Final Workshop

A panel of experts on the Nano field have presented their findings from study tours of top European and Asian labs in a workshop held at NSF, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington on June 2, 2015 from 7:30 am to 3:30 pm.

Final Report in PDF Format

The archived webcast: click here


NSF, Board Room (1235), 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA



8:00 am

Welcoming Remarks Pramod Khargonekar, NSF

8:15 am

Context and Workshop Logistics, Patricia Foland, WTEC

8:25 am

Framework for the Challenge and NNI Role, Mike Roco, NSF

8:45 am

Overview and Executive Summary of the Study
Pulickel Ajayan (Chairman), Rice University


Directed Assembly-Based Nanomanufacturing for Creating Nanomodular Devices and Systems
Ahmed Busnaina, Northeastern University

10:00 am


10:15 am

Directed Self-Assembly Methods in 2D Materials: Promise and Challenges
Padma Gopalan, University of Wisconsin-Madison

10:45 am

Applications of 2D Materials and Beyond
Kaustav Banerjee, University of California, Santa Barbara

11:15 am

Modular Nano-Bio Materials and Systems
Charlie Johnson, University of Pennsylvania

11:45 am

Modeling Challenges for NanoModular Materials
Don Brenner, North Carolina State University

12:15 pm

Lunch and Networking

1:00 pm

Other Research on NanoModular Assembly in the U.S. and Abroad
Mike Stopa, MIT

1:20 pm

Can 2D Materials be Simultaneously NanoModular and Manufacturable?
Gil Vandentop, SRC and Intel

1:50 pm


2:00 pm

>NEEDS: Creating NanoModular Systems by Design
Mark Lundstrom, Purdue University

2:30 pm

Overarching Conclusions Pulickel Ajayan


General Questions and Answers Pulickel Ajayan

3:30 pm




The aim is to build nanomaterials, devices and systems with a suitable composition of various nanostructures (nanomodules). This is the way nature builds most inert objects and living tissues. The study will focus on 2-3 areas (to be able to handle it in some detail) and the following generic issues:

One of the two-three areas of focus is 2D materials beyond graphene.  We need to define the other areas, such as combining 2D and 3D nanostructures, and building nanosystems from nanomodules.  Another example is building measuring devices from nanomodules as at Sandia National Labs.
The generic issue of optimizing nanocomposite materials, devices and systems may be suitable to modeling and simulation (to build them by “design”, which could be a combinatorial approach at the beginning). Here you need special expertise in modeling and simulation: how to combine nanomodules by computation? One needs more knowledge of the system behavior, of the interfaces, dynamic characteristics for non-uniform structures, or/and optimization methods.
Identify other unexpected nanomodular composite materials, devices and systems going beyond combining nanoparticles with a matrix or by mixing two materials.


One case study: 2D materials beyond graphene

Graphene has been characterized as the “rapidly rising star on the horizon of materials science and condensed-matter physics .” For the past several years, it has captivated the attention of scientists for its potential as a disruptive nanomaterial. This single atom-thick, two-dimensional (2D) honeycomb lattice of carbon atoms has shown promise for many applications, including optical electronics, energy storage, and sensing. Other multicomposite nanolayered materials also offer a wide variety of options for researchers to exploit. Yet, despite initial successes in research on multicomposite nanomaterials, commercial industry applications still face major challenges, all of which have an international dimension. For example, a brief look at the rocky history of carbon nanotubes indicates that a research boom coupled with impressive technical performance is far from a guarantee of commercial success, as major challenges like high manufacturing costs, environment, health, and safety (EHS) concerns, and competing emerging technologies loom large.



The goal of this study is to gather information on the worldwide status and trends in 2D and 3D layered materials manufacturing and R&D, and to disseminate it to government decision makers and the research community. The study panelists will gather information on research abroad, which will be useful to the United States Government in its own programs. The study will critically analyze and compare the research in the United States with that being pursued in Asia and Europe. This information will serve the following purposes:

Identify promising trends overseas worth exploring in U.S. R&D programs
Clarify research opportunities and needs for promoting progress in the field
Identify specific opportunities (persons and institutions) for international collaboration
Evaluate the position of foreign research programs relative to those in the U.S.



The scope of the study will focus on the following four important topics:

 Survey of nanomodular composite materials, devices and systems with a heterogeneous composition of various nanostructures (nanomodules), from research to applications. The overall purpose is identifying novel and economic solutions for nanomanufacturing, nanosystems, and overall nanotechnology.
 2D materials beyond graphene, including combining 2D and 3D nanostructures, and building nanosystems from nanomodules. An example is building measuring devices from nanomodules.
 Methods for creating and designing nanomodular materials, devices, and systems, including modeling and simulation. This will require better knowledge of system behavior, interfaces, dynamic characteristics of non-uniform structures, and optimization methods.
 Identification of new, unexpected nanomodular composite materials, devices, and systems, going beyond simple combinations of nanoparticles or mixing of two materials.

Some particular aspects to be investigated include:

Recent advances towards the knowledge base of 2D and 3D layered materials, including: better understanding of the material physiochemical properties and potential for novel applications; incorporation of these materials in advanced composite nanomaterials; and comparative assessment of two-dimensional or 3D layered nanomaterials (transition metal dichalcogenides, transition metal oxides, etc.)
Methods and manufacturing technologies for the large-scale and low-cost production of high quality 2D and 3D layered materials, including current barriers that must be overcome in order to achieve high-volume production
Characterization methods, metrology, as well as modeling and simulation tools to ensure quality of materials and products, as part of the design and manufacturing process
Assessment of international market trends for advanced multicomposite nanomaterials, including their incorporation into intermediate and end products as well as advanced composite materials, and including a comparison of these trends to the commercial prospects of other types of nanomaterials
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 manufacturing research
Long range research, educational, and infrastructure issues that need to be addressed to promote better progress in the field


Additional Topics and Issues

Other topics may be added to the study scope based on discussion among expert panelists and the sponsors of the study. Some additional topics to be considered could include the following:

What are current technical and economical challenges delaying the adoption of multi-dimensional layered materials into specific markets?
How can the chemistry of these materials (local and bulk) enable novel applications (e.g., in electronics and biomedicine)?
What is the adequacy of existing and planned advanced manufactured facilities?
What is the current level of resources by government and industry for research on 2D and 3D layered materials for manufacturing and across the value chain?
What are the appropriate respective roles of government and industry with respect to pursuing research and applications in 2D and 3D layered materials, and how to views on these roles differ between the United States and other countries? What is the role of public/private partnerships in the U.S. vs. in other countries?
Manufacturing processes with scalability for large production:
    • Chemical vapor deposition (CVD)
    • Liquid-phase exfoliation
    • Mechanical exfoliation
    • Molecular assembly
Application domains:
    • Flexible substrates and electronics
    • Biomedical systems, devices, and sensors
    • Optical electronics
    • Filtration and water treatment
    • Composite materials
    • Photovoltaic cells
    • Energy storage
Fundamental research topics:
    • Band gap engineering
    • Heterostructures and quantum devices
    • Computational modeling for structure/function
Strategic and business considerations:
    • Intellectual property
    • International standards
    • Long term strategies for effective research and development
    • Road mapping



US Baseline workshop: October 6, 2014
Asian Tour: March 17 - 28, 2015
European Tour: April 24 - May 2, 2015
Final Workshop: June 2, 2015


For More Information:

Dr. R. D. Shelton, WTEC,, 717-299-7130.
Dr. Tarek Fadel, ITRI,, 503-329-8596.




    Study Chair

    • Pulickel Ajayan

      Rice U.


    • Panelists

    • Kaustav Banerjee

    • Donald Brenner

    • Ahmed Busnaina

      Northeastern U.
    • Padma Gopalan

      U. Wisconsin
    • Charlie Johnson

      U. Pennsylvania
    • Mike Stopa



    • Advisors

    • Boris Yakobson

      Rice U