The US-Africa Materials Institute promotes interdisciplinary collaboration between U.S. and African researchers in the areas of materials research and education. The research themes focus on two broad areas: advanced materials and structures; and, materials for societal development. Ongoing activities in nanoscience include: studies of the mechanical and electrical properties of nanoscale thin films, MEMS contacts, and novel low-cost methods for the fabrication of organic electronics. Ongoing efforts in biomaterials include: studies of multi-scale cell/surface interactions, and integrated efforts to develop BioMEMS and conjugated nanoparticles for disease detection and treatment. So far BioMEMS and conjugated nanoparticles have been developed for the detection and treatment of cancer. However, initial efforts are being made to extend these to other diseases such as FIV/HIV.
The mission of FONAI is to: (1) sensitize the whole of Africa and the Caribbean on nanotechnology by means of lectures, seminars, workshops and publications; (2) draft proposals that will involve a grand alliance of academia, government agency and industry; and (3) set up Nanotech Research Centers of Excellence around specific themes such as nanomaterial synthesis, nanoscale fabrication of devices, nanoscale studies of phenomena and processes, nanomanufacturing. Discoveries from these Nanotech Research Centers of excellence are expected to lead to a proliferation of industries (small and big) leading to social and economic development, thereby combating poverty and advancing human achievement. In addition, FONAI stands for zero tolerance to corruption, accountability, integrity, honesty, and hard work.