BMDO funds nanotechnology development as part of its research in new materials and the manipulation of materials below 100 nanometers, primarily through its Advanced Technology Development Program. Generally, the BMDO-funded research is in two categories: nanotechnology and supporting technologies. BMDO nanotechnology has potential application in areas such as electronic devices, directed energy, propulsion systems, thermal management, and sensors. In 1996, BMDO published a nanotechnology report, entitled "Nanotechnology: Products for the Material World," as a supplement to the Summer issue of the BMDO Update quarterly newsletter; this report describes a number of specific nanotechnology projects that BMDO supports, including R&D in opto- and micro-electronic devices, lithography, and materials:
- Use of bacterial masks to make 2 nm quantum boxes for use in thin flat-panel displays (Astralux, Inc.)
- Development of silicon-based superlattice or quantum transistors for use in future large-scale integrated circuits and optoelectronic circuits (NanoDynamics, Inc.)
- Production of giant magnetoresistance (GMR) materials from alternating thin-film layers of ferromagnetic material and nonferrogamnetic conductors for application in magnetic field sensors and nonvolatile memory devices (NonVolatile Electronics and Motorola)
- Development of porous erbium-implanted silicon LEDs for use in long-distance fiberoptic communications (Spire Corp.)
- Several University of Texas (Austin) programs, including growth of SiGeC heterostructures and alloys through ultrahigh-vacuum chemical vapor deposition (UHVCVD), and deposition of quantum wires and dots using scanning tunneling microscopy
- Development of vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) (Vixel Corp.)
- Production of vapor-grown carbon fibers with diameters down to 200 nm for such applications as electromagnetic shielding and nanostructural reinforcement in rubbers and elastomers (Applied Sciences, Inc.)
- Use of dynamic magnetic compaction to rapidly consolidate material powders using pressures generated from pulsed electromagnetic fields, for application to nanophase materials, among others. This spinoff technology resulted from BMDO railgun research (IAP Research, Inc.)
- Development of Jet Vapor Deposition (JVD(tm)) process that uses sonic jets and inert carrier gases to produce metal, semiconductor, insulator, and organic films controlled at the microstructural level for application in semiconductor manufacturing, turbine blade coatings, and fuel cell components (Jet Process Corp.)
- Development of self-reinforced, rigid-rod polymers (Poly-X(tm)) with high tensile module for use in structural composites, scratch-resistant windows, and electronics packaging (Maxdem, Inc.)
The BMDO nanotechnology report also describes 9 projects in supporting technologies (characterization, modeling and simulation, and process control).
The BMDO Office of Technology Applications welcomes the opportunity to leverage its investment in nanotechnology with others to help facilitate the transfer of this technology to commercial applications for the benefit of all citizens.