The White House on Monday detailed a $1.76 billion program for 2011 and beyond, with additional funding, to reinvent industry with minuscule semiconductors, tiny medical implants and other nanoscale materials. The implications of the National Nanotechnology Initiative draft strategic plan for information technology range from threat-detection sensors for the Defense Department to ultradense memory for intelligence satellites.
Nanotechnology provides the intelligence community transformative and game-changing capabilities not achievable with conventional electronics, materials, or power technologies, and with greatly reduced size, weight and power, the proposed plan stated.
Officials now are inviting the public to submit feedback on the policy -- a rewrite of an interagency program that since 2001 has coordinated research and development in the field of nanotechnology, which is the practice of controlling matter at the atomic or molecular levels. The strategy directs agencies and the research community on how to allocate funding for study and development for at least the next three years.
Nanotechnology is expected to continue the ever increasing miniaturization of semiconductor processing and memory devices. The vision for nanoelectronics decades from now is being shaped by the National Science Foundation, Pentagon, National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the intelligence community.
A nanotechnology renaissance in IT should provide Defense with improved information processing systems for surveillance and provide the intel community with ultralow power for data centers and advanced radar systems, according to the draft roadmap.
"Continuing to shrink the dimensions of electronic devices is important in order to further increase processing speed, reduce device switching energy, increase system functionality, and reduce manufacturing cost per bit," the plan stated, but the dimensions of critical electronic parts that approach atomic size can "degrade and ultimately prohibit the operations of conventional devices."
To overcome the physical limitations, researchers are investigating the use of 3-D spatial architectures and transmission methods for carrying information in forms other than electron charges.
Such approaches "are expected to change the very nature of electronics and the essence of how electronic devices are manufactured" and "could establish a U.S. domestic manufacturing base that will dominate 21st century electronics commerce," the strategy explained.
Monday's blueprint strives to accomplish four goals for the discipline that were laid out by the George W. Bush administration: a world-class research and development program, commercial production, a skilled workforce, and minimal health and environmental risks. It also aims to incorporate Obama administration priorities, including nanoelectronics, sustainable nanomanufacturing beyond 2020 and solar energy.
To develop the proposed strategy, the White House used suggestions from the research community, the public and industry that were collected during the summer, according to officials. Specifically contributing to the effort were a presidential advisory council, the National Research Council, respondents to a request for information, participants at open workshops, and online commenters, they added.