N.J. officials detail plan
for nanotech consortium

MURRAY HILL, N.J., Aug. 1, 2002 — New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey announced at a news conference Wednesday that the state will contribute $2 million from its 2003 budget to the New Jersey Nanotechnology Consortium, which will launch with lab facilities based at Bell Laboratories.

“This is an historic investment to secure New Jersey’s future in a competitive economy,” McGreevey said. “Today New Jersey takes a substantial step forward in assuring its place at the forefront of nanotechnology.”

U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J., said that $2 million more dollars has been earmarked in the current federal defense appropriations bill. And U.S. Rep. Mike Ferguson, R-N.J., reported that the state’s congressional delegation is working to win a grant for the consortium from the National Science Foundation for as much as $4 million a year for 10 years.

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McGreevey added that corporate and university memberships in the consortium would support the group’s $12 million annual operating budget. The governor also promised that the state would aggressively court members. In fact, McGreevey said he would ask Pfizer Inc. to join the consortium in a meeting with the pharmaceutical giant scheduled for today.

The governor and the state’s representatives in the U.S. House said that the initial funding was a first step. Jeff Jaffe, president of Bell Labs Research, added that the lab facilities Lucent was committing to the consortium would enable New Jersey to “jump to the head of the pack” in nanotechnology.

Jaffe said that Lucent’s facilities gave New Jersey the advantage of having a “world class, fully staffed facility that was ready to roll.” Several consortium advocates said that building an equivalent center from scratch would cost as much as $150 million and take several years to complete.

U.S. Rep. Rush Holt, D-N.J., a physicist by training, said that the facilities include one of best e-beam writers and equipment for micromachining silicon in the world, plus all the invaluable human resources of Bell Labs researchers. “You don’t need to invest millions,” said Holt. “They’re already here.”

Holt added that the facilities at Bell Labs were “too important to let go.”

With the consortium — which McGreevey said will have a corporate structure, a CEO and a board of directors with representatives from Lucent and the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) — the governor said that the New Jersey Nanotechnology Laboratory would be “the critical epicenter of New Jersey’s long range efforts to” become a leader in small tech.

Frelinghuysen said that as part of the defense appropriations funding, the consortium would work with the U.S. Army’s Picatinny Arsenal in Northern New Jersey on small tech devices for advanced smart weapons.

NJIT President Robert Altenkirch and the university’s vice president of R&D, Don Sebastian, said that one of the university’s main interests in the consortium was in developing engineering standards and processes for complex small tech systems that could integrate electronics, optics, microfluidics and other technologies into one tiny device.

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