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Exclusive Interview with Dr. Marc Madou, Author of Landmark Fundamentals of Microfabrication and Nanotechnology (3 Volumes)

by Editor1 last modified September 23, 2011 - 19:09

Now in its third edition, Fundamentals of Microfabrication and Nanotechnology is a massive update to one of the best-selling textbooks in nanotechnology. The updated edition spans three volumes – and is the most complete work on MEMS, NEMS and nanotechnology manufacturing ever published.

Exclusive Interview with Dr. Marc Madou, Author of Landmark Fundamentals of Microfabrication and Nanotechnology (3 Volumes) speaks with the author, Dr Marc Madou, Chancellor's Professor at UC Irvine, Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and Department of Biomedical Engineering. Dr. Madou describes his work as not simply as update – but a push to help the U.S. “re-engineer engineering,” by using MEMS nanotechnology to bring manufacturing prowess back to the U.S.

Tell us about the massive update to Fundamentals of Microfabrication and Nanotechnology, already a well-regarded standard in the field?

Dr. Madou: The latest edition is not just an update. It’s really an overall effort to make MEMS and nanotechnology a more solid, substantial course.

You could call the middle [volume] an update to the last textbook, But Volume One [Solid-State Physics, Fluidics, and Analytical Techniques ] and Volume Three [From MEMS to Bio-MEMS and Bio-NEMS: Manufacturing Techniques and Applications] are totally new. So this effort is mostly new and addresses a need for the U.S. to get back into advanced manufacturing, what I call ‘re-engineer engineering,’ and use nanotechnology to get us back into manufacturing.
Your textbook is already a best-seller. Tell us more about what drove you to write such a major update?

Dr. Madou:  I feel the U.S. is facing a tremendous problem in loss of manufacturing. So, in this rewrite, I want more people to see that MEMS and nano should be seen as an opportunity to manufacture things and help the U.S retain a manufacturing edge [for a] longer than we have for other technologies in the past.  MEMS and nano are items where the government has invested tremendously, but so far the U.S. hasn’t really retained much benefit. We in the U.S. invest in nano here, but the real products are produced somewhere else.

In the U.S., we say we’ll design and market [manufactured] products, but I think if we don’t know the latest manufacturing tricks we can’t properly design the next generation of products. So, a loss of manufacturing is something that may lead to the loss of even the ability to design new products.
And so you’re seeing this connection between design and manufacturing, and that’s the vision behind your latest book?

Dr. Madou:  Exactly! So at my school, UC-Irvine, we have succeeded in bringing on campus a rapid prototyping company, and it’s amazing to see how quickly young engineering students take to it. The pleasure of quickly designing something and prototyping it. We need to bring that back.  Somehow in the schools in the U.S., especially in mechanical engineering, manufacturing has gone off the curriculum. They used to have wood shop, and as naïve as this might sound, that is a good thing.

So, there are two main drives for this book. One is to explore deeper into the theory of MEMS and nano, so it can become an independent discipline that will stand on its own, apart from IC (integrated circuits). The second is to make a deeper connection between design, theory and manufacturing. So, for example, Book Two of the series has been expanded with much more material on rapid prototyping.
Wow, that’s quite a compelling vision. Take us through more examples of how you assembled the 3 volumes?

Dr. Madou:  Of course. The intent of Book One Solid-State Physics, Fluidics, and Analytical Techniques in Micro- and Nanotechnology is to give much more theoretical background to MEMS and nanotechnology students.

Book Two, the middle volume, is basically the expansion of the original book. It is called Manufacturing Techniques for Microfabrication and Nanotechnology

Book Three From MEMS to Bio-MEMS: Manufacturing Techniques and Applications is to focus on processing and manufacturing techniques.

The textbook now has a more theoretical flavor (rather than just process description) because I’ve always been frustrated that when one teaches a MEMS course it’s a very difficult to ask quantitative questions. It’s always something like, ‘Compare this process to that one,’ or ‘Design this device.’ With this update, I’ve gone into the theory of what’s behind all of the phenomena of what you can observe in the micro and nano domains. I want to provide a theoretical framework for all of MEMS and nanotechnology, especially for manufacturing. This approach I think will help create more substantial courses. I hope MEMS and nano can become independent courses and stand on their own with a solid foundation.
It sounds like you’ve done this major rewrite for fellow professors and teachers, not simply for students?

Dr. Madou:  Yes, definitely. In talking to colleagues, I’m finding many of us have the same common frustration – in classes it is still too much showing things, rather than a description of the real reasons on why and how to build things. Going more into the theories and helping students better understand photonics and plasmonics (for example), I felt will help students know why they are making certain types of devices and designing them at a certain size range.
Discuss that a little more. Can you give a couple of examples?

Dr. Madou: Yes.  For example, I have a conviction that MEMS and nanotechnology have been too much part of the IC [integrated circuit] world. They were a derivative of that, but less than 5 percent of the world’s IC revenues come from MEMS and nanotechnology, This is despite the fact there are so many applications.

When I looked at that, I felt there was something wrong there. So, my vision is that MEMS and nano should be taught as more independent disciplines and letting MEMS and nano stand by themselves -- without being part of IC -- could open up MEMS and nano to a whole new world of applications and opportunities. So, I’ve also put more effort to promote commercialization of nanotechnology.
Let’s drill into the pages of your textbook. How can students and teachers benefit from so much new material in Fundamentals of Microfabrication and Nanotechnology?

Dr, Madou:  Sure, so as an example, I did put a very big effort in explaining scaling laws, to help people understand more about the consequences of miniaturization at the MEMS and especially at the nano domains.

This dependence of physical properties on size dictates that your approach for teaching nanotechnology should be very different from how you teach MEMS or ICs. Also the science and engineering communities involved [in these different domains] are very different. For example, with nano you can have ‘bottom-up’ manufacturing, as well as top-down manufacturing, so you’ll also get chemists and biologists involved. This means nano studies can take on a much broader and multi-disciplinary approach than MEMS or IC, and that can lead to many many more applications and many exciting new products.
That’s a great example. How about another one?

Dr. Madou:  Let’s also look at the theory of nano and MEMS from another perspective. The more students understand about the theory behind MEMS and nano, the more a MEMS NEMS education can stand on its own.

Also, with extra information on theory, I hope this stimulates U.S. schools to revamp their efforts in advanced manufacturing and help do something in the U.S. to restart this country’s pre-eminence in innovation, and keep the benefits that come from it on shore. If only the invention IP is here, you don’t control much. It is the implementation and resulting IP that keep you in the game the longest.
Where do you see the opportunities in the next 3-5 years?

Dr. Madou:  I would think low hanging fruit are molecular diagnostics, how you incorporate DNA arrays, protein arrays in fluidics structures that make sample preparations simpler. (lab on a chip) There are a lot of job opportunities there.

Everything that has to do with electro spinning, polymer wires, optoelectronic devices, replacing silicon with carbon electronic circuitry – so full of potential. Another area we need to look at much more deeply is anything to do with structural colors, instead of using dyes to paint the walls structural materials may be used.

I would also include polymer electronics and carbon electronics, which by the way should be something more than just carbon nanotubes. I would say making any nanowire or nanostructure with inexpensive technology such as electro-spinning is important [because] those approaches get you access to mass production of nano devices.

It all comes back to my view that we need to ‘re-engineer engineering,’ and I hope this new textbook helps get us there.

Download Prefaces from Fundamentals of Microfabrication and Nanotechnology’s 3 volumes

Solid-State Physics, Fluidics, and Analytical Techniques in Micro- and Nanotechnology

Manufacturing Techniques for Microfabrication and Nanotechnology

From MEMS to Bio-MEMS: Manufacturing Techniques and Applications