This chapter provides a baseline or calibration point for looking at the future of systems engineering and micro-and nanoscale technologies (MNTs). MNTs have been discussed in the context of systems engineering of multiscale systems. MNT covers the scales of 10-6 to 10-9 meters for those who want a linear reference point. There are several key assumptions that one will note in the chapters that have been gathered for this book. The first is that we are dealing with multiscale systems, with innate complexity. Earlier chapters introduced MNTs and the concepts of top-down fabrication and assembly versus bottom-up self-assembly. One finds alignment of the top-down approaches across the macro-, micro-, and nanoscales. Bottom-up or self-assembled technologies present less of an alignment and therefore offer opportunities to explore less traditional systems engineering concepts. This is our second assumption, that nanotechnologies demonstrated by the bottom-up manufacturing techniques have less in common than macro-, micro-, and nanoscale (top-down) systems. This unique region is explored in terms of translating classical systems engineering into the nano realm. A common set of
definitions and taxonomy is supplied along with an in-depth discussion of complex systems with a focus on uncertainties and emergent properties. This chapter begins with the drivers for exploring systems engineering in the micro-and nanoworld as the field of nanotechnologies continues to emerge. The final assumption is that the nano-world of technologies is not mature; therefore, we are emphasizing exploring systems engineering technologies in the research and development phases as emphasized in Chapter 3. As explained in the next section, the emerging field of nanotechnologies is just entering the third generation. It is interesting to note the lack of articles describing this third generation. The fourth generation is actually covered very well by futurists such as Kurzweil and Drexler, who are discussed in Chapter 18. The first forays into the third generation of nanotechnology are being seen with lab-on-a-chip technologies, such as bioassay, driven by the biomedical engineering world. Chapter 16 offers us a current state of the emerging third generation that includes concepts in self-assembly.