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At right, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun, and University Distinguished Professor Ahmed Busnaina talk while standing in the NanoOPS lab at the Kostas Research Institute. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

At right, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun, and University Distinguished Professor Ahmed Busnaina talk while standing in the NanoOPS lab at the Kostas Research Institute. Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University

On Tuesday, April 19, the Baker-Polito Administration announced a $3 million investment in a project led by Northeastern University to develop nanoscale objects that will change the economic development of the future.

The grant to Northeastern’s George J. Kostas Research Institute for Homeland Security will establish the Advanced Nanomanufacturing Cluster for Smart Sensors and Materials (ANSSeM), a collaboration among private manufacturing companies and first-rate research universities, including Tufts University and UMass Boston.

“Our administration has prioritized the growth of the Commonwealth’s nationally-leading innovation economy,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Through collaborative projects like the Advanced Nanomanufacturing Cluster for Smart Sensors and Materials, we are unlocking private investment and job creation in revolutionary technologies, unleashing the unmatched ingenuity of our citizens, and connecting every region in the Commonwealth to the innovation economy.”

“By partnering with academic researchers and private-sector employers, we are ensuring that the next generation of advanced manufacturing technology is developed, and deployed, in Massachusetts,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “This consortium will connect Massachusetts employers to unique nanoscale manufacturing technology, helping to ensure the long-term competitiveness of our manufacturing sector.”

A majority of the Commonwealth’s investment will go toward new infrastructure at the three research locations.

Creating these nano sensors (over 1,000 times thinner than a human hair) that can be used for commercial, medical, defense and energy applications has been a costly business until a recent breakthrough by Northeastern’s Ahmed Busnaina, the professor who will lead the initiative. Busnaina’s new method of printing these sensors is expected to drive production costs down, which will save both manufacturers and their customers money.

The state’s investment will also be supplemented by a nearly $11 million grant from private companies, including General Electric, Rogers Corporation and Raytheon.

The ANSSeM initiative has five major project tasks:

  • Designing, developing and manufacturing commercial prototypes based on smart sensors and advanced materials;
  • Increasing the flexibility of the nanoscale printing technology, to enable printing on a variety of soft and hard substrates;
  • Studying advanced materials and product life cycle sustainability, to ensure compliance with federal and state regulatory agencies;
  • Improving physical infrastructure, including the purchase of instruments and equipment for materials characterization and testing of product prototypes as well as two second-generation NanoOPS; and
  • Creating commercialization programs and workforce development, such as seminars and workforce training programs to introduce and expose highly-educated individuals who are currently out of the job market to the advanced printing technology.

The Commonwealth’s award builds on a previous state grant, which awarded $2 million for the launch of Northeastern’s Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing, funds which were provided to match an award from the National Science Foundation (NSF). Both grants from the Commonwealth are managed by the Innovation Institute at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative.

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