Oklahoma's coordinated efforts to build nanotechnology research and business in the state won praise Tuesday from an official with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tenn. Alan Liby, manager of economic development for the Oak Ridge laboratory, spoke at a nanotechnology conference at the Presbyterian Health Foundation Research Park, hosted by the Oklahoma Center for the Advancement of Science and Technology. Managed by the U.S. Department of Energy, the Oak Ridge laboratory has recently opened the Center for Nanotechnology Material Sciences and has 88 active projects, four of which have Oklahoma ties, Liby said. "I am completely impressed with the level of organization in technology-based economic development that is ongoing in the state of Oklahoma,” Liby said after hearing presentations from representatives at the University of Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, Tulsa University and OSU-Okmulgee. "You are right at the top of the game,” he said. "The universities are carrying on a level of collaboration that is also unusual and really necessary.” Liby said part of the mission on his trip to Oklahoma was to woo state researchers to use the Oak Ridge facilities for their projects. Scientists who conduct research and publish their discoveries can use the Oak Ridge labs free of charge, while those doing research for proprietary projects must pay a fee to use the facilities, he said. "Frankly, Oklahoma has not been high on our list just because of proximity,” Liby said. The Oak Ridge National Laboratory is located in far eastern Tennessee, about 20 miles from Knoxville. The four state-related projects identified by Liby that are under way at the Oak Ridge labs are all from OU researchers, he said. Oak Ridge is reaching out to Oklahoma and other states, said Jim Mason, executive director of the Oklahoma Nanotechnology Initiative. Mason has made several visits to the Oak Ridge facility to see first-hand the nanotechnology laboratories it offers. "With the new center they have created they have really provided a place for people to come and get that opportunity,” Mason said. "It is very much a user friendly (facility). That's not the way labs used to be.”
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Oak Ridge National LaboratoryManaged by the Department of Energy, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is located in Oak Ridge, Tenn. It is the nation's largest "unclassified” scientific computing laboratory. •No. of employees: 4,100 •Annual budget: $1.1 billion •No. of guest researchers: 3,000 annually Source: Alan Liby, manager of economic development for the Oak Ridge National Laboratory