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George Washington University Announces Establishment of GW Institute for Nanotechnology

Published on November 19, 2008 at 6:03 PM

The George Washington University has announced the establishment of the GW Institute for Nanotechnology. This institute will draw on the expertise of the University's faculty members in mechanical, aerospace, electrical, computer, civil, and environmental engineering; physics, chemistry; and biochemistry. The institute is supported through special endowment funding designated for academic programs with the potential for a high level of intellectual distinction. Nanotechnology, a field at the intersection of science and engineering, involves manipulating matter at the nanoscale (down to 1/100,000 the width of a human hair) to create new and unique materials and products.

As part of the institute's initial efforts, 16 faculty members from GW's School of Engineering and Applied Science and Columbian College of Arts and Sciences will jointly undertake research projects related to nanostructured materials and their properties, applications and devices incorporating nanostructures, computational modeling and analysis, and nanomanufacturing and metrology. Projects already underway include developing a system for nanopatterning and scanning tunneling microscopy, studying growth of carbon nanotubes, creating computational mechanical modeling of nanomaterials, researching nanomagnetics, and constructing filtration with nanostructure materials.

“Nanotechnology is a vital area of national importance with applications across a wide spectrum from medicine to electronics to improving water quality worldwide,” said David Dolling, dean of GW's School of Engineering and Applied Science and a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “National laboratories, federal agencies, and private sector corporations all recognize the as-yet untapped potential for discoveries in this emerging field, and we believe that our engineers and scientists will be among those who unlock some of its exciting secrets. The GW Institute for Nanotechnology facilitates their task by creating an infrastructure that fosters multi-disciplinary efforts and provides research support.”

Peg Barratt, dean of GW's Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and professor of psychology, added, “Nanotechnology calls for an extremely diverse approach, and we have a breadth and depth of experts who can gather in a common interest to explore its possibilities. The institute will build our knowledge about matter on an atomic and molecular scale, and our professors will share that science-based analysis with students and with the world.”

Explaining the importance of work in nanotechnology to the University's engineering and science education programs, Ryan Vallance, GW professor of mechanical engineering and lead professor in the establishment of the institute, said, “Nanoscale phenomena are frequently incompatible with our classical intuition and experiences. Traditional engineering theories, like continuum mechanics, which engineers have used for over a century to design new devices, break down in nanotechnology. We have to now teach students additional physical, chemical, biological, and statistical principles that govern nanotechnology. The institute will help us incorporate nanotechnology into our educational programs, both at the undergraduate and graduate levels.”

Located in the heart of the nation's capital, The George Washington University was created by an Act of Congress in 1821. Today, GW is the largest institution of higher education in Washington, D.C. The university offers comprehensive programs of undergraduate and graduate liberal arts study as well as degree programs in medicine, public health, law, engineering, education, business, and international affairs. Each year, GW enrolls a diverse population of undergraduate, graduate, and professional students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and more than 130 countries.

Posted November 20th, 2008

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