Tag Archives: University of Albany

Split or symbiotic relationship? University of Albany and its College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering

There’s a change taking place at New York state’s University of Albany and its College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE). Some call it a split, while others call it a new symbiotic relationship. Given the importance of the nano effort in NY state (my July 17, 2008 posting about IBM’s $1.5B investment in the state’s nanotechnology sector) and the CNSE’s prominence and outreach efforts (my May 28, 2013 posting), I checked into this further.

A July 17, 2013 posting by Charles Huckabee for The Ticker blog on The Chronicle for Higher Education website provides an overview of the situation and some of the funding considerations leading to the new relationship (Note: Links have been removed),

Trustees of the State University of New York [SUNY] voted on Tuesday [July 16, 2013] to begin the process of splitting off the University at Albany’s College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering into a separate, degree-granting institution, according to reports by the Times Union newspaper of Albany and the Associated Press. Several trustees, however, challenged whether the separation was necessary, saying it had not been sufficiently reviewed and could end up duplicating administration costs for SUNY.

In a news release from SUNY, the system’s chancellor, Nancy L. Zimpher, who champions the move, said the task of separating the institutions would be completed by the 2014-15 academic year. …

… a study group assembled by Ms. Zimpher concluded that to achieve its goals, the college needed more independence. Those goals, according to the Times Union, include amassing up to $500-million in research dollars in 2015 alone while continuing to build up space used for classes and research by public- and private-sector scientists.

As might be expected, not everyone is entirely thrilled with this change. From the July 24, 2013 interview by Haley Viccano for The Business Review (Note: Links have been removed),

I spoke with Karen Hitchcock, University at Albany’s president from 1996 until 2004, about the split between UAlbany and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering.

Hitchcock discussed the history of the nanocollege’s growth during her presidency and how she believes the restructuring could affect both campuses.

She said she is concerned about the decision to split because it has the potential to hurt UAlbany’s reputation and diminish its stature as a research institution.

It’s an interesting read and I’m inclined to agree with Hitchcock’s analysis. Dave Lucas’s July 23, 2013 posting (which includes an embedded radio interview [running time: a little over 3.5 mins.]) for WAMC; Northeast Public Radio, acknowledges the doubts and the hopes for this action,

David Doyle is Director of Communications for the State University of New York. He admits there are obviously many questions and issues that need to be resolved over the next year of transition.

Although the colleges will “split,” University at Albany President Robert Jones agrees they will forever be interlinked. He expects both schools have important roles to play and will rise to new levels of education and innovation.  Jones adds there is no issue that can’t be worked out to make a smooth transition from one school to two.

Nano College Senior Vice President and Chief Executive Officer Alain Kaloyeros was not available for comment. An op-ed piece for the Albany Times Union Kaloyeros co-authored with Jones states that the action “by the SUNY Board of Trustees is not the end of the process; it is the beginning.”

The posting is not a full transcript of the radio interview, so you might want to check out the interview to get such tidbits as Doyle’s and other’s  description of the symbiotic relationship (not split) they hope for.

Designing nanomaterials for safe handling

I’ve long been interested in ‘good’ design, i.e., designing systems and products for success not failure. How many times have you had to use a device that was designed for failure? Take for example the keypad at the Automatic Teller/Banking Machines. I used one recently where the first line of digits (1, 2, 3) was hidden by a rubber mat intended to shield the code from prying eyes. Being busy and agitated, I didn’t notice and kept keying in the wrong code. That was a nonfatal failure but other bad design can cost lives.

The US National Institute of Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) is co-sponsoring an August 2012 workshop on designing nanomaterials and safety at the University of Albany in New York state (from the July 27, 2012 news item on Nanowerk),

A traditional hierarchy of controls to reduce occupational risks may be applied to advanced nanomaterials. The hierarchy of controls starts with elimination or substitution of hazards. Preventing a potential risk to workers from a particular advanced nanomaterial by eliminating that potential hazard at the design phase of development is the most effective means of risk management and can support the safe progression of nanotechnology from simple to more advanced nanomaterials. Prevention of harm through safe design includes: (1) avoiding incorporating hazardous elements such as lead and other heavy metals into the nanomaterial; (2) designing “safer” nanomaterials, which would disintegrate into non-toxic and easily biodegradable components; and (3) designing safer nanomanufacturing processes.

Safe design of nanomaterials is included in the National Nanotechnology Initiative’s Signature Initiative on Nanotechnology Knowledge Infrastructure (pdf) announced in May of 2012. Specifically, the Signature Initiative states that “a focused national emphasis on nanoinformatics* will provide a strong basis for the rational design of nanomaterials and products, prioritization of research, and assessment of risk throughout product lifecycles and across sectors.” Safe design will be also a focus of an upcoming workshop on Safe Nano Design: Molecule • Manufacturing • Market co-sponsored by NIOSH.

The workshop registration deadline is Aug. 3, 2012. Here’s more about the workshop from the event webpage,

Participants at this workshop will provide input into the safe commercialization of nano products using a Prevention-through-Design approach. Participants will share their knowledge on the efforts to develop safer nano molecules that have the same functionality; process containment and control, based on the considerations of risk of exposure to workers; and the management system approaches for including occupational safety and health into the nanoparticle synthetic process, product development, and product manufacture.

I found this  description on the Prevention Through Design webpage,

One of the best ways to prevent and control occupational injuries, illnesses, and fatalities is to “design out” or minimize hazards and risks early in the design process. NIOSH is leading a national initiative called Prevention through Design (PtD) to promote this concept and highlight its importance in all business decisions.

A growing number of business leaders are recognizing PtD as a cost-effective means to enhance occupational safety and health. Many U.S. companies openly support PtD concepts and have developed management practices to implement them. Other countries are actively promoting PtD concepts as well. The United Kingdom began requiring construction companies, project owners, and architects to address safety and health during the design phase of projects in 1994, and companies there have responded with positive changes in management practices to comply with the regulations. Australia developed the Australian National OHS Strategy 2002–2012, which set “eliminating hazards at the design stage” as one of five national priorities. As a result, the Australian Safety and Compensation Council (ASCC) developed the Safe Design National Strategy and Action Plans for Australia encompassing a wide range of design areas including buildings and structures, work environments, materials, and plant (machinery and equipment).

I appreciate the importance of this concept when applied to occupational health and safety and hope this ‘preventive design ‘ or as I prefer to call it ‘designing for success’ is applied to systems and products of all kinds.

NANOvember at the University of Albany

This is one of my favourite public engagement initiatives (sadly, I missed posting about it last year). From the Oct. 17, 2011 news item on Nanowerk,

The extensive month-long series of educational and community outreach activities will kick off with “Nano vs. Nature” on Wednesday, November 2. CNSE Vice President for Economic Outreach and Business Development Michael Fancher will discuss innovations enabled by nanotechnology that offer promise for protection of life and prevention of damage – a timely topic amid the series of natural disasters, including an earthquake, hurricane, tornado and flooding, that have affected our region.

The NANOvember schedule includes two exciting events being held for the first time: a “Nano Discovery” collaboration with Police Athletic League (PAL) chapters in Albany and Troy on Saturday, November 12 in which CNSE will present hands-on activities introducing students to nanotechnology, and the Capital Region Nanotechnology Showcase presented in partnership with the Times Union Classroom Enrichment Program on Saturday, November 19, where high school students will showcase projects that answer the question, “How is nanotechnology changing the world?”

In addition, CNSE will launch “NanoQuin World” at Crossgates Mall in Albany. This unique display will demonstrate the many ways in which nanotechnology has become an integral part of everyday life, highlighting the numerous applications of nanoscale know-how in today’s society.

There are more details in the news item or you can check out the College of Nanoscale Science & Engineering (CNSE) at the University of Albany’s website page for a full list of events and registration information.

Memristor tidbit from an unexpected source

The US Air Force has funded research to enable memristors to be integrated into CMOS (complementary metal-oxide semiconductor) devices. From the news item on Nanowerk,

Dr. Wei Wang, CNSE [College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering] Assistant Professor and Senior Research Scientist of Nanoscale Engineering, and Dr. Nathaniel Cady, CNSE  Assistant Professor of Nanobioscience, received $460,000 in funding from the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (“AFRL”) to enable integration of CMOS devices with memristors – including the development of novel prototypes – to support a new computing paradigm. Early research shows significant promise for the development of smaller nanoelectronic computer architectures that generate new and efficient ways to perform computational tasks while consuming less power.

The work is being performed at the University of Albany where the CNSE resides. In total, they received over $2M in US federal funding for various nanotechnology research projects.

After the discussion about memristors (see below) a few months back, I’m tickled to see this development.

Articles listed with the most recent article first:

Science in the British election and CASE; memristor and artificial intelligence; The Secret in Their Eyes, an allegory for post-Junta Argentina?

Measuring professional and national scientific achievements; Canadian science policy conferences

New approaches for emerging technologies; memristor comments by Dr. Leon Chua; more about I’m a scientist

Memristors and nuances in a classification tug-of-war; NRC of Canada insights; rapping scientists

Interview about memristors with Forrest H Bennett III

The memristor rises; commercialization and academic research in the US; carbon nanotubes could be made safer than we thought

More on memristors and a little bit on food packaging and nano

Canada’s nano article numbers (part 2) plus memristor and L’Oreal updates

Memristors and green energy

Self-cleaning windows almost here?; SAFENANO consortium and two new contracts; high school students in Albany, NY compete with nano projects; the state of science journalism in the UK

According to a news item on Nanowerk, the Nanophase Technologies Corporation introduced a new nanotechnology-enabled window cleaning product at the International Window Cleaning Association Convention in Reno (Jan. 27 – 30, 2010). From the news item,

NanoUltra™ Super Hydrophilic Window Technology keeps windows cleaner longer than traditional window washing by providing an invisible protection to the surface of glass. The NanoUltra™ products impart a protection to the glass surface that is hydrophilic, allowing water to create a sheeting action that washes away dirt and grime. These revolutionary products also accelerate drying time, resulting in virtually spot and streak free windows.
This high-performance product works using a two-step application method. First, NanoUltra™ Super Hydrophilic Window Pretreatment, a nano cerium oxide based product, is applied to provide both a chemical and mechanical polishing mechanism that restores glass to ‘like new’ condition. Then the NanoUltra™ Super Hydrophilic Treatment product is applied to maintain the super hydrophilic surface property and give windows the ultimate shine.
The results can provide significant benefits to building owners and managers, professional window cleaners and window restoration specialists. In addition to potentially reducing liability and cleaning costs for the building owners, the NanoUltra™ technology offers up-sell and new business development opportunities for those servicing these patrons.

There’s more about the windows on Nanowerk here.

I’m happy to hear that I’m a step closer to self-cleaning windows although I wasn’t thinking of getting two new cleaning products. I want windows that are perpetually self-cleaning and not reliant on coatings that I have to reapply and which will likely leave streaks. This my problem with cleaning windows, i.e., streaks. Plus, I’m concerned about the birds. Won’t birds hurt themselves flying into shiny (“… ultimate shine …” ), clear windows?

SAFENANO, mentioned earlier this week (Jan. 27, 2010) has just announced two contracts which will provide information for the regulation of nanomaterials. From the news item on Nanowerk,

A consortium led by SAFENANO from the Institute of Occupational Medicine has been awarded two contracts by the Institute for Health and Consumer Protection of the European Commission’s Directorate General Joint Research Centre (JRC) concerning the development of specific advice on the assessment of nanomaterials under REACH. The first project, REACH-NanoInfo (also known as RIP-oN2), addresses the REACH information requirements on intrinsic properties of nanomaterials. The second project, REACH-NanoHazEx (RIP-oN3), addresses undertaking exposure assessments and conducting hazard and risk characterisation for nanomaterials within the REACH context.

If you want more information about the projects, go here.

I’ve been lazily following the nanotechnology scene in NY state since 2008 when IBM awarded $1.5B to the state for nanotechnology. From the announcement on Nanowerk,

The investment will go toward three separate and complementary components of a comprehensive project, supporting the nanotechnology chip computer activities of IBM: the expansion of IBM’s operations at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany (Albany NanoTech), the creation of a new, advanced semiconductor packaging research and development center at a to be determined in Upstate New York, and the upgrading of IBM’s East Fishkill facility in Dutchess County.

Since then, I’ve noticed, with much interest, the University of Albany’s nanotechnology outreach efforts (latest posting about it here).  It seems they have also reached into high schools. According to the news item on Nanowerk,

A trio of high school seniors conducting hands-on nanotechnology research through internships at the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (“CNSE”) of the University at Albany have been selected as semifinalists in the 2010 Intel Science Talent Search (“Intel STS”), the nation’s most prestigious pre-college science competition. The three are among just 300 students chosen nationwide to compete for $1.25 million in awards, with 40 finalists scheduled to be announced on January 27.

I did track down the Jan.27.10 announcement of the 40 finalists but have not found a list of names. From the announcement,

New York again has the highest number [emphasis mine] of young innovators in this competition (11 this year). Following New York is California with eight finalists; Texas with three; Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon with two each; and Alabama, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Virginia and Wisconsin with one finalist each.

Unfortunately I don’t have a neat segue for my next bit which is about science journalism in the UK. According to the news item on physorg.com,

The study ‘Mapping the Field: Specialist science news journalism in the UK national media’ was led by Dr Andy Williams of the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies. It was based on a survey of UK science, health, and environment news journalists, and 52 in-depth interviews with specialist reporters and senior editors in the national news media.

According to the research there has been an increase in the number of specialist science journalists in the UK national news media and there is a growing appetite for science news within newsrooms.

Also noted are the problems that all journalists are currently facing as newspapers and magazines struggle for survival.

If you want to read more about the study, you can also go here, where more information such as this is featured,

Whilst the extent of the influence of public relations varies widely between different news outlets, there is a general sense that PR has become an increasingly important and unavoidable presence over the last decade. A significant minority, 23%, believe science specialists rely on PR too much, and 25% of respondents said they now use more PR than previously. Many interviewees complain that a lot of their time is spent trying to convince news desks not to run poor-quality “bad science” stories they have seen on the news wires and/or in eye-catching press releases.

The struggle between journalists and PR practitioners is longstanding and worth discussing in a posting next week. Meanwhile, happy weekend.

Canadian nano in Ontario; Germany’s position on labeling cosmetics as nano products; combing quantum tangles; 1st undergraduate nanoscale science studies programme in US

Today I have a lot of short news bits. First, there’s some Canadian nanotechnology news. The Ontario government is investing $3.8M in Vive Nano and its environmentally friendly process for creating nano materials and products. The funding is being disbursed through the Ontario government’s Innovation Demonstration Fund.

I took a look at Vive Nano’s website and it’s short on detail. They make the claim that their products are environmentally friendly without substantiating it. On the plus side, there’s a very descriptive video about their process for developing nanoparticles which you can access by selecting ‘our technology’ from the ‘what we do’ pulldown menu on the home page. (If you want to read more details from the news item on Nanowerk, go here.)

I was surprised to find out that Germany had resisted the European Union’s new requirements to label nanotechnology-derived ingredients in cosmetics and beauty products as such. From the news item on Nanwerk,

One of the key elements of the new streamlined laws is a clause requiring companies to print the word ‘nano’ in brackets after any ingredient which is smaller than 100 nanometres in size.
“All ingredients present in the form of nanomaterials shall be clearly indicated in the list of ingredients,” according to the new legislation.
However, Germany took the view (pdf download) that highlighting the fact that a product contains nanomaterials could be viewed by consumers as a warning.
German officials noted that cosmetic products that are for sale in the EU must already pass stringent safety tests, implying that the inclusion of nano-scale materials should not warrant additional scrutiny.

I believed there was more unanimity of thought regarding labeling and concerns about health and safety regarding emerging technologies in the European Union (EU). In hindsight, I suspect that’s because most of the material I read about the EU is written after the discussions and disagreements have been resolved or smoothed over in some way.

I’ve been wondering where the metaphors have disappeared to in the last few months as the nanotechnology announcements contain fewer and fewer of them. Happily I found a new one the other day. From the news item (Straightening messy correlations with a quantum comb) on Nanowerk,

Quantum computing promises ultra-fast communication, computation and more powerful ways to encrypt sensitive information. But trying to use quantum states as carriers of information is an extremely delicate business. Now two physicists have shown, mathematically, how to gently tease out unwanted knots in quantum communication, while keeping the information intact.

The scientist as a hairdresser? Teasing and combing out knots? It’s very different from the more usual science fiction reference and it hints at creativity (good hairdressers are creative).

The University of Albany is really pulling out all the stops lately. In addition to their NANOvember events they have just announced the first undergraduate programme for nanoscale science studies in the US. From the news item on Nanowerk,

The College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (“CNSE”) of the University at Albany announced today that it is now accepting applications for admission to its groundbreaking undergraduate program, which represents the nation’s first comprehensive baccalaureate curriculum in Nanoscale Science.

As I commented in a previous posting (Nov.9.2009), IBM did invest $1.5B into New York state for a nano research centre and it would seem that this new university programme is very well set to provide future employees.

One more thing, girl scouts. 200 of them were hosted by the CNSE in a Nano Explorations Program. From the news item on Nanowerk,

The event was part of CNSE’s celebration of NANOvember, a month-long community and educational outreach initiative that includes a series of programs and activities highlighting the increasing impact of nanotechnology and the global leadership of the UAlbany NanoCollege in the most important science of the 21st century. The event included a presentation on the emerging science of nanotechnology and the career opportunities it offers; hands-on activities that showcased the role of nanotechnology research and development, with a special focus on clean and renewable energy technologies; a gowning demonstration that illustrated how researchers prepare to work in CNSE’s state-of-the-art cleanrooms; and tours of CNSE’s Albany NanoTech Complex, with tools and facilities that are unmatched at any university in the world.

What really impresses me with the NANOvember programming is the range and imagination they’ve used to communicate about nanotechnology.

Detecting dangerous liquids in airline luggage with a Josephson junction; NANOvember in Albany, New York; nano haiku for November

To be free of those clear plastic bags which hold all your bottles of liquids when you go through airport security with your luggage! That is a very worthwhile nanotechnology promise. From the news item on Nanowerk,

Restrictions on liquids in carry-on bags on commercial airliners could become a thing of the past thanks to a revolutionary nano-electric device which detects potentially hazardous liquids in luggage in a fraction of a second, according to a team of German scientists. Writing in the journal Superconductor Science and Technology, the researchers at the Forschungszentrum Juelich in western Germany claim that they have been able to do this using an optical approach that detects all existing and future harmful liquids within one fifth of a second.

Since the paper has been published, the researchers have been approached by industrial partners about producing a prototype. (sigh) Most likely this means they hope it will be about five years before we see the devices in airports. The device itself is known as a Josephson junction and you can read more about it on the Azonano site too.

I am happy to see that the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) at the University of Albany (New York, US) has held a remarkably successful nano event, Community Day, during NANOvember  attracting about 1000 people.  From the news item on Nanowerk,

NANOvember is part of “NEXSTEP,” or “Nanotechnology Explorations for Science, Training and Education Promotion,” a partnership between CNSE and KeyBank. Spearheaded by CNSE’s Nanoeconomics Constellation, the initiative features a variety of educational programs designed to promote greater understanding of the changing economic and business environment in the Capital Region and New York State being driven by nanotechnology. “As nanotechnology increasingly shapes the educational and economic landscapes of the Capital Region, NANOvember offers a platform through which the community can better understand the impact and opportunities driven by this emerging science,” said Jeffrey Stone, president, Capital Region, KeyBank N.A.

I’m impressed they attracted that large a crowd in a city with a population of about 100,000 (Albany county has a population of about 300,000) according the 2000 census statistics. By contrast, the city of Vancouver (Canada) has a population of about 600,000 with a regional population of approximately 2 million (from the City of Vancouver website on November 9, 2009) and I’m hard pressed to recall either of our local universities claiming a similar success for one of their community days.

One other point about Albany and nanotechnology, in a July 2008 posting I noted a $1.5B investment for a research centre  in Albany, NY, being made by IBM. So this nanotechnology communication/education event seems to dovetail very nicely with past occurrences and suggests an overall strategy is at work.

Some haiku from NISEnet’s (Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network) newsletter,

After you read this
Your finger nail will have grown
a nanometer
by Troy Dassler

We struggle to show
The size of a molecule.
Kids wait patiently.

by Mike Falvo

You can check out the organization’s The Nano Bite blog here.