Celebrating the Opening of Penn's Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology
October 8, 2013, Volume 60, No. 8
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|Dr. Krishna P. Singh, GME'69, GR'72, Penn alumnus, Penn trustee and Penn Engineering overseer, in front of the newly dedicated Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology after Friday's dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony. Dr. Singh's transformative gift to Penn in 2007 was rooted in his desire to show his gratitude to Penn and those whose generosity enabled him to pursue his graduate studies here since his three years at Penn transformed him. He said people believe in technology and it "will change the human condition for the better."
The University of Pennsylvania officially opened the region’s premier facility for advanced research, education and innovative public/private partnerships in nanotechnology last Friday. The 78,000 square-foot Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology will serve as the University’s focal point for groundbreaking work in the emerging field of nanotechnology, which involves the manipulation of matter on an atomic and molecular scale.
The potential benefits of nanotechnology range from regenerative medicine and targeted drug delivery systems, to innovative new approaches in creating and storing electricity that could virtually eliminate the use of fossil fuels, to highly efficient ways of harvesting fresh water from seawater, to everyday commercial products that make clothes last longer, golf balls fly straighter and personal computers operate more efficiently.
“The Singh Center positions Penn to become our nation’s leader in nanoscale science, education and research,” said Penn President Amy Gutmann. “This is a stunning building that will bring together eminent Penn researchers and experts in private industry with state-of-the-art laboratories and production facilities. Nanotechnology is a vital field with tremendous momentum and vast opportunities for innovation and positive impact locally, nationally and globally. The Singh Center is a critically important part of Penn’s mission to advance both basic discovery and the application of those discoveries to improve society.”
Faculty from the School of Engineering & Applied Science, the School of Arts & Sciences and across the University will make use of the Singh Center’s characterization and fabrication suites. Each of the two 10,000-square-foot facilities is filled with state-of-the-art equipment and designed to enable the high-precision techniques that research at the smallest scales necessitates.
The characterization facility is situated on bedrock, 18 feet below the surface, to help minimize vibrations that would interfere with its various atomic and electron microscopes. Its labs are also designed to be isolated from temperature fluctuations, atmospheric turbulence and electromagnetic noise.
The fabrication facility on the Singh Center’s ground floor contains a next-generation cleanroom. Once in isolation garb, researchers will use its assembly tools to grow carbon nanotubes, deposit graphene and etch microelectronic systems, among many other applications. The facility’s photolithography equipment is shielded from interfering ultraviolet light by a pane of marigold glass, which gives the Center its signature color.
“Penn’s world-class researchers need world-class facilities to advance their groundbreaking work,” said Dr. Eduardo Glandt, dean of the School of Engineering & Applied Science. “Likewise, the Singh Center will play a key role in growing our faculty and research expertise for years to come.”
Beyond serving faculty in engineering, physics and chemistry, the Singh Center was built to spark interdisciplinary inquiry. An inviting gateway at the eastern entrance to campus, the Center is already opening doors to new research throughout Penn’s 12 schools.
“The Singh Center’s facilities will allow researchers from a range of fields to analyze structure in the finest possible detail, from anthropologists working with ancient artifacts to biomedical researchers developing therapeutic molecules,” said Dr. Steven Fluharty, dean of the School of Arts & Sciences. “Its impact will be felt far beyond the field of nanotechnology.”
The Singh Center will also help Penn-developed technology move from the lab to the marketplace via connections with local industry development leaders such as the Nanotechnology Institute and Ben Franklin Technology Partners, as well as Penn’s internal commercialization engine, the Center for Technology Transfer. Existing industry members, from pharmaceutical companies to computer chip designers, will also make use of the Singh Center’s characterization and fabrication facilities.
“The Singh Center is one of the few places in the world where you can find this kind of equipment and expertise in the heart of a major metropolitan city,” said Dr. Mark Allen, the Singh Center’s scientific director. “In addition to enabling world-class research and providing outstanding educational opportunities in nanotechnology, we aim to be a two-way street for entrepreneurship and innovation.”
The building was designed by Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, a multidisciplinary design practice based in New York City, founded by Marion Weiss and Michael Manfredi. Ms. Weiss is the Graham Chair Professor of Architecture in Penn’s School of Design. The team’s challenge was to create a building that evoked the mathematical precision of nanotechnology while being integrated into the large scale of Penn’s urban campus (Almanac March 4, 2008). The results have been met with resounding praise from the architecture world: The Singh Center has already won a 2013 American Architecture Award and a 2013 International Architecture Award, presented by the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design and the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
The Singh Center was made possible by a $20 million gift (Almanac September 4, 2007) by Krishna P. Singh. Dr. Singh is the founder, president and chief executive officer of Holtec International in Marlton, NJ, an energy-technology company he established in 1986. He is a member of Penn’s Board of Trustees and the Penn Engineering Board of Overseers and has served as an adjunct professor of mechanical engineering at Penn. He received his PhD in mechanical engineering in 1972 from Penn and a master’s in engineering mechanics in 1969, also from Penn.
|The Crystal Palace of Nanotech
Break out the Bolly and celebrate
For October fourth was the due date
The time at Penn for a dedication
Among the greatest in the nation
When a wondrous era was ushered in
Devoted to the small and thin
For this crystal palace of nanotech
Deserves the finest champagne sec
This towering edifice of light
That brightly shines both day and night
It sings to all in days of gloom
Especially with its cantilevered room
That sparkles in the noonday sun
And shares its warmth with everyone
This building has been Saffron-blessed
After meeting her most stringent test
For it is the jewel in the triple crown
Of Eduardo Glandt, Penn’s dean of renown
Who, with artwork, too, has had it filled
With statuary by which all are thrilled
This Weiss/Manfredi creative endeavor
In architectural lore will last forever
So what is this building that embraces ecology?
It is the Krishna P. Singh Center for Nanotechnology
—Andrew Roxburgh McGhie
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