NSF-NNI Workshop: Design and Manufacture of Integrated Nanosystems

Organized by the National Nanomanufacturing Network,
with participation from academia, industry and government
March 2-3, 2011
Holiday Inn National Airport
2650 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, Virginia

The workshop will focus on the topic of Integrated Nanosystems -- a forward-looking topic that workshop participants from university, industry and government will help to define and steer. Through presentations and discussion, the expert scientists and engineers of the workshop committee aim to identify exciting topics and important priorities for future nanosystems research and development. Major scientific and technical challenges and opportunities will be disseminated to a broader audience in a workshop report.

This field is still in its infancy, and there is much fundamental science to be pursued before it is implemented broadly. Nanosystems can be thought of as entities with complex, active, or intelligent functionality based on operating principles that are nanoscale phenomena. These systems are typically heterogeneous -- incorporating different types of nanostructures that must be integrated to achieve overall functionality. Ideally nanosystems can do something useful, entirely at the nanoscale, without needing macroscale support. Examples are nanoscale systems that sense and communicate, compute and remember, sense and actuate, or provide other complex functionalities at the nanoscale. Biologically inspired designs and hierarchical designs are among the possibilities. Several intriguing questions arise: Can we design new integrated nanostructures that perform complex functions entirely of nanoscale components? What scientific principles would we use for operational mechanisms? How can we synthesize nanoscale systems? Obviously microelectronics has been evolving into this domain for years, but are greater functionalities than computation and storage possible? A system that is more autonomous is just one example. Great progress has been made already, indicating that new nanosystem science is emerging.

At the same time, we need to build from the experience of macroscale systems engineering -- in designing nanosystems structure for manufacturability, in planning and chaining supply of elements, in modeling the integration process, in detailed nanoscale process control, and in optimizing assembly. A paradigm is nano-factory or nano-assembly line to integrate nanoscale devices and systems. Process engineering, scale-up and cost are vital issues that guides design for nanomanufacturing. Systems engineers are needed to identify many of the integration issues we need to address at the nanoscale in order to design and build complex functional nanosystems. Designing such systems may need to, in some cases, utilize issues such as non-linear effects, collective phenomena, stochastic environments, and other unconventional features. What new approaches can we learn and apply? We observe what nature does at the nanoscale, and it is not as straightforward as the design and function of a computer processor. It often is, however, much more efficient and sustainable.

Ultimately, we need to challenge ourselves to develop new principles of systems engineering for the design and manufacture of integrated nanosystems.

Workshop organizers:

Mark Tuominen
Director of the National Nanomanufacturing Network
University of Massachusetts Amherst
(Contact for meeting registration)

Alex Zettl
Director of the Center for Integrated Nanomechanical Systems
University of California Berkeley