Lockheed Martin and Rice University
today announced the creation of an innovative, strategic partnership to
develop new technologies for a broad range of applications in electronics,
energy and security.
The Lockheed Martin Advanced Nanotechnology Center of Excellence at
Rice University, or LANCER, will pair researchers from Lockheed Martin with
Rice experts in carbon nanotechnology, photonics, plasmonics and more.
LANCER will be based at Rice's Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale
Science and Technology.
"Nanotechnology promises to impact everything from the clothes people
wear to the energy they consume, and it will also revolutionize the systems
and services Lockheed Martin delivers to its government customers," said
Sharon Smith, director of Advanced Technology, Lockheed Martin. "We are
excited to partner with Rice, a recognized leader in nanotechnology
research, to collaborate on those breakthroughs leading us to next
generation products and services for our nation."
LANCER grew out of a series of technology exchange events between the
Smalley Institute and Lockheed Martin scientists in recent years, led by
Rice faculty and designed to keep Lockheed Martin researchers apprised of
the latest nanotechnology discoveries.
"LANCER formed from the bottom-up, and that sets it apart from other
ambitious university-industry research partnerships," said Wade Adams,
director of Rice's Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and
Technology. "The folks in the labs are the ones who came to us and said,
'Make it easier for us to work together.'"
When Lockheed Martin researchers visited Rice in March, for instance,
the Smalley Institute and the Rice Alliance for Technology and
Entrepreneurship sponsored a round-robin session that initiated dozens of
conversations between Lockheed Martin project managers and Rice faculty on
promising areas of collaborative research. LANCER officials are evaluating
a number of specific proposals that grew out of those meetings.
The kinds of technologies discussed include:
- nanomaterials that could double the efficiency of Lithium-ion batteries
- airport scanners that can "see" through the soles of shoes
- solar energy collectors that are twice as efficient as today's best
- nanomaterials that can extract energy from waste heat
- "neuromorphic" computers that are structured like mammalian brains
- stealthy materials that are stronger and lighter than existing products
- space-based sensors that can closely monitor climate change
LANCER officials expect to fund up to a half-dozen projects per year.
Priority will be given to projects that can either be brought to market
quickly or dramatically improve upon existing technology.
Nanotechnology refers to devices and specks of matter that are measured
in the billionths of a meter. Nanoscale objects can be thousands of times
smaller than living cells and include both organic molecules like DNA and
inorganic metals and semiconductors. In many instances, scientists can
create nanoparticles with great precision -- even controlling the placement
of individual atoms. With this precision, scientists worldwide are racing
to find new materials and processes that can revolutionize everything from
healthcare and electronics to energy production and environmental science.
More than a quarter of the science and engineering faculty hired at
Rice in the past two decades are nanotechnology experts who are affiliated
with the Smalley Institute, which is named for Rice chemist and
nanotechnology pioneer Richard Smalley.