UChicago, Northwestern awarded $5 million nanotechnology infrastructure grant

The University of Chicago and Northwestern University have received a five-year, $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a collaborative venture in nanoscale science, engineering and technology research.

The Soft and Hybrid Nanotechnology Experimental Resource of the two institutions will coordinate the integration of a diverse and open-access group of nanoscale fabrication and characterization facilities at Northwestern and UChicago for internal and external users, both academic and industrial.

“This new award from the National Science Foundation will provide critical support for external users who want to develop nanostructure fabrication and characterization at the University of Chicago’s Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility and at Northwestern,” said Andrew Cleland, the John A. MacLean Sr. Professor for Molecular Engineering Innovation and Enterprise. Cleland heads UChicago’s part of the venture. “The Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility provides a unique research and development environment for the academic and industrial scientists interested in pursuing state-of-the-art, micro- and nanoscale fabrication.”

Prof. Matthew Tirrell, the Pritzker Director of the Institute for Molecular Engineering, said that he anticipates the new venture to draw researchers from the Chicago area, the Midwest, and nationally to UChicago and Northwestern facilities. “This will also deepen the existing collaborations between UChicago and Northwestern, and will foster new collaborations with other academic institutions and with industry,” Tirrell said.

Leading the SHyNE Resource effort is Vinayak Dravid, the Abraham Harris Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and founding director of Northwestern’s Atomic and Nanoscale Characterization Experimental Center.

“SHyNE Resource streamlines our nanotechnology facilities, providing unique and integrated capabilities for internal Northwestern and UChicago researchers as well as external users, especially small and medium enterprises and startup companies,” Dravid said. It also will offer colleges and public institutions, including museums, opportunity to access research and training instrumentation under one umbrella.

SHyNE is one of 16 user facility sites nationwide that the National Science Foundation is funding with $81 million of support as part of a new National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure.