The NanoCenter is an umbrella organization to promote nano- and micro- scale research at the University of Maryland College Park, coordinating research and educational programs, serving as liason to external entities, and providing cutting-edge facilities for use to the campus and outside users in the region. The NanoCenter is supported by A. James Clark School of Engineering, the College of Mathematics and Natural Sciences, the Office of Research, and the Office of the Provost.
Researchers in the NanoCenter pursue a variety of experimental and computational methods. Experiments depend heavily on sophisticated equipment to create nanomaterials and nanostructure and to characterize properties and performance on resulting materials and structures.
Often their programs involve extensive use of NanoCenter shared user faciliites (FabLab clean room for fabrication, AIMLab for electron and related high-resolution microscopies, as well as partner user facilities. Researchers use these capabilities in concert with their more specialized individual and shared research laboratories.
The NanoCenter community is highly collaborative. Besides open user facilities, faculty groups regularly collaborative intensively and share their individual facilities across departments and colleges. Research group meetings are often held jointly by two or more collaborating groups, providing open doors for students and postdocs to approach collaborating faculty members and their groups. A variety of instruments in individual laboratories are made available to outside users, with use and fees coordinated through the NanoCenter.
The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), launched in 2001, identifies three key features of nano. In addition to small size (100nm or less), nano involves new functionality that arises from the small size, and it requires the ability to control at the nanoscale, implying new modes of synthesis or fabrication and accompanying capability to characterize and measure properties and behavior of nanoscale objects.
Advances in nanoscale science and engineering are already altering the technologies available to and adopted by society in consumer areas and beyond. More importantly, nano is poised to bring transformational change to the most important domains of society and economy, including energy, environmental stewardship, biomedicine, security, defense, manufacturing, transportation, and consumer lifestyles.