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Dr. Ahmed A. Busnaina: Moving NanoScale Discoveries to High-Rate Manufacturing

by Editor1 last modified November 15, 2007 - 18:26

Dr. Ahmed A. Busnaina of Northeastern University (Boston, Mass.) focuses his research on bringing valuable nanoscale discoveries from lab into high-volume manufacturing. He directs the National Science Foundation’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing, and the Center for Nano and Microcontamination Control. He speaks with about his research.

Dr. Ahmed A. Busnaina: Moving NanoScale Discoveries to High-Rate Manufacturing

Northeastern U's Dr. Ahmed A. Busnaina directs NSF's Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center (NSEC) for High-Rate Nanomanufacturing.

While nanoscale research continues to make core discoveries for improving medicine, pharmaceuticals, electronics, and materials, the fields of nanofabrication and nanomanufacturing often provide valuable last-steps for taking these core discoveries out of the lab and into low-cost, mass-produced products.

Dr. Busnaina, who also serves as Northeastern’s William Lincoln Smith Chair Professor, describes the challenges in his science of scaling up volumes for nanoscale discoveries.

“The challenge to scale up nanoscale directed assembly research into manufacturing processes that can assemble trillions of nanoelements into desirable nanoscale structures or patterns over inches and in minutes is very appealing,” he said. “It involves understanding the fundamental science at the nanoscale in order to identify and control the assembly and orientation of nanoscale elements and to scale up assembly processes in a continuous or high-rate manner.”

Recent accomplishments by Dr. Busnaina and his team at NSEC include the directed assembly of single wall nanotubes (SWNTs) to manufacture nonvolatile memory switches operating at low voltage, the organized assembly of nanoscale SWNTs wires 4 inches and longer on soft and hard substrates that can be used for ultra-strong and conductive nanoscale material as well as for flexible displays and nanoelectronics, and the directed assembly of nanoparticles to make interconnects (as small as 10 nm) and biosensors. “The work we do on directed assembly with our center’s professors, post-docs staff, and students is very rewarding and challenging at the same time,” adds Dr. Busnaina.

Dr. Busnaina’s team is working in several areas of high-rate manufacturing that could impact medicine, electronics and even security. Among the goals of these research projects:
  1. emergence of nonvolatile, high-speed memory resistant to heat, cold, magnetism, vibration, and radiation;
  2. lower-cost biosensors that can detect multiple cancers with a single device and be more precise with smaller sample sizes;
  3. silicon chips that can aid in intelligent drug delivery (through timed release or the release of multiple compounds); and
  4. ultra-strong conductive flexible materials and nanoscale interconnects.
Scope and Future of Nanomanufacturing
Leading the way in the research of nanoscale manufacturing, Dr. Busnaina is internationally recognized for his work on the mitigation and removal of nano- and microscale defects in semiconductor fabrication. He is also involved in the fabrication of nanoscale wires, structures, and interconnects, and specializes in the directed assembly of nanoelements, including nanotubes and nanoparticles. “I have worked in semiconductor manufacturing and micro- and nanoparticle control for more than 20 years, which prepared me well to take on the grand challenges of nanomanufacturing,” says Dr. Busnaina.

As to the future of nanoscale manufacturing and its direction, Dr. Busnaina is cautiously optimistic. “Nanotechnology is still in its infancy and can not survive without true partnerships between academia, industry, and government to accomplish the true benefits of nanotechnology commercialization to society,” he told “This will involve seed investments from government, industry, or both to encourage such partnerships. There is a need to pursue fundamental understanding of the basic 'nano building blocks' and how they interface in different environments and with different nanoelements and surfaces, but there also a need to learn how to build (i.e., nanomanufacture) useful applications on component or system levels.”

Exhibiting true passion and commitment, Dr. Busnaina is sure to continue as an influential figure in the realms of nanotechnology—taking it from the laboratory into the course of everyday life.

More about Dr. Ahmed Busnaina
In addition to his efforts at NSEC, Dr. Ahmed A. Busnaina serves on the advisory boards of various companies, societies, and journals. With research support exceeding $25 million, he has also served as a consultant on micro-contamination and particle adhesion issues, authored more than 300 papers, organized more than 80 conferences, workshops, symposia, and programs, and chaired and organized more than 90 sessions and panels.

Dr. Busnaina is a fellow of both the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and the Adhesion Society, is a Fulbright Senior Scholar, and is listed in Who's Who in the World. He was awarded the 2006 Nanotech Briefs National Nano50 Award (Innovator category), the 2006 Outstanding Faculty and Soren Buus Outstanding Research Award at Northeastern University, and the 2005 Aspiration Award at Northeastern University.

Dr. Busnaina is the editor of the Nanomanufacturing Handbook (CRC Press, January 2007) and a contributor to the Handbook of Nanoscience, Engineering, and Technology, Second Edition (CRC Press, May 2007).