(M.C. Roco, R.P. Khosla, D. Crawford)

NSF/ENG Interest in Nanotechnology

Summarized by M.C. Roco for the ENG Nanotechnology Group

The Current ENG Base Support

NSF participation in NT is broad-based in all engineering disciplines. The participating Engineering Directorate (ENG) divisions -- Electrical and Communications Systems (ECS); Chemical and Transport Systems (CTS); Design, Manufacture, and Industrial Innovation (DMII); Bioengineering and Environmental Systems (BES); and Civil and Mechanical Systems (CMS) -- have identified NT as an area of future growth with interdisciplinary research opportunities. The annual expenditure in ENG will be approximately $20 million in 1997/1998 (FY '98). ECS and CMS have had a larger interest in the top-down approach (making big things small), including the ECS support for NNUN (see next section). This interest has primarily been driven by the potential advances in microelectronic and photonic components of reduced dimensions, as well generation of materials with higher mechanical and tribological properties. CTS and BES have a larger interest in the "building up" approach (from the molecular level to precursor nanoparticles and then to functional nanostructures). This work includes fundamental contributions on nanoparticles, nanolayers, and nanotubes; characterization and use of precursor nanostructures; and manufacturing processes for miniaturized devices and biosensors. DMII and CMS have a focus on nanofabrication of nanocomponents for MEMS and for coatings.

Research Opportunities

ENG is interested in promoting interdisciplinary research and education in the science and engineering of nanotechnology, and particularly in functional nanostructures. It is most likely that this will involve engineers, biologists, material scientists, chemists, and physicists. Selected examples of research areas suitable for study are as follows:

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Published: January 1998; WTEC Hyper-Librarian