For the last 60 years, inno­va­tion has been cen­tral to fos­tering the nation’s eco­nomic growth, and Amer­ican man­u­fac­turers have been its dri­vers. In order to main­tain this momentum in the midst of an increas­ingly ten­uous eco­nomic cli­mate, the nation must work to pro­mote a vibrant man­u­fac­turing sector, according to Ahmed Bus­naina, the William Lin­coln Smith Chair Pro­fessor in the Col­lege of Engi­neering.

Ear­lier this month, some 70 researchers and stake­holders from more than 20 orga­ni­za­tions in acad­emia, industry and gov­ern­ment con­vened at North­eastern to dis­cuss the future of nanoscale manufacturing.

Hosted by Northeastern’s NSF Nanoscale Sci­ence and Engi­neering Center for High-​​rate Nanoman­u­fac­turing, the event fea­tured pre­sen­ta­tions from rep­re­sen­ta­tives from CHN; the Naval Research Lab­o­ra­tory; the U.S. Army Research Lab­o­ra­tory; NASA and Raytheon. In their pre­sen­ta­tions, experts iden­ti­fied high-​​priority needs including new spe­cial­ized mate­rials such as elec­tronics, sen­sors, energy har­vesting and storage in addi­tion to light­weight nanocom­pos­ites for stronger, lighter air­craft wings and shielding.

Bus­naina, director of CHN, noted that the group is trying to answer the ques­tion, “How can we get nanoman­u­fac­turing to enable new prod­ucts that are stronger, lighter and faster than cur­rent tech­nolo­gies?” Over­coming such chal­lenges, he added, could lay the foun­da­tion for new indus­tries and pro­vide jobs through the devel­op­ment of a new workforce.

CHN’s novel man­u­fac­turing tech­nology could print 2-​​D and 3-​​D nanos­truc­tures at room tem­per­a­ture and pres­sure, on hard or flex­ible sur­faces. It’s chemical-free, material-independent and needs very low energy to operate.

While Bus­naina is com­mitted to CHN’s novel approach, he said the work­shop was meant to encourage col­lab­o­ra­tion among researchers and across platforms.

After the morning ses­sions, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from local nan­otech com­pa­nies con­ducted ideation ses­sions in order to artic­u­late a strategy to advance and accel­erate moving tech­nolo­gies from the lab to indus­trial applications.

This nanoman­u­fac­turing work­shop will help industry, gov­ern­ment, CHN and part­ners to address cur­rent devel­op­ments, suc­cesses and chal­lenges in tran­si­tioning research into com­mer­cial prod­ucts,” Mel Bern­stein, senior vice provost for research and grad­uate edu­ca­tion, told atten­dees in his opening remarks. “The goal is to craft a strategy to move nan­otech­nology from the lab­o­ra­tory to industry-​​floor manufacturing.”