © UCB
If you have a comment, please
Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.
Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers
National Science Foundation
Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 2014
IBM Announces $3 Billion Research Initiative to Tackle Chip Grand Challenges for Cloud and Big Data Systems: Scientists and engineers to push limits of silicon technology to 7 nanometers and below and create post-silicon future July 10th, 2014
Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles April 10th, 2014
Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014
PEN Inc. Announces New Trading Symbol: PENC: Stock Continues Trading on the OTCQB September 3rd, 2014
Aspen Aerogels, Inc. to Present at Barclays CEO Energy-Power Conference August 27th, 2014
Harris & Harris Group Letter to Shareholders on Website August 19th, 2014
Harris & Harris Group to Host Conference Call on Second-Quarter 2014 Financial Results on August 15, 2014 August 12th, 2014
Optimum inertial design for self-propulsion: A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines July 29th, 2014
Breakthrough laser experiment reveals liquid-like motion of atoms in an ultra-cold cluster: University of Leicester research team unlocks insights into creation of new nano-materials July 25th, 2014
NIST shows ultrasonically propelled nanorods spin dizzyingly fast July 22nd, 2014
University of Illinois researchers demonstrate novel, tunable nanoantennas July 14th, 2014
Nanoscience makes your wine better September 17th, 2014
Simple, Cost-Effective Method Proposed for Synthesizing Zinc Oxide Nanopigments September 15th, 2014
First Colloid and Polymer Science Lecture awarded to Orlin D. Velev: Chemical engineer honored for outstanding research in colloid science September 12th, 2014
UT Arlington research uses nanotechnology to help cool electrons with no external sources September 11th, 2014
Rice rolls 'neat' nanotube fibers: Rice University researchers' acid-free approach leads to strong conductive carbon threads September 15th, 2014
Excitonic Dark States Shed Light on TMDC Atomic Layers: Berkeley Lab Discovery Holds Promise for Nanoelectronic and Photonic Applications September 11th, 2014
Researchers Create World’s Largest DNA Origami September 11th, 2014
Material development on the nanoscale: Doped graphene nanoribbons with potential September 8th, 2014
Nanoscience makes your wine better September 17th, 2014
Carbon Sciences Developing Breakthrough Technology to Mass-Produce Graphene -- the New Miracle Material: Company Enters Into an Agreement With the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) to Fund the Further Development of a New Graphene Process September 16th, 2014
Nanoribbon film keeps glass ice-free: Rice University lab refines deicing film that allows radio frequencies to pass September 16th, 2014
Effective Nanotechnology Innovations to Receive Mustafa Prize September 16th, 2014