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Steve McGregor, UTD
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UTD NanoTech Institute Wins $1.8 Million in Funding
From Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency

Two Government Grants Accelerate University’s Nanotechnology Research

RICHARDSON, Texas (April 16, 2002) - Founded only last fall, the UTD NanoTech Institute at The University of Texas at Dallas has begun ramping up its nanotechnology research efforts on news that it won two grants worth a total of $1.8 million in initial annual funding from the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

The projects being funded will involve collaboration among researchers at UTD, as well as at major universities and research institutes throughout the U.S. and in other countries.

“This is leading-edge science and precisely what we had in mind when we brought two of the top nanotechnology experts in the world to UTD last fall,” said Dr. Franklyn Jenifer, president of UTD. “Now that the UTD NanoTech Institute is up and running, the university is in a position to begin playing a pivotal role in helping realize the potential of nanotechnology.”

In the fall of 2001, UTD hired Dr. Ray Baughman and Dr. Anvar Zakhidov from Honeywell International, where they had earned reputations as pioneers in the promising field of nanotechnology. Baughman became director of the UTD NanoTech Institute and holds the Robert A. Welch Chair in Chemistry. Zakhidov is associate director of the institute and a full professor in the UTD Department of Physics.

Shortly after the arrival on campus of Baughman and Zakhidov, UTD announced that Dr. Alan G. MacDiarmid, the 2000 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, would join the university as a distinguished scholar in residence. Among his roles at the university, MacDiarmid chairs the advisory board of the UTD NanoTech Institute.

Nanotechnology enables the fabrication of material structures and devices having molecular dimensions and entirely new physical or chemical properties as a result of sizes smaller than the wavelength of light. Still in its infancy, nanoscience has the potential to revolutionize such disparate fields as electronics, medicine, communications and manufacturing.

The larger of the two DARPA awards to UTD is for a project, funded at $1.4 million annually, headed by Baughman. The goal of the research is to demonstrate that carbon nanotube fibers can be used simultaneously as ultra-high-strength structural materials and as materials that store electrical energy, harvest waste energy and convert electrical energy to mechanical energy.

Carbon nanotubes are sheets of graphitic carbon that are rolled into straw-like nanoscale structures having 50 times the strength on a weight basis of steel wire.

Potential applications of the research range from high-power, low-voltage artificial muscles that can operate at extremely high temperatures to robotic devices, super capacitors for energy storage on electronic circuit boards and structural shells that harvest waste thermal energy for aerospace vehicles.

Baughman has assembled a team of leading researchers from around the world to work with UTD personnel on the project. Included will be researchers from the Max Planck laboratory in Germany, the University of Pisa in Italy, the University of Wollongong in Australia, as well as the University of Utah, Georgetown University, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Florida at Gainesville and Morris Research of New Jersey.

The second research project, funded by DARPA at $400,000 for the first year, seeks to develop the breakthrough science needed for engineering phonon-related properties of materials. Phonons are thermal vibrations that enable materials to be cooled or heated, and are vitally important for achieving superconductivity.

Like the other DARPA-funded project, this research combines theoretical and experimental studies and the efforts of chemists, physicists, material scientists and engineers to develop new materials and devices that may be important for tomorrow’s products.

Some of the research will involve the use of a special new magnetometer, just acquired by UTD at a cost of approximately $250,000, that will permit the study of the phenomena of superconductivity at very low temperatures - nearly absolute zero, which is -459 degrees Fahrenheit.

UTD’s Zakhidov will head an interdisciplinary team of researchers on the project. The team includes Dr. John Ferraris and Dr. Ken Balkus of the UTD Chemistry Department, Dr. Alan Dalton of the UTD NanoTech Institute and researchers from the University of Utah and the Institute of Spectroscopy in Moscow.

DARPA is the central research and development organization for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). It manages and directs selected basic and applied research and development projects for DoD, and pursues research and technology where risk and payoff are both very high and where success may provide dramatic advances for traditional military roles and missions.

About UTD

The University of Texas at Dallas, located at the convergence of Richardson, Plano and Dallas in the heart of the complex of major multinational technology corporations known as the Telecom Corridor, enrolls more than 7,000 undergraduate and 5,000 graduate students. The school’s freshman class traditionally stands at the forefront of Texas state universities in terms of average SAT scores. The university offers a broad assortment of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree programs. For additional information about UTD, please visit the university’s web site at

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This page last updated
August 15, 2002