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Nanotechnology: Promise or Hype

David Ferry
Arizona State University

Date and Time: 

April 4, 2014 - 11:15am to 12:30pm


Gunness Student Center Conference Center


Zlatan Aksamija

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We are surrounded by forecasts of revolutionary nanotechnology, little of which we consciously see coming to reality.  Is this because the status of nanotechnology is merely hype, or is the reality somewhat different.  In this talk, I shall try to convey the idea that the latter is really the case.  In fact, we can break nanotechnology into two separate schemes.  In the first, evolutionary developments, such as those in the world of micro-computers, automatically brings us into the realm of nanotechnology, and has done so for far more than a decade.  This is characterized by (in my field) the idea of Moore’s law, describing the size reduction in micro-computers.  The second realm is novel new applications that arise from our discoveries of new materials and/or new processing technology.  This is characterized not the least by novel new approaches in e.g. lighting technology.  But, there will be few “eureka” moments. Instead, the introduction of novel effects is limited by difficult manufacturing and technological advances that must be made.  Hence, we will see a gradual, but steady, introduction of these new effects into our everyday world.  Nevertheless, the future is far brighter for nanotechnology than some would have us believe.


David Ferry is Regents’ Professor in the School of Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering at Arizona State University.  He is also graduate faculty in the Department of Physics and the Materials Science and Engineering program at ASU, as well as Visiting Professor at Chiba University in Japan.  He came to ASU in 1983 following shorter stints at Texas Tech University, the Office of Naval Research, and Colorado State University.  In the distant past, he received his doctorate from the University of Texas, Austin, and spent a postdoctoral period at the University of Vienna, Austria.  He enjoys teaching (which he refers to as “warping young minds”) and research.  The latter is focused on semiconductors, particularly as they apply to nanotechnology and integrated circuits, as well as quantum effects in devices.  In 1999, he received the Cledo Brunetti Award from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and is a Fellow of this group as well as the American Physical Society and the Institute of Physics (UK).  He is the author, coauthor, or editor of 20 books and more than 700 refereed journal articles.  He has been a Tennessee Squire since 1971 and an Admiral in the Texas Navy since 1973.