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Nanoscale Offset Printing System (NanoOPS) Offers Potentially Transformative Nanomanufacturing Breakthrough

Written by: 
Jeff Morse, Ph.D.

The Northeastern University’s NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN) has developed a fully-automated system that uses offset-type printing technologies at the nanoscale to make products that fully take advantage of the superior properties of nanomaterials. In minutes, the system can print metals, organic and inorganic materials, polymers, and nanoscale structures and circuits (down to 25 nanometers) onto flexible or inflexible substrates.


The Nanoscale Offset Printing System (NanoOPS) is a new system that has the potential to transform nanomanufacturing and spur innovation. Because of its relative simplicity, NanoOPS is expected to eliminate some of the high cost entry barriers to the fabrication of nanoscale devices for electronics, energy, medical, and functional materials applications. Current nanofabrication facilities cost billions of dollars to build, and their operation requires massive quantities of water and power. NanoOPS could operate at a fraction of the cost, making nanomanufacturing accessible to innovators and entrepreneurs, and creating the potential for a wave of creativity, perhaps similar to what the PC did for computing and what the 3D printer is doing for design.


In addition to reducing manufacturing costs, NanoOPS will go beyond current fabrication capabilities by enabling the commercialization of products enabled by the properties of nanoscale materials, such as nanotubes, that have been demonstrated in laboratory settings. This will enable critical manufacturing in areas such as new and more affordable medicines; stronger, lighter building materials; or faster, cheaper electronics.


NanoOPS was designed jointly by the CHN team and Milara, a Massachusetts-based manufacturer of specialized equipment for the semiconductor industry, and subsequently built by Milara. This enables industry and innovators access to unique, emerging nanoscale process tools transitioning directly from a NSF NSEC. This exciting development provides a prime example of the new emphasis on science and technology investments by the federal government effectively transitioning to impact the commercial sector.

The CHN will be hosting a NanoOPS Demonstration to be held on September 17, 2014
at Northeastern University’s Burlington, MA campus. Please contact Eric Howard, or check out for more details or to RSVP to this event.