Nanotechnology : The Next Wave
Unlike previous technology waves, such as dotcoms, telecoms. Artificial intelligence and
Biotechnology, nanotechnology is a broad-based enabling technology that has the power to
change the technological and economic structure of an industry from” low tech” to “high tech”.
While there are various time tables for the arrival of nanotechnology driven products there can
be no doubt that they will come. The real challenge will be how to transition nanotechnology
into the mainstream technology economy of today. The core areas of nanotechnology are
diverse and cover many disciplines. Several key areas are: image processing, embedded
computing, FPGA / ASIC development. Modeling and molecular sciences. It should be no
surprise that the imaging of materials from all types of microscopes would be key components
of any nanotechnology effort. Currently nanotechnology is touching a variety of vertical markets
in a profound way. One close in market getting funding is the defense areas showing high
payback in reduced size, weight and increased strength /performance. The most recent
numbers show 238 million pumped in research efforts in the last year alone. Nanotechnology
will greatly increase the survivability of soldiers and equipment. It will provide communication
within units and allow a soldier to become a tightly integrated asset. Other markets seeing
shifts toward nanotechnology / MEMS are Automotive,
Aerospace and advanced high speed computing. If you make or use sensors, your business
will likely feel the impact of current and future developments in nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology enables us to create functional materials, devices, and systems by controlling
matter at the atomic and molecular scales, and to exploit novel properties and phenomena.
Consider that most chemical and biological sensors, as well as many physical sensors, depend
on interactions occurring at these levels and you’ll get an idea of the effect nanotechnology will
have on the sensor world.
Program Efforts I Participated In
Here is a review of some of the Nanotechnology Projects I have been involved in and what
disciplines were utilized.
Los Alamos Labs Supported a major modeling of molecular structures effort by
designing a data collecting supercomputer environment that interfaced researchers by using
electron beam microscopes linked to imaging workstations that were back ended by Cray’s.
The effort was in collaboration with NSF and consisted of SEL (Scanning Electron
Microscopes) tied to Vicom Image Processing Workstations that were networked to a dedicated
Cray. I designed the front end imaging system, managed the program and taught several
classes on image processing. The project scope covered 750 K in material and support
KLA KLA makes instruments that inspect silicon wafers for flaws and
defects. These systems consist of image processing technology, embedded computing and
robotic handling. I closed this account as an OEM design win by supplying the image
management technology. This was a multi-year contract for 500 k per year.
Future Combat Vehicle Systems This program will utilize all aspects of nanotechnology
driven products including smaller sensors and power sources fueled by MEMS techniques.
Robotics utilizing artificial intelligence and net – centric structures having nanotechnology at
their foundations. I have written several BAA’s and SBIR’S to address nanotechnology applied
to this program area. I have designed a laboratory test bed for the original FCS core program
funded by DARPA . Currently active on teams leveraging UGV’s ( Unmanned Ground
Vehicles) into the existing force
Nanofactory Worked with this developer of TEL microscopes to incorporate
Backend DSP that would do the analysis and processing of data acquired from the probe. The
next phase of the project includes repackaging the system from two chassis to one
JPL Conducted several nanotechnology projects with leading NASA
Research lab in support of the Voyager and MARS Rover missions. Supported efforts in
study and composite development by creating image and analysis workstations that combined
artificial intelligence with new image processing algorithms in edge detection . The initial work
grew out of studies run by Honeywell Research Labs in Minneapolis where robot work cells
were designed to image and identify small parts placed in trays. A system was developed that
could identify and move small parts with the aid of an autonomous robot controlled remotely.
Lockheed Martin Developed several projects in support of composite inspection and
new lightweight material design. The efforts included an automatic bulkhead inspection
workstation a system for the manufacture of dense laminate structures and a new methodology
to design very dense IC’s. In these programs I performed systems engineering and design
functions as well as taught classes on image processing and analysis. I especially focused on
the areas of data acquisition and upfront image compression. Several of these system designs
moved from the laboratory to a deployed environment when they were packaged as portable
units. I drove the redesign efforts that productized technology for the end USAF customer.
General Motors Did systems engineering and managed project to develop several
new vehicle technologies. The efforts were in new materials for engines to reduce their weight
and an effort in door and hood composite material. The effort included automated material
handling , data acquisition , material inspection and assembly. Several mechanical packaging
issues were addressed through breakthrough techniques. This project effort was international
in scope and lead to several follow on contracts. The initial systems were deployed at multiple
Intel Led major effort to develop speech compression technology that would
be miniaturized for packaging into various consumer devices for visual and audio
telecommunications applications. This effort combined multiple disciplines including Real Time
Software packages , speech and video compression techniques and the test and evaluation of
multiple candidate materials. I conducted initial R & D and then managed one of several
business development teams based in multiple locations. We designed technology and
conducted ROI studies to determine market fit and roll out. Core technology resulted in being
advanced into the Intel web tablet and video phone.