President's Report

2014 Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity

The Laboratory for Manufacturing and Productivity (LMP) is an interdepartmental laboratory within the School of Engineering devoted to exploring new frontiers in manufacturing research and education. Its primary goals are: (1) the advancement of the fundamental principles of manufacturing processes, machines, and systems; (2) the application of those principles to the technological innovation of manufacturing enterprises; and (3) the education of engineering leaders. With 15 faculty and senior research staff and over 90 students, the laboratory conducts research in the areas of design, analysis, control and innovation of manufacturing processes, machines, and systems.

Research is funded through sponsored research projects, government grants, industrial consortia, and international collaborations. LMP’s major areas of interest include: polymer microfabrication, chemical-mechanical polishing (CMP), precision engineering, precision machine elements and systems, nanomanufacturing, nanoengineered surface and coating technologies, modeling and design of supply chain and production systems, radio-frequency automatic identification, sensor networks, information technology, robotics, photovoltaics, and environmentally benign manufacturing. In addition, the LMP works closely with many other departments, laboratories, and programs, including: the Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS), Materials Science and Engineering (MSE), and Mechanical Engineering (ME); Institute for Medical Engineering and Science (IMES) Singapore–MIT Alliance (SMA); Deshpande Center for Technological Innovation; DuPont–MIT Alliance; Leaders for Global Operations; MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI); Novartis–MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing; Lincoln Laboratory; and MIT Sloan School of Management. Many LMP research projects collaborate with industrial companies, including Boston-Power, Chevron, General Electric, GS1 US, and Quantum Signal. LMP government support, often coordinated with industrial support which is provided by the Army Research Office (ARO), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation (DOT), National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR). LMP also maintains a strong international presence— international research sponsors include Alstom, Ltd., ASML, Ferrovial S.A., GS1 AISBL, Jaguar Land Rover, King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM), the National University of Singapore (NUS), Samsung Electronics Company, Ltd., and Shell International Exploration and Production, Inc.


LMP’s total research volume was $6.6M for AY2014. The active programs of professors Tonio Buonassisi, Jung-Hoon Chun, Martin Culpepper, Sylvija Gradecak, Stephen Graves, Timothy Gutowski, David Hardt, Alexie Kolpak, Sanjay Sarma, David Trumper, and Kripa Varanasi, and research scientists Brian Anthony, Stanley Gershwin, and Karl Iagnemma, contributed to this research volume.

Research Highlights and Awards

In the past year, LMP continued to develop research programs in two major thrust areas:

      Micro- and nano-scale manufacturing processes and equipment: Professors Chun, Culpepper, Hardt, Trumper, and Varanasi are now actively engaged in this research thrust area. An SMA flagship research project on microfluidic device manufacturing is led by Professor Hardt, who is joined by ME and EECS faculty members in the Center for Polymer Microfabrication (CPM). Professor Hardt has also begun a new project on micro-contact printing sponsored by the Center for Clean Water and Clean Energy in collaboration with Dr. Anthony. Professor Chun works in the area of continuous manufacturing of pharmaceutical dosage forms, while Professors Culpepper and Trumper focus on precision engineering, on both equipment and instruments for micro- and nano-scale technologies. Professor Varanasi works in the area of nano-engineered surface and coating technologies for transformational efficiency enhancements in energy and water use.

    Manufacturing systems and information technologies: The Auto-ID Laboratory, led by Professor Sarma, develops identification technologies including radio-frequency identification (RFID) to enable “the internet of things.” Professor Sarma also works on wireless sensors and complex systems. Dr. Gershwin is active in factory-level manufacturing systems design and control, while Professor Graves focuses on supply chain design and management. Dr. Iagnemma researches mobile robotic systems and Dr. Anthony researches the application of information technology to improve the productivity of medical imaging systems.  Professor Chun collaborated with Professor Giesla Lanza’s group at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology on establishing the concept of technology multipliers


Dr. Brian Anthony

New collaborative research activities include work with Dr. S. Rutkove at BIDMC under an NIH award – using ultrasound image based biomarkers to track the progression of Duchene Muscular Dystrophy (DMD); and work with Dr. A. Samir at MGH under an MIT /MGH Grand Challenge Grant Award to enable optical tracking of transducer positions and ultrasound transducers in three-dimensional space, thereby permitting spatial tagging of sonographic data.  The target clinical application for this project is serially tracking nephron mass for the risk stratification of patients with chronic kidney disease or renal parenchymal volumetry.  In collaboration with Professor Lempitsky at Skoltech and Professor H. Herr in the MIT Media Lab, we have developed a low cost volume-scanning ultrasound imaging solutions that will provide 3D limb shape reconstruction for patients requiring prosthetics fitting.  His research is funded by General Electric, NIH, NSF, KFUPM, and Skoltech.

The MIT Medical Electronics Device Realization Center (MEDRC) that Dr. Anthony co-founded and co-directs is now part of IMES.  In this role, it has expanded its mission beyond medical electronics and acts as the industry engagement interface for IMES.


Professor Tonio Buonassisi

The mission of Professor Buonassisi’s Photovoltaic Research Laboratory (PVLab) is to develop the next generation of photovoltaic materials and processes by focusing on core strengths of defect engineering, characterization, and simulation. On July 1, 2014, Prof. Buonassisi was promoted to Associate Professor with Tenure.

Ongoing collaborative research center activities include an NSF-sponsored Engineering Research Center (Buonassisi is Thrust 1 co-lead) with Profs. Gradecak and Kolpak; a DOE-BES-sponsored Energy Frontier Research Center (EFRC) with Profs. Gerd Ceder and Kolpak; DOE-sponsored grants including SolMaT II in collaboration with local company Technic, F-PACE II with Arizona State University and Caltech; Bay Area PV Consortium (BAPVC) grants with Stanford and consortium companies spanning the gamut of U.S. manufacturers; a NextGenIII grant with DuPont and Stanford; and projects with Prof. Roy Gordon (Harvard) and Dr. Steve Hegedus (U. Delaware) — all focused on photovoltaics. A MITei seed fund grant with Prof. Yang Shao-Horn focuses on solar-to-fuel conversion. Other collaborative activities include a SMART activity (LEES IRG) focused on developing high-efficiency photovoltaics for mobile devices.

Prof. Buonassisi and his group generated several newsworthy research highlights: (1) Demonstrated a 10% solar-to-hydrogen conversion efficiency using all Earth-abundant elements, a record for silicon-based solar-to-hydrogen conversion; (2) demonstrated the first four-terminal and two-terminal tandem perovskite-silicon solar cells (in collaboration with colleagues at Stanford); these were the most downloaded papers in Energy & Environmental Science and Applied Physics Letters for the months following their publication; (3) published perspective pieces in Nature Photonics and MRS Communications highlighted properties of defect-tolerant thin-film materials; (4) working with two manufacturers, demonstrated high electronic quality in novel solar cell materials.


Professor Jung-Hoon Chun

Professor Chun has been a key participant in developing a new manufacturing paradigm and enabling technologies for the pharmaceutical industry with the Novartis–MIT Center for Continuous Manufacturing.  His team successfully demonstrated a new method of producing pharmaceutical dosage forms by applying a coat of molding followed by overmolding.  Prof. Chun and a team from KIT worked on future manufacturing scenarios in the automotive industry utilizing the scenario technique to discover potential future value chains. This study also discussed the role of manufacturing knowledge to innovate established fields of powertrain and body-in-white as well as the impact of the new economy, namely the big information and communication technology (ICT) companies, in the automotive industry. Moreover, they defined the term “technology-multiplier”¾ an effect which underlines the importance of enabling manufacturing technologies like additive manufacturing, aluminum-aluminum resistance spot welding and resin transfer molding to industrialize advanced materials such as carbon fiber and reinforced plastics. Its multiplying effect is based on the assumption that companies with a high share of their own value creation (deep production depth) are able to more quickly learn information and act on innovation.  As a consequence, they are able to shorten the time-to-market of new technologies and to produce complex products with higher accuracy or at a lower cost. 

Professor Martin Culpepper

Professor Culpepper’s research focused on the design of mechanisms, equipment, and instruments that are required to make, manipulate, and measure parts for precision measurement and manufacturing. His group has tackled the challenges that are associated with the design and manufacturing of equipment and tooling for precision manufacturing – including tooling for nano-scale patterning, CMP, precision meso-scale tooling/equipment/devices for defense and instrumentation for nano-scale biomedical specimen fabrication and measurement. Professor Culpepper has worked to initiate dedicated fellowships for mechanical engineering and manufacturing research with Draper laboratories. He has also been in discussions with Draper Laboratory regarding the formation of what is hoped to be an LMP-wide (multi-faculty) program in advanced design and mass manufacturing of small-scale, precision components and systems.


Dr. Stanley B. Gershwin

Dr. Gershwin continued his research on complex manufacturing systems models and analysis. His research areas included: quantitative analysis of the interaction between quality and quantity measures in production systems; mathematical modeling and analysis of systems with loops (for material control information or for pallets/fixtures); mathematical modeling and analysis of systems with multiple part types; analytical solutions of single-buffer systems with general arrivals and service; real-time scheduling and material flow control; and the design of separation systems for recycling.  His recent work has included the probability distribution of lead-time in manufacturing systems and the analysis and design of maintenance policies for production machines and manufacturing systems.

He has maintained a long-standing collaboration with colleagues at the Politecno di Milano.  His course “Introduction to Manufacturing Systems” has been added to the curriculum of the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology.  He will be a Keynote Speaker at MIM 2016, the 8th IFAC Conference on Manufacturing Modeling, Management & Control in June 2016 at Troyes, France.


Professor Stephen Graves

Professor Graves continued to do research on the modeling and analysis of supply chains and production/inventory systems where most of the funding for the research comes from industry collaborators.  One recent project involved the modeling and optimization of safety stocks in a semiconductor supply chain, supported by Samsung Electronics.  Another project considered the management of the supply chain supporting warranty claims for a consumer electronic devices; a focal issue is deciding on how much inventory of refurbished devices to maintain, and when to start to dispose of this inventory into side channels, in light of the short life cycles for these devices. 

The current project, supported by Ferrovial, is in collaboration with Prof. Tim Gutowski, with the goal of developing models and analyses for improved design and operation of recycling facilities that receive and sort single-steam municipal waste.  Student projects include an examination of new operational issues that arise with the introduction of robotics into the order fulfillment facilities, and developing models and methods for determining the best ways to deploy inventory across multiple facilities in an online retaining supply chain.


 Professor Tim Gutowski

Prof. Gutowski’s research group, Environmentally Benign Manufacturing (EBM), continued to do research on the interaction between manufacturing and the environment with special attention to energy usage and carbon emissions. Current research efforts by EBM are at all levels for the manufacturing enterprise including the development of new processing technologies, design methods, factory level energy improvements and an environmental assessment of the manufacturing sector at the global level. This year the EBM group was part of a successful team that won a $7.6 million research contract from the Department of Energy. The group included Boeing, Ford, Northwestern University, Pennsylvania State University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The project will focus on the development of flexible sheet metal forming technologies for low energy.


Professor David Hardt

Professor Hardt’s work focuses on scale up of micro-nano processes with an emphasis on novel equipment and control systems.  His most recent work has included the demonstration of closed-loop statistical process control for a microfluidic device manufacturing cell.  This method can maintain process specification even with significant material and machine variations.  A similar goal is being pursued in the area of roll-to-roll microcontact printing.  The latter technology is not well developed from a scale-up perspective and in addition to novel measurement and control methods, his group has contributed unique methods for micron-scale soft lithography tools, contact imaging methods, and demonstration of continuous printing using thiol based self-assembling molecular inks.  This large area high rate micron-scale patterning method is being explored for several promising applications.  In collaboration with Prof. John Hart’s group, a method for creating patterned CNT forests is being developed that could be scaled to very large areas and high rates of production.  Such arrays could, for example, greatly improve battery electrodes.  A second application is large scale printing of micron scale comb electrodes to electrodynamically remove dust from large surfaces, such as photovoltaic devices.


Dr. Karl Iagnemma

Dr. Iagnemma’s research focused on modeling, design, and algorithm development for mobile robotic systems. Much of his work was supported by DOD and has an emphazies developing robotic systems for operation in challenging environments, including difficult outdoor terrain, planetary surfaces (the moon and Mars), and inside the human body. Recent Samsung-sponsored research focused on the design and development of miniaturized, articulated manipulators for next-generation minimally invasive surgery. Other NASA-sponsored research into robot-environment interaction is being performed in support of the Mars Science Laboratory rover mission, where Dr. Iagnemma serves as a collaborating scientist. Other DARPA-sponsored research is leading to the development of passenger vehicle operator assistance algorithms to reduce or eliminate accidents. Dr. Iagnemma is also developing novel robotic systems that rely on the adhesive properties of magnetorheologic fluids, and jamming of granular materials.


Professor Sanjay Sarma

Professor Sarma’s research has continued in the area of RFID with sensors and antenna design, as well as applying RFID technology to assist in computationally expensive processes such as vision-based object identification. By combining RFID with vision technology, the search space for image processing can be reduced. Professor Sarma’s group has also continued its work in the area of city scanning by expanding previous work in city street light scanning to road condition and city asset monitoring. The new efforts continue our work with sensors and imaging to quickly and automatically survey city infrastructure with vehicle-mounted mobile sensing equipment. Research in the area of the Internet of Things includes CloudThink-connected car technology which has been augmented with research into mobility as a service to provide data on multi-modal transit. Professor Sarma’s group is also expanding CloudThink beyond connected vehicles into home and office technologies. 


Professor David Trumper

Professor Trumper’s research is focused on precision mechatronics for manufacturing systems. His group has been studying the design of high-linearity iron core actuators for precision motion control systems, including magnetically-levitated stages for semiconductor manufacturing. In collaboration with the MIT Energy Initiative and Lincoln Laboratory, they have been studying novel types of motors and magnetic suspensions for high-speed machinery and flywheel energy storage. Prof. Trumper’s group is working with Lincoln Laboratory on the design of a novel electromagnetic nano-imager using electromagnetic fields to rapidly create high-resolution images of the near-vicinity of a surface. Prof. Trumper’s group is also working with a doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital to create a new type of treatment for esophageal atresia using magnetic and fluidic devices to create stretching forces on the incomplete esophagus of newborns. This approach has the potential to eliminate the need for invasive surgical procedures, which are required in the current treatments.


Professor Kripa Varanasi

The mission of Professor Varanasi’s research group is to bring about transformational efficiency enhancements in various industries including energy (power generation, oil and gas, renewables), water, agriculture, transportation, and electronics cooling by fundamentally altering thermal­‐fluid­‐surface interactions across multiple length and time scales. His group has enabled this approach through interdisciplinary research focused on nanoengineered surfaces and interfaces, thermal-­fluid science, and new materials discovery.  This approach, combined with scalable nanomanufacturing for significant efficiency gains, reduction in CO2 emissions, and has the potential to  prevent catastrophic failures in real industrial applications. Prof. Varanasi’s work spans various thermal-­‐fluid and interfacial phenomena including phase transitions (condensation, boiling, and freezing), nanoscale thermal transport, separation, wetting, catalysis, flow assurance in oil and gas, nanofabrication, and synthesis of inorganic bulk and nanoscale materials guided via computational materials design.


The completion of the 2ND Varansi Lab Space has been a tremendous opportunity allowing for the ability to pursue more projects. The research group accomplishments over the past year include the founding of Dropwise, the 2nd startup company to come out of technology developmed in the Varanasi Research Lab. In July Professor Varanasi was honored to officially begin his role as a Tenured Professor.



This year, LMP continued significant educational activities, including the graduation of the eighth class of the new Master of Engineering in Manufacturing (MEngM) degree program, which, while not an LMP activity, occurs largely through the efforts of its faculty and staff. This highly focused one-year professional degree program is intended to prepare students to assume roles of technical leadership in the manufacturing industry. As of August 2014, the program will have over 150 alumni, who have been engaged in industry- based group projects for their project theses in companies that include NVBOTS, Waters Corp and Varian Semiconductor. The upcoming AY2016 class will total 13 students.


New Development

As of June 30, 2015 the LMP will no longer operate as an interdepartmental laboratory within the School of Engineering.


Jung-Hoon Chun


Professor of Mechanical Engineering