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Nanotech rides funding gusher

When Richard Smalley's labs at Rice University began making a series of breakthroughs by designing and creating materials at the tiny nanoscale in the 1980s, Houston rose to international prominence in the emerging field of nanotechnology.

But with Smalley's death at the age of 62 three years ago, some wondered if Houston's young nanotech industry could sustain his Nobel Prize winning creativity and keep pace with Boston and other high-tech U.S. cities, let alone countries that were pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into such research.

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