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NIST Awards Help Fund Construction of New Nanoscience Labs

by Editor1 last modified March 21, 2010 - 13:31

Construction of several new nanoscience facilities will get a helping hand thanks to The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Among the 12 projects, many are nano-related. The construction awards are the result of a competition announced by NIST last May. Check out the list.

NIST Awards Help Fund Construction of New Nanoscience Labs

Artist's rendition of planned Nanoscience Metrology Facility at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, one of NIST-funded nano facilities projects.

“These new, state-of-the-art facilities will help keep the United States at the forefront of scientific and technological innovation and will support economic growth,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said in a statement.

Foundations for Expanded Excellence in Nanoscience and Experimental Physics
University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
NIST Construction Grant Program Award: $15 million
Total project budget: $27.8 million

The planned construction of 13 new, state-of-the-art experimental physics laboratories in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh will enable the department to fulfill its portion of the university's NanoScience and Technology Initiative and provide the necessary infrastructure to support its active research groups.

The 27,000 square feet (2,508 square meters) of LEED-certified laboratory space, combined with an additional 43,000 square feet (3,995 square meters) of upgrades to existing facilities funded with approximately $12.8 million put up by the university, will enable the university to pursue its research goals. These goals include the creation of new scientific measurement technologies and novel electronic and telecommunication devices and a better understanding of large-scale storms and hurricanes.

The university anticipates that the new and upgraded facilities will enable them to hire three additional full-time faculty and the relocation of researchers whose research does not require strict environmental and vibrational controls.

The new facilities will directly support the mission of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to develop and improve measurement technologies. Research into the nature of large storms and hurricanes will support the mission of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The project is expected to be completed by spring 2014.

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Advanced Nanocomposites in Renewable Energy Laboratory
University of Maine (Orono, Me.)
NIST Construction Grant Program Award: $12.4 million
Total project budget: $15.4 million

The new Advanced Nanocomposites in Renewable Energy Laboratory (ANREL) at the University of Maine's Advanced Structures and Composites Center will be the only such facility in the United States to include complete development capabilities for designing, prototyping and testing large structural hybrid composite and nanocomposite components for the deep water offshore wind energy industry.

The 30,000-square-foot (2,787-square-meter) laboratory addition will support a materials and engineering research program designed to capitalize on two of the state's key resources: wind energy and wood. Maine has an estimated 149 gigawatts of offshore wind energy within 50 nautical miles of its shoreline according to figures from the University of Maine. Wood, the state's principal natural resource, is a potential renewable feedstock for new lignocellulose-based nanocomposites. This still-experimental materials technology uses nanoscale, cellulose-based fibers naturally produced in forest products to add stiffness and strength to polymer composites.

The ANREL addition to the Advanced Structures and Composites Center is designed to develop durable advanced composites materials suitable for the harsh offshore environment, which must withstand both high wind stresses and a corrosive environment. The lab will support the development and characterization of conventional nanocomposites, as well as the new lignocellulose-based advanced nanocomposites, and their integration into offshore structures. The new facility will include a nanocomposites laboratory, prototyping space for large composite structures, a large structural testing laboratory with a test stand capable of supporting prototype 70-meter wind blades, and mechanical and environmental testing labs. The research goals of the new laboratory complement work at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on advanced materials and nanomaterials and nanocomposites.

The project is expected to be completed by spring 2011.

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The Laboratory for Advanced Quantum Science at the Physical Sciences Complex
University of Maryland (College Park, Md.)
NIST Construction Grant Program Award: $10.3 million
Total project budget: $15.5 million

The Laboratory for Advanced Quantum Science (LAQS) will be a 21,000-square-foot (1,951-square-meter) underground laboratory space incorporated in the planned Physical Sciences Complex to be built at the University of Maryland at College Park. Designed specifically for the needs of research at the frontiers of quantum science, the LAQS will feature environmental controls for clean air, low vibration and electromagnetic interference, and stable temperature and humidity, on a par with the Advanced Measurement Laboratory at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The laboratory will primarily support the work of the Joint Quantum Institute, a collaboration of NIST, the University of Maryland and the National Security Agency's Laboratory for Physical Sciences, which studies phenomena in atomic, molecular and optical physics, condensed matter physics and quantum information. Quantum science contributes to our basic understanding of the universe, but also can fundamentally affect such practical issues as cryptography, advanced computing, and the design and use of sensors based on new technologies. Modern quantum science requires exquisite control of the research space—the lasers, for example, often must be physically stabilized to restrict motion from vibration or thermal expansion to less than a few nanometers. The LAQS has been designed to meet these exacting specifications.

Construction of the Physical Sciences Complex, including the LAQS, is expected to be completed by spring 2013.

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Nanoscience Metrology Facility
University of Nebraska - Lincoln (Lincoln, Neb.)
NIST Construction Grant Program Award: $6.9 million
Total project budget: $13.8 million

The planned Nanoscience Metrology Facility (NMF) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln will stimulate major new collaborative research by upgrading central facilities for nanofabrication, electron microscopy, and other synthesis and characterization laboratories.

The 32,000-square-foot (9753-square-meter) NMF will be a temperature-stabilized, low-vibration, low electromagnetic field building designed to achieve a minimum LEED certification of silver. The ground floor of the new facility will house a nanofabrication cleanroom and materials preparation facility, and the upper floor will house laboratories for nanofiber characterization, manufacturing metrology and nanophotonics. Also included in the project will be the construction of electron microscopy, scanning probe microscopy, X-ray materials characterization, mechanical characterization and crystallography labs.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln possesses one of the largest and most robust research programs in nanomagnetism and spintronics in the world. The construction of these facilities will enable the university to expand and improve its programs in these and other areas complementary to research at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) including basic nanoscale science and the development of measurement techniques to support nanotechnologies.

The project is expected to be completed in summer 2011.

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The Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology
Georgetown University (Washington, D.C.)
NIST Construction Grant Program Award: $6.9 million
Total project budget: $55.7 million

The Institute for Soft Matter Synthesis and Metrology, I(SM)2, at Georgetown University will be a special research facility included in a planned new Science Research Building on Georgetown's main campus.
The emerging field of soft matter research deals with materials that are neither traditional liquids nor solids, including liquid crystals, gels, colloids, polymers, foams, granular matter and many biological materials.

Soft matter is increasingly important in new products and technologies and brings with it new challenges for measurement, characterization and synthesis. In particular, soft matter often is fragile at various points during processing and requires tight environmental controls over factors such as temperature and humidity and, in some cases, light and vibration.

Housed within the new Science Research Building, which will provide the necessary environmental controls for the sensitive measurement technologies needed for soft matter research, the new I(SM)2 will enable expansion of on-going soft matter research by scientists at Georgetown, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and other regional institutions, and promote the development of precision instrumentation for soft matter synthesis and measurement and the training of future generations of researchers in soft matter science.

The project is expected to be completed by summer 2012.