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Crystal Ball Vision for US Nanotechnology Developments

For many years United States has led the way in developing nanotechnology sector. Back in 1999 the Nano1 report, entitled Nanotechnology Research Directions: Vision for nanotechnology in the next Decade, outlined the direction of North American development of nanotechnology. Ten years later, the US Nationals Sciences and Technology Council looks at the progress made and the vision for the future of nanotechnology in the new report Nano2, entitled Nanotechnology Research Direction for Societal Needs in 2020.

The report examines the progress made in the past decade in the US and around the world and describes future expected targets in nanotechnology R&D and ways to achieve them in the context of societal needs. The Nano2-report incorporates the views of experts from 35 countries from disciplines including physical and biological sciences, medicine, engineering, economics and philosophy.

This 491-page long document is structured in 13 chapters covering all aspects of present and future nanotechnology developments.

  • Chapter 1. Enabling and Investigative Tools: Theory, Modeling, and Simulation
  • Chapter 2. Enabling and Investigative Tools: Measuring Methods, Instruments, and Metrology
  • Chapter 3. Synthesis, Processing, and Manufacturing of Nanoscale Components, Devices, and Systems
  • Chapter 4. Nanotechnology Environmental, Health, and Safety Issues
  • Chapter 5. Nanotechnology for Sustainability: Environment, Water, Food, and Climate
  • Chapter 6. Nanotechnology for Sustainability: Energy Conversion, Storage, and Conservation
  • Chapter 7. Applications: Nanobiosystems, Medicine, and Health
  • Chapter 8. Applications: Nanoelectronics and Nanomagnetics
  • Chapter 9. Applications: Photonics and Plasmonics
  • Chapter 10. Applications: Nanostructured Catalysts
  • Chapter 11. Applications: High-performance Nanomaterials and Other Emerging Areas
  • Chapter 12 . Preparation of People and Physical Infrastructure
  • Chapter 13. Innovative and Responsible Governance

Chapter 4 summarises the development in perception of risk of nanomaterials: 'Although exposure to engineered nanomaterials (ENMs) in the workplace, laboratory, home and the environment is likely more widespread than previously perceived, no specific disease or verifiable environmental mishap has been ascribed to these materials to date. Perceptions of the ENM hazard have evolved from ‘small is dangerous’ to a more realistic understanding that ENM safety should best be considered in terms of the specific-use contexts, applications, exposures and the specific properties of each materials'.

In the last chapter of the report focussing on societal impact and governance the authors state that 'Nanotechnology is expected [in the next 10 years] to reach mass applications in products and processes by 2010, significantly guided by societal needs-driven governance. The shift to more complex generations of nanotechnology products, and the need to responsibly address broad societal challenges such as sustainability and health, are prominent. The transition in scientific capability to complex nano-systems and molecular bottom-up nanotechnology-based components will multiply the potential for societal benefits and concerns and will require enhanced approaches to building accountable, anticipatory, and participatory governance with real-time technology assessment'.


Follow this link to find out more about the Nano2-report

News item was produced by NIA in association with BREC Solutions.

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