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Nanotechnology

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NANOTECHNOLOGY

Contents: • Aim • Introduction • Nanotechnology is a set of enabling technology • Interest in Nanotechnology • Development in last 10 years • Brief History • Diversity • Implications of Nanotechnology • Unifying themes • Examples • Molecular electronics • New technologies for clean and efficient energy generation • Nanoassembled products • Growth in world investment in nanotechnology • Social, ethical and safety concerns. • Health and environmental impacts • Social and ethical issues arising from Nanotechnology-based products. • Conclusions on the global nanotechnology scene. • Issues and challenges for the research sector • Future Scope

Aims of Term Paper are to:-

✓ Define and explain Nanotechnology. ✓ Elaborate the various terms related to it. ✓ Describe various examples of Nanotechnology. ✓ Outline the Future scope of Nanotechnology. ✓ Explain the various applications of Nanotechnology in different fields.

What is nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is engineering at the molecular (groups of atoms) level. It is the collective term for a range of technologies, techniques and processes that involve the manipulation of matter at the smallest scale (from 1 to 100 nm).
The classical laws of physics and chemistry do not readily apply at this very small scale for two reasons. Firstly, the electronic properties of very small particles can be very different from their larger cousins. Secondly, the ratio of surface area to volume becomes much higher, and since the surface atoms are generally most reactive, the properties of a material change in unexpected ways. For example, when silver is turned into very small particles, it takes on anti-microbial properties while gold particles become any colour you choose.
Nature provides plenty of examples of materials with properties at the nanoscale – such as the iridescence of butterfly wings, the sleekness of dolphin skin or the ‘nanofur’ that allows geckos to walk up vertical surfaces. This latter example is illustrated in Figure 1. The Gecko foot pad is covered with aggregates of hair formed from nanofibres which impart strong adhesive properties.
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Figure 1. Examples of nanostructures in nature and nanotechnology

One nanometre (1 nm) is defined as one billionth of a metre (10-9 m). This is the diameter of several atoms, and on the scale of individual molecules. A human hair is approximately 80 000 nm wide, a red blood cell is 7000 nm wide, a DNA molecule is approximately 2 nm wide.

Nanotechnologists use similar principles to deliberately engineer at the nanoscale to create products that make use of these unusual properties. Starting with nanostructures, scientists rearrange them and then assemble functional systems that can be incorporated into products with unique properties. Figure 1 shows two examples. Firstly, the propensity for carbon to form tubes at the nanoscale can be used to generate arrays over micron sized conductors that illuminate flat panel displays for mobile phones, and secondly nanoparticles can be manipulated to create effective, fully transparent sunblock creams. These are but two of many examples of stronger, stickier, smoother and lighter products being developed.

Nanotechnology is a set of enabling technologies
Nanotechnology is not confined to one industry, or market. Rather, it is an enabling set of technologies that cross all industry sectors and scientific disciplines. Probably uniquely, it is classified by the size of the materials being developed and used, not by the processes beingused or products being produced. Nanoscience is inherently multidisciplinary: it transcends the conventional boundaries between physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics, information technology, and engineering. This also means it can be hard to define – is the introduction of foreign genes or proteins into cells biotechnology or nanotechnology? And since genes have genetic memory, might this also be a form of information technology? The answer is probably ‘all of the above’. The important point is that the integration of these technologies and their manipulation at the molecular and sub-molecular level will over the next decade provide major advances across many existing industries and create whole new industries.

Why is there so much interest in nanotechnology?
Nanotechnology is not new – nanoproducts are already in the marketplace, such as stainresistant and wrinkle-free textiles. Given its fuzzy definition, there is also an element of rebadging traditional products under the nanotechnology banner.
However, because nanotechnology is ubiquitous but also far-reaching, it has real potential to transform the way we live. There are very significant economic, social and environmental implications from this technology. To quote The Economist (January 2005): ‘Nanotechnology will indeed affect every industry through improvements to existing materials and products, as well as allowing the creation of entirely new materials’ [and] ‘produce important advances in areas such as electronics, energy and biomedicine’.
Investment in nanotechnology has more than quadrupled over the last four years, with expenditure now exceeding US$8 billion worldwide. Global private investment will soon overtake government expenditure, indicating a maturing of the technology with practical applications becoming more evident.
The disruptive innovations that arise from nanotechnology over the next decade could be as significant as electricity or the microchip. They could give rise to a whole new set of industries as well as transform current technologies in manufacturing, healthcare, electronics and communications. It has been estimated that the sales of products incorporating emerging nanotechnologies will rise from 0.1% of global manufacturing output in 2004 to 15% in 2014, totalling US$2.6 trillion4. This would be as large as information and communication technologies combined and more than ten times larger than biotechnology revenues. But unlike information technology where for example, consumers might buy a computer, nanotechnology consumers will not buy a ‘nanotechnology product’ but will buy a product developed or enhanced through nanotechnology.
Developments of this nature will undoubtedly bring significant risks and rewards, as well as raise social and ethical issues. For these reasons, the current level of interest surrounding nanotechnology would seem to be warranted.

Nanotechnology developments in the last 10 years (1994-2004)

Globally
• Overall investment in nanotechnology increased 10-fold during this decade, with similar growth in the number of patents filed in this field.

• Government annual spending on nanotechnology more than quadrupled between
2000 and 2004, from approximately US$1 to US$4.5 billion. Total spending in
2004 including government, companies and venture capital was US$8.6 billion.

• Major public sector R&D initiatives on nanotechnology were announced over the past 5 years in the USA, Japan, European Union, China, Korea, Taiwan and UK.

• Lux Research (USA) projects that internationally, private sector spending will exceed that of governments after 2004. Some 1500 companies have announced nanotechnology R&D plans, of which 80% were start-ups.

• Global sales of products derived from emerging nanotechnologies are estimated to escalate to over US$2 trillion per annum in the next ten years, with between 1 and
2 million new jobs generated.

Brief history of nanotechnology
Nanoparticles of gold and silver have been found in Ming dynasty pottery and stained glass windows in medieval churches. However, the origins of nanotechnology did not occur until 1959, when Richard Feynman, US physicist and Nobel Prize winner, presented a talk to the American Physical Society annual meeting entitled There’s Plenty of Room at the Bottom7. In his talk, Feynman presented ideas for creating nanoscale machines to manipulate, control and image matter at the atomic scale. In 1974, Norio Taniguchi introduced the term ‘nanotechnology’ to represent extra-high precision and ultra-fine dimensions, and also predicted improvements in integrated circuits, optoelectronic devices, mechanical devices and computer memory devices. This is the so called ‘top-down approach’ of carving small things from large structures. In 1986, K. Eric Drexler in his book Engines of Creation discussed the future of nanotechnology, particularly the creation of larger objects from their atomic and molecular components, the so called ‘bottom-up approach’. He proposed ideas for ‘molecular nanotechnology’ which is the self assembly of molecules into an ordered and functional structure.

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C60 image from the Sussex Fullerene Research Centre

The invention of the scanning tunneling microscope by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer in 1981 (IBM Zurich Laboratories), provided the real breakthrough and the opportunity to manipulate and image structures at the nanoscale. Subsequently, the atomic force microscope was invented in 1986, allowing imaging of structures at the atomic scale. Another major breakthrough in the field of nanotechnology occurred in 1985 when Harry Kroto, Robert Curl and Richard Smalley invented a new form of carbon called fullerenes (‘buckyballs’), a single molecule of 60 carbon atoms arranged in the shape of a soccer ball.
This led to a Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1996.
Since that time, nanotechnology has evolved into one of the most promising fields of science, with multi-billion dollar investments from the public and private sectors and the potential to create multi-trillion dollar industries in the coming decade.

Diversity:- Nanotechnology is very diverse, ranging from extensions of conventional device physics to completely new approaches based upon molecular self-assembly, from developing new materials with dimensions on the nanoscale to investigating whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale.
Implications of Nanotechnology:- There has been much debate on the future implications of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology may be able to create many new materials and devices with a vast range of applications, such as in medicine, electronics, biomaterials and energy production. On the other hand, nanotechnology raises many of the same issues as with any introduction of new technology, including concerns about the toxicity and environmental impact of nanomaterials, and their potential effects on global economics, as well as speculation about various doomsday scenarios. These concerns have led to a debate among advocacy groups and governments on whether special regulation of nanotechnology is warranted.

Unifying themes of nanotechnology
Because nanotechnology is classified by the size of the materials being developed and used, the products of this engineering can have little in common with each other – for example fuel cells, fabrics or drug delivery devices. What brings them together is the natural convergence of all basic sciences (biology, physics, and chemistry) at the molecular level. At this level,these diverse fields are unified by the following common themes:

1. Characterisation tools — to be able to examine and see the nanostructures or the building blocks of nanomaterials, characterisation tools such as X-ray diffraction,
Synchrotron, Scanning and Transmission Electron Microscopy, Scanning Tunneling and Atomic Force Microscopy are powerful tools across disciplines.

2. Nanoscale science — because the properties of materials change in unexpected ways at the nanoscale, the science of understanding the behavior of molecules at this scale is critical to the rational design and control of nanostructures for all product applications.

3. Molecular level computations — computation technologies such as quantum mechanical calculations, molecular simulations and statistical mechanics are essential to the understanding of all nanoscale phenomena and molecular interactions.

4. Fabrication and processing technology — many nanoparticles, powders and suspensions can be directly applied in paints, cosmetics, and therapeutics. However, other nanomaterials must be assembled and fabricated into components and devices.
In addition, processing techniques such as sol-gel, chemical vapor deposition, hydrothermal treatment, and milling are common techniques.

Examples of nanotechnology

Nanopowders – building blocks of nanomaterials
Nanopowders contain particles less than 100 nm in size — 1/10,000th the thickness of a human hair. The physical, chemical and biological properties of such small particles allow industry to incorporate enhanced functionalities into products.
Some of the unique properties of interest to industry are enhanced transparency from particles being smaller than the wavelength of visible light, and high surface areas for enhanced performance in surface area-driven reactions such as catalysts and drug solubilisation.

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Porous metallic ‘nanocubes’ Nanoparticle powders store large amounts of H2 can be used to sinter perfect ceramic products for implants

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Nanoparticles of gold for The scale of nanopowders new catalysts

These unique properties give rise to a range of new and improved materials with a breadth of applications. For example, nanotechnology allows plastics to retain transparency while also taking on characteristics such as resistance to abrasion, conductivity or UV protection found in ceramics or metals. New medical nanomaterials are being developed, such as synthetic bone and bone cement, as well as drugs with improved solubility to allow lower dosing, more efficient drug delivery and fewer adverse side effects.

The high surface areas of nanoparticles are being exploited by industry in catalysts that improve chemical reactions in applications such as cleaning up car exhausts and potentially to remove toxins from the environment. For example, petroleum and chemical processing companies are using nanostructured catalysts to remove pollutants — $30 billion industry in 1999 with the potential of $100 billion per year by 2015. Improved catalysts illustrate that improvements to existing technology can open up whole new markets — nanostructured catalysts look likely to be a critical component in finally making fuel cells a reality, which could transform our power generation and distribution industry.

Membranes
Nanotechnology can address one of the most pressing issues of the 21st Century — safe, clean and affordable water. There are 1.3 billion people without access to safe drinking water and indications are that global consumption of water will likely double in the next 20 years. Fresh water supplies are already limiting the growth of our cities — Australian cities such as Sydney and Perth are considering waste water reuse schemes to augment their water supplies, London is investing ₤200 million in desalination and Singapore recycles wastewater. Further technology development is required to make this cost effective and allow it to become a more mainstream water supply option.
Nanomembrane filtration devices that ‘clean’ polluted water, sifting out bacteria, viruses, heavy metals and organic material, are being explored by research teams in the US, Israel and Australia (at the UNESCO Centre for Membrane Science and Technology at the University of New South Wales and a consortium of CSIRO Divisions). The key to lowering the energy demand and improving throughput for desalination is in understanding how to selectively separate small molecules, and package these technologies for exploitation. Separation of molecules occurs efficiently in nature through membranes, such as the ion channels that remove salt from blood and the respiratory membranes that transport oxygen and carbon dioxide. In order to reduce the energy requirement for this process, nature provides large surface areas for the transport of molecules. A parallel approach is being developed by nanotechnologists for the production of nanoarchitectures for cost-effective filtration systems in large-scale water purification.

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Clean, safe water passes through microstructured membranes.

By bringing science, business and government together on this issue, it should be feasible to find nanotechnology solutions to a global problem and transform a US$400-billion-a-year water-management industry.
Clean, safe water passes through microstructured membranes.

Carbon nanotubes
The discovery that graphite can be rolled into a cylinder with a diameter of about one nanometre already has far-reaching consequences. These strong but light ‘carbon nanotubes’ are being developed for a raft of uses, such as sensors, fuel cells, computers and televisions.
The applications of nanotubes are set to expand even further now that scientists have found that other materials besides carbon can form nanotubes. The historical development of the science and the business of nanotubes is illustrated in the following chart.

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Quantum dots and artificial atoms
Quantum dots are small devices that contain a tiny droplet of free electrons. They are fabricated in semiconductor materials and have typical dimensions between nanometres to a few microns (10-6m). A quantum dot can have anything from a single electron to a collection of several thousands. The physics of quantum dots show many parallels with the behaviour of naturally occurring atoms, but unlike their natural counterparts, quantum dots can be easily connected to electrodes and are therefore excellent tools to study atomic-like properties. The capability to make artificial atoms is revolutionary. The potential applications are enormous such as counterfeit-resistant inks, new biosensors, quantum electronics, photonics and the possibility of tamper-proof data transmission. The technology also highlights the important regulatory and safety issues that must be addressed before widespread application of such disruptive technologies.

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Quantum dots can be made using electron beam lithography to create metal lines that are like wires only about 50 nanometers wide. The quantum dots (center of the image) are puddles of about 20-40 electrons.

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Quantum dots are 2D analogies for real atoms. But since they have much larger dimensions they are suitable for experiments that can not be carried out in atomic physics.

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Unlike traditional liquid crystal displays, which must be lit from behind to work, quantum dots generate their own light.

Molecular electronics — cross bar latches to replace silicon chips
Hewlett-Packard — one of the world's biggest computer companies — declared on 1
February 2005 that it is on the verge of a revolution in computer chip technology. They believe that silicon computer chips will have reached a technical dead end in about a decade, to be replaced by tiny nanotechnology devices described as ‘cross bar latches’. These molecular-scale alternatives to the transistor should dramatically improve the performance of computers because they are much smaller — only 2 or 3 nm in size compared with 90 nm for transistors — and they can store memory for much longer periods.
The new device consists of a wire that is crossed by two other wires. The resulting junctions serve as switches that are only a few atoms across and can be programmed by a repeatable set of electrical pulses.

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New technologies for clean and efficient energy generation
The increased need for more energy will require enormous growth in energy generation capacity, more secure and diversified energy sources, and a successful strategy to tame greenhouse gas emissions. All the elementary steps of energy conversion take place on the nanoscale. Thus, the development of new nanoscale materials, as well as the methods to characterise, manipulate, and assemble them, create an entirely new paradigm for developing revolutionary energy technologies. A recent workshop led by the US Department of Energy identified the following areas in which nanoscience is expected to have the greatest impact:

• Scalable methods to split water with sunlight for hydrogen production • Highly selective catalysts for clean and energy-efficient manufacturing • Harvesting of solar energy with 20 % power efficiency and 100 times lower cost • Solid-state lighting at 50 % of the present power consumption • Super-strong, light-weight materials to improve efficiency of cars, airplanes, etc • Reversible hydrogen storage materials operating at ambient temperatures • Power transmission lines capable of 1 gigawatt transmission • Low-cost fuel cells, batteries, and supercapacitors built from nanostructured materials • Materials synthesis and energy harvesting based on the efficient and selective mechanisms of biology.

The following table illustrates the range of innovations that are under development for clean energy and environmental applications, which incorporate nanotechnology.

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Nanoassembled products

• Nanopowders for hydrogen storage • Photocatalysts and nanocoatings • CO2 separation and sequestration • Catalysts for low-S fuel production • Steam reforming of natural gas to produce hydrogen • Coal to hydrogen conversion

Growth in world investment in nanotechnology
The first half of this decade has seen an escalating interest in nanotechnology. Governments have led the wave of investment to date, with global government spending jumping from under US$1 billion in 2000 to over $4 billion in 2004. Individual governments, including those of the USA, Japan, China, Taiwan, Israel, the United Kingdom and Germany, as well as the European Union, have announced substantial nanotechnology initiatives over the past five years. The USA in particular has made nanotechnology one of the largest funded science initiatives in its history, and its investment has overtaken Japan’s. The US National Nanotechnology Initiative was instigated in 2000, increasing annual funding to over US$960 million in 2004. A 21st Century Nanotechnology R&D Act (2004) provides an additional US$3.7 billion over the period 2005-2008. Nanotechnology is also one of the main science priority areas for Asia Pacific governments. Total spending for Asia Pacific countries has exceeded US$1billion for the past 2 years and will continue to increase.
A considerable portion of government investment, such as through the United
Kingdom’s Micro and Nanotechnology Manufacturing Initiative, is being directed towards the infrastructure needs of nanotechnology. This reflects the unique demands of measurements at the nanometre scale (nanometrology), as well as the challenges inherent in prototyping products and processes which cut across sectors and expertise in many research fields. Nanometrology is recognised as a key issue by national measurement institutes worldwide because it underpins the ability to attract international investment and partnerships. It also helps eliminate technical barriers to trade and underpins regulatory frameworks.

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This, combined with the intensely multidisciplinary nature of nanotechnology itself, highlights the importance of collaboration on a global scale. Even the largest countries and multinational companies will be faced with the prospect that research efforts in nanotechnology will become more expensive, complex, multidisciplinary and dispersed globally. While these developments pose major problems for smaller players, all players will be seeking strategic alliances, and good research performers, such as Australia, should find plenty of opportunities by pursuing international collaboration.
Private sector investment is more difficult to assess than the public sector spend. According to Lux Research, industry commitment to nanotechnology was estimated at US$3.8 billion in 2004, taking the combined government and industry funding to over US$8 billion. Industry is now poised to overtake government expenditure for the first time. The global industry sector includes about 1500 companies. About 80% of these companies are start-ups, but the vast majority of expenditure comes from in-house efforts by major firms, with IBM, Intel, Hewlett-Packard, DuPont, Dow, Lucent, Eastman Kodak and 3M prominent among USA firms; and Sony, NEC, Matsushita, Mitsubishi, Mitsui, Hitachi leading the Japanese effort. Venture capital firms currently invest a modest amount in nanotechnology enterprises, representing less than 2% of their investments. The total funding commitment by US venture capital firms was US$325 million in 2003.
This expected shift in balance of nanotechnology expenditure from the public to private sectors reflects a greater focus on applications of technology rather than development of basicscience.
Not surprisingly, this has been accompanied by a growth of nanotechnology patents. By mid-2004 there were of the order of 20,000 patents and patent applications in the field of nanotechnology with areas of greatest activity being:

• Nanoparticles • Carbon nanotubes — methods of production or purification • Carbon nanotubes — applications in electrodes • Nano-based biological and chemical detection • Nano-based drug delivery methods.

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The top 10 worldwide nanotechnology patent assignees by 2004 were as follows:

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It is clear from this brief overview that the promise of nanotechnology has excited considerable global interest and investment. Although future estimates of the outcomes of this investment are varied, Lux Research (USA) has estimated that the total market impact of nanotechnology on worldwide goods and services could exceed US$2 trillion by 2015. Furthermore, between 800,000 and 2 million new jobs may be generated over this period.

Social, ethical and safety concerns
The introduction of any new technology attracts debate about potential social, environmental and health impacts - nanotechnology is no different. While some of the initial concerns raised about nanotechnology (such as US nanotechnology guru Eric Drexler’s prediction of selfreplicating nanomachines or ‘nanobots’, or the ‘grey goo taking over the world’ scenario) can be seen as speculative futuristic hypotheses, it is valid to question whether existing regulatory frameworks are appropriate to protect humans and the environment from potential hazards. A relatively small number of groups such as Canada’s ETC Group have campaigned consistently against the introduction of nanotechnology. Greenpeace, while recognising the potential benefits of nanotechnology, has urged caution on environmental, occupational health and safety grounds. The working group considers that the development of a comprehensive impact and risk analysis framework must be seen as a high priority. This framework must adopt a science-based risk identification, assessment and management process.

Health and environmental impacts
A UK report released in 2004 by the Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering concluded that many applications of nanotechnologies pose no new health or safety risks.
However, some nanoparticles — those which are freely mobile and not incorporated into a material — may have the potential for negative health and environmental impacts by virtue of their size or particular chemical properties. The UK report therefore recommended that in the specific case of free nanoparticles and free nanotubes, existing regulatory frameworks need to be modified.
Relatively little research has been published on the human or eco-toxicology of man-made nanoparticles. In contrast, nanoparticles from natural sources are everywhere in the environment and there are well-established studies on other man-made, small airborne particles, such as mineral dusts and carbon soot. It is reasonable to assume that at least some manufactured nanoparticles may be more toxic per unit of mass than the bulk material. The UK report recommended that until more is known about the environmental impacts of nanoparticles and nanotubes, release into the environment should be avoided.
There may also be health risks from the medical application of nanoparticles, for example to enhance drug delivery. The existing regulatory agencies such as the US Food and Drug
Administration and Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the National Industrial Chemicals Notification and Assessment Scheme (NICNAS) would be the appropriate vehicles to address and regulate such risks.

Social and ethical issues arising from nanotechnology–based products
As with any new technology, control over its use and distribution of benefits, rather than the technology itself, will determine the social impact of nanotechnologies rather than the technology itself. Nanotechnology does not operate independently of other technological developments (ICT, medicine, materials, energy etc), so that incremental advances made in nanotechnology may have major influences in other areas. It is difficult to predict the social and ethical implications of this convergence of various technologies, which are likely to hold a range of positive and possibly negative outcomes. It is also difficult to envisage the social impacts of what will be commercial decisions about use the of nanotechnology and business decisions about how products are marketed. The working group believes social issues need to focus on enabling community debate and choice, the economic impact of specific applications, inappropriate use of technology, equity and legal and regulatory frameworks. Some specific examples of potential social and ethical impacts are as follows:

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These few examples illustrate the substantial social and economic benefit that nanotechnology should bring, but also the potential negative outcomes across society and to both developed and developing nations.
Although many of these concerns are still hypothetical, technical innovations tend to develop faster than all the stakeholders can keep up with. For these reasons, international policy formulation and public education on nanotechnology must be given high priority. For this reason, the US National Nanotechnology Initiative included funding for research on ethical, social and legal aspects of nanotechnology. To consider these and related issues, the USA held an international, mostly governmental, conference in 2004 on responsible research in nanotechnology, which agreed to set up a ‘Preparatory Group’, of which Australia is a member. The group is tasked to explore possible actions, mechanisms, timing, institutional frameworks and principles for an international dialogue and cooperation to occur on this in established international forums including the OECD’s Global Science Forum. Australia also participates in other relevant forums such as the OECD Joint Meeting of the Chemicals Committee and the Working Party on Chemicals, Pesticides and Biotechnology; and the International Program on Chemical Safety.
Consideration of how to best build public awareness has already begun. In Europe in particular, there has been recognition of the need to avoid repetition of past mistakes associated with public engagement on the issue of genetically-modified foods. A key point taken up by independent groups such as DEMOS in the United Kingdom and by government agencies such as the Irish Council for Science, Technology and Innovation, is the need to establish public forums. It is unrealistic however to expect the general public to keep abreast of the expanding wave of innovation in nanotechnology, and public views will rely heavily on information conveyed by the scientific community and the media. For their part, the scientific community needs to be mindful that the challenges they perceive may not match those perceived by the wider community and that narrow utilitarian approaches may not deliver an acceptable outcome to the public.

Conclusions on the global nanotechnology scene
No one could have predicted that the invention of the scanning tunneling microscope in 1981 would launch a revolutionary new technology that could be as significant as electricity or the microchip, transform whole industry sectors and generate product sales exceeding US$2 trillion by 2015. Like any other disruptive technology, nanotechnology offers both risks and rewards. The global developments in this field offer important lessons for Australia, notably: • Global developments in nanotechnology will certainly impact on many of Australia’s most important traditional industry sectors • Nanotechnology has real potential to transform the way we live • The potential social and ethical impacts of nano-derived products are considerable Collaboration on a global scale will be essential to realise the full potential of this multidisciplinary science • In view of the massive global investment in nanotechnology, Australia will need to invest strategically to ensure we can maintain a competitive position.

The challenge for Australia, and indeed globally, over the next decade is to ensure that the full potential of this exciting technology can be harnessed, while ensuring that the social, ethical and safety issues are properly addressed.

Issues and challenges for the research sector

Whilst Australia’s nanotechnology research base has world-class capability in key areas, it is necessarily small by global standards. Our ability to impact on technologies that may become important for industry on the 10 year timescale and beyond — such as molecular and nano electronics, nano optoelectronics and nano photonics, Lab-on-a-Chip, carbon nanotubes, fuel cells and Nano Electro-Mechanical Systems (NEMS) — will require continued long-term funding of basic cutting-edge Australian science. But at the same time, strategic international links will be crucial as nanotechnology research becomes increasingly expensive, complex, multidisciplinary and dispersed internationally.
It will also require some consolidation and coordination of the research effort as well as improved linkages between public sector researchers and industry to accelerate commercial application of Australia’s nanotechnology research.
Research clusters involving cutting-edge public sector research, well linked to industry and international centres of excellence will be one important means of achieving this. Several such clusters are already developing in Australia, as illustrated in the following box.
Whilst innovation in certain areas of research, for example nanopowders, can be captured by Australian enterprises in the short term, the biggest impact of nanotechnology will be in industry sectors that require substantial investment in prototyping facilities. There is therefore a need for a forum that addresses the critical research–industry interface, to identify and prioritise Australia’s infrastructure and training needs.
Finally, there is a need for government and non-government structures to allow the significant effort in Australia to be catalysed. These include structures which promote communication across government departments and agencies and with industry. Close cooperation between national and state agencies to build a coordinated effort in nanotechnology is now needed.

Future Scope
The disruptive innovations that should arise from nanotechnology over the next decade could be as significant as electricity or the microchip. They could give rise to a whole new set of industries as well as transform current technologies in manufacturing, healthcare, electronics and communications. It has been estimated that the sales of products incorporating emerging nanotechnologies will rise from 0.1% of global manufacturing output in 2004 to 15% in 2014, totalling US$2.6 trillion. This would be as large as information and communication technologies combined and more than ten times larger than biotechnology revenues.
Importantly, unlike information technology where, for example, consumers might buy a computer, nanotechnology consumers will not buy a ‘nanotechnology product’ but will buy a product developed or enhanced through nanotechnology.

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