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Nanotechnology: Succeeding Beyond the Hype

By: , Posted on: August 11, 2016

Source: Wikimedia
Source: Wikimedia

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.[1] 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.[2]’ 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.[3] The EU was confident enough in 2013 to commit $1.3bn over a 10-year period to find out exactly what it can do.[4]

Fast forward to 2016, and nanotechnology has entered a new era.[5] 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[6]. 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.[7]

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:

materials and processes for next generation lithography

  • Materials and Processes for Next Generation Lithography, edited by Alex Robinson and Richard Lawson, brings together the world’s foremost resist development scientists from various communities to produce a definitive description of the many approaches to lithography fabrication. Alex Robinson will present his paper Sensitivity enhancement of high-resolution molecular resist for EUV lithography at MNE 2016 at 9.30am on Friday, 23 September in room A5, which is not to be missed!

engineering of nanobiomaterials

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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!

References:
[1] National Nanotechnology Initiative: Leading to the Next Industrial Revolution – White House Report, 2000 (PDF)
[2] 2005 BT Technology Timeline
[3] Graphene – the new wonder material
[4] Europe Invests €1 Billion to Become “Graphene Valley”
[5] Nanotechnology is a growing research priority
[6] 10 Nanotech Breakthroughs You Should Know About
[7] Nanotechnology and Smart Materials conferences worldwide

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Materials Science

The highly interdisciplinary field of materials science examines elements of applied physics and chemistry, as well as chemical, mechanical, civil, and electrical engineering. Nanoscience and nanotechnology in particular have yielded major innovations in this area, such as graphene and carbon nanotubes. Elsevier’s authoritative content in this area ranges from undergraduate textbooks to multi-volume reference works investigating the relationships between the structure of materials and their properties. Our journals (including Materials Today), books, and eBooks help researchers stay abreast of developments in this swiftly advancing field, coving major sub-disciplines like energy and power; metals and alloys; ceramics; composite materials; polymer science and biomaterials; interdisciplinary materials science; and structural materials.

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