Columbia has been at the forefront of nanoscience research for more than 15 years, and, with the University’s launch of the Columbia Nano Initiative (CNI), activity on this front is accelerating. As James T. Yardley, CNI’s acting executive director, puts it, “When I came here in 2000 and walked up and down the hallways, you’d hardly see anybody. But now when you walk up and down the halls, you see people arguing with each other, holding samples, animated in discussion.”

Nanoscience Research

James Hone + Colin Nuckolls
Collaborating to Create Novel Materials on the Nanoscale
Keren Bergman + Michal Lipson + Alex Gaeta
Combing through Streams of Light
Michael Weinstein + Nanfang Yu
Smooth Surfing of Optical Waves
Chris Marianetti
Theory Unlocks the Secrets at the Nanoscale
Sanat Kumar + Christopher Durning
Partnering to Develop Highly Selective Membrane Technology
Aron Pinczuk + Shalom Wind
Artifical Graphene—Better than the Real Thing?

Working with colleagues Keren Bergman, James Hone, Colin Nuckolls, Ken Shepard, Latha Venkataraman, and many others, Yardley has been instrumental in leading nanoscience at Columbia, and he sees this burgeoning field bringing together investigators in an exciting new way.

“At Columbia, we’ve really pioneered the concept of interdisciplinary research, of getting more than the sum of the parts by bringing together physicists, engineers, and chemists to do collaborative research,” he says. “We’ve revolutionized the fundamental understanding of how electrons move through molecules; of what graphene, a material we pioneered here, is and how it works; and established basic knowledge about carbon nanotubes. Our discoveries have fostered important research around the world, and that’s really come about because of the collaborative environment we’ve created here at Columbia.”

The complexities of nanoscience, manipulating individual atoms and molecules, make for a perfect intersection of disciplines. The rules change at the nanoscale; materials, electrons, chemicals—all behave differently. Shared equipment, such as the state-of-the-art transmission electron microscope, and expanded facilities like the Nanofabrication Clean Room, which is almost doubling in size, are reinforcing partnerships, as is Columbia’s new $15 million, multiyear NSF Materials Research Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC).

Here, Columbia Engineering spotlights just a few of our professors whose work is advancing the field of nanoscience and, in many ways, pushing boundaries far beyond the nanoscale.