Nanotechnology Marches On

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Nanotechnology Marches On For years, we’ve been reporting to you on the great promise of nanotechnology in almost every area of industry and life. It seems that now, due to a steady stream of breakthroughs, the stage is set for nanotech to burst onto the scene at last.

To understand how hot nanotechnology is becoming, you merely need to look at the global quantity of scientific papers published on the subject. The number of papers was just 20 in 1990. In 2005, it was 630. Then in one year, it almost doubled to 1,027, according to The Hindu Business Line.1 That accelerating growth is a barometer of what’s going on in the world’s labs and universities.

But nanotech is already bursting out of the lab and into the mainstream marketplace to bring improvements to healthcare, biotechnology, automobile manufacturing, information and communications technology, and advanced manufacturing, as well as in the energy, aerospace, security, and environmental industries.

Patent volume is increasing, too. NEC holds 105 nanotech patents. IBM holds 90; L’Oreal, 80; and Hitachi, 69.

Recent developments have prompted Nobel Laureate Horst Stormer to say, “Nanotechnology has given us the tools to play with the ultimate toy box of nature: atoms and molecules. Everything is made from it. The possibilities to create new things are limitless.”

In fact, there are now more than 350 consumer products available for purchase today that incorporate nanotechnology.

By 2014, according to the PR Newswire,2 there will be some $2.6 trillion in goods that incorporate nanotech.

According to The Hamilton Spectator,3 companies and governments are putting up huge sums to make nanotechnology a reality. In 2003, President George W. Bush signed into law $3.7 billion for research into nanotechnology. Canada has allocated $400 million, which will serve in part to support a new nanotech institute in Edmonton. Lux Research in New York City estimates that $10 billion was spent worldwide on nanotech research in 2005 alone. Moreover, Lux estimates that much of what we now generically call “technology” will be “nanotechnology” by 2015.

Some new laboratory developments in nanotechnology are pushing this trend. This includes a top secret project at IBM called Millipede, which is a nanomechanical system using an etching microscope to produce small indentations that can store information at the rate of about 50,000 pages in a space that is the size of a single period on a printed page. This would mean that 25 million pages could be stored in a space that is the size of a postage stamp...

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