May 16, 2008 -- Researchers at the National Science Foundation's Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN) at Northeastern University -- with partners UMass Lowell and University of New Hampshire -- say they have discovered "an innovative technology that will have a tremendous impact on the nanotechnology industry."
Under the direction of Ahmed Busnaina, Ph.D., researchers developed a technique to scale-up the directed assembly of single-walled carbon nanotube (SWNT) networks, from microns to inches, creating a viable circuit template that can be transferred from one substrate to another (say, silicon to polymer) in continuous or batch processes. According to CHN, devising methods to create nanoscale structures, and to mass-produce those them while ensuring reliability and cost-effectiveness, are top priorities for the nanotechnology industry. The center's approach for assembling nanoelements (nanotubes, nanoparticles, etc.) into structures will lead to the production of devices such as biosensors, batteries, memory devices and flexible electronics quickly and efficiently and with minimal error, they say.
"This technology is a platform for many applications, and the fact that it is scalable makes it easier to bring to market," said Busnaina, William Lincoln Smith Professor and Director of the CHN. "The cost of current nanomanufacturing techniques is sky high, and our product has the potential to increase productivity tremendously without sacrificing reliability."
Concurrently, researchers at the CHN are investigating the environmental and biological implications to ensure that these devices and techniques are safe for people and for the environment.