Unformatted text preview: entify a market for the tools
that nanotechnology can provide today.
The first step to product development is
positioning the technology—what is nanotechnology’s competitive edge? There is no
simple answer to this question because of the
enormous breadth of devices that can be built
from nanoscale materials. Methods of synthesis and construction differ greatly, as do the
performance aspects of each system.
The second step is to develop applications
that leverage the unique aspects of the
nanoscale system, whether in photovoltaics,
memory storage or medical devices. Much of NATURE BIOTECHNOLOGY VOLUME 21 NUMBER 10 OCTOBER 2003 nanotechnology (particularly nanobiotechnology) is still at these early stages, requiring
significant incubation for application and
Given nanotechnology’s nascent stage,
there are understandably few investors taking
the risk in early-stage innovation. Many are
waiting on the sidelines for an early indication in product development. Government
funding has become the main source of early
support for nanotechnology research and
development (R&D), particularly since the
establishment of the US NNI in 2000
(Arlington, VA, USA) and other initiatives like
it around the world (see p. 1127).
Nanotechnology significantly extends our
capabilities in resolution and sensitivity, but is
there currently a need for these products? As
outlined below, some of nanotechnology’s
tools are complementary to biotech’s picks
and shovels (e.g., contact microprinting technology could permit the creation of new types
of arrays with smaller feature size and greater
sensitivity). In other areas, there is a clear
indication that nanotechnology will outperform micron-scale technology platforms. For
those nanotechnologies that offer what may
be considered incremental performance,
industries that have invested heavily over the
past few years in other technology platforms
may show significant resistance to adoption.
Large-scale production and manufacturing
is another challenge. Can nanoscale systems
be produced cheaply and in mass quantities?
Nanoparticle synthesis has been adapted for
bulk production, and several companies
(such as Carbon Nanotechnologies, Houston,
TX, USA, and Sumitomo, Tokyo, Japan) are
already mass producing carbon fullerenes and
nanotubes. But the production of integrated
nanoscale devices is a formidable process,
even using micron-scale tools.
Self assembly may provide a key to
nanoscale device manufacturing. Nature has 1137 F E AT U R E Table 1 US universities with federally funded nanotechnology programs
Program Government agency Rice University (Houston, TX) Nanoscience in Biological and Environmental Engineering National Science Foundation (NSF) Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) Integrated Nanopatterning and Detection NSF Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Troy, NY) Directed Assembly of Nanostructures NSF Cornell University (Ithaca, NY) Nanobiotechnology, Science and Technology Center NSF Columbia...
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- Fall '13
- Nanotechnology, Nature Publishing Group, Publishing Group http://www.nature.com/naturebiotechnology