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The Center for Advanced Nanoscale Materials (CANM) is an interdisciplinary and multicampus research and education University Research Center (URC) partnership project between NASA and the University of Puerto Rico. It will bring together thirteen researchers from three different campuses and four different departments to work on research projects relevant to NASA in collaboration with NASA Glenn Research Center (GRC), NASA Ames Research Center (ARC), and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), in areas that correspond primarily to the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, and secondarily to the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate. CANM- NASA -URC will make a strong contribution to the objectives of the NASA Education portfolio
assigned to URCs:

Faculty and Research Support: CANM - NASA - URC will provide NASA competency - building research and education opportunities for thirteen faculty and researchers, and three post - doctoral fellows per year for a period of five years. This will be achieved by focusing the currently existing critical mass of research efforts into projects of strong pertinence to the NASA Vision for Space Exploration, and by enhancing the synergistic interactions among researchers in the Jurisdiction with researchers at NASA GRC, NASA ARC, and JPL.

Student Support: CANM-NASA-URC will provide NASA competency -building education and research opportunities to fourteen undergraduate and fourteen graduate students per year, for a total of 140 student - years, who will become prepared for employment in Science -Technolgy -Engineering - Mathematics (STEM) disciplines at NASA, industry (including aerospace) and higher education. These students will be selected from three different institutions with over 95% Hispanic enrollment, and covering all geographical areas of the Jurisdiction: Metropolitan North East (UPR Rio Piedras, a PhD institution), South West (UPR-Mayaguez, a PhD institution), and Central (UPR Cayey, a BS institution). The students will participate in the various NASA related projects developed by CANM. Moreover, they will spend 4 to 10 weeks a year at NASA GRC, NASA ARC and/or JPL doing collaborative research. CANM -NASA-URC will have long term impact by increasing the number of underrepresented students who complete undergraduate and graduate education in areas of relevance to NASA, contributing to enhance and diversify the National STEM workforce.

Targeted Institution Research and Academic Infrastructure: CANM-NASA-URC will improve the ability of three Hispanic-serving institutions strategically distributed across the Jurisdiction to enhance their research competency in areas of relevance to NASA and compete for NASA research and development work. CANM-NASA-URC is organized into four Interdisciplinary Research Groups (IRGs) aligned with the NASA Vision for Space Exploration:

  • IRG I: Life Support Systems: Develop nanoporous sorbent materials and a bioelectrochemical organic removal reactor for air and water treatment, in collaboration with NASA ARC.
  • IRG II: Advanced High Energy Materials: Develop nanoscale advanced materials for high--pressure water electrolyzers and high-voltage Li-ion batteries in the 5 V range in collaboration with NASA GRC and JPL, complementing parallel non-overlapping efforts carried out under PR NASA EPSCoR.
  • IRG III: Non-Carbon Based Sensors: Develop materials that enable new robust and stable, physical and chemical sensing devices that remain operational in harsh conditions in collaboration with NASA GRC.
  • IRG IV: Carbon-Based Sensors and Bio-Sensor: Develop gas conductivity-based and enzymatic and DNA sensing processes for air and water environments in collaboration with NASA ARC.

    A mechanism will be implemented to advance the evolution of research projects along the
    NASA Technology Readiness Level (TRL) scale from TRL 1 to 3 in coordination and collaboration with NASA and JPL scientists. Projects reaching TRL 3 will be jointly evaluated to determine whether they should be developed into TRL 4 and above by transferring them to a NASA Center or JPL. Hence, innovation, testbeds, and commercialization will be fostered in each of the four areas of research, potentially evolving into SBIR and STTR proposals. These projects will be strategically advanced through collaboration among NASA GRC, NASA ARC, JPL, the PR Institute for Functional Nanomaterials, PR NASA EPSCoR, and PR Small Business & Technology Development Centers.