Pennsylvania Initiative for Nanotechnology
The Pennsylvania Initiative for Nanotechnology (PIN) is a statewide strategy that currently combines the efforts of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), the Commonwealth's research universities, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education, over 125 companies, and economic development organizations. PIN is leveraging Pennsylvania's clusters of research, industry, and workforce development assets to make Pennsylvania a global leader in nanotechnology research, commercialization and economic development activities.
The primary strategies for PIN are focused on:
- Developing consortia-driven, educational and workforce development programs,
- Increasing commercialization of nanotechnology applications and processes through collaboration, and
- Increasing technology transfer and enhancing university-based resources and skills.
Nanotechnology is the science and application at the nanoscale between 1 and 100 nanometers (nm). Nanotechnology can create new materials and products possessing a variety of novel and exciting properties that are able to transform medicines, materials, and consumer products. Using worldwide forecasts, Pennsylvania is projected to produce at least $7.75 billion worth of nanotechnology products by 2015.
For a one page explanation of the PIN initiative, please click here.
What are some of the transformational possibilities of nanotechnology?
These incredible molecules have an array of fascinating electronic, magnetic and mechanical properties. Carbon nanotubes are at least 100 times stronger than steel, but only one-sixth as heavy; therefore, nanotube fibers could strengthen just about any material. In addition, because nanotubes can conduct heat and electricity far better than copper, they are already being used in polymers to control or enhance conductivity, and they are being incorporated into antistatic packaging.
Nanoparticles can be metallic, mineral, polymer-based or a combination of materials. They have multiple uses: as catalysts, drug delivery mechanisms, dyes, sunscreens, and filters.
Nanowires are extremely narrow threads (less than 50 nm wide). They have the potential to be used in nanoscale electrical devices such as electronic chips. In biology, they have the potential to form the heart of extremely sensitive biosensors, identifying molecules associated with disease or the binding of chemicals to a drug target.
Nano-titanium dioxide and zinc oxide can absorb and reflect UV light in tandem to being transparent to visible light that are currently used in sunscreens. New products are under development, such as cosmetics that slowly release vitamins.
Some of the most advanced nanotechnology projects related to energy are: storage, conversion, energy saving by better thermal insulation and enhanced renewable energy sources. Nanotechnology could further increase the efficiency of light conversion by using nanostructures with continuum bandgaps for use of solar cells. These high efficiency fuel cells could include hydrogen storage in nanotubes. In 10 to 15 years, projections indicate that nanotechnology-based lighting advances have the potential to reduce worldwide consumption of energy by more than 10 percent, with a corresponding reduction of 200 million tons of carbon emissions.
There are environmental concerns about nanoparticles, but nanoparticles could also play an important role in protecting the environment. A typical application would be based on a column containing nanoparticles that bond to a particular containment. As water passes through the column, the contaminant would be absorbed into the nanoparticles. The nanoparticles then could be retrieved and the contaminant washed out.
Nanotechnology will help prolong life, improve its quality and extend human physical capabilities. Currently on the market are wound dressings that exploit the antimicrobial properties of nanocrystalline silver. Nanoparticles could be used as vehicles for gene and drug delivery.
Materials with high performance, unique properties and functions will be produced that traditional chemistry cannot create. Some of the benefits that nanostructuring can bring include: lighter, stronger, and programmable materials; reductions in life cycle costs through lower failure rates; innovative devices based on new principles and architectures; and use of molecular/cluster manufacturing, which takes advantage of assembly at the nanoscale level for a given purpose.
The Commonwealth has established a leadership position in relation to nanotechnology education and workforce development, which positions it ahead of other states in addressing the skills needs of future nanotechnology-based industries. Specific curricula and programs for a new generation of scientists and workers include:
- Introducing nanoscale concepts into science, technology, engineering and math (NanoSTEM) education
- Producing a sufficient number of well-trained scientists within the nanotechnology area
- Establishing partnerships between industry and educational institutions to provide nanotechnology students experience with nanoscale fabrication, manipulation and characterization techniques
Pennsylvania is building the foundation to attract and advance nanotechnology companies through its recognized nanotechnology research conducted and promoted at academic research institutions. Pennsylvania’s strengths reside in its research base that spans all key markets for nanotechnology, and its strong base of existing industry, which supports the stages of product development, particularly in relation to the electronics, energy, environmental, medical, and manufacturing markets.
DCED welcomes the opportunity to partner with our nanotechnology stakeholders and organizations throughout the Commonwealth.
The Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority University Research Grant Fund Guidelines is a university partnering funding program to develop the nanotechnology economic and workforce infrastructure for Pennsylvania’s 21st Century.
Professionals who study future trends project that the growth of nanotechnology will have as dramatic an economic impact as the industrial revolution was a century ago and the explosion of the Internet just a decade ago.
The US NanoMetro Map shows the locations (by zipcode) of companies, universities, government laboratories, and organizations working in nanotechnology around the United States including Pennsylvania.
To access the Pennsylvania Initiative for Nanotechnology (PIN) Brochure, click here.
For more information on the PIN, please contact the DCED Customer Service Center, or call 866-GO-NEWPA (866-466-3972).