October 4, 2001

Cornell Receives Information Technology Grant

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Cornell has recently received a grant that will enable research on information technology to be carried out. The National Science Foundation (NSF) announced the $11.6 million grant on Sept. 19.

Distributed over five years, the grant is primarily aimed at funding research for the newly-created Cornell’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC).

Prof. Robert Buhrman, engineering, will command the research program and serve as director of the center, which will share office and research space in the first floor of Duffield Hall.

The NSF, located in Arlington, Va., is an independent U.S. government agency that invests over $3.3 billion per year in nearly 20,000 research and education projects in science and engineering programs.

“There have been a lot of advances in nanoscience in the last decade. NSF wants to capitalize on this,” explained Prof. Alexander Gaeta, applied and engineering physics.

Nanotechnology is the study of matter that is of molecular size.

“All of these techniques support the processing, storage and transmission of data on a small scale,” Gaeta noted.

There are many projects with regards to information technology that will be carried out, including nanoscale electronics, photonics (manipulating light), magnetics, and information storage, among other areas, according to Prof. Daniel Ralph, physics.

There are seventeen faculty research groups dealing with four major nanoscale science and engineering research areas at Cornell, according to Prof. Yuri Suzuki, materials science and engineering.

Serving as the University’s biggest single federal grant in information technology, the NSF funding will be supplemented with additional support from the New York State Office of Science, Technology and Academic Research (NYSTAR), according to Gaeta.

The money will primarily be used to fund research and tuition assistance for graduate students in the field

“Cornell has been at the forefront in nanoscience. I believe it’s very timely that the center is created now,” Suzuki said.

The center will involve an interdisciplinary approach, allowing students and professors from various departments and disciplines to collaborate on research projects.

“It’s a great opportunity to carry out the type of interdisciplinary research that is needed,” Suzuki said. “My area is in nanophotonics. I see this as a great opportunity for me and my students to start collaborating on devices for optical communication.”

Ralph stressed that one of the first projects of the grant will be to fund hard drive research, such as shrinking the size of computer chips.

There are five other NSEC programs located across the country, according to Ralph.

Archived article by Chris Westgate