Advances in nanofabrication processes have bridged the gap from fundamental science to reliable materials and process methodologies being utilized to impact a range of possible applications including sensors, energy and power, healthcare, semiconductors, and flexible electronics. While these advances have demonstrated the benefits and potential for nano-enabled technologies and products, a critical gap remains between device demonstration and prototyping, and scalable commercialization due to a range of circumstances including infrastructure, tooling, standards, materials consistency, and process compatibility. As a result, the risk of significant capital investment into new tooling and processes has limited the contribution by nanomanufacturing technologies to existing and potential new markets. An example application area for nanomanufacturing technologies is printed and flexible electronics, which have advanced to the stage where inexpensively printing high performance devices on continuous rolls of polymer-based substrates promises to revolutionize advanced manufacturing. Emerging nanomaterials and nanofabrication processes will make it possible to economically generate high value-added products at meters-per-minute rates on plastic film, paper, or foil, and to achieve feature dimensions as small as 50 nanometers over areas encompassing billions of devices. Relying on top-down and bottom-up nanoscale processes including nanoimprint and sub-wavelength lithography, directed self-assembly and additive driven assembly methodologies, commercialization of this technology naturally requires scaling system properties while retaining the collective properties of the nanoscopic elements over macroscale dimensions. Meeting this challenge is a key to high-rate manufacturing of nano-enabled products and for establishing viable manufacturing platforms for continuous large-area roll-to-roll and print processing.
These were some of the issues and challenges discussed at the recent U.S.-Singapore Workshop on Nanomanufacturing Technologies held at the new Biopolis facility of the Agency for Science, Technology, and Research (A*STAR) February 25-26, 2016 in Singapore. This workshop brought together invited researchers from academic institutions, companies, and government agencies involved in roll-to-roll and print processing and scalable nanomanufacturing methodologies to identify and discuss challenges for successful merging of these technologies for advanced device and system manufacturing. The workshop further encompassed related topics and application areas ranging from spatial atomic layer deposition (SALD), self-assembly, nanoimprint and nanoinjection molding.
The workshop concluded with a discussion of general parameters for a multi-year technology roadmap to guide progress and potential collaborations between the U.S., EU, and Asia in scalable nanomanufacturing development activities. Participants presented recent results describing activities for generating low-cost, commodity-scale materials sets, demonstrating precision cooperative assembly, utilization of surface directed/guided assembly of critical features via imprint stamping, fabrication of ordered hybrid nanocomposites at high rates, electric/magnetic field directed assembly of nanostructures, nanoimprint processes, process integration, nanoinjection molding, and online/off-line metrology needs. In addition, the workshop addressed global R&D efforts and developing manufacturing capabilities, along with strategies for public-private partnerships to foster and accelerate technology commercialization. The workshop concluded with a discussion of best practices and approaches being enacted in Asia, the EU, and the U.S., along with opportunities for collaboration. Further details of workshop outcomes will be reported out at a future date, and presentations will be available through the workshop website.