Campus & Community / Magazine Feature

DU is poised for nanotechnology burst

With the scientific community’s emerging focus on nanotechnology, the University is poised to seek a leading role in the study of those teeny, tiny components that could be the building blocks of great, new things.

DU hosted the first Rocky Mountain Nanotechnology Showcase and Conference Sept. 17–18, bringing together regional leaders in nanotech — the study and engineering of particles on the molecular level. The event drew top scientists and representatives from Lockheed Martin, the National Science Foundation and the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.

Rahmat Shoureshi, DU’s dean of engineering and computer sciences, told participants the University is preparing for a major investment in the field, with an eye toward creating a separate division of nanotechnology. Already, DU is seeking out educators who are experts in the field, he said.

“We believe this is the future of engineering,” he said.

Shoureshi said the applications are limitless, from the creation of materials that would make airplanes able to make minute, in-flight fuselage adjustments and “heal” exterior damage, to altering the very genetic components that trigger aging in people. 

“Once you have the ability to observe, to experiment, to analyze and to fabricate at an atomic level, you are able to do things we have never been able to do,” he said.

Sessions at the conference addressed a range of topics, from finding available federal funding to how nanotech developments will impact business and quality of life.

Don Elliman, director of Colorado’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade, said the state is prepared to support the industry in any way it can. Colorado, he said, is highly ranked for having an educated work force, a high quality of life and an entrepreneurial-friendly business climate, all key components for a developing industry.

“We believe in what you’re doing,” he said.

Shoureshi told participants DU is already looking forward to hosting the conference next year, with an even broader focus and more industry representatives.

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