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Micromanufacturing and Its Relevance
to Nanotechnology

Peter Bishop, Ph.D.*

Cirrus Logic, Inc.

This is an abstract for a poster to be presented at the
Fifth Foresight Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology.
There will be a link from here to the full article when it is available on the web.


The current state of the field of micromanufacturing is reviewed. Several exciting things are happening in this field. Within the United States, Louisiana Tech. has created a significant center for research in micromanufacturing. Meanwhile, German and Japanese manufacturing, which have always been moving in the direction of microminiaturization, have achieved some interesting results in the areas of milling and drilling of parts at the sub-millimeter scale. The smallest twist drill currently stands at about 50 microns in diameter. Some of the ion beam machining techniques are capable of creating tools for micromachining. This field has already discovered some interesting limitations on tools made of diamond that will be described.

The relevance of micromanufacturing to nanotechnology has always been a significant question to workers in nanotechnology. On the one hand, Eric Drexler has been encouraging everyone to think in terms of mechanical engineering principles operating at the nanometer scale to achieve chemical results that bulk chemical reactions are incapable of. On the other hand, the ability of the traditional manufacturing industry to leap across such vast differences in scale from what they are used to has been a significant question for nanotechnology workers. The elements of this thinking will be presented from the perspectives of nanotechnology and semiconductor manufacturing. Now that Ralph Merkle has described a nanotechnology manufacturing plant that contains flexible manufacturing cells of numerous different sizes, however, it is possible that even if traditional manufacturing cannot really work at the nanometer level, that it will still have an important role to play even if it can only produce flexible manufacturing cells that are, at minimum size, one millimeter across.

*Corresponding Address:
705 W. Washington Ave. Sunnyvale, CA 94086, ph: 408-737-9562, email:


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