Biographical / Historical
The Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology was originally named the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. In 1993, Professor Richard E. Smalley envisioned the first nanotechnology center in the world. Thus, the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology (CNST) was born. With full support from the university, CNST was tasked with defining and implementing the nanotechnology initiative at Rice University. CNST set forth a bold objective to provide a venue where researchers from all disciplines of science and engineering can come together to share ideas and discuss their views and prospects of nanoscience, nanoengineering, and nanotechnology. CNST concluded the best way to achieve this objective was to provide the administrative and technical infrastructure to conduct cutting-edge nanotechnology research, sponsor seminars and conferences, advocate entrepreneurism, encourage multi-disciplinary collaborations, connect to external organizations, and support educational initiatives from the kindergarten to the professional level.
Within 8 years, CNST had fostered the formation of a nanotechnology spin-off company (Carbon Nanotechnologies, Inc), received NSF funding for a new nanotechnology center (Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology), and developed a centralized, well-managed equipment collection valued at greater than $10 million (Shared Equipment Authority). Building on this success, CNST began branching out to incorporate technical training, industry partnership, and community outreach. In 2002, CNST held the 1st Annual TunaFest Celebration, an informal venue for industry, academia, and nanotech enthusiasts to network. In just 6 years, TunaFest has grown to over 1000 attendees making it the premier nanotechnology social event of Houston. From 2002 to 2004, CNST advanced nanotechnology education through a variety of initiatives. The NanoKids program, based in Professor Tour’s group, brings key concepts of nanoscience to middle school students. Additionally, CNST worked with several departments at Rice University to create undergraduate curriculum, a professional masters program, and continuing education courses in a variety of nanoscience and engineering topics.
While expanding their initiative portfolio, CNST continued cultivating its scientific strengths, fostering 10 spin-off companies, developing 5 unique nanotechnology centers and components, and growing the shared equipment at Rice University to over $12 million. By 2005, CNST supported the research efforts of 100 faculty members with over 400 graduate students spanning 14 departments at Rice University.
In 2005 after the passing of Professor Smalley, the Rice University Board of Trustees renamed the Institute in his honor.
As of 2010, the Smalley Institute included 151 faculty members in 21 departments with over 500 students researching nanotechnology in a variety of societal and scientific arenas including energy, education, aerospace, ethics, and human health; consisted of 5 major centers and components including $15 million in shared equipment and facilities for nanotechnology research; was affiliateds with 8 nanotechnology organizations in Houston and around Texas; and collaborated with over 50 associations to promote nanotechnology in all aspects of science and society.
In 2015 the Richard E. Smalley Institute for Nanoscale Science and Technology and the Rice Quantum Institute merged to form the Smalley-Curl Institute (SCI).
(Excerpted from the CNST website, http://cnst.rice.edu/history/, accessed Jan. 3, 2011.)
Richard E. Smalley was affiliated with Rice University from 1976 until his death in 2005, serving as the Gene and Norman Hackerman Professor of Chemistry at Rice beginning in 1982 and Professor of Physics at Rice beginning in 1990. A co-founder of the Rice Quantum Institute in 1979, he served as its chairman beginning in 1986, and was the director of the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences (elected 1990), the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (elected 1991), and was the recipient of the 1991 Irving Langmuir Prize in chemical physics, the 1992 International Prize for New Materials (shared with R.F. Curl and H.W. Kroto), the 1992 E.O. Lawrence Award of the U.S. Department of Energy, the 1992 Robert A. Welch Award in Chemistry, the 1993 William H. Nichols Medal, and the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (shared with R.F. Curl and H.W. Kroto).
Smalley pioneered advances in the development of supersonic beam laser spectroscopy, super-cold pulsed beams, and laser-driven sources of free radicals, triplets, and metal and semiconductor cluster beams. He discovered and characterized fullerenes, the third elemental form of carbon after graphite and diamond, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize.
Born June 6, 1943, in Akron, Ohio, Smalley received his bachelor's degree in chemistry in 1965 from the University of Michigan, and master's and doctorate degrees from Princeton University in 1971 and 1973.