Tuesday, February 16, 2016

NanoPhononics for Europe: Position, Strategic Agenda and Roadmap


Nanophononics gathers the research fields targeting investigation, control and application of vibrations in solids or liquids that manifest themselves as sound or heat.  The EUPHONON coordination action (www.euphonon.eu) had the mission to build a European Community for Nanophononics to impact ICT applications. The work performed therefore aimed at mapping and benchmarking the Nanophononics community in Europe and boost its consolidation. Phonons are indeed at the conceptual heart of several scientific communities such as the Terahertz Phonons, Micro/Nanoscale Heat Transfer, Nanomechanics and Optomechanics, in a lesser extent also, Thermodynamics and Statistical Physics communities.
The results of those consultations were then exposed in a Position paper, a Strategic Research Agenda and a Roadmap including the SWOTs of the scientific and technological key activities in NanoPhononics (seewww.euphonon.eu).
The most important outcomes from the community building perspective are the connections between two blocks, i.e. the Micro-Nanoscale Heat Transfer and the PicoAcoustics communities on one side and the Nano/OptoMechanics and Phononics communities on the other side. The two blocks were decorrelated mainly because of the different scales involved (TeraHertz and <1micron vs Mega-to-KiloHertz and micron scales, respectively).
We found out that recent progresses in micro/nanofabrication and shifts in terms of interest had been leading the Phononics and Mechanics communities to the nanometer and TeraHertz scales and also to thermal issues. This trend has made relevant and timely the encounter between communities.
Aggregating a community with the nanophononics concept at its heart is strengthening the impact of modern miniaturization on the main societal challenges such as health, energy, transport and security. It enables the EU to take and maintain leadership in crucial areas and be a serious contender in future technological revolutions, such as the one of the Internet of Things. The impact of building a Nanophononics community is also reaching beyond the core phononics communities, since the EU’s pivotal fields, as Nanoelectronics, Quantum Technologies and Neuroinformatics are strongly dependent of knowledge on phononics.
The project recommendations highlight the need of essential actions in the form of, for example, a FET pro-active initiative on Nanophononics. This would energise and galvanise active collaborations to put forward outstanding research concepts and to place Europe in an undoubted leadership position in this research field, which underpins future communication technologies. The communities need more time to gather and consolidate. Intense networking with our Chinese and American colleagues through bilateral research projects, joint workshops and research exchanges should also be seriously considered.

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