CCAS, SEAS launch Institute for Nanotechnology

A recently launched Institute for Nanotechnology at GW will investigate a developing science that studies objects 1/100,000th the size of a strand of hair.

In a partnership between the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the Institute for Nanotechnology will research atoms at the nano level and ultimately help create new goods and materials. The University has committed $200,000 to the institute for its first year.

“Traditional engineering theories, like continuum mechanics, which engineers have used for over a century to design new devices, break down in nanotechnology,” wrote engineering professor Robert Vallance, who led in the establishment of the institute, in an e-mail. “We have to now teach students additional physical, chemical, biological and statistical principles that govern nanotechnology.”

Vallance said the majority of the funds will go toward establishing the GW Institute for Nanotechnology Microscopy Lab, which will help scientists work on a “diverse” group of projects including synthesis of carbon nanotubes, nanolithography, self-assembly processes and nanomagnetic arrays.

“Nanotechnology is a vital area of national importance with applications across a wide spectrum from medicine to electronics to improving water quality worldwide,” said SEAS Dean David Dolling in a news release.

CCAS Dean Peg Barratt also praised the new institute, noting its multi-disciplinary approach. Institute members will come from different departments within SEAS and CCAS, including mechanical and aerospace engineering, physics and biochemistry.

Vallance said other departments within the two schools are also welcome to join.

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