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Posted: April 5, 2007

US military funds nanotechnology energy and bioweapons detection research

(Nanowerk News) Groundbreaking nanotechnology research has helped the University of Missouri-Columbia (MU) secure its second U.S. defense-related contract in less than a year.
During the next five years, MU's College of Engineering will partner with the Picatinny Arsenal, a military installation in New Jersey, to produce numerous devices that could help improve military capabilities. Under the supervision of Shubhra Gangopadhyay, an electrical and computer engineering professor, MU will receive up to $10 million for its research and development efforts in the emerging field that works with microscopic particles the size of atoms.
In July, MU received a $3.5 million, two-year contract to build miniature devices to enhance the performance of U.S. Army weapons systems.
Both partnerships are the result of significant support from U.S. Senator Kit Bond.
"I am honored to have helped fund such important research," Bond said. "This partnership will help provide our troops the technology and equipment they need to fight an ever-changing enemy in the war on terror."
Gangopadhyay, who heads the University's International Center for Nano/Micro Systems and Nanotechnology, said the primary focus of the newest project is to develop alternative energy sources and sensors that will detect biological and chemical weapons. By design, her devices, which combine microchip-based technology and nanotechnology to generate a powerful reaction with millions of shockwaves, also can be used for health and medical applications.
"We are really excited about this opportunity," Gangopadhyay said. "Some breakthrough technologies will result from this unique partnership, and they will have implications far beyond use by the Department of Defense."
Mark Mezger, nanotechnologies program coordinator at Picatinny, said such partnerships are vital to the success and viability of the Department of Defense. He said government downsizing and decreases in research and development budgets now require collaborative efforts with academic researchers. He said Gangopadhyay's contributions will benefit all branches of the military and could eventually be used by private sector businesses.
"The military needs technology," Mezger said. "Research and development budgets aren't growing. How do we acquire technology? If we don't have the ability ourselves, we have to find ways. Universities are developing technologies that we can use. With Missouri, we said let's partner and build a program."
Source: University of Missouri
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