FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Grant will help Marshall University
do critical research
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – Marshall University recently was awarded $99,659 through the West Virginia High Technology Consortium (WVHTC) Foundation’s Innovative Research initiative for research that supports NASA’s latest critical technology needs.
Through this initiative, the WVHTC Foundation seeks to stimulate technological innovation in the private sector and strengthen the role of university and small business collaborations in meeting federal research and development needs.
The project is being headed by Marshall University Professor of Chemistry Dr. Mike Norton. Norton is a pioneer in the emerging field of nanotechnology, which involves the designing and building of materials and devices from molecular components. The National Science Foundation estimates the market for nanotechnology products and services will reach $1 trillion by 2015.
NASA’s Next Generation Space Exploration efforts require the development of new materials to ensure mission safety and success. Norton is performing an analysis of nanoscale composite materials which will provide new functionalities. These experiments are being performed at the Molecular and Biological Imaging Center (http://www.marshall.edu/mbic/ ) at Marshall.
The computational costs of identifying DNA sequences are typically high. Therefore, research efforts have utilized the Global Grid Exchange® (G2EX), a collaborative grid computing effort between Parabon® Computation, Inc., and the WVHTC Foundation. G2EX provides a low-cost alternative to traditional supercomputing resources by harnessing the idle processing capacity of donors’ computers around the globe and creating a network which acts like a giant parallel processing supercomputer. G2EX provides a platform ideally suited for this type of research.
The Molecular and Biological Imaging Center has focused its research efforts on the development of nanoscale optical, electronic and structural elements. Nanotechnology holds promise for future NASA missions by reducing payload mass while providing enhanced functionality. In order to realize these enhancements, structures with the locations of every atom must be designed, built, characterized and tested.
The project is a collaborative effort between academia and small business entities. Optical elements are being designed to atomic specificity by Marshall University Postdoctoral Fellows Hong Zhong and Chad Huffman under the direction of Norton. Several of these designs have been constructed and are now being characterized.
Simultaneously, software is being developed by programmers at Parabon Computation, Inc., under the direction of Dr. Steven Armentrout. These efforts are aimed at validating the human-generated designs and developing an easy-to-use interface for the DNA design software. This interface will allow for the rapid design of much more complex, integrated nanoscale systems that will be capable of meeting the strict performance and weight specifications of future NASA missions.
The WVHTC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization based in Fairmont, W.Va., functioning as an engine of economic change for growing a statewide and regional high-tech business sector. The foundation has established a multi-faceted approach to maximize economic development, including infrastructure development, research and development, commercialization and workforce development.
For more information, contact Norton at (304) 696-6627.