Program Mission

Nanoscale Science and Engineering (NSE) is the study, manipulation and engineering of matter with at least one dimension sized from 1 to 100 nanometers. At this scale, quantum mechanical effects are important and special properties of matter can be engineered, leading to transformational applications in medicine, healthcare, environment, energy, communications, electronics, defense, to name a few. The research fields are diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, biology, and engineering, etc., to completely new approaches to develop nanoscale materials and direct control of matter on the atomic scale. The US alone has invested almost 20 billion dollars in the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) since 2001. World-wide research investment is estimated to be more than 10 billion dollars over the past decade. The 2014 Federal Budget provides more than $1.7 billion for the NNI, reflecting continued growth in the NNI investment. More than ever, nanotechnology discoveries are moving from the laboratory into new products for commercial and public benefit. We are witnessing exciting applications with explosive growth in energy, medicine, sustainability and communications.

There is an ever-increasing need for skilled workforce and the supporting educational program to advance and support responsible development of nanotechnology. The interdisciplinary nature of nanoscale science and technology requires a new paradigm for educating scientists and engineers. The new breed of students must not only have disciplinary depth, but also capable to cross disciplinary boundaries. They must be independent thinkers who can excel and thrive by collaborating with colleagues in other fields.

The mission of the Designated Emphasis in Nanoscale Science and Engineering (DE-NSE) is to catalyze cross-disciplinary research, educate future leaders, and thereby, shape NSE developments leading to a revolution in technology and industry that benefits society and the world.

The NSE program is committed to develop new curricula and support extensive programs including

  • Core courses to provide a common platform
  • Extensive set of breath courses covering a wide range of advance topics
  • Leadership training through research mentorship of high school students, community college students, undergraduate students and foreign exchange students
  • International internships and summer schools to prepare students with global perspectives
  • Student-led organization to organize weekly seminar and symposia
  • Summer schools, seminar series, and tutorials
  • Identifying existing and encouraging the development of new courses that best serve to educate NSE students

The excitement of these opportunities has led more than 60 faculty from over 11 departments and graduate programs to join together to create the Designated Emphasis (DE) in NSE. The DE in NSE is available for students pursuing Ph.D. study in those departments. The DE is designed to fulfill one of the required area emphases of the student's Ph.D. program while providing additional opportunities for study and collaboration across the associated disciplines. Upon completion of all requirements and the dissertation, your transcript and diploma will read “Ph.D. in [Home Department] with Designated Emphasis in Nanoscale Science and Engineering.”’ NSE group has graduated ~50 PhD students and has a current enrollment of 30 students.