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April 7th, 2008
In 2007, Dr Babak Amir Parviz was chosen by the MIT Technology as one of the top innovators under the age of 35, for developing the self-assembly manufacturing method.
The Genome Technology Magazine selected him as a star young genomics investigator. He has also received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award.
In his last year of high school, Amir Parviz won the Kharazmi award for designing a single-engine airplane along with Reza Amirkhani and Amir Hossein Samakar.
The same year, he won a bronze medal from the 22nd international physics Olympiad.
Dr Amir Parviz holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Washington, a BS in Electronics Engineering from the Sharif University of Technology, an MS in Electrical Engineering and Physics as well as a PhD in Electrical Engineering from University of Michigan, and a Postdoctoral training degree in Chemistry and Chemical Biology from Harvard.
He is currently a faculty member at the Electrical Engineering Department of the University of Washington (UW) and the Associate Director of the Micro-scale Life Sciences Center at UW.
Q. Can you explain self assembly for us?
A. Self-assembly is a fundamentally and radically different way to make structures. If we look at the more conventional engineering, for example in building a car, what is done is that all the parts of the final product are made and then they are assembled (by a human or a robot) to make the final structure of the automobile.
Although this process is the most widely used one today to make engineered structures, this is not the way nature makes things. In nature, the "parts" of a final system find each other and bind on their own to form a plant, an insect etc. In nature structures 'self-assemble'.
Our group works on developing methods that would allow us to use self-assembly for building various things. For example, we have deployed a number of self-assembly techniques to build a range of functional devices from nano-scale optical waveguide to flexible circuits.
Q. Tell us more about the sciences and project which will benefit from self assembly?
A. Self-assembly is a widely applicable approach to making things. My guess is that in principle it is possible to improve the current state-of-the-art in manufacturing by orders of magnitude in terms of the minimum part size, the maximum part count, and the available material diversity if self-assembly is used.
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