White Paper: A Federal Vision for Future Computing: A Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge

Subject Area:
NNI Publications and Reports
Author: NNI/OSTP
Publication Date: Jul. 29 2016


This white paper presents a collective vision from the collaborating Federal agencies of the emerging and innovative solutions needed to realize the Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge for Future Computing. It describes the technical priorities shared by multiple Federal agencies, highlights the challenges and opportunities associated with these priorities, and presents a guiding vision for the research and development needed to achieve key near-, mid-, and long-term technical goals. By coordinating and collaborating across multiple levels of government, industry, academia, and nonprofit organizations, the nanotechnology and computer science communities can look beyond the decades-old approach to computing based on the von Neumann architecture and chart a new path that will continue the rapid pace of innovation beyond the next decade.

On October 20, 2015, the White House announced “A Nanotechnology-Inspired Grand Challenge” to develop transformational computing capabilities by combining innovations in multiple scientific disciplines. The Grand Challenge addresses three Administration priorities—the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), the National Strategic Computing Initiative (NSCI), and the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative to:

         "Create a new type of computer that can proactively interpret and learn from data, solve unfamiliar problems using           what it has learned, and operate with the energy efficiency of the human brain."

While it continues to be a national priority to advance conventional digital computing—which has been the engine of the information technology revolution—current technology falls far short of the human brain in terms of the brain’s sensing and problem-solving abilities and its low power consumption. Many experts predict that fundamental physical limitations will prevent transistor technology from ever matching these characteristics.

Nanotechnology Fact

The NNI community extends beyond the Federal Government and includes grantees, students, companies, technical and professional societies, foundations, and others engaged in nanotechnology research and development. This vibrant community exists in large part as a result of the efforts of the NNI agencies over the past two decades. With the expansion of scientific knowledge in nanotechnology, formal and informal collaborations have developed among researchers across a diverse range of fields and countries. These interactions and collaborations have been and continue to be facilitated by agency activities including public–private partnerships, research centers, and networks. In addition to providing fabrication, characterization, and testing capabilities, the NNI’s physical infrastructure also provides a place for researchers, industry, and ideas to mix, further expanding the community. This community has broken down the traditional disciplinary boundaries and laid the foundation for interdisciplinary discovery, which is increasingly vital to research as fields converge.

If you are interested in learning how you can participate, send an email to info@nnco.nano.gov.

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