Partnership History

Purdue University and the US Forest Service-Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) share a mutual interest in creating innovative new science and technologies related to wood utilization, nanotechnology, and forest biomass-to-energy. In December 2006, Purdue University and FPL signed a memorandum of understanding to mutually develop a partnership initiative focusing on these areas. In October 2007, FPL permanently relocated one scientist, Dr. Robert Moon, to Purdue University who initiated collaborative research and begun research program development on nanoscale science and engineering of wood based materials. The culmination of this collaborative effort would be the establishment of a Forest Products Nanotechnology Center (FPNC) having its primary location at Purdue University.

Purdue University

Birck Nanotechnology Center

Purdue University is a land-grant university founded in 1869, when the Indiana General Assembly accepted a donation of land and money from John Purdue to establish a college of science, technology, and agriculture. In August 2008, U.S. News & World Report magazine ranked Purdue's College of Engineering tied for 9th nationally among doctoral-granting public universities. Purdue's graduate engineering program ranked 15th in the country. In engineering specialty rankings, Purdue's agricultural and biological engineering ranked 2nd, aeronautical and astronomical engineering was 5th; mechanical engineering, 7th; industrial/manufacturing engineering, 8th; materials engineering, 14th; chemical engineering, 15th; and biomedical engineering, 20th.

Purdue University's interdisciplinary research programs are championed by its $375 million, 40-acre Discovery Park, which is composed of ten research centers: Bioscience, Advanced Manufacturing, Nanotechnology, Energy, Cyber, e-Enterprise, Entrepreneurship, Environment, Learning, and Oncological Sciences. Additionally, Purdue also has many interdisciplinary research centers, each having a specific area of expertise. Five centers and two facilities have been identified to have expertise and instrumentation (testing, imaging, and processing) that have applications in wood science and are listed below:

  • Birck Nanotechnology Center
  • Bindley Bioscience Center
  • Network for Computational Nanotechnology and its nanoHUB
  • Hardwood Tree Improvement and Regeneration Center (HTIRC)
  • Life Science Microscopy Facilities (LSMF)
  • The Center for Food Safety Engineering (CFSE)
  • Physiological Sensing Facility (PSF)

USFS Forest Products Laboratory

USFS Forest Products Laboratory

Established in 1910 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, the Forest Products Laboratory (FPL) in Madison, Wisconsin, serves the public as the nation's and one of the worlds leading wood research institute. Today, more than 200 scientists and support staff conduct research on many advanced aspects of wood use. FPL is recognized both nationally and internationally as an unbiased technical authority on wood science and wood use. In its federal role, FPL has a fully-equipped research laboratory covering all aspects of wood science, technology, and use. The FPL cooperates with many universities, federal and state agencies, and wood research institutes around the world. The FPL also has extensive public/private partnerships with US industry to include research-oriented industry associations, technical societies serving the wood science community, and individual companies seeking leading edge technologies and innovation.

Since 2004, the FPL has greatly expanded its research in nanotechnology and currently has an annual nanotechnology budget of $5 million that it is seeking to greatly expand. The FPL is a member of the US National Nanotechnology Initiative, sets up workshops, and helped organize and develop the industry nanotechnology road map--"Nanotechnology for the Forest Products Industry: Vision and Technology Roadmap". FPL has a leadership role in the management and conduct of the annual International Conference on Nanotechnology for the Forest Products Industry (initiated by FPL and others in 2006).

FPL nanotechnology research programs have five focus areas. The diverse nature of these programs requires support from many areas at the FPL, and outside FPL through partnerships with other institutions. The five focus areas are:

  • Develop fundamental knowledge of nano-scale phenomena and processes and elucidate scientific and engineering principles and mechanisms governing these phenomena and processes.
  • Develop comprehensive understanding of how changes at the nano-scale modify the physical, chemical, and biological properties at the micro and macroscopic dimensions.
  • Develop new instruments to measure materials properties at the nano-scale.
  • Develop methods for synthesis, structure evaluation, and materials and systems design (ie cellulose nanocrystals composites).
  • Develop standards for testing, manufacture, and characterization of nano-materials.