The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) hosted the Nanosensor Manufacturing Workshop: Finding Better Paths to Products, in support of the Nanotechnology for Sensors and Sensors for Nanotechnology signature initiative (Sensors NSI), on June 13–14, 2017, in Arlington, Virginia. Participants, including Federal, private, and academic stakeholders, surveyed the ecosystem for taking a nanotechnology-enabled sensor from the research lab to production. Important issues related to manufacturing such as fabrication, testing, and product performance were examined. Key findings included the following:
- Performance and materials specifications play a critical role in guiding product development and can facilitate communication of technical requirements between sensors developers and their suppliers, manufacturers, and customers.
- The availability and reliability of commercially sourced nanomaterials may be uncertain, posing a unique challenge for developers of nanotechnology-enabled sensors. These uncertainties will likely diminish as nanomaterial production processes mature.
- Sensor testing can be improved by proactively creating a tiered testing strategy that spans the entire development process and by ensuring access to appropriate testbeds, either by building the testbeds in-house or working with an outside organization. While sensor arrays often provide powerful analytic capabilities, the inclusion of multiple sensor types can vastly complicate the testing process.
- Attaining reproducible performance can reduce the need to fully test and calibrate every sensor in a large batch. Reproducibility depends on many factors such as fabrication tolerances, failure modes, and materials reliability.