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NWN Talks with Agilent Technologies’ Nanotechnology Program Manager, Grant Drenkow

Agilent Technologies is a pioneer in nanoscale measurement technologies, and a strong supporter of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRC) initiative. Nano World News talked with Agilent’s Nanotechnology Program Manager Grant Drenkow about coming trends in Agilent’s contribution to nanotechnology research.

Agilent Technologies is a noted pioneer in nanoscale measurement technologies, and also one of the biggest corporate supporters to date of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nanoscale Science Research Centers (NSRC) initiative.

Last year, Agilent Labs donated a metalorganic chemical vapor deposition (MOCVD) reactor to one NSRC, The Molecular Foundry at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) in Berkeley, California. MOCVD is a widely used method for the growth of materials used in development of nanotechnology applications, and will prove especially useful for research into nanowires and other inorganic nanomaterials.

Nano World News talked with Grant Drenkow, Nanotechnology Program Manager at Agilent Technologies, who is also a regular contributor to Nano Measure, Agilent’s blog about nanotechnology. Drenkow also served as an Instrument Solution Planner at Agilent.

NWN: Agilent played an important role in the emergence of solid state electronics and wireless communications. What role do you plan to play in nanotechnology?

Drenkow: Nanotechnology cuts across multiple disciplines, such as electronics, materials science, physics, chemistry, and biology. Agilent has measurement solutions in all of these areas. We already bring high precision measurements to the nanoscale world. In the future we intend to combine these capabilities across multiple disciplines to bring researchers new insights that would not be possible working independently. We strive to reduce measurement complexity, improve the efficiency of the researcher, and accelerate the rate of discovery and invention.

NWN: What are some of the areas where Agilent is bringing new measurement capabilities to nanoscience researchers?

Drenkow: Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) is an area where Agilent is making significant contributions to give nanoscience researchers new capabilities. For example, at the end of last year, Agilent introduced the Agilent 5400 AFM, a new research-grade AFM system that is easy to use and accessible for “non-experts” yet provides atomic resolution and other features needed in the top labs. And it has a lower price point than similar systems, thus giving additional labs and educational institutions access to the power of AFM.

NWN: What nanoscience areas do you see as holding a lot of potential and excitement?

Drenkow: The work being done in pharmaceutical development, proteomics research and cancer research is remarkable. I believe nanoscience will contribute to major breakthroughs in those areas. Agilent’s liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS) systems with capabilities at the nanoscale contribute a lot to that development and research. In addition, LC/MS and GC/MS (gas chromatography/mass spectrometry) do important work in the areas of food safety and environmental testing. The research in nanotechnology will undoubtedly lead to breakthroughs in food safety, water purification, and more effective drug delivery.

NWN: Agilent has a special relationship with the DoE’s NSRCs and other leading academic research centers. What types of research and/or discoveries get you most excited as lead for Agilent’s nanotechnology work?

Drenkow: Being part of the process is a thrill. Agilent provides technologies that enable scientists and researchers to explore new areas, be novel in their work and ultimately be the first with breakthrough discoveries. While we aren’t doing the actual research, we are contributing valuable tools and consulting with researchers about how best to use those tools and how we can add capabilities and functions to help them get to those breakthrough discoveries. I can hardly wait for the day that we can treat cancer without expensive chemotherapy and nasty side effects. Playing a part of that discovery process is very exciting for us at Agilent.


Agilent Technologies will be at booth 209 at the 10th annual NSTI Nanotech 2007 Conference and Expo, May 20-24, at the Santa Clara Convention Center, California.

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