Nanotechnology: Succeeding Beyond the Hype
During the past two decades, the hype around nanotechnology has been almost deafening. At the launch of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in 1999, US President Bill Clinton remarked ‘Imagine the possibilities: materials with ten times the strength of steel and only a small fraction of the weight — shrinking all the information housed at the Library of Congress into a device the size of a sugar cube — detecting cancerous tumors when they are only a few cells in size.’ In 2005, meanwhile, BT’s Ian Pearson and Ian Neild predicted ‘In the next 60 years we will see nanotechnology and biotechnology making impacts on our life that might seem like magic to us but will be quite normal to our children’s children.’ In 2010, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly to Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov for their groundbreaking work on the two-dimensional nanomaterial, graphene at the University of Manchester, UK. This ‘wonder material’ could potentially transform a range of sectors, including electronics, energy, health and construction. The EU was confident enough in 2013 to commit $1.3bn over a 10-year period to find out exactly what it can do.
Fast forward to 2016, and nanotechnology has entered a new era. Almost two decades on from the launch of the NNI, nanotechnology research is now well funded worldwide. Furthermore, the commercial fruits of nanotechnology research are now starting to be enjoyed, as nanotechnology begins to move out of the lab and into the commercialization phase. Nanotechnology is now starting to make a significant mark on our daily lives, from a nano-coating to waterproof your iPhone, to faster, more accurate medical diagnoses and equipment using lab-on-a-chip technology, and cleaner water through using filters that are only 15-20 nanometers wide. Beyond the hype, nanotechnology is now starting to build an impressive track record of concrete achievements, genuinely improving the world in which we live.
Given how quickly nanotechnology has progressed, both in terms of research output and applications, it is sometimes easy to forget that this is still a relatively young research field. The National Nanotechnology Initiative, launched in 1999, is one of the longest-running research organizations; many major nanotechnology research centres were established after 2010. It is not surprising, therefore, that nanotechnology research continues apace. There are now, for example, over 200 conferences with a nano-focus, demonstrating not only the volume of nanotechnology research, but also how inter-disciplinary it is, focusing in areas including materials science, medicine, food science, energy, law and environmental science.
One of the most well-established and well-regarded nanotechnology conferences is Micro- and Nano Engineering, which is now in its 42nd iteration. Held in Vienna this year, between 19th and 23rd September, the conference welcomes around 800 scientists and engineers to present the latest research and discuss future trends in the fabrication and application of micro- and nanostructures and devices. The conference will also discuss applications in electronics, photonics, electromechanics, environment, life sciences and biology.
This draws upon many of the same themes in our own successful Micro- and Nano Technologies book series. The books within the series are applications-focused, linking current research and showing how it is currently – and could potentially be – used to help engineers create new devices, make chapter devices or create more streamlined processes. Thinking about the themes of Micro- and Nano Engineering 2016, here are a few highlights:
- Engineering of Nanobiomaterials, edited by Alexandru Grumezescu, is comprehensive guide to the engineering and specific applications of nanobiomaterials, presenting novel approaches based on the latest research
- Nano- and Microfabrication for Industrial Applications by Regina Luttge is a clear guide to current and emerging nano- and microfabrication technologies in a range of academic and industry disciplines, which illustrates key concepts with case studies from biomedical and other application areas
- Nanotechnology Applications for Clean Water, edited by Anita Street, Richard Sustich, Jeremiah Duncan and Nora Savage brings together the current technologies and future possibilities for reaching universal access to clean water.
- Industrial Applications of Carbon Nanotubes, edited by Huisheng Peng, Qingwen Li and Tao Chen is a detailed look at the various industrial applications of carbon nanotubes, with a view to mass manufacture and commercialization, is ideal for both academia and industry
- Biomaterials Nanoarchitectonics, edited by Mitsuhiro Ebara is an all-encompassing book, which provides valuable information on the most practical materials design approaches for smart polymer-based materials in regenerative medicine, drug delivery, and their related biomedical applications.
Elsevier is pleased to be an exhibitor at this year’s conference. Please come and see us at Booth 3. We look forward to seeing you there!