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Commercialization of Emerging Nanoscale Processing and Characterization Hardware: Innovations and Challenges
Volume 2, Issue 2

Eric T. Eisenbraun,  College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering at the University at Albany—SUNY

Nanotechnology has emerged in our society via two different approaches—on the one hand, as the “evolutionary” shrinking of our ability to manipulate and measure materials down to the nanoscale; and on the other hand, from the ”revolutionary” perspective whereby material synthesis is considered from the assembly of individual building blocks. Just as these two views of nanotechnology are essentially different, so too are the philosophies behind the tools employed to make nanoscale science a reality. Improving the performance of devices often requires the integration of new materials, which in turn will require new deposition techniques, and, consequently, new hardware. Such changes can either be satisfied with an “evolutionary” extension of prior techniques, or may require a “revolutionary” break from the past. In this article, Dr. Eric Eisenbraun reflects on some of the pitfalls and promises taught by the commercialization of material processing and measurement equipment, and how the needs of industry have both pushed the limits of technology and helped to promote innovations and enable the availability of such hardware. One case in point from each “camp” will be explored in detail—atomic layer deposition (“ALD”) and dip pen nanolithography (“DPN”).

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