Nanomanufacturing Technology: Exa-Units at Nano-Dollars
Applied Materials Inc., Santa Clara, CA 95054, U.S.A.
What has become known as nanotechnology – “the understanding and control of materials at the sub-100nm level” – holds enormous promise for a range of industries and everyday applications.1 Whether measured by number of research publications (which outstripped those on silicon integrated circuits in the year 2000),2 the amount of government-sponsored research funding (over $4B worldwide in 2005),3 or even the number of web hits for “nanocenter” (over 50,000 via GoogleTM in September of 2006), there is an ever-growing amount of R&D activity in nanotechnology, presumably with the expectation of its funders that there will be substantial commercial impact. In fact, the U.S. National Science Foundation has estimated that nanotechnology will provide U$1 trillion in revenue by the year 2015, led by applications in materials, electronics and pharmaceuticals.1
However, outside of integrated circuits (ICs) and some popularized material coatings (e.g. cosmetics and stain-resistant textiles), the pathway to economic impact for much of current nanotechnology research has thus far proved elusive. Potential barriers include not only lab feasibility of the basic concepts, but also how nanostructures will be manufactured in volume. The predictable placement of both ends of a carbon nanotube (CNT) in many envisioned applications typifies this challenge. In ...