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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies Executive Summary The Committee on Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies, established by the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Air Force Science and Technology Board (AFSTB), was tasked with evaluating the implications of current trends in micro- and nanotechnologies for the Air Force. As a basis for its evaluation, the committee applied rigorous technical scrutiny to claims for the potentials of these technologies, evaluated the state of the technologies today, and assessed their value relative to enduring Air Force requirements. The committee looked for trends in scientific and technical advances with the potential to change the nature of warfare and for the most effective ways for the Air Force to exploit these advances. Predicting the progress of technology over long periods is an uncertain exercise. The temptations are to be either too conservative, acknowledging the current limitations of technology and not foreseeing the breakthroughs—in both conception and capability—that will inevitably occur, or too exuberant, brushing aside real physical limitations in an excess of futuristic zeal. Such a challenge particularly applies to nanotechnology, which is an exciting and relatively unexplored scientific and technological frontier offering many new insights and applications but at the same time giving rise to much speculation and hyperbole. From an applications perspective, microtechnologies and nanotechnologies offer a particularly powerful combination for future Air Force missions and thus deserve careful consideration.
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies DEFINITION OF MICRO- AND NANOTECHNOLOGIES In undertaking this study, the committee decided not to put hard size limitations on micro- and nano- objects and technologies. It understands these concepts as relating roughly to scale but also as differing significantly in the importance of various underlying physical and chemical mechanisms. There is no hard line between micro and nano, but there are some clear differences in the way the science and technology communities approach these regimes. The concept of microtechnology has become somewhat familiar. One hundred million transistor computer chips are in our homes, and the public has a vague concept of the manufacturing processes, having seen many pictures of clean rooms and workers in “bunny suits.” Now, microtechnology is migrating from the electronics domain into a much broader range of technologies with the introduction of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) and biological applications such as micro-reaction arrays for drug discovery. A defining feature of the nanoscale is that the behavior of a material differs in fundamental ways from that observed at the macro- and the microscales. New physics and chemistry come into play. Dimensions, as well as composition and structure, impact material properties in nanoscale materials. At least two factors dominate this transition. The first is that nanometer dimensions approach characteristic (quantum) wave function scales of excitations in the material—electrons and holes, photons, spinwaves, and magnons, among others. The second is the very large surface-to-volume ratio of these structures, which means that no atom is very far from an interface and that interatomic forces and chemical bonds dominate. The large surface areas and unique interface and molecule–solid interactions at nanostructure surfaces are the basis of much of the enthusiasm driving research at the boundary between nano- and biotechnologies. The information stored in the genome and the exquisite selectivity of biochemical interactions based on chemical recognition and matching are examples of nanoscale properties where interfacial forces play a determining role. Nanotechnology is likely to require an approach to fabrication fundamentally different from that of microtechnology. Whereas microscale structures are typically formed by top-down techniques such as patterning, deposition, and etching, the practical formation of structures at nanoscale dimensions will probably involve an additional component, bottom-up assembly. Self-assembly, a process whereby structures are built up from atomic or molecular-scale units into larger and increasingly complex structures, is widely used by biological systems. As our capabilities expand, some combination of top-down (lithographic) and bottom-up (including self-assembly) techniques probably will be employed for the efficient manufacturing of nanoscale systems. One last word on definition: Not all things “nano” adhere to the usual nanometer dimensional scale, nanosatellites being a notable example. Nanosatellites have overall dimensions of many centimeters—and the name evolved out of the
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies need for a word to designate systems that are significantly smaller, in a revolutionary way, from today’s large satellite systems. However, even here the underlying capabilities for developing nanosatellites are provided by advances in micro- and nanotechnologies. OVERARCHING THEMES EMERGING FROM MICRO- AND NANOTECHNOLOGIES Four overarching themes emerged from the committee’s study of micro- and nanotechnologies: increased information capabilities miniaturization of systems new materials resulting from new science at these scales, and increased functionality and autonomy. These themes are a natural consequence of the advances in micro- and nanotechnologies resulting from scaling to small size. The new capabilities these advances provide will have far-reaching consequences for Air Force missions. Increased Information Capabilities The committee foresees a continued scaling of microelectronic, magnetic, and optical devices to smaller size and higher densities. The result will be the ability to store, process, and communicate an ever-increasing amount of information at ever-higher speeds. The current rapid increase in the ability to handle information, enshrined in Moore’s law—the exponential increase in computing power—will continue at least for the next decade. The integrated effects of the continued doubling of computing power every 18 months and the even more rapid increase in information transmission rate and storage density will lead to an increase of at least two orders of magnitude in the amount of information that can be gathered and processed. Today’s smart weapons will seem “mentally challenged” by the next decade. Understanding how to utilize all of this computational capability and information availability will be a significant challenge. Beyond this relatively near-term trend, the committee anticipates that emerging nanotechnologies will enable even more revolutionary long-term changes in how we obtain and use information. Exploiting these revolutionary changes will be an important and challenging task for the Air Force. Miniaturization The reduction in the size of systems, from computers to cell phones, is a continuing trend for electronic systems. The significance of this miniaturization
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies goes well beyond just the smaller size and reduced weight. Batch fabrication has been a key driver in the miniaturization of microelectronics, enabling reduced cost and increased reliability and robustness through the parallel manufacturing of many integrated components. Another significant aspect is the combination of components and subsystems into fewer and fewer chips, enabling increased functionality in ever-smaller packages. These trends are evolving to include MEMS and other technologies for sensors and actuators, making it possible to miniaturize entire systems and platforms. The combination of reduced size, reduced weight, increased robustness, and reduced cost-per-unit-function has significant implications for Air Force missions, from global reach to situational awareness. Examples may include the rapid, low-cost global deployment of sensors, launch-on-demand tactical satellites, distributed sensor networks, and affordable and highly capable unmanned air vehicles. New Engineered Materials Advances in micro- and nanofabrication technologies are enabling the engineering of materials down to the atomic level. While design and fabrication capabilities are still primitive from an applications perspective, there is great potential for improving the properties and functionality of materials. Examples of recent advances in materials range from carbon nanotubes with great strength and novel electronic properties, to quantum dot communication lasers, to giant magnetoresistive materials for high-density magnetic memories. Theory and simulation will play an increasingly important role in guiding the development of new nanostructured materials and of systems based on such materials. By combining materials at the micro- and nanoscales to form smart composite structures, additional increases in functionality can be achieved. New materials are an underlying enabling capability. They will be used to expand the performance of electronics, sensors, communications systems, avionics, air and space frames, and propulsion systems. Theory and modeling of materials are advancing significantly, as is our understanding of the relationships between composition and structure across many spatial scales and the resulting material properties. Over time, these advances may reduce the long lead time for developing new materials, as well as help in the design of new, more functional materials for Air Force systems. Increased Functionality and Autonomy Advances in information density, miniaturization, and materials will enable a degree of autonomous operation for intelligent systems that cannot be fully envisioned today. Enhanced functionality and increasing autonomy, based on micro- and nanotechnologies, will have many system benefits: lower risk for humans; higher-performance systems; lower-cost platforms; and reduced com-
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies munication requirements, with a correspondingly lower probability of detection. Initially, autonomy will be seen simply as an evolutionary extension of the capabilities of current systems, such as cruise missiles or unmanned combat air vehicles, providing increased accuracy and range or other performance advantages. Over the longer term, however, the dramatic increases in local information awareness and computational power will enable independent decision making and will have a dramatic impact on the conduct of warfare. Systems may also be able to power, self-repair, and reconfigure themselves to extend and expand the scope of their mission. The lowered cost and increased functionality will lead to swarms of intelligent agents, with emergent behavior that differs from that of any single entity. Integrating these advances into the Air Force concept of operations will be challenging and will raise important global political and societal issues, such as the acceptable bounds of future warfare, including specifying the roles of autonomous decision-making machines in war fighting. DIRECTIONS OF FUTURE MICRO- AND NANOTECHNOLOGIES Ambitious research programs are under way in all aspects of micro- and nanotechnologies. The communities involved have looked to the future and articulated their visions of progress and the capabilities that will be useful benchmarks for the Air Force in planning its research and development programs. Three recent compilations are the International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors (ITRS),1 the MEMS Industry Group 2001 Annual Report,2 and the implementation plan for the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).3 The ITRS provides a very detailed assessment of what it will take to remain on the Moore’s law scaling curve for the dominant electronics technology, complementary metal oxide semiconductor (CMOS) technology, and what the roadblocks will be to achieving this scaling. No clear path is seen for extending CMOS technology beyond the roadmap horizon of 2016, when the projected devices will be well into the nanometer region, with physical gate lengths of only 9 nm. Indeed, a transition to an alternative technology may be needed before 2016 because of physical limitations such as the onset of quantum and interface effects and cost limitations related to the increasing difficulty of scaling the current top-down manufacturing paradigm. On the other hand, these same nanoscale phenomena offer the opportunity of developing whole new classes of devices relying on the principles of quantum physics that may provide the basis for future information processing. However, systems based on these new principles might function in a much different manner from current computing systems. The 2001 Annual Report of the MEMS Industry Group discussed key drivers and challenges expected in MEMS for the next 20 years. The growth of MEMS technology will be driven by optical and wireless networks as well as needs in health care and biotechnology, among other areas. A number of technology bar-
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies riers related to the transition of MEMS from one-off laboratory demonstrations to a low-cost, robust, manufacturing-based industry must be overcome: the development of MEMS fabrication equipment, standardized MEMS foundry processes, MEMS-specific packaging technologies, and enhanced integration with electronics. The research community has gained a much greater appreciation for the degree to which control of the structure of matter on the nanoscale can determine the macroscopic properties of materials. Furthermore, there have been remarkable advances in the ability to manipulate matter at the atomic and molecular levels. This has led to a dramatic increase in U.S. government funding for nanotechnology research, estimated at $600 million in FY 2002. The rest of the world is spending apace, with the total annual investment of governments around the world in nanotechnology research now estimated at over $1.6 billion. The NNI set forth eight grand challenges that provide perspective on the directions and implications of this investment: nanoelectronics, optoelectronics and magnetics; advanced health care, therapeutics, and diagnostics; nanoscale processes for environmental improvement; efficient energy conversion and storage; microcraft space exploration and industrialization; bio-nanosensor devices for reduction of communicable diseases and biological threats; economical and safe transportation; and national security. The important message for the Air Force is that extensive efforts are under way worldwide in micro- and nanotechnologies. It will therefore be essential to be selective in investing the relatively small Air Force research and development resources and to couple them effectively to the results of the many extramural efforts. MAJOR AREAS OF OPPORTUNITY The committee developed a taxonomy to codify the many micro- and nanotechnology opportunities and to assess their relative importance to the Air Force and the appropriate levels and kinds of efforts the Air Force should undertake. A very high level description of this taxonomy is presented in Table ES-1. A more detailed version that also serves as a guide to the body of the report is presented as Table ES-2. ENABLING MANUFACTURING TECHNOLOGIES The microelectronics, computer, and information revolutions can trace their success to several technological roots. The monolithic integration of transistors into functional blocks—which are further integrated to form microprocessors, memories, and other integrated circuits—is among the main reasons for the ever-increasing functionality. Mass production of integrated circuits by batch fabrication with high yields has led to both the declining costs per function and the
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies TABLE ES-1 Recommended Air Force Roles in Micro- and Nanotechnology Research Topic Air Force (AF) Takes the Lead Air Force Participates Information technology (computing, storage, communications, software) Radiation-hard electronics, mission software concepts, AF-specific communications Selected areas Sensors and sensor systems Electromagnetic; hyper- and multispectral Multimodal, distributed, inertial Biologically inspired materials and systems Selected areas Structural materials AF-specific areas (e.g., low observability) Micro- and nanostructures Aerodynamics, propulsion, and power Microsystems for aerodynamic sensing and control Micropropulsion and propellants, energetics Directed (lithographic) manufacturing Selected areas Self-assembly manufacturing Selected areas Component assembly Selected areas Packaging For AF-specific needs Reliability AF-specific areas (e.g., space) NOTE: Where Air Force requirements far outpace academic/other government/commercial sector requirements, a lead role is recommended. Where there will be substantial academic and commercial sector developments, participation is recommended to leverage those developments and to apply the necessary Air Force-specific overlay. More detail on selected areas is provided in Table ES-2 and in the body of the report. remarkable reliability of integrated circuits. A great triumph of microelectronics has been the high-yield manufacturing of reliable 100-million-part assemblies at an affordable cost. The possibility with nanotechnology is reliability of even more complex assemblages, and the commensurate challenge is the integration of an ever-widening array of materials and functionalities. A very significant problem for the Air Force is the transitioning of scientific and technological developments across the very wide gap between the laboratory and the field. An example is the digital micromirror device that powers today’s
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies TABLE ES-2 Taxonomy of Micro- and Nanotechnology Research Areas and Their Relevance to the Air Force Development Area Micro- and Nanotechnology Information technology Electronics—hardware Scaled CMOS Single-electron transistors Spin-based electronics Molecular electronics Carbon nanotube electronics Quantum interference devices Vacuum microelectronics Space electronics Computing—architectures Cellular automata Quantum computing Artificial brains with natural intelligence Digital storage Magnetic storage, hard disks Magnetic storage, MRAM Nanoindent storage Molecular memory Communication Secure communications (quantum encryption) Optical devices (e.g., semiconductor lasers) Electronic confinement—quantum wells, wires, and dots in III-V materials Optical confinement—fibers, waveguides, and photonic crystals MOEMS optical switches MEMS RF switches Bioinspired Information processing Data fusion Distributed and autonomous systems Software and codesign Sensors Distributed sensors and swarms emergent behavior Electromagnetic sensors, UV to RF Hyper- and multispectral sensing Navigational sensors (MEMS) Magnetic field sensors Chemical/biological threat detection System-status sensing Bioinspired materials and systems Sensors Materials Computing, communications, and information processing Enhanced human performance
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies Air Force Investment Priority Market Driver Time Frame Product Status L M H C Mix Mil N M L R D M X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies Development Area Micro- and Nanotechnology Structural materials Lightweight/high-strength materials Nanoscale grain size Composite/designer materials Improved coatings Friction and wear reduction Low maintenance Multifunctional structures Incorporating active elements—actuators Self-healing structures Low-observability structures Materials for MEMS/NEMS Low adhesion and reliability Aerodynamics, propulsion, and power Flight vehicle aerodynamics MEMS actuators on airfoil Air-breathing propulsion and power MEMS flow controls Distributed sensing and actuation for control of turbine instabilities MEMS-based propulsion MEMS-based power sources Launch vehicle propulsion Nanocoatings for fuel components Nanopowder aluminum propellants MEMS liquid rocket engines Spacecraft propulsion Micro thrusters Digital thrusters Field-ionization electric propulsion Tether electric propulsion Space power Semiconductor solar cells Nanostructured battery materials Enabling manufacturing technologies Fabrication EUV lithography Optical lithography Nanoimprint lithography Self-assembly Assembly Micro- and nano pick and place Bioinspired Packaging Micro-and nanosystems Embedded devices Reliability Mixed material systems Commercialization Foundries NOTE: The recommended Air Force investment priorities are classified as low (L), medium (M), and high (H). The market driver refers to the principal impetus for product development—the commercial sector (C); mixed (mix), leveraging the commercial sector with military-specific requirements; or the military (mil). The time frame in which the technology is likely to be ready for Air Force applications is given as near term (N, 0–10 years), medium term (M, 10–20 years), and long term (L, 20–50 years). Product status refers to the stage of industrial development: research (R), development (D), or manufacturing (M). Technologies are presented in the order of their appearance in the body of the report.
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies Air Force Investment Priority Market Driver Time Frame Product Status L M H C Mix Mil N M L R D M X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies ubiquitous digital projectors. The companies involved in the development of this technology had to invest many resources, and about 20 years, to take this device from the laboratory bench to the movie theatre. This serves to underscore the difficulty of the task—and the need to leverage all of the available resources, both within and outside of the Air Force, to make the transition. AIR FORCE MICRO- AND NANOTECHNOLOGY PROGRAMS AND OPPORTUNITIES The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) is making a focused investment in micro- and nanotechnologies. There is a planning process under way, at the level of the AFRL Chief Technologist, to collect the existing programs of micro-and nanotechnology research within AFRL and turn them into a coordinated plan. However, this is a task made more difficult by declining budgets. For example, science and technology (S&T) (6.1-6.3) funding within the Air Force has decreased both in absolute terms and relative to the other Department of Defense (DoD) Services. Over the period 1989-2000, Air Force S&T funding decreased by almost 50 percent, from $2.7 billion in 1989 to $1.4 billion in 2000, in constant-year dollars. Over the same period, the Army and the Navy S&T budgets increased by 13 percent and 40 percent, respectively. Of significant concern is the 6.1 basic research budget, which focuses on long-range research. From 1989 to 2000, the Air Force investment in basic research declined by $39 million in real terms, a decrease of 15 percent. The declining Air Force S&T budget poses several significant challenges: first, which of the many nanotechnologies to support with a limited budget, and how; second, how to leverage extramural nanotechnology developments; and third, as these micro- and nanotechnologies approach maturity, how to transition them into hardware and operational systems. These challenges are made more difficult by the increasing dominance of the commercial sector in product and manufacturing directions, sometimes with requirements very different from those of the military. It will be too expensive for the military to maintain a parallel manufacturing effort across the entire spectrum of micro- and nanotechnology, so it will have to adopt as much as possible from the commercial sector, applying its own overlay and integration and only selectively developing military-specific products. Meeting these challenges will require a sustained effort by the Air Force. It will require leadership at the general officer level as well as at the highest levels of AFRL. It will require a cadre of AFRL staff who are full-fledged members of the broader micro- and nanoscience research community. It will require stronger ties to academia and other research efforts. It will require focused efforts, benchmarked against the best in the world, both in basic research and in multidisciplinary subsystems demonstrations that force participants to cross-fertilize each other’s thinking and address real-world problems.
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies AIR FORCE PLATFORM OPPORTUNITIES IN MICRO-AND NANOTECHNOLOGIES The committee found that advances in micro- and nanotechnologies will be relevant to all six of the core competencies within the Air Force strategic plan: aerospace superiority, information superiority, global attack, precision engagement, rapid global mobility, and agile combat support. Some potential systems consequences, organized around Air Force platforms, are highlighted in Table ES-3. This table ties together the core competencies, the systems applications, and the technology advances. Pursuit of any of these specific systems opportunities requires detailed considerations well beyond the scope of the present study. FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS The committee offers a number of critically important, broadly applicable findings and recommendations, which are presented below. Findings and recommendations related to technological developments in micro- and nanotechnologies are listed first (T), followed by policy recommendations (P). Findings and recommendations are presented in a logical flow. The numbering does not represent a rank ordering but simply serves to identify the findings and recommendations. In addition, a number of more specific findings and recommendations were developed that are listed in the body of the report and collectively in Chapter 7. Technology Findings and Recommendations Four overarching themes emerged from the committee’s study of the implications of emerging micro- and nanotechnologies: increased information capabilities, miniaturization of systems, new materials resulting from new science at these scales, and increased functionality and autonomy (T8). The following findings and recommendations attempt to capture the essence of these themes with some specificity. The increased information capabilities flow from near-term continuation of the scaling of silicon electronics (T1) and from new and alternative concepts arising from nanotechnology research (T2). Biological science, both as inspiration (biomimetics) and as a functional contributor, offers new opportunities (T3) that build on and complement traditional sensing, computing, and communications approaches. Increased information capabilities and miniaturization together will make possible large distributed arrays of sensors (sensor swarms) on combinations of fixed and movable platforms. These array systems will exhibit new or emergent properties significantly different from those of individual components and will allow increasingly autonomous operation of Air Force systems (T4). Harnessing the capabilities of microelectromechanical systems to propulsion and aerodynamics will allow the miniaturization of air and space platforms (T5). Maximizing the utility of these increased capabilities in
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies TABLE ES-3 Selected Mission and Platform Opportunity Areas Science and Technology Area Air Force Critical Future Capability System Type Information Technology Sensors Bioinspired Materials and Systems Structural Materials Aerodynamics, Propulsion, and Power Selected Mission and Platform Opportunities Time Scalea Aerospace Superiority Information Superiority Global Attack Precision Engagement Rapid Global Mobility Agile Combat Support Space vehicles and systems X X X X X Distributed satellite. Self-sustaining nano-satellite arrays/swarms to monitor, report status, and take action M-L X X X X X X X X X X Integrated spacecraft. Highly integrated, reprogrammable, reconfigurable systems M X X X X X X X Micro launch vehicles. Low-cost, launch-on-demand tactical space systems M-L X X X X X
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies Weapon systems X X X X Miniaturized ballistic missiles. Rapid global-reach system enabled by microtechnologies M X X X X X X X X X UAV-launched ABM boost-phase interceptors. Micro- and nano-enabled small missile interceptors M X X X X X X X Air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons. Missiles and bombs with significantly reduced weight, size, and cost through miniaturization with better performance M X X X X Air vehicles and systems X X X X X Micro air vehicles. Low-cost, ubiquitous, autonomous surveillance and reconnaissance systems and microdecoys; cooperative behavior of swarms of vehicles N-M-L X X X X X X X X X X MEMS-based active aerodynamic flight control. Microsensing and control of air flow combined with new materials for enhanced flight efficiency M-L X X X X NOTE: Also indicated is their relation to micro- and nanotechnology S&T areas, as discussed in Chapter 3, and to Air Force–defined critical future capabilities. aN, near term; M, medium term; L, long term.
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies information technology, biomimetics, individual sensors and sensor swarms, and MEMS actuators for the Air Force will demand specific attention to system design, architecture, and software for system implementation (T6). Because of the wide range of new capabilities being enabled, the trend toward merging heterogeneous materials systems and toward expanding the range of materials in micro- and nanoscale devices and systems is inexorable (T7). Finding T1. Further miniaturization of digital electronics with increased density (~128×) is projected by the integrated circuit industry over the next 15 years based on continued scaling of current technology. Recommendation T1. The Air Force should position itself to take advantage of the advances predicted by the Information Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors. Finding T2. In anticipation of an ultimate end to the historical scaling of today’s integrated circuit technology, many new and alternative concepts involving nanometer-dimensioned structures are being examined. Recommendation T2. Exploration of the scientific frontiers involving new procedures for fabrication at nanodimensions and new nanoscale materials, properties, and phenomena should be supported. The Air Force should track, assimilate, and exploit the basic ideas emerging from the research community and continue to support both intra- and extramural activities. Finding T3. Biological science offers new opportunities in nanotechnology systems, especially for sensors, materials, communications, computing, intelligent systems, human performance, and self-reliance. Recommendation T3. The Air Force should closely monitor the biological sciences for new discoveries and selectively invest in those that show a potential for making revolutionary advances or realizing new capabilities in Air Force-specific areas. Finding T4. Large, distributed fixed arrays and moving swarms of multispectral, multifunctional sensors will be made possible by emerging micro-and nanotechnology, and these will lead to significant fundamental changes in sensing architectures. Recommendation T4. The Air Force should develop balanced research strategies for not only the hardware but also the requisite software and software architectures for fixed arrays and moving swarms of multispectral, multifunctional sensors.
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies Finding T5. Emerging microtechnology offers new opportunities in propulsion and aerodynamic control, in particular in (1) distributed sensors and actuators on both macro-aerodynamic surfaces and macro-aeropropulsion units and (2) new, scalable, miniaturized and distributed aero- and space-propulsion systems. Recommendation T5. The Air Force should move decisively to develop new research and development programs to bring microtechnology to both macro- and microscale propulsion and aerodynamic control systems. Finding T6. The Air Force strategic nanotechnology R&D plan, as presented to the committee, is focused on hardware concepts without appropriate consideration of total systems solutions. Recommendation T6. The Air Force should take seriously the importance of co-system design as a critical implication of continued miniaturization and should invest in the algorithm, architecture, and software R&D that will enable the codesign of hardware and software systems. This should be undertaken along with a projection of the advances that will be made in hardware. Finding T7. Integration of micro- and nanoscale processes and of different material systems will be broadly important for materials, devices, and packaging. Self-assembly and directed assembly of dissimilar elements will be necessary to maximize the functionality of many micro- and nanoscale structures, devices, and systems. Achievement of high yields and long-term reliability, comparable to those of the current integrated circuit industry, will be a major challenge. Recommendation T7. The Air Force should monitor progress in self- and directed-assembly research and selectively invest its R&D resources. It will be critical for the Air Force to participate in developing manufacturing processes that result in reliable systems in technology areas where the military is the dominant customer—for example, in sensors and propulsion systems. Finding T8. Four overarching themes emerge from the advance of micro-and nanotechnologies—increased information capabilities, miniaturization, new engineered materials, and increased functionality/autonomy. These themes could have a significant military impact by enabling new systems approaches to Air Force missions. Recommendation T8. The Air Force should continue to examine new systems opportunities that may emerge from the successful development of
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies micro- and nanotechnologies and use these studies to help focus its applied research and development investments in these technologies. Policy Findings and Recommendations The Air Force critically depends on advanced technology to accomplish its missions. In order to maintain the U.S. competitive technology advantage over the long term, the Air Force must maintain a stable, robust, and effective research, development, testing, and evaluation (RDT&E) program. The Air Force is currently underinvesting in this critical area and has not maintained the stability necessary for sustained progress, thereby shortchanging its future and that of the nation (P1). An important new development is that the commercial sector now overshadows the military market. This means that product development is driven by commercial, not military, requirements. The DoD cannot, however, rely solely on commercial R&D and products to satisfy its needs (P2). Micro- and nanotechnologies are going to play a major role in future Air Force systems, as detailed in the technical sections of this report (the basis for findings and recommendations T1-T8 above). The Air Force Research Laboratory has initiated a planning process to enhance its effectiveness in this all-important area (P3), but more needs to be done to strengthen the Air Force’s internal programs and to ensure that they assimilate and leverage the results of the very extensive programs under way throughout the worldwide scientific community (P4). Finding P1. Both overall DoD and—even more—Air Force policies have de-emphasized R&D spending to the detriment of DoD and Air Force long-term needs. The Air Force relies heavily on the technological sophistication of its platforms, systems, and weapons. Its ability to meet its long-term objectives is critically dependent on a strong and continuing commitment to R&D. Recommendation P1. The Air Force must significantly increase its R&D funding levels if it is to have a meaningful role in the development of micro-and nanotechnology and if it is to be effective in harnessing these technologies for future Air Force systems. Finding P2. The military market for many micro- and nanotechnologies (e.g., advanced computing, communications, and sensing) is small in comparison with commercial markets. Yet, the Air Force and DoD have mission-specific requirements not satisfied by the commercial market. Military-specific applications will not be supported by industry without government and Air Force investment, particularly for basic research.
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Implications of Emerging Micro- and Nanotechnologies Recommendation P2. The Air Force should concentrate its efforts in micro-and nanotechnology on basic research at the front end and on Air Force-specific applications at the back end. Finding P3. The Air Force has recognized the importance of micro- and nanotechnologies for its future capabilities and has begun a planning process to maximize the benefits of its in-house and extramural research programs. Strong leadership will be necessary to ensure maximum benefit from the Air Force Research Laboratory research programs. Recommendation P3. It will be critical to continue the planning for micro-and nanotechnologies at the highest levels of the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL). AFRL should also strengthen its external review processes to assist the leadership and to ensure that its work is well coordinated with national efforts. The Air Force should coordinate its initiatives with other federal agencies and work to build collaborative programs where appropriate. Finding P4. The committee perceived a lack of consistency in the quality of current in-house Air Force programs and in the benchmarking of those programs against the large number of programs under way throughout the world. Recommendation P4. Considering that micro- and nanotechnology is a new and rapidly emerging interdisciplinary field, the Air Force should critically evaluate its efforts in micro- and nanotechnology to select areas of strong potential payoff for Air Force missions and to sustain the highest-quality program. REFERENCES 1. International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors. 2001. Available online at <http://public.itrs.net/> [July 1, 2002]. 2. MEMS Industry Group. 2001. 2001 Annual Report. Available online at <http://www.memsindustrygroup.org/arord01.htm> [July 2, 2002]. 3. National Science and Technology Council. 2000. National Technology Initiative: The Initiative and Its Implementation Plan. Available online at <http://www.nano.gov/nni2.pdf> [July 2, 2002].
Representative terms from entire chapter: