HOUSTON, Texas, Dec. 30, 2005 -- Rice University's Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) has been renamed the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology in honor of the CNST founder, professor and nanotechnology pioneer, who died on Oct. 28 (See also "Nobel Laureate, 'Buckyball' Discoverer Dies" ). The board of trustees approved the name change on Dec. 14.
Rice President David W. Leebron said, "The carbon molecules known as "buckyballs" that CNST founder Rick Smalley co-discovered formed the foundation for the field of nanotechnology and presaged the dawning of a new era in the physical sciences, giving researchers an unprecedented level of control over materials and promising extraordinary applications in transportation, medicine and energy transmission. Because buckyballs forever changed Rice's international reputation and put the university at the forefront of the 21st century science and technology, it is only fitting that the CNST be elevated to the status of an institute whose name pays tribute to Nobel laureate Rick Smalley."
The CNST originated when Smalley, the Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry and physics professor, headed a task force that defined a nanotechnology initiative at Rice. The board of governors approved the center, Smalley was appointed director and $37 million was raised. Construction of the 70,000-sq.-ft laboratory was completed in 1997 -- the year after Smalley and Rice's Robert Curl Jr. won the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their 1985 discovery of buckminsterfullerenes, or buckyballs, which measure one nanometer, or one-billionth of a meter, in diameter.
Today more than 110 faculty members from 14 departments are affiliated with the CNST, including Curl. The center has brought millions of research dollars to Rice, including part of the $10 million Congress appropriated in 2004 for the Strategic Partnership for Research in Nanotechnology and a $2.2 million grant awarded this year by the National Science Foundation for a five-year project that will offer an integrated approach to international research and education in the area of nanotechnology.
"People around the world know the name Smalley as the foremost leader in nanotechnology, not just for science, but also for public advocacy and for a magnificent vision for humanity," said Wade Adams, who became CNST director in 2002 and will direct the Smalley Institute. "I have been privileged and honored to work with Rick for the past four years as we grew and strengthened CNST, and I already miss greatly our daily discussions about the future of nanotechnology. We all -- faculty, staff and students -- have an obligation to continue our very best efforts to reach his vision and beyond."
Smalley, often cited as the "Father of Nanotechnology," was hopeful that nanotechnology could solve the global energy problem, which would ultimately solve other worldwide problems like hunger and water shortages. He testified before Congress and valued the importance of educating the public about science. He believed the potential of nanotechnology to benefit humanity was virtually limitless, and he abided by the mantra "Be a scientist; save the world."
For more information, visit: http://cohesion.rice.edu/centersandinst/cnst/index.cfm