case western reserve university




The march toward miniaturization has led to burgeoning interest in nanoscale science and technology, that is, technology involving a dimension in the scale of 1 to about 500 nanometers (10-9 meters). The invention of new fabrication, manipulation and measurement tools over the last few decades has enabled this revolution. In recognition of this trend and the promise of the potential impact of nanotechnology on our culture and economy, the U.S. government, as well as state and local governments, has initiated programs in nanoscale science and technology. Since the formation of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) in 2001, federal funding for this area of research has doubled. Significantly, the commercial potential of nanotechnology is beginning to be realized with growing awareness in the business community. In response, a number of major centers for nanoscience and technology research have been established across the country.

Initial interest in nanoscience and technology initially grew out of the applications of quantum mechanics in the physical sciences, but quickly expanded to the study of novel materials and structures, produced from the top down by nanolithography or by synthetic and assembly methods from the bottom up. More recently, nanoscience and technology is being applied to the biological sciences and medicine. Nearly every field of science and engineering is engaged in these efforts. Indeed, nanoscience and technology is intrinsically an interdisciplinary pursuit, which reinforces the interest in it.

The economy of Northeast Ohio has traditionally been based on materials and manufacturing associated with and emerging from the automobile industry. This tradition has been reflected in the many of the strengths in science and engineering at Case. A particularly important example is polymer materials as they emerged from the rubber tire industry. Other important strengths are in coatings, surfaces and metals. More recently, the major employers in the city have become the health care providers and the associated research engines. The great strengths in medicine and biotechnology have driven the current economic and academic emphasis in developing biotechnology. Nanotechnology represents a potent opportunity to help bring together the traditional strengths of our region for future scientific and engineering innovation.