Pitt to Open $6.1 Million Nanofabrication Facility

Issue Date: 
September 25, 2006


Dedication will feature talk by NSF senior nanotechnology advisor Mihail Roco; symposium titled “Frontiers in Nanoscience”

Pitt will unveil its new $6.1 million NanoScale Fabrication and Characterization Facility at a dedication ceremony at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 29 in the foyer of Benedum Hall.

Following the dedication, tours will be available of the 4,000-square-foot facility, which serves the University’s Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute for NanoScience and Engineering.

In the last three years, three start-up companies and one major corporation have licensed nanotechnology developed by researchers at Pitt, which recently was ranked second in the nation in nano- and microscale research by Small Times. Since spring 2005, Pitt has hired 13 new nanoscience faculty members, bringing the total number of faculty affiliated with the institute to 48.

The dedication will be preceded by a luncheon featuring speaker Mihail Roco, National Science Foundation senior advisor for nanotechnology, and a symposium titled “Frontiers in Nanoscience,” during which researchers from the U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Columbia University, and Pitt will discuss their latest discoveries.

In February of this year, the University received a $5 million gift from alumnus John M. Petersen and his wife, Gertrude, to create an endowment supporting research in nanoscale science and technology. John Petersen, the retired president and chief executive officer of the Erie Insurance Group in Erie, Pa., earned the Bachelor of Business Administration degree at Pitt in 1951. The Petersens have maintained a strong relationship with the University through their support of a variety of University programs, including their $10 million gift to name Pitt’s John M. and Gertrude E. Petersen Events Center, home of what is considered the nation’s premier on-campus basketball arena. Both avid fans of Pitt athletics, the Petersens continued their longstanding support of the Department of Athletics with a gift of $600,000 to support baseball and swimming scholarships.

Work by Petersen Institute researchers already has resulted in the development of color-shifting paints, a contact lens-embedded sensor with the potential for noninvasive glucose-level monitoring for diabetes, and scaffolding to heal damaged hearts.

The new facility will promote multidisciplinary research, scholarship, and education among Pitt’s School of Engineering, School of Arts and Sciences, and Schools of the Health Sciences. Key technologies available in the facility include a transmission electron microscope, an electron-beam lithography system, and a modular X-ray diffraction system.

A full schedule of the Sept. 29 events follows.

11:30 a.m. Luncheon featuring speaker Mihail Roco, Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology, National Science Foundation
Connolly Ballroom, Alumni Hall

Roco will assess the research frontiers and applications of nanotechnology in an international context. He will address the implications of a National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) report, delivered Thursday, Sept. 21, to Congress, titled “Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Needs for Engineered Nanoscale Materials.”

A key architect of the NNI, Roco chaired the initiative for the first five years of its existence. Under Roco’s coordination, federal expenditure in nanotechnology research has grown from $116 million in fiscal year 1997 to $1.2 billion in 2005. Roco is credited with 13 inventions and has authored or coauthored more than 200 scientific and engineering articles as well as 12 books and manuals.

1-4 p.m. “Frontiers in Nanoscience” Symposium
Connolly Ballroom, Alumni Hall

1 p.m. John T. Yates Jr., R.K. Mellon Professor of Chemistry and Physics at
Pitt, Introductory Remarks

1:05 p.m. Louis E. Brus, S. L. Mitchill Professor of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Applied Chemistry, Columbia University, “Optical
Properties of Carbon Nanotubes”

1:55 p.m. Arthur J. Nozik, Senior Research Fellow, NREL, “Multiple Exciton Generation in Semiconductor Quantum Dots: Applications to Third Generation Solar Photon Conversion”

2:45 p.m. Jeremy Levy, Pitt Professor of Physics and Astronomy “Nanostructured Materials for Quantum Computation and Other Applications”

3:10 p.m.
Sanford Asher, Distinguished Professor of Chemistry at Pitt, “Self-Assembling Smart Photonic Crystal Materials”

3:35 p.m.
Hrvoje Petek, Pitt Professor of Physics and Astronomy and Codirector of the University’s Petersen Institute, “Imaging Light With Light in Nanostructured Metal Films”

4:30 p.m. Facility Dedication and Tours, Foyer, Benedum Hall

5-6 p.m. Reception, Foyer, Benedum Hall

For more information about Pitt’s Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering, visit www.nano.pitt.edu.