New $10M center to assess nanotechnology's role in healthcare

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The University of Rochester in upstate New York has opened a $10 million research and fabrication facility to develop microscopic materials for various industries—including healthcare. The Integrated Nanosystems Center, or URNano, will bring together experts in optics, chemistry, biomedicine and bioengineering to work on everything from energy systems to implantable biomedical devices.

Prominent in the center’s plans are biosensors with embedded nanosystem components that can be used to detect biological warfare agents, such as anthrax, at very low concentrations. URNano will also advance fuel-cell and battery designs that promise greater portability and less frequent recharging, and can be applied to mobile communications, GPS systems, computers and night vision devices.

The Integrated Nanosystems Center consists of a 1,000 square-foot metrology (measurement) facility and a 2,000 square-foot, cleanroom fabrication facility, according to a release. The cleanroom lab was designed and equipped in a way that ensures it is virtually free of dust, foreign particles and chemical vapors.

"URnano will complement nanotechnology research at other New York State universities, such as Albany, Cornell and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute," Nicholas P. Bigelow, PhD, chair of the university’s physics department and director of URNano, said in a statement. 

Federal taxpayers will pick up $4.4 million of the center’s $10 million price tag.