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Rice forms nano Carbon Center to replace Carbon Nanotechnology Lab

FROM RICE NEWS STAFF REPORTS Rice has formed a new academic research center, the nano Carbon Center, or nC2, within the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology to enhance the global visibility of Rice's carbon nanotechnology research and to foster Rice's growing carbon nanotechnology community.

The new nC2 was formally presented Feb. 21 at a meeting of those interested in carbon nanotechnology. The new center replaces the Carbon Nanotechnology Laboratory (CNL) that was created by the late Richard Smalley, University Professor, the Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry and professor of physics. His original vision was that this laboratory would exist for five years and then change and evolve into a new organization.

The nC2 will be overseen by a leadership board composed of seven members and convened by Smalley Institute Director Wade Adams. This board will define the vision and focus of nC2 as new opportunities emerge, and research focus groups will be created in specific areas. Current examples of key opportunities include developing new medical treatments, investigating the "armchair quantum wire" for energy transmission, exploring a wide range of compelling and interesting opportunities in materials and health-related applications.

"The two years since we lost Rick Smalley have been a bit of a struggle for everyone associated with carbon nanotechnology at Rice," Adams said. "Fortunately, Professors Jim Tour and Matteo Pasquali have taken us through the painful process of reassigning mentors for students, of maintaining research projects and of securing funding for new projects."

Adams said he is excited about the opportunities nC2 will have to both continue Smalley's legacy and expand upon it. "I think Rick would be proud that we are moving into a new era of exciting research," Adams said.

Pasquali, associate professor in chemical and biomolecular engineering and CNL co-director, said CNL's reorganization will not affect the supply of top-quality single-walled carbon nanotubes, or SWNTs, that CNL has traditionally supplied to carbon nanotechnology labs across campus via its high-pressure carbon monoxide, or HiPco, process.

"Steven Ho, Steve Ripley and the rest of the HiPco team went through heroic efforts to ensure that Rice will continue to have a reliable supply of what many of us still consider to be the world's best single-walled carbon nanotubes," Pasquali said. "Going forward, the HiPco laboratory will be a cost center that will provide SWNTs at cost to all interested Rice researchers."

Pasquali praised CNL's faculty and staff for their dedicated service and commitment to continuing and building upon the important work that Smalley started at Rice.

From its inception, Pasquali said, CNL was both the home of Smalley's research group and a nexus for collaborative research with other Rice faculty who were studying SWNTs. "The collaborative component is morphing into nC2, with a much leaner structure that will allow maximum participation from faculty and students," he said.

Kathleen Matthews, dean of the Wiess School of Natural Sciences, said, "The importance of carbon nano-related research at Rice derives in part from the discovery of the fullerenes here by Rick Smalley, Bob Curl and Harold Kroto in 1985. But our activity today is driven by the wide range of researchers who are using fullerenes to open new avenues of discovery and who are applying these wondrous materials in ways that have transformational potential. I am delighted with the new directions and the possibilities that nC2 will provide for Rice's faculty."

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