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Bringing nanotechnology to market

Northeastern University’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN) has received a $2 million grant to help commercialize nanotechnology and put smaller, more energy efficient electronic devices in the hands of consumers more quickly.

The five-year grant, funded by the John Adams Innovation Institute — a division of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC) — will support the center’s cutting-edge research and help it commercialize its nanomanufacturing technologies.

CHN researchers are currently working on the technology to develop and manufacture cancer-detecting nanobiosensors; high-powered batteries; and flexible, lightweight electronics, such as cell phones and laptop computers.

Nanotechnology is projected to be a $1 trillion industry by 2015, according to the National Science Foundation, and the MTC grant will help foster an environment of collaboration between Massachusetts industry and academia in the nanotechnology arena and speed up commercial development.

“We have a tremendous opportunity to bring companies and their expertise to the table to put the commercialization wheels in motion,” said Ahmed Busnaina, CHN director and the William Lincoln Smith Professor of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. “Large and small companies each have unique skills and technologies to offer, and these collaborations could lead to tremendous innovations in nanotechnology product development.”

Several workshops and educational sessions will be held to provide the center’s researchers with the essential tools to create and foster long-term industrial partnerships. The grant will also enable CHN to collaborate with small- to mid-size companies in the Commonwealth and assist them with commercialization. Matching funds will be available to leverage the technology and allow smaller companies an opportunity to carve a niche in the emerging nanotechnology field.

“The Commonwealth’s research universities have made outstanding progress in nanoscale science and technology research, and in directions that have the potential to transform many industries in which the state is already a leader,” said Pat Larkin, director of MTC’s John Adams Innovation Institute. “By enabling novel forms of university-industry collaboration, this award is one more step to harness cutting-edge research to discover new applications and business opportunities.”

Established in 2004, CHN now has more than 160 researchers and staff members working on developing nanoscale processes and applications. Its academic partners — the University of New Hampshire and the University of Massachusetts Lowell — will also benefit from the opportunities provided by this grant.

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