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Nanomanufacturing technology program created at The University of Texas at Austin

University Of Texas At Austin : 01 October, 2002  (Technical Article)
A nanomanufacturing technology program to foster educational, research and commercialization efforts in nanomanufacturing has been started at The University of Texas at Austin's Center for Nano- and Molecular Science and Technology.
The Nano ManTech program will focus on new methods of nanomanufacturing, which is the process of producing novel materials and devices from structures that are about one billionth of a meter in size. These miniature structures potentially could be used for a variety of high-technology applications, such as creating new medical devices, optical devices, nanoelectronics, chemical sensors and biosensors.

The Nano ManTech program builds on the expertise of 18 faculty members from the CNM and their academic and business collaborators within The University of Texas System, The University of Texas at Dallas and The University of Texas at Arlington. Program members are producing innovations in the creation, evaluation and large-scale production of nanoscale products that will address various needs in society, from the development of new energy sources to the creation of more compact ways to store computer data. Commercialization in the Nano ManTech program will be enhanced by collaboration with the IC2 Institute in the McCombs School of Business.

“Nanometer scale structures have novel properties and optimal functions due to the unprecedented control we have over nanomaterials,” said Dr. Paul F. Barbara, director of the CNM and the Nano ManTech program, and the Richard J. V. Johnson -Welch Regents Chair In Chemistry. “The Nano ManTech program is galvanizing our efforts to learn how to manufacture nanoproducts using low cost processes that are environmentally friendly. By drawing on the knowledge of business, scientific and engineering experts within the program, we can spur on the development of economical, practical ways of using nanotechnology. ”

A number of companies have endorsed the Nano ManTech program in recent weeks, including DuPont Photomasks, Inc., which provides micro imaging solutions to the semiconductor industry. DuPont's Dr. Franklin Kalk, a researcher who is a member of The University of Texas at Austin’s Presidential Advisory Committee for Nanoscience and Technology, said, “Over the next several years, nanostructured materials and their progeny must become manufacturable to enable next generation lithography technologies for the electronics industry.”

Local companies such as DuPont Photomasks are interested in having their industrial nanoresearchers interact with academic counterparts in the Nano ManTech program to discuss early scientific findings and exchange ideas. Closer collaborations among researchers also would occur through feedback sessions, internships and other avenues.

Nano ManTech program members already have reorganized into research groups that foster their interactions with industrial counterparts. These members have access to $8 million in advanced research equipment purchased by the CNM during the past two years.

In the future, the Nano ManTech program will be housed in 30,000 square feet of space the university is renovating within the Experimental Science Building. The university has committed $35 million for the renovation. In combination, these factors are intended to make the Nano ManTech program a national resource for advancing nanotechnology and to establish Texas as a nanotech leader.

Among the Nano ManTech projects underway is Barbara's work to develop tools that would allow manufacturers to evaluate the quality of nanodevices as they are being fabricated. On the biomedical front, Robert O. (Bill) Williams III, associate professor of pharmacy, Keith P. Johnston, the Kenneth A. Kobe Professor of Engineering, and associates are making nano-sized drug particles that are more readily absorbed by the body than traditional medications. Other projects include the work of C. Grant Willson, the Rashid Engineering Regents Chair, S. V. Sreenivasan, associate professor of mechanical engineering, and colleagues, who can imprint patterns less than 20 nanometers in size on semiconducting substrates to form integrated circuits.
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