Atomically Precise Manufacturing: The Opportunity, Challenges, and Impact
Fifty years ago, Richard Feynman famously stated that “I am not afraid to consider the final question as to whether, ultimately—in the great future—we can arrange the atoms the way we want” (Feynman, “There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom”, speech on December 29th 1959 at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society at the California Institute of Technology). Twenty years ago, Don Eigler of IBM, did arrange atoms the way he wanted (Eigler and Schweizer, Nature 344:524, 1990). We contend that in the very near future, that arranging atoms the way we want will become a manufacturing technology. This technology will start small, very small, in making practical and profitable products, and from there scale-up to a wide range of products and applications with very large economic and societal impacts. We will explain some of the details of the path that we are on to achieve Atomically Precise Manufacturing (APM), some of the challenges we must overcome to succeed, and the surprising number of applications that we have identified that are waiting for us to exploit.
KeywordsAtomically precise manufacturing Scanning tunneling microscope Digital lithography Atomic layer epitaxy Precision
This material is based upon work supported by the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) and Space and Naval Warfare Center, San Diego (SPAWARSYSCEN-SD) under contract N66001-08-C-2040. It is also supported by a grant from the Emerging Technology Fund of the State of Texas to the Atomically Precise Manufacturing Consortium. The authors would also like to acknowledge the excellent support of Maia Bischof and David Jaeger of the University of North Texas for Transmission Electron Microscopy and Focused Ion Beam work respectively, and many useful discussions with Richard Silver and Jason Gorman of NIST, Joseph Lyding of the University of Illinois, Neil Sarkar of ICSPI, Rick Reidy of the University of North Texas, S.V. Sreenivasan at the University of Texas at Austin, Brian Gorman of Colorado School of Mines, and Bob Wallace, Yves Chabal, and K.J. Cho of the University of Texas at Dallas.
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