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Next Round of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes Include Nanomanufacturing Opportunities

Written by: 
Jeff Morse, Ph.D.

Recent announcements by the federal government identifying the next rounds of Manufacturing Innovation Institutes (MIIs) have selected topics for public-private funding opportunities that potentially provide opportunity for nanomaterials and nanomanufacturing technologies. The selected topics, which include $200M in public-private funding for an Integrated Photonics Institute (IP), and $150M a Flexible Hybrid Electronics (FHE) Institute, each have critical aspects enabled through nanotechnology. Flexible hybrid electronics inherently incorporate printed electronics that involve the processing of various inks containing nanomaterials, such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, or metallic and metal oxide nanoparticles. Similarly integrated photonics exploit innovative materials and processes in order to create integrated optical or photonic devices and systems utilizing nanostructures and nanoscale patterning techniques.

Flexible Hybrid Electronics are enabled through innovative manufacturing processes adapted from traditional industry approaches that preserve the full operation of traditional electronic circuits in flexible architectures. The technology demonstrators for manufacturability are intended to exhibit novel flexible form factors that are conformal, bending, stretching, or folding, and address a range of emerging applications in human activity and health monitoring, ubiquitous sensors (i.e.; the Internet of Things), or wearable electronics. The manufacturing institute will address issues including standards, materials, process scale-up, design tools, and advanced manufacturing.

The Integrated Photonics Manufacturing Institute will focus on developing an end-to-end photonics ecosystem in the U.S., including domestic foundry access, integrated design tools, automated packaging, assembly and test, and workforce development. The manufacturing innovation institute will serve as a regional hub, bridging the gap between applied research and product development by bringing together companies, universities, and other academic and training institutions and Federal agencies to co-invest in key technology areas that encourage investment and production in the U.S.