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Close of New England Nano Event Highlights Emerging Technologies and Applications

Written by: 
Jeff Morse, PhD.

The New England Nanomanufacturing Summit 2010 (NENS 2010), held at the University of Massachusetts in Lowell, MA June 22-24, showcased groundbreaking research in nanotechnology with a focus towards manufacturing and commercialization topics. The event was organized by the National Nanomanufacturing Network, the NSF Center for Hierarchical Manufacturing (CHM) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and the NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN) at Northeastern University, with partners University of Massachusetts Lowell and University of New Hampshire, and included relevant research in the Northeast region as well as the national and international levels. The third day of the NENS 2010 focused on emerging processes, materials, and applications, providing presentations by leaders in the field from government, academic centers, and industry.

View program and presentations.

Ahmed Busnaina, Director of the CHN, described research at Northeastern University on large scale directed assembly of single walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) and nanoparticles for electronics and biotechnology applications. The presentation discussed the use of electrophoresis as a method to position and orient SWNTs for integration with pre-patterned electrodes to form both sensors and CNT based transistors. Further discussions described the use of functionalized nanoparticles for both cancer detection and treatment platforms. Ken Carter from the CHM discussed his group’s progress in nanoimprint lithography (NIL), including low cost mold materials. The presentation further addressed the use of NIL in high volume manufacturing platforms such as roll to roll printing and detailed some of the progress and challenges in this area.

James Whiten from the CHN at UMass Lowell discussed the use of self assembled monolayers (SAM) and light to control adhesion on surfaces for various nanomanufacturing applications. The presentation described using thiols or silane patterned surfaces to control the wetting properties which in turn dictated the assembly of a range of other materials on metal surfaces. The technique could be further modified for a range of surfaces and materials. Stephen Fossey from the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center presented results of their work on the development of melt-spun polymer nanofibers. The melt spinning process inherently provided polymer nanofibers and nanoparticles dispersed in a polymer matrix with size on the order of 100 nm diameter, dependent on the winding rate. Eric Deguns from Cambridge Nanotech described atomic layer deposition (ALD) processes and tools for nanomanufacturing. The presentation discussed the versatility of ALD from both a materials and process aspect, and further emphasized the inherent scalability of the process as scaled processes were typically developed with in a matter of several process runs.

Carol Barry from the CHN at UMass Lowell discussed the use of tooling for injection molding of micro- and nanoscale features. The presentation described the impact of process and tooling conditions on mold replication, with promising results for features now in the few hundred nanometer range fro several materials. N. Vigneshwaran from the Department of Food Science at Rutgers University discussed improvements to the performance of starch films by engineering the interaction of nanocrystalline cellulose fillers with starch molecules. By adding the appropriate amount of starch fillers, aggregation of cellulose fibers in cast films were eliminated. Such materials could enable biodegradable protective barriers for food preservation as an example. The program concluded with a presentation from Sivasubramanian Somu from the CHN at Northeastern University on the design, fabrication, assembly and characterization of a SWNT switch for non-volatile memory applications. The presentation described an innovative method to achieve switching states using SWNT devices suitable for logic elements. This method and application represent a possible new paradigm in memory electronics providing significantly lower power consumption and higher levels of integration.

View program and presentations.