Key Recommendation: The United States should aggressively develop additive-manufacturing technology and implementation.
Current developments in the area of lower-volume, high-end manufacturing include, for example, three-dimensional printing, also called additive manufacturing. With continued improvements in manufacturing tolerances and surface finish, additive manufacturing has the potential for substantial growth. The technology also has the potential to allow three-dimensional printing near the end user no matter where the design is done.
Key Recommendation: The U.S. government, in concert with industry and academia, should develop soft x-ray light sources and imaging for lithography and three-dimensional manufacturing.
Advances in table-top sources for soft x rays will have a profound impact on lithography and optically based manufacturing. Therefore, investment in these fields should increase to capture intellectual property and maintain a leadership role for these applications. The committee views development of soft x-ray light sources and imaging as an appropriate field for expanded federal R&D funding under the sponsorship of a national photonics initiative undertaken with the advice and financial support of U.S. industry. This chapter indicates the need for an order-of-magnitude or greater increase in resolution in manufacturing.
The above two key recommendations help to inform the fifth and last grand challenge question:
5. How can the U.S. optics and photonics community develop optical sources and imaging tools to support an order of magnitude or more of increased resolution in manufacturing?
Meeting this grand challenge could facilitate a decrease in design rules for lithography, as well as providing the ability to do closed-loop, automated manufacturing of optical elements in three dimensions. Extreme ultraviolet is a challenging technology to develop, but it is needed in order to meet future lithography needs. The next step beyond EUV is to move to soft x rays. Also, the limitations in three-dimensional resolution on laser sintering for three-dimensional manufacturing are based on the wavelength of the lasers used. Shorter wavelengths will move the state of the art to allow more precise additive manufacturing that could eventually lead to three-dimensional printing of optical elements.