WPI Receives Its Largest Nanotechnology Grant

Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

Worcester, Mass. - December 11, 2002 - Three professors at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) have joined forces to obtain the largest grant for a research study in the emerging field of nanotechnology in the university's history. The award from the National Science Foundation (NSF) provides more than $600,000 to fund a three-year research project through September 2005.

Robert Thompson, WPI professor of chemical engineering, Nikolaos Gatsonis, WPI associate professor of mechanical engineering, and Grant McGimpsey, WPI professor of chemistry and biochemistry, have combined for the multidisciplinary research study, entitled NIRT-Collaborative Research: Experimental & Computational Investigations of Fluid Interactions/Transport in Nanodomains and Around Nanoparticles. It will focus on the confinement and transport of water, alcohols, amines, MTBE, and other interesting organic compounds through nanochannels.

The results of this investigation will provide a better understanding of biosystems that involve flows through nanomembranes, structures, and novel phenomena in nanofluids; environmental processes at the nanoscale; multiscale modeling and simulation at the nanoscale; fluid-surface interactions at the nanoscale; and manufacturing processes that utilize/process fluids at the nanoscale.

"The new frontier of scientific inquiry is at the atomic and molecular levels," noted William Durgin, WPI's associate provost for academic affairs. "This significant NSF grant provides a foundation for a robust research program at WPI in this exciting new field."

Nanotechnology is a multidisciplinary field that incorporates elements of engineering, biotechnology, physics and chemistry. It deals with structures that are very small in nature, generally those smaller than 100 nanometers. One nanometer is a billionth of a meter, a distance about 1/100,000 the width of a human hair. The potential applications of nanotechnology research are considerable, touching uses such as biosensors, drug development and medical therapies.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865, WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education. WPI was the first university to understand that students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the solution of important problems. Today its students, working in teams at more than 20 project centers around the globe, put their knowledge and skills to work as they complete professional-level work that can have an immediate positive impact on society.

WPI's innovative, globally focused curriculum has been recognized by leaders in industry, government and academia as the model for the technological education of tomorrow. Students emerge from this program as true technological humanists, well rounded, with the confidence, the interpersonal skills and the commitment to innovation they need to make a real difference in their professional and personal lives.

The university awarded its first advanced degree in 1898. Today, its first-rate research laboratories support master's and Ph.D. programs in more than 30 disciplines in engineering, science and the management of technology. Located in the heart of the region's biotechnology and high-technology sectors, WPI has built research programs-including the largest industry/university alliance in North America-that have won it worldwide recognition.