The Thirteenth U.S.-Korea Forum on Nanotechnology: 
Neuromorphic computing and Water & Energy Sustainability

Seoul, Korea, September 26 & 27, 2016


General Information









M.S. Jhon
Carnegie Mellon University

Ahmed Busnaina (U.S.A)
Northeastern University

J.W. Lee (Korea)
Hanyang University

The 13th U.S.-Korea Forum on Nanotechnology: Brain-inspired Computing & Nano-Biomimetics for Energy and Water Sustainability

Seoul, Korea

Adopted on September 27, 2016

The first decade of the 21st century has been flourished by the advent of nanotechnology convergence and its application in a broad spectrum of science and technology areas along with interdisciplinary research initiatives to achieve rapid advancement toward fourth industrial revolution. To further promote development of new technologies, the United States (National Science Foundation, NSF) and Korea (Ministry of Science ICT and Future Planning, MSIP) have been vigorously encouraging a common platform for the exchange of ideas and research collaboration in nanotechnology through these Forums, set up by the recommendations made by the Korea-US joint committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation, held on October 31, 2002 in Seoul.

Ever since then, our Forums have been extremely successful, thriving over the decade of their organization history and promoting tremendous development in nanotechnology. These Forums have been a testimony to the transformative power of identifying a concept or trend and laying out a vision at the synergistic confluence of diverse scientific research areas.  Series of our Forums have successfully provided a common platform for effective networking between research communities and industries in both countries by identifying emerging areas in nanotechnology which generate huge impact. This is evident from major collaboration initiatives between US and Korea, established via our Forums. Organizing the Forums has significantly expedited the generation of cutting edge technologies for the thrust areas in both countries.  These Forums have been well publicized through Carnegie Mellon website: nanotechnology-forum/.

With this mission, we established the 1st U.S.-Korea Forum on Nanotechnology, via National Science Foundation (NSF) funding, on October 14th -18th  of 2003, in Seoul, Korea. As the Korean counterpart to NSF, participation was overseen and funded by MSIP. The topics in the subsequent Forums were recommended by the advisory committee members depending on the need of both countries at that time, and the locations of these Forums have alternated between Korea and the USA. We organized the 2nd U.S.-Korea Forum, on nanomanufacturing research and the development of educational programs covering the field of nanotechnology. The 3rd Forum focused on active devices and systems research, unlike the passive systems studied during the first two Forums. We organized the 4th Forum, where the focus was on the sustainable nano energy with emphasis on the design and characterization of materials as well as devices and systems for energy applications. The 5th Forum focused on the emerging area of nano-biotechnology emphasizing novel nano-biomaterials, instrumentation technologies, and integrated systems for overcoming critical challenges in biomedicine and delivery of healthcare, as well as their environmental, health & safety (EHS), and toxicity issues. The 6th Forum dealt with nano-electronics with emphasis on fundamentals as well as integration with applications including convergence technology with biotechnology. The 7th Forum oversaw discussions ranging in nanotechnology convergence over current and future energy technologies to provide environmentally friendly solutions to the crippling challenges facing the energy sector. These seven Forums culminated in a seamless developmental and feedback process documenting the advent of nanotechnology convergence in broad spectrum of science and technology areas, for the first decade of the 21st century (NANO1). The 8th Forum in 2011, on nanotechnology convergence in sustainability, heralded new horizons in nanotechnology for the next decade (NANO2) by addressing critical problems faced by an ever increasing global population, with an emphasis on environmentally friendly technologies for the future on nanotechnology for sustainability, focusing on water reuse and desalination, greenhouse gas capture and conversion, and sustainable natural resources. The 9th Forum focused on channeling nanotechnology to the masses to responsibly address broad societal challenges such as nanoscience fundamentals, sustainability, and state-of-the-art applications for the new generation of nanotechnology products. The 10th Forum focused on laying out a roadmap for a new generation of nanotechnological products and processes. The 11th Forum focused on laying out a new paradigm in nanomanufacturing, nanocomposite, and nanoinformatics. This Forum provides an opportunity to realize the potential of nanotechnology through the development of innovative and sustainable nanomanufacturing technologies for producing novel strong, light and smart nanocomposites and their management via nanoinformatics which will likely lead to paradigm shifting next generation enhanced performance of products in a broad range of existing industries including aerospace, automotive, energy, environmental remediation, information, and power industries as well as development of new industries. The 12th Forum focused on laying out a roadmap for a new paradigm in nanoscience-convergence in 2-D materials and for water purification via exploring improvements to technological tools for the application of nanotechnology and functional and novel nanomaterials to water-related topics.

Thepresent 13th Forum was held at Seoul, Korea on September 26-&27, 2016, and  73 eminent scientists and policy makers in the field of nanotechnology (including 36 presenters) attended. This Forum focused on laying out a roadmap for a new paradigm in nanoscience-convergence in brain-inspired (neuromorphic) computers and water & energy by exploring improvements to technological tools for the application of nanotechnology and novel functional nanomaterials to brain-inspired computing and water & energy related topics.

To further extend from brain-inspired computing systems during this Forum, we intend to organize the 14th Forum next year which will be held at Washington D.C. area on sensor for Internet of Things (IoT). Future IT systems and infrastructures will have fundamentally new capabilities based on the creation of insight from data. Insight computing systems will leverage and substantially add to the capabilities of cyber-physical systems and the IoT. Several major breakthroughs are required not only in the basic devise that store and process information, but in the way a computer analyzes images, sounds, and patterns, interprets and learns from data, and identifies and solves problems. Convergence to nanotechnology can achieve this ambitious task, such as creating computer chips that are 100 times faster yet consumes less power. In addition, the combination of distributed networked sensors with massive data centers and cloud-based computing capabilities will make it possible. In the area of energy efficient sensing and computing, energy efficiency is vital at all levels – from the smallest sensor to ultra-high performance processors and systems. Sensor nodes also often need to operate without access to the electric gird for power-using batteries or harvesting energy from the environment. Major challenges lies in the fabrication of ultimately compact, heterogeneous hardware that includes sensors, including dramatic assembly and packaging innovations, including automation, parallelization, thin wafer handling, and 3D system modeling for more compact design.

The following are recommendations made by the two subgroups during this Forum:

Sub-group 1: Brain-inspired computing

Challenges and Applications 

  • The relationship of system function to component level behavior and ultimately to device level characteristics is currently not well understood; specifically, a clear understanding of how the brain actually works and how that understanding can be properly abstracted for engineering purposes is lacking.  It important to realize that for engineering purposes a one-to-one correlation between brain-inspired systems and real neuromorphic systems is not essential.
  • Because of the interdisciplinary nature of neuromorphic systems, there are still many related topics that need to be better understood.
  • For brain-inspired computing systems, the memory specification is still unknown.
  • There is an urgent need to demonstrate practical brain-inspired computing systems or sensors to catalyze expanded research in innovative algorithms, and new components and devices for even higher levels of performance by brain-inspired systems.
  • Complexity in brain-inspired system construction will require a shared infrastructure very much like the MOSIS infrastructure so that researchers can worry less about the details of devices and focus on component and system design.
  • Creation of a government-supported foundry such as the proposed “micro-fab” in Korea at the 180n node would be useful.  Such a micro-fab foundry could allow fabrication of chips up to metal level M3, so that researchers would be free to add their unique devices to levels above M3.

Action Items

  1. Organize and plan a workshop for discussion of the topics of collaboration.
  2. Begin a discussion on the establishment of micro-fab for a foundry.
  3. Identify sources of financial support for joint collaboration projects.
  4. Identify lead investigators for collaboration in this field to facilitate networking and co-funding. Suggested nucleus of investigators in the US that could form the initial  collaborating team maybe drawn from among the following:  Phillip Wong (Stanford), Elias Towe and Maysam Charmanza (Carnegie Mellon),  Pinaki Mazumder (Michigan), Shreyas Sen (Purdue), Jae-Sun Seo & Shimeng Yu (Arizona State).
    Suggested nucleus of investigators in Korea that could form the initial  collaborating team maybe drawn from among the following: Byung-Gook Park (Seoul National University), Byoung Hun Lee (Gwanju Institute of Science and Technology), Changhwan Choi (Hanyang University), Joohyun Lee (ETRI), Hyunsan Hwang (POSTECH),  and Doo Seok Jeong (KIST).
  5. Korean coordinator for collaboration is designated to Jo-won Lee (Hanyang University), while US side is determined later.

Suggested Areas and Mode of Collaboration between US and Korea

  1. Useful areas of collaboration could be in devices, components, algorithms and systems; collaboration should be structured to emphasize fundamental physics of new devices for neuromorphic components and systems since the emerging industries in this area are unlikely to be involved in fundamental physics. However, synergies at the component and system level with industry will be important to secure their support and collaboration in transitioning new systems for practical use.
  2. Since Korea has already secured funding for a few projects in brain-inspired systems, it will be important to choose the areas of collaboration carefully to ensure complementary rather than duplication or overlap.
  3. Equally important to structuring the collaboration, care will be needed in selecting topics on the US side in order to bring new perspectives to existing funded programs in brain-inspired computing or related programs such as the new NSF effort on Energy Efficient Computing from Devices to Architectures (E2CDA).
  4. It would be useful to organize a workshop whose objective would be to identify and bring focus to a few key areas on which the US-Korea collaboration could be built on.  Financial support for such a workshop might be secured from the NSF and other organizations in US as well as MSIP in Korea that have an interest in brain-inspired computing research.

Sub-group 2: Water & Energy

Opportunities for the nanotechnology to address critical challenges at the water-energy nexus and the barriers in research, education, and knowledge and technology transfer.

  A. Water

  • Safe and affordable potable water for all
    • Novel approaches to sense and treat contaminants of emerging concern
    • Integration of novel sensors into treatment systems
    • Selective treatment system that is flexible and tunable to match the treated water quality for intended use (e.g., water for power generation)
    • Harnessing light directly to reduce the cost of water purification (e.g., photo-catalyst, nano-photonics, upconversion phosphors)
    • Next generation of multifunctional membranes for treatment, re-use, and desalination
    • Next generation of low cost fast and wireless sensors to detect metal contamination and pathogens

   B. Energy

  • Energy storage technology
    • Prototyping, testing, and validating the performance of new nanomaterials and energy storage device (e.g., batteries and super capacitors)
  • Carbon neutral bio-energy
    • Fundamental research to improve energy extraction
    • Nanotechnology enhanced biofuel production (e.g., separation, catalyst, Life-cycle engineering)

  C.  Water & Energy Nexus

  • Low energy desalination
  • Nano bio-refining for FEW (Food, Energy, and Water)
  • Convergence of water treatment and resource recovery

Opportunity for collaboration & Proposed Teams for Collaborations

   A. Low energy desalination

  • Global desalination project

   B. Smart material (sense, capture, and remove/destroy priority pollutants) development and integration into the water treatment system

   C. Multiscale/multiphysics model for advanced materials and system enabling technologies for water & energy nexus

  • Fundamental investigation to advance and gain better understanding of structure property relations

   D. Vision driven basic research

  • Identify and solve grand-challenges and cross cutting problems to advance sustainable water & energy nexus (e.g., low energy desalination with high water recovery)

   E. Suggest ideas for moving forward

  • NSF sponsored NEWT (Nanotechnology Enabled Water Treatment) Center at Rice as the channel for organizing and initiating seed collaborative projects between US and Korea to advance above goals
  • Pedro Alvarez (Rice), Mamadou Diallo(CalTech), Byong-Hun Jeon(Hanyang), Yousung Jung(KAIST) as initial contact
  • Utilize NSF sponsored international collaboration projects such as PIRE (US); encourage the collaborators to apply for the projects and obtain the financial support (Korea)


    On behalf of the U.S participants

    On behalf of the Korean participants

    Myung S. Jhon, Professor
    Carnegie Mellon University
    Pittsburgh, PA, USA

    Jo-Won Lee, Professor
    Hanyang University
    Seoul, Korea