The Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center entitled Center of Integrated Nanomechanical Systems (COINS) is a partnership between UC Berkeley, Caltech, Stanford and UC Merced. This team will interact closely with partners from national laboratories (Sandia and Lawrence Berkeley National Labs) and industry (HP, Nanosys, IBM, GE, Intel, Honeywell, and ChevronTexaco). The NSEC includes 27 investigators from 7 departments.
COINS has a focus on molecular and nanometer level mechanics at the interface of hard and soft matter, with five thrusts centering on an "element-to-device-to-system" research strategy: (I) Key Nanomechanical Building Blocks; (II) Theoretical Simulation of Nanomechanics; (III) Mechanical. Behavior of Nanostructure Elements; (IV) Instrumentations for Nanomechanical Measurements; and (V) Nanomechanical System Integration.
Chemical synthesis (Thrust I) plays a significant role in generating key nanomechanical building blocks including synthetic/biological molecules, nanotubes and nanowires. Computational schemes at the atomistic and continuum levels (Thrust II) will be developed to address the scaling effects observed in the experiments and offer theoretical insight and guidance for the experimental works in COINS. Research Thrust III probes the intrinsic mechanical behaviors of the key nanomechanical building blocks produced in Thrust I. Optical tweezers, AFM/STM and in-situ TEM are used to systematically study the quality factor, strength, friction, wear, and energy dissipation at nanometer scale. In addition, novel nanomechanical testing procedures and devices (Thrust IV) will be designed in order to assess the mechanical properties of the nanomechanical building blocks. These include AFM systems for RF resonator characterization, MEMS-based testing platforms for nanostructures, and non-contact nanomechanical instrumentation. Thrust V will tackle the system integration issues utilizing nanomechanical units developed and characterized in the other four thrusts. Here, the bottom-up synthetic techniques will substantially leverage the conventional top-down approaches for NEMS fabrication. Concepts of selforganization will be adapted from nature in intriguing biological mechanical systems. Thrust V will ultimately enable the integration of individual devices into fully functional nanomechanical systems capable of performing highly complex tasks. All five thrust areas will be represented at Berkeley; Stanford University will contribute to Thrusts II, III, and IV, and Cal Tech will contribute to Thrusts III, IV, and V.
The Center has broader impacts in addressing the real-time study of nanotechnology as a leading edge system of innovation; the influence of the intellectual property system; standard-setting; control on emerging nanotechnological industries; industrial location, both within the United States and around the world; and the management of risks-both real risks and the perception of risks created by potentially disruptive technologies.
Educational efforts within COINS will not only encompass the scientific themes proposed for the Center, but also address the broader need of workforce training in the emerging world of nanoscale science and technology. COINS includes an education program involving the general public, high school and college students to attract them to the diverse educational paths and career opportunities. A "Capital Science" workshop program will be designed to help state legislators and their staff make better policy decisions on issues with a significant scientific and technical dimensions. As a result of the NSF IGERT and the Designated Emphasis in Nanoscale Science and Engineering, Berkeley is in the process of developing a number of new graduate and undergraduate courses in nanoscience. In particular, an introductory course on nanoscience and a course on nanomechanics will be developed. In addition, COINS will support education and outreach activities at UC Merced, which will open in August 2005, and is likely to qualify as a Hispanic-Serving Institution. The Chancellor of UC Merced has set a goal to enroll half of the student body from the Central San Joaquin Valley, an economically and educationally underserved area. Fifty-three percent of the students demonstrating an interest in UC Merced were from households with incomes of $40,000 or less. We will focus on creating online modules that cover key concepts in nanoscience. Undergraduates from UC Merced and partner community colleges will construct the modules, under the supervision of graduate students and faculty. This experience will also include time in residence in the laboratories of faculty participants. This will enable their exposure to university research early on in their academic careers. The courseware developed in this effort will be used in K-12 outreach efforts that UC Merced faculty will undertake in the lower Central Valley. In addition, a nanoscale technology component will be incorporated into the Environmental Engineering program, one of the opening majors for UC Merced.