square logo


NBIC prepares for NanoDay@Penn 2015

[ read more ]

Singh BuildingThe Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology (Photo © Albert Vecerka/Esto)

New Mid-Atlantic Nanotech Hub

The Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology will be the location of a new Mid-Atlantic Nanotechnology Hub (MANTH) for Research, Education and Innovation. Mark Allen, director of the Singh Center and Alfred Fitler Moore Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering, and his collaborators were awarded a $5 million grant by the National Science Foundation to establish MANTH, which is part of a nationwide effort to increase access to nanotech infrastructure and educational programs.


Singh BuildingMolybdenum disulfide is a promising material for engineering diagnostic devices that change color upon detecting a chemical target.

Biosensors with transition metal dichalcogenides

The National Science Foundation has awarded NBIC Director and Professor of Physics and Astronomy, A. T. Charlie Johnson, an Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation grant of $2 million to develop chemical sensors that will bind to chemical targets in liquid or air. Dr. Johnson and his co-investigators, Ritesh Agarwal, Ertugrul Cubukcu and Vivek Shenoy, expect that their transition metal dihalcogenide-based sensors will be more sensitive and specific than existing technologies. These advances in sensor technology will improve disease diagnostics, environmental monitoring and law enforcement.


Marija DrndićNextgen nanopores

Marija Drndic, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, is leading a team to develop ultrathin nanopores in 2-D membranes that will use optical and electrical signals to characterize and better understand specific nanoparticles, like DNA, proteins, viruses and very small non-biological materials. The National Science Foundation has awarded Dr. Drndic and her collaborators an Emerging Frontiers in Research and Innovation grant of $2 million for their project to develop these nanopores using 2-D materials such as transition metal dihalcogenides.


Singh BuildingScarring in cancerous liver. (Image by Jerome Irianto, Andrew Bradshaw and Dave Dingal)

Liver cancer center funded

The National Institutes of Health awarded a $10 million grant to a team headed by Dennis Discher, Robert D. Bent Professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, to establish a Physical Sciences Oncology Center at Penn (PSOC@Penn). Primary liver cancer will be the main focus of the center, with researchers examining liver tissue and cells, as well as the single molecules that may be involved in cancer. Research from the center aims to improve diagnostics and drive new treatments.


Light-refracting polymer crystals useful for protective gear

Professor Shu Yang of the Penn Materials Science and Engineering Department, some of her lab members, and colleagues at Villanova and Temple universities have developed polymer crystals that permanently change color when they are hit with a strong force. This material has potential to be incorporated into products like football helmets and military gear. Upon dangerously forceful impact, the material would change color, indicating the likelihood of concussions or other injuries that need immediate medical care.

Nano Master's students Y-Prize Finalists

Master of Science in Engineering Nanotechnology students, Ravit Dung, Weiyang Lim and Meet Vora, were on teams awarded $1000 for their innovative ideas at the Y-Prize Grand Finale on January 28, 2015. The Y-Prize competition challenges student teams to propose and pitch new applications for Penn technologies. This year's technologies were developed in NBIC's Director Charlie Johnson's, NBIC faculty Kevin Turner's and Singh Center Scientific Director Mark Allen's laboratories.


Dawn Bonnell, and Nader EnghetaMaterials Research Society Fellows

The Materials Research Society (MRS) has recognized NBIC's Founding Director, Dawn Bonnell, and NBIC member, Nader Engheta, for their outstanding research programs by naming them 2015 MRS Fellows. Drs. Bonnell and Engheta will be honored at the April 2015 MRS meeting in San Francisco.


Potential of new multimodal sensor

multimodal sensorErtugrul Cubukcu in the Penn's Materials Science and Engineering and Electrical and Systems Engineering and two of his lab members have developed a graphene-based multimodal sensor. The sensor is able to detect known proteins of different types. The hope is that the sensor can be applied to detect proteins in unknown samples, which could have an important impact in biomedical diagnostics (original paper in NanoLetters).


Nelson book coverModeling meets biology

Philip Nelson's new textbook, "Physical Models of Living Systems," is now available for intermediate-level undergraduate classes. The text assumes that students have had first-year physics. It focuses on modeling, analyses, and programming skills relevant to many disciplines in engineering and science. The project was in part funded by the Nano/Bio Interface Center.


National Academy of Inventors Fellow

Shu YangShu Yang has been named a 2015 Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI). She will be inducted into this prestigious NAI Fellows community in March 2015 at the NAI meeting in Pasadena, CA. Fellows are academic inventors nominated by their peers for demonstrating "a highly prolific spirit of innovation in creating or facilitating outstanding inventions that have made a tangible impact on quality of life, economic development, and the welfare of society."


FrackingNanomembranes to purify wastewater

NBIC faculty members Daeyeon Lee and Shu Yang, along with their colleagues Kathleen Stebe and Satish Kumar were awarded a four-year, $1.3 million grant from the National Science Foundation for their proposal to use nanomembranes to clean up fracking wastewater.


A. T. Charlie JohnsonElectronic noses sniff out illness

NBIC Director, A. T. Charlie Johnson, explains how graphene-based nanotechnology can be harnessed to detect olfactory profiles of disease.

BBC Horizon Video Link

$9M to understand cellular motors

NBIC Associate Director, Yale Goldman, is one of the project leaders for a new five-year project funded by the National Institutes of General Medical Sciences to better understand how cellular motors work. These molecular components in cells are responsible for transporting cellular materials within and among cells. Failure of these transport systems can result in neurological, sensory and metabolic disorders.

Nanopores characterize nanoparticlesNanopores characterize nanoparticles

A research team including NBIC faculty, Marija Drndic, Jennifer Lukes and Chris Murray, showed that solid-state nanopores can be used to detect nanorods.  The team also developed a new technique for using this system to measure the surface charge of nanoparticles (published in Nano Letters).  This work contributes to the development of innovative techniques that are allowing for new types of nano-scale analysis.


Why graphene's friction increasesWhy graphene's friction increases

Usually, fluorine reduces friction on surfaces, making them more water-repellent or non-stick.  With fluorinated graphene, however, Robert Carpick and his lab members  found an increase in friction.  With collaborator, Vivek Shenoy, they explain how friction at the nanoscale can be affected by electronic charge (published in Nano Letters).


Raman-AFM-NSOMNBIC Facility Expands Raman Spectroscopy Capacity

The NBIC Scanning Probe Facility is pleased to announce the addition of a laser line to its Confocal Raman-AFM-NSOM system, expanding its range of illumination with a red 660 nm and green 532 nm sources. The red source has a particularly strong interaction with gold surfaces and particles, facilitating Tip- and Surface-Enhanced Raman Spectroscopy that offers higher resolution. Combining atomic force microscopy with scanning confocal Raman allows simultaneous mapping of topography and material properties with spectral response and keeps the source laser properly focused on the sample for sub-wavelength resolution. A tuning-fork style tipholder will allow freshly prepared probe tips. The system is configured to work in air and fluid environments and with transparent and reflective samples. More information about the NBIC Probe Facility can be found [ here ].

NBIC Director talks about graphene and his start-up

Graphene, because of its strength and conductivity, has tremendous promise for revolutionizing electronics, chemical sensors and diagnostic devices.  NBIC Director and Professor of Physics, Dr. A.T. Charlie Johnson and his research team developed technology to produce the single carbon atom-thick sheets of graphene without using a vacuum.  This innovation allows for high-quality, large quantity graphene production at economical prices.  Read more about graphene and the start-up company Graphene Frontiers that resulted from Dr. Johnson's work.

Exemplary research recognition

Nadar EnghetaThe Balthasar van der Pol Gold Medal from the International Union of Radio Science (URSI) was awarded to Nader Engheta, H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering. This award is presented every third year with this year's award being presented at the URSI symposium in Beijing, China in August 2014. Dr. Engheta is being recognized for his "groundbreaking contributions and innovations in electromagnetic theory and applications of composite materials, metamaterials and nanoscale optics, bio-inspired imaging and sensing, and material-based optical nanocircuitry."

Teacher as hero award

Trey SmithT. Smith (center) with his students.

John "Trey" Smith III, an alumnus of the ITEST-Nano project and current Head of Science at Boys' Latin of Philadelphia, was selected by the National Liberty Museum to receive its Teacher as Hero Award. This award recognizes exemplary educators in the Delaware Valley. The ITEST-Nano program for local teachers was a five-year collaborative effort by Penn's Graduate School of Education, the Nano/Bio Interface Center and the School District of Philadelphia. The project ended in August 2012.

Early career awards

Lee and TurnerLee and Turner

Daeyeon Lee, associate professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was named the 2014 Unilever Outstanding Young Investigator Award from the American Chemical Society (ACS) Division of Colloid and Surface Chemistry. Dr. Lee and his group work on nanoparticle films, Janus Particles at fluid-fluid interfaces and emulsion and bubble-derived materials.

Kevin Turner, Gabel Family Term Associate Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, was recognized with the 2014 Sia Nemat-Nasser Early Career Award from the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME).  Dr. Turner's group focuses on surface and interface mechanics problems in micro- and nano-scale systems.


American Philosophical Society election

Ruth Schwartz CowanRuth Schwartz Cowan, professor emerita in the Dept. of History and Sociology of Science, was one of 33 members elected to the 2014 American Philosophical Society.   Schwartz Cowan has worked with the NBIC on the project, "Social Dynamics of the Development and Evolution of Nanotechnology."

NBIC faculty share expertise

Image by AlexanderAlUS / Wikicommons / CC BY-SA 3.0


NBIC Director featured on radio, TV

A.T. Charlie Johnson shared his expertise on graphene on the radio show, Science Friday, on May 16, 2014. You can listen to the discussion, "Is Graphene the New 'Wonder' Material?, here.

Dr. Johnson also was interviewed in April on Al Jazeera America about his laboratory's work on the development of an electronic nano-based "nose" that can detect cancerous cells. You can see this story on how dogs are trained to detect cancer, and how this canine ability has inspired the Johnson lab to pursue development of an electronic cancer-sensing device.

Detecting Opiods with a Novel, Electronic Biosensor

Detecting Opiods with a Novel, Electronic Biosensor figureNBIC faculty, A.T. Charlie Johnson and Jeffery Saven, along with their Penn Medicine colleague, Renyu Liu, led the effort to develop a graphene-based nanosensor for opiods. Their research teams demonstrated this biosensor's high sensitivity for detecting naltrexone in their April 2014 paper in Nano Letters.

Teaching Excellence Recognized

David Issadore
David Issadore
Russ Composto
Russ Composto

Penn Engineering students selected two NBIC faculty members for 2 of the 3 2014 honors awarded to Engineering faculty who are extraordinary teachers and advisors. Assistant Professor David Issadore was awarded the S. Reid Warren, Jr. Award for his "outstanding service in stimulating and guiding the intellectual and professional development of undergraduate students."

Professor Russ Composto was awarded the Ford Motor Company Award for Faculty Advising for his "dedication to helping students realize their educational, career and personal goals."  Dr. Composto also received the 2014 Geoffrey Marshall Mentoring Award from the Northeastern Association of Graduate Schools, and the 2014 Penn Provost's Award for Distinguished PhD Teaching and Mentoring.  


Early Career Faculty Fellow Award

Dan GianolaSkirkanich Assistant Professor of Innovation, Dan Gianola, received the 2014 Early Career Faculty Fellow Award from The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society (TMS). He will receive the award at the TMS meeting in San Diego in February 2014.

Four NBIC professors recognized with endowed honors

The Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Eduardo Glandt, announced the recipients of seven endowed professorships in late November 2013.  These well-deserved honors went to four NBIC faculty: Dawn Bonnell, named Henry Robinson Towne Professor of Engineering and Applied Science; Robert Carpick, named John Henry Towne Professor of Engineering and Applied Science; Cherie Kagan named Stephen J. Angello Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering; and Karen Winey has named Towerbrook Foundation Faculty Fellow.

Dawn BonnellDawn Bonnell
Robert CarpickRobert Carpick
Cherie KaganCherie Kagan
Karen WineyKaren Winey


Pilot Grants Program (NBIC), 2013

A. T. Charlie Johnson, Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center announces the first annual of Pilot Grants awarded by the NBIC. The Pilot Grants constitute a competitive program to support new approaches that apply emerging nanotechnology based science and engineering to cancer biology, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, and related topics. Read about each by clicking the links below, or [ read all ].

Igor Bargatin, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics
Haim H. Bau, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics
Dawn A. Bonnell, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Robert Carpick, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics
Russel Composto, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
David Eckmann, Department of Anesthesiology and Critical Care
David Issadore, Department of Bioengineering
A.T. Charlie Johnson, Department of Physics
Jorge J. Santiago-Avilés, Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering
Jeffrey Saven, Department of Chemistry
John M. Vohs, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

NanoDay@Penn 2013

NanoDay@Penn 2013Each year, the Nano/Bio Interface Center sponsors a full day of exhibits, demonstrations, and laboratory tours to highlight nanotechnology research across the campus. Area high school classes participate along with undergraduate and graduate students alike. This event is crucial to boosting student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math-related careers. This year's event is on October 23, 2013.

go to the [ NanoDay@Penn ] page for more information

A. T. Charlie JohnsonCharlie Johnson Appointed as New Director of Nano/Bio Interface Center

We are pleased to announce that Prof. A. T. Charlie Johnson has been appointed to the position of Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center as of July 1.  Charlie has been on the NBIC Executive Committee since its inception and has been instrumental in the growth of the Center.  He brings a combination of leadership in collaborative research and a clear vision for the future of the Nano/Bio Center.

Charlie is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy and has been at Penn since 1994, with secondary appointments in Materials Science & Engineering and Electrical & Systems Engineering. His research is in the area of nano electronics, most recently focused on nano-bio hybrids based on carbon nanotubes and wafer-scale graphene and their application in chemical detection. He is a member of the Founding Editorial Board of AIP Advances. He is also a Scientific Founder of two companies based on technology from his laboratory, Graphene Frontiers and Adamant Technologies.

Dawn BonnellNBIC Director appointed to Vice Provost for Research

University Provost Vincent Price commented, "Dawn Bonnell is a widely recognized leader in nanotechnology research who has a profound understanding of the opportunities and challenges of the current global research environment. As the founding director of Penn's Nano/Bio Interface Center, she has significant experience integrating knowledge across campus, working with a wide range of departments and colleagues to advance Penn's distinction in scientific research and interdisciplinary education."

Read the full [ press release ]


GAPSA-Provost Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Innovation Winners

Rajatesh GudibandeJohn QiRajatesh Gudibande and John Qi were awarded a fellowship from GAPSA-Provost Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Innovation.  Their winning proposal was entitled "The Electronic Tongue: Biomimicry of Mammalian Taste Receptors for Medical and Environmental Monitoring." Both Rajatesh and John are working with Prof. A.T. Charlie Johnson.  Rajatesh is a graduate student in the Master’s of Nanotechnology program and John is a Ph.D. student in Physics, a former IGERT fellow, and a IBM Ph.D. Fellow.


How can nanoparticle therapies avoid being rejected by the body?

figure: How can nanoparticle therapies avoid being rejected by the body? Recent research by Dennis Discher and his group in the Molecular and Cell Biophysics Lab revealed a means of providing an engineered “passport” to prevent alerting the immune system of a patient receiving a nanoparticle therapy.  The team created a version of membrane protein which the body recognizes as “self” and attached these to virus-size nanoparticles.  This delayed the clearing of the particles by immune system phagocytes.

The research was reported in the [ February 22 issue of Science ]
Links to a video of a brief interview with Professor Discher:  [ video ]


Dawn Bonnell Elected to National Academy of Engineering

Dawn BonnellDawn Bonnell, Trustees Chair Professor and Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center, has been elected to the National Academy of Engineering for “development of atomic resolution surface probes, and for institutional leadership in nanoscience.”

[ Penn News ]
[ NAE announcement ]
[ Bonnell Group research site ]


Wear at the nanoscale / Rob CarpickWear at the nanoscale

Wear at the nanoscale
Robert Carpick (Chair, Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics) and Tevis Jacobs (Materials Science and Engineering)

Recent research reported in Nature Nanotechnology (published on-line on 1/27/2013) by Rob Carpick and graduate student Tevis Jacobs provides new insight and ways of predicting wear that takes place at the atomic level when materials come into contact.  The researchers employed combined techniques of AFM (atomic force microscopy) and TEM (transmission electron microscopy) in a novel way that allows real time observation and detailed charactizations during the experiment.  Results revealed resolution of detail as small as 25 cubic nanometers (approximately 1,250 atoms).

[ Read the press release from Penn Communications ]
[ View the article in Nature here ]


Vinogradov figureShedding New Light on Biological Imaging

Shedding New Light on Biological Imaging
Sergei Vinogradov (Biochemistry and Biophysics) and Christopher Murray (Chemistry and Material Science)

Most modern optical detection schemes and imaging methods rely on contrast agents and probes. Recently researchers from the Nano-Bio Interface Center (NBIC) proposed an approach to a class of novel optical agents, termed dendritic up-converting nanoparticles (UCNP's) Their research is reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (http://www.pnas.org/content/109/51/20826).  This new class of nanoprobes emits bright visible light when excited by invisible infra-red sources. In contrast, to produce the same result conventional fluorophores need to be excited using damaging UV radiation.  These results open up numerous possibilities for utilizing these unique imaging agents in biological imaging and sensing.

Ibersensor 2012 | Matt BruckmanAFM workshop at Ibersensor 2012

The NBIC co-sponsored an scanning probes workshop at Ibersensor, a conference for Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking scientists, in Puerto Rico Oct 16-19. Matt Brukman led the workshop, instructing novice users on fundamental and advanced topics of atomic force microscopy. The workshop also included a demonstration of several techniques and hands-on operation for attendees. Dawn Bonnell gave a plenary lecture on the interaction between plasmon-induced hot electrons and nano-scale sensing devices.


Tip Enhanced Raman Scattering Workshop at UPENN

http://www.ntmdt.com/NT-MDT will be conducting a Tip Enhanced Raman Scattering (TERS) workshop hosted by Rob Carpick, October 9-11, 2012.

TERS is a nanoscale Raman measurement that requires the integration of AFM and Raman microscopies. The goal is to achieve sub diffraction optical images and spectra that correlates to the AFM data.

The workshop will be lead by Dr. Pavel Dorozhkin of NT-MDT and covers the following subjects:

  • Live TERS measurement demonstrations!
  • Lectures on the application of TERS, AFM and Raman in the fields of physics, chemistry and material science.
  • Measurements of samples brought by participants of the workshop.

Space is limited: please contact brad@nanounity.com for inquiries.


Recent Graduate Student Achievement

Tevis JacobsTevis Jacobs, a current IGERT Fellow and MSE Ph.D. student in Professor Rob Carpick’s group, was a "Gold Medal" winner at the 2012 Spring MRS meeting.  Tevis' talk was entitled, "Using In-Situ TEM to Explore the Kinetics of Wear at the Nanoscale". The talks were recorded and an online version will be available soon at http://vimeopro.com/materials/2012-mrs-spring-meeting/video/40543051.

Mike Hore, IGERT Fellow and MSE Ph.D. student in Professor Russ Composto’s group has accepted an NRC postdoctoral-associateship at NIST starting in September. He will be working in the Center for Neutron Research where he will be researching small-angle neutron scattering.   Mike was also selected as a finalist and presenter in the Padden Award Symposium.  The Frank J. Padden Award is awarded to senior Ph.D. students by the Division of Polymer Physics in the American Physical Society.  His talk was entitled "Controlling Gold Nanorod Dispersion in Thin Film Polymer Blends."

PA Nanotechnology 2012

PA CapitalThe nanotech economic landscape will be the center of attention at a daylong conference in Harrisburg on June 5, 2012.  The NBIC is serving as an organizing sponsor of this statewide event.
Details and access to registration tools are found at:

[ Link to article in Central Pennsylvania Business Journal ]
[ Download conference flyer ]

Jeff SavenPenn Researchers Create First Custom Designed Protein Crystal

Associate Professor Jeffrey Saven (Department of Chemistry, SAS) and colleagues report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science a computational approach for de nova protein design that self-assemble in three dimensions that yield macroscopic crystals. Graduate student and IGERT Fellow, Christopher MacDermaid, was also part of the team reporting these results.

[ press release ]

Job Prospects in Nanotechnology

In an emerging field such as nanotechnology a question arises as to where the jobs are.   A recent report on the first decade of nanotechnology provides insight into this question.*  In the year 2000, the market of nanotechnology-enabled products was approximately $40B, which increased to approximately $250B by 2009.  This correlates to an increase in jobs from 60,000 to 400,000.  All leading indicators predict that there will be 2 million jobs by 2015.  In view of the current job market, this is exciting news.

So, where are the jobs?  About 40% are in the USA with the others distributed in Japan, Europe, and Asia.  But note that often the job titles are not labeled as “nanotechnologist”.  Companies who advertise jobs on nanotechnology web sites are looking for:

Microfabrication Engineer, MEMS Device Physics Engineer, Principle Scientist: Drug Delivery, Business Development Manager-Nanotech, Senior Researcher: Bio-Nanotechnology, Medical Device Engineer, Near Field Semiconductor Engineer, Research Scientist: Nanoscale Thermal Transport, and even Project Manager.

These are only some of the jobs in which expertise in nanotechnology is critical.  Jobs are found in companies that produce medical diagnostic devices, targeted therapeutics, high efficiency lighting, advanced materials, wireless electronics and mobile devices, microelectronics, metrology tools, chemical catalysts, etc.

See the following link for information from the USA National Nanotechnology Initiative:

The complete report, “Nanotechnology Research Directions for Societal Needs in 2020” is available at http://www.wtec.org/nano2/Nanotechnology_Research_Directions_to_2020/

Nanotechnology job sites include:

* Nanotechnology Research Directions for Societal Needs in 2020.  (ed)  M. Roco, M. Hersam, C. Mirkin . Springer 2011


Yung Woo Park, NBIC Visiting Distinguished Scholar Arrives

Yung Woo ParkThe NBIC will celebrate the distinguished career of Professor Yung Woo Park, 2012 Visiting Distinguished Scholar, on April 2.  Park is Professor of Physics at the Seoul National University in South Korea.  His primary research interests are in condensed matter physics and nanostructures such as polymer nanofibers and carbon nanotubes. Professor Park was awarded the Korean Science Award in Physics and the Grand Prize for the Nano Research Innovation from Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), South Korea.  Park returns to Penn where earned is Ph.D. in 1980.  Please join the NBIC in honoring Professor Park on April 2, 2012 at 3:30 PM in the Auditorium of the LRSM. The title of his talk is: Carbon Nanoelectronics – Zero M Resistivity and More.  A reception will follow in the Reading Room.

MINATECSummer Research Opportunities in France

The NBIC seeks students to work at MINATEC in Grenoble, France as part of a collaborative research exchange program. MINATEC is a micro and nanotechnology innovation campus located in the southern Alps region. Visit the International Research Experience page for more details.


NanoDay@Penn 2011

NanoDay@Penn 2011Each year, the Nano/Bio Interface Center sponsors a full day of exhibits, demonstrations, and laboratory tours to highlight nanotechnology research across the campus. Area high school classes participate along with undergraduate and graduate students alike. This event is crucial to boosting student interest in science, technology, engineering, and math-related careers. This year's event is on October 26, 2011.

go to the [ NanoDay@Penn ] page for more information

Nano/Bio Interface Center Symposium:
Local Probes at the Frontiers of Energy Systems and Biotechnology

October 26-27, 2011
University of Pennsylvania
8:30 AM – 6:30 PM

Since the early days of scanning tunneling microscopy and atomic force microscopy, a large family of probes have been developed that access properties with ever increasing complexity and relevance. This symposium highlights recent advances that forward fundamental underpinnings of critical interactions in energy systems as well as molecular and cellular biology. 

Don EiglerSymposium Featured Address
NBIC Award for Research Excellence in Nanotechnology

Wednesday, October 26, 2011
4:00 PM (reception will follow)
Wu and Chen Auditorium, Levine Hall

Don Eigler, The Small Frontier

Scanning Probes Symposium
Thursday, October 27, 2011

8:30 AM – 6:30 PM
Irvine Auditorium

[ go to the event page ]


NBIC research news, August 2011

Recent research by Ritesh Agarwal and his group show that ultrafast phototonic devices could operate at speeds a thousand times greater then currently possible. The unique structure of their silver nanowires support highly confined surface plasmons and will lead to advancements many electronic devises.

For more details:
[ press release ]
[ Philadelphia Inquirer article ]

Physical Science in Cancer Research Pilot Program Grants Program (NBIC), 2011

Dawn Bonnell, Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center announces the first annual of Physical Science in Cancer Research Pilot Program Grants awarded by the NBIC. The Cancer Grants constitute a competitive program to support new approaches that apply emerging nanotechnology based science and engineering to cancer biology, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, and related topics. Read about each by clicking the links below, or read all.

Christopher Chen, Department of Bioengineering

Russell Composto, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Michael Lampson, Department of Biology
Ekaterina Grishchuk, Department of Physiology

Gary Kao, Department of Radiation Oncology
Dennis Discher, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Jay Dorsey, Department of Radiation Oncology

Sergei Vinogradov, Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Christopher Murray, Department of Chemistry

Shu Yang, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Ju Li, Department of Materials Science and Engineering
Drew Weissman, Division of Infectious Diseases

Innovation Grants Program (NBIC), 2010

Dawn Bonnell, Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center announces the fourth round of Innovation Grants awarded by the NBIC. The Innovation Grants constitute a competitive program to support new topics of inquiry in the field of nanoscience and engineering. Four new awards were made in the second round. Read about each by clicking the links below.

Feng Gai, Department of Chemistry

Jorge J. Santiago-Aviles, Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering

Prashant Purohit, Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

New developments in electronic and optical devices

Three recent research papers from NBIC scientists provide new insight that may advance the development of nanoscale devices in the future.  Nanotechnology holds out the promise of new optical and electrical devises that will run faster and use much less energy.  New generations of sensors will help detect pollutants or pathogens more quickly and in lower concentrations.

Ritesh AgarwalRitesh Agarwal reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that the limits of light-matter coupling can be broken with the proper fabrication of cadmium sulfide nanowires.
[ press release ] [ abstract ]

Dawn BonnelDawn Bonnell reports on optoelectronic processes in artificial proteins.  The ACS Nano paper describes the electron transport in single-molecule peptide layers as well as a new AFM technique called torsional resonance nanoimpedance microscopy.
[ press release ] [ abstract ]

Nadar EnghetaNader Engheta’s work in metamaterials has recently reported in Science.  By controlling the conductivity in sheets of graphene, single-atom thick optical devices can be achieved.
[ press release ] [ abstract ]


Producing Graphene at Industrial Scale

Charlie Johnson and his group (Department of Physics and Astronomy, School of Arts and Science) report on a process to create graphene that is just a single layer thick over 95% of its area. [ press release ]

Motor Protein High-wire Act Revealed

NBIC researchers Yale Goldman (School of Medicine), Haim Bau (School of Engineering and Applied Science) and former graduate student Mark Arsenault (now a senior scientist at GE Healthcare) explain novel approach that reveals myosin motor motion along actin filaments. [ link ]

Pilot project program on Physical Science in Cancer Research

The Nano-Bio Interface Center announces a pilot project program on Physical Science in Cancer Research. The fields of cancer biology and clinical oncology have been dominated by researchers with classical training in life sciences. More recently, the field has expanded to include physical and engineering scientists, whose expertise is complementary to that of life scientists. The goal of the NBIC Physical Science in Cancer Research Pilot Program is to support new approaches that apply emerging nanotechnology-based science and engineering to cancer biology, diagnostic and therapeutic strategies, and related topics. Awards of up to $50,000 will be made with a start date of April 15, 2011. Deadline for submission is March 25, 2011.
[ download PDF announcement ]

New International Research Opportunities for Penn students in France - Summer 2011
visit current program page

 The Nano/Bio Interface Center will support all expenses related to travel and accommodations for a 10-week research exchange during the upcoming summer (23 May – 29 July). The program is centered at MINATEC in Grenoble, France

  • A world-class research facility
  • Exciting international environment
  • Excellent professional development opportunities
  • Exceptional setting and landscape
  • Reasonable time commitment
  • Language program and pre-trip preparation provided

The information sheet identifies the research projects related to three research facilities at MINATEC.  There is also a link to the Center’s site if you require more information. 

Please complete the application and return by February 25, 2011.

A letter of support and recommendation from your advisor can be sent to jmcgon@seas.upenn.edu by February 25.

Penn breaks ground for nanotechnology center

Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology
Rendering of the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology.

On Feb. 17, Penn President Amy Gutmann will join University Trustees and the deans of the Schools of Arts and Sciences (SAS) and Engineering and Applied Science at the 3200 block of Walnut Street for a groundbreaking ceremony for the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology.

[ read more ]


Graduate Research Award - Nomination Deadline Approaches

The NBIC Graduate Research Award is open to all graduate students across Penn's campus who are working in the area of nanoscale science and engineering. Guidelines can be downloaded here and the application deadline is October 15, 2010.

The 2010 REU Students Complete Research

Seven undergraduate students from across the country worked in Penn research laboratories this summer in the NBIC Summer Research at the Nano/bio Interface Center, marking the 6^th year of the summer research program. Students gain valuable skills in the interdisciplinary fields around nanoscale science and nanotechnology. While at Penn, visiting students also participate in social events with other program on campus including cookouts, Phillies baseball, and a canoe trip on the nearby Brandywine River. Other activities highlight the rich cultural diversity in the city along with workshops conducted by Penn's Greenfield Intercultural Center focusing on diversity in the science workplace and graduate school. One participant commented, "I've always been interested in attending graduate school but this experience reassured me of my passion and deep interest in research." The 2010 students included:

  • Priya Balasubramanian, Duke University
  • Rosa Santana Carrero, University of Puerto Rico, Mayaguez
  • Stephanie Cheung, Grinnell College
  • Peter Forzaglia, Manhattan College
  • Jorrell Fredericks, Alabama State University
  • Adrian Levine, The University of Western Ontario
  • Charles Majdalani, University of Texas at Austin

Priya Balasubramanian Presentation Award RecipientREU 2010 GroupREU 2010 group presentationsREU 2010

During the final week of the program, all students present their research in a 2-day symposium. Graduate students from NBIC evaluate the presentation on the basis of scientific merit, quality of slides, and overall presentation quality. Priya Balasubramanian from Duke University worked in Professor Shu Yang's group in Materials Science and Engineering. Her project, entitled, Fabrication of Superhydrophobic Surfaces Using Functionalized Silica Nanoparticles, was the most highly rated presentation. Priya will return to Penn on September 14 to present a research poster at the Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships Symposium.

First Cohort from France Completes Summer Research

First Cohort from France Completes Summer ResearchMINATECThree graduate students from the research center called MINATEC in Grenoble, France completed a 10-week research experience at Penn this summer. The Nano/Bio Interface Center (NBIC) hosted the three students in a pilot phase for a project that envisions a more extensive research exchange over the next three years. Ronan Lashermes (back row, LEFT) worked in Haim Bau's group investigating temperature regulation in the Nanoaquarium. Donata Passarello (first row, RIGHT) worked on protein detection in NEMs biosensors in Gianluca Piazza's group. Guillaume Cordier (second row, RIGHT) worked in Daniel Gianola's group on dielectrophoretic techniques for trapping single nanoparticles. The NBIC plans to continue this program in May 2011 with undergraduate and graduate students from Penn traveling to MINATEC for a 10-week summer research project while international students travel to Philadelphia for their research experience.

Post-doctoral Associate Opening

The Nano/Bio Interface Center has an immediate opening for a post doctoral associate to work in the area of surface and local property analyses of functional nanostructures. The research involves collaborations between chemistry, physics and material science focused in the interactions of molecules with surfaces, electrodes, and nanoparticles. In particular we are combining scanning tunneling microscopy with laser excitation to examine photoconduction processes in hybrid nanostructures.

« download job description pdf »

3rd place, Penn MSE Senior Design Competition

Arjun Shah and Mike ShenSeniors Arjun Shah and Mike Shen take 3rd place in the Materials Science and Engineering's senior design competition for their study of in situ measurement of photo conductivity in organic devices.


The Nano/Bio Interface Center (NBIC) announces a call for proposals for the Innovation Award Program for awards beginning September 2010.  The Innovation Award Program facilitates new research in areas of interest to the mission of the center.  The goals of the program are two fold:

  • To explore research directions that shape the evolution of NBIC core research, and
  • To expand the nano/bio interface research across the campus

Typical grants are $30,000 to $50,000 for a 12 month period.

To apply for an Innovation Award, Penn faculty members can submit an electronic version of a proposal to the NBIC via Hong-Mei Li (nbicasst@seas.upenn.edu) by April 30, 2010. Proposal guidelines can be accessed at:


The proposal should include:

  • A  description of  the technical issue that will be addressed
  • An outline of  the approach that will be taken
  • Relation to NBIC current or potential research directions
  • Impact expected from the results (including proposals that will be submitted based on the results)
  • Tangible outcome of any previous Innovation Awards (including proposals that were funded based on the results)
  • Budget
  • 2-page NSF-formatted CV

The project description should not exceed three pages. Proposals will be evaluated by the NBIC Executive Committee, and notification of awards will be made by May 31, 2010.


Plasmon Induced Electrical Conduction in Molecular Devices

Parag Banerjee, David Conklin, Sanjini Nanayakkara, Tae-Hong Park, Michael J. Therien, and Dawn A. Bonnell

Plasmon Induced Electrical Conduction in Molecular Devices Plasmonics is a new field in which surface plasmons are exploited to manipulate and control light. Here we show that surface plasmons can be configured to induce electronic transport in molecular devices and in this manner convert optical energy into electrical conduction.

Hybrid nanostructures were fabricated in which 32 nm gold particles are linked with optically active porphyrin molecules. The structures are designed such that the spacing between many of the particles is exactly the length that the molecules span.

The plasmons focus light to the junction and induce electrical conduction by localizing photon flux to increase exciton production in the molecule. The transport properties of the molecule, the proximity of the gold electrodes and the plasmons lead to current enhancements by factors of 4-20 (400% to 2000%) even in these unoptimized devices.

These results suggest new strategies for energy efficient circuits, energy harvesting coatings, optical circuit components, and neural logic devices.

Plasmon Induced Electrical Conduction in Molecular Devices   Plasmon Induced Electrical Conduction in Molecular Devices


Banerjee, et al ACS Nano 2010

Read More:


Purohit receives NSF Career Award

Prashant PurohitPrashant Purohit, Assistant Professor in Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics, has received a prestigious NSF CAREER award on his work, "Entropic Elasticity of Fluctuating Filaments and Networks."  (http://www.seas.upenn.edu/media/news/purohit-feb-10.php).  In 2008, Professor Purohit also was a NBIC Innovation Grant Award recipient.


Let There Be Current:
Turning Light into Current in Molecular Arrays with Plasmons

Bonnell ACS Nano 1/26/2010Investigators in the Nano/Bio Interface Center at the University of Pennsylvania have demonstrated a new mechanism for turning light into electrical current in porphyrin molecules.  They fabricated an array of gold metal nanoparticles and linked them with special light-sensitive porphyrins.  The plasmons at the surface of the nanoparticles focus the light to the junction where the molecules are connected.  The plasmon effect increases the efficiency of current production in the molecule by a factor of 4-20 (400% to 2000%) that is then transported through the network to the outside world. 

Surface plasmons are being engineered into a variety of light activated devices such as biosensors and optical circuits.  This is the first time that plasmons have induced current in molecules.  The action is similar to that of solar cells and may provide an approach for higher efficiency energy harvesting devices.

This research represents a collaborative effort with researchers at Duke University and the University of Maryland.  Results were published in ACS Nano on January 26, 2010.

Phaseless 3D Optical Nanoimaging

In a recent paper published in Physical Review Letters (see link below), Professor John Scotland (Bioengineering) proposed a novel approach for imaging nanostructures, including those within cells, utilizing a nondestructive process.  Alexander Govyadinov, a postdoctoral researcher in the Schotland group reports:

Scotland figure 11/09 Phys Rev LetThe development of tools for three-dimensional (3D) imaging of nano-structures s of fundamental interest and considerable applied importance. There are multiple potential applications including inspection of semiconductor devices, detection of atoms buried beneath surfaces and characterization of biologically important supramolecular assemblies, among others. Optical methods, especially near-field scanning optical microscopy (NSOM) and its variants, hold great promise for nano-scale imaging due to their subwavelength resolution, spectroscopic sensitivity to chemical composition, and nondestructive nature. Although traditionally viewed as a technique for two-dimensional (2D) surface imaging, near-field microscopy has recently demonstrated the capacity to image subsurface structures in 3D. However, this capability comes with a high price, namely the need to either measure or control the phase.

We have developed a new method for 3D nano-imaging that does not rely on optical phase measurements or phase-controlled illumination. As a proxy for the optical phase, we introduce a controlled scatterer, such as an atomic force microscope tip, into the near-field of the sample. The power extinguished from the incident light beam, which illuminates both the sample and the tip, is then measured. Changing the tip’s position controls the pattern of illumination and thus modifies the extinguished power. The 3D structure of the sample can then be reconstructed from data that are collected as the tip scans a three-dimensional space above the sample. The readily available sub-nanometer precision in probe positioning that is achievable in atomic force microscopy, in combination with the simplicity of far-field measurements of the extinguished power, is expected to allow the practical realization of the proposed method.

link to paper: http://focus.aps.org/story/v24/st18

Networking Around Research and Careers

October 27, 2009 (2:00 - 7:00 PM)

Graduate students and post doctoral researchers are encouraged to present their research posters and also participate workshops and a career panel dealing with nanoscale science and technology. The workshop theme is Probes and Sensors with presenters from the Naval Research Laboratory, DuPont, Rohm and Haas, and Penn. The Career panel includes representatives from BioNanomatrix, ACS Nano, DuPont, and the Naval Research Laboratory. The Penn Nanotech Society will also host a speaker. The complete schedule of the event can be downloaded here.

Imagine That - Image ContestImagine That

The Nano/Bio Interface Center announces its annual competition for Imagining the World at the Nanoscale. That’s a billionth of a meter! Open to all Penn students.

NanoDay@Penn takes place on October 28th and the NBIC would like to increase involement among all Penn students by participating in the NanoDay Image Contest. This year, we are looking to you to help generate excitement and interest about research at the nanoscale an nanotechnology. Please submit original images or animations that we can use in the multi-media show that runs all day on NanoDay in the Towne Building and Levine Hall.

All entries are displayed. Prizes are awarded at the 4 PM award ceremony and keynote address.

Prizes: entries are judged and a $100 prize is awarded to each:

  • Most artistic (this one ends up on next year's shirt)
  • Best technical
  • Best animation

Please submit your original images before October 16, 2009 to nbicasst@seas.upenn.edu.

Entries are judged on technical content, artistry , and originality. Criteria: still images (TIF, JPG, GIF, PNG) animations (AVI, MPG, SWF, FLV). All entries will be displayed in the NanoDay multimedia show.

Penn's Nano/Bio Interface Center Awarded $11.5 Million to Advance Nanoscale Research in Biological Systems

The grant will support multidisciplinary research at Penn designed to explore and control the function and quantification of molecules, to explore interactions between organic/inorganic interfaces and physical and biological systems and to unite investigators from 10 academic departments to provide new directions for the life sciences in a two-way flow essential to fully realizing the benefits of nano-biotechnology.

"Basic research of this kind will become the technologies that fuel nanoelectronics, medical diagnostic devices, functional organic molecules and inorganic nanostructures that lead to improved catalysts, solar cells and chemical sensor --- all made with new families of functional materials ordered on the sub-10 nanometer-length scale," said Steven J. Fluharty, vice provost for research at Penn.


Graduate Research Award - Nomination Deadline Approaches

The NBIC Graduate Research Award is open to all graduate students across Penn's campus who are working in the area of nanoscale science and engineering. Guidelines can be downloaded here and the application deadline is October 5, 2009.

Undergraduate Open House

Open House

Thursday, October 15, 2009

All Penn undergraduates are invited to join an informal discussion with staff from the Nano/Bio Interface Center (NBIC) and students currently pursuing the Nanotechnology Minor. Come and learn about how a minor in nanotechnology can impact your future.

Refreshments will be served.

Read more about the Minor in Nanotechnology.

Innovation Grants Program (NBIC), 2009

Dawn Bonnell, Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center announces the fourth round of Innovation Grants awarded by the NBIC. The Innovation Grants constitute a competitive program to support new topics of inquiry in the field of nanoscience and engineering. Four new awards were made in the second round. Read about each by clicking the links below.

Ritesh Agarwal, Department of Materials science & Engineering     
Tobias Baumgart, Departments of Chemistry
Janis K. Burkhardt, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
I-Wei Chen, Department of Materials science & Engineering     
Scott L. Diamond, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Daeyeon Lee, Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
Gianluca Piazza, Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering
Jorge J. Santiago-Avilés, Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering

NEW Master’s Degree In Nanotechnology

Application deadline is June 1, 2009 for fall semester

The Master's degree in Nanotechnology prepares students for this profession with a solid foundation in the three technical core areas: Nanofabrication, Devices and Properties, and Biotechnology; as well as Commercialization, and Societal Impacts of Technology.  Courses are offered by the School of Engineering and Applied Science, the School of Arts and Sciences, and the Wharton Business School.

Nanotechnology is a highly interdisciplinary field.  A bachelor's degree in any of the following fields is appropriate: physics, chemistry, bioengineering, materials science, electrical engineering, systems engineering, mechanical engineering, engineering and applied science.  The curriculum structure allows students to match their background and interests while preparing for exciting new challenges.

For more information visit:

NBIC Announces Three New members to the External Advisory Board

NBIC announces the addition of 3 new members to the External Advisory Board. Viola Vogel from ETH Zurich; Miguel Salmeron from LBL Berkeley Lab, and Joe Lyding from U of Illinois. These additions bring expertise in motor proteins, surface functionalization and scanning probes. We look forward to their interactions with our center.

... read the bios

Igor Kulic @ Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique

Former NBIC postdoctoral researcher Igor Kulic has been awarded a permanent position in the French CNRS, at Institut Charles Sadron, Strasbourg, France.

Professor Shree Singh joins NBIC Science Advisory Board

Shree SinghShree R. Singh, Ph.D. is Director, of the NanoBiotechnology Center & HBCU-UP and Acting Chair, Department of Biological Sciences at Alabama State University in Montgomery. The major goal of the center is to engage in collaborative research in four major research areas: 1) Structural studies of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), 2) Carbon nanotube attached with ssDNA as nanosensor, 3) The development of nanobiomaterials for drug delivery, and 4) delivery of nanoparticle encapsuled anti-Chlamydial peptides in an animal model. These projects are carried out in collaboration with several institutions. Other aspects of the center include: graduate student training, international scientist exchange program, faculty summer exchange program, and an annual science symposium.

2009 Innovation Award Program

Dear Colleagues,

The Nano/Bio Interface Center announces the 2009 Innovation Award Program. This is a solicitation for proposals for exciting research in multidisciplinary research at the interface of physical and biological systems. Successful proposals will link to current research themes in the NBIC or present new directions related to the NBIC mission. Collaborations between investigators is viewed as a significant strength.

The support level is on the order of $50k for one year. Application materials are found here.

The deadline is April 3, 2009

Please submit the proposals and questions to nbicasst@seas.upenn.edu

Dawn Bonnell

Wanted: Science Teachers for Professional Development in Nanoscale Science

We are currently seeking applicants to a 3-week professional development program through a collaboration with Penn's Graduate School of Education.

Find details at the following link: https://www.gse.upenn.edu/announcements

Professor Nelson recognized for excellence in teaching biophysics

Phil NelsonBiological Physics, Phil Nelson

Physics professor Philip Nelson often gets high praise for his teaching from the students in his biological physics (PHYS 280) classes.  Now, the Biophysical Society (http://www.biophysics.org/) has recognized him for his contributions to the field.  At its annual meeting in Boston later this month, the Biophysical Society will honor Nelson with the Emily M. Gray Award for his “far reaching and significant contributions to the teaching of biophysics, developing innovative educational materials, and fostering an environment exceptionally conducive to education in Biological Physics.” The Emily M. Gray Lecture will be the keynote presentation at the Student Symposium at the event.  

Back on campus, student comments about Nelson’s course range from, “I consider it [PHYS 280] the class in which I fell in love with physics” to comments by Meera Rao, a biochemistry student in the College who says, “in my traditional science classes (biology, chemistry, math, and physics) I have always been interested in those times when we peeked over the fence into the other disciplines.   Thank you for helping me tear-down those fences.”  Professor Nelson’s book, Biological Physics, is used in courses across the country and has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Biological Physics (PHYS 280) is offered each fall semester and is one of the courses that count towards the minor in nanotechnology.

Professor Rob Carpick named Penn Fellow

Rob Carpick

Rob Carpick, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics was named a Penn Fellow last month. Professor Carpick has been an active member of the NBIC community since his arrival at Penn in early 2007. He has been a research mentor for the NBIC summer undergraduate research in nano/biotechnology as well as hosted a local high school science teacher in the Research Experience for Teachers (RET) program. In the fall of 2007, Carpick was the recipient of an NBIC Innovation Grant for his work on tribology, the study of friction at the micro and nanoscale. Recently, Dr. Carpick successfully launched the Nanoprobes Network (http://nanoprobenetwork.org/), an international community dedicated to the advancement of nano and nanobio instrumentation discovery and innovation. To read more about Rob’s Penn Fellow honor, go to http://www.seas.upenn.edu/whatsnew/2009/carpick.html

Dawn Bonnell speaks at the Chemical Heritage FoundationMolecules that Matter

This coming Tuesday, 9 December, will be the last in the series of "Molecules that Matter" lectures offered at the Chemical Heritage Foundation in coordination with the "Molecules that Matter" exhibit in the new CHF museum. Dawn Bonnell, director of Penn's Nano Bio Interface Center, will be offering a talk on "Linking Proteins, Wires, Dots, and Molecules into Useful Devices." The lecture begins at 6pm and ends with a small reception.

link: http://www.chemheritage.org/events/mtm_lectures/index.html

Sujit Datta NBIC alum wins APS highest undergraduate award

Sujit Datta continues to make a name for himself by be named the 2008 LeRoy Apker Award recipient from the American Physical Society. Last year, he graduated from Penn with a B.A (with honors) in Physics and an M.S. in mathematics. Currently, Datta is a graduate student at Harvard University. During his time at Penn he was active in NBIC activities where is conducted research in Charlie Johnson’s group. Sujit also participated in NanoDay@Penn activities where he helped explain nanoscale science to visiting high school groups and was a contributor to the multimedia image contest. The APS awarded Datta based on his research where he discovered ways by which graphene can be carved into nanoscale structures.



Naomi HalasNBIC Announces the 2008 Research Excellence Award in Nanotechnology

The 2008 Research Excellence Award in Nanotechnology will be awarded to Professor Naomi Halas during the annual NanoDay@Penn. Halas is Stanley C. Moore Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Professor of Chemistry, and Professor of Bioengineering at Rice University. She is best known for inventing nanoshells, a new type of nanoparticle with tunable optical properties. Other awards include an NSF Young Investigator Award, three Hershel Rich Invention Awards, the 2003 Cancer Innovator Award, and the 2000 CRS-Cygnus award for Outstanding Work in Drug Delivery. She was also awarded “Best Discovery of 2003” by Nanotechnology Now and was named finalist for Small Times magazine’s 2004 Nanotechnology Researcher of the Year. Naomi Halas will be honored on October 29th at 4:00 PM in the Wu and Chen Auditorium in Levine Hall. Her talk entitled, When Plasmons Interact, Worlds Collide: Optics At The Nano-Bio Interface, will focus on how metallic nanostructures are being designed and engineered as optical components.

Undergraduate Open House

Open HouseAll Penn undergraduates are invited to join an informal discussion with staff from the Nano/Bio Interface Center (NBIC) and students currently pursuing the Nanotechnology Minor. Come and learn about how a minor in nanotechnology can impact your future.

Refreshments will be served.

Graduate Research Award - Nomination Deadline Approaches

The NBIC Graduate Research Award is open to all graduate students across Penn's campus who are working in the area of nanoscale science and engineering. Guidelines can be downloaded here and the application deadline is September 26, 2008.

Innovation Grants Program (NBIC), 2008

Dawn Bonnell, Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center announces the fourth round of Innovation Grants awarded by the NBIC. The Innovation Grants constitute a competitive program to support new topics of inquiry in the field of nanoscience and engineering. Four new awards were made in the second round. Read about each by clicking the links below.

Cherie R. Kagan, Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering
So-Jung Park, Department of Chemistry
Marija Drndic, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Jorge J. Santiago-Avilés, Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering
Yoko Yamakoshi, Department of Radiology
Prashant K. Purohit, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics

Marija Drndić Recieves the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award

Marija Drndić

Dr. Marija Drndić, assistant professor of physics and astronomy, is this year’s recipient of the Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Award for her distinguished teaching of introductory quantum mechanics and electromagnetism for engineering students as well as the advanced quantum mechanics.  “She is a brilliant communicator”, and “her class is always full of energy” are remarks from one of her students. 




Gigantic fuss over a teensy topicPhillyNews.com

Nanotechnology is the focus of attention at a Penn science fair.

By Dan Hardy Inquirer Staff Writer

Until 25 years ago, when a new kind of microscope allowed scientists to see molecule-size objects more clearly, nanotechnology - which deals with particles a billionth of a meter or smaller - was more the stuff of science fiction than of science.

« read the entire article »

Recent Grant Funding to NBIC Associate Director, Yale Goldman

1.  NIST Award of $2 Million to Develop a Tool to Study Proteins At Work in Living Cells

Yale Goldman and his associate, Barry Cooperman of Penn’s Muscle Institute and Chemistry Department, were awarded a grant from the Commerce Department’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  The grant is for $1.9 million and is funded under the agency’s Advanced Technology Program (ATP).  The goals of this grant are to develop technologies for identifying proteins from live cells in real-time, to be used in basic science research, drug development, and the search for novel medical treatments.  The corporate partner for this project is Anima Cell Metrology, Inc. of Basking Ridge, NJ.

« http://www.upenn.edu/pennnews/article.php?id=1245 »

2.  NSF Award of $700,000 from the Major Research Instrumentation Program

Development of Simultaneous Single Molecule Fluorescence and Atomic Force Microscopy.  This award supports the development of a new instrument capable of single-molecule fluorescence measurements of angular (polarization), translational, and conformational motions collected during Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) imaging and manipulation of individual biomolecules and their complexes.  AFM is the only technique that can image wet, native samples with nanometer resolution, and it has also emerged as a key technology for manipulation-type studies of single molecules and complexes, including protein and RNA folding-unfolding under tension, and studies of enzyme activity under compressive confinement.  The goal of this award is to design and develop a new instrument that will report the internal structural changes of single macromolecules and surface layers by single molecule fluorescence microscopy, simultaneous with application and detection of relevant mechanical forces and distances by AFM.  The long-term objective for this new microscope is to increase fundamental understanding of assembly, folding and function of macromolecules and surface layers.

Jonathan Spanier awarded with PECASE

Jonathan E. Spanier, NBIC researcher and Assistant Professor of materials science and engineering in the College of Engineering at Drexel University, was recently honored at a White House ceremony with a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).  The PECASE is the nation’s highest honor for professionals at the outset of their independent research careers.  Spanier is the first assistant professor at Drexel to be selected for this recognition since the program was created.  The Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, established in 1996, honors the most promising researchers in the Nation within their fields.

His research group website can be accessed at « http://www.mse.drexel.edu/mml/ »

NBIC Associate Director Yale Goldman Named 2007 AAAS Fellow

Yale E. Goldman, MD, PhD, Director, Pennsylvania Muscle Institute and Professor of Physiology is among the newest Fellows to be named to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).  Goldman was cited for his distinguished contributions in molecular motor research, development of new technologies for biophysics, and service in scientific societies, journal editing, and organization of scientific meetings.  The new Fellows will be officially inducted February 16 during the 2008 AAAS annual meeting in Boston.

NBIC Bioengineering Professor Awarded the School's Highest Teaching Honor

John Schotland Dr. John C. Schotland, associate professor of bioengineering and electrical and systems engineering, was awarded the School’s highest teaching honor, the S. Reid Warren, Jr. Award. The award is presented annually by the undergraduate student body and the Engineering Alumni Society in recognition of outstanding service in stimulating and guiding the intellectual and professional development of undergraduate students in SEAS. Dr. Schotland received both his M.D. and Ph.D. from Penn and joined the faculty of Penn Engineering in 2002. He is a member of the Nano/Bio Interface Center and the Institute for Medicine and Engineering. A student writes, "Dr. Schotland challenges students to re-open math and physics textbooks to review everything from Bessel functions to multi-dimensional Fourier transforms." Another student notes that "outside of class, Professor Schotland devotes countless hours advising students on graduate school. With both an M.D. and a Ph.D., Professor Schotland is equipped to openly discuss each program, thereby helping students to decide which track best fits their personalities and career goals."

from the Almanac, vol 53, No.3, May 8, 2007

For more information about Dr. Shotland's research visit:



Industry Partnership
Podcast and video streaming available

On February 23, 2007, a distinguished panel of university and industry leaders assembled at the University of Pennsylvania’s Nano/Bio Interface Center to discuss exciting opportunities and complex challenges around university/industry partnerships.  Corporate representatives came from DuPont, IBM, and Johnson and Johnson as well as Sandia National Laboratory.  Christoph Gerber of the University of Basel in Switzerland presented his view of the future of nanotechnology and opportunities these kinds of collaboration will afford.  The discussion among the panelists centered on nanotechnology, biotechnology, computation, and information technology.

Listen to the podcast or watch streaming video of the event at



Bioethics and Nanotechnology
New resources this spring

Several new podcasts have been added to the growing list of resources from Science and Society. The following are of particular interest in the nanobiotechnology area.

Dr. Buddy Ratner, Chairman, Scientific Advisory Board, Ratner BioMedical Group, and Professor of Bioengineering and Professor of Chemical Engineering, University of Washington discusses his research interests in nanobiotechnology in a program entitled, “Engineered Cardiac Morphogenesis.”

Richard Garozzo, Senior Composites Engineer in the Polymer Nanocomposites and Composites Group, University of Dayton Research Institute, and Manager, UDRI’s Center for Multifunctional Polymer Nanocomposites and Devices. discusses the world’s first manufacturing center for product demonstration of nano-enhanced polymer composites.


Nader Engheta

Nader Engheta named as “2006 Scientific American 50”

Nader Engheta is the H. Nedwill Ramsey Professor of Electrical and Systems Engineering and professor of bioengineering in Penn’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.  He was recently honored by Scientific American magazine as one of the “2006 Scientific American 50.” 

Read more about this at http://www.seas.upenn.edu/whatsnew/2006/nader_engheta.html

Engheta is also a faculty advisor the NBIC’s Integrated Graduate Education and Research Traineeship (IGERT).  This research has focused on the development electric tweezers and the positioning and orientation objects at the nanometer scale.


DNA shown to very flexible at the nanoscale

DNA / Phil NelsonScientists have answered a long-standing molecular stumper regarding DNA: how can parts of such a rigid molecule bend and coil without requiring large amounts of force?  According to a team of researchers from the United States and the Netherlands, led by a physicist from the University of Pennsylvania, DNA is much more flexible than previously believed when examined over extremely small lengths. They used a technique called atomic force microscopy to determine the amount of energy necessary to bend DNA over nano-size lengths (about a million times smaller than a printed letter).  The findings, which appear in the November issue of the journal Nature Nanotechnology, illustrate how molecular properties often appear different when viewed at different degrees of magnification. 

"DNA is not a passive molecule. It constantly needs to bend, forming loops and kinks, as other molecules interact with it,” said Philip Nelson, a professor in Penn’s Department of Physics and Astronomy in the School of Arts and Sciences.  "But when people looked at long chunks of DNA, it always seemed to behave like a stiff elastic rod.”

For example, DNA must wrap itself around proteins, forming tiny molecular structures called nucleosomes, which help regulate how genes are read. The formation of tight DNA loops also plays a key role in switching some genes off. According to Nelson, such processes were considered a minor mystery of nature, in part because researchers didn’t have the tools of nanotechnology to examine molecules in such fine detail. 

"Common sense and physics seemed to tell us that DNA just shouldn’t spontaneously bend into such tight structures, yet it does,” Nelson said. "In the conventional view of DNA molecule, wrapping DNA into a nucleosome would be like bending a yardstick around a baseball.”  To study DNA on the needed short length scales, Nelson and his colleagues used a technique called high-resolution atomic force microscopy to obtain a direct measurement of the energy it would take to bend lengths of DNA just a few nanometers long. The technique involves dragging an extremely sharp tip across the contours of the molecule in order to create a picture of its structure.

With this tool, Nelson and his colleagues measured the energies required to make various bends in DNA at lengths of five to fifty nanometers---about a thousand times smaller than the diameter of a typical human cell.

"We found that DNA has different apparent properties when probed at short lengths than the entire molecule does when taken as a whole,” Nelson said. "Its resistance to large-angle bends at this scale is much smaller than previously suspected.”

Nelson is also a member of Penn’s Nano--Bio Interface Center, which explores how the fields of nanotechnology, biology and medicine all intersect. "The nanoscale just happens to also be the scale at which cell biology operates,” Nelson said. ``We’re entering an era when we are able to use the tools of nanotechnology to answer fundamental puzzles of biology.”

Nelson’s collaborators include Paul A. Wiggins from the Whitehead Institute at MIT, Rob Phillips from Caltech, Jonathan Widom from Northwestern University and Thijn van der Heijden, Fernando Moreno--Herrero and Cees Dekker from Delft University.

written by Greg Lester, University Communications

Innovation Grants Program (NBIC)

Dawn Bonnell, Director of the Nano/Bio Interface Center announces the second round of Innovation Grants awarded by the NBIC.  The Innovation Grants constitute a competitive program to support new topics of inquiry in the field of nanoscience and engineering.  Four new awards were made in the second round.  Read about each by clicking the links below.

Ritesh Agarwal, Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering
Christopher S.Chen, Associate Professor, Bioengineering
So-Jung Park, Assistant Professor, Chemistry
Gianluca Piazza, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Systems Engineering

Nanotech Research at Penn Tops the List

Small Times

The May/June 2006 issue of Small Times magazine ranks the University of Pennsylvania #1 in research in nanotechnology. This is a result of an integrated initiative across the campus of numerous centers, laboratories, and collaborations. These include the Nano/Bio Interface Center, the Nanotechnology Institute, and the Penn Regional Nanotechnology Facility to name a few. The article also ranks other aspects like education, facilities, and industrial outreach. On the Education list, Penn ranks 5th and on the Commercialization list it ranks 10th.

Small Times magazine details technological advances, applications and investment opportunities to help business leaders stay informed about the rapidly changing business of micro and nanotechnology from biotech to defense, telecom to transportation. Small Times spotlights key issues in the industry's development, along with market intelligence, company profiles and more. (6/06)

<< Click to read article "Top 10 universities by category" >>
<< Click to read article "A complete list of universities who participated" >>

J. Lukes

Lukes Receives NSF CAREER Grant

Jennifer R. Lukes, William K. Gemmill Assistant Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics has been awarded a National Science Foundation CAREER grant for her work in modeling thermal energy transport in nanostructures. The NSF CAREER program provides support of the early career-development activities of those teacher-scholars who most effectively integrate research and education within the context of the mission of their organization.

Lukes equipment

This photo shows the modulated laser thermoreflectance setup Dr. Lukes is using to perform thermal conductivity measurements related to this research.

[posted 1.12.06]

Yale Goldman

Yale Goldman honored.

Yale Goldman, M.D., Ph.D. and Associate Director of the NBIC is the tenth recipient of the Stanley N. Cohen Biomedical Research Award. The award will be presented to Dr. Goldman by Dean of the School of Medicine , Arthur H. Rubenstein on November 30, 2005.

[posted 11.9.05]


Dawn Bonnell and Michael TherienTwo NBIC Researchers: AAAS Fellows

Dawn Bonnell, Director of the NBIC and Professor of Material Science and Engineering and Michael Therien, Professor of Chemistry were both named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The announcement appeared in Science on October 28 th 2005.

[posted 11.9.05]

NanoDay@Penn / October 26, 2005

NanoDay@Penn 2005The Nano/Bio Interface Center of the University of Pennsylvania sponsored a day of education and outreach programs for the Penn community as well as regional high schools and neighbors. Activities included exhibits and demonstrations, laboratory tours, a graduate student research poster session, and high school research projects/science fair. The day culminateds with a NBIC awards program and keynote speech by Horst Stormer, Professor of Physics at Columbia University, and 1998 Nobel Prize Laureate in Physics. Professor Stormer was presented with the NBIC Research Excellence Award.

read more about the event >>

[posted 11.9.05]

Penn tries to dispel myths about nanotechnology

Courier Post OnlineThursday, October 20, 2005
Courier-Post Staff

The University of Pennsylvania aims to be on the cutting edge of nanotechnology, a far-reaching science with endless applications; but it also wants to head off the kind of backlash that has hampered progress in other hot-button topics like stem-cell research and genetically engineered foods ...

Read full Courier Post article >>
download PDF version >>

[posted 11.9.05]


Marija Drndic

NBIC Physics Researcher awarded with PECASE

Dr. Marija Drndic, an assistant professor of physics is among 58 of the nation's most promising young scientists and engineers. The Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) honors the most promising researchers in their field. Drndic was nominated for her contributions to understanding the physics and applications of nanoscale electronic devices and materials. Earlier this year, she was awarded a grant through NBIC in the Innovations Grant Program. Her research website is located at: www.physics.upenn.edu/~drndic/group/index.html

Read Penn Almanac article >>

Small Technology, Big Promise

Big PromisePenn researchers are helping write the rulebook for the future of nanotechnology.

By Samuel K. Moore

The Pennsylvania Gazette, May/June, 2005   Read full article >>

Tiny, on a grand scale

Tiny on a Grand ScaleNanotechnology's next big challenge: Making and manufacturing minuscule machines. Penn's Dawn Bonnell is leading the way.

By Peter Mucha
Inquirer Staff Writer

The Philadelphia Inquirer, posted April 25, 2005   Read full article >>

Innovation Grants Program 2005 (NBIC)

Dawn Bonnell, Director of the Penn Nano/Bio Interface Center announced on Friday, February 4, 2005, the first round of Innovation Grants awarded by the NBIC. The Innovation Grants constitute a competitive program to support new topics of inquiry in the field of Nanoscience and Engineering. Four awards were made in the first round. Read about each by clicking the links below.

Jennifer Lukes, MEAM, Penn
Marija Drndic, Physics, Penn
Jorge Santiago, ESE, Penn
Jon Spanier, MSE, Drexel University


Small Times® Magazine

Small Times

Nov/Dec 2004 Jan/Feb 2005

Small Times magazine is a bimonthly business publication focused on the applications, advancements and investment opportunities in micro and nanotechnology. Two recent issues (Nov/Dec 2004 and Jan/Feb 2005) included special advertising sections featuring the Pennsylvania Initiative for Nanotechnology (PIN). The NSF grant to Penn that initiated the Nano/Bio Interface Center is described in the 2005 publication. Select each link to view (in PDF) each special insert. (1/05)

Article on Delawareonline.comThe News Journal/JENNIFER CORBETT

By IN-SUNG YOO / The News Journal 12.14.2004

Chances are, you've heard the term nanotechnology being thrown around as "the next big thing" in science and technology. Chances are also good that you still have no idea what it is.

So why is it such a big deal, and when will we see it?


read the full article >>
download PDF version >>

The Nano/Bio Interface Center is Officially Up and Running

NBIC Dedication CeremonyThe Nano/Bio Interface Center was officially inaugurated on 23 November 2004 at a reception attended by University President Amy Gutmann and Eduardo Glandt, Dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Secretary of Community and Economic Development, Dennis Yablonsky lent his support and that of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The University of Pennsylvania received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a new Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC). Penn’s Nano/Bio Interface Center will be housed in the School of Engineering and Applied Science and will bring together researchers from across campus (Engineering, Arts and Sciences, and Medicine) to study the intersection of technology and biology at the nanometer length scale. The Center’s research program is structured around two major themes: biomolecular function and molecular motion.

The establishment of the Nano/Bio Interface Center recognizes Penn’s leadership role in the application of the physical sciences to biomedicine. It will nucleate a large number of research programs at the Penn campus and in the region while capitalizing on intellectual property. The Center will eventually be housed in the planned Nanotechnology Gateway Laboratory. The Principal Investigator and Director of the Center is Dawn Bonnell, Trustee Term Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Penn. The Associate Director is Yale Goldman, Director of the Pennsylvania Muscle Institute at Penn.

more pictures of this event >>


New LogoNew logo adopted by Center

Logo Winners At the inaugural reception for the Nano/Bio Interface Center, Center director Dawn Bonnell announced the winning entry from a campus-wide logo contest. With 20 entries to select from, the winning design came from brothers William and Joseph Ho. Their proposal was all the more impressive in that several variations and alternatives were presented for consideration.
The brothers spent time reviewing the issues and concerns surrounding the disciplines of nanotechnology before setting to work. The winning design “represents a field of molecules that are manipulated to form the initials of the Center, while the results and ethics that affect society are represented by the figure,” according to the proposal. William Ho is a graduate student in the School of Arts and Sciences.

Dean Glandt, President Gutmann & Dawn Bonnell
Dean Eduardo Glandt with President Amy Gutmann and Professor Dawn Bonnell celebrating the new Nano-Bio Interface Center

Penn Receives $11.4 Million to Open Center to Explore the Boundaries Between Nanotechnology and Biology

Dean Eduardo Glandt with President Amy Gutmann and Professor Dawn Bonnell celebrating the new Nano-Bio Interface Center
PHILADELPHIA -- The University of Pennsylvania is one of six institutions to receive funding today from the National Science Foundation for a new Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center. As part of the NSEC program, Penn's new Nano/Bio Interface Center will bring together researchers from across campus to study the intersection of technology and biology at the nanoscale -- or molecular -- level.

read full article>>

Penn granted $11.4M
Philadelphia Business Journal Region's nanotech push boosted with national funding

By Peter Key
Philadelphia Business Journal

The University of Pennsylvania has landed a five-year, $11.6 million grant from the National Science Foundation to establish a center that will study the intersection of biological and physical systems at the molecular level.

read full article>>



Nano/Bio Interface Center @ The University of Pennsylvania
Home | Participents | Research | Education | Industry | Partners | Publications | Facilities | Events | Calendar | NIRT | Members