Sun Microsystems powers world-leading London Centre of Nanotechnology

Santa Clara 29 January 2007The newly opened London Centre of Nanotechnology (LCN) and the Bio-Nano Centre (BNC), funded by the Department of Trade & Industry (DTI) and London Development Agency (LDA), are using components of Sun Visualization System software to harness the world-class expertise of researchers across the physical, engineering and biomedical sciences, from University College London (UCL) and Imperial College, to help meet the needs of society and industry. In essence, LCN and the BNC combine London's leading technology and medical research institutions.

Advertisement

Sun has delivered innovative 3D visualization hardware and software solutions as part of an overall 30 million pound investment in world class bio- and non-bio facilities and over 200 multi-disciplinary staff. The Sun Visualization System combines the best aspects of high performance 3D graphics technology with new ultra high speed networking and system architectures.

In practice, these systems are used to predictively model the precise manipulation and control of atoms and molecules, which is central to the science of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology can deliver a wide variety of benefits to society, ranging from the design of minute doses of breakthrough drugs, real-time clinical diagnostics to the exotic, such as self assembling bio-structures.

LCN's use of leading-edge modelling and visualization technologies is enabling researchers from a wide array of scientific disciplines to work together on collaborative projects in a way that no traditional department or individual scientist could previously work. This combination of resources and skills positions the LCN as a serious participant on the global stage to tackle challenges in industries such as energy, health care and information technology.

Gabriel Aeppli, Director of the LCN, stated: "There are tremendous needs and opportunities for in silico biotechnology, especially as the costs of in vivo and even in vitro development of solutions for biomedicine are rapidly escalating. At the same time, data, design and security are even more important as the stakes for the biomedical industry rise to meet the challenges of nothing less than global personalized medicine. To take advantage of these rapidly crystallizing opportunities in the UCL and Imperial complex, Sun has collaborated with the DTI to co-develop with UCL and Imperial the systems and software to underpin what we see as the merger of the information and biosciences. The first steps have already been taken in the form of the delivery of a beta version of an advanced visualization system that has already changed our thinking about the plumbing of osteoclasts - responsible for degrading bone in the human body."

"The cutting edge research that is taking place at the London Centre of Nanotechnology is helping to raise the profile of the United Kingdom's research on the international stage. Sun's involvement in facilitating collaboration between research institutions and industry demonstrates its commitment to delivering projects that allow educational institutions to undertake this ground-breaking research", stated Neil Hadfield, Business Unit Manager for Education, Sun Microsystems UK.

The Sun Scalable Visualization Software deployed at LCN represents the first time Sun N1 software has been used, in conjunction with Chromium Open Source Software, to manage the vast quantities of data and compute power required to deliver interactive and graphically intensive results.

The Sun Visualization System will significantly increase the computing power previously available to LCN, which will now be able to manipulate larger volumes of numerical and visual data, helping the researchers to interpret their findings more rapidly. In addition to the Sun Scalable Visualization Software, Sun also offers Sun Shared Visualization Software, which allows for local and remote users to interactively share centralized 3D graphics resources across a wide array of client platforms.

For LCN, powerful computer clusters, built using Sun Fire X4600 servers and Sun Ultra 40 workstations, combine to drive multiple displays which in turn deliver high-quality, high-resolution, stereographic 3D displays with exceptional rendering performance for 2D, 3D and textured surfaces. The Sun N1 software automates servers and applications life-cycle management and manages Grid services across heterogeneous environments to help ensure an even distribution of computing power across multiple users.

LCN is a new United Kingdom-based multi-disciplinary research centre, purpose-built to enable work at the forefront of science and technology. The LCN brings together two of the world's leading institutions, namely University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London, with strong capabilities in the underlying disciplines - engineering, physical sciences and biomedicine - which are bridged by nanotechnology. Its aim is to provide the nanoscience and nanotechnology needed to solve major problems in information processing, health care, and energy and environment.

The LCN, together with Imperial's Institute for Biomedical Engineering and funding from the DTI and LDA, are creating the Bio-Nano Centre - offering concept development, rapid prototyping, and product validation services to translate research concepts to prototypes, ready for manufacture. The objective is to provide small to large companies with easy and economical access to prototyping facilities and multi-disciplinary capabilities for the early-stages of bio-nano product development.

More news on Sun is available in the VMW January 2007 article Cedars-Sinai Medical Center deploys Sun Compute Grid to uncover new ways to treat diseases.


Leslie Versweyveld

[Medical IT News][Calendar][Virtual Medical Worlds Community][News on Advanced IT]