Rice University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) announced a $2.7 million, five-year cooperative research agreement to study how nanoparticles – particularly fullerenes (aka buckyballs), nanotubes and graphene – operate and interact with other materials at the molecular, even atomic, scale. The goal is to enable the manufacture of high-end products that incorporate carbon-based nanomaterials for enhanced optical, electrical, mechanical and thermal properties.