Tag Archives: NNI

US nanotechnology resource map

I have two links to the US National Nanotechnology Inititative’s (NNI) Nanotechnology Resource Map. Here’s the more confusing one: US Nanotechnology Resource Map: Higher Ed Programs and NNI Centers and User Facilities (from the homepage),

This interactive map shows the currently funded NNI Centers and User Facilities, as well as the nation’s higher education nanotechnology degrees– from community college through PhD programs.

Here’s the less confusing version: NNI’s Interactive
Nanotechnology Resource Map (from the About the map webpage),

With this interactive map tool, you can search for nanotechnology-related higher education and training programs, NNI Centers and User Facilities, as well as regional, state, and local initiatives in nanotechnology located throughout the country. In addition, the map provides the location of the facility, as well as a street view, directions to the site, and a link to the facility’s website.

This map is searchable by state, facility-type, or keyword. Hovering the mouse over a state creates a small pop up window that provides the statewide totals for the following figures:

  • Schools offering Bachelor Degree programs in nanotechnology
  • Schools offering Masters Degree programs in nanotechnology
  • Schools offering Ph.D. programs in nanotechnology
  • Community Colleges and Training Programs with nanotechnology courses and degree programs
  • National Nanotechnology Initiative Centers and User Facilities (laboratories)
  • Regional, state, & local initiatives in nanotechnology

….

  • You can narrow your search results by using the filter criteria and limit your search to your areas of interest, e.g., checking or unchecking the boxes or choosing a state from the drop down menu.
  • Alternatively, you can search by keyword or phrase and the results will be populated in tabular format under the map. Type “all” and all results will be displayed.
  • Clicking on a state will open a new window that displays the map of that state and the statewide results under the map as defined in the search criteria.
  • Clicking on a point on the map or a row in the table, will display more information about that particular institution.
  • From the main map, you can toggle the view at anytime between the state totals map and the cluster map that shows nationwide results.

Good luck!

Nanotechnology and water sustainability webinar, Oct. 19, 2016

An upcoming (Oct. 19, 2016) webinar from the US National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) is the first of a new series (from an Oct. 7, 2016 news item on Nanowerk),

“Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology: A Federal Perspective” – This webinar is the first in a series exploring the confluence of nanotechnology and water. This event will introduce the Nanotechnology Signature Initiative (NSI): Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology and highlight the activities of several participating Federal agencies. …

The NNI event page for the Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology webinar provides more detail,

Panelists include Nora Savage (National Science Foundation), Daniel Barta (National Aeronautics and Space Adminstration), Paul Shapiro (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), Jim Dobrowolski (USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture), and Hongda Chen (USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture).

Webinar viewers will be able to submit questions for the panelists to answer during the Q&A period. Submitted questions will be considered in the order received and may be posted on the NNI website. A moderator will identify relevant questions and pose them to the speakers. Due to time constraints, not all questions may be addressed during the webinar. The moderator reserves the right to group similar questions and to skip questions, as appropriate.

There will be more in this series according to the webinar event page,

  • Increase water availability.
  • Improve the efficiency of water delivery and use.
  • Enable next-generation water monitoring systems.

You can register here to participate.

The NNI has a webpage dedicated to Water Sustainability through Nanotechnology: Nanoscale solutions for a Global-Scale Challenge, which explains their perspective on the matter,

Water is essential to all life, and its significance bridges many critical areas for society: food, energy, security, and the environment. Projected population growth in the coming decades and associated increases in demands for water exacerbate the mounting pressure to address water sustainability. Yet, only 2.5% of the world’s water is fresh water, and some of the most severe impacts of climate change are on our country’s water resources. For example, in 2012, droughts affected about two-thirds of the continental United States, impacting water supplies, tourism, transportation, energy, and fisheries – costing the agricultural sector alone $30 billion. In addition, the ground water in many of the Nation’s aquifers is being depleted at unsustainable rates, which necessitates drilling ever deeper to tap groundwater resources. Finally, water infrastructure is a critically important but sometimes overlooked aspect of water treatment and distribution. Both technological and sociopolitical solutions are required to address these problems.

The text also goes on to describe how nanotechnology could  assist with this challenge.

Public comment invited on *2016* US draft National Nanotechnology Initiative strategic plan

A Sept. 23, 2016 news item on Nanowerk announces a public consultation on the latest draft US National Nanotechnology Initiative strategic plan (Note: Links have been removed),

The draft 2016 National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Strategic Plan is now available online for public comment prior to publication. The public is encouraged to submit comments electronically through www.nano.gov/2016strategy, or via email to 2016NNIStrategy@nnco.nano.gov. Public comments should be one page or less and include reference page and line numbers. Comments are due by September 23, 2016. Additional guidance is available in the Federal Register.

The NNI Strategic Plan describes the initiative’s vision and goals and the strategies by which these goals are to be achieved. The plan includes a description of the NNI investment strategy and the program component areas called for by the 21st Century Research and Development Act of 2003, and it also identifies specific objectives toward collectively achieving the NNI vision. This plan updates and replaces the NNI Strategic Plan of February 2014.

A Sept. 12, 2016 US National Nanotechnology Initiative notice provides a link to the 67pp. draft document and further information. You can also check the US Federal Register for the official document. The deadline for submitting comments is Sept. 23, 2016, in short, you have ten days.

*ETA Sept. 15, 2016: Sam Pearson in a Sept. 14, 2016 article (open access during a free trial) for Bloomberg BNA offers some analysis of the 2016 draft plan,

The draft document, which sets out goals for developing and commercializing the technology and was released Sept. 12 [2016], is largely unchanged from previous versions. The plan, which is required under the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, sets policy for the White House-led National Nanotechnology Initiative for the next three years across 20 departments and independent agencies.

The environment and health spending is about 7 percent of the initiative’s total budget, an increase from 4.8 percent in fiscal year 2011 and just 2.8 percent in fiscal year 2006. When combined with related spending in other sectors, the total is about 10 percent of the budget, the document states.

“There’s significant potential positive aspects of this, but we need those to be managed in a mature way to ensure that we’re not bringing about something that’s so profound without any laws in place,” Ian Illuminato, a health and environment consultant at Friends of the Earth, told Bloomberg BNA Sept. 12 [2016], “which has so far been what’s happening.”

Friends of the Earth and other environmental groups have pushed for tougher evaluations of the potential health risks of nanotech products.

In a statement to Bloomberg BNA Sept. 12 [2016], Jay West, head of the Nanotechnology Panel of the American Chemistry Council, said the group planned to examine the proposal.

For the curious, there’s more analysis in Pearson’s article.

*’2016′ added on Sept. 15, 2016.

US white paper on neuromorphic computing (or the nanotechnology-inspired Grand Challenge for future computing)

The US has embarked on a number of what is called “Grand Challenges.” I first came across the concept when reading about the Bill and Melinda Gates (of Microsoft fame) Foundation. I gather these challenges are intended to provide funding for research that advances bold visions.

There is the US National Strategic Computing Initiative established on July 29, 2015 and its first anniversary results were announced one year to the day later. Within that initiative a nanotechnology-inspired Grand Challenge for Future Computing was issued and, according to a July 29, 2016 news item on Nanowerk, a white paper on the topic has been issued (Note: A link has been removed),

Today [July 29, 2016), Federal agencies participating in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) released a white paper (pdf) describing the collective Federal vision for the emerging and innovative solutions needed to realize the Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge for Future Computing.

The grand challenge, announced on October 20, 2015, is to “create a new type of computer that can proactively interpret and learn from data, solve unfamiliar problems using what it has learned, and operate with the energy efficiency of the human brain.” The white paper describes the technical priorities shared by the agencies, highlights the challenges and opportunities associated with these priorities, and presents a guiding vision for the research and development (R&D) needed to achieve key technical goals. By coordinating and collaborating across multiple levels of government, industry, academia, and nonprofit organizations, the nanotechnology and computer science communities can look beyond the decades-old approach to computing based on the von Neumann architecture and chart a new path that will continue the rapid pace of innovation beyond the next decade.

A July 29, 2016 US National Nanotechnology Coordination Office news release, which originated the news item, further and succinctly describes the contents of the paper,

“Materials and devices for computing have been and will continue to be a key application domain in the field of nanotechnology. As evident by the R&D topics highlighted in the white paper, this challenge will require the convergence of nanotechnology, neuroscience, and computer science to create a whole new paradigm for low-power computing with revolutionary, brain-like capabilities,” said Dr. Michael Meador, Director of the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office. …

The white paper was produced as a collaboration by technical staff at the Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Intelligence Community. …

The white paper titled “A Federal Vision for Future Computing: A Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge” is 15 pp. and it offers tidbits such as this (Note: Footnotes not included),

A new materials base may be needed for future electronic hardware. While most of today’s electronics use silicon, this approach is unsustainable if billions of disposable and short-lived sensor nodes are needed for the coming Internet-of-Things (IoT). To what extent can the materials base for the implementation of future information technology (IT) components and systems support sustainability through recycling and bio-degradability? More sustainable materials, such as compostable or biodegradable systems (polymers, paper, etc.) that can be recycled or reused,  may play an important role. The potential role for such alternative materials in the fabrication of integrated systems needs to be explored as well. [p. 5]

The basic architecture of computers today is essentially the same as those built in the 1940s—the von Neumann architecture—with separate compute, high-speed memory, and high-density storage components that are electronically interconnected. However, it is well known that continued performance increases using this architecture are not feasible in the long term, with power density constraints being one of the fundamental roadblocks.7 Further advances in the current approach using multiple cores, chip multiprocessors, and associated architectures are plagued by challenges in software and programming models. Thus,  research and development is required in radically new and different computing architectures involving processors, memory, input-output devices, and how they behave and are interconnected. [p. 7]

Neuroscience research suggests that the brain is a complex, high-performance computing system with low energy consumption and incredible parallelism. A highly plastic and flexible organ, the human brain is able to grow new neurons, synapses, and connections to cope with an ever-changing environment. Energy efficiency, growth, and flexibility occur at all scales, from molecular to cellular, and allow the brain, from early to late stage, to never stop learning and to act with proactive intelligence in both familiar and novel situations. Understanding how these mechanisms work and cooperate within and across scales has the potential to offer tremendous technical insights and novel engineering frameworks for materials, devices, and systems seeking to perform efficient and autonomous computing. This research focus area is the most synergistic with the national BRAIN Initiative. However, unlike the BRAIN Initiative, where the goal is to map the network connectivity of the brain, the objective here is to understand the nature, methods, and mechanisms for computation,  and how the brain performs some of its tasks. Even within this broad paradigm,  one can loosely distinguish between neuromorphic computing and artificial neural network (ANN) approaches. The goal of neuromorphic computing is oriented towards a hardware approach to reverse engineering the computational architecture of the brain. On the other hand, ANNs include algorithmic approaches arising from machinelearning,  which in turn could leverage advancements and understanding in neuroscience as well as novel cognitive, mathematical, and statistical techniques. Indeed, the ultimate intelligent systems may as well be the result of merging existing ANN (e.g., deep learning) and bio-inspired techniques. [p. 8]

As government documents go, this is quite readable.

For anyone interested in learning more about the future federal plans for computing in the US, there is a July 29, 2016 posting on the White House blog celebrating the first year of the US National Strategic Computing Initiative Strategic Plan (29 pp. PDF; awkward but that is the title).

UK and US issue documents nanomaterial safety to support safe work with nanomaterials

I am featuring two bits of information about nanosafety first from the UK and then from the US.

UK and nanosafety

A May 30, 2016 news item on Nanowerk announces a not particularly exciting but necessary report on handling nanomaterials safely (Note: A link has been removed),

The UK Nanosafety Group (UKNSG) has updated and published a 2nd edition of guidance (pdf) to support safe and responsible working practices with nanomaterials in research and development laboratories.

A May 25, 2016 UK Nanosafety Group press release, which originated the news item, provides more detail,

The document aims to provide guidance on factors relating to establishing a safe workplace and good safety practice when working with particulate nanomaterials. It is applicable to a wide range of nanomaterials, including particles, fibres, powders, tubes and wires as well as aggregates and agglomerates, and recognises previous and current uncertainty in developing effective risk management when dealing with nanomaterials and advocates a precautionary strategy to minimise potential exposure.

The 2nd edition of the guidance provides updates to account for changes in legislation, recent studies in the literature, and best practice since 2012. In particular, specific sections have been revised to account for the full implementation of Global Harmonised System (GHS) which came into force on 1 June 2015 through the CLP [Classification, Labelling and Packaging] regulations. The document explains the approaches that are presently being used to select effective control measures for the management of nanomaterials, more specifically control banding tools presently in use. Significant changes can be found in the following sections: ‘Hazard Banding’, ‘Exposure Control’, ‘Toxicology’, and ‘Monitoring’.

Of relevance to employers, managers, health and safety advisors, and users of particulate nanomaterials in research and development, the guidance should be read in conjunction with the Approved Code of Practice on COSHH [Control of Substances Hazardous to Health], together with the other literature referred to in the document. The document has been produced taking account of the safety information currently available and is presented in the format of guidance and recommendations to support implementation of suitable protocols and control measures by employers and employees. It is intended that the document will be reviewed and updated on a periodic basis to keep abreast of the evolving nature of the content.

The guidance titled “Working Safely with Nanomaterials in Research & Development” is about 48 pp. and can be found here.

Tidbit about US nano environmental, health, and safety

Sylvia Palmer has written a May 27, 2016 update for ChemicalWatch on reports about or including information about environmental, health, and safety measures being taken in the US,

Three reports released recently by the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) highlight the US government’ investments and initiatives in nanotechnology. They also detail current progress and the need for further understanding of exposure to nanomaterials in consumer products –and how companies can protect their nanotechnology workforce.

NNI’s Quantifying exposure to engineered nanomaterials (QEEN) from manufactured products: addressing environmental, health, and safety implications notes significant progress has been made in the ability to quantify nanomaterial exposures. However, it says greater understanding of exposure risks in “real-world” scenarios is needed. Alternative testing models and high-throughput methods for rapidly estimating exposures will be further explored, it adds.

You can find the report, Quantifying exposure to engineered nanomaterials (QEEN) from manufactured products: addressing environmental, health, and safety implications, here. Palmer’s article briefly describes the other two reports which contain information about US nano environmental, health, and safety efforts.

There is more about the three reports in an April 11, 2016 posting by Lloyd Whitman (Assistant Director for Nanotechnology and Advanced Materials, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) and Treye Thomas (leader of the Chemical Hazards Program team in the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, and Coordinator for Environmental, Health, and Safety Research under the National Nanotechnology Initiative) on the White House blog,

The recently released NNI Supplement to the President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2017, which serves as the annual report for the NNI, highlights the programs and coordinated activities taking place across the many departments, independent agencies, and commissions participating today in the NNI—an initiative that continues to serve as a model for effective coordination of Federal science and technology R&D. As detailed in this report, nanoEHS activities continue to account for about 10 percent of the annual NNI budget, with cumulative Federal R&D investments in this area exceeding $1 billion over the past decade. This report includes descriptions of a wide variety of individual agency and coordinated activities supporting the responsible development of nanotechnology.

To understand and control the risks of using any new materials in consumer products, it is important to understand the potential for exposure and any associated hazards across product life cycles. Last month, the NNI released a report, Quantifying Exposure to Engineered Nanomaterials (QEEN) from Manufactured Products: Addressing Environmental, Health, and Safety Implications, summarizing a workshop on this topic sponsored by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The main goals of the workshop were to assess progress in developing tools and methods for quantifying exposure to engineered nanomaterials across the product life cycle, and to identify new research needed to advance exposure assessment for nanotechnology-enabled products. …

The technical experts who participated in CPSC’s workshop recommended that future work focus on the complex issue of determining biomarkers of exposure linked to disease, which will require substantive public–private collaboration, partnership, and knowledge sharing. Recognizing these needs, the President’s 2017 Budget request for CPSC includes funds for a new nanotechnology center led by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) to develop test methods and to quantify and characterize the presence, release, and mechanisms of consumer exposure to nanomaterials in consumer products. This cost-effective, interagency collaboration will enable CPSC—through NIEHS—to collect the needed data to inform the safety of nanotechnology in consumer products and allow CPSC to benefit from NIEHS’s scientific network and experience.

Managing EHS risks across a product’s lifecycle includes protecting the workers who manufacture those products. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has issued a series of documents providing guidance to this emerging industry, including the recently released publication Building a Safety Program to Protect the Nanotechnology Workforce: A Guide for Small to Medium-Sized Enterprises. This guide provides business owners with the tools necessary to develop and implement a written health and safety program to protect their employees.

Whitman also mentions a June 2016 international conference in the context of this news,

The responsible development of nanotechnology is a goal that the United States shares with many countries. The United States and the European Union are engaged in notable cooperation on this front. European and American scientists engaged in nanoEHS research convene annually for a joint workshop to identify areas of shared interest and mechanisms for collaboration to advance nanoEHS science. The 2016 joint workshop will be held on June 6–7, 2016 in Arlington, VA, and is free and open to the public. …

Vote for favourite EnvisioNano image ’til June 17, 2016

A June 6, 2016 news item on Nanowerk announces the latest and last voting round of the semifinal judging for the 2016 EnvisioNano contest,

Members of the public are invited to vote for the best images in this round of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) EnvisioNano contest.

Now in its third round, this contest has drawn submissions from students at top labs and schools across the United States.

This round includes images such as this one (from the 3rd voting round of the EnvisioNano page),

Iron Honeycomb: Hexagonal close-packed assembly of iron oxide nanoparticles Credits: Vikas Nandwana Advisor: Vinayak Dravid Department of Materials Science and Engineering Northwestern University

Iron Honeycomb: Hexagonal close-packed assembly of iron oxide nanoparticles Credits: Vikas Nandwana Advisor: Vinayak Dravid Department of Materials Science and Engineering Northwestern University

Nandwana also provides this description of his image,

Description: The particles shown here are made of iron oxide, or rust – just like on a car. But these nanoparticles are tiny, 100,000 times thinner than a sheet of paper. At such a small size, they demonstrate some unique properties that can be used to detect and treat diseases like cancer by just applying external magnetic field without any side effects. Due to the same size and shape, the magnetic nanoparticles self-assemble (or come together) into a closely-packed honeycomb pattern.  Iron oxide nanoparticles like these are already used to help people suffering from iron deficiency (anemia). Researchers study how these magnetic nanoparticles interact with each other and tissues in the body, which can open new avenues for nontoxic, targeted tests and treatments for cancer, Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease.
Laboratory website: http://vpd.ms.northwestern.edu/
Technique: Transmission Electron Microscopy
Funding Source: NTU-NU Institute for NanoMedicine located at the International Institute for Nanotechnology, Northwestern University, USA and the Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.

A June 6, 2016 US National Nanotechnology Initiative news release, which originated the news item, gives more details,

In the first two rounds of the EnvisioNano contest, student images racked up over 41,000 online views and both previous winning images were featured on the back cover of the NNI Supplement to the President’s 2017 Budget! We encourage everyone to cast votes for their favorite images. All students have provided a description of their photos and research, allowing the viewer to envision where the research is headed and to learn how seeing at the nanoscale is important to reaching that vision. So, as you view the pictures, take a moment to learn about the research and how nanotechnology may improve your life.

Voting starts Monday, June 6th, and is open until June 17th [2016].
View the images and cast your vote at: www.nano.gov/EnvisioNanoVoting.

Once this voting round is completed, judges from the NNI will select the final winning image.

There are a few more details about the contest on this Envisio Nano page. It may be of interest to note that voting ends at 12 pm (noon) on June 17, 2016.

2015 winners were featured (as mentioned earlier) on the cover of the 2017 NNI budget supplement. I wrote about the supplement and embedded images of the cover in my April 4, 2016 posting.