Although we often use this space to point out the profound differences between existing nanoscale technologies and near-future molecular manufacturing, we do want to recognize the great work being accomplished by today's researchers.
The following press release illuminates some of the remarkable developments happening now, both in theory and practice. Many of these also may contribute as enabling technologies for advanced nanotechnology.
On November 15th, the IEEE San Francisco Bay Area Nanotechnology Council inaugurated a first-of-its-kind annual symposium combining a celebration of the current work of university graduate researchers, along with and a challenge to local seasoned high-tech workers to imagine some down-to-earth applications of that work. A capsule of the presented work and the measures of success are reported here.
Dubbed NANOTECH: IMAGINE THE POSSIBILITIES!, the idea behind this event may have been in a lot of ways ahead of its time, just like a lot of the aspects of nanotechnology. Based on the results, however, its time may have come just in time.
The idea started with a question. What would happen if you put the next generation of high-tech R&D scientists and engineers in the same room along with their parent's generation of seasoned Silicon Valley scientists and engineers?
The university graduate researchers presented pre-publication briefs of their current work and, the audience conjectured about how it might apply in industry now or someday hence. . .
The symposium's results met all its imagined positive outcomes. . . The presentations had outstanding technical depth, stunning presentation materials, and were delivered with an unanticipated maturity (given the seemingly nano-dimensions of their ages and experiences compared to the audience's).
Shelley Claridge of UCB's Chemistry Department showed how she is using DNA as a scaffolding structure to manipulate Gold nanoparticles for potential use in the assembly, for example, of nanoscale optical devices. DNA's programmability, structural features, and ease of synthesis make possible the creation of unnatural structural motifs as well.
Rong Fan from UCB's Chemistry Department also applied DNA in his work. This time the DNA was squeezed through inorganic nanotubes that had been fashioned into a fluidic transistor circuit. His demonstration of N-type and P-type FETs was a throwback of 30 years for some of the CMOS pioneers in the audience.
Jacob Hooker, also of UCB's Chemistry Department, described removing the harmful insides of a virus' protective shell, and then synthetically modifying the interior surface to accept the insertion of molecules. The potential delivery of anti-cancer drugs appeared to be a real possibility. Daniel Scott, from UC Davis' Chemistry Department, continued the nano-bio theme by showing his progress with using enzymes as biological catalysts to build metallic and bimetallic nanoparticles with near atomic size control.
Ladan Mohaddes, who is on a research assignment at UCB from the University of Maryland, showed how she has assembled strongly ferromagnetic nanowires into densely populated columns perpendicular to the substrate. The hard disk drive soldiers in the audience could see the terabit/square inch milestone being left far behind with this potential innovation. From the back of the room someone said: 'Eat my dust FLASH Memory!"
Ian Lee, doing Post Doctoral work in USC's Electrical Engineering-Systems Department, showed the importance of the early theoretical work on those ideas that eventually get tested in the lab. His new theorem predicts that nanotube-dipole antennas should be capable of detecting narrowband wireless signals. Banks of these tuned nanotube frequency detectors could help build an artificial cochlea for the inner ear. This really piqued the interest of those of us now suffering hearing loss from all those days in noisy fab environments.
Donald Sirbuly, from UCB's Department of Chemistry, is also doing Post Doctoral research. He showed, in essence, nanotubes performing like optical fibers. His demonstration showed that they are robust enough to stand significant flexing. These semiconductor nanostructures were shown to be capable of combining, deconvolving, and steering light in ways that may have exciting applications in microfluidics and nanobiotechnology.
Quoc Ngo, of SCU's Center for Nanostructures, updated his work on carbon nanofibers with potential use to extend IC interconnects beyond the limitation looming for copper vias. Ongoing improvements in the resistance and current carrying capacity of carbon nanofibers demonstrate the viability of these structures for next-generation IC fabrication schemes.
CRN congratulates the organizers and all the participants on a successful and valuable symposium.