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Summary of the Power Systems Workshop on Nanotechnology for the Intelligence Community: Interim Report (2004)

Chapter: Topic 4: Manufacturing and Material Handling Considerations

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Suggested Citation:"Topic 4: Manufacturing and Material Handling Considerations." National Research Council. 2004. Summary of the Power Systems Workshop on Nanotechnology for the Intelligence Community: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10911.
Page 15
Suggested Citation:"Topic 4: Manufacturing and Material Handling Considerations." National Research Council. 2004. Summary of the Power Systems Workshop on Nanotechnology for the Intelligence Community: Interim Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/10911.
Page 16

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l 1 TOPIC 4: MANUFACTURING AND MATERIAL HANDLING CONSIDERATIONS Two presentations were made in this session, by Terry Lowe of Los Alamos National Laboratory and Kevin Hemker of Johns Hopkins University. Their papers are summarized below. CHALLENGES FOR NANOSCALE MANUFACTURING Terry Lowe stressed that manufacturing is likely to be the biggest challenge in commercializing nanodevices and must be embraced, along with R&D, in a comprehensive systems approach. The semiconductor industry is already facing nanoscale issues as complementary metal oxide silicon (CMOS) feature sizes continue to be reduced, although new nano methods of making transistors (e.g., using silicon or carbon nanotubes) are thought to be 10 years in the future. Lowe said that 198 companies worldwide are producing nanoparticles for various applications. One of the major advantages is the huge increase in surface area possible. For example, a 100-gram golf ball has a surface area equivalent to a Post-It note, whereas 100 grams of 40-nm particles have a surface area greater than a soccer field. Nanoscale optical properties also differ significantly from micrometer-scale optical properties; for example, 30-,um Al particles are silver in color, whereas 30-nm Al particles are black. Companies making nanoparticles have found it necessary to perform nanoscale characterization of their products at various stages of the production process in order to obtain adequate process control. The best processes today have a variation in particle size of about 4 nm (for an average diameter of 28 hi Tl) over a week of production. Today's plants can produce between 1 and 3 pounds per day; they need to get to hundreds of pounds to be economically viable. Building such a plant is estimated to require an investment of $2.5 million for every 100 pounds produced and about 4 years to fully understan(l and control the process. Removal of barriers to commercialization will require nano-savvy product and process engineers. In addition, potential regulatory, environmental, health, and safety issues need immediate attention. (Debra Rolison, a committee member, said that a book would soon be published on these topics.) 1 15 .

1 16 Summary of the Power Systems Workshop RESILIENCE OF MICRO - ANO MATERIALS—EFFECTS OF VIBRATION, STRESS, TEMPERATURE, TIME, ETC. Kevin Hemker noted that the mechanical, electrical, optical, magnetic, and chemical properties of materials change at the nanoscale; one exception may be tensile modulus, which appears to be independent of length scale. Smaller is stronger, up to a point. For example, the fact that flaws are much smaller in MEMS materials makes it possible to use silicon as a structural material. A 300-fold increase in strength can be attained by changing the current density during deposition, which results in the formation of nanocrystals. IIowever, the grain boundaries of nanostructures will increase with extended exposure to elevated temperatures, increasing flaw sizes and thereby reducing strength The increased surface area of nanomaterials means increased reactivity and susceptibility to environmental conditions. Electrodes in Li-ion batteries can swell 300 percent with Li+ ion intercalation, raising all sorts of issues having to do with stress, fatigue, and so on. Porous battery materials may best be modeled as cellular solids. TOPIC 4 DISCUSSION The panel discussion started with a question about the feasibility of using live organisms— including engineered organisms to make the desired small particles. One response was that biosynthesis is slow and one then has to separate the product from the organisms, with attendant concerns about purity, etc. There was a question about how long one would have to wait for biomaterials to evolve to a point that they could} be used reliably in applications. It was pointed out that structural materials used today in aerospace needed 20+ years to move from laboratory to production. (Note, however, that DARPA has the Accelerated Insertion of Materials program, which tries to accelerate the transition of advanced materials into applications.) Nanomaterials are perceived as evolving more rapidly. However, it was pointed out that as nanomanufacturing processes evolve, the properties of the product change and it is important to continue to characterize them carefully. Many current microstructure devices—e.g., MEMS are overdesigned; there is much room to reduce thicknesses and the like without affecting performance. We will not have that luxury as we move to smaller length scales. We also do not know how atoms jumping around as a result of thermal fluctuations—caused, for example, by changes in current will affect the lifetime of nanostructures. It was noted that for some purposes, e.g., dense crystal microstructures, it is desirable to have a wide dispersion of starting particle sizes rather than the narrow dispersions discussed by Lowe. There has been some research on nanoscale composites, but the difficulty is that these particles have a tendency to agglomerate. Some superalloy composites have been fabricated successfully on the micrometer scale. One person wanted to know whether there are any catalogs of currently available nanomaterials for use by designers. The answer was that, in general, there are not, although some companies put out brochures listing their products. There is an organization for MEMS that puts foundries in contact with potential users. It was pointer! out that after 40 years of polymer composite material development, we still clo not have a composites design manual for aerospace engineers, so we are far from having one for nanomaterials. There has been some progress in compiling the mechanical properties (though not strain measurements) of materials for micrometer-scale devices; however, in microdevices, the test of material performance is, in effect, the performance of the device.

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The emergence of nanotechnology as a major science and technology research topic has sparked substantial interest by the intelligence community. In particular the community is interested both in the potential for nanotechnology to assist intelligence operations and threats it could create. To explore these questions, the Intelligence Technology Innovation Center asked the National Research Council to conduct a number of activities to illustrate the potential for nanotechnology to address key intelligence community needs. The first of these was a workshop to explore technology opportunities and challenges in power systems that could be addressed by nanotechnology. This report presents a summary of that workshop. It includes an overview of power technologies and discussions on nanoscale properties of energy storage materials, device experience, manufacturing and material handling considerations, and natural power.

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