In 2002 the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) was established and the very first nanoscience students started at Aarhus University. Well, some of the very first nanoscience students in the world, in fact.
These couple of days, 20 years later, have been devoted to the celebration of 20 years of nanoscience at Aarhus University.
As Rector, Brian Bech Nielsen said in his speech: “iNANO did not happen by chance and we owe the initiators great thanks. iNANO did not fit in a box, but the vision was strong and iNANO has taught us to strive for perfection and that small structures can have a big impact.”
Dean Kristian Pedersen agreed: “iNANO has pushed the boundaries in science and utilized the interdisciplinary spirit to establish large research infrastructures”. The Dean advised iNANO to keep up the pioneering spirit, stay provocative, and a bit crazy.
- A huge thank you to all the speakers for the brilliant talks.
- Thank you to all of the participants.
Thank you for celebrating with us at iNANO!
⭐️ Keynote speakers:
⭐️ Speakers from Aarhus University:
20 years ago, in 2002, the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) was founded at Aarhus University.
Two years earlier, the Clinton administration had invested a staggering $495 million in the US National Nanotechnology Initiative and helped create a tailwind for this new interdisciplinary technology.
Flemming Besenbacher, who at the time was a professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, used the political goodwill and growing awareness of the importance of nanoscience to convince the then Danish Ministry of Science to let Aarhus University be among the first in the world to offer a brand new interdisciplinary nano-education. This meant that Aarhus University was able to accept the first nanoscience bachelor students in August 2002.
In 2002, iNANO was physically spread across several institutes, but in 2007 the then Aarhus mayor, Nikolaj Wammen, rector Laurits B. Holm-Nielsen, dean Erik Meineche Schmidt and iNANO's Center Director Flemming Besenbacher cut the first sod in the construction of a new domicile for iNANO.
The new modern buildings were inaugurated in 2012 and accommodate both the iNANO research center with a state-of-the-art instrument park as well as the nanoscience education.
On June 2-3 2022, iNANO celebrates its 20th anniversary, to which employees, colleagues, students, and alumni are invited. Here are i.a. Nobel laureate and nanoscience pioneer Sir Fraser Stoddart from Northwestern University on the list of keynote speakers.
Since its establishment in 2002, the Interdisciplinary Nanoscience Center (iNANO) has framed and promoted research that creates synergy across traditional academic boundaries, such as chemistry, physics and molecular biology.
Here, research is carried out in collaboration with partners at AU and in industry, generally within the following five strategic key areas:
iNANO researchers are within the above mentioned research areas working on developing:
A smart method used by several of iNANO's researchers is DNA nanotechnology. Here, artificial useful structures are designed and built, utilizing the ability of DNA molecules to self-assemble.
iNANO has been at the forefront of the development of this technology with its former basic research center, the Center for DNA Nanotechnology (CDNA).
For instance Ebbe S. Andersen et al. demonstrated back in 2008 how to design and create the dolphins in Aarhus University's seal from DNA. In Nature in 2009, they showed how to build a box, also of DNA. 2000 of these DNA boxes can lie next to each other on the diameter of a human hair, but despite the small size, the DNA box has a lid that can be opened and closed on command. The researchers at iNANO themselves developed the necessary computer software to design these new nanostructures for use in both basic research and technical applications.
Since the DNA box in 2009, a lot has happened in the field and with the technology e.g. nanorobots and structures for encapsulation and transport of e.g. pharmaceuticals to exactly the place in the body where they are to benefit, are being developed. At iNANO, we are also now working with RNA nanotechnology. RNA structures can be folded and expressed inside the cell and thus can change the properties of the cell.
iNANO's researchers have since the beginning been successful, together with partners, in obtaining funding from external foundations. In total, it has come to approx. DKK 2.5 billion (approx. € 333 million).
In addition, more than 450 Ph.D. students have completed the research training at iNANO, many of whom now work at other research institutions or in industry.
Read more about iNANO's research: https://inano.au.dk/research/research-areas
In collaboration with researchers from other institutes, universities and companies, new technologies with commercial potential are constantly being developed at iNANO. In fact, iNANO is a very productive research center at Aarhus University in terms of invention disclosures. And our work is put to good use.
As an example, RadiSurf ApS was founded in 2015 by former nanoscience student Mikkel Skorkjær Kongsfelt together with Professor Kim Daasbjerg, Associate Professor Mogens Hinge and Associate Professor Steen Uttrup Pedersen based on a research project at Aarhus University.
The founders and the interdisciplinary research team developed a groundbreaking nanotechnology that can glue very different materials, e.g. plastic and metal, very close and very firm together for use in e.g. medical equipment, automotive, electronics, renewable energy and energy storage.
Mikkel Skorkjær Kongsfelt was a PhD student in 2015, but today he is in charge as CEO of the tech company, which has achieved great success. In fact, as recently as 2021, an investment fund has bought and invested a three-digit million amount (DKK) in the company, which is now in massive growth.
In addition to Radisurf, there are spin-out companies, such as CELLUGY®, omiics, MedicQuant ApS, BettaSensing, and Danish Graphene ApS. What they all have in common is that they have been started by students/researchers from iNANO and in interdisciplinary collaboration with partner institutes/faculties.
Here former nanoscience students, incl. Mikkel Kongsfelt, who have all started tech companies give their opinion on how iNANO and nanoscience has contributed to science and their path to entrepreneurship: (follow the links below)
As a supplement to the more traditional collaborations with industry, researchers at iNANO and the Department of Chemistry, including Professor Kim Daasbjerg, have created a project platform based on Open Science principles.
Here, basic research is combined with industrial innovation by sharing data freely and patent-free, which ensures that industry and universities get greater benefits from each other's knowledge and technology.
In addition to spin-outs, iNANO has strong ties to the industry with knowledge transfer through networking activities (eg Brainnovation Day), innovation projects, industrial PhDs/postdocs and patents.
iNANO thus works with industrial partners in many different ways - depending on the need at hand. We can do well-defined analyses on consultancy basis, and we approach more complex issues in shared and co-financed research projects that will contribute to both our research programme and to commercial innovation.
iNANO welcomes external users for our excellent research facilities. We do analyses for industrial partners as part of collaborative research projects, but we also offer analyses/access to our instruments for paying companies - with or without technical and analytical support. Read more about acces to access to our facilities.
Aarhus University was among the first in the world to offer a brand new interdisciplinary nano-education 20 years ago in September 2002.
Professor Flemming Besenbacher had at that time already worked for many years with surface physics and chemistry on a nanoscale, and had a vision to develop a new bachelor's and master's curriculum that combined traditional science subjects and gave students the academic background to work in the rapidly growing field of nanoscience. The vision was realized together with good colleagues from physics, chemistry and biology, who all worked in different branches of nanoscience.
20 years later, more than 300 students have completed both the bachelor's and master's studies in nanoscience at Aarhus University, where students learn to work in a cross-field of disciplines. It takes place on a size scale, where you can build structures and materials atom by atom and molecule by molecule in the same way as you put Lego bricks together.
The students at the nanoscience program have always had a strong social cohesion and an active student association, Nanorama, which diligently arranges e.g. Friday bar, study trips, Christmas cutting day, Breezer bar and Christmas lunch as well as gala party with Lanciers for the 10-year anniversary in 2015. One of their traditions is also that the annual board meeting include serving truffles and port wine.
The alumni work in more than 100 different companies in a wide range of scientific fields, from nanomedicine and biotechnology to functional materials and the energy/environment sector, where their functions are diverse. Three of the first graduates from the 2002 year group, Esben, Karina and Jonas, work at Coloplast, Ambu A/S and Horsens Gymnasium & HF, respectively.
Here former nanoscience students give their opinion on how iNANO and nanoscience has contributed to science and to her career path: (follow the links below)
Official website of the nanoscience education at Aarhus University (in Danish): https://bachelor.au.dk/nanoscience
iNANO hosts one of the strongest instrument parks in northern Europe. Among others, iNANO has an NMR instrument with Northern Europe's largest magnet weighing no less than 7 tonnes, which is used to study the structure of molecules and their spatial and electronic structure.
This 950 Mhz/22.3 Tesla instrument has a magnetic field that is 500,000 times that of the earth, which is essential for the extraordinary richness of detail the spectroscope can show.
The instrument was installed in 2015 and the installation did not proceed without challenges. The NMR magnet is kept cooled to -271 degrees Celsius by i.a. thousands of liters of liquid Helium, but it happens that the temperature rises causing the Helium to evaporate and seep out like a large cloud. This was exactly what happened up to several times in connection with the installation of the magnet. The situation was somewhat harmless, but as a result, the evacuation system at iNANO was tested and the fire brigade paid unnecessary visits during the time around the installation until the instrument was stabilized and ready for operation.
The 950 MHz NMR instrument is part of the Danish Center for Ultrahigh Field NMR Spectroscopy, which is located at iNANO and the Department of Chemistry.
Read more about the NMR facilities at iNANO: nmr.au.dk
iNANO has several thousand square meters filled with state-of-the-art nanotechnology tools that enable the characterization and synthesis of nanoscale matter. Among other things, iNANO and Dept. of Physics also host the National Cryo-EM Facility where structures of e.g. entire proteins are visualized in very high resolution using electron microscopes (EM). The NMR and EM facilities enable a unique collaboration between molecular biology and materials science.
Read more about the inano.au.dk/cryo-em
At iNANO there is also a 1000 m2 building with clean room facilities, which can be used in connection to particularly sensitive processes and experiments.
Read more about the cleanroom at iNANO: https://inano.au.dk/research/research-platforms/cleanroom
Both the researchers and e.g. the nanoscience students at Aarhus University benefit from the advanced equipment. In addition, iNANO also welcomes external users. We perform analyses for industrial partners as part of research collaboration projects, but we also offer analyses/access to our instruments for paying companies - with or without technical and analytical support.
Read more about access to the facilities at iNANO: https://inano.au.dk/industry/access-to-our-facilities