DOE: Atomically Precise Manufacturing 2018, Phase I Release II

The Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO) collaborates with industry, small business, universities, and other stakeholders to identify and invest in emerging technologies with the potential to create high-quality domestic manufacturing jobs and enhance the global competitiveness of the United States.
Applications may be submitted to any one of the subtopics listed below but all applications must:
  • Propose a tightly structured program which includes technical milestones that demonstrate clear progress, are aggressive but achievable, and are quantitative;
  • Include projections for price and/or performance improvements that are tied to a baseline (i.e. MYPP or Roadmap targets and/or state of the art products or practices);
  • Explicitly and thoroughly differentiate the proposed innovation with respect to existing commercially available products or solutions;
  • Include a preliminary cost analysis;
  • Justify all performance claims with theoretical predictions and/or relevant experimental data.
Atomically precise manufacturing is the production of materials, structures, devices, and finished goods in a manner such that every atom is at its specified location relative to the other atoms, and in which there are no defects, missing atoms, extra atoms, or incorrect (impurity) atoms.  A roadmap describing pathways and applications was published in 2007. At an Advanced Manufacturing Office workshop in Berkeley in 2015, participants identified two specific positional assembly methods for achieving this extraordinary level of precision: (1) tip-based positional assembly using scanning probe microscopes, and (2) integrated nanosystems using molecular machine components. 
Both approaches have considerable challenges to implementation, including positional accuracy (which is influenced by factors such as component stiffness and thermal vibration), repeatability, working tip design and synthesis, suitable building block design, transport of molecules to the working tip, and scalability. New molecular components must be developed for integrated nanosystems, as well as new and advanced techniques to assemble these components.
Grant applications are sought in the following subtopic:
  • a.       Molecular Machine Advances
Molecular machines have received considerable attention in recent years, notably for the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry and the Nanocar race competition. In biological systems, molecular machines such as ribosomes, DNA polymerase, and ATP synthase are able to process molecules to build new molecules. The bacterial flagellar motor is an elegant example of an atomically precise molecular machine that is able to convert the transport of ions into [mechanical rotary] motion. Molecular machines such as the actin-myosin system in human muscles operate as part of a coordinated network to effect motion at the macroscale. In similar fashion, it is the integration and coordination of molecular machines that will propel key advances in atomically precise manufacturing.
Advances in molecular machine design and integration will be considered for funding. A 5-year goal could be an integrated nanosystem that would:
  • transport individual feedstock molecules to a workspace (actively or passively);
  • modify or chemically activate the feedstock (if required) to prepare it for an assembly operation;
  • manipulate or transport the feedstock to the attachment point at a specified atomic position;
  • chemically bind the feedstock to a growing structure or device at that attachment point; and
  • repeat the operation a sufficient number of times to synthesize a product with no defects.
By addressing a critical pathway toward enabling new materials with an order of magnitude improvement in strength (near the theoretical limits), this research provides the platform to enable the military of the future with materials that can't be engineered today.  These ultra-strong materials would similarly find application in transportation lightweighting.  Other high impact energy applications include atomically precise catalysts for chemical processes and atomically precise membranes for desalination (Energy-Water Nexus).  This foundational technology also supports American security by enabling advanced molecular electronic computer circuits and quantum computer circuits for cryptographic applications, by advancing high sensitivity molecular sensors for chemical threat detection, and by enabling new chemical processing methods for chemical threat remediation. 
Responsive proposals will identify specific technological hurdles in their approach to design, synthesize, and demonstrate an integrated system of molecular machine components, and show how the milestones and deliverables proposed for the project will overcome these hurdles. Physical realization of integrated molecular machine components is the preferred deliverable, however the Phase I proposal may experimentally demonstrate overcoming issues at the subcomponent level that eventually lead to the desired advance in integrated nanosystems. For example, designing and building a critical molecular machine component would be responsive, if the proposal shows how this component would function as part of an integrated nanosystem for molecular assembly in a Phase II demonstration. Theoretical studies alone will not be considered responsive to this solicitation, although may be proposed in complement to experimental demonstrations.
Questions – Contact: David Forrest,