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United States Science Technology

Rent a Nanotechnology Lab 45

SeanAhern writes "If you're an aspiring young nanotechnologist with an idea for a new product, you'll be happy to hear that the DOE has created five facilities called Nanoscale Science Research Centers, that you can rent. These Research Centers are located in National Labs scattered around the country: Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois; Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York State; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California; Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico."
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Rent a Nanotechnology Lab

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  • by LiquidCoooled ( 634315 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:49PM (#22875994) Homepage Journal
    Who want want to work in a lab like that, they would never get in the door.
    If you are going to rent out labs, they should be at least, 3 times bigger.
  • by v1 ( 525388 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:51PM (#22876014) Homepage Journal
    when you consider the cost of the equipment you'd have to have in the lab, and the lab itself really, there's a huge overhead. We've seen so many things recently where non-intuitive applications of nanotech are suggesting huge benefits, now everyone can afford a shot in the lab to play with an idea and see if it's worth investing in.

  • [Upon seeing the model of the "Derek Zoolander Center For Children Who Can't Read Good And Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too"]

    "What is this, a center for ants? How can we be expected to teach children to learn how to read if they can't even fit inside the building? The center has to be at least... three times bigger than this!"
  • by PlusFiveTroll ( 754249 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:57PM (#22876094) Homepage
    Awesome, now I can finally create the fabled Grey Goo []!
    • Grey goo is highly unrealistic. I foresee an unholy alliance of nanotechnology and AI research producing killing swarms as in Crichton's Prey [] . After all, both Kurzweil and Crichton are airport paperback novels, so they each produce entertaining notions of the future.
      • by c_forq ( 924234 )
        Try Philip K. Dick's "Second Variety" (a short story though, not a novel). But ignore that part about the Soviets taking over and the rogue Americans on the moon, just focus on the replicating killing machines.
  • by Cryophallion ( 1129715 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:11PM (#22876216)
    Brilliant idea... except for the red tape.

    Let's be honest, a good number of people will want access to the lab (poorer university students, nanotech hobbyists, etc), and there will be a number of people who think they have a brilliant idea for nanotech that they want to try out. I'm sure there is a certain minimum amount of time each project would take anyway.

    So, someone needs to decide who gets access to the space. Since it is government funded, will there be public review of who gets access? Will there need to be proposals? Is there a certain minimum amount of time devoted to "open-nanotech" research (for the good of the world at large)? Or will larger universities hog all the time?

    I love the idea, and hope it would scale to other technology fields, I just worry about the gatekeepers.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by v1 ( 525388 )
      Universities can afford their own lab. I see this as a way for medium size companies to get to peek their heads inside the world of nanotech and see if there's an angle they can follow up for real benefits.
      • Large ones can, yes.

        What about the small community college with a kid that has a ton of potential and is gifted in the area? Some schools have a "build your major" concept for students who fit their criteria. Say 1 skilled student per state even, who has the desire and interest, and the school wants to help them. With just a few labs, that can fill up the available hours really fast.

        I'm just curious who decides which project is worth the time? What about the way out there idea that pans out and revolutioniz
        • What usually happens with government owned labs like these is that a group interested in doing research will submit a proposal to obtain facility usage. The proposal will contain what they plan to do, why they want to do it, and how long it will take. A committee made up of professional scientists/engineers and lab executives will convene usually once a year to evaluate how feasible and realistic these proposals are and weigh their feasibility against how likely the group is to produce useful results (regar
          • There are some misconceptions in your post, Fission86, a couple minor, one quite serious.

            Proposal review panels do their more than once a year at most DOE facilities. At the two where I am a reviewer (see my post below for some of my observations of the review process), we do so 3 times per year. Surprisingly, lab executives have very little to do with the review or allocation processes -- the peer review by a panel of experts in the field of the proposal is, in most cases, the sole criterion (aside, of c
    • by WindowlessView ( 703773 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:21PM (#22876298)

      Since it is government funded, will there be public review of who gets access?

      I am guessing your "Real ID" will barely get you through the front gate.

      • Whelp, there goes my plan to build nano-sharks with fricken nano-lasers on their fricken heads to clean out my arteries...
    • by Nullav ( 1053766 )
      A first-come-first-serve approach would probably work pretty well; it's not like everyone and their grandmothers will be running to these labs to do research. Something like $500/month would be a nice barrier to entry, at least making the 'poorer university students' and 'nanotech hobbyists' think twice about whether their research is worth it.
      • Do you think it's targeted towards university students and hobbyists? I wouldn't think so (since it would be a huge waste of our tax money) but perhaps I am wrong.
      • by Colonel Korn ( 1258968 ) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:58PM (#22876600)
        When I applied for beam time at one of these facilities (Argonne in Illinois through the standard review process, not in these new nanotech-for-hire labs) about six months ago, I competed with fifty-nine other proposals. Three of the proposals were given beam time for that beam cycle, and there are only three cycles per year.

        When a new beamline opened up at Berkeley National Labs recently it was first-come-first-serve for the first few months, when it was sort of a secret. After a couple months of running sort of in secret, without any public announcement of the new equipment, there was a sudden explosion of awareness (probably someone blabbed about it) and within a very short period it was booked for the rest of the year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

        In summary, first-come-first-serve wouldn't work unless there were five hundred of these facilities. University research groups alone could take up all the time available even if the price were $10k/week, and there would be two universities willing to pay but unable to get time for every one that did.
    • Excellent point, you will have to write a proposal, I'm sure. Also see the little teaser at the bottom:
      "If your research is non-proprietary and could help to solve a nano measurement problem that supports the production of nanobased applications you may be in luck. They may offer discounted fees or waive fees entirely."

      That means you can get your research in there, but the cost may depend on how important the lab managers think the research is. It also answers one of your questions, there will be somethin
    • wouldn't it work in the same way they rent out other parts of the labs? like particle accelerators and x-ray diffraction? The highest bidder gets it or you send a proposal and they either approve or deny it.
    • The NNIN [] is about four years old. There is certainly a review process. My understanding is each facility has their own process, in part because each facility has their own areas of expertise. So you put in an application to a facility and a board of faculty from that facility (I think two or three) review the technical proposal. The two I have completed were composed of a two page document that outlines what you hope to accomplish, identifying metrics, and a "plan of attack," if you will.

    • Well... I am one of DOE's "gatekeepers", so perhaps I can shed some light on the nature of the red tape. Actually, I am a proposal reviewer for the Advanced Photon Source and for the National Synchrotron Light Source, the x-ray facilities next door to two DOEs nanoscience facilities. So I help mind the gates for the x-ray facilities, not the nanoscience facilities, which are the topic of this article. But the process for access to the nanoscience facilities is very similar to our process.

      First, we are not
      • Wow, thanks for taking the time to explain the process.

        It's wonderful to hear that there are still people like you who are trying to help people better their research and understanding, and who take the time to aid them in further proposals.

        It seems the process is about as transparent as can be expected. Like I said, I think it is a brilliant idea, but we've all seen people who abuse their power and control, and who end up ruining a great thing. I think this should be expanded in as many areas as feasible (
        • Cryophallion, like most physicists, I sit up late at night and dream of actually having power and control to abuse! As much as Dr. Evil might be our role model, most of us are far more like the nerdy kid in a John Hughes movie.

          Thank you very much for your kind words. Posting to Slashdot is a bit like hollering into the void. It is very gratifying that you (and the other poster who thanked me) found my explanation of the DOE review process helpful.

          If you live near one of the DOE labs, you should look up t
  • One thing I remember reading on /. was the potential carcinogenic effects of these substances, similar to asbestos. Where are these materials stored? Where/how are they disposed of? Surely the people creating these things make lots of proto-efforts; is there a plan for disposing/handling any of this?
  • I got another lead on some Universal Constructors we can use. There are four sites to choose from.
    • Damn, Tracer, you fail at counting. Sure you can operate this thing from a distance?

      Damn damn damn shoulda previewed yes I know, joke fails.

Research is what I'm doing when I don't know what I'm doing. -- Wernher von Braun