UNH nanomanufacturing partnership receives $12.25m grant

A nanotechnology manufacturing consortium comprised of the University of New Hampshire and two other universities has received a very large grant for working on things very small.

The Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing – a joint partnership between UNH, Northeastern University in Boston and the University of Massachusetts Lowell — has received a $12.25 million grant from the National Science Foundation aimed at addressing nanoscale components on a commercial scale.

“One key to CHN’s success is its multidisciplinary approach toward solving nanoscale science and engineering problems,” said CHN associate director Glen Miller, professor of chemistry and director of the materials science program at UNH. “At the University of New Hampshire, faculty and students from the materials science program as well as the departments of chemistry, physics, and mechanical engineering are working to create new nano-building blocks.”

A nanometer equals one-billionth of a meter. By comparison, the diameter of a human hair is approximately 50,000 to 80,000 nanometers.

Nanomanufacturing involves the assembly of nanoscale structures like nanotubes, nanowires, or proteins to produce very small devices with superior properties and features for applications in electronics, alternative energies, new materials and medical fields, said UNH scientists.

The CHN is currently developing miniature nano-biosensors capable of detecting cancers at very early stages well ahead of other techniques.

The partnership is also working on ultra-low power flexible electronics that are hundreds of times faster and smaller and require less power than current solutions, according to UNH.

Other projects include high-capacity miniature or large batteries that could be fully charged in minutes; plastics as strong as steel or as conductive as copper; and flexible, high-efficiency, lightweight solar cells.

CHN’s faculty and students at UNH also are working to understand and control the self-assembly of nano-building blocks so that low-cost, high-rate nanomanufacturing can be achieved as well as the development of new nanopatterning techniques that are capable of creating nanoscale features as small as 15 nanometers on a variety of substrates. — CINDY KIBBE/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW