Ahmed Busnaina

Ahmed Busnaina

Director / WL Smith Chair and University Distinguished Professor
Place of employment
Works at
National Science Foundation’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center / Northeastern University

Ahmed A. Busnaina, Ph.D. is the William Lincoln Smith Chair Professor, Distinguished University Professor and founding Director of National Science Foundation’s Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing and the NSF Center for Nano and Micro-contamination Control at Northeastern University, Boston, MA.

Prof. Busnaina is internationally recognized for his work on nano and micro scale defects in nano and microfabrication. He specializes in directed assembly-based printing  of micro and nanoscale devices. He developed many manufacturing techniques for nanomaterials based electronics, sensors, energy, biomedical and materials applications. His research support exceeds $50 million. He authored more than 600 papers in journals, proceedings and conferences in addition to 45 filed and awarded patents. He is an associate editor of the Journal of Nanoparticle Research. He also serves on many advisory boards including Samsung Electronics, International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors, Journal of Particulate Science and Technology, Journal of Electronic Materials Letters. He is a fellow of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the Adhesion Society, a Fulbright Senior Scholar and listed in Who's Who in the World.


Scalability and commercialisation of Nano manufacturing technologies

Short abstract

Nanoscale electronics are currently made using conventional semiconductor process with fabrication facilities costing up to $15 billion and using large quantities of water, power and chemicals. However, over the last decade, printing has been used to make commercial electronics, flexible displays, and RFID tags (currently a 40 billion dollar industry). However, the minimum line width is 20 microns compared to present electronics which 1000 times smaller. The NSF Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN) has developed a new technology that uses directed assembly based manufacturing and printing at the nanoscale to make products that fully take advantage of the superior properties of nanomaterials at ambient pressure and temperature and at a cost of 100 times lower. The process is capable of printing metals, insulators and semiconductors, organic and inorganic materials into nanoscale structures and circuits (down to 20 nanometers).  

There were two challenges to move this technology forward toward commercialization; the first is how to scale it and the second is how get industry to take advantage of the technology. To scale the process from the lab environment, the CHN worked on scaling the printing process to obtain a repeatable process, high yield and to print over a large area and at a high rate. That led to the design and building of the world’s first fully automated robotic cluster tool system that can print products with nanoscale features and structures. The Nanoscale Offset Printing System (NanoOPS) has been used to print features utilizing nanoparticles, nanotubes, nanowires, 2D materials and polymers. The second challenge was that having a new printing or manufacturing technology is not sufficient for commercialization unless products can be made and unless these products are needed and  costs less than other competitive products made using other technologies. Many products and applications were considered, but intuitive choices such as electronics were not the best choices for the first application. Rather, the best choices were for products that were needed but not currently available and that were simple and could be easily printed such as biosensors. For example, among them is a biosensor chip (0.02 mm) capable of detecting multiple biomarkers simultaneously (in vitro and in vivo) with a detection limit that’s 200 times lower than current technology or a Band-Aid or a wearable sensor that could read glucose or lactate levels using sweat. This biosensor platform has been used to detect E. coli, and Adenovirus. In addition, an inexpensive micro chemical sensor with a low detection limit that’s less than 1 mm in size has also been developed to detect environmental or industrial contamination.  This new technology is expected to eliminate high cost entry barriers to the fabrication of nanoscale devices for sensors, electronics, energy, medical, and functional materials applications.

Track & Session

Plenary Inspirational Lecture

23 June 16:00-17:00 hr