Governor Baker visits the Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing
President Joseph E. Aoun joined Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker at the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security on Tuesday at an event announcing a $3 million grant, which will establish the Advanced Nanomanufacturing Cluster for Smart Sensors and Materials, or ANSSeM, that comprises research universities and private manufacturing companies.
The initiative will leverage Northeastern’s innovative Nanoscale Offset Printing System, or NanoOPS, a manufacturing technology pioneered by the college's NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN). Unveiled in September 2014, NanoOPS can print nanoscale sensors and devices as small as 20 nanometers—more than 1,000 times thinner than a human hair—on a variety of surfaces, and 100 to 1,000 times faster than current inkjet-based electronic and 3-D printing.
Speakers at Tuesday’s event noted the vast potential for nanomaterials to advance connected technologies—known as the Internet of Things—and revolutionize the sensing industry. This includes potential commercial applications such as high-precision sensors used to monitor premature babies in hospital neonatal units, devices that track water quality, and wearable devices that monitor biometric data.
University Distinguished Professor Ahmed Busnaina, CHN’s director and the William Lincoln Smith Chair in the College of Engineering, said part of the new funding will be used to purchase equipment at the Kostas Research Institute for materials characterization and testing smart sensor prototypes, and to bring two new NanoOPS with enhanced capabilities to the institute. He said the current NanoOPS prints on plastics, but the next-generation NanoOPS “will be able to print on any surface.”
“The possibilities here are enormous,” added Baker, noting the consortium’s role in continuing to drive innovation and workforce and economic development in the commonwealth. He thanked Northeastern “for its leadership across a wide variety of fields.” He added, “We’re very happy to be partnering with you.”
The state grant comes from the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative’s Collaborative Research and Development Matching Grant Program, and is being matched by nearly $11 million in outside funds through this partnership between academia, industry, and government.