California NanoSystems Institute

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California NanoSystems Institute interior walkways built over a parking structure at UCLA
Elings Hall, which houses the California NanoSystems Institute, UCSB

The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) is an integrated research center operating jointly at UCLA and UC Santa Barbara. Its missions are to foster interdisciplinary collaborations for discoveries in nanosystems and nanotechnology; train the next generation of scientists, educators and technology leaders; and facilitate partnerships with industry, fueling economic development and the social well-being of California, the United States and the world.

CNSI was created by Governor Gray Davis as part of a science and innovation initiative, it was established in 2000 with $100 million from the state of California and an additional $250 million in federal research grants and industry funding. At the institute, scientists in the areas of biology, chemistry, biochemistry, physics, mathematics, computational science and engineering measure, modify and manipulate the building blocks of our world – atoms and molecules. These scientists benefit from an integrated laboratory culture enabling them to conduct dynamic research at the nanoscale, leading to significant breakthroughs in the areas of health, energy, the environment and information technology.


On December 7, 2000, California Governor Gray Davis announced the location of the federally sponsored California NanoSystems Institute section of the California Institutes for Science and Innovation (Cal ISI) initiative. The California legislature put forth $100 million for three research facilities to advance the future of the state's economy.[1] The California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) was selected out of the proposals along with three other Cal ISIs: California Institute for Quantitative Biosciences (QB3), California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Cal-(IT)2), and Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS).[2] In August, 2000, CNSI was founded on both campuses of UCSB and UCLA. Martha Krebs, the former director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science, was named the founder.

Active leaders[edit]


The people who oversee CNSI at UCLA are broken down into four groups: Leaders (group of head directors), Governing Board, Executive Committee, and External Advisory Board.


Governing Board[edit]

The Governing Board was created to advise the leaders in all scientific issues including operations and research guidance of CNSI. The board helps in creating objectives for researchers to strive for in the future. Today, the Governing Board consists of six Deans from UCLA's schools of medicine, engineering and sciences.[4]

Executive Committee[edit]

The CNSI Executive Committee overlooks all business policy related matters. The committee governs and manages any and all CNSI issues, as does the Governing Board. CNSI bylaws were created by the Executive Committee on December 13, 2007.[5]

External Advisory Board[edit]

The CNSI External Advisory Board was established to provide advice and guidance to the Institute Director and Co-Director in their efforts to develop the CNSI as an international center for the advancement of nanoscience and nanotechnology. The board seeks to identify innovative collaborative partnerships with industry to enhance the CNSI's impact at state, national and international levels. The board assists in defining performance expectations for the Institute and oversees regular reviews prepared by the Director and Co-Director. The board meets annually.[6]


The people in charge of UCSB CNSI fall into two categories: administrative staff andhe faculty.

Administrative staff[edit]

  • Craig Hawker - Director
  • Andrew Cleland - Associate Director
  • H. Tom Soh - Associate Director
  • Holly Woo - Assistant Director, Administration
  • Eva Deloa - Financial Manager
  • Bob Hanson - Building Manager
    • The building manager is responsible for the maintenance, facility resource leads, and infrastructure of CNSI. The building manager oversees any changes in infrastructure or maintenance to the labs or the building as a whole.[7]

Current research[edit]


Research at the California NanoSystems Institute has significant impact on important areas such as energy, the environment, health-medicine, and information technology.


Nanotechnology is being implemented to promote alternate forms of renewable energy. Research in this area has led to the development of materials that are more efficient and cost effective. Nanotechnology is leading the way with developments in decreasing battery size and smaller energy sources to keep up with increasingly compacted technologies demanded by the electronics industry. Researchers have discovered not only how to capture natural energy, but also how to efficiently store and use energy at the nanoscale.


Nanotechnology research is producing solutions to many of the environmental problems faced today as well as anticipating problems before they arise. Current problems include greenhouse gas emissions being discharged into the atmosphere by the combustion of fossil fuels to generate power and how to effectively use natural resources in ways that will not harm the environment. Nanotechnologies are providing many benefits as well as preserving the environment and using natural materials that will minimize the human footprint. Efforts are also under way to develop new testing and risk assessment methods to deal with the proliferation of new materials being created and catch harmful substances before damage can be done.


Nanotechnology in the arena of health and science is rapidly advancing procedures, medicines and diagnostic tools, giving hope to many patients and answers for many doctors and researchers. Nanotechnology has been used to develop sensors that aid in early cancer detection, as well as a variety of drug delivering therapeutics to treat a wide variety of diseases including heart disease and diabetes. Efforts are also under way to use nanotechnology for the treatment and outbreak management of infectious diseases.

Information technology[edit]

New and efficient electronic technologies are making their way from science fiction to reality. Smaller chip sizes for computers and the ability to store more information and tools in electronics increase the ability and minimizes materials for information technology devices such as computers. With research in nanotechnology, innovations and inventions will become not only faster and more energy efficient, but smaller in size, making it possible to fit more into a smaller space.[8]


Current nanotechnology research being conducted on the UCSB campus is organized into three differing fields.

Biology and biomedical[edit]

The research fields of nanobiology (nanobiotechnology) and biomedicine show promise in the connection of nanoscale science to biological/nonbiological matter. New diagnostic methods as well as new ways to administer increasingly efficient disease specific treatments are also being researched and developed.[9]

Energy efficiency[edit]

Nanotechnology has promise to help fight global warming. Nanoscale research can promise more efficient, less wasteful technologies. Also, nanoscale allows to control, transform and store energy more efficiently.[10]

Information technologies[edit]

Both UCLA and UCSB CNSI labs show potential to develop upgrades in the processing, storage, and transmission of information as well as increases in the speed of information processing.[11]


The California NanoSystems Institute depends on partnerships with technological companies to help fund and run its research facilities. Partnerships fund the operation and expansions of CNSI in addition to the $250 million government research grants received in 2000. Increasing numbers of partnerships were created due to budget cuts by the state.


CNSI has international partnerships with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the Beijing Nano Center, the University of Tokyo, the University of Kyoto, Kyushu University, Yonsei University, Seoul National University, KAIST, University of Bristol,[12] and Zhejiang University.[13]

Founding partners[edit]

Partners that joined when the institute was originally created include:

Associate partners[edit]

Partners that joined after creation include:


Educational opportunities[edit]


Both campuses offer several educational opportunities including hands-on laboratory research experience for junior high students and their teachers. These activities are done in collaboration with graduate students doing research in similar fields. UCSB scientists and researchers run family science nights at local junior highs to give families the opportunity to participate in scientific activities with their children. along with after-school engineering and science club for grades 3-8 to explore science with UCSB undergrad club leaders. CNSI also hosts research opportunities for high school juniors and local Santa Barbara teachers on the UCSB campus.[15] In addition, CNSI at UCSB holds a summer program called SIMS (Summer Institute of Math and Science) for incoming freshmen.[16]


Both UCLA and UCSB contribute to various scholarships for incoming freshmen. They both offer undergraduate courses that give insight to all fields and majors of math and science. Undergraduates have the opportunity to act as club leaders and mentors to younger ages in grades K-12. Undergraduates also have extensive research opportunities in several fields during the year and through summer on either campus.[17] Students within CNSI's UCSB affiliation, UCSB Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, can choose to intern or volunteer at the institute for lab experience.[18]


Graduate opportunities are limited to:

  • Mentoring:
    • community college students
    • incoming freshmen
    • high school juniors
    • high school teachers
    • undergraduates
  • Assisting researchers in the lab[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ California Launches Major Nanotechnology Research Initiative”. Foresight Update 43.December 20, 2000. <>.[dead link] 13 October 2008.
  2. ^ Foust, Brenda. “The California Institutes for Science and Innovation”. January, 2005. The Senate Source. <>[permanent dead link]. 13 October 2008.
  3. ^ "Leadership”. <>. 04 March 2010.
  4. ^ "Governing Board". <>. 25 October 2008.
  5. ^ "Executive Committee". <>. 25 October 2008.
  6. ^ "External Advisory Board". <>[permanent dead link]. 04 March 2010.
  7. ^ “Administrative Staff”. <>. 13 October 2008.
  8. ^ "CNSI, UCLA Research". <>[permanent dead link]. 04 March 2010.
  9. ^ "Biological and Biomedical". <>[permanent dead link]. 13 October 2008.
  10. ^ "Energy Efficiency". <>[permanent dead link]. 13 October 2008.
  11. ^ "Information Technologies". <>[permanent dead link]. 13 October 2008.
  12. ^ "Partners". <>[permanent dead link]. 13 October 2008.
  13. ^ "Welcome to ZCNI". <>[permanent dead link]. Retrieved 6 June 2013.
  14. ^ "Partnerships". <>[permanent dead link]. 13 October 2008.
  15. ^ "K-12". <>[permanent dead link]. 13 October 2008.
  16. ^ "SIMS". SIMS. Archived from the original on 1 October 2012. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "Undergraduate". <>[permanent dead link]. 13 October 2008.
  18. ^ "CNSI" (PDF). About CNSI. CNSI. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 October 2011. Retrieved 16 February 2012. 
  19. ^ "Graduate". <>[permanent dead link]. 13 October 2008.

External links[edit]