In the emerging field of nanotechnology, molecules or atoms are altered and made into complete, tiny, functioning systems. One of the most promising research areas of the 21st century, nanotechnology works at a scale of a billionth of a meter, thinner than four atoms standing side by side. Applications such as molecular motors, nanotweezers to capture biological samples and nanoelectronics using carbon nanotubes have the potential to revolutionize fields from biomedicine to telecommunications. Many observers believe that the technology will have an impact on society equal to that of the industrial revolution.
Nanotechnology is the single fastest-growing research and development area in the nation. The National Science Foundation estimates that the nanotech market will exceed $1 trillion annually in the next 10 to 15 years. US government spending on nanotechnology surpassed $800 million in FY2004, while government spending worldwide exceeded $3 billion.
. . . . . . . Nanotechnology is the single fastest growing research and development area in the nation . . . . . . .
New Jersey, with its large concentration of biotech, pharmaceutical and technology companies, is well positioned for a leadership role in this arena. To encourage and support growth of nanotechnology industry in the state, NJIT helped to establish the New Jersey Nanotechnology Consortium. The university also partners with the US Army in the NanoValley initiative based at Picatinny Arsenal.
NJIT has an active interdisciplinary research program in nanotechnology, drawing faculty expertise from electrical and computer engineering, mechanical engineering, physics, chemistry and chemical engineering. Projects of note include:
- WATCHING CARBON NANOTUBES GROW: Zafar Iqbal, research professor of chemistry, reported the first direct nanoscale view of the nanotube growth process. Read more.
- NANO WITHIN NANO: Haim Grebel, professor of electrical and computer engineering, heads a team of researchers who grow carbon nanotubes in the tiny spaces between the silica spheres that make up synthetic opals. Read more.
- SENSING AIRBORNE ORGANICS: Somenath Mitra, professor of chemistry, is developing an integrated sensing system for airborne organics using single wall carbon nanotube technology. Read more.
- DEVELOPING FUNCTIONAL NANOSTRUCTURES: A novel fabrication technique for integrated sensors is the focus of research by Leonid Tsybeskov, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. Read more.
- MILITARY APPLICATIONS: NJIT researchers are working with the U.S. Army NanoValley program at Picatinny Arsenal and the U.S. Army Smart Materiel Program to develop smart coatings and other nanotechnology applications. Read more.
- NANOPOROUS MEMBRANES: Kamalesh Sirkar, distinguished professor of chemical engineering, is developing an environmentally-friendly technique for making nanoporous membranes which have extensive applications in manufacturing and medicine. Read more.
- MANIPULATING BIOMOLECULES: Boris Khusid, associate professor of mechanical engineering, is currently collaborating with Sandia National Laboratories to develop simulations of microscale and nanoscale manipulation of biomolecules, such as DNA. Read more.
A number of investigators are working in related areas that support that support nano- and microscale research:
- UNDERSTANDING HOW NANOPARTICLES MOVE: In his studies of fluidization and transport of nanoparticles, Robert Pfeffer, distinguished professor of chemical engineering, and his team have discovered a new fluidization technique that opens the way for new applications in nanotechnology. Read more.
- MONITORING NANOCOMPOSITES: John Federici, professor of physics, and Haim Grebel, professor of electrical and computer engineering, have developed a technique for monitoring the electronic characteristics of nanocomposites using terahertz and infrared spectroscopy.
- PARTICLE ANALYSIS: The New Jersey Center for Engineered Particulates has expanded its research capacity with a state-of-the-art electron microscopy facility for nanoscale analysis and x-ray spectroscopy. Read more.
- MIXING FLUIDS IN MINIATURE SYSTEMS: Researchers at the New Jersey Center for Micro-Flow Control have developed a new technique for mixing miniscule amounts of fluid that opens the way for new applications in biomedicine and environmental science. Read an article by Center Director Nadine Aubry, professor and chair of mechanical engineering, and Ian Glasgow, senior research scientist at the center.