Nanotechnology Research Directions for Societal Needs in 2020
Retrospective and Outlook

NSF 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Stafford I, (Board Room) 1235
September 30, 2010 - 8:00 am to 4:30 pm

The report will be published in the archival literature by Springer (Boston, Berlin) in 2010 under the title:

Nanotechnology Research Directions for Societal Needs in 2020, Springer, Boston and Berlin, 2010

| Agenda| Background| Need | Benefits |References |NSF Coordinator | Panel

Final Report (pdf version)

Brochure - summary of the Nano 2020 study (pdf version)

Introduction to the Study

    The creation of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) in the United States in 2000 catalyzed a vast, world-wide increase in research and development on nanoscience and nanotechnology. Other nations soon created focused funding initiatives to cooperate and compete with the United States. The impacts of the resulting increased research and development in nanoscience and nanotechnology (here called “nano R&D”) are seen daily in reports of discoveries and innovations that will improve the lives of people all over the world. Because of the huge volume of such results, what is less obvious is the impact of the increase in U.S. nano R&D on the structure of science, engineering, and education itself. Indeed, the resulting excitement has benefited the global science, engineering enterprise generally, and particularly science and engineering education.

Nano2 Workshops

Four international brainstorming meetings were held:
  • Chicago (for US), March 9-10, 2010
  • Hamburg (for EU), June 23-24, 2010
  • Tokyo (for Japan, Korea and Taiwan), July 26-27, 2010
  • Singapore (for China, India, Singapore, Australia, ...), July 29-30, 2010
  • Final workshop at NSF, September 30, 2010.

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Final Workshop Agenda

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8:00     Registration and Coffe
8:30     Welcome, Tom Peterson, NSF
8:40     Overview of the Study, Mark Hersam, Northwestern U.
8:50     Long View of Nanotechnology Development, Mihail Roco, NSF
9:10     Scientific, Engineering, and Societal Challenges for Nanotechnology, Chad Mirkin, Northwestern U.
9:30     Chapter 1. Enabling and Investigative Tools: Theory, Modeling, and Simulation
            Mark Lundstrom, Purdue U.
9:50     Chapter 2. Enabling and Investigative Tools: Measuring Methods, Instruments, and Metrology,
            Dawn Bonnell, U. Pennsylvania  

10:10   Break

10:20  Chapter 3. Synthesis, Processing, and Manufacturing of Nanoscale Components, Devices, and Systems,
           Mark Tuominen, University of Massachusetts Amherst (and Chad Mirkin, Northwestern U.)
10:40  Chapter 4. Nanotechnology Environmental, Health, and Safety Issues,
           Andre Nel, University of California Los Angeles 
11:00  Chapter 5. Nanotechnology for Sustainability: Environment, Water, Food, and Climate,
           Mamadou Diallo, California Institute of Technology (and Jeff Brinker, SNL and UNM)
11:20  Chapter 6. Nanotechnology for Sustainability: Energy Conversion, Storage, and Conservation,
           Jeff Brinker, SNL and UNM (and Jim Murday, U. South Carolina) (slides presentation pdf)

11:40-1:00       Lunch (own for general audience)

12:00-12:30     Press conference (Room 110); lunch afterwards for panelists and reporters (Room 370)

1:00     Chapter 7. Applications: Nanobiosystems, Medicine, and Health,
            Chad Mirkin, Northwestern U. (and Andre Nel, UCLA)
1:20     Chapter 8. Applications: Nanoelectronics and Nanomagnetics,
            Jeff Welser, IBM and Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (and Stuart Wolf, U. Virginia)
1:40     Chapter 9. Applications: Photonics and Plasmonics,
            Evelyn Hu, Harvard U. (and Stuart Wolf, U. Virginia; Jeff Welser, IBM and NRI)
2:00     Chapter 10. Applications: Nanostructured Catalysts,
            Evelyn Hu, Harvard U.
2:20     Chapter 11. Applications: High-performance Nanomaterials and Other Emerging Areas,
            Mark Hersam, Northwestern U.
2:40     Chapter 12 . Preparation of People and Physical Infrastructure,
            James Murday, U. of Southern California (and Mark Hersam, Northwestern U.)
3:00     Chapter 13. Innovative and Responsible Governance,
            Mike Roco, NSF
3:20     Overarching Conclusions
3:30     General Questions and Answers
4:30     Adjourn

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    There is a voluminous literature on the focused investment in nanoscale science, engineering, and technology; only a few key publications will be cited here.  WTEC helped provide the international R&D data for the NNI proposal (Siegel, Hu, and Roco 1999).  It also helped gather ideas for a U.S. research agenda through a workshop and report (Roco, Williams, and Alivisatos 2000).  Through facilitation of books, WTEC helped Federal agencies consider possible impacts on society (Roco and Bainbridge 2001) and on other fields of science and technology (Roco and Bainbridge 2003).  WTEC has also edited and produced a series of workshop reports on nanotechnology.

Need for an International Assessment

    After ten years of such progress, it is now time to gather and analyze the major effects of this focused nanotechnology research, not just in making major discoveries and innovations possible, but to gauge its impacts in altering the ways that science, engineering and their education are done.  Since these have clearly been worldwide, it is not sufficient to restrict the examination to the United States alone.  While PCAST and the National Academies conduct periodic assessments of the structure and performance of the NNI, their scope is limited to the initiative itself, primarily only within the United States, with some attention to the position of United States in nanotechnology vis-à-vis competing nations. This study, on the other hand will address broader issues of the beneficial effects of focused U.S. nanotechnology R&D around the world on science, engineering, and education.  With information on these broader impacts, U.S. policymakers may better plan for the evolution of nanoscale science and technology in directions that provide greater benefit to the science, engineering, and education system of the United States, plus the public as a whole.

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Benefits from a WTEC Study

    After a study of the literature already available on broader impacts, the study will use WTEC's methodology of a peer review panel to conduct visits to overseas sites to gather international information on the impacts of nanotechnology R&D in the United States and abroad.  This effort will be combined with the panel's own knowledge of the U.S. and international scene. The deliverables will include briefings to sponsors, a public workshop, and a final report. Collectively they will provide a comprehensive set of evaluations of developments overseas with comparisons to activities in the United States, including benchmarking of U.S. progress in nanoscale science and engineering R&D, both in basic research and in translation to applications and commercialization.  

To control the scope, the study is focusing on only 6-7 major technical areas (see list below).  The study scope also includes emphasis on identifying engines of change in nanotechnology, such as sensing and manipulation tools, new ideas, and new applications.  

There will be other benefits for policy development.  While the study will focus primarily on assessing the technical topics listed below, it may also (to a limited extent) address some other key issues of importance to decision-makers, including:  

  • On a strategic level--how has the vision of nanotechnology changed in the last ten years?  What is the state of the art now vs. ten years ago?  Where is the field likely to go next?
  • How have the technological impacts changed in this period?  For example Table ES1 in the 1999 report lists GMR read heads as a present impact and forecasts terabit memory and microprocessing as a future impact.  Which future impacts have been realized and how should this table be updated?
  • What is the impact of increased U.S. nanotechnology R&D on foreign conduct of nanotechnology R&D?
  • What are the most important scientific discoveries and engineering innovations worldwide that can be attributed to U.S. nanotechnology R&D vs. nanotechnology R&D abroad?
  • What have been the major impacts of U.S. and foreign nanotechnology R&D on the structure of science and engineering in the United States and abroad?  These includes new R&D organizations in nanoscale science and technology and the encouragement of interdisciplinary R&D.
  • What have been the major impacts of focused nanotechnology R&D on education for science and engineering in the United States and abroad?  These include academic degree programs, educational labs and centers, education of the public, attraction of new students into careers in science and engineering, etc.
  • What is the interface between nanotechnology R&D worldwide and society as a whole?
  • What lessons can be learned to guide future focused R&D funding efforts to maximize their impacts?
  •  What are the major emerging ideas in nanoscale science and technology programs abroad that are worth exploring in the United States?
  • What are the opportunities for further international collaboration to combine complementary resources and strengths? What are the most appropriate international mechanisms for cooperation: OECD, ISO, INC, IRGC, ICON, bilateral agreements, et al.
  • What are the appropriate metrics for comparing U.S. and international nanotechnology R&D?  How does the United States rate compared to its international competitors using those metrics? This topic could include both (1) R&D and (2) practical applications, commercialization, and economic impacts.
  • How are other nations doing in transitioning basic research advances in the field into practical applications?  Are there models for technology commercialization abroad that ought to be considered in the United States?
  • Other related issues of interest to the sponsors

The bottom line of the study findings will be “What has the United States gained from its investment in focused nanoscience and nanotechnology R&D over the last ten years?”  That is, the report will help document accomplishments demonstrating that the investment has been worthwhile.

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1.       PCAST (2008). The National Nanotechnology Initiative: Second Assessment and Recommendations of the National Nanotechnology Advisory Panel. Executive Office of the President, April 2008.

2.       NRC (2006), A Matter of Size: Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, National Academies Press, 2006.

3.       Roco, MC, RS Williams, and P. Alivisatos (2000), IWGN Workshop Report: Nanotechnology Research Directions.  Kluwer, 2000.

4.       Roco, MC and WS Bainbridge (2001), Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology.  Kluwer,  2001.

5.       Roco, MC and WS Bainbridge (2003), Converging Technologies for Improving Human Performance. Kluwer, 2003.

6.       Siegel, RW, E Hu, and MC Roco (1999), WTEC Panel Report on Nanostructure Science and Technology, Kluwer, 1999.

    For Further Information:

>    Duane Shelton, WTEC,, 717-299-7130

    Geoff Holdridge, WTEC,, 443-794-2743

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NSF Coordinator  


Mihail C. Roco, Ph.D. , Senior Adviser for Nanotechnology,  National Science Foundation. 
Dr. Roco is the founding chair of the National Science and Technology Council's subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET), and is the Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology at the National Science Foundation. He also coordinated the programs on academic liaison with industry (GOALI). Prior to joining National Science Foundation, he was Professor of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Kentucky (1981-1995), and held visiting professorships at the California Institute of Technology (1988-89), Johns Hopkins University (1993-1995), Tohoku University (1989), and Delft University of Technology (1997-98).
    Dr. Roco is credited with thirteen inventions, contributed over two hundred articles and sixteen books including "Particulate Two-phase Flow" (Butterworth, 1993), "Nanostructure Science and Technology" (1999), “Societal Implications of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology” (2001 and 2006), and more recently “Managing Nano-Bio-Info-Cognition Innovations” (2007) and “Mapping Nanotechnology Knowledge and Innovation: Global and Longitudinal Patent and Literature Analysis” (2008). Dr. Roco was a researcher in multiphase systems, visualization techniques, computer simulations, nanoparticles and nanosystems. He initiated the first Federal Government program with focus on nanoscale science and engineering (on Synthesis and Processing of Nanoparticles) at NSF in 1991. He formally proposed NNI in a presentation at White House/OSTP, Committee on Technology, on March 11, 1999. He is a key architect of the National Nanotechnology Initiative, and coordinated the preparation of the U.S. National Science and Technology Council reports on "Nanotechnology Research Directions" (NSTC, 1999) and "National Nanotechnology Initiative" (NSTC, 2000).
    Dr. Roco is a Correspondent Member of the Swiss Academy of Engineering Sciences, a Fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a Fellow of the Institute of Physics, and a Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers. He has been co-founder and Chair of the AIChE Particle Technology Forum and of the International Multiphase Flow Council. He has served as editor for Journal of Fluids Engineering and Journal of Measurement Science and Technology, and is Editor-in-chief of the Journal of Nanoparticle Research. He has been member in the several research boards in Americas, Europe and Asia including the S&T Council of the International Risk Governance Council in Geneva.
    He was honored as recipient of the Carl Duisberg Award in Germany, “Burgers Professorship Award” in Netherlands and the “University Research Professorship” award in U.S. He was named the “Engineer of the Year” in 1999 and again in 2004 by the U.S. National Society of Professional Engineers and NSF. In 2002, he received the “Best of Small Tech Awards” (“Leader of the American nanotech revolution”). Forbes magazine recognized him in 2003 as the first among “Nanotechnology’s Power Brokers” and Scientific American named him one of 2004’s top 50 Technology Leaders. Dr. Roco is the 2005 recipient of the AIChE Forum Award "for leadership and service to the national science and engineering community through initiating and bringing to fruition the National Nanotechnology Initiative." He received the National Materials Advancement Award from the Federation of Materials Societies at the National Press Club in 2007 for NNI leadership and “as the individual most responsible for support and investment in nanotechnology by government, industry, and academia worldwide.”
Contact information

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The Panel

    Chad Mirkin, Ph.D, (Co-chair), Northwestern University
    Chad Mirkin's research focuses on developing methods for controlling the architecture of molecules and materials on the 1-100 nm length scale, and utilizing such structures in the development of analytical tools that can be used in the areas of chemical and biological sensing, lithography, catalysis, and optics. Mirkin has pioneered the use of biomolecules as synthons in materials science and the development of nanoparticle-based biodiagnostics. Many of the concepts and materials developed within his laboratories are now the basis for commercial detection and lithography systems.
          Mirkin received his undergraduate training at Dickinson College (B.S., 1986) and his graduate training at the Pennsylvania State University where he completed his Ph.D. in chemistry in 1989. That same year he moved to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow. Mirkin joined the faculty at Northwestern University in 1991 as an Assistant Professor in Chemistry. In 1997 he was named Charles E. and Emma H. Morrison Professor of Chemistry. His current positions are the George B. Rathmann Professor of Chemistry, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Professor of Medicine, and Director of the NU International Institute for Nanotechnology (IIN).
           Mirkin has won numerous awards for his research in these areas, including: the NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, the Collegiate Inventors Award from the National Inventors Hall of Fame (2003, 2004), the ACS Nobel Signature Award, the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences, the Feynman Prize, the Leo Hendrik Baekeland Award, Crain’s Chicago 40 under 40 Award, the ACS Award in Pure Chemistry, the Discover 2000 Innovation of the Year Award, the Materials Research Society’s Outstanding Young Investigator Award, the E. Bright Wilson Prize, the Phi Lambda Upsilon Fresenius Award, a Beckman Young Investigator Award, a NSF Young Investigator Award, an A. P. Sloan Foundation Fellowship, an ONR Young Investigator Award, a DuPont New Professor Award, and a Camille Dreyfus Teacher-Scholar Award. Recently, he was elected as a fellow of the AAAS. In 1997, he was corecipient of a prestigious BF Goodrich Collegiate Inventors Award for one of the three most outstanding collegiate inventions in all of medicine, science, and engineering. He holds an honorary doctorate from Dickinson College, and was elected to the school’s Board of Trustees in 2005. Professor Mirkin is the author or coauthor of over 280 publications and 313 patents (55 issued). He serves on the editorial advisory board of 19 scholarly journals, and is an active consultant with several major chemical companies. In addition, he is a founder of two companies, Nanosphere and NanoInk, and cofounder of the journal, Small.

    Mark Hersam, Ph.D, (Co-chair),  Northwestern University
    Mark Hersam  is currently a Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University and cofounder of NanoIntegris. His research interests include single molecule devices, nanofabrication, scanning probe microscopy and spectroscopy, semiconductor surfaces, and carbon nanotubes. Since joining Northwestern University in 2000, Dr. Hersam has received several awards including the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Young Investigator Award (2001), National Science Foundation CAREER Award (2001), Searle Center for Teaching Excellence Fellowship (2001), Army Research Office Young Investigator Award (2005), Office of Naval Research Young Investigator Award (2005), Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (2005), Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (2005), TMS Robert Lansing Hardy Award (2006), and AVS Peter Mark Award (2006).
    Dr. Hersam completed his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2000 under the support of a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship and an IBM Distinguished Fellowship. In 1997, Dr. Hersam received his M.Phil. in Microelectronic Engineering and Semiconductor Physics from the University of Cambridge (UK) under the support of a British Marshall Scholarship. Prior to graduate school, Dr. Hersam graduated with Highest Honors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1996 with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering. Besides his educational training, Dr. Hersam has also been employed by Argonne National Laboratory and IBM T. J. Watson Research Center where he performed research on surface acoustic wave sensors and electrical properties of carbon nanotubes.


    Dawn Bonnell, Ph.D, University of Pennsylvania
    Dawn Bonnell, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and Director of the Center of Science and Engineering of Nanoscale Systems at the University of Pennsylvania, is one of the world's foremost experts on nanotechnology and nanoscience. In 2002, Bonnell established the Center for Science and Engineering of Nanoscale Systems (SENS) at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research group is focused on the fundamental basis of property variations at atomic scales in complex materials and is exploiting these variations to make functional systems.  Issues involving properties of materials at nm size are limiting in several emerging technologies. While several accurate tools exist for structure determination in solids, local property variations have been much less accessible. The application of scanning probe analysis has yielded considerable insight as to size dependent properties and surface or interface mediated bahaviour of materials. Her group has used atomic resolution STM of transition surfaces to show that variations are accommodated through the stabilization of surface phases. Comparision of in situ measurements to continuum or quantum mechanical models are used to elucidate fundamental bahavior.  Research topics include: atomistic processes at surfaces, properties of individual molecules, transport across atomically abrupt interfaces, size dependent properties of clusters, and domain specific surface reactivity.

    C. Jeffrey Brinker, Ph.D, University of New Mexico and Sandia National Laboratories
    C. Jeffrey Brinker attended Rutgers University where he received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in ceramic science and engineering. Jeff joined Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) as a Member of the Technical Staff in 1979. He was promoted to Distinguished Member of the Technical Staff at SNL and appointed Distinguished National Laboratory Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 1991. Since 1999, he has been jointly employed at SNL where he is Sandia Fellow and at UNM where he is Regent’s Professor of Chemical and Nuclear Engineering with co-appointments in the Departments of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology and Chemistry. Brinker has been recognized nationally and internationally for his work in sol-gel processing and its extension to self-assembly of porous and composite nanostructures. His awards include R&D100 Awards in 1996 and 2007, the American Chemical Society’s Ralph K. Iler Award in the Chemistry of Colloidal Materials (sponsored by DuPont), five Department of Energy Basic Energy Sciences Awards, the DOE Ernest O. Lawrence Memorial Award in Materials Science, and the Materials Research Society 2003 MRS Medal. In February 2002 he was elected into the National Academy of Engineering.

    Evelyn Hu, Ph.D, Harvard University
    Evelyn Hu is Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics and Electrical Engineering at Harvard University. Her research focuses on high-resolution fabrication of compound semiconductor electronic and optoelectronic devices, candidate structures for the realization of quantum computation schemes, and on novel device structures formed through the heterogeneous integration of materials. Recently her work has involved the interaction of quantum dots in high Q microdisk and photonic crystal cavities.
    Hu received Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in Physics from Columbia University and a B.A. in Physics from Barnard College. Prior to her appointment at Harvard, she was Scientific Co-Director, California Nanosystems Institute and a Professor the Departments of inElectrical and Computer Engineering and Materials at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She also worked at AT&T Bell Laboratories, developing microfabrication and nanofabrication techniques for high performance superconducting and semiconducting devices and circuits. Hu is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Academica Sinica of Taiwan, a recipient of an NSF Distinguished Teaching Fellow award, an AAAS Lifetime Mentor Award, a Fellow of the IEEE, APS, and the AAAS, and holds an honorary Doctorate of Engineering from the University of Glasgow. She was selected UCSB Faculty Research Lecturer in 2005.

    Mark Lundstrom, Ph.D, Purdue University
    Mark Lundstrom is the Don and Carol Scifres Distinguished Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Purdue University where he teaches and performs research on the physics, technology, and simulation of electronic devices. Lundstrom is the founding director of the NSF-funded Network for Computational Nanotechnology, which has a mission of research, education, leadership, and service to the nation’s National Nanotechnology Initiative. He serves on the leadership councils of the NASA-funded Institute for Nanoelectronics and Computing and the MARCO Focus Center for Materials, Structures, and Devices. Lundstrom’s work has been recognized by several awards, most recently the 2005 US Semiconductor Industry Association’s University Research Award for his career contributions to the physics and modeling of semiconductor devices.

    André Nel, MD, Ph.D, University of California Los Angeles
    André Nel is a Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of NanoMedicine at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). He runs the Cellular Immunology Activation Laboratory in the Johnson Cancer Center and the Laboratory for Nanosafety Research and Testing in the California NanoSystems Institute (CNSI) at UCLA. Dr. Nel obtained his M.B., Ch.B. (MD) and Doctorate of Medicine (PhD equivalent) degrees from the University of Stellenbosch in Cape Town, South Africa, and subsequently did Clinical Immunology and Allergy training at UCLA. Dr Nel is the Principal Investigator of the UCLA Asthma and Immunology Disease Center, Co-Director of the Southern California Particle Center and Director of the UC Lead Campus Program for Nanotoxicology Research and Training. Dr Nel served a Chair of a study section at the NIAID and is Chair of the Air Pollution Committee in the AAAAI. Dr. Nel is a member of the ASCI, AAAAI, AAI and the Western Association of Physicians.
           Dr. Nel’s chief research interests are: (i) Nanomedicine and Nanobiology, including nanomaterial properties that lead to biocompatible and biohazardous interactions in humans and the environment; (ii) The role of air pollutants in asthma, with particular emphasis on the role of ultrafine particle-induced oxidative stress in the generation of airway inflammation and airway hyperreactivity. The theme of oxidative stress as a test paradigm for nanomaterial hazard and as a predictive paradigm for initiating high throughput toxicological assessment of nanomaterials links these research aspects together. The research is funded by personal RO1 grants from the NIH, the NIAD-funded Asthma and Immunology Disease Clinical Research Center, an EPA STAR award, a UC Lead Campus Program for Nanotoxicology Research.


    Jeffrey Welser, Ph.D,  IBM and Nanoelectronics Research Initiative
    Jeffrey Welser has been on assignment from the IBM Corporation since mid-2006 to serve as the Director of the Nanoelectronics Research Initiative (NRI), and is based at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, CA. The NRI supports university-based research on future nanoscale logic devices to replace the CMOS transistor in the 2020 timeframe.
    Dr. Welser received his Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University in 1995 and joined IBM's Research Division at the T.J. Watson Research Center. Since joining IBM, Dr. Welser has worked on a variety of novel devices, including nano-crystal and quantum-dot memories, vertical-FET DRAM, and Si-based optical detectors, and eventually took over managing the Novel Silicon Device group at Watson. He was also working at the time as an adjunct professor at Columbia University, teaching semiconductor device physics.
           In 2000 Dr. Welser took an assignment in Technology Group Headquarters, and then joined the Microelectronics division in 2001 as project manager for the high-performance CMOS device design groups. After later being named Director of high-performance SOI and BEOL technology development, he continued to work as the IBM Management Committee Member for the Sony, Toshiba, and AMD development alliances. Dr. Welser returned to the Research Division as the Director of Next Generation Technology Components where he worked on the Next Generation Computing project, looking at technology, hardware and software components for systems in the 2008-2012 timeframe.

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