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

Description:

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.

Background
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

Yes, nanotechnology is becoming ubiquitous in our daily lives and has found its way into many commercial products, for example, strong, lightweight materials for better fuel economy; targeted drug delivery for safer and more effective cancer treatments; clean, accessible drinking water around the world; superfast computers with vast amounts of storage; self-cleaning surfaces; wearable health monitors; more efficient solar panels; safer food through packaging and monitoring; regrowth of skin, bone, and nerve cells for better medical outcomes; smart windows that lighten or darken to conserve energy; and nanotechnology-enabled concrete that dries more quickly and has sensors to detect stress or corrosion at the nanoscale in roads, bridges, and buildings. By some estimates, revenue from the sale of nanotechnology-enabled products made in the United States has grown more than six-fold from 2009 through 2016 and is projected to exceed $500 billion in 2016.

For more information, see Benefits and Applications.

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