Daniel Apley - Subproject for Institution # SP0032077

Project: Research project

Project Details


Many novel applications have become possible through the introduction of structural hierarchy of the nano-scale building blocks over a wide range of length scales. However, the current deterministic design strategy requires a precise placement and integration of nanostructures, which imposes stringent requirements for the nanomanufacturing technologies. The development of economically viable nanomanufacturing solutions is still facing two main technology barriers: 1) the mismatching of the deterministic design methodology and the cost effective bottom-up approach with inherent stochastic nature and 2) the lack of communication between the design and manufacturing process development.

To overcome these barriers, this proposal aims to create a new nanomanufacturing paradigm by implementing non-deterministic design representations and a concurrent design principle. The key research components include: 1) non-deterministic design representations that exploit the stochastic nature of the bottom-up nanomanufacturing process; 2) a manufacturing-aware physical modeling strategy that facilitates direct design-manufacturing data pipeline; 3) a concurrent design framework that allows simultaneous optimization of the structure and process variables; and 4) cost-effective and robust scalable nanomanufacturing solutions with inherent robustness. The methodology developed here will be validated using two testbeds: a) low-cost self-assembled block-copolymer coating to enhance the light-trapping in the thin film solar cell, and b) optical metamaterials coating through directed 3D assembly of meta-atoms. This transformational initiative necessitates the convergence of expertise from a broad range of disciplines including engineering design, materials science, physics and photonics, and nano-manufacturing that only a multidisciplinary research team can realistically bring together.

Intellectual merit: The proposed research is the first that unifies optimization of the structure and process variables for nanomanufacturing in a concurrent design methodology. The implementation of non-deterministic representations fully captures the stochastic nature that underlies both the bottom-up nanomanufacturing process and the collective propones in the quasi-random photonic devices, which has been overlooked in the past. The research brings new insight to the non-deterministic design approach that unleashes the full potential of the bottom-up nanomanufacturing technologies with inherent robustness against fabrication imperfections. Finally, the emphasis on the testbeds provides the tangible engineering platform for facilitating experimental validation of the design methodology and technology transfer. Such synergistic efforts are directed toward our long-term vision of creating a new nanomanufacturing paradigm with the emphasis on scalabilities, cost-effectiveness, and robustness.

Broader impact: The proposed research extends the concurrent design principle to address the critical needs for a cost-effective, robust, and scalable nanomanufacturing process. The new design methodology as well as the novel nano-manufacturing capabilities will likely stimulate growth in a broader spectrum of high technology industries such as the multi-billion dollar medical, consumer electronics, telecommunications, and related industrial markets. Although the testbeds are focused on photonic materials and devices, the design methodology and manufacturing process are generic and can be applied as the “technology enabler” for a broad range of applications, such as bio-medical
Effective start/end date8/15/157/31/20


  • National Science Foundation (EEC-1530734)

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