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Contact: Mary Dieter or Andrew Stoner
Phone: 317-232-4578
For Immediate Release: Sep 7, 2001
O'Bannon helps break ground on Purdue's "Silicon Valley" for nanotechnology

Governor Frank O'Bannon today joined state and university leaders in breaking ground for Purdue University's own version of a new "Silicon Valley" for nanotechnology in Indiana.

"Just as the Silicon Valley of California has become synonymous with the development of silicon technology, we believe the middle Wabash Valley of Indiana will become known as the birthplace of nanotechnology," O'Bannon said.

O'Bannon said as the first facility in the new Discovery Park at Purdue University, the Ultra-Performance Nanotechnology Center signals exciting things for the high-tech future of Indiana. "The center will be a cutting-edge national facility advancing the frontiers of nanoscale research," O'Bannon predicted.

Nanotechnology is an engineering science that attempts to create devices that are only a few nanometers - or a few billionths of a meter - in size. Nanotechnology includes the investigation, design and manipulation of materials on the atomic and molecular scale.

Scientists and researchers believe nanotechnology can yield previously unheard of advances in many fields, including treating human illness and disease. "Nano-robots," for example, could be created and inserted into the human body to make measurements, dispense drugs and act as neural prostheses. Other scientists are working on nano-experiments that may result in robots smaller than the size of human bacteria being built to repair cellular damage or to attack cancer cells.

"Nanotechnology is still in its infancy, but it has the potential to affect the 21st century in much the way antibiotics, transistors and plastics affected our society in the 20th century," O'Bannon said. "Indiana has the opportunity to make nanotechnology a major component of our future economy."

"This new nanotechnology facility will position Indiana to become a player in the 'Silicon Valley' of the future," said Purdue University President Martin C. Jischke, noting the state's investment was crucial for the project.

"We were able to leverage state funding of $5 million to attract another $46 million in private and federal dollars," Jischke said. "That's the kind of teamwork that gets things done."

The ULTEC at Purdue will focus on educating students and training corporate scientists and engineers, thus creating a local workforce that understands nanotechnology.

Housed on about 40 acres, the new Discovery Park at Purdue will provide a working environment for interaction between various academic, scientific and technological disciplines all centered on the new Nanotechnology Center. Six types of laboratory spaces will be created at the center.

The Nanotechnology Center is being funded from a variety of sources, including a $30 million gift from Purdue alumnus and trustee Michael Birck and his wife Katherine Birck; a $13 million gift from Purdue alumnus Donald Scifres and his wife Carol Scifres; and a $5 million grant from the Build Indiana Fund. Additional federal support is being sought as well.

O'Bannon praised Purdue for its continued leadership in important research and science with national implications, and thanked state and federal legislators for their support of the project.

Jischke added, "The Indiana General Assembly's investment has paid off tenfold -- a tremendous return on investment. We have many of our elected officials to thank for their foresight, especially State Representative Pat Bauer, State Senator Bob Meeks, Governor O'Bannon, U.S. Senator Evan Bayh, and U.S. Representatives Brian Kerns and Steve Buyer."

Reporters' contact: Mary Dieter or Andrew Stoner, 317-232-4578

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Governor Frank O'Bannon - 206 State House - Indianapolis, Indiana 46204 - (317)232-4567 -