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Nano/Bio Interface Center

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NSEC on Molecular Function at the Nano/Bio Interface  (University of Pennsylvania)

Research Focus & Anticipated Benefits

The Nano/Bio Interface Center (NBIC) at the University of Pennsylvania is a Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) sponsored by the National Science Foundation. NSECs address complex, interdisciplinary challenges in nanoscale science and engineering, and integrate research with education internally and through a variety of partnership activities.

NBIC research activities are organized in a unique structure that maximizes cross-fertilization and drives a coherent approach to the overall goals of the center. Two multidisciplinary research teams focus on aspects of the fundamental scientific issues; two cross cutting initiatives develop ideas integral to all projects and make explicit links between them. The fundamental themes are: optoelectronic function in synthetic biomolecules and mechanical motion of molecules from physiological systems. Each theme has a strong fundamental component and obvious technological impact ranging from nanoelectronics to medical diagnostic devices. Intersecting the themes is an initiative on the development of new probes of molecular/nanostructural behavior. In addition, an overarching activity concerns the ethical implications of nanotechnology specific to these research themes and to a broader, societal sense.

Education & Outreach

The NBIC seeks to engage a wide audience that includes the university community as well as reaching out to the local community.  Programs are oriented towards academics for undergraduate and graduate students as well as high school science teachers.  Other programs are more informal with the intent of increasing awareness and appreciation for societal impacts of nanoscale science and technology.  These programs are targeted toward precollegiate students, the general public, and the news media.  The overarching goal is to contribute to the development of a more scientifically literate community using nanoscale topics to excite the imagination.

These efforts include Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU) and Research Experience for Teachers (RET) programs that enable their participants to enhance their abilities as students and teachers by engaging in their own research alongside NBIC researchers. NBIC also sponsors a Summer Academy in Applied Science and Technology (SAAST) for middle and high school students, and much more.

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