Pitt combines tiny science, tiny tech in multidisciplinary NSF-funded course

University's Nanotechnology Undergraduate grant 1 of only 10 in the US

Minhee Yun, assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) in Pitt's School of Engineering (ENGR), and his co-principal investigators have been awarded a National Science Foundation Nanotechnology Undergraduate Education grant, one of only 10 such awards in the United States and the first such grant Pitt has received. The two-year, $200,000 grant will allow the University to develop a course on integrated nanoscale science and engineering.

The hands-on, research-oriented course will introduce nanoscale devices and their applications created from a range of nanomaterials, including carbon nanotubes, nanoparticles, and nanowires. The course is scheduled to begin in fall 2007.

Yun's coprincipal investigators are Alexander Star, assistant professor of chemistry in Pitt's School of Arts and Sciences, and Noreen Garman, professor in Pitt's School of Education. Yun and Star also are researchers in the University's Gertrude E. and John M. Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering. Pitt recently was ranked second in the nation in nano- and microscale research by Small Times.

"Nanotechnology is booming, and the National Science Foundation is encouraging professors to develop nanotechnology educational programs," said Yun. "Not many of these programs exist yet in undergraduate curricula."

The class will be divided into teams, one of which will be selected to do its proposed research at a related laboratory in the Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering with a paid summer research stipend. The ultimate goal is for the students to publish their research in a refereed journal.

The course will be administered through ECE but will be open to sophomore-level and above ENGR students, chemistry and physics students in Arts and Sciences, and students in other related specializations, including medicine.


Pitt's Petersen Institute of NanoScience and Engineering is an integrated, multidisciplinary organization that brings coherence to the University's research efforts and resources in the fields of nanoscale science and engineering. The University's focus at the "essentially nano" level (less than 10 nanometers), where the greatest breakthroughs in nanoscience are expected to occur, offers the potential for a broad range of applications, including environment and energy, materials and computation, biomedical and health care, and devices and systems. For more information, visit www.nano.pitt.edu.

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