nantech clean room

The University of Texas at Austin's status as a hub for nanotechnology innovation just got a big boost.

The National Science Foundation recently extended a grant to the Cockrell School of Engineering under its National Nanotechnology Coordinated Infrastructure program (NNCI), a five-year commitment that helps fund staff, infrastructure, education and research into nanotechnology.

"This cements the prestige of UT Austin in the areas of nanoelectronics and nanomaterials in the U.S.," said Sanjay Banerjee, professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Cockrell School’s Microelectronics Research Center (MRC).

The grant supports the Texas Nanofabrication Facility (TNF) – a combination of the MRC, Texas Materials Institute and Nanomanufacturing Fab Services. The award will continue to fund seven of the 25 staff members, engineers and technicians at TNF.

TNF's goal is to foster breakthrough nanotech innovation in the areas of electronics, health care and energy. It has played an important role in supporting major nanotechnology research coming out of the Cockrell School in recent years. Examples include breakthroughs using 2D materials, new switches for electronic devices and a project to create an "e-tattoo" for heart monitoring. The facility has also worked with over 100 companies and 50 academic institutions.

As part of the grant renewal, TNF will partner with Austin Community College to offer year-round nanotechnology research and training experience for students.

Other TNF leaders include UT professors Arumugam Manthiram, Leonard Frank Register, S.V. Sreenivasan, societal and ethical implications director Lee Ann Kahlor, site coordinator Sarmita Majumder, Texas Materials Institute coordinator Raluca Gaerba and Austin Community College engineering professor Alberto Quinonez.

UT is one of 16 universities in the U.S. with an NNCI designation. Various iterations of the NSF program have supported UT since 2004.