Prof. Mike Kelly of the University of Cambridge's Centre for Advanced Photonics and Electronics, is questioning how small nanomanufacturing can go. He suggests it’s impossible to reliable mass produce nanostructures of three nanometres or less using external tools (or a “top-down” approach).
Kelly researched a statistical evaluation of mass-produced vertical nanopillars, used in sensors and displays, and found variations high enough that the nanocomponents would not function optimally. The alternative “bottom-up” approach, which uses molecules to construct whole materials, also has problems and can be too unpredictable for defect–free mass production.
Kelly’s work appears the journal Nanotechnology (April 21 issue).