THUWAL — King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is named one of the world’s best universities in the field of nanoscience and nanotechnology. The ranking was made by US News & World Report as part of its comprehensive analysis of US and global universities.

Ranking 18th in the publication’s Best Universities for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology list for 2022, KAUST has been recognized for its basic and applied research at micro and nano levels across a variety of disciplines – from chemistry to medical science.

“I was at a Core Lab strategy retreat when I learned the news,” according to Kenneth Kennedy, director of the Nanofabrication Core Lab at KAUST. “My initial reaction was not one of surprise, as I know we have amazing people, research capabilities, facilities and equipment. I was immensely pleased to see KAUST gaining recognition on an international stage. Most of all I was pleased for our staff who have worked so hard for many years to achieve this.”

When drilling down into the US News & World Report nanoscience and nanotechnology rankings, KAUST performed strongly across a range of metrics covering outreach efforts, publication success and international collaboration to give a score of 81.7 out of 100.

In particular, KAUST scored well in the area of citations of its publications. Here, it ranked 9th for “nanoscience and nanotechnology normalized citation impact”, and 16th in regard to the percentage of highly cited papers that are among the top one percent most cited.

Referring to the keys to such well-respected and cited research, Kennedy said: “We have something unique here at KAUST with our Core Labs. The facilities are world class, with cutting-edge tools that are regularly reviewed and replaced when required. Crucially, our staff are highly experienced in their fields, and work collaboratively with faculty to support them and sustain advanced research across a wide range of disciplines,” he said while noting that the close proximity and consistency between all the labs help researchers to seamlessly transition between them.

​​​​Core Labs, of which Kennedy’s nanofabrication is a part, is a system of multidisciplinary, interconnected laboratories that combine to form an integral part of the research ecosystem at KAUST. It delivers research support, training, collaboration and services to KAUST faculty, students and researchers, as well as external partners.

Another area in which KAUST’s nanoscience faculty scored well concerns collaboration with international partners and institutions. Currently, the Nanofabrication Core Lab team, headed by Kennedy, is working with a global pioneer in the investigation of nanoscale patterning and etching of materials to produce flat, pin-head sized optics. The implications of the research could be sizeable, as these implements are typically used in next generation wearable tech displays such as smart glasses and smart watches.

Because of KAUST’s diverse skills base and state-of-the-art equipment and facilities, it can stage the entire research process, offering a huge competitive advantage for the nanoscience lab, collaborators and Saudi Arabia more widely.

“This area of science covers almost endless applications and devices with potential impacts on everyday lives and economies. Semiconductors is a huge global business, which currently has a very high profile in the media,” Kennedy said. “We have to make sure we are positioned to address the need for going smaller, but must also be agile enough to move with rapid changes in research and materials. Increasingly, there are needs for integrating previously incompatible materials and devices to provide compactness and additional functionalities, and this will be challenging, but we are not here to solve easy problems.”

In its annual university rankings, US News examines the world’s top universities, including the very best from the United States and more than 90 other countries. The overall global university rankings are measured on 13 indicators that measure academic research performance as well as global and regional reputations. The rankings also break down into specific disciplines such as nanoscience and nanotechnology.

The year 2022 marked the eighth edition of the Best Global Universities list — a showcase of the world’s leading 1,750 institutions, with KAUST finishing inside the top 100 with an overall score of 70.9 out of 100.

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