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Daily Pioneer News


Friday, December 12, 2008

Symposium launches UWP nanotechnology center

Mark Bradley, president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, speaks at the Progress in Nanotechnology Research symposium at UW-Platteville on Dec. 6.

PLATTEVILLE - Experts in nanotechnology from across the state shared their research on Saturday, Dec. 6, at a symposium, "Progress in Nanotechnology Research," that inaugurated a center on the University of Wisconsin-Platteville campus.

In addition to 10 brief technical presentations, Mark Bradley, president of the University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents, praised the new Nanotechnology Center for Collaborative Research and Development at UW-Platteville as exactly the type of innovation Wisconsin needs as it works to compete in a changing global landscape.

"The world is being dramatically changed before our eyes, by both economic and political powers," Bradley said to an audience of about 150 in the Pioneer Student Center.

Bradley said that the United States no longer can rely on its traditional strength - an economy driven by mass production and factories. Much of that business has shifted overseas because manufacturers do not have to pay as much for labor elsewhere.

In addition, he said technology has allowed much work to be done at a distance that traditionally occurred on Main Street. Thomas Friedman described these changing dynamics in his recent book, "The World is Flat," Bradley said.

"Bangalore, India, is as close as the local bank or insurance office," he said.

"We believe it is critical to develop and implement new strategies that focus on knowledge-based industries," Bradley said, noting that all 13 campuses in the University of Wisconsin System have a real opportunity to help chart the right path for the state.

"This center is what every region of every developing country in the world covets," he said.

Prior to Bradley's remarks, the symposium included 10 brief overviews of research or other projects. The presenters were from UW campuses around the state as well as private industry.

Jim Hamilton, director of the Nanotechnology Center for Collaborative Research and Development at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, speaks during a symposium on the UWP campus.

Jim Hamilton, director of the Nanotechnology Center for Collaborative Research and Development at UWP, described work in which he and his students have been involved, including developing polymer compounds that have been used to clean large surfaces on telescopes around the world and the Hope Diamond in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

"It's very exciting to have all of our students here working on projects like this," said Hamilton, who also is a professor of chemistry and engineering physics at UWP.

Hamilton also announced some recent research findings that have allowed him to produce very-expensive graphene out of much-cheaper graphite. Calling the development "the holy grail in electronics," Hamilton said it could lead to dramatic reductions in the cost of solar cells and eliminate the need for wires in solar cells.

Hamilton said he currently is looking for venture capital to launch the manufacturing process.

In addition to Hamilton, the other presenters were: Michael Zach, assistant professor of chemistry, UW-River Falls; Tim Lyden, associate professor of anatomy and physiology, UW-River Falls; Charles Gibson, university research professor of chemistry, UW-Oshkosh; Forrest Schultz, professor of chemistry and department chair, UW-Stout; Alan Rudie, supervisory research chemist, U.S. Forest Products Laboratory, Madison; Jeffrey Cernohous, president, Interfacial Solutions LLC, River Falls; Peter Geissinger, associate professor of physical chemistry, UW-Milwaukee; Jon McCarthy, director, Materials Science Center, UW-Madison; and Marcus McEllistrem, co-director, Materials Science Center, UW-Eau Claire.

Others who attended the symposium included: UWP Chancellor David Markee; David Berner, city manager of Platteville; Carol Sue Butts, provost and vice chancellor at UWP; Maliyakal John, managing director of WiSys Technology Foundation; state Rep. Phil Garthwaite; and Kim Cates, a representative of U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl.

The NCCRD is designed to foster innovation through collaboration, encourage high-tech business growth, train students for advanced jobs and further the field of nanotechnology.

The center is a joint initiative with WiSys. According to their website, the Madison-based WiSys identifies innovative technologies developed throughout the University of Wisconsin System and brings them to the marketplace for the benefit of the inventors, their colleges, Wisconsin's economy and society as a whole.

For more information on the NCCRD, contact Hamilton at (608) 342-1670 or hamiltoj@uwplatt.edu.

Contact: Jim Hamilton, director, Nanotechnology Center for Collaborative Research and Development at UWP, (608) 342-1670, hamiltoj@uwplatt.edu Written by: Gary Achterberg, UWP Public Relations, (608) 342-1194, achterbergg@uwplatt.edu


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