UCSC engineering dean Steve Kang appointed to blue ribbon panel on nanotechnology

Steve Kang, dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz, has been appointed to the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Nanotechnology (BRTFN), a joint federal-state venture to benefit Silicon Valley and promote California as the premier center for nanotechnology research, development, and commercialization.

The BRTFN is cochaired by U.S. Representative Mike Honda of San Jose and California State Controller Steve Westly. Members of the task force include nanotechnology experts with backgrounds in industry, academia, government, medical research, and venture capital.

"BRTFN members will have the opportunity to influence the regional development of nanotechnology, helping usher in a revolutionary new era in technology that will attract investment from governments and businesses around the world," Honda said. "Working in conjunction with the NASA Ames Research Center, Controller Westly and I have the highest expectations for the potential of this endeavor."

UC Santa Cruz, with its close ties to NASA Ames through the University Affiliated Research Center (UARC), is in a strong strategic position to help develop the nanotechnology industry, Kang said.

"This appointment provides a great opportunity to contribute to the creation of new industry for Silicon Valley and California," Kang said. "Nanotechnology is a critical enabling technology with a broad spectrum of applications and will surely need a strong home base in California, in particular in the greater Silicon Valley region."

Nanotechnology has the potential to yield revolutionary new materials and processes by enabling scientists and engineers to control how things are made on the atomic and molecular scales. The National Science Foundation predicts the worldwide market for nanotechnology products and services to reach $1 trillion by 2015.

"Nanotechnology sounds like something out of Star Trek, but it's already being used in cars, tennis rackets, and stain-proof pants," Westly said. "To stay at the center of innovation, California needs to be the worldwide headquarters for nanotechnology. We're asking this group to think big about the future of small technology."

The BRTFN will document its work in a series of white papers that analyze the direction and state of nanotechnology, followed by specific recommendations aimed at promoting Silicon Valley and California as the national and worldwide center of nanotechnology research, development, and commercialization. Congressman Honda said he will sponsor federal legislation necessary to advance BRTFN recommendations, while Controller Westly will coordinate state-level efforts.

"The BRTFN has the potential to generate new state revenues from a multitude of job opportunities," Honda noted. "The patents, royalties, and other economic effects of this industry could benefit the state budget for decades to come."