Advanced Nanotechnology Research, LANCER

Published 28 April 2008

Lockheed Martin and Rice University launch strategic partnership to develop center which will develop new technologies for a broad range of applications in electronics, energy, and security

Lockheed Martin and Rice University announced the creation of an innovative, strategic partnership to develop new technologies for a broad range of applications in electronics, energy, and security. The Lockheed Martin Advanced Nanotechnology Center of Excellence at Rice University, or LANCER, will pair researchers from Lockheed Martin with Rice experts in carbon nanotechnology, photonics, plasmonics, and more. LANCER will be based at Rice’s Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology. LANCER grew out of a series of technology exchange events between the Smalley Institute and Lockheed Martin scientists in recent years, led by Rice faculty and designed to keep Lockheed Martin researchers apprised of the latest nanotechnology discoveries. When Lockheed Martin researchers visited Rice in March, for instance, the Smalley Institute and the Rice Alliance for Technology and Entrepreneurship sponsored a round-robin session that initiated dozens of conversations between Lockheed Martin project managers and Rice faculty on promising areas of collaborative research. LANCER officials are evaluating a number of specific proposals that grew out of those meetings. The kinds of technologies discussed include:

  • Nanomaterials that could double the efficiency of Lithium-ion batteries
  • Airport scanners that can “see” through the soles of shoes
  • Solar energy collectors that are twice as efficient as today’s best
  • Nanomaterials that can extract energy from waste heat
  • Neuromorphic” computers that are structured like mammalian brains
  • Stealthy materials that are stronger and lighter than existing products
  • Space-based sensors that can closely monitor climate change

LANCER officials expect to fund up to a half-dozen projects per year. Priority will be given to projects that can either be brought to market quickly or dramatically improve upon existing technology. Nanotechnology refers to devices and specks of matter that are measured in the billionths of a meter. Nanoscale objects can be thousands of times smaller than living cells and include both organic molecules like DNA and inorganic metals and semiconductors. In many instances, scientists can create nanoparticles with great precision — even controlling the placement of individual atoms. With this precision, scientists worldwide are racing to find new materials and processes that can revolutionize everything from healthcare and electronics to energy production and environmental science. More than a quarter of the science and engineering faculty hired at Rice in the past two decades are nanotechnology experts who are affiliated with the Smalley Institute, which is named for Rice chemist and nanotechnology pioneer Richard Smalley.