In July 2010, NSTC (National Scientific and Technology Council) published final draft of “Sustainable Nanomanufacturing” strategy. It is six page long, but here I will give summary of the summary so to speak.

Decade long research under National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) resulted in demonstration of different nanomaterials, and few nanoproducts. But this research was done in order to create systems products consisting of billions of nanocomponents.

Long term vision for nanomanufacturing is to create flexible, “bottom-up” or “top-down/bottom-up” continuous assembly methods that can be used to construct elaborate systems of complex nanodevices.

NSTC identified two thrusts:

Thrust 1: Design of scalable and sustainable nanomaterials, components, devices and processes

Future goals related to this thrust:

In 2 years establish industry/academic/government consortia.

In 4 years demonstrate material systems and processes for nanomanufacturing that are scalable, sustainable, efficient and safe.

In 8 years with industrial partners identification of such materials and processes appropriate for production, followed by technology transfer and/or technology adoption by US manufacturers.

Thrust 2: Nanomanufacturing measurement technologies

Future goals related to this thrust:

In 2 years establish industry/academic/government consortia.

In 4 years demonstration of a suite of generic measurement systems that are fast, robust, standardized/traceable, and operate in real-time/in-line.

In 8 years development and benchmarking of measurement systems and methodologies with industrial partners to allow transfer of measurement technology.

INFORMS 2010 was held in Austin, Texas between 7-10 November 2010. Like in 2009, I looked at nanotechnology related sessions, and made a list of OR people working in nanotechnology. Community got bigger this year.

Sunday (7 November 2010)

  • Paul Goethals, Byung Rae Cho The Application of Higher-order Polynomial Models to Nanoparticle Manufacturing
  • Richard WyskProduced in the U.S. using Nano Manufacturing
  • Elsayed ElsayedReliability Modeling and Prediction of Ultra-thin Diodes
  • Jianjun ShiIn-Situ Process Control for Nanopowder Scale-up Production
  • Satish BukkapatnamNSF Workshop on Sensing and Prognostics Issues in Nanomanufacturing
  • Binil StarlyModeling of Near Field Electrospinning Process using Response Surface Methodology
  • Igor LinkovValue for Information for Prioritizing Nano-related Research

Special nanotechnology sessions:

“Nanotechnology & Nanoinformatics I”

Chair: Qiang Huang, Co-Chair: Tirthankar Dasgupta

  • Chia-Jung ChangQuantitative Characterization and Modeling of Nanoparticle Dispersion in Polymer Composite
  • Lijuan Xu Modeling the Interaction Among Nanostructures for Local Morphology Control
  • Xu XuSequential Synthesis of Nanomaterials via Level Expansion
  • Chiwoo Park – A Statistical Method for Analyzing the Morphology of Nanoparticles


“Nanotechnology & Nanoinformatics II”

Chair: Qiang Huang, Co-Chair: Tirthankar Dasgupta

  • Xinwei DengA Statistical Approach to Modeling the Potential Data in Nanoquantification
  • Li Wang – Hierarchical Modeling of Weight Kinetics of Silica Nanowire Growth under Different Temperatures
  • Jye Chyi Lu – The Constrained Random Effect Models for Nanoparticle Synthesis
  • Tao Yuan – Nonparametric Bayesian Modeling of Hazard Rate with Change-point for Nanoelectronic Devices


Monday (8 November 2010)

“Quality and Reliability in Nano-scale Systems”

Chair: Abe Zaid, Co-Chair: Sagar Kamarthi

  • Marcus B. Perry – Statistical Characterization of Nanostructured Surfaces Created by Machining Processes
  • Wilkistar OtienoNonparametric CMOS Dielectric Failure Time Distribution Estimation Using Kernel Density Estimation M


Tuesday (9 November 2010)

  • Erhun Kundakçıoğlu – Support Vector Machines for Toxicological Evaluation of Nanoparticles
  • Claudia SchoonhovenFrom Science & Technology Creation to Emergence of Dedicated Nanotechnology Population 1970-2004

Special nanotechnology session

“Nanomanufacturing & Nanoinformatics III”

Chair: Qiang Huang

  • Sagar Kamarthi – Statistical and Experimental Design Methods for Quality Assurance in Carbon Nanotube Production
  • Satish BukkapatnamAtomistic Simulation-based prediction of carbon nanotube (CNT) growth in Microwave CVD process


Wednesday (10 November 2010)

  • Tyler Wry – To Build or Break Away? Exploring the Antecedents of Category Spanning Nanotechnology Innovation


All abstracts can be read at INFORMS 2010 conference website. Binil Starly’s paper is the most relevant one to my research. I will try to get more information about that paper.

What do you think will the situation be in 2011?

Electrospinning is a very easy method to produce nanofibers. All you need is a electric source, syringe, surface for collecting nanofibers. Using a pump you can feed the polymer you want to turn into fiber at a controllable rate. More than 200 polymers are proved to be suitable for electrospinning.

Here is a nice diagram from Wikipedia:

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Electrospinning_Diagram.jpg

Here are two good reviews of the subject:

Electrospinning of Nanofibers: Reinventing the Wheel?

A review on polymer nanofibers by electrospinning and their applications in nanocomposites

The problems of electrospinning

  • production rate is very low
  • we do not yet know full interactions of parameters. Most of the papers investigate the effect of only one parameter.
  • produced nanofibers are not uniform in terms of their diameter
  • formation of defected nanofibers with beads



  • type of polymer
  • the conformation of polymer chain
  • concentration of polymer
  • elasticity
  • electrical conductivity
  • polarity
  • surface tension of the solvent


  • strength of applied electrical field
  • distance between the needle and collector
  • feeding rate
  • humidity, temperature, air velocity of the environment
  • hydrostatic pressure
  • collector composition and geometry
  • needle tip design

IE/OR applications

Some research groups used Design of Experiments to identify parameters of production

Regeneration of Bombyx mori silk by electrospinning. Part 2. Process optimization and empirical modeling using response surface methodology

Effects of electrospinning parameters on polyacrylonitrile nanofiber diameter: An investigation by response surface methodology

If you are aware of other IE/OR applications to electrospinning, please share them in comments!

IIE Transactions will publish special issue on “Quality and Reliability Engineering and Manufacturing and Design” in Summer 2011. You can send your manuscripts about yield and process design, quality and reliability, sensing and prognostics, systems planning and control, and cost scale-up issues of nanomanufactuing until 30 June 2010.

Publishers look for innovative ideas for translating lab-scale nanomanufacturing to mass scale.

It is good that desire for OR applications in nanotechnology increases day by day.

More information can be found here.

Tao Yuan was the chair of Reliability and Statistics Related to Nanotechnology at INFORMS 2009 San Diego conference. Today I found out that Yuan is doing interdisciplinary research with Yue Kuo. NSF awarded them 206229 $, their project title is “Nonparametric Bayesian Modeling of Reliability of Nanoelectronics “. Research has both theoretical and experimental sides. Quoting from NSF website:

Upon the successful completion of this project, new methods and tools that are critical to design and manufacture reliable nanoelectronic products will be developed. This will be the first systematic study in modeling and predicting reliability of nano products based on experimental data and nonparametric Bayesian methods which offer great flexibility and capability to address challenges in real products influencing yield and cost.

Tao Yuan previously did research on applying bayesian  analysis for determining defect rates in electronic devices.  Here is a related article. Now he will use his expertise in nanoelectronics.

Note: I will update this post, as Yuan publishes new articles.

Warning: This post is not related to main topic of this blog “OR for nanotechnology”, but I decided to publish this interview in this blog, because I do not have any other English blog and do not plan to start one.

This interview was done over email. I thank Andrew Maynard for devoting his time to answering my questions. I recommend you to follow his blog 2020Science and also you can find him on Twitter.

1 – Can you please introduce yourself?
My name is Andrew Maynard. I’m the Chief Science Advisor to the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington DC.  This is a project that was set up in 2005 to help governments, businesses, consumers and others identify and overcome hurdles to developing nanotechnologies safely and responsibly.  I’m a physicist by training – I got my Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in the UK in 1993.  Most of my research career has been as a scientist in the field of occupational health and aerosol exposure though.  For the past few years, I have been increasingly involved in science communication and policy – especially when it comes to emerging technologies like nanotechnology.

2 – How did you learn about nanotechnology?
I think the first time I heard the word “nanotechnology” and it registered with me was probably towards the end of the 1990’s.  Ten years earlier, I was working on developing new techniques to analyze nanometer-scale airborne particles, but at the time people weren’t using the term “nanotech” widely.  Around 1995, I became aware of new research indicating that nanometer scale particles could present an unusual health risk if inhaled.  This led to me becoming increasingly interested in research in this area.  In 1999 I was an author on an internal report at the Health and Safety Laboratory in the UK on the research challenges associated with workplace exposure to what were then called ultrafine particles.  This report included a chapter on nanotechnology, and its potential to lead to people being exposed to new materials with uncertain risks.  At the time, nanotechnology was an emerging field, but even then it was possible to see its potential for stimulating great change, as well as raising substantial challenges.

3 – How your views on “responsible development” of nanotechnologies changed over years? Do you think it is possible?
To be honest, I think my views on responsible nanotechnologies are constantly evolving.  This isn’t surprising, as this is still a relatively new area, and new information and ideas are constantly appearing.  I have long-held the view that any technology should be developed in a way that is mindful of the potential long and short-term impacts to people and the environment, and that social good is a more important factor in assessing technology innovation than profit.  But how you ensure that an emerging technology like nanotechnology follows a responsible development trajectory is another matter.  I thing we are still learning what the hurdles to the technology’s responsible development are, and how best to overcome them.  That said, one hurdle that I am beginning to think we have created for ourselves is the term “nanotechnology” itself.  As an increasingly diverse range of products are developed that rely on engineering at the nanoscale, the important questions that underpin responsible development will depend on the specific nature of these individual products and product groups.  Framing responsible development in terms of nanotechnology rather than the specific technologies that are emerging runs the risk of leading to the wrong questions being asked, and the wrong answers being found.

4 – What do you expect from nanotechnology? Which problems will be solved, which ones will not?
That’s a tough one.  If you think instead of nanoscience – our greater understanding of how the world works at the nanoscale and how to take advantage of that – I think that our increasing ability to work at the nanoscale will have a profound impact on our lives.  Where existing technologies have been limited by our ability to ensure a precise structure at the atomic and molecular level, nanoscience will help us to make things work better.  In this respect, it is hard to think of any existing technology that couldn’t benefit in some way from advances in nanoscience – nanoscience adds value to products and processes.  At the same time, advances in nanoscience are allowing us to do things we have never been able to do before – create smart drugs, develop new platforms for computing, engineer multifunctional materials…

These two strands of adding value to existing technologies and generating brand new technologies will undoubtedly expand the tools at our disposal for tackling major issues like food production, water purification, disease treatment, energy generation, storage and supply.  But the important thing here is not to pin our hopes on nanoscience and nanotechnology.  These are important tools.  But they are part of a much larger toolbox when it comes to addressing challenges – and in some cases, there will be better tools for the job.

5 – What do you think about USA’s national nanotechnology strategy? What else should be done? What are the deficiencies of the system?
That’s a big question, and I’m not sure how completely I can answer it in just a few words.  The US National Nanotechnology Initiative has been incredibly influential in stimulating new science and the development of new technologies.   I think it is fair to say that the initiative – and the strategy that underpins it – has changed the world.  But could it be better? Yes.  Three areas in particular I would highlight where I think there is room for improvement:

Understanding the broader social, economic and policy implications of actions.  The US is an influential country.  When it acts, people respond.  So while the US nanotechnology initiative may have been focused on science and technology initially, it has sent ripples through social, economic and policy communities around the world.  However, I’m not sure the leaders of the initiative in the US have fully understood the global impacts of their actions, or the responsibility that comes with such “power.” For instance, we now see economies around the world diverting funding into nanotechnology because the US took the lead, and they don’t want to be left out.  I wonder in how many cases these changes in investment were driven by an assumption that the US knew best, rather than responding to their own needs.  Likewise, the US focus on nanotechnology has led to many broader social and safety questions that have not been addressed well.

Marketing.  The US nanotechnology strategy has raised expectations for the technology that haven’t been met – in part because the time it takes to develop new technologies is usually rather longer than just a few years.  As a result, there is a danger that researchers, investors and consumers will become disenfranchised with the technology before it has had a chance to reach its full potential.

Then there is the issue of human and environmental safety.  To be sure, the US government and other governments and businesses around the world have done an amazing job of attempting to address possible risks before they arise.  But the question remains – have they done enough.  Last year’s National Academies of Science review of the US environmental, health and safety impacts research strategy indicated more is needed if nanotechnologies are to be developed responsibly.

6 – Various research results tell us that most of the US population (I am sure the same situation is present also in other countries) does not know much about nanotechnology. Will this be a problem?
I’m not sure it will, but I’m not an expert here.  It’s true that awareness of nanotechnology remains low.  But then awareness of many things remains low.  The more important question is whether people will have the information the need – in a form that is useful – to make informed decisions about nanotechnologies as and when the reed arises.

7 – Will nanotechnology have similar fate as genetically modified organisms, nuclear energy?
I don’t think it will, for the simple reason that nanotechnology is a buzz word for a really broad group of very different technologies, rather than being a specific technology.  That said, we may find that specific uses of nanotechnology – in foods say – may have a harder time being developed and used in products than others (like nano-electronics).

8 – Who do you think will be “true winners” of nanotechnology era?
If we get it right, all of us.  There is an increased move towards technology development through partnership – meaning that the people who stand to benefit from innovation (people like me and you) become part of the equation.  We’re not there yet, but we are getting closer.  And if this trend continues, I can see an increasing likelihood of nanoscience being used to solve challenges that improve the quality of life for millions, if not billions, of people.

9 – What will be the “3rd Industrial Revolution”? 🙂 (We’ve got bored from nanotechnology, it will be everywhere in 10-15 years, so we should find new topic to talk about)
Ha ha.  I was tempted to say synthetic biology, but I actually think we’re entering an era where technology innovation is so interconnected and fast that the revolutionary change will come in how we combine different areas of expertise – some would call it convergence.  I also suspect that we will only be able to define this “third industrial revolution” with hindsight – being in the midst of it will be like being in a cloud – you can only see it when you come out the other side.

10 – Do you want to add something? Thank you for the interview.
Only that we live in incredibly exciting times, that our technological ability over the few years will outstrip anything we have been able to do in the past, and that despite this, we mustn’t fall into the trap of becoming so infatuated with the technology of the day that we miss the obvious solutions to pressing challenges.

I could not blog in the past four weeks, because of my finals and senior project. Now the semester has ended, I am at home and at last can do some research and share it on my blog.

Zeynep Ok, one of the researchers who presented a paper about nanotechnology in INFORMS 2009, sent me a link of a journal published in 2008. It was an issue of Journal of Industrial Ecology, focusing on environmental effects of nanomaterials.

One of the most important problems of nanotechnology is to ensure that it will result in a safe products, processes for human and environment. There are at least 1000 products in the market, and the sad thing is that we do not know what they will cause. There are many initiatives that are working on nanotoxicology, but the situation did not changed in the past years. Andrew Maynard discussed England case.

Why should we pay special attention to nanomaterials? Since nanomaterials are really small, when they enter the human body they can pass through any opening, they can even pass blood-brain barrier.

What makes it difficult to identify toxic effects of nanomaterials? Well it is the same property that makes nanotechnology so interesting. Physical and chemical properties of nanomaterials drastically change with their mass, neighboring atoms, purity, structure etc.

Trying all combinations of atom types and assessing their toxicology is not a feasible solution. Scientists are trying to find different methodologies and one of them is multiobjective decision analysis in OR.

I am now reading “Coupling Multicriteria Decision Analysis and Life Cycle Assessment for Nanomaterials“.

I will post the summary of the article in the coming days.