Final Report

The final report for this study is available in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format [~3.3MB]

Final Workshop

The final workshop for this study was held at the National Science Foundation, Room 110,  Stafford I, on November 3, 2006.

Need for an International Assessment

    Despite the initial successes in research, translating the knowledge of CNTs into a viable commercial industry poses a major challenge. Multi-walled carbon nanotubes (MWCNTs) that are relatively easy and inexpensive to fabricate have some uses as structural reinforcements in composites, but the truly revolutionary properties are available only in the single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTS) that are more difficult to fabricate. There are several components to that challenge, all of which have an international dimension. First, while the research community has made steady advances in the characterization of nanotubes in recent years, many of their properties are poorly understood, such as the relationship between nanotube species and resulting properties (electronic, optical or mechanical).

    To further progress, increasingly, new discoveries are being facilitated by collaborative research efforts across the national borders.

    Second, the lack of reliable methods for manufacturing carbon nanotubes of the same structure and chirality, at any cost, let alone at low enough cost for high volume applications, is a serious limiting factor in both fundamental nanotube metrology and commercialization. Concerns over the quality of the nanotube material (and methods to assure quality) have been a world-wide hindrance towards realization of advanced devices. Third, current fabrication technologies typically yield a tangled web of nanotubes, whereas many applications that are envisioned would require methods for manufacturing specific species of nanotubes in ordered arrays or streams, to enable them to be woven into cables or assembled into and integrated with batch-fabricated semiconductor devices. While the United States has the greatest number of companies actively pursuing research and development in carbon nanotubes, large and small, much of the large-scale production technology is being developed elsewhere. This is in part reflected in the patents issued in the nanotechnology-related areas: roughly fifty percent of them are awarded to foreign institutions. NEC Corporation in Japan, in particular, holds several important patents related to carbon nanotube fabrication and applications. Here again, joint ventures in research and cross–licensing of technologies at the international level are being rigorously pursued in order to speed up innovation.

    Finally, several years ago, the United Stated led the world in recognizing the significance of nanotechnology by launching the National Nanotechnology Initiative whose funding reached some $960 million in 2004. This program has encouraged academics, industry and governments to invest their time and money in nanotube R&D. Similar or even greater efforts have been initiated elsewhere in the world since then. Japan, where carbon nanotubes were first discovered, has launched major programs in nanotubes as part of their nanotechnology R&D strategy towards an accelerated pace for manufacturing and applications. The European Union, through its 2020 Vision program, is equally ambitious in its investment plan to promote the EU’s short-term and long-term competitiveness. These competitive forces aside, however, such programs tend to foster joint exploration at the cutting edge and collaborative research efforts for larger and mutual benefits. As past scientific breakthroughs have shown, rivalry, competition, and cooperation feed on each other’s success. Undoubtedly, achieving a new level of success is indeed what the U.S. research efforts are aiming at this juncture. With a properly defined effort, this proposed international assessment project is a step towards that goal.

Purpose

    The main purpose of this study is to gather information and disseminate it to government decision-makers and the research community on worldwide status and trends in CNT R&D. The study panelists will gather information on CNT R&D abroad useful to the U.S. government in its own R&D programs, and to critically analyze and compare the research in the United States with that being pursued in Japan and Europe. This information will serve the following purposes:

    • Identify good ideas overseas worth exploring in U.S. R&D programs
    • Clarify research opportunities and needs for promoting progress in the field generally
    • Identify opportunities for international collaboration and mechanisms for achieving it
    • Evaluate the position of foreign research programs relative to those in the U.S.

Scope

    To obtain the intended benefits, this study will focus on the manufacturing and emerging applications of CNTs, distinct from others that address nanoscience or nanotechnology in general. The main interest is to exchange ideas and research approaches for addressing the challenges of manufacturing CNTs and what can be made out of them among the leading researchers in the field around the world. Topics for this study may include, but are not limited to:

    • Recent advances towards the knowledge base of CNTs, including a better understanding of the materials, their properties, and potentials for novel applications.
    • Methods and manufacturing technologies for the large-scale and low-cost production of high purity CNTs in a variety of forms and structures.
    • Technical barriers that must be overcome in order to achieve high volume production of CNTs with known and controlled properties.
    • Methods for handling CNTs during the manufacturing process to facilitate their fabrication into useful devices and systems.
    • Measurement, test, and verification methods as well as modeling and simulation tools to ensure quality of materials and products, as part of the design and manufacturing process
    • Collective efforts being taken by academia, industry, and government to protect the researchers, workers, users and the environment from potential health hazards.
    • National or multi-national programs and strategic plans aimed at improved special facilities, shared infrastructures, and human resources development to ensure long-term health of the R&D in the field.
    • Opportunities for mutually beneficial international cooperation in pre-competitive CNTs manufacturing research.

    Other topics are possible if the sponsors so choose, and if the priorities change.

    Finally, beyond the above technical issues, the study may also address the following non-technical issues:

    • Mechanisms for enhancing international and interdisciplinary cooperation in the field
    • Long range research, educational, and infrastructure issues that need addressed to promote better progress in the field
    • Current government R&D funding levels overseas compared to the United States, to the extent data are available

    The above lists of topics will be refined and prioritized by panel members in consultation with the sponsors at the study kickoff meeting.

Panel

[photo: Peter Ecklund]
Peter C. Eklund
(Panel Chair)

  • Professor of Physics and Materials Science and Engineering
  • Penn State
  • Research Interests:
    • Nano-materials, e.g., carbon nanotubes, semiconducting nanowires and nanoparticles. 
    • The materials are studied for fundamental and applied objectives (chemical sensors, hydrogen storage, other energy related applications). 
    • His group is deeply involved in synthesis and characterization of fundamental materials properties, e.g., optical and electrical transport properties
  • Web: http://www.matse.psu.edu/fac/profiles/eklund.htm


Pulickel M. Ajayan

  • Professor of Materials Engineering
  • RPI
  • Research Interests:
    • Synthesis of nanostructures
    • The study of their structure
    • Properties in relation to size and confinement
    • Producing macro-assemblies made of nanostructures for applications
    • Understanding growth mechanisms of nanostructures
    • Designing new structures and multifunctional nanocomposites
    • Phase stability in metal clusters
    • The graphite-diamond phase transition
    • Growth of nanostructures under electron irradiation
  • Web: http://www.rpi.edu/dept/materials/PMA/

[photo: Robert Blackmon]
Robert Blackmon

  • Business Development Manager - Nanomaterials
  • Harper International
    West Drullard Avenue
    Lancaster, NY  14086
  • Web: http://www.harperintl.com/

[photo: A. John Hart]

A. John
Hart

  • Research  Interests:
    • Production and application of nanostructured materials: carbon nanotubes, mechanochemistry, composite materials and structures, machine and instrument design; microsystems, microfluidics, micro-
      and nano-manufacturing; energy conversion and production, catalysis and reaction control.

[photo: Jing Kong]
Jing Kong

  • Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering
    Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
  • MIT
  • Research Interests:
    • Controlled synthesis of carbon nanotubes
    • Electrical and optical properties of single-walled carbon nanotubes
    • Applications of nanotube devices
  • Web: http://www.rle.mit.edu/rleonline/People/JingKong.html

[photo: Dr. Bhabendra Pradhan]
Bhabendra Pradhan

  • Prinicipal Scientist/Group Leader of Nano Materials
  • Research Interests:
    • Synthesis and microstructure of Nano-materials, e.g., carbon nanomaterials, nanowires and nanoceramics. 
    • Surface Chemistry of Carbon Nanomaterials (purification and fictionalization of carbon nanomaterials, catalysis and adsorption)
    • Energy Storage in Carbon Nanomateirals ( Hydrogen storage, Li ion battery and supercapacitor, Noble metal supported catalyst)
  • Columbian Chemicals Company
    1800 West Oaks Commons Courts
    Marietta, GA 30062

[photo: Rao Apparao
Apparao Rao

[photo: Andrew Rinzler]
Andrew Rinzler
  • Associate Professor, Department of Physics
  • University of Florida
  • Research Interests:
    • Exploitation of nanoscale materials for scientific and technological gain, particularly with respect to electronic and optical properties.
  • Web: http://www.phys.ufl.edu/faculty/rinzler.html