Yale Engineering Professor Receives $3 Million Department of Defense Grant to Continue Nanotechnology Research

The United States Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded a total of $3 million to Yale electrical engineering and applied physics professor Mark Reed to continue research in the area of nanotechnology, a field involving the controlled manipulation of atoms and molecules.

The grant was given through the DoD’s central research and development organization, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

“This is the fourth consecutive award from DARPA in this new area of molecular electronics that I initiated with a DARPA grant in 1992,” Reed said. “Our pioneering work in this area was recognized by DARPA as the program’s ‘Most Significant Technical Achievement Award’ in 1997.”

Reed and his team of researchers from Rice University, Pennsylvania State University, North Carolina State University, SRI International, Duke University and the University of South Carolina, will receive $1 million a year for three years, with the possibility of additional funding in the future.

Reed, The Harold Hodgkinson Professor of Engineering and Applied Science and chair of electrical engineering, will also share in two other DoD grants under the 2001 DoD University Research Initiative on NanoTechnology program (DURINT), which is designed to address large multidisciplinary nanotechnology topics. The topics include “Characterization of Nano-scale Elements, Devices, and Systems” with Stevens Institute of Technology, University of Virginia, University of Illinois, Purdue University, Northwestern University, University of South Carolina, North Carolina State University and UC Santa Barbara; and “Polymeric Nanophotonics and Nanoelectronics” with SUNY Buffalo, University of Washington, UC Berkeley and MIT.

The DoD awarded 16 research grants to 14 academic institutions to conduct nanotechnology research in basic science and engineering and 17 equipment grants for support of this research and for graduate students. The competition drew 334 white papers, which generated 95 proposals from which 16 were funded. The nanotechnology equipment competition drew 89 proposals from which 17 were funded.

Reed’s research is centered on nanotechnology, a marriage of chemistry and engineering that allows scientists to build things one atom or molecule at a time. His research adapts recently developed chemical self-assembly techniques to make nanometer-scale electronic devices, such as memories. Reed said the experimental emphasis is on preparation and testing of molecular dynamic random access memories (DRAMS), which will be reported in the May 28 issue of the journal Applied Physics Letters. These devices utilize self-assembly and inherently solve the tremendous fabrication difficulties that plague other novel molecular-sized devices, such as carbon nanotubes.

Reed said this or similar technologies, if successfully transferred from the research labs to industry, could produce very low-cost memory.

“These new approaches and methods have changed the way we think about nanoscience,” Reed said. “opening up new fields of investigation and making some very complicated experiments easy and accessible to anyone. We even have high school students doing nanoscience in our labs.”

Marieangela Lisanti, a local high school student who works in Reed’s lab, recently won first place in both the Intel and Westinghouse National Science Competitions.

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Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-432-1326