Making It Big The Nano Way
Nanotechnology has been identified worldwide as one of the keys to unlocking a new generation of materials and devices with revolutionary properties and functionalities. The excitement over nanotechnology derives from the potential of designing structures with dimensions right down to the fundamental building blocks of all materials - atoms and molecules. The technology has already seen some commercial success in industries such as the electronics and information storage industry, the petroleum and chemical industry, and biomedical sciences industry.
While the impact of nanotechnology has been made in many areas, the technology is still at its infancy stage and current applications of nanotechnology only represent just the tip of the iceberg. This presents the challenge in promoting research in this young, promising and yet pervasive field.
Figure 1: Research areas and applications in nanotechnology and nanoscience.
A university-wide NUS Nanoscience and Nanotechnology Initiative (NUSNNI), managed by both the Faculties of Engineering and Science, was officially launched in January 2002 to promote this area of research. NUSNNI’s main aim is to initiate and coordinate long-term nanoscience and engineering research leading to fundamental discoveries of novel phenomena, processes, and tools. As such, NUSNNI will galvanise and coordinate inter-disciplinary research efforts across departments, faculties and research institutes/centres (Figure 1), to optimise resources in niche areas and yet retain their diversity.
NUSNNI will also invite top researchers to NUS to give seminars and/or lectures on the latest research developments and for possible collaboration in this area. Plans are also being made to organize joint workshops with the California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI) and The Japan Society for Promotion of Science (JSPS), among others.
A Young Investigators’ Club has been set up comprising young assistant professors from both the Faculties of Engineering and Science as well as research institutes/centres. The young investigators are supported by NUSNNI in the form of interdisciplinary research scholarships where graduate students are recruited to embark on multidisciplinary projects, to be supervised by two or more young investigators from different faculties.
Building on the strength of the Faculty’s existing research, several core areas in nanotechnology have been identified by the Faculty of Engineering: Bionanotechnology, Information Storage Materials, Silicon Nano Devices, Photonics and Nanoscale Materials and Systems. To facilitate collaboration across these areas, four Nanotechnology Corridors have been set up at the Faculty, which house cutting-edge research laboratories and facilities including : Bionanotechnology Lab, Centre for Optoelectronics, Information Storage Materials Lab, Nano/Micro Biomechanics Lab, Nano/Microsystems Packaging Lab, NEMS/MSTI Lab and Silicon Nano Devices Lab.
Figure 2 : Biodegradable polymer nanofibers.
In addition to working closely with the Faculty of Science, our local collaborators include Faculty of Medicine, National University Hospital (NUH), Data Storage Institute (DSI), Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), Institute of Materials Research & Engineering (IMRE), Institute of Microelectronics (IME), Johns Hopkins Singapore, Agilent Technologies and Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing. Some of our overseas collaborators include Georgia Institute of Technology, MIT, University of California, Berkeley, University of Texas, Austin, Drexel University, IBM and Hitachi.
For further information, please visit us at the NUSNNI website : www.nusnni.nus.edu.sg.
Dr CT Lim