U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service (USDA/FS)

Established in 1905, the Forest Service manages 193 million acres of publically-owned National Forests and grasslands. It has three major subunits: the National Forest System; State and Private Forestry; and Research and Development (R&D). Its R&D mission is to develop and deliver knowledge and innovative technology to improve the health and use of the Nation’s forests and rangelands.

Budget

FY 2015 Proposed $4 million

Research
Focus

Nanotechnology offers an efficient and effective means to capitalize on a major national asset to make forest-derived materials the “materials of choice for the 21st century.” Wood is made up of nanodimensional building blocks that: (1) have strength properties greater than Kevlar® and piezoelectric properties equivalent to quartz, (2) can be manipulated to produce photonic structures, (3) are remarkably uniform in size and shape, (4) possess self-assembly properties, and (5) can be renewably produced in quantities of tens of millions of tons.

FS R&D is developing internal nanotechnology research capacities to effectively partner with industry, academia, and other federal entities and developing the precompetitive science and technology critical to the economic use of nanotechnology-enabled, forest-based materials and products. Current FS R&D focus areas are to: 1) efficiently liberate and produce quantities of cellulose nanocrystals and nanofibrils for research and scale up; 2) characterize cellulose nanomaterials; 3) develop the means to efficiently modify the functionality of cellulose nanomaterial surfaces; 4) develop the enabling science and technologies needed to capture the performance properties of cellulosic nanomaterials and produce nano-enabled macroscale composites; and 5) develop multiscale modeling for nano-enable composites.

SPOTLIGHT:

The U.S. forest products industry, through the American Forest & Paper Association Agenda 2020 Technology Alliance, signed a memorandum of understanding with the NSET Subcommittee to form a Cooperative Board for Advancing Nanotechnology (CBAN). The industry is in a unique position to tap the huge potential nanotechnology provides. The industry can upgrade its processes and produce new high-performance consumer products, and become a producer and developer of novel, sustainable nanomaterials to replace non sustainable materials such as those from fossil fuels.

Key
Contacts

Dr. World Nieh, National Program Leader, Forest Products and Utilization, USDA Forest Service
T: 703-605-4197
wnieh(at)fs.fed.us

Dr. Theodore H. Wegner, Assistant Director, USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory
Office:  (608) 231-9434
twegner(at)fs.fed.us

Funding
Opportunities

Forest Service Research & Development Programs
http://www.fs.fed.us/research/#


Nanotechnology Fact

Nanoscale materials have been used for over a millenium. For example, nanoscale gold was used in stained glass in Medieval Europe and nanotubes were found in blades of swords made in Damascus. However, ten centuries passed before high-powered microscopes were invented, allowing us to see things at the nanoscale and begin working with materials at the nanoscale.

Nanotechnology as we now know it began about 30 years ago, when our tools to image and measure extended into the nanoscale. Around the turn of the millennium, government research managers in the United States and other countries observed that physicists, biologists, chemists, electrical engineers, optical engineers, and materials scientists were working on overlapping issues emerging at the nanoscale. In 2000, the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) was created to help these researchers benefit from each other’s insights and accelerate the technology’s development.

To learn more, see What is Nanotechnology?

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