Sandia LabNews

New institute bridges nanoscience, computation

NECIS (the Nanoscience, Engineering, and Computation Institute at Sandia, pronounced “nexus”) is a new institute that focuses on research activities that integrate nanoscale physical and biological sciences with computational science.

“NECIS recognizes and coordinates leading-edge, innovative experiments,” says principal investigator Jean Lee (8759), “with new approaches in computational science and materials modeling to tackle fundamental challenges in nanosystems modeling and simulation.”

This produces efficient development and validation of “disruptive” nanotechnologies. (A disruptive technology, rather than being an incremental advance, overturns an existing, dominant one.) In collaboration with key university partners, NECIS research projects are designed to inspire and expedite breakthroughs in nanotechnology that support DOE strategic areas such as energy, science, and defense.

Because many US universities do not offer programs that combine experiments with computation, and fewer American students are pursuing careers in science and engineering, NECIS aims to bridge these gaps by providing top US students research opportunities that bring together nanoscale experiments with advanced modeling, simulation, and computation.

NECIS serves as an incubator for nurturing new trends and trendsetters that will drive technical innovation in emerging fields such as nano-engineering and advanced computing to improve national security and enhance US technological competitiveness.

Along with Jean, NECIS is led by co-principal investigators Jonathan Zimmerman (8776) and Scott Collis (1414). In this inaugural year, NECIS has close to 50 interns participating in its summer program who are roughly equally distributed between Sandia’s California and New Mexico sites.

NECIS is aiming to grow in future years to include more interns and more research activities, and to become part of Sandia’s response to the American Competitiveness Initiative, announced in President Bush’s 2006 State of the Union address. The initiative foresees increasing research spending in DOE’s Office of Science and the National Science Foundation.

NECIS is the 11th educational institute at Sandia and is a crosscutting effort with three other Sandia institutes (the Sandia Institute for Nanoscale Engineering and Science, the Engineering Sciences Summer Institute, and the Computer Science Research Institute). All the institutes offer research opportunities for a range of applicants, primarily upper-division undergraduate students through PhD-level students.

For more information, go here.