Gina Miller writes "Nanotechnology: Is It Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise? is the topic of an article at Power Electronics Technology dated March 1, 2002. Sam Davis, the Editor, invokes the $500 million National Nanotechnology Initiative and Pres. Bush's proposed increase in the program as evidence that nanotechnology should be taken seriously. Davis explains how re-arranging atoms could provide us with new semiconductors and improved integrated circuits. He cites the book Unbounding the Future: The Nanotechnology Revolution, by Drexler, Peterson, and Pergamit (1991) and quotes Ralph C. Merkle of the Zyvex Corp on what nanotechnology will mean. And last but not least he notes the problems nanotechnology could bring in the form of deliberate abuse or accidents, and the Foresight Institute's draft of guidelines for developing nanotechnology to minimize those problems. He summarizes by asking "Although nanotechnology products are years away, is this a good thing, or bad? Is it an ethical problem, similar to nuclear energy with its good and bad points? Is it a threat to power electronics engineering and manufacturing as we know it? Is the 'march of science' going too far?" Is he worried primarily about threats to the job security of power electronics engineers?"
Archive for the 'Media Mentions' Category
from the positively-breathless dept.
A special edition of Business Week Magazine includes a number of items on nanotechnology, including an enthusiastic feature article ("The Tech Outlook: Nano Technology: No, its not all hype: these supertiny gizmos will transform our way of life", by Otis Port with Roger O. Crockett, 25 March 2002). The article notes the ongoing land-rush mentality of venture capitalists and large tech-oriented corporations into micro- and nano-scale technology R&D, as they are "pumping significant sums into nanotech research, as are governments around the world. A new study from CMP Cientifica [the Nanotechnology Opportunity Report], a market researcher in Madrid, says last year's worldwide government figure topped $1.2 billion (page 184). This year, the private and public sectors will probably spend $2 billion apiece on nano. . . . All told, venture capitalists and corporate funds will probably plow $1 billion into nano investments this year, twice what they invested in 2000, says S. Joshua Wolfe, a partner at New York's Lux Capital Group."
The article surveys a limited range of recent research, mostly into carbon nanotubes and semiconductor nanowires, and notes the formation of the NanoBusiness Alliance last year, before concluding:
The ultimate dream of nano engineers is an "assembler," which was first described in the writings of nanotech pioneer K. Eric Drexler, head of Foresight Institute in Palo Alto, Calif. It's a teensy robot that could be programmed to assemble atoms into gears and other components of nanomachines. That vision is still science fiction, says Raymond A. Kurzweil, author and president of Kurzweil Technologies Inc. But if assemblers can be developed, "they'll solve humanity's material needs," he adds. From molecules of dust and dirt, they would harvest the atoms needed to assemble computers, appliances, and other goods.
from the World-Watch dept.
According to an article in the Birmingham Post ("£80m bid for science center", by Richard Warburton, 18 March 2002), the West Midlands region of the UK is set to become the heart of Britain's science technology industry with a new £80 million (about U.S. $144 million) manufacturing complex that will create 10,000 jobs. The article says, "Plans have been drawn up for the world's largest centre for nanoscience to be based along the A38 technology corridor in Birmingham. . . . The city's universities, businesses and MPs [Members of Parliament] are pushing for the national centre for microsystems and nanotechnology which would draw on the region's international reputation for modern research and secure its place as the country's manufacturing hub."
from the learning-curve dept.
The online version of Small Times has begun an interesting new series of articles focusing on university-level educational efforts to develop and expand a workforce for emerging micro- and nano-scale technologies.
- The first article in the series ("U.S. universities develop small tech grad degrees", by Teri Sprackland, 28 March 2002) focuses on the increase of government money being used to finance university programs designed to increase U.S. competitiveness in small tech, as "the field is being recognized as worthy of its own specifically designated ñ but not yet standalone ñ graduate degrees." The article states, "Universities, capitalizing on existing research programs and faculty expertise, hope to attract and train students to satisfy small tech's growing demands. Those students will eventually form the infrastructure needed for long-term gains in the U.S. small tech industry."
- The second article ("China, Taiwan focus on nanoscience, but most still go overseas to study", by Jen Lin-Liu, 29 March 2002) highlights how China and Taiwan are using established academic programs in other countries to train their own graduate students in the emerging micro- and nano-technology sectors.
from the small-potatoes dept.
According to a press release (14 March 2002), Boise State University has received a grant from the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) to help establish a state-wide nanotechnology research program in Idaho. An interdisciplinary team of Boise State scientists will be part of a statewide project to study and develop nanoscale materials. The Boise State phase of the project is financed by nearly $2 million in federal and matching state funds awarded to the university through the NSFís Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program to support competitive research in Idaho.
The Boise area hosts one of the fastest-growing regional high-tech economies in the U.S., and is home to Micron Semiconductor and the headquarters of Hewlett-Packardís Printing and Imaging Division.
from the win-some,-loose-some dept.
According to an article in the Austin Business Journal ("SWT, UT ramp up for nanotech", by Stacey Higginbotham, 22 March 2002), Southwest Texas State University (SWT) and a new partnership among three other Texas universities are seeking millions of dollars in federal and private funding to promote nanotechnology in Texas. According to the article, a partnership between Rice University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Texas Dallas called SPRING, or the Strategic Partnership for Nanotechnology, is seeking "tens of millions" in federal and private grants to build or update nanotechnology centers at the three schools, says Paul Barbara, director of UT's Center for Nano and Molecular Sciences and Technology. SWT is seeking $5.5 million to create a research lab and workforce development program for nanotechnology called the Nanotechnology Failure Analysis, Materials, Evaluation and Education Center (NanoFAME).
But as the Austin American-Statesman reports ("MIT steals away prominent UT nanotech scientist", by Cara Anna, 25 March 2002), the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has managed to convince prominent nanotech researcher Angela Belcher, a University of Texas professor and a member of UT's new Center for Nano and Molecular Science and Technology, to leave the University of Texas at Austin and join MIT's new NanoMechanical Technology Laboratory as an associate professor in the fall. Additional coverage of this latest nanotech talent raid can be found in an Associated Press article ("Texas nanotech team heading to Northeast", 25 March 2002) that appeared in the Boston Herald.
The U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF) has posted a presentation ("Research and Development FY 2003 National Nanotechnology Investment in the FY 2003 Budget Request by the President") made by M.C. Roco, NSF; Chair, National Science and Technology Council's subcommittee on Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology (NSET) on February 13, 2002 at the AAAS/ASME Briefing, Washington, D.C. The presentation basically reiterates the information already note here on Nanodot on 5 February 2002.
from the mass-media-mush dept.
An article on the Washington Post ("Big Potential From Small Things", by Ariana Eunjung Cha, 21 March 2002) presents a superficial but reasonably well-written survey of "current events" in nanotechnolgy, focusing on increases in federal funding for nanotech research and the increasing interest from the venture capital community. As the article notes, "The debate has shifted from 'Will it happen?' to 'When will it happen?' " said Christine Peterson, president of the Foresight Institute.
The article was also reposted on the Small Times website.
from the World-Watch dept.
While thereís little said in it about nanotech per se, an article in the London-based Financial Times ("'Valley' in the Alps", by Jo Johnson, 26 February 2002) provides some interesting background on the history and current climate of the region around Grenoble, France as a long-standing technology center and incubator. Previous coverage of French high-tech center appeared here on Nanodot on 28 January 2002.
from the what's-really-going-on-here? dept.
An extensive article on the Small Times website ("Second top official to step down at California NanoSystems Institute", by Jayne Fried, 22 March 2002) reports that molecular computing researcher James Heath will step down as an acting co-director of the California NanoSystems Institute (http://www.cnsi.ucla.edu/) at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) . . . but not right away. Heath will be leaving UCLA to devote more time to research, and will join the faculty at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. "It's a tough thing to do, to go to Caltech," Heath told Small Times. "This (CNSI) is my baby, but it comes down to when I go to bed at night I think about institute problems."
According to the article, Heath expressed disappointment and frustration with the pace at which technology is moving from research labs to the marketplace within the University of California system. "UC has not been very strong in transferring intellectual property out into the world and making it happen," Heath said. Part of the reason is that the UC system is a "big company that is not quite as nimble as it could be."
The report notes that Heath's departure leaves the multi-million dollar CNSI with co-director Evelyn Hu, a nanotech electrical and computer engineer at UC Santa Barbara, and Roy Doumani, acting chief operating officer. Hu is one of the founders of CNSI. "I won't deny Jim's leaving is something that is very sobering because he's had such an influence," Hu said. "We worked so closely together." The article also notes that although Heath will be at Caltech, Doumani said Heath "will remain active and be able to stay as a member of CNSI." The plan appears to be an open door policy in which scientists outside the UC system will participate in CNSI. "I hope to find a way to get Caltech involved in the institute," Heath said.
As the title of the Small Times article reflects, Heath is the second major figure to announce departure from a CNSI leadership position in recent months. In January 2002, Martha Krebs left as director of CNSI for a broader role at UCLA. Krebs was also associate vice chancellor of UCLA for research, and said she will be devote herself full time to that job. Krebs was a key figure in establishing CNSI, and had moved to California a year ago from Washington, D.C., to become director of the institute. Previously, as science director at the U.S. Department of Energy, Krebs helped establish the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative.
Gina Miller flagged a lengthy interview in the March 2002 issue of Red Herring Magazine ("Nano-Newt!", by Stephan Herrera, 18 March 2002) presents the views of New Gingrich, former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, on nanotechnology, science education, ìhomeland securityî, and a number of other issues. Gingrich became honorary chairman of the NanoBusiness Alliance, a trade organization dedicated to nanotechnology, in December 2001 (see Nanodot post from 14 December 2001), and his influence on the direction of U.S. nanotechnology policy, already significant, is likely to grow.
An brief article on the Small Times website ("Nanotechnologyís potential needs decades of work before itís realized, expert panel says", by Candace Stuart, 19 March 2002) reports that a panel of "nanotechnology leaders", speaking at a conference in Washington, D.C. on "Small Wonders: Exploring the Vast Potential of Nanoscience" sponsored by the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), said not to expect much from nanotechnology in the short term. The report says the experts opined that "Nanotechnology probably has decades to go before promise becomes product; but if and when it does, the impact could be staggering."
Similar sentiments were expressed in an article in the Dallas Morning News ("Nanotech may need a little time", by Alan Goldstein, 13 March 2002), focusing on venture capitalists and investors at the Nanoventures 2002 conference held in Dallas, Texas, 6-8 March 2002 (see Nanodot post from 8 March 2002).
from the World-Watch dept.
An brief article in The Times of India ("Need to develop nanotechnology", 5 March 2002) reports that Rajeev Ratan Shah, Secretary, Department of Information, speaking at a seminar in Kanpur on 3 March 2002, admitted that "India was lagging behind in the development of nanotechnology", and called upon nano-scientists "to come out with concrete recommendations for quick growth of nanotechnology in the country. He also stressed that the government would provide funds for research in this field." According to the report, "Shah said there was an urgent need for an integrated approach for the growth of nanotechnology in India, adding that scientists from various institutes should come on a joint forum to share their experiences and knowledge in this field. He lamented that India was lagging behind in nanotechnology and it was high time that Indian scientists took initiatives for advanced research in the field."
An article in the New York Times ("Tiny Technologies Slip Unseen Into Daily Life", by Barnaby J. Feder, 11 March 2002) takes a decidedly short-term view of nanotechnology, focusing on the many companies attempting to commercialize nano-structured materials. The article makes only a few passing references to the potential for advanced nanoscale devices, but does note the increasing level of interest from venture capitalists and investors: "The things I said a few years ago would be prototypes in 2005 are here now," James C. Ellenbogen, who heads the nanotechnology division at the Mitre Corporation, which specializes in government-supported technical research. "There has been a sharp upsurge in the number of venture capitalists at science meetings."
[Note: Access to the NYT site is free, but requires registration.]
from the World-Watch dept.
According to a brief report in the Taipei Times ("British science minister seeks closer cooperation", by Chiu Yu-Tzu, 8 March 2002), the highest ranking British official ever to visit Taiwan, the UK's parliamentary under-secretary of state for science and innovation is pushing stronger research ties in a number of fields, including nanotechnology. According to the report, during a visit to Taiwan on 7 March 2002, the UK's Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation, Lord Sainsbury, said both Taiwan and the UK would benefit from deeper scientific collaboration on a variety of scientific topics, including nanotechnology, bio-technology, and information technology.
from the World-Watch dept.
According to a pair of articles from the New Zealand Herald on 6 March and 7 March 2002, competition among New Zealandís academic institutions has been keen to win a role as host institutions in the Government's funding of five university research programmes from its $60 million Centres of Research Excellence (Core) fund. The NZ Government pledged to invest almost $61 million in five research centres, based across three of the country's eight universities. One of the centers selected will be devoted to nanoscale science and technology.
An article in the Houston Business Journal ("Nanotechnology beginning to take center stage in Houston", by Jennifer Darwin, 1 March 2002) provides a brief look at NT-related activity in and around Houston, particularly at Rice University. The article notes that Nobel-laureate and fullerene nanotube researcher Richard Smalley has stepped down as head of the director of Rice's Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology, reported to focus on research and the commercial ventures in which he is a partner. The article also has an interesting quote from Smalleyís replacement as director of the CNST — Wade Adams, who was the chief scientist of the U.S. Air Force's materials laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio before joining Rice. According to the article:
Adams' goal is to find situations to which Rice's nanotechnology can be applied. He will look for opportunities for funding, partnering, collaborating, and ultimately, spinning off new companies focused on nanotechnology. "We think nanotechnology is going to have a huge payoff, tying to the medical profession and biology," Adams says. "It is extremely obvious that we need to be doing more to bring the nano expertise we have at Rice to the (Texas) Medical Center."
from the late-to-the-game dept.
Florida Governor Jeb Bush has proposed spending $100 million in 2002 on a technology initiative to create Centers of Excellence at Florida universities, according to a number of recent press reports. The program would include nanoscale science and technology as a major component.
If passed, the Florida program, which resembles programs already in place in California, New York, and Texas, would be one of the largest government-funded nanotechnology programs in the United States, trailing only Californiaís program.
Read more for links to coverage of the proposed Florida program in the Florida press.
An article in the Detroit Free Press ("Michigan nanotech companies may hit it big by thinking small", by Heather Newman, 28 February 2002) sounds a boosterish note for the potential for Michigan to become a leader in nanotechnology. Apparently Newman has missed the noise and thunder of the past yearís stampede to set up nanoscience research and development programs, because she claims that "[Michigan] is rapidly becoming one of a handful [of states] in the country with a group of scientists working seriously on nanotechnology, the art of building everything from chemicals to machinery molecules, or even atoms, at a time." However, the article does provide a useful, if cursory, survey of nanotech activity in the state.
from the half-a-loaf dept.
An article in The Scientist ("Nanotech Dreams", by Senior Science Editor Jeffrey M. Perkel; 4 March 2002) offers a general overview of nanotechnology from a life science perspective. The article presents some background on the ideas of Richard Feynman and Eric Drexler (mixed with a few hoary science fiction clichés and comments from nay-sayers to the idea of advanced molecular nanotechnology, such as Richard Smalley) before focusing on current research in several areas. "It's an unusual field," says Chad A. Mirkin, a professor of chemistry and director of the Institute for Nanotechnology at Northwestern University. "It's a field that focuses on a scale rather than on a material. So it affects everything."
The article also quotes Robert A. Freitas Jr., a research scientist at Zyvex Corp. and author of Nanomedicine, about the distance between long-term visions for nanotechnology and current capabilities: "My vision of nanomedicine ranges from the near-term to the far-term," he says. "I look at the things that can't be done for 20 years as a vision, as the ultimate goal, as a wonderful thing, way out there, that we can grasp for. And in the meantime, we have to do all the things that are necessary to get up to that point, and there's an awful lot of work to be done, and lots of work for everybody."
The bulk of the article actually focuses on various companies attempting to create biosensor systems using various micro- and nano-scale technologies, and nanostructured materials that may have therapeutic applications. The article does concludes by returning to disputes over the feasibility of nanorobotic systems, and gives greater play to the more conservative view:
Northwestern's Mirkin bluntly surmises, "I think it's baloney . . . I think a lot of people, including scientists, try to say, 'This is pie-in-the-sky. A lot of it is really far out. It's going to have a big impact, but it's not going to be realized for 25 to 50 years,'" says Mirkin. "That's wrong, and it's also wrong to say it's going to revolutionize everything in the next couple of years. Something in the middle is correct."