Northeastern University said yesterday it is receiving a $3 million grant from the state of Massachusetts to lead a university and industry partnership to develop nanomaterials and smart sensors for medical, defense, and energy applications.
Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun and Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, speaking at the George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security at the university’s Burlington campus, said the grant will establish the Advanced Nanomanufacturing Cluster for Smart Sensors and Materials (ANSSeM), which will comprise universities and private companies.
Other speakers at the event where the grant was announced cited IoT applications such as sensors that can monitor premature babies in hospital neonatal units, devices that track water quality, and wearable devices that monitor biometric data.
Research at ANSSeM will build on Northeastern’s Nanoscale Offset Printing System, or NanoOPS, on which I reported in November 2014 after touring the George J. Kostas Nanoscale Technology and Manufacturing Research Center at Northeastern’s Boston campus. At that time, Ahmed Busnaina of Northeastern’s Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN) noted that the cost of a printed sensor can be one-tenth or one-hundredth the cost of a silicon sensor, adding that CHN’s damascene nanoscale offset printing process offers a way to fabricate such sensors.
Yesterday, 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 for characterizing materials and for testing smart-sensor prototypes—and to obtain two new NanoOPS with enhanced capabilities. He said the current NanoOPS prints on plastics, but the next-generation NanoOPS “will be able to print on any surface.”
Northeastern said corporate partners include General Electric, Raytheon, and HC Starck as well as Rogers Corp., which has its research headquarters at the Kostas Research Institute, and Milara, the Massachusetts-based equipment manufacturer that built NanoOPS.