Future Directions

Bionanomanufacturing holds substantial promise for the fabrication of a wide range of devices and processes that involve biomolecules. Despite early success, researchers are still a long way from fully realizing the potential of this new manufacturing capability. Currently, most parallel bionanofabrication techniques work only in solution, and spatially addressable modifications of individual biomolecular ensembles would require significant improvement in patterning and immobilization techniques of biomolecules. On the other hand, serial bionanofabrication methods are usually slow and creating a large number of nanoscale entities is tedious. Future research will clearly focus on two objectives: (1) make parallel bionanofabrication more amenable to multiple-step fabrication procedures by programmed self-assembly and (2) make serial bionanofabrication faster and more scalable by redesigning the technique and hardware to better accommodate the constraints posed by the unique properties of biological components.

In addition, the lack of analytical tools for the characterization of biomolecular assemblies also poses substantial challenges to the integration of parallel and serial bionanomanufacturing processes. Tools for the structural and functional characterization of hybrid nanoscale devices are needed as UHV analytical tools such as x-ray photoelectron spectrometry (XPS), secondary-ion mass spectrometry (SIMS), SEM, and TEM that have been extraordinarily useful for the characterization of hard, dry materials and devices cannot be directly used for the chemical and structural analyses of hybrid devices that incorporate biomolecules. Moreover, the integration of various biological components into nanofabrication techniques, which are widely used in IC and MEMS manufacturing, is still under development, that would ultimately allow these systems to come together and work in unison to assemble useful nanoscale devices. In parallel with new bionanomanufacturing methods, tools for metrology and spectroscopy of nanoscale biomolecular devices are urgently needed to drive the evolution of the emerging discipline of bionanomanufacturing.

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