The National Science Board, the 24-member policy advisory body of the National Science Foundation (NSF), has authorized the Foundation to fund a National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network (NNIN): 13 university sites that will form an integrated, nationwide system of user facilities to support research and education in nanoscale science, engineering and technology.
Led by Cornell University, the NNIN is expected to begin operation in January 2004 for a five-year period.
"The network will be an investment of at least $70 million under NSF’s nanoscale science and engineering priority area," says Lawrence Goldberg, NSF senior engineering advisor. "NNIN expands significantly beyond the current capabilities of the five university National Nanofabrication Users Network (NNUN) that is concluding its ten-year life span this year."
Joining Cornell in NNIN will be the Georgia Institute of Technology, Harvard University, Howard University, North Carolina State University, Pennsylvania State University, Stanford University, the University of California at Santa Barbara, the University of Michigan, the University of Minnesota, the University of New Mexico, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Washington.
"By assembling and offering to share our specialized resources with any and all qualified users," says Cornell's Sandip Tiwari, the electrical engineer who will be director of the NNIN, "we have created the world's largest, most comprehensive and accessible nanotechnology laboratory."
Indeed, says Goldberg, the NNIN will not only provide users across the nation with access to leading-edge tools and instruments, but will contribute to a new workforce skilled in nanotechnology and the latest laboratory techniques.
"NNIN will implement, on a national scale, innovation in education that will impact all levels from professional through K 12, include outreach efforts to non-traditional users, reach underrepresented groups, and disseminate knowledge to the wider technical community and public," Goldberg added. "It will also develop the intellectual and institutional capacity needed to examine and address societal and ethical implications of nanotechnology."
NSF anticipates holding future open competitions to expand the scope of the NNIN by adding new sites and capabilities as the need arises, providing flexibility within the program.