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The Nanotechnology Institute — a collaboration between Penn, Drexel University and the Ben Franklin Technology PArtners of Southeastern Pennsylvania­ — recently received a $1.5 million grant from the state of Pennsylvania to further nanotechnology research.

The NTI solicits and reviews projects involved in nanotechnology and awards funding to submissions geared toward “commercialized and marketable” projects that “will make a difference in peoples lives,” said Robert Carpick, a Penn professor and Penn Principal Investigator Director of NTI.

The grant is intended for the next two years and is a continuation of the “general efforts” of past grants, which total $20 million, according to Kambiz Pourrezaei, the Drexel Principal Investigator Director of NTI.

Even so, the award is significantly smaller than the last grant.

In 2008, NTI received $3.5 million in funding — 57 percent more than this year’s budget allocation.

Anthony Green, the Ben Franklin Director of NTI, attributed this decrease to “disastrous” state revenues.

“It is very difficult to convince legislators that what we do has real merit to the state,” Green said.

As a result, NTI is “focusing almost exclusively on projects with commercial potential,” as opposed to basic research, Green said.

The funded projects will include all types of nanotechnolgies with “infinite” possibilities, Pourrezaei said.

“All aspects of life will be touched,” he added.

This includes developments in human health, clean alternative energy and environmental solutions.

One such project is the development of cellular carbon nanopipettes — a needle-shaped carbon probed, biocompatibile device that allows for non-invasive probing of the cell.

Another nanotechnological project of commercialized and human health value is the development of “nanoparticles,” which work to kill cancer cells and tumors, Carpick said.

NTI allows for the development of such technologies, Carpick said.

“There is a lot of great research that goes on in the University, but companies don’t want to take the risk of taking a new creative idea and making products,” he said.

“NTI is trying to bridge the ‘valley of death’ [between invention and commercialization] so ideas can be employed for the benefit of society,” he continued.

Green emphasized the “uniqueness” of NTI, as it is a “multi-institutional structure with unique intellectual property agreements,” which allow for intellectual sharing among experts across Pennsylvania.

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