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03/30/2010 - Cornell’s Institute Directors on KIC’s New “High-Risk, High-Payoff” Mission

In nanoscience, researchers are truly limited by the technology of their field, needing increasingly more advanced tools for studying, analyzing and manipulating objects and systems at the scale of individual molecules and atoms.

To expand the boundaries of nanoscience, the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science is now devoted to the development and utilization of next-generation tools for exploring the nanoscale world. In a recent, in-depth interview, the Institute’s new leadership – Director Paul McEuen and Co-Director David A. Muller – discussed the Institute’s new focus, as well as the need for advanced technology in nanoscience. According to McEuen, existing tools “are still an enormous limiting factor in what we can do at the nanoscale world. We don’t have eyes and hands at the nanoscale to see and control things the way we’re used to at the milli-, micro- or macro-scale.”

Because of this, the institute will begin focusing on “high-risk, high-payoff” projects with the potential of changing the way scientists work worldwide; or in McEuen’s words, “we’re looking for projects where you could say, ‘If I succeed, suddenly everybody’s going to want one of these.’”

In addition to discussing the quest for new nanotechnologies, McEuen and Muller share the impact of technology on their own research, and how new technologies could not only lead to visionary advances, but impact other sciences.

The complete interview can be found here.

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