The Hebrew University's Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology takes an interdisciplinary approach to meet the challenges of this new and exciting field. Bringing together researchers from a number of departments, the Center begins with a unit for nanoscopic characterization to "see," identify, and describe the nanometric structure the researchers have created. The Center intends to construct a unit for nanofabrication where nanometric structures will be built.
Materials that have been shrunk to a nanoscale often display very different properties from the corresponding materials in a normal macroscale, and this enables unique applications. For example, opaque substances can become transparent, inert materials sometimes develop into catalysts or suddenly become combustible, solids might turn into liquids at room temperature, and insulators like silicon can be transformed into conductors. Much of the current allure of nanotechnology has been generated from the unique phenomena that certain materials exhibit at the nanoscale.
The techniques developed in the last few years have made it possible to assemble tiny molecules into almost any structure. These methods are now being used today to create an amazing variety of useful chemicals, like pharmaceuticals and commercial polymers.
The Hebrew University's unique interdisciplinary approach leads to research that has applications in a number of industries:
* Semiconductors. Work is being carried out on nanostructured semiconductors, superconductors, and composite materials.
* Medicine. Systems are under development that trap single cells to study and quantify them down to the molecular level.
* Telecommunications. Research is being carried out in nanophotonics and on optofluidic components and devices to provide smaller, faster and more versatile options for telecomunication.
Through the efforts and resources of Yissum, Hebrew University's active Technology Transfer Services organization, a number of these projects in nanotechnology are already on the path toward commercial success. A composite thin film composed of sol-gels with metals and nano-particles is at a stage where it is ready for testing as an anti-corrosion coating for the automotive industry and a non-viral delivery method for gene therapy is ready for testing for various applications.
Almost 30 researchers currently lead and develop cutting-edge projects for the Center. Cooperation between these multidisciplinary scientists enables development of a true understanding of the environment in which the 1-100 nanometer objects created by the researchers exist and operate.
The Center's researchers are drawn from across the scientific spectrum at this Technology Transfer University.
* Department of physical chemistry: Danny Porath and Uri Banin are studying DNA nanoelectronics and nanoparticles in a variety of applications, respectively.
* Department of inorganic chemistry: Daniel Mandler and Shlomo Yitzchaik are involved in the production of sol-gel and ultra-thin films.
* Faculty of medicine: Dan Gazit is working on nanotechnology-based skeletal tissue engineering and gene therapy.
Marketing and legal professionals from Yissum work together with all of the Center's researchers to "transfer" the technology from the laboratory to the market.
It appears that as our view of the world becomes more and more global, science needs to focus on smaller and smaller matters to prepare us for the future.