CANEUS Moments

Technical topics

Devices & Systems
More than 10 papers were dedicated to Nanotechnology. Nanoscale materials production and characterisation methods as well as diverse applications of nanotechnology in electronics, space instrumentation, medicine and biology were presented in great detail. A large majority of the MNT presentations were given from the US and from Europe. An elegant definition of MNT was presented in a key-note address by NASA technologist, Dr. Minoo Dastoor, who stated: “MNT represents a bridge between classical and quantum physics”. His point was that MNT is of interest not only because of the significant reductions in size that are possible, but mainly because one can now hope to exploit quantum mechanical effects in order to enhance device performance.For example, one could develop a new paradigm in microelectronics, taking the route of higher circuit complexity rather than pursuing further reductions in transistor dimensions. There was a very strong European contribution, with several papers in MEMS and MOEMS related topics: RF, gyroscopes, inertial platforms, bio-systems, optical devices, microthrusters and micropropulsion.

Space Missions
Detailed mission plans were presented by American, Canadian and European Space Agencies. Dr. Thomas George from NASA/JPL proposed an efficient means of advancing the “space maturity” of MNT via the use of low cost, rapidly launchable, ultra-low mass satellites (below 1 kg). He proposed the use of these Low Earth Orbit demonstrations at the very early stages of MNT development. This would not only speed up the development of MNT-based devices and instruments for Space applications, but also “build in” robustness and reliability at a very early stage of development. Dr. Henry Helvajian from the Aerospace Corporation showed that a simple 100g picosatellite can be produced out of glass in 75 minutes! There were also papers from Canadian and European participants, describing missions to perform complex measurements with spacecraft masses in the range of few kilograms.

Reliability was considered the critical issue for the ultimate insertion of MNT in Aerospace application. A considerable amount of work has been done in the area of MNT reliability in both the USA and Europe. Several key presentations in the MNT reliability area were from Europe. Dr. Sammy Kayali of NASA/JPL described the primary frustration of MNT reliability researchers as being the lack of sufficient numbers of parts for testing. Papers describing MEMS reliability test vehicles, nondestructive tests and nano-robotics were presented.

Geophysics and Environmental Controls
These sessions were concerned with the various techniques and instrumentation required to evaluate fossil energy and water resources. Prof. Richard Smalley, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, described energy and water utilization as the most important issues for human civilisation during his keynote address.
Several measurement techniques needed for oil exploration were presented with some examples of MNT applications. Satellite and ground observations of moisture and water reservoirs are of prime importance for agriculture and every day life. Water resources both in the fragile environments of developing countries as well as the highly polluted conditions of industrialised world require immediate attention and the rapid development of reliable monitoring techniques on scales ranging from local observation of pollutants to regional, continental and global assessment of hydrological processes. Monitoring global environmental processes are also potentially important targets for MNT-based technologies. For example, the detection of out-diffused hydrocarbon (methane) from melting permafrost areas of the Northern Hemisphere is extremely important for the study of green house effects. Deploying highly distributed, fully autonomous, miniature monitoring systems over large areas is a long-term goal of environmentalists. It became clear that thus far the exciting potential of MNT has remained largely unexploited in this domain.

Aeronautics and Defense
MNT has already made extensive inroads into the aeronautics and defense sectors. Although a large number of opportunities exist for novel MNT-based sensors and actuators in aircraft applications, there remains a considerable amount of work yet to be done, as described in the presentation by Dr. Hany Moustapha of Pratt & Whitney. Prospects for the introduction of MNT into this highly demanding (in terms of functional and operational requirements) application area continue to be very bright.

Policy /Strategy
Strategic presentations were given by a number of speakers from the NASA and DARPA. Dr. Thomas George of NASA/JPL urged the participants to consider the fact that given a relatively small worldwide investment into MNT for Aerospace applications, the time had come to consider a coordinated, international investment strategy. However, such a strategy could only succeed on a foundation of inter-governmental agreements aimed at the free flow of Space MNT between participating countries. Thus, the coordinated investment strategy would involve targeting each nation’s core competencies for focused, “critical mass” funding. Taken as whole, these core competencies would be complementary and allow for the creation of a technology “pipeline” for the rapid infusion of new MNT-based devices and instruments in Space. The European MNT scenario was described by Dr. Gaetan Menozzi. Dr. Menozzi described the role of MNT in the 6th Frame Programme, objectives of MINATEC, functioning of the EURIMUS/EUREKA Programme and the Nexus / User-Supplier Club goals.

Commercialisation topics covered :The Business of Nanotechnology, Intellectual Property Issues Related to Nanotechnology, and Nanotechnology Commercialization - Profiles of Nanotechnology Companies . The keynote speaker Rick Snyder, of Ardesta, USA ,in his presentation provided issues such as: understanding Small Tech, and developing a successful business.

Last update - December 27, 2002