Nanotechnology Project

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Environment, Health and Safety Research

NNIN: National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network

Project Information

Principal InvestigatorSandip Tiwari
InstitutionCornell University
Project URLView
Relevance to ImplicationsMarginal
Class of NanomaterialEngineered Nanomaterials
Impact SectorCross-cutting
Broad Research Categories Characterization
NNI identifiera6-2

Funding Information

Anticipated Total Funding$55,902,150.00
Annual Funding$11,180,430.00
Funding SourceNSF
Funding Mechanism
Funding Sector
Start Year2004
Anticipated End Year2009


The National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN) is a partnership of 13 institutions (Cornell University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Howard University, North Carolina State University (affiliate), Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of New Mexico, University of Texas at Austin, and University of Washington) that provides multi-faceted, interdisciplinary, and broadly-accessible infrastructure supporting both near-term and long-term needs identified in the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The partnering facilities are open laboratories providing outstanding service to the external user, comprehensive training and staff support, and support of interdisciplinary and emerging areas of research, with openness to new materials, techniques, and applications. Some of the key scientific, educational, and societal needs supported by the network are: Easy implementation of nanotechnology experiments through integration of knowledge and coordination of large numbers of different types of patterning and processing steps, together with the complex tasks of synthesis and assembly at the molecular scale, Specialized techniques for characterization and metrology at the atomic scale, Support of advanced and robust modeling and simulation through software and hardware resources with strong technical support, Technology transfer and the sharing of new techniques through in-person and web-based interactions, Education and technical training of new users who will be the leaders in nanotechnology Public education about the opportunities and challenges of nanotechnology, Promotion of research in the social sciences so that future developments lead to the greatest possible societal benefits, and societal and ethical studies that focus on research, infrastructure, and the impacts of nanotechnology. Nation-wide outreach across age groups and technical interests, with special efforts to reach non-traditional users and under-represented groups.Active coordination and knowledge dissemination on safety, environment and health benefits and risks of nanotechnology. Specifically, the network provides: Infrastructure for Research: The network provides on-site and remote access for users, from academia, small and large industry, and government, to advanced top-down patterning and processing and bottom-up synthesis and self-assembly, comprehensive integration capabilities for multi-step processes, state-of-the-art characterization for hard and soft materials, the development of tools and techniques, and a comprehensive web and computation infrastructure in support of nanotechnology. The network has easy user access that enables a diversity of projects efficiently and at low cost: e.g., molecular-scale electronic contacts; use of functionalized nanotubes; integrated mechanical, electronic, fluidic, and bio-systems; advanced types of microscopy; and a large ensemble of other projects. The network also develops tools in support of future research and nano-manufacturing, including imprint and soft-lithography with applications in electronics, microfluidics, and nanobiotechnology. Infrastructure for Network Web and Computation: The network’s computation and web-based infrastructure provides a centralized resource for organizing and distributing the rapidly-growing knowledge base at the foundation of nanoscience and engineering. It includes training in tools, processing, and synthesis techniques; classes; discussion groups; an open text-book with links to the technical resources and data-bases; and technical support for robust computational tools for design, simulation, and modeling. The web-based infrastructure also comprehensively links our initiatives in education, outreach, and societal and ethical studies in order to provide nation-wide access. Collaboration and External Interactions: The network employs connections and extensive collaborations with national and industrial laboratories, and with foreign institutions. Through these partnerships and joint meetings and workshops, we share expertise and perspectives, provide specialized training opportunities, coordinate access to unique instrumentation, and transfer newly developed technologies.Infrastructure for Education, Human Resource Development, Outreach, and Societal and Ethical Studies: Education, human development, outreach, and societal and ethical studies components are thoroughly integrated throughout the network. Our goals are to spread the benefits of nanotechnology to new disciplines, to educate a dynamic workforce in advanced technology, and to become a teaching resource in nanotechnology for people of all ages and educational backgrounds. Network-based education and information tools and comprehensive local hands-on activities towards these goals include: development of a hyper-linked Open Textbook for advanced students, web-based education and virtual research with introductory material for “K-to-gray” distance learning, outreach to 2- and 4-year colleges, a web-based magazine (a mini Scientific American/New Scientist) to interest 6-10 year olds in science, modular teaching packages for nanoscience and for laboratory experimentation in schools, experience-providing programs for undergraduates and teachers, and specialized programs for outreach to women, African-Americans, and Hispanics. The network also supports an infrastructure and research environment to promote consideration of the societal and ethical consequences of nanotechnology, covering economic, political, educational, environmental, health, safety, legal, security, and cultural implications. A network of scholars in these fields are embedded within the NNIN, with coordinated efforts to foster exchange and discussion, development of web-based resources for research and education, public outreach through the media, and an online archive of technical documents, analysis, transcripts and policy recommendations. The research orientation of the effort explores issues of ethics, communication, workforce change, industrial innovation, and other social implications of nanotechnology.