|Read about the latest in nanotechnology for crime prevention, military and medical applications plus the kind of commitment and support Germany is giving its industry.|
Welcome to Issue 2
We are introducing a section on ‘What’s New in Nanotechnology’, which will be running as a regular feature in future, to provide interesting insights into some of the many exciting developments that are bringing the promise of nanotechnology into real products - some of which offer great potential for improving the environment; for example, the new award-winning technique developed by the combined team of Imperial Innovations and Molecular Imprinting Ltd.
Also in this issue…
»Nanotechnology and Crime Prevention.
Russell Cowburn, the subject of this month’s interview, talks about his new method of uniquely ‘fingerprinting’ goods and documents using laser technology to uniquely identify the natural surface features of goods and packaging. This is quirkily, but accurately, termed: ‘biometrics of dead things’. Russell is notable for winning the prestigious Degussa prize for innovation in nanotechnology in 2006, walking away with a cool £100,000 for another idea of his relating to advanced techniques for improving computer logic!
To continue the theme of crime, we have an article that examines how analysis of clues at the scene of crime can be speeded up, and also how nanomaterials technology can be used in the fight to clean up graffiti. Not a trivial advance – graffiti creates an environment where crime thrives, and is also hugely expensive to deal with.
»Nanotechnology & the Military.
Now, moving from what might be called petty crime, to acts of war. We know that nanotechnology has a power for good, it can also be used destructively. It is a sobering thought that one quarter to one third of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) funding is going to the Pentagon ($352 million of the total $1200 million nanotechnology budget in 2005). Much of this work is still in the fundamental research stage, studying nanoscale motors, nanotubes and molecular electronics. But there are also more sinister activities, for example, in the area of biological weapons and autonomous combat systems. Jürgen Altmann, an expert in this field, explores the military situation further, and issues a warning on the urgent need for international controls.
»Carbon Nanotubes – A Miracle Material?
In this issue, we are also taking the first steps in exploring the benefits of carbon nanotubes, a material whose structure has only recently been deciphered. It possesses amazing electronic, thermal, and structural properties and offer new possibilities for creating nanoelectronic devices, circuits and computers of the future.
But carbon nanotubes not only promise breakthroughs in electronics, and for new materials with extraordinary properties of strength, toughness and even conductivity. but also for medicine – in drug delivery, gene therapy and sensor probes – to name but a few.
»Country Feature – Germany.
Aiming to be a World Leader?
At the end of 2006, a telling new action plan for nanotechnology was unveiled by the German Government which set out the way the Government plans to promote the application of nanotechnology across a wide range of industry sectors, including car manufacturing, construction, textiles, ICT, life sciences, optical science and engineering, chemicals, energy and environmental technologies. The proposal is to spend £330m on nanotechnology research in the coming year, an increase of just over 6% on priority industry sectors including: car manufacturing, construction, textiles, ICT, life sciences, optical science and engineering, chemicals, and energy and environmental technologies. Germany clearly aims to be a world leader in industrial innovation based on nanoscience and nanotechnology.
»Review Articles – Nano in Chemistry, Nano for Medical Applications
As part of the commitment of NANO to providing information for the generalist reader, we have two articles which explore applications of nanotechnology in chemistry and medicine, and what nanotechnology offers these important sectors. In chemistry, the article focuses on how particle size affects properties, and
explores the idea of how a multitude of materials with novel properties are possible. With regard to medicine, the wide range of potential applications of nanotechnology are touched on, each of which will be explored in more detail in subsequent issues. Watch this space!!
How the textile industry is leading in the use of nanoscale technology for flexible fashions and smart fabrics; how one man’s view of the nanoworld of the future is causing gasps from the scientific community; and how nanotechnology can help the environment. The second in our series of articles on nanomedicine explores whether governance issues and whether spending levels on toxicology research is sufficient. Countries to be featured are Israel and India, the former for its jaw-dropping innovations, and the latter for the immense mobilization of the country’s physicists and chemists into the world of new nanomaterials – the engines of growth.
Nanoparticle toxicology – a real or imagined threat?
Finally, there has been much debate in the press about the review by the Committee for Science and Technology (CST) on whether the UK Government has adequately met the targets on actions recommended by the Royal Society / Royal Institution report of two years ago on prioritising and funding research into the health and environmental effects of nanotechnologies. Prof Sir John Beringer, who chaired the review, said it was “absurd” that the Government is only spending an average of only £600,000 a year to research the impacts of nanomaterials. Sir John commented that there is a pressing need for a strategic programme of central Government spending into the toxicology, as there are concerns about the unknown effects of new nanoparticles.