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Abraham announces new Brookhaven Nanocenter

Posted by RichardTerra on June 18th, 2002

An article on the Small Times website ("U.S. secretary of energy announces $85 million Brookhaven nanocenter", by J. Mason, 17 June 2002) reports that U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham visited Brookhaven National Laboratory on 14 June 2002 to announce that BNL's proposed nanocenter will officially move ahead. In remarks to BNL employees after touring the labs on Long Island in New York, Abraham also signaled the Energy Department's growing commitment to developing nanotechnologies that serve U.S. national interests, from bioterror detection to fuel cells that could help reduce dependence on foreign oil.

Update: Additional coverage is available in the article from United Press International ("DOE picks Brookhaven for nanocenter ", by S. Burnell, 14 June 2002).

NRC report calls for

Posted by RichardTerra on June 11th, 2002

The U.S. National Research Council (NRC) has issued a report assessing the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative. According to a report from United Press International ("US needs 'crisp' nanotech plan", by Scott Burnell, 10 June 2002), the NNI "has had a good start but needs sharper focus".

The report was also covered in an article on the Small Times website ("National Research Council report says some changes needed in NNI", by Doug Brown, 11 June 2002).

Background on the NRC assessment of the NNI, see the Nanodot post from 30 October 2001.

More on questions raised about Lucent-Bell Labs molectronics research

Posted by RichardTerra on June 7th, 2002

from the Molectronics dept.
If youíre looking for more information about the accusations of scientific misconduct being leveled against researchers at Lucent Technologies' Bell Laboratories who claimed breakthroughs in molecular electronics and superconducting fullerenes in a series of papers last year (see Nanodot post from 17 December 2001), hereís a sampling of recent press coverage:

Collected Coverage of May NanoBusiness Conference

Posted by RichardTerra on June 6th, 2002

Collected Coverage of May NanoBusiness Conference Numerous press reports of the NanoBusiness Spring 2002 conference, organized by the NanoBusiness Alliance (NBA) and held 19-21 May 2002 in New York City, covered the diversity of presentations made during the conference:

  • A report from United Press International ("Nanotech's development called inevitable", by Scott Burnell, 20 May 2002) described the visionary presentation by Ray Kurzweil on the potential capabilities of advanced nanotechnology, as well as brief mention of the remarks made by former U.S. House Speaker New Gringrich.
  • Gingrichís remarks received more extensive coverage in a similar piece on the Small Times website ("Visionaries see the promise and the nightmare of nanotech", by Jack Mason, 21 May 2002) that also included coverage of Kurzweilís speech.
  • Additional coverage of Gingrichís keynote address appeared on the Wired website ("Newt Gingrich Gets Small", by Patrick Di Justo, 20 May 2002).

Coverage of the business and venture capital perspectives on the emerging nanotech sector:

  • Another item from Scott Burnell at UPI ("Private funding limited for nanotech", 21 May 2002) noted that "Long lead times for payback on investments probably will discourage venture capitalists from funding nanotechnology start-up companies for some time, [conference] speakers said."
  • The cautious approach of some venture capitalists toward nanotech investments was highlighted in an item from CNETís News.com website ("With nanotech, VCs are playing it safe", by Tiffany Kary, 23 May 2002). The article also appeared on the New York Times website.
  • A somewhat different perspective was offered by a piece on the Wired website ("Big Bucks From Little Science", by Patrick Di Justo, 23 May 2002).
  • Finally, waynerad noted "This article at nanotechweb is from a participant at two nanotechnology business and investment conferences in the US (Nanotech Planet in San Jose and the NanoBusiness Alliance's NanoBusiness Spring in New York City). He says, 'Despite the worst conditions for raising funding for a decade, venture capital and professional services companies are scrambling to get a piece of nanotech.'"

Information Week highlights nanotechnology

Posted by RichardTerra on May 21st, 2002

The 13 May 2002 issue of the information technology industry trade journal Information Week contains an extensive feature article on nanotechnology ("The Next (Not So) Big Thing", by David M. Ewalt) that takes a quick, broad look at the field before narrowing down to its potential impact on the IT industry. In an accompanying editorial ("The Future Is Here And It's Verrry Small"), IW Editor Stephanie Stahl emphasizes the point that "nanotechnology has the potential to become one of those disruptive technologies that will dramatically change the way you do business".

The IW issue also contains several sidebars on current and potential applications of nanotech:

Thanks to Phil Wolff for submitting some of these items.

Article in Winston-Salem Journal provides a few choice bits

Posted by RichardTerra on April 20th, 2002

A lengthy article in the Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Journal ("Small Miracles: Micromachines are being developed that may offer mankind great benefits – or threaten its very existence", by Kevin Begos, 14 April 2002) rehashes much of the mass media shorthand on nanotech weíve seen so often before: "Many researchers, government officials and venture capitalists are saying that over the next few decades, the effect of such inventions on society may dwarf what has happened in the computer or telecommunications revolutions. Skeptics see a dark side to such a future. Humans may well be able to make such products, they say — but may not be able to control them after they're unleashed on the world." We get warmed-over visions of advanced nanotech applications, Bill Joyís worries over human obsolescence, government funding, venture capitalists ñ the usual stew.

Read more for some of the more interesting bits.

UTD NanoTech Institute trumpets DARPA funding

Posted by RichardTerra on April 20th, 2002

According to a press release (16 April 2002), the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) has begun ramping up its nanotechnology research efforts at the UTD NanoTech Institute established last year, on news that it won two grants worth a total of $1.8 million in initial annual funding from the United States Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). The projects being funded will involve collaboration among researchers at UTD, as well as at major universities and research institutes throughout the U.S. and in other countries.

Additional coverage, though not much, is available in an article from the Dallas Business Journal ("UTD NanoTech Institute gets $1.8M in grants", 15 April 2002), which basically reprinted the UTD press release with a few additional details thrown in. "This is leading-edge science and precisely what we had in mind when we brought two of the top nanotechnology experts in the world to UTD last fall," Franklyn Jenifer, president of UTD, said in a statement. "Now that the UTD NanoTech Institute is up and running, the university is in a position to begin playing a pivotal role in helping realize the potential of nanotechnology."

Pennsylvania establishes yet another organization to support nanotech

Posted by RichardTerra on April 20th, 2002

from the death-by-committeee dept.
An article in the Philadelphia Business Journal ("Coalition aims to aid startups", by Peter Key, 29 March 2002) tells of yet another organization aimed at fostering economic development being established in Pennsylvania. According to the article, "five Philadelphia universities, a business incubator and an economic development organization have joined forces to boost the number of technology and life-science startups in the region. Called the Commercialization Working Group, its first task will be to help the Port of Technology incubator in University City bring technological innovations to market." One of the efforts to be supported is the Nanotechnology Institute, a venture among the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University and the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania, a state-funded economic development organization. An official said the timing for the group is right because it comes after smaller efforts by the region's schools and tech organizations to work together, such as the Nanotechnology Institute.

Well, maybe. For all the organizational dithering over the past year or two, Pennsylvania hasnít yet got much real results to show from its nanotechnology programs (see Nanodot posts from 30 July and 17 December 2001, and 9 November 2000.

Japanese Science & Technology Minister advocates reforms to boost nanotech

Posted by RichardTerra on April 16th, 2002

from the World-Watch dept.
The Asahi Shimbun in Japan ran an interview Koji Omi, Japanese State Minister in Charge of Science and Technology Policy ("Koji Omi: Unite nanotechnology with biotechnology", 8 April 2002), about the government's future strategy and outlook on the subject of nanotechnology. Some interesting comments by Mr. Omi:

  • Although Japanese nanotechnology is said to be advanced, actually, I am very worried about its future. While companies are conducting research that looks five years ahead, none of them is directed at 20 years into the future. Traditionally the Japanese idea of nanotechnology has been molecular-level processing to expand the capacity of integrated circuits by reducing the size of circuit elements used in information technology. Silicon is the material currently used to make circuit elements. When I visited the United States in January and exchanged views with top-class researchers in Washington and elsewhere, they all agreed that the days of silicon as circuit element material are numbered. The question is how can we beat the limits of silicon. I think nanotechnology can serve as a means to overcome the problem.
  • I visited the newly established Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology. Specialists in physics, chemistry, biology and computer science are doing research in the same room. I also met with researchers at such top-level U.S. universities as Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford and University of California, Berkeley. They all shared the view that from now on, such interdisciplinary research will become increasingly important. . . . In Japan, however, research systems are sectionalized. Physicists study physics, chemists concentrate on chemistry and biologists engage in biological research. Researchers don't even know what their colleagues in other field are doing in the lab next door. At this rate, I am worried that we would eventually lose the competition as all-around players. Even when capable talent enters an important field of research, they may be able to lead the race up to a point but could soon run into a wall.
  • [A planned graduate school university in Okinawa] will have a 500-strong faculty and the same number of students. In keeping with European and American universities, the school year will start in September and all classes will be held in English. In terms of education and research, the central subject will be biology but it will be merged with physics, chemistry and information technology. In other words, it will be a fusion of nanotechnology and biotechnology.

Agilent awards Europhysics prize to nanotube researcher

Posted by RichardTerra on April 13th, 2002

from the rewarding-innovation dept.
Agilent Technologies Inc., the scientific and instrumentation division spun off by Hewlett-Packard some years ago, announced in a press release (11 April 2002) that it has presented the Agilent Technologies Europhysics Prize for Outstanding Achievement in Condensed Matter Physics to four scientists for their pioneering work in the study of carbon nanotubes. The award was presented at a general conference of the European Physical Society (EPS).

Agilent's Roberto Favaretto, vice president and general manager, Europe/Middle East/Africa, presented the 2001 award to Sumio Iijima, Cees Dekker, Thomas W. Ebbesen and Paul L. McEuen for the discovery of multi- and single-walled carbon nanotubes and pioneering studies of their fundamental mechanical and electronic properties. "The Agilent Technologies Europhysics Prize demonstrates our commitment to fundamental contributions in scientific areas essential to Agilent's future," said Favaretto. "These researchers have made a key contribution by creating an entirely new field in condensed matter physics — a field at the intersection of nanoscience, nanotechnology and molecular electronics."

Dekker was also awarded the 2002 Julius Springer Prize in Applied Physics for his work on the electrical properties of carbon nanotubes and their application in molecular electronic circuits (see Nanodot post from 5 February 2002).

Online resources for computational chemistry, nanotech journal

Posted by RichardTerra on April 13th, 2002

Science and technical publisher Wiley InterScience has announced it will add the Encyclopedia of Computational Chemistry to Wiley InterScienceís growing selection of quality electronic Major Reference Works online. According to the announcement, ìComprising 5 volumes, and equivalent to over 3,500 print pages, the online version of the work now provides computational chemists with unmatched breadth of content together with a dynamic and flexible format, perfectly suited to their progressive discipline.î It also states the Encyclopedia contains over 300 primary articles together with a further 375 definition articles covering all aspects of the field, from ab initio computations to biological and biochemical applications, and contains contributions from more than 300 leading computational chemists. The online version provides fully searchable text, hyper-linked cross-references, and over 300 full color illustrations. Alas, access to the new online reference is NOT free. Further information is available at http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/reference.html.

And Foresight President Chris Peterson sends a reminder that the journal Nanotechnology from the Institute of Physics (IOP) publishing in the United Kingdom now has the policy of making the current issue available free online, in the Adobe Acrobat PDF format (access to back issues requires a subscription). More information about the journal and its access and publication policies can be found in an editorial from February 2002.

InfoWorld report on Drexler

Posted by RichardTerra on April 11th, 2002

A not-very-informative article in InfoWorld ("CTO Forum: Drexler declares nanotechnology victory", by Mark Jones, 10 April 2002) gives a brief summary of remarks made by K. Eric Drexler, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing and Foresight Board Chair, at the InfoWorld CTO Forum on 9 April 2002. According to the article, "After 30 years, Dr. K. Eric Drexler Tuesday night declared that debate over the validity of nanotechnology [had been] 'won by default'. . . . The Foresight Institute chairman who first coined the term nanotechnology in 1971 dissected what has only until recent times been an overlooked debate. 'It's time to argue for the future with nanotechnology,' he said."

Chinese Academy of Science assesses nation

Posted by RichardTerra on April 11th, 2002

from the World-Watch dept.
A rather rambling article that appeared in the China Daily ("Winning a high-profile niche in nano technology", by Bao Xinyan and He Sheng, 26 March 2002) tries to summarize a report issued by the Chinese Academy of Sciences titled "High Technology Development in China, 2002", which includes coverage of advances in nano-scale science, materials and technology. According to the article, the report notes that "Most of the accomplishments were made in areas of research and development of nano materials, whereas advances in the areas of nano-electronics and nano biological research are still rather meager. . . . This is in sharp contrast with research at the forefront of nano technology in the world, which focuses on the research and development of nano-sized machinery and electronics." The article also includes comments from prominent Chinese researchers and administrators.

U of Illinois joins nanoresearch coalition

Posted by RichardTerra on April 11th, 2002

from the me,-too dept.
For some reason, the University of Illinois felt compelled to issue a press release (5 April 2002) to note the participation of UI researchers from the Frederick Seitz Materials Research Laboratory in collaborative work with two of the U.S. national Nanoscale Science and Engineering Centers established by the National Science Foundation in September 2001 (see Nanodot post from 27 September 2001). The release notes that the NSF Nanoscale Science and Engineering Center for Directed Assembly of Nanostructures is a partnership among the UI, the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., and the Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M.

Canadians look to long term for nanotech payoff

Posted by RichardTerra on April 10th, 2002

from the World-Watch dept.
An article in the Canadian National Post ("Nanotech revolution is coming (wait for it)", by Jill Vardy, 29 March 2002) repeats many of the increasingly common shibboleths regarding the emerging nanotech sector, including cautions about nano-hype: "Growing hype and bigger R&D budgets won't change the fact this science is still years away from practical application"

"I think we do have to be careful about managing expectations of the investment community and the public," said Dan Waynor, acting director-general of Canada's new National Institute of Nanotechnology, which is being set up in an engineering school at the University of Alberta's Edmonton campus while it waits for its own building. The $C120-million (about $US 75.3 million) institute, paid for by the federal and Alberta governments and the university, will eventually employ 150 National Research Council staff, 70 professors and 250 students doing nanotechnology research. "It will become a major centre for nanotechnology research on a global scale," Dr. Wayner said. Specifics of the institute's nanotechnology research plans will be unveiled in late April.

"There is a tremendous amount of hype around nanotechnology. But at the same time this is extremely important technology," said James Hollenhorst, director of the Electronics Research Laboratory at Agilent Technologies. "The investment community is interested in really exciting basic science work in universities and other labs … but what's getting attention right now is stuff that for the next 10 years or so will not be ready for real commercial business applications."

Dr. Wayner agrees that we're still years away from the big commercial and medical breakthroughs that nanotechnology promises. "There may be short-term applications of nanotechnology but most experts agree the payoff is 10 to 15 years down the road. We don't know enough about the science of nanotechnology yet to have a clear sense of what the economic impact will be in the next 10 years. But it will be enormous. It will be transformational and revolutionary."

For more information on Canadaís nanotechnology programs, see the Nanodot post from 11 January 2002.

New Zealand funds nanotech research center

Posted by RichardTerra on April 9th, 2002

from the World-Watch dept.
An article in the The Press ("Boost for researchers", by Tara Ross, 27 March 2002), a regional publication serving the South Island of New Zealand, reports that the University of Canterbury's Nanostructure Engineering, Science and Technology (Nest) Group will get significant funding through its partnership with Victoria in the MacDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology. In March, the New Zealand national government announced that five centers that would share its new and hotly contested $NZ60 million (about $US 26.2 million) Centre of Research Excellence (CORE) funding. The McDiarmid Institute for Advanced Materials and Nanotechnology, a partnership between Canterbury and Victoria Universities, has been awarded $NZ3.6 million (about $US 1.57 million) annually from the CORE fund. Some additional detail can be found in another article from New Zealand InfoTech ("New frontier in computing lies in the minuscule", by Judy Voullaire, 8 April 2002),

For additional background on the CORE funding for nanotech research in New Zealand, see the Nanodot post from 8 March 2002.

South Korea expands funding for nanotech programs

Posted by RichardTerra on April 9th, 2002

from the World-Watch dept.
According to an article in the Korea Herald ("Korea earmarks W200 bil. for nanotech", by Yang Sung-jin, 13 March 2002) South Korea will invest 203.1 billion won (about $US 153 million) in nanotechnology this year and seek a revision of related laws to accelerate NT projects, the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) said on 12 March 2002. The ministry said it will expand research, facilities and manpower in the nanotech sector during 2002. Accordingly, the 2002 investment figure of 203.1 billion won is up 93% from 105.2 billion won (about $US 79 million) last year.

"Nanotechnology is still a fledgling technology and there's a great shortage of seasoned engineers. Therefore, one of the major focuses of the NT initiative is to secure as many high-quality nanotechnology engineers as possible," the ministry said.

Last year, the science ministry drew up a ten-year master plan to nurture [nanotechnology] in an initial step to catch up with the global trend. The long-term plan breaks down into three stages until 2010, with the government pouring 1.37 trillion won (about $US 1.03 billion) in state and private investments into the project in a bid to pave the way for the introduction of a nanotech infrastructure within five years. According to the report, the plan calls for the production of "at least 10 cutting-edge NT products and produce 13,000 NT experts by 2010 in a bid to compete with other advanced countries."

For more information on South Korean nanotech initiatives, see the Nanodot post from 16 January 2002.

Ohio worries about gaining, retaining nanotech talent

Posted by RichardTerra on April 8th, 2002

In the wake of recent raids for top nanotechnology research talent among academic research programs (see Nanodot posts from 26 March and 27 March 2002), an article in the Cleveland, Ohio Plain Dealer ("Universities need to court top-tier researchers", by Barb Galbincea, 31 March 2002), universities in Ohio are a bit worried about being able to attract and retain its own researchers in the field. "We need the people who conduct the research," said UO Akron President Luis Proenza. Just as important, adds KSU President Carol Cartwright, is having the wherewithal to keep a prized researcher. "You live in fear that they will be recruited by someone else," she said. "I've got a 'watch' list in my head." The article notes that "For colleges and universities, especially many strapped state-assisted institutions, attracting and keeping top-tier scholars can be a difficult business. The best researchers expect larger salaries and expensive labs."

Houston looking for nanotech leadership

Posted by RichardTerra on April 8th, 2002

An article in the Houston Business Journal ("Houston poised to play key role in 'nanotechnology revolution' ", by Jennifer Darwin, 29 March 2002) asserts that:

Houston is in a position to lead what is being called the "nanotechnology revolution." But the city can only maintain that status as long as local scientists keep coming up with new innovations and industry players establish new collaborations.

Well, maybe. The article goes on to report on the comments of experts in the nanotechnology field at the Houston Technology Center Forum on 21 March 2002 entitled "Houston: Leading the Nanotechnology Revolution."

A pair of muddled articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer

Posted by RichardTerra on April 2nd, 2002

An article in the Philadelphia Inquirer ("The tiniest building blocks", by Faye Flam, 1 April 2002) presents a rather muddled view of recent research by David Luzzi and others at the University of Pennsylvania into novel carbon structures, including fullerene molecules inside nanotubes, which the article rather grandiosely describes as "a new form of matter". The article also makes a number of highly disparaging remarks about the prospects for advanced nanotechnology systems . . . as if carbon nanotube research were the end point, rather than a faltering first step. The article is accompanied by a short sidebar that gives an equally muddled presentation on the use of self-assembly to create some interesting nanotube arrays.

[Additional information about the nanotube ìpeapodî research referred to in the article can be found in Nanodot posts from 3 January and 1 March 2002.]