The Soft and Hybrid Nanotechnology Experimental (SHyNE) Resource NNCI site is the Northwestern University (NU) led collaborative venture with the Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility (PNF) of the University of Chicago (UC). SHyNE builds on each institution's long history of transforming the frontiers of science and engineering. Soft nanostructures are typically polymeric, biological, and fluidic, while hybrid represents systems comprising structures and hybrid materials comprising soft-hard interfaces. SHyNE facilities provides broad access to an extensive fabrication, characterization, and computational infrastructure with a multi-faceted and interdisciplinary approach for transformative science and enabling technologies. SHyNE provides specialized capabilities for soft materials and soft-hard hybrid nano-systems. SHyNE enhances regional capabilities by providing users with on-site and remote open-access to state-of-the-art laboratories and world-class technical expertise to help solve the challenging problems in nanotechnology research and development. SHyNE covers non-traditional industries: agricultural, biomedical, chemical, food, geological and environmental, among others. A critical component of the SHyNE mission is scholarly outreach through secondary and post-secondary research experience and integration with course/curricula as well as societal and public outreach through a novel nano-journalism project in collaboration with the Medill School of Journalism. SHyNE promotes and facilitates active participation of underrepresented groups, including women and minorities, in sciences and utilizes Chicago's public museums for broader community outreach. SHyNE leverages an exceptional depth of intellectual, academic, and facilities resources to provide critical infrastructure in support of research, application development, and problem-solving in nanoscience and nanotechnology and integrates this transformative approach into the societal fabric of Chicago and the greater Midwest.

Technical Abstract

SHyNE is a solution-centric, open-access collaborative initiative with strong ties with Northwestern University's International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN), in partnership with University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering. SHyNE open-access user facilities bring together broad experience and capabilities in traditional soft nanomaterials such as biological, polymeric or fluidic systems and hybrid systems combining soft/hard materials and interfaces. Collectively, soft and hybrid nanostructures represent remarkable scientific and technological opportunities. However, given the sub-100nm length-scale and related complexities, advanced facilities are needed to harness their full potential. Such facilities require capabilities to pattern soft/hybrid nanostructures across large areas and tools/techniques to characterize them in their pristine states. These divergent yet integrated needs are met by SHyNE, as it coordinates Northwestern's extensive cryo-bio, characterization and soft-nanopatterning capabilities with the state-of-the-art cleanroom fabrication and expertise also at UC's Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility (PNF). SHyNE addresses emerging needs in synthesis/assembly of soft/biological structures and integration of classical clean-room capabilities with soft-biological structures, providing expertise and instrumentation related to the synthesis, purification, and characterization of peptides and peptide-based materials. SHyNE coordinates with Argonne National Lab facilities and leverages existing super-computing and engineering expertise under Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD) and Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute (DMDII), respectively. An extensive array of innovative educational, industry and societal outreach, such as nano-journalism, industry-focused workshops/symposia and collaborations with Chicago area museums, provide for an integrated and comprehensive coverage of modern infrastructure for soft/hybrid systems for the next generation researchers and the broader society.

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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Northwestern University at Chicago
United States
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