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Southeastern Nanotechnology Infrastructure Corridor (SENIC) Program Receives NSF Renewal Grant

Atlanta, GA
E-Beam Training at IEN

GT Researchers training on the Elionix E-Beam System in the IEN cleanroom, Marcus Nanotechnology Building, Atlanta Campus.

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The National Science Foundation (NSF) has issued a renewal grant of 7.5 million dollars for a five-year period (2020-2025) to continue support of the Southeastern Nanotechnology Infrastructure Corridor (SENIC) as one of 16 sites within the National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure (NNCI). A partnership between the Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology (IEN) at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN), an academic collaboration between North Carolina A&T State University (NCA&T) and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG), SENIC provides access to state-of-the-art micro- and nanofabrication and characterization facilities and expert staff support to a diverse user group from government, academia and industry.

SENIC facilities are utilized annually by more than 1,300 individual researchers and, since the program’s inception, a total of 2,800 unique users have used its resources, including more than 650 external users from 200 small and large companies and nearly 50 colleges and universities. SENIC members have access to more than 300 nanotechnology fabrication and characterization tools to assist in their research. SENIC’s unique approach and tool-set allows users to explore the full continuum of a project, from nanomaterials and nanostructures, to nano-enabled devices and full (packaged) systems, assisting with the transition of nanoscale research achievements into high-impact applications in medicine, energy, communication, smart transportation, textiles and smart agriculture. Additionally, research undertaken at SENIC facilities aims to meet national priorities, including NSF’s 10 Big Ideas and encompassing topics such as quantum science, convergence research, and biomedical technologies.

SENIC also engages the broader community with its integrated K-12 education/outreach program and studies of the societal and ethical implications of nanotechnology. During its initial five years, SENIC has reached over 45,000 students (K-12, undergraduate, graduate), professionals, and the general public via hands-on classroom activities, teacher training, short courses, seminars, research experiences, and public nanotechnology awareness events . These activities are focused on the development of a strong workforce capable of meeting the needs of a growing nanotechnology-enabled economy. SENIC’s unique resources are also used to provide educational experiences that encourage STEM participation, in particular among underserved populations. The SENIC societal and ethical implications (SEI) program, coordinated by Jan L. Youtie (GT School of Public Policy), is embedded in the Corridor’s mission and operations to address the intellectual, societal, and economic impact of nanoscale science and engineering enabled by the NNCI.

SENIC’s renewal funding will allow the partners to continue developing an interdisciplinary research ecosystem that is strengthened by collaboration, sharing of best practices, scholarly interaction, and mutual support. “With this renewal funding, the SENIC partners at Georgia Tech and JSNN can continue to offer a state-of-the-art nanotechnology tool set and tremendous staff expertise to our diverse user base from industry, academia and government labs, strengthening nanotechnology R&D and its translation into products, particularly in the Southeastern US, while helping to develop the needed strong workforce,” says Oliver Brand, executive director of Georgia Tech’s Institute for Electronics and Nanotechnology, and a Professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

SENIC is an integral member of the NNCI’s network of user facilities, providing access to users in the Southeast Region and beyond. "NNCI helps scientists and engineers in diverse fields solve challenging convergent research problems" said Dawn Tilbury, NSF assistant director for Engineering. "Research and education through NNCI will continue to yield nanotechnology innovations -- from interconnects for quantum systems to high-resolution imaging to brain-implanted sensors -- that bring economic and societal benefits to us all."

In addition to PI and Site Director Prof. Oliver Brand, Co-PIs at Georgia Tech include Dr. David Gottfried, Deputy Site Director and a Principal Research Scientist at IEN and Dr. Quinn Spadola, Education and Outreach Director and an Academic Professional at IEN, as well as JSNN Co-PIs Prof. Sherine Obare and Prof. Shyam Aravamudhan.

- Christa M. Ernst

Last revised August 24, 2020