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10/20/2005 - Caltech's Kavli Nanoscience Institute Holds First Symposium

(Originally published by the California Institute of Technology)

October 20, 2005

Theodor W. Hänsch, who earlier this month won the Nobel Prize in Physics, will be among the speakers at the Kavli Nanoscience Institute Inaugural Symposium. The one-day event will be held in the California Institute of Technology's Beckman Institute Auditorium on Monday, October 24.

According to Michael Roukes, a professor of physics, applied physics, and bioengineering at Caltech who is also director of Caltech's Kavli Nanoscience Institute (KNI), the symposium will be an overview of the ongoing nanoscience research that includes the creation of extremely small devices, which will ultimately have applications in biomedicine, photonics, and many other areas. Nanoscience involves the understanding of the rules of nature as they apply to devices with dimensions a few billionths of a meter (in other words, a few nanometers).

Roukes will begin the symposium at 8:30 a.m. with an overview of Caltech's "Big Picture on Small Things." Daniel Rugar, manager of nanoscale sciences at IBM Almaden Research, will follow at 9:15 a.m. with "Scanning the Nanoscale: Past, Present, and Future."

Hänsch is scheduled to speak at 10:30 a.m. on the promise of quantum optics on a chip. Steven Block of Stanford University will follow with a lecture on biological nanoscience carried out at the level of individual molecules.

Following lunch, Jim Heath of Caltech will speak at 1:20 p.m. on "The NanoSystems Biology Cancer Center and the KNI." The other afternoon speakers, all from Caltech, will include Christina Smolke, "Programmable Molecular Switches and Sensors: Devices for Converting Biochemical Information into Biological Function"; Pat Collier, "Molecular Circuitry: Construction and Characterization of Coupled Biomolecular Dynamics"; Michael Elowitz, "Slow, Noisy, and Out of Control: Gene Circuits at the Single Cell Level"; Axel Scherer, who will give an overview entitled "Frontiers and Applications of Nanophotonics at the KNI"; Oskar Painter, "Geometry and Scale in Photonics"; Erik Winfree, Algorithmic Self-Assembly of DNA"; and Bill Goddard, "Functional Nanoelectronics Devices from First (and Second) Principles".

The KNI was founded in 2004 with funding from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Kavli Foundation. The purpose of the institute is to foster innovative research at the frontiers of nanoscale science and engineering, with special emphasis on efforts transcending traditional disciplinary boundaries; to create new research opportunities to attract the best researchers and students worldwide; and to support the cross-disciplinary community through significant infrastructure investment and renewal.

According to Roukes, the initial work of the institute focuses upon nanobiotechnology, which merges nanodevice engineering with the molecular and cellular machinery of living systems; and nanophotonics, which employs new materials technology and nanofabrication processes to develop novel devices such as optically active waveguides and microlasers.

Caltech has had an ongoing interest and presence in nanoscience and nanotechnology-or the engineering of such devices-and, in fact, one of the Institute's most renowned researchers is credited with the origin of the concept.

In 1959, Caltech physicist Richard Feynman gave a now-famous lecture titled "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom," in which he mapped out possibilities for extremely small devices, consistent with the principles of quantum mechanics. Since that time, research at the Caltech campus and other institutions has led to discoveries that are, step by step, bringing about a realization of Feynman's early vision.

Founded by Fred Kavli in 2000, the Kavli Foundation supports basic research in the fields of nanoscience, astrophysics, and neuroscience, primarily through an international program of research institutes and the support of endowed chairs. In 2008 it will inaugurate the Kavli Prizes, three $1 million awards to recognize scientists who have made seminal advances in these three research areas.

 Original press release.

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