NNCI: Soft and Hybrid Nanotechnology Experimental (SHyNE) Resource

Project: Research project

Project Details


Soft and Hybrid Nanotechnology Experimental resource (SHyNE) is a solution-focused collaborative initiative between Northwestern University (NU) and the University of Chicago (UC). It will operate under the umbrella of NU International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN), in partnership with the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) of UC, which unites more than $1 billion in nanotechnology programs with integrated intellectual and physical infrastructure of NU, UC, and Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). SHyNE will focus on soft and soft-hard “hybrid” nanostructures and technologies related to agricultural, biomedical, chemical, food, geo-enviro systems, quantum information, among others. It represents about 20,000 sq. ft. of clean-room and 45,000 sq, ft. of characterization/support facilities geared towards soft and hybrid system-level integration, packaging and testing. We will coordinate with ANL facilities and leverage existing computational and engineering expertise under Center for Hierarchical Materials Design (CHiMaD) and digital manufacturing & design innovation institute (DMDII), respectively. Intellectual merit: Soft nanostructures are typically governed by thermodynamics of fluctuations dominated by the kT term, while hard materials are characterized by robust mechanical rigidity. Thus, soft-hard hybrid interfaces represent a remarkable convergence of disparate behavior in an integrated system, with rich intellectual challenges and unprecedented technological opportunities. SHyNE will integrate soft nanostructures with enabling hard backbone; such as microfluidic modules for bio-sensors, and organic materials for quantum computing, among others. SHyNE will coordinate NU’s extensive cryo-bio, characterization and soft-nanopatterning capabilities with the state-of-the-art cleanroom fabrication and expertise at the UC Pritzker Nanofabrication Facility (PNF). We will support diverse users with a solution-based approach to user interactions with technical expertise groups (TEGs) for problem-solving advice. Prototype device fabrication will be conducted in IIN facilities while optimized integrated “wafer-scale” manufacturing will be carried out at PNF. SHyNE will serve as the “proving ground” for innovative in-house fabrication, prototyping and characterization for soft/hybrid structures, anchored by world-renowned research programs at NU and UC including interdisciplinary Centers such as: MRSEC, EFRC, MURI and CCNE. SHyNE characterization will provide unique cryo-bio sample preparation and in-operando measurements; ranging from catalytic gas-solid reactions to assembly of biomolecules visualized in their physiologically viable forms with innovative in-house MEMS liquid-cells, compatible with ANL-APS. Broader Impact: An innovative Nano-Journalism program has Medill School of Journalism students to rotate across SHyNE facilities to observe nanotechnology research and innovation. The journalism students will witness process of scientific discovery and report on nanotechnology while SHyNE participants will learn reporting and modern communication methods. SHyNE will have joint initiatives with regional museums; Chicago Museum of Science and Industry (CMSI) for nanotechnology displays, Field Museum of Natural History and Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) for joint analytical workshops and access. SHyNE will provide transformative hands-on experiential training of students and researchers in the emerging fields of soft/hybrid nanostructures, their fabrication/assembly and diverse applications. We will leverage MRSEC
Effective start/end date9/1/208/31/25


  • National Science Foundation (ECCS 2025633 AMD 004)


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