Only thing that can lift the economy out of the Depression–other than the profound reforms we talk on other articles– is a technological breakthrough, such as the Internet was in late 90s. Cold fusion and nanotechnology are two such possible breakthroughs. That would be a temporary relief, however, like all bubbles have been, eventually ending in a bust. But the cycle is not without end, unless the deep reforms linked above are implemented.
Nanotechnology is the study of the controlling of matter on an atomic and molecular scale. Generally nanotechnology deals with structures sized between 1 to 100 nanometer (a metric unit of length equal to one billionth of a meter) in at least one dimension, and involves developing materials or devices within that size. 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 nanoscaleto investigating whether we can directly control matter on the atomic scale.There has been much debate on the future implications of nanotechnology. Nanotech 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.
Photo: Nanotech, scienceblogs.
Research on the nanoscale has revolutionized areas of science and has begun to have an impact on, and be impacted by, society and economy. We are capturing early traces of these processes in NanoBank, a large scale, multi-year project to provide a public data resource which will link individuals and organizations involved in creating and using nano S&T across a number of activities including publishing, patenting, research funding, and commercial financing, innovation and production. We report preliminary results from our work in progress. Nanotechnology is on a similar trajectory to biotechnology in terms of patents and publication, already accounting for over 2.5% of scientific articles and 0.7% of patents. Joint university-firm research is widespread and increasing. Regional agglomeration is also evident in both science and commercial applications, with the main clusters of firm entry by both new and pre-existing firms forming around major research universities publishing in nanoscience. Nanoscience has been highly concentrated in the United States, a few European countries, and Japan, but China has recently passed Japan in total articles per year and is beginning to have a significant number of highly-cited articles.
A project of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to foster research, new ventures and new job creation from the Commonwealth’s rich base of nanoscale science and engineering. Massachusetts enjoys a leading position in nanotechnology research and technology development:
Over 100 self-identified nanotechnology firms
Over $110 million in venture capital investment in nanotechnology firms in 2003
A critical mass of existing industry in relevant fields: bio/pharma, medical devices, semiconductor equipment, etc.
Major nanotechnology research centers at most university campuses including three National Nanotechnology Initiative Centers of Excellence:
•MIT Soldier Nanotechnology Center
•Harvard Center for the Science of Nanoscale Systems and their Device Applications
•Northeastern University/UMass Lowell/ University of New Hampshire Nano Science & Engineering Center
Three of the leading seven universities within the National Nanotechnology Initiative (measured by research funding):
•UMass Amherst, MIT, and Harvard
The #3 location for ‘high impact’ nanoscale science scholarship (National Bureau of Economic Research 2003)
Photo: Mass governor Deval Patrick & U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke.
In addition to all its benefits nanotech industry needs to go beyond academics and other privileged actors and benefit common men and women. Instead of hiring talent from out-of-town, companies, in conjunction with universities and community colleges, should develop curricula to train local people to fill future jobs. Outreach programs should target inner-city neighborhoods to create exciment about nanotech careers and enroll people of all ages in education programs.
Purdue nuclear engineering doctoral student Chase Taylor, at left, and Jean Paul Allain, an assistant professor of nuclear engineering, are using this facility in work aimed at developing coatings capableof withstanding the grueling conditions inside nuclear fusion reactors. The research focuses on the “plasma-material interface,” a crucial region where the inner lining of a fusion reactor comes into contact with the extreme heat of the plasma. (Purdue University photo/Mark Simons).
Other bold intitiatives like retooling automotive industry to develop maglev technology and other public transportation initiatives can also be instrumental in pulling the country–and subsequently the world–out of this Second Great Depression.