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Small Wonders, Endless Frontiers: A Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative
FIGURE 4.7.1 Three-dimensional STM image of man-made lattice of cobalt atoms on a copper (111) surface. Note that the center atom was deliberately omitted from the array, and the dip there is a result of the quantum mechanical standing wave field of the surface electrons. The image width is 14 nm. Courtesy of Don Eigler, IBM Almaden Research Center.
likely that eventual production costs will be low enough for mass production. However, two to three decades of research may be necessary to achieve reliable, low-cost interconnected networks of nanoscale devices, either for electronics, materials, or health-care applications. Since very few small start-ups or even large companies can afford to spend decades pursuing dreams without near-term economic payback, extended research in universities and national laboratories is needed to establish much of the groundwork for the most profound breakthroughs in nanoscale technology. This research will need to be far more interdisciplinary than that which most universities currently foster.
To develop nanoscale technologies into products with the greatest socioeconomic benefit, it is important that NNI create the best partnerships between those entities with present and future applications and those with technology vision, and sustain funding for decades of research and development. New ways will have to be found for the government to encourage industry research and offer long-term support of the industry-university-national laboratory partnerships needed to achieve the required breakthroughs.
SPECIAL TECHNOLOGICAL CHALLENGES
Many present technological paths to nanofabrication are safe paths—for example, integrated circuit producers will follow Moore’s law using modifications of established lithographic processes that will produce