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Posted: October 2, 2008

DARPA and technology fund award $9.7 million grant to atomically precise manufacturing consortium

(Nanowerk News) Zyvex Labs today announced the award of a $9.7M program funded by DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) and Texas' ETF (Emerging Technology Fund). The goal of this effort is to develop a new manufacturing technique that enables "Tip-Based Nanofabrication" to accelerate the transition of nanotechnology from the laboratory to commercial products. Starting with the construction of 'one-at-a-time' atomically precise silicon structures, the Consortium initially plans to develop atomically precise, 'quantum dot' nanotech-based products in volume at practical production rates and costs. Harnessing this capability will position the United States and Texas with the fundamental technology to develop next-generation quantum dot applications for military and commercial applications such as advanced communications, metrology, and quantum computers. The spin-off nanomanufacturing capabilities from that early application will result in revolutionary nanotech products in follow-on development.
The charter industry APMC members are Zyvex Labs, General Dynamics, Integrated Circuit Scanning Probe Instruments, and Vought Aircraft; while Texas Higher Education members include the University of Texas at Dallas, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of North Texas. Other Higher Education members are the University of Central Florida and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Government and non-profit consortium members are the US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the North Texas Regional Center for Innovation & Commercialization (NTXRCIC). Other consortium members of all three types are expected to be added as the program progresses into later stages.
"We are extremely proud to receive this award," said John Randall, Ph.D., Vice President of Zyvex Labs and Principal Investigator for the APMC research program. "The technologies developed by this program will be the first to allow robust three-dimensional solid structures to be created with atomic precision under computer control. While, historically, this falls in line with ongoing efforts throughout human history to improve manufacturing precision, it is revolutionary because it will achieve unprecedented precision by taking advantage of the quantized nature of matter."
"DARPA is investing in breakthrough approaches to nanomanufacturing. Our goal is to develop the capability to fabricate nanostructures in such a way that we can control position, size, shape and orientation at the nanometer scale, which is not possible today," said Tom Kenny, DARPA Program Manager. "If we can demonstrate this, we will be able to truly unlock the potential capabilities of nanotechnology."
To almost double the resources supporting the APMC, the $5M in DARPA research funding is 'matched' by the Texas ETF of $4.7M to achieve a total program size of $9.7M. The North Texas Regional Center for NTXRCIC will serve as the 'fiscal agent' to administer the APMC funding from the ETF; and will also sponsor the "APMC Advisory Board" of senior industry and scientific experts that will direct the overall strategy and early commercialization activities of the APMC.
"As the regional representative for the ETF, we are excited about our role in the APMC consortium," said R. Mike Lockerd, Executive Director of the NTXRCIC. "Under the leadership of Zyvex Labs, APMC combines business, scientific and academic excellence; and we are confident that this consortium will develop ground-breaking technologies which may redefine how we create, manufacture and commercialize future products in Texas."
"This is a most exciting program and is very well aligned with my group's goals," said Richard M. Silver, a Program Manager in the Nanomanufacturing Program at the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). "It is one of those unique programs where the basic work in advanced scientific institutions is aligned with industry toward a revolutionary and technologically important goal."
"We are both thrilled and proud to be an integral part of the innovative APMC consortium project," said Robert M. Wallace, PhD, the principal investigator and Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Physics at the University of Texas at Dallas. "The program taps our extensive expertise and capability to manipulate silicon surfaces at the atomic scale and provides a conduit for our research to be translated into a viable nanotechnology product. This industry-university-government partnership supporting the consortium presents us with a unique opportunity to impact Texas and the world of nanotechnology."
About DARPA
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is the central research and development organization for the Department of Defense (DoD). It manages and directs selected basic and applied research and development projects for DoD, and pursues research and technology where risk and payoff are both very high and where success may provide dramatic advances for traditional military roles and missions.
About the Texas ETF
The $200M ETF was initially enacted by the Texas Legislature in June 2005 to expedite the commercialization of technologies and creation of high-tech jobs in Texas; and one component of the fund is used to match federal research funds.
About the North Texas RCIC
The NTXRCIC serves the North Texas Region to identify, evaluate and provide matching funding for new technology projects with the aim of increasing cooperation between industrial, financial, and academic entities, and of creating new commercial entities based on those technologies to establish new technical industry sectors in the region.
About the APMC
Zyvex Labs leads the APMC consortium, which is comprised of government, university, and industry partners. The consortium was formed to maximize the commercialization opportunities for the technology developed in this program. Consortium members include: General Dynamics, ICSPI, NIST, Vought Aircraft, Zyvex Labs, the University of Central Florida, the University of Illinois, the University of North Texas, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Texas at Dallas, and the North Texas RCIC.
Source: Zyvex (press release)