The College of Engineering recently rebranded a Kimball Hall research lab, which is now open to the public for the first time.
The opening of the lab, now known as Cornell’s Center for Nanomaterials Engineering and Technology, follows the expiration of a grant from King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, which created Cornell’s Center for Energy and Sustainability in 2008. After the partnership between the two universities ended, the College of Engineering decided to reappropriate the remaining lab equipment due to continuing interest in nanomaterial research.
The lab will now be open to all students, researchers and private companies who are willing to pay a fee to use the lab’s equipment, according to Prof. Robert Van Dover, materials science and engineering, the center’s co-director.
“The main raison d’être for CNET is the service it provides to Cornell faculty, staff and student researchers,” he said. “It will enhance their productivity and make possible studies that would otherwise be prohibitively expensive.”
Van Dover said the lab’s new public status will help Cornellian users develop technology in a way that extends beyond economic research as well as attracting the interest of outside companies. He said he believes Cornell faculty research groups will be the primary users, with some use coming from start-ups and smaller companies.
In its first month of operation, the lab was commissioned by 30 unique users, including some not affiliated with Cornell. The lab has 17 items of sophisticated equipment available for synthesis, processing and characterization of materials, according to Van Dover.
This equipment can be used to develop and analyze materials for carbon capture and conversion, electrochemical energy storage and innovating methods of biomedicine and drug delivery, according to the University.
The University believes the new lab could also potentially be used to encourage partnerships between Cornell and various private companies. These interactions could create the atmosphere of a business incubator for students interested in entrepreneurship, in addition to attracting interest from national companies.
While the center will now generate revenue for Cornell, its directors said commercial benefits did not lead to the lab becoming public.
“[The lab’s aim is to] make the state-of-the-art facilities of CNET available to researchers across the campus and beyond will enable studies that would otherwise require them to buy or rent expensive equipment,” Van Dover said. “Having researchers with a wide range of backgrounds and interests working side-by-side in CNET will also facilitate serendipitous interactions.”