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Nanotechnology Center Planned at Georgia Tech

Photonics.com
Oct 2003
ATLANTA, Oct. 30 -- One of the nation’s most advanced facilities for nanotechnology research is slated for construction at the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech), Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue announced at a recent meeting of the Technology Association of Georgia. Initial funding for the Nanotechnology Research Center will be provided by a $36 million contribution from an anonymous donor, Gov. Perdue said, and that amount will be followed by up to $45 million in state support over the next several years. The governor said he plans to include state matching funds for the project as part of his economic development budget recommendations to the 2004 Georgia General Assembly.

Georgia Tech said the center will be the most advanced nanotechnology research facility in the southeast, the first of its kind in the region and among the most sophisticated in the country. The 160,000-square-foot facility will be built at the corner of Atlantic Ave. and Ferst Drive, with 30,000 square feet of its space dedicated to cleanrooms -- rooms designed to reduce the number of dust particles in the air.


Georgia Tech researchers have demonstrated a new type of nanometer-scale optoelectronic device that performs addition and other complex logic operations. Left to right: researchers Robert Dickson and Tae-Hee Lee. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek)
Cleanrooms are critical to nanotech research, and the new center will almost quadruple the square footage of cleanroom space available to researchers at Georgia Tech. This will allow researchers at the institute and throughout Georgia’s higher education community to compete with other areas of the country where similar facilities are planned or under construction -- places such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University in the northeast; Purdue University and the University of Illinois in the midwest; and Stanford University and the University of California, Berkeley, in the west.

Nanotechnology, sometimes referred to as the "science of the small," allows scientists to manipulate individual atoms and molecules, making it possible to build machines on the scale of human cells or build structures or materials that assume dramatically different properties by virtue of their size. The prefix "nano" comes from the Greek word nanos, and it represents one-billionth of a unit. Scientists working in the field of nanotechnology work at the nanoscale, dealing with materials measured in a billionth of a meter, or about 100,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Currently, Georgia Tech researchers are working to develop structures at the micrometer level. With this new facility and the purchase of an electron beam nanolithography system, researchers will be able to fabricate structures with features as small as 10 to 50 nanometers.


Georgia Tech is home to some of the nation's leading nanotechnology research. Dr. Uzi Landman is the 2003 recipient of the Feynman Prize, named in honor of the father of nanotechnology, Robert Feynman. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek)
Many experts hail nanotechnology as the next great scientific and technological breakthrough. To date, nanotechnology research has led to such advances as the development of the flat screen television, but it potentially could be used for much more advanced purposes. For example, nanoscience might one day lead to microscopic machines that could investigate and repair damage to the human body at the cellular level.

The primary purpose of the new center is to dramatically expand clean-room capacity at the institute. The facilities are expensive to build due to the extensive air-filtering requirements necessary for nanotechnology research. This new building will be designed with Class X cleanrooms, meaning there will be a maximum of ten 0.5-micrometer particles per cubic foot of air. A typical office environment contains more than a million particles per cubic foot.

Innovative nanotechnology research is already underway at Georgia Tech, and many of the field’s leading investigators are based at the Institute.

Georgia Tech is home to some of the nation's leading nanotechnology research. Dr. Uzi Landman is the 2003 recipient of the Feynman Prize, named in honor of the father of nanotechnology, Robert Feynman. Professor Z.L. Wang was ranked fifth in the world by the Institute of Scientific Information in the number of nanotechnology research papers published. And according to Science Watch, a bulletin that reports on trends in basic research, Wang also is among the world's most cited authors in nanotechnology research. Professor Jim Meindl, director of the National Science Foundation-funded Microelectronics Research Center at Georgia Tech, is a world-renowned expert in semiconductor and integrated circuit technology, fields that stand to gain from nanotechnology advances. Professor Ralph Merkle, director of Georgia Tech's Information Security Center, is a national expert in nanotechnology research and policy. He was co-recipient of the 1998 Feynman Prize for Nanotechnology for Theory and he was executive editor of the journal Nanotechnology for several years.

For more information, visit: www.gatech.edu



GLOSSARY
nanotechnology
The use of atoms, molecules and molecular-scale structures to enhance existing technology and develop new materials and devices. The goal of this technology is to manipulate atomic and molecular particles to create devices that are thousands of times smaller and faster than those of the current microtechnologies.
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