The University of Texas at Austin announced last week that it was selected to receive a $18.5 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation to build a nanotechnology research center focused on creating the next generation of memory and energy storage components for mobile computing devices like smartphones.
“We decided to focus initially on the mobile computing and mobile energy space because mobile computing is going to boom over the next decade around the world,” said Roger Bonnecaze, chair of UT’s chemical engineering department and co-principal investigator for center development.
The center, officially called the Nonmanufacturing Systems for Mobile Computing and Mobile Energy Technologies (NASCENT for short) will be located at UT’s J.J. Pickle Research campus in the Microelectronics and Engineering Research Building.
“We decided to focus initially on the mobile computing and mobile energy space because mobile computing is going to boom over the next decade around the world.”
— Roger Bonnecaze, chair of UT’s chemical engineering department
UT has plans to develop flexible electronics, including “rollable batteries,” and as well as memory devices that can store more while using less power (writing and recalling memory is one of the biggest battery drainers in smartphones, said Bonnecaze).
The University of California, Berkeley and the University of New Mexico are aiding in research and development as academic partners to the center, receiving and splitting evenly $5 million from the grant. The university is also working with 11 industrial partners, including Lockheed Martin Corp. and Applied Materials Inc., to focus research plans and provide internships to students, said Bonnecaze. An additional $250,000 from industrial partners is expected to go toward the center in the first year, according to the Austin American-Statesman.
UT isn’t interested in making the next iPhone, but by doing the initial research and development on materials, as well as how to manufacture them safely and efficiently, the university hopes that faculty and student researchers and industrial partners will create products spin-off companies that apply components in new ways, said Bonnecaze.
“A goal of the center is to develop what’s called and innovation ecosystem,” said Bonnecaze. “ At the core will be the center generating new knowledge, new technology and essentially intellectual property. This will be immediately available to our industrial partners and they’ll have the first rights for non-exclusive licenses.”
The University of Texas has a strong nanotechnology portfolio, including the creation of the world’s smallest semi-conducting laser earlier this year. Something new that this center offers the university is the fostering of multi-disciplinary research between the different engineering schools at UT.
“We’re going to have a multi-disciplinary team that will enable us to go after hard problems that can’t be solved by just one faculty member and one graduate student in a single discipline,” said Bonnecaze.
Another goal of the center is education at both the university and primary school level. There are already plans for students from the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders and Manor Middle School and Manor New Tech High School to participate in center activities and research, said Bonnecaze.Read the full article »
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