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Informatics for Nanomanufacturing

Written by: 
Jeff Morse, PhD

For several years, the National Nanomanufacturing Network (NNN) has supported a grassroots initiative in Nanoinformatics, which involves the development of effective mechanisms for collecting, sharing, visualizing, modeling and analyzing information relevant to the nanoscale science and engineering community, along with the utilization of information and communication technologies that help to launch and support efficient communities of practice. Nanoinformatics is necessary for comparative characterization of nanomaterials, for design and use of nanodevices and nanosystems, and for instrumentation development and manufacturing processes. Nanoinformatics also fosters efficient scientific discovery and learning through data mining and machine learning techniques. Historically, discussions and efforts regarding informatics for nanotechnology have focused on the development and utilization of databases for nanomaterials properties, including a significant emphasis on environmental health and safety aspects. Several databases have developed in support of this focus, such as the Nanomaterial Registry, the Nanoparticle Information Library, and the Nanomaterial-Biological Interactions Knowledgebase, among others. The NNN is now seeking stakeholder input on the key topic of Informatics for Nanomanufacturing.

The NNN seeks to highlight and promote the practice for which informatics serves as an effective "expert system" tool, streamlining the nanomanufacturing enterprise. From materials to processes to products; accessible data, information, models, and simulations will enable innovators to optimize performance and speed up the time from concept to product. Informatics for nanomanufacturing will become a key element of sustainable manufacturing - helping companies minimize materials usage, energy consumption, and overall cost, while ensuring safety to people and the environment. Informatics for nanomanufacturing will provide the digital thread throughout the value chain, enabling acceleration of innovations through expanded resources and capabilities. Product designers will mine and utilize a growing base of manufacturing resources and intellectual infrastructure to simulate and prototype next-generation products and completely new applications. Manufacturers will have access to timely information in the global supply chain. Vendors, materials developers, and component makers will be able to identify supply chain gaps as opportunities. Informatics for nanomanufacturing tools will help companies leverage their capital investment in manufacturing equipment, providing a means for flexible and extensible uses of existing infrastructure. Manufacturing design relies on accurate data and information, ranging from piecemeal to well-integrated. Given the recent development of efficient automated methods of collecting, archiving, and sharing data (even in real time), now is an excellent time to review the current state-of-the-art, identify opportunities and gaps, and develop a roadmap for Informatics for Nanomanufacturing. The NNN seeks input from industry and the broader nanomanufacturing community for examples of where informatics are being used in the product development cycle, as well as how expanded accessibility to databases, models, and tools for information mining can enhance and accelerate competitiveness in manufacturing next generation, nano-enabled products. This input will be an essential part of future roadmapping activities and themes for nanoinformatics workshops.

Relevant topics include:

  • Process modeling and control
  • Materials supply chain
  • Nanomaterials properties data
  • Data mining tools and opportunities
  • Database design and accessibility
  • Design for manufacturability
  • System scale-up methodology
  • Life-cycle assessment

On behalf of the NNN, we look forward to the community's input on this critical topic. Please send your input to