With the recent passage of the $3.7 Billion (USD) Nanotechnology Bill in the United States, could 2004 be shaping up to be the Year of Nanotechnology? Judging from the amount of attention Forbes magazine is giving nanotechnology, they certainly seem to think so.
OK, first for some background. If you are like me, you have been hearing about nanotechnology, but you are not sure exactly what it is. So, just to be on the safe side, I looked it up and here is what I learned: Nanotechnology means “any technology related to features of nanometer scale: thin films, fine particles, chemical synthesis, advanced microlithography, and so forth.”
Great. Now that we have that cleared up….
Actually, nanotechnology identifies ways of manipulating matter at the level of individual atoms — matter so small it is about 1/100,000th the width of a human hair. At this level, the laws of physics create novel properties that allow materials to be much improved. Materials are made smaller, thinner, stronger, better.
Nanotechnology, it is predicted, will affect just about every industry. According to a White House statement issued upon passage of the Nanotechnology Bill, “Nanotechnology offers the promise of breakthroughs that will revolutionize the way we detect and treat disease, monitor and protect the environment, produce and store energy, and build complex structures as small as an electronic circuit or as large as an airplane.”
Nanotechnology has been used to create waterproof/spot-resistant fabrics, auto bumpers, improved pharmaceuticals, Flash computer memory, cosmetics such as skin cream, OLED displays instead of LCD displays in digital electronics, ski wax, semiconductors, sporting goods like tennis rackets (it’s the new “titanium”), and scratch-resistant sunglass coatings.
Forbes has kicked off an entire Website to focus on nanotechnology, called ForbesNanotech.com, and an associated Weblog called ForbesWolfe Blog. Even the U.S. government has a dedicated Website: Nano.gov.
Nanotechnology is being employed by tiny start-ups all the way to huge multinational corporations. Nanotechnology is expected to become part of a $1 Trillion global economy. Venture capitalists and Wall Street will be zeroing in on nanotechnology in a big way.