Continued advances in various fabrication processes and technologies including self-assembly, multiphoton polymerization, and roll-to-roll processing have led to rapid developments in both top-down and bottom-up approaches to nanomanufacturing (nanoMFG). Concomitant with these advances has been the increased use of various commercial simulation platforms to facilitate understanding of various phenomena at the nanoscale. However, notwithstanding the marked progress in both nanomanufacturing technology and nanoscience, there has heretofore been a clear absence of open source simulation tools to help guide precise design and manufacturing of complex nano-scale structures. The economic viability of nanomanufacturing as a competitive means of production rests on the utility of the resulting nanomanufactured products, which in turn relies on a thorough understanding of not just how to manufacture such structures but the underlying driving scientific phenomena, as well.

According to an extensive 2010 science policy report, “Nanotechnology Research Directions for Societal Needs in 2020,” assembled by the National Science Foundation, theory, modeling, and simulation (TM&S) are critical to successful manufacturing [see M.C. Roco, C.A. Mirkin, M.C. Hersam. Nanotechnology Research Directions for Societal Needs in 2020, Springer, National Science Foundation and World Technology Evaluation Center (WTEC), Boston (2010)]. The authors highlight that multiscale TM&S is essential to advancing theory in nanoscience, which will lead to the development of the nanomanufacturing of useful devices and structures. A notable characteristic of multiscale simulation is that different approaches and tools is required at the different scales [“with atomistic upscaling and downscaling”], which will necessitate novel numerical methods with spatio-temporal scaling properties. Moreover, the authors argue that especially in the context of nanomanufacturing, “…TM&S will need (1) increased computing capability, (2) improved computational infrastructure, (3) critical input from experiments, and (4) to learn how to address defects, disorder, and variability in materials.” [1] This proposal team is well-positioned to tackle these challenges.

The aim of the nanomanufacturing (nanoMFG) node is to develop computational software tools aimed at creating smart, model-driven and experimentally informed nanomanufactured structures and devices. The node will be part of the established Network for Computational Nanotechnology (NCN) Cyber Platform, and the tools developed freely shared on the nanoHUB cyberframework. The nanoMFG node is the first of its kind in the country and is hosted at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) in partnership with the University of California at Berkeley.

The vision of the nanoMFG node will be to simulate every step of the manufacturing process of a nano-enabled product. It is therefore the node’s mission to be the engine for design, simulation, planning, and optimization of nano-manufacturing processes. This will be accomplished by developing tools using a layered computational infrastructure comprising nanoscale transport phenomena models, process models, uncertainty quantification framework, application and empirical validation of process models, tools for multiscale transport phenomena, and tools for nanoscale self-assembly.

The main features of the nanoMFG node will be the following: (1) a range of simulation tools that leverage team expertise in combinatorial chemistry, microfluidics, photonics, electronics, and manufacturing at various scales, (2) promotion of node theme and tools through STEM outreach and broad dissemination activities, and (3) updating tools based on regular feedback from manufacturing industry partners.