NSF seeking nanotech grid managers

The National Science Foundation has released a solicitation to establish and manage an integrated national network of nanotechnology laboratories.

The competition, open to academic institutions, could be worth $70 million over five years, with an option for another five years.

Established to support the President's National Nanotechnology Initiative investment strategy, the National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network will provide researchers the means to tap into leading-edge nanotechnology fabrication and characterization tools and other instruments in remote facilities.

"Advances in instrumentation to analyze, measure and manipulate structures at the nanoscale have opened entirely new areas of investigation. ... Yet, because of their expense and requisite associated expertise and supporting infrastructure, many of these sophisticated tools and instruments cannot easily be duplicated in every laboratory," according to the solicitation.

Nanotechnology, or the technique of building submicroscopic devices from individual atoms, has become a top federal priority in recent years. The administration's fiscal 2003 budget calls for $710 million of federal investment in nanoscale science, engineering and technology. The fiscal 2002 budget had approximately $604 million, according to the National Nanotechnology Initiative program office, online at www.nano.gov.

The National Nanotechnology Infrastructure Network will link federally funded academic centers in nanoscale science and engineering along with facilities supported by other federal agencies, state governments, the private sector and non-U.S. institutions. It will incorporate grid-enabled collaborative tools, middleware network tools and other advanced Internet software.

The winning organization also will train nanotechnology laboratory workers and conduct studies on the social and ethical implications of the technology.

The cooperative agreement award will provide up to $14 million a year to a single source for five years, beginning in fiscal 2004. Nanoscale-focused academic institutions are eligible to compete, while private-sector companies are encouraged to participate in the network using their own resources. The solicitation allows a five-year extension of the work, after which it must go through full recompetition.

Letters announcing plans to compete are due by April 7, and full proposals are due May 16. Click here to go to the solicitation

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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