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Nanotechnology Impact on Manufacturing Innovation for Next Round of Institutes

Written by: 
Jeff Morse, Ph.D.

A recent Request for Information (RFI) disseminated by the Department of Defense (DoD) solicits input from Industry and Academia as part in order to better understand the state-of-the-art, needs, and potential market and economic impact for future Institutes for Manufacturing Innovation (IMIs). These institutes are consortium-based Public Private Partnerships enabling the scale-up of advanced manufacturing technologies and processes with the goal of successful transition of existing science and technology into the marketplace for both Defense and commercial applications. The IMI will be led by a not-for-profit organization and focus on one technology area. DoD is seeking responses which will assist in the selection of a technology focus area from those currently under consideration.

The technical focus areas described in the RFI for which input is being sought include:

  • Flexible Hybrid Electronics
  • Photonics
  • Engineered Nanomaterials
  • Fiber and Textiles
  • Electronic Packaging and Reliability
  • Aerospace Composites

The IMIs are intended to fill a critical gap within the U.S. innovation infrastructure that exists between R&D activities and the transition of technological innovations to the scaled production of goods. Enhancing the U.S. innovation ecosystem is essential to maintaining global competitiveness in numerous defense and commercial product areas. In order to achieve this, industry, academia, and government partners must leverage existing resources, collaborate, and co-invest to build and sustain manufacturing innovation and accelerate commercialization of emerging technology products. The DoD has already established three such Institutes, and is now in the process of selecting technology focus areas for a potential fourth and fifth Institute.

More details regarding DoD's definition and interest in these topical areas can be found in the RFI document. Of significance to the nanomanufacturing community is the prevalent inclusion of nanotechnology topics, for example, engineered nanomaterials (ENM), along with topics where nanotechnology may provide some major benefits, for example flexible hybrid electronics, aerospace composites, or fiber and textile technologies, thereby supporting the notion that nanomanufacturing is an emerging component for future U.S. innovation in manufacturing. The NNN encourages stakeholders to review the IMI topics the DoD has included in the RFI and respond accordingly. In addition, The NNN solicits feedback regarding potential topics for which we could help coordinate a strategy for future IMI consideration. As the proposed NNMI is at the early stages of being established, the potential for nanotechnology impacting the themes and outcomes for these institutes is quite promising. As such, we encourage our stakeholders to become informed and involved in order maximize the impact of nano on these topic areas.