Nanotechnology tends to generate lots of controversies. Take a look at "Trouble in nanoland" for example.
Clearly, John Teresko is on the opposite side and envisions a positive future for it.
Ready for a big number? The National Science Foundation has predicted a $1 trillion market by 2015 for nano products.
Nanotechnology is initiating a fundamental shift in civilization not because it is a single new material, but because it is the reflection of growing skills in seeing and manipulating virtually any material at the atomic level. It is an enabler. Will historians label the beginning of the 21st century as part of the "nanotechnology age"? Viewed in terms of potential to revolutionize the use of any and all materials, nanotechnology could easily be the label of a new historical period. Adding weight to that logic is nanotechnology's potential to be the basis of exciting new products that are yet undreamed of.
To the question "Will nanotechnology change the world?," Teresko answers unambiguously: "With the ability to see and manipulate matter at the molecular and atomic levels, a new world of possibilities opens for manufacturing."
According to the writer, here is the key advance.
Material researchers are now gaining the knowledge and technological tools to replace empirical methodologies. "As we continue developing [nanoscale] knowledge and tools, researchers will emulate nature by building materials from the bottom up instead of from the top down," says Zong Lin Wang, professor of Materials Science and Engineering and director, Center for Nanoscience and Nanotechnology, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta. "The end result will be revolutionary advances in many different areas."
Teresko also looks at the importance of intellectual property protection and patents for the development of the market.
For example, Stephen B. Maebius, partner in the law firm Foley & Lardner says that commercialization of nanotech inventions is impossible without adequate protection of intellectual property, and explains that "the patent application relating to an invention in nanotechnology [must] carefully consider all of the potential end uses so that they are adequately covered--an exercise which may draw upon expertise in several different fields."
If you're interested by nanotechnology, this article is a must-read. And there is an added bonus, a table about "Milestones in Materials" from 1808 to 2003.
Source: John Teresko, IndustryWeek, April 1, 2003 Issue
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