Nanotechnology, the application of the science of the very small, is revolutionizing our lives - a few examples include faster electronics, smaller biomedical implants, better batteries, materials with high strength or self-cleaning abilities, and small machines that can sense our physical world. Nanotechnology development often requires access to a large and highly specialized fabrication and characterization infrastructure as well as the related scientific expertise. The Mid-Atlantic Nanotechnology Hub (MANTH) is a partnership between the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP) that provides not only research and development infrastructure access, but also educational outreach opportunities in nanotechnology. Research and development access is provided through Penn’s Singh Center for Nanotechnology, located in highly accessible Philadelphia - a short drive from over one hundred academic institutions and the industry-rich mid-Atlantic region, walking distance from a busy Amtrak rail station, and eight miles from a major air hub. MANTH also introduces our regional community to nanotechnology through extensive education and outreach programs that engage pre-college students (including reverse field trips and on-site programs), associates degree students (including internship opportunities and curriculum development with CCP), undergraduate students (including a Research Experiences for Undergraduates program), and graduate students. MANTH operates translational seed grant programs to allow new ideas to be advanced to prototypes that can spark new nanotechnology companies. By welcoming researchers into MANTH, as well as educating and informing our community, we catalyze research and innovation advances in nanotechnology in our region and throughout the nation.

Technical Abstract

The Mid-Atlantic Nanotechnology Hub (MANTH) of NNCI is a research infrastructure and workforce development partnership between the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) and the Community College of Philadelphia (CCP). MANTH provides open access to leading-edge R&D facilities and expertise for researchers conducting activities within all disciplines of nanoscale science, engineering, and technology. MANTH’s workforce development programs provide nano-relevant education and training opportunities at multiple levels – from high school, through associate’ degrees (with CCP), to undergraduate and graduate studies. MANTH serves nearly 700 users, with over 40% of these users currently external to Penn. It is a MANTH priority to engage with the region to ensure that a diverse set of historically underrepresented researchers and research areas, as well as educators of these current and future researchers, are included in our nanotechnology activities. We hold pre-college events for exposure to STEM and nanotechnology, and in-house training opportunities for local colleges and universities, including historically STEM-underrepresented colleges. We reach out to underserved schools (both students and teachers) in the Philadelphia region both through our Nano Day activities, as well as through individual events. We visit local elementary schools on ‘reverse field trips’ to discuss nanotechnology. We facilitate the path from research to product by providing seed grant access to our facility to allow innovative new ideas to be prototyped, together with other support for local small businesses. By acting as a catalyst for growth of nanotechnology in this region, we realize our goal to further nano literacy on all levels.

This award reflects NSF's statutory mission and has been deemed worthy of support through evaluation using the Foundation's intellectual merit and broader impacts review criteria.

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University of Pennsylvania
United States
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