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Nanomanufacturing: Building a Community of Practice

Written by: 
Jeff Morse, Ph.D.

Establishment of a sustainable nanomanufacturing ecosystem faces numerous challenges due to the inherent nature of nanotechnology, which intersects multiple industries, involves multidisciplinary scientific researchers, while encompassing an extensive range of highly unique technologies including materials, processes, and equipment. As such, building a community of practice entails a broad range of activities from standards, education and workforce development, technology roadmaps, best practices, informatics, environmental health and safety, to commercialization. To ensure progress on all of these fronts, community involvement is essential for providing broad perspectives from a range of stakeholders in industry, government, and academia in order to better understand where fundamental and applied research intersects emerging and established regulatory and commercialization activities and roadmaps. While these issues may be relatively clear cut for specific segments of nanotechnology commercialization, it is not always clear where best practices translate to adjacent application and industry roadmaps. An important activity for building the nanomanufacturing community of practice is thematic workshops involving a group of experts and practitioners in the field.

To this end, the NNN has sponsored several thematic workshops since inception including collaborative workshops with NSF (2008 Research Challenges for Integrated SystemsNanomanufacturing), NNIN (2010 Synergies in Nanoscale Manufacturingand Research), NIST (2012 Nanofabrication Technologies forRoll-to-Roll Processes), and a series of workshops on Nanoinformatics (2007-present). The essence of these workshops is to incorporate different viewpoints on topics relevant to the workshop theme in order to better understand methods, challenges, emerging R&D, and gaps in research activities towards addressing the associated challenges. The NNN has strived to enhance these workshops by convening a balance of industry, academic, and government participants which, when combined with topical questionnaires distributed prior to the workshop assist in focusing the content of the presentations, discussions, and breakout sessions thereby enabling a productive event with measurable outcomes. Typical work products for these workshops include reports, roadmaps, publications, collaborations amongst participants, proposals, and broader initiatives or funding opportunities.

With the goal of contributing towards the establishment of a nanomanufacturing roadmap, as well as formulating a NNN 2.0 initiative, the NNN solicits comments, suggestions and ideas for future topical workshops in nanomanufacturing from our members and stakeholders. Along with suggestions for topics and subtopics, further details including suggested experts and participants, relevant gaps and questions to be addressed in the workshop with respect to the nanomanufacturing enterprise. These activities are an essential component of the NNN and it is critical to our mission that we consider these activities with input from the community as a whole, as well as reach out to the relevant stakeholders, industry and government agencies having significant stake in the topic of interest to obtain their contributions or involvement. We look forward to receiving ideas and suggestions for potential workshops, and will provide feedback in the future in order to prioritize the topics.