Manufacturing with nanotechnology: NSF-funded report now out

The U.S. National Science Foundation funded a report on nanomanufacturing, carried out by the National Center for Manufacturing Sciences. Though an email announcement to participants stated that the full report is available free for download, all I can find is the 12-page abstract (PDF). [UPDATE: here’s the 75-page 1.9 MB pdf full report.] Two excerpts:

Nanomanufacturing is defined as the controllable, large-scale manipulation of matter at the nanoscale (0.1 to 100 nanometers), to produce identical value-added components and devices. When the dimensional scales of materials and molecular systems approach the nanoscale, the conventional rules governing their behavior change significantly. The rapidly improving capability to manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular scales has already resulted in several first generation nanotechnology (popularly referred to as passive nanotechnology) applications and product enhancements. Research and development efforts are underway internationally to develop active (second generation nanotechnology) sensors, actuators and communications devices with more complex, engineered three-dimensional nanostructures, including the capability to link across biological interfaces. Over the next decade or two, these products are expected to be able to selectively sense, integrate and self-assemble at the nanoscale with other revolutionary atomic and molecular sub-assemblies to form third and fourth generation nanotechnology systems with visionary societal implications…

The survey found that organizations are proceeding cautiously in the development and commercialization of innovations such as active three-dimensional nanotechnology products that involve more direct human, societal and environmental impact. The nanomanufacturing industry for second generation (potentially disruptive) nanotechnology products is still in its infancy – there are as yet no commercial devices based on true nanotechnology. The challenges facing the industry are not limited to the technology itself – rather, factors such as funding, commercialization strategies, regulation and a variety of socio-business issues will affect the long-term success of organizations entering this domain.

A chart at the end lists challenges facing the industry, from most frequently mentioned to least, in this order: High processing cost, Long time-to-market, Lack investment capital, Process scalability, Intellectual property, Qualified management, Regulatory & safety, Unclear societal benefit, Environmental & Toxicity, Multidiscipline complexity, Mfg. resource impediments, Foreign competition, Lack development tools, Supply-chain/alliances, Materials variability, Government policy, Unattractive market, Lack raw materials, Other.

If you can find a URL for the full report, let me know and I’ll post it here. —Christine

[UPDATE: Here’s the 75-page full report, a 1.9 MB PDF file.]

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