updated: 11/2/2006 8:46:25 AM

Purdue Names Director of Nanotechnology Center

InsideIndianaBusiness.com Report

Purdue University's Discovery Park has named Timothy Sands as director of the Birk Nanotechnology Center.

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Sands has been at Purdue since 2002 and has a joint appointment between the School of Materials Engineering and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

The $58 million center involves more than 300 faculty, staff and graduate students from 36 schools and departments at the university. Sands says nanotechnology advances will impact many areas, including health care, energy, computer technology and food safety.

Source: Inside INdiana Business

Press Release

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. Purdue University's Discovery Park has appointed Timothy Sands, the Basil S. Turner Professor of Engineering, as director of the Birck Nanotechnology Center.
The center opened in 2005 and is considered one of the best university facilities for nanotechnology research in the nation. The $58 million center a two-floor, 187,000-square-foot facility involves more than 300 faculty, staff and graduate students from 36 schools and departments across the university.

Sands begins his duties on Wednesday (Nov. 1).

"The selection committee considered 73 applicants for the important position of directing the dynamic and rapidly growing field of nanotechnology at Purdue," said Alan Rebar, Discovery Park's executive director. "Tim brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, and he will be a strong leader for our staff and the nanotechnology researchers at Birck, which is a cornerstone for Discovery Park."

Sands, who has been at Purdue since 2002, has a joint appointment between the School of Materials Engineering and the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering. He earned bachelor's, master's and doctorate degrees from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1980, 1981 and 1984, respectively. He was awarded the 1988 Robert Lansing Hardy Gold Medal from the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society and was elected to the Bohmische Physical Society in 1997. He received the Seed for Success Award from Purdue in 2005 and a National Science Foundation Research Initiation Award in 1994.

Sands said the prospect of Purdue building a center dedicated to nanotechnology research was a factor in his decision to come to the university.

"I visited Purdue while on sabbatical from the University of California, Berkeley, in 2001. I was impressed with the plans that included an academic research building housing faculty and students from several disciplines who would work together with a common research interest," Sands said. "I had prior experience working in such an environment. I know what we can accomplish at Birck and was excited by the prospect of leading such a team."

Sands was director of the Integrated Materials Laboratory at Berkeley and director of the nonvolatile memory research group for Bell Communications Research (Bellcore) in Red Bank, N.J.

"Nanotechnology advances will impact health care, energy, computer technology, homeland security, food safety and so many other areas," Sands said.

Nanotechnology research and developments addresses materials, devices and systems for:

Health care, such as drug delivery, implantable biomedical devices and diagnostics technology.

Information technology, such as biology-inspired circuitry, quantum computing, measurement and imaging.

Energy conservation and generation sources, such as solar cells, solid-state refrigeration, solid-state lighting and generators for converting waste heat to electric power in automobiles.

"Purdue is already a leader in nanophotonics and nanoelectronics and is the lead institution in the National Science Foundation's Network for Computational Nanotechnology, and that is just the beginning," Sands said. "Within five years, our goal is to make the Birck Nanotechnology Center the Midwest's premier academic nanotechnology user facility and knowledge resource.

"There also is great potential in the realm of economic development, which is an important aspect of Purdue's mission."

The Birck Nanotechnology Center contains specialized labs designed to control conditions such as vibration, noise, temperature, humidity and electromagnetic interference from radio waves and other sources. Another sophisticated feature of the building is the $10 million "clean room," a 25,000 square feet area containing a series of labs that are rated progressively higher based on the number of particles in each cubic foot of air.

Two labs in the Birck building have floors consisting of thick concrete slabs that float on air-filled shock absorbers for ultra-fine vibration control. Heavily insulated walls, like those of walk-in freezers, also surround the rooms. Vibration and temperature must be carefully controlled because researchers will be working on the scale of individual atoms. The slightest jarring or expansion from heat would foul up experiments.

The Birck Center is named for Michael and Katherine (Kay) Birck of Hinsdale, Ill. The Bircks donated $30 million for the building. He is a Purdue alumnus, member of the Purdue board of trustees and chairman of Tellabs Inc. Kay Birck, a Terre Haute, Ind., native, recently retired as head of nursing at Women's Healthcare of Hinsdale.

Purdue alumni Donald and Carol Scifres donated $10 million to the center, and alumni William B. and Mary Jane Elmore provided $2 million toward the center's William and Mary Jane Elmore Advanced Wireless Concept Validation Laboratory.

Discovery Park, which was launched in 2001, is a cluster of interdisciplinary research centers designed to connect Purdue faculty, researchers and students from many disciplines on campus for tackling issues in fields such as health care, nanotechnology, alternative energy sources, homeland security, life sciences, advanced manufacturing, cancer treatment, systems engineering, the environment, cyberinfrastructure and innovative learning.

Now a $330 million enterprise, Discovery Park also fosters more Purdue collaboration with industry and researchers from other universities.

Lilly Endowment provided a $1 million endowment for the Discovery Lecture Series at Purdue to bring prominent speakers to campus and earmarked endowed funds to be used in support of a Discovery Park undergraduate student research internship program.

Source: Purdue University

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