Monday, April 04, 2005

The Rockford Files: Small Stakeout

EIGERlab hopes to bridge nano gap (By Bob Schaper, Rockford Register Star)

    EIGERlab, Rockford's manufacturing research and business incubator, has become a regional center for leading-edge micromachining technology. But Tom McDunn, director of advanced manufacturing at the EIGERlab, has his eyes -- and microscope -- trained on a technology much smaller.

    Nanomanufacturing is the fabrication of materials on the scale of one-billionth of a meter, or one thousand times smaller than parts made by micromachines. McDunn said few Rockford companies are familiar with nanomanufacturing.

    "The general public has no idea," McDunn said. "There's a thirst in the community to even understand it."

    McDunn hopes EIGERlab can change that by becoming an education center for nanotechnology, a place where local business leaders can see and learn about the technology many are calling key to manufacturing's future. To do that, he needs specialized equipment that could cost a million dollars.

    One idea to secure funding is to expand a current study the lab is involved in. Working with the state, McDunn's team has been conducting research into the characteristics of microparticles -- the by-products of micromachining. He hopes the study could be expanded to include nanoparticles. More here

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