New partnership accelerates innovative materials to protect soldiers

Posted on November 21, 2022

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Students, scientists, and engineers converge to develop lighter, faster, safer, stronger nanotechnology-based material solutions for the future soldier.

This morning, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Soldier Center announced a partnership with the Joint School of Nanoscience and Nanoengineering (JSNN) to launch a new collaborative laboratory to develop lighter, faster, safer, stronger nanoscale materials to improve soldier protection.

Initiated through a $1.05 million cooperative agreement awarded by the U.S. Army DEVCOM Soldier Center, the Innovation Collaborative Laboratory for Nanotechnologies to Empower Future Soldier (ICONS) will produce nanomaterials that can be integrated into yarn and woven fabric clothing for soldiers and used as additives for helmets and other protective devices. ICONS will also utilize JSNN’s nanodevice fabrication facilities to design and build highly sensitive and selective sensors to detect various chemical hazards. 

“Thanks to the cutting-edge research of the faculty and students from UNCG and N.C. A&T, and JSNN’s world-class facilities and equipment, there is no better place in the country for the development of nanoscale materials to produce lighter, faster, safer, and stronger solutions to improve soldier protection,” said UNCG Chancellor Frank Gilliam. “Equally as valuable is the partnerships’ work to develop a diverse cadre of talent. UNCG is among the most diverse campuses in the UNC System and we remain laser-focused on providing access to academic excellence and opportunity for all. I believe ICONS will be a key driver in developing talent that is truly reflective of our state and the nation — talent with a unique richness of varied lived experiences, and the scientific and technological skills needed to help better protect our soldiers, and grow the state’s defense economy.”

“ICONS provides access to a diverse pool of science and technology talent with the training and expertise needed to develop innovative materials breakthroughs to empower the Future Soldiers,” said Ramanathan Nagarajan, U.S. Army’s senior research scientist for Soldier Nanomaterials.

ICONS is the only such joint collaborative lab in North Carolina and the first partnership with a historically black university and a minority-serving institution. ICONS allows JSNN faculty-led research teams, students, and postdoctoral fellows to conduct research in direct collaboration with scientists and engineers from DEVCOM Soldier Center. ICONS research projects are co-led by two JSNN professors; Dr. Kristen Dellinger will lead efforts in Nanoengineering, while Dr. Tetyana Ignatova will lead efforts in Nanoscience.

“This is a unique opportunity for JSNN students to engage in collaborative research that advances the technologies needed to support soldiers and other military-relevant applications,” said Sherine Obare, dean of JSNN. “And with JSNN’s proximity to several North Carolina military bases, our researchers can directly connect with military personnel and veterans to understand the needs of soldiers to develop solutions from the users’ perspective.” 

To learn more about ICONS, visit JSNN or email Richard Campbell.


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