$1.53 million grant from DARPA jumpstarts program
A $1.53 million grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency this month is helping launch a new nanotechnology research center at CU.
Expenditures for the center’s first year equal the DARPA grant and may grow to $10 million annually in the next six years, according to a university press release.
Applications of nanotechnology include identifying molecules in the air, particularly those used in germ warfare and various pollutants. Sensor nanotechnology can also be used to identify cancerous molecules and is a more efficient way to catch cancer and other ailments in their early stages. The technology can also be used to detect homeland security threats.
“Since our center is funded by DARPA, our #1 goal is homeland defense,” said Yung-Cheng Lee, professor of mechanical engineering and director of the program.
Lee said that while priority for technological development goes to homeland security, new findings will impact the all of the commercial world. Cell phone and car companies will be some of the first to benefit from advances in nanotechnology.
A new study released by the Leeds School of Business said that nanotechnology has the potential to be a $2.6 trillion market by 2014. Ninety-five percent of federally funded university nanotechnology research takes place in Colorado.
“Nanotechnology will be critical to our future economy because it enhances other technology efforts including biotechnology, electronics and information technology, energy, defense and homeland security and aerospace,” Richard Wobbekind, the associate dean of the Leeds School of Business and the director of the school’s Business Research Division, said in a university press release.
Carol Rowe, the communications director for the College of Engineering and Applied Science, said this center is the first of its kind and will initially require no new facilities. She said CU and its partners have the necessary equipment to begin research. The purchase of new equipment or facilities will have to coincide with a bigger budget, she said.
“A single microscope for nanotechnology research can cost $1 million in itself,” Rowe said.
CU’s partners in the program include The National Institute of Standards and Technologies, Northwestern University and Columbia University. Industrial sponsors include General Electric Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp.