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Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for Integrated Nanopatterning and Detection Technologies

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Nanoscale Science & Engineering Center for Integrated Nanopatterning and Detection Technologies  (Northwestern University)

Research Focus

The Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for Integrated Nanopatterning and Detection Technologies seeks to develop innovative biological and chemical detection systems capable of revolutionizing a variety of fields. The center works at the nanoscale to develop sensors that are far more sensitive, selective and cost-effective than conventional systems. These goals are pursued by an integrated team of three synergistic research groups--nanopatterning, integrated electronic chip and optical nanoarray sensors.

Research Outcomes

Genuine medical benefits are now emerging as direct products of the center research, including detection techniques for markers associated with diseases such as Alzheimer's disease and prostate cancer. These detection techniques are bringing advances in sensitivity, speed, ease of use and cost over existing methods.

Says center director Chad Mirkin: “Creating highly sensitive ways of screening for diseases is going to change the way the medical profession operates, and will make a tremendous difference in the outcome for millions of patients."

Education & Outreach

The center is also committed to training the scientists, technicians and teachers of tomorrow. Innovative educational outreach programs are closely linked to center research and include: the Research Experience for Undergraduates program; the center-published Nanoscape: The Journal of Undergraduate Research in Nanoscience; the Research Experience for Teachers program; the center’s DiscoverNano website, with nearly 1 million visitors each year; All Scout Nano Day; Nanotechnology Town Hall meetings; and Science Cafés. Partnerships with the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago, the Nanoscale Informal Science Education Network and the National Center for Learning and Teaching in Nanoscale Science and Engineering increase the impact of center programs.

Increasing diversity in the fields of science, mathematics and engineering is an important goal. A diversity plan is fully implemented and has resulted in the center consistently surpassing national diversity averages. Partnerships with the National Society of Black Engineers, National Society of Hispanic Engineers, Society of Women Engineers, Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Latinos, and Native Americans in Science contribute to this success.

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  • This scanning electron micrograph shows a nanofountain-probe dispensing tip.
The miniscule tip on an atomic-force microscope developed at the center. It helps researchers both "see" and manipulate the nanoscale environment.
© 2005 Horacio D. Espinosa