Chapter 17. Bio-Nano-Information Fusion
Chih-Ming Ho, Dean Ho, and Dan Garcia
The solid-state microelectronics industry started in the late 1940s and has been the main driving force of the U.S. economy in the past few decades. In the 1980s, microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) technology demonstrated the capability of fabricating mechanical devices at a scale far smaller than those made of traditional machining processes. Fan, Tai, and Muller (1988) developed a micromotor that was on the order of 100
m by using the MEMS fabrication process, which was derived from the integrated circuit (IC) industry.
Further reduction of the scale into the nanoscale has enabled the fusion between nanotechnology and biology. By working on the same scale as that of macro functional molecules, such as DNA and
, nanotechnology emerges as an opportunity to further build upon earlier technologies. An example is the nanomotor developed by Soong et al. (2000), which grew from the amalgamation of the mitochondrial ATPase and a nanofabricated metal rod. The progression of time has produced machines of
, leading the engineering sciences into progressively smaller dimensions. This movement has facilitated the expansion of the field of nanotechnology to explore and develop this new scientific frontier.
Technological innovations such as nanotechnology aim to enrich human life. However, nanotechnology
a unique technical challenge in that a disparity of nine orders of magnitude separates the length
of a human (a meter) and a nanometer. Ultimately, this goal needs to be achieved through the development of a definitive
existing technology with future technology to link the nanoscale with human life.
, complex, and adaptive system, the human body is managed by natural processes driven by molecules, such as DNA and proteins, that are on the order of a nanometer. The challenges in exploring the
mechanisms across a wide span of length scales is best depicted by P. W. Anderson in a paper published in
(1972): "At each level of complexity entirely new properties appear, and the understanding of the new behaviors requires research which I think is as fundamental in its nature as any other." For example, a
might fuse the genetic information contained in the DNA with nanoscale sensors and actuators to result in perhaps one of the most efficient and autonomous micron-scale "factories."
The richness of the science that
a difference of three orders of magnitude in length scale, from the nanoscale realm to the macroscale realm, significantly exceeds our
. An imperative task will be to address the question of how we will span the length scales of these nanoscale capabilities in a way that will eventually enable us to enrich human lives. These basic processes that occur at the molecular level have opened a world where the integration of individual
can eventually derive higher-order functionalities, or
. This leads us toward a compelling approach that fuses biotechnology, nanotechnology, and information science, which will enrich the development of revolutionary, application-specific technologies.
To drive the commercialization of nanotechnology, we need to further our understanding of the nanosciences. During the past decades, our understanding of nanoscale molecules and their functionalities has been significantly furthered by distinguished scientists in biology, physics, and
. Nanotechnology, on the other hand, is still in its infancy, but it is the key to
a new industry. The establishment of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) has further increased the momentum of progress in these areas.
For this realization to occur, three goals must be achieved. First,
technologies must be developed to enable us to visualize, pick, place, manipulate, and characterize nanoparticles with a high degree of precision. Second, we will need to establish manufacturing technologies to enable systematic integration toward larger length scales with the higher information content embedded within the composite structures. The final step toward establishment of a nanotechnology industry will result from the capabilities displayed by emergent behavior at the nanoscale for increasing functionalities.
Instead of providing a comprehensive review, this chapter uses examples based primarily on our experience to
the challenges and the potential associated with the
field of bio-nano-information fusion.