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Foresight Nanotech Update 58

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A publication of the Foresight Nanotech Institute

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Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems
To Be Unveiled October 9-10 in Arlington, VA

Gives pathways to atomically-precise nanotechnology

Foresight Nanotech Institute and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) will team up to unveil the groundbreaking Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems at a new nanotechnology event, the Productive Nanosystems Conference, which will take place October 9-10, 2007 at the DoubleTree Crystal City in Arlington, VA.

In 2005, Foresight Nanotech Institute, a leading nanotechnology think tank and public interest organization, and Battelle, a leading global research and development organization, launched development of the Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems through an initial grant of $250,000 from The Waitt Family Foundation. The group assembled a world-class Steering Committee to guide this groundbreaking project, and garnered the support of several important industry organizations as roadmap partners, including SME. The Productive Nanosystems Conference will launch the first version of this new nanotechnology Roadmap.

Productive Nanosystems are functional systems that make atomically precise structures, components, and devices under programmable control. This is driving research and applications in a host of areas, with the goal of providing new atomically-precise nanoscale building blocks, devices and systems.

The aerospace, medical and automotive industries will all benefit from productive nanosystems. In the aerospace world, productive nanosystems are essential for production of new, lighter weight, stronger, temperature resistant materials. In the medical industry, productive nanosystems will be key to many advanced medical device applications. In the automotive field, productive nanosystems will become central to the development of electronics and information technology for Tier 1 suppliers.

Confirmed speakers as of May:

Damian Allis, Syracuse University
Paul Burrows, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Robert J. Davis, Ohio State University
Mitch Doktycz, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Eric Drexler, Nanorex
Keith Firman, University of Portsmouth
David Forrest, Institute for Molecular Manufacturing
Matthew Francis, UC Berkeley/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
David Geohegan, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Josh Hall, Institute for Molecular Manufacturing
Homme Hellinga, Duke University
Alex Kawczak, Battelle Memorial Institute
Khiang Wee Lim, National University of Singapore
Papu Maniar, Motorola
Malcolm O'Neill, Lockheed, ret.
John Randall, Zyvex
Chris Schafmeister, Temple University
William Shih, Harvard University
Michelle Simmons, University of New South Wales
Dennis Smith, Clemson University
Thomas Theis, IBM
Jim Von Ehr, Zyvex

More information on the event can be found at: www.sme.org/nanosystems.

Winners of the Foresight Nanotech Institute prizes to be honored

The 2007 winners of the Foresight Institute Feynman Prizes: Experimental and Theory, the Foresight Institute Prize in Communication, and the Foresight Institute Distinguished Student Award will be announced at a luncheon on October 9. The Feynman Prize winners will present their research the following day, October 10, at 11:30 AM.

About Foresight Nanotech Institute:

Foresight Nanotech Institute is a leading think tank and public interest organization focused on nanotechnology. Founded in 1986, its mission is to ensure the beneficial implementation of nanotechnology. Focusing on the six Foresight Nanotechnology Challenges, Foresight provides balanced, accurate and timely information to help society understand nanotechnology through publications, public policy activities, roadmaps, prizes, and conferences.

About SME:

The Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) is the world's leading professional society supporting manufacturing education. Through its member programs, publications, expositions and professional development resources, SME promotes an increased awareness of manufacturing engineering and helps keep manufacturing professionals up to date on leading trends and technologies. Headquartered in Michigan, SME influences more than half a million manufacturing practitioners and executives annually. The Society, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2007, has members in more than 70 countries and is supported by a network of hundreds of technical communities and local chapters worldwide. To learn more about SME, visit www.sme.org.

About Battelle:

Battelle is the world's largest non-profit independent research and development organization, with 20,000 employees in more than 120 locations worldwide, including five national laboratories Battelle manages or co-manages for the U.S. Department of Energy. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle conducts $3.8 billion in R&D annually through contract research, laboratory management, and technology commercialization. Battelle provides innovative solutions to some of the world's most important problems including global climate change, sustainable energy technologies, high performance materials, next generation healthcare diagnostics and therapeutics, and advanced security solutions for people, infrastructure, and the nation. Battelle has a long history of developing successful commercial products in collaboration with its clients, ranging from products to fight diabetes, cancer, and heart disease to the development of the office copier machine (Xerox). As a non-profit charitable trust with an eye toward the future, Battelle actively supports and promotes science and math education.

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Foresight appoints Dr. Pearl Chin President

Foresight Nanotech Institute to further research, policy

Pearl Chin

Foresight Nanotech Institute has appointed Dr. Pearl Chin to the position of President. Dr. Chin brings to the organization her extensive experience in business consulting, operations, sales and marketing, and customer service, in diverse industries from small to large companies. Prior to joining Foresight Nanotech Institute, she was a management consultant with Pittiglio Rabin Todd & McGrath, optimizing Supply Chain operations. Before that, she headed domestic Customer Support under Sales and Marketing for TA Instruments, Inc.

Dr. Chin is a prolific writer on nanotechnology investing, business, management and social issues. She is actively sought out to speak about and be interviewed on diverse nanotechnology-related topics. She also has extensive research expertise, having done graduate research at NIST. Dr. Chin holds an MBA from Cornell University's Johnson Graduate School of Management, a Ph.D. in Materials Science from University of Delaware's Center for Composite Materials, and a Bachelor's Degree in Chemical Engineering from The Cooper Union in New York City.

Foresight Nanotech Institute was founded in 1986 to educate the public about nanotechnology. The Institute's 1st Conference on Molecular Nanotechnology preceded the signing of the National Nanotechnology Initiative by 10 years. The prestigious Foresight Institute Feynman Prize in Nanotechnology has honored top nanotechnology research scientists since 1993.

"Dr. Chin's broad experience will be crucial in furthering Foresight's mission of promoting nanotech's benefits and heading off potential downsides," said Christine Peterson, Founder and Vice President of Foresight Nanotech Institute. "Our upcoming Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems will benefit from both her technical and business background. Her vision will guide Foresight in balancing our work on furthering research, educating the public, and contributing to improved public policy in nanotechnology." Peterson will remain with the organization as Vice President.

Link to Dr. Chin's Bio

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Healing and preserving the environment

Foresight Nanotechnology Challenge #4

The development of nanotechnology provides increasingly precise and comprehensive control over the structure of matter at the molecular scale, affording many opportunities to heal and preserve the environment. Eventually molecular manufacturing will provide consumer goods inexpensively and efficiently, and without generating harmful waste products or consuming scarce resources. Fossil fuels will be replaced by cheap and abundant solar energy and atoms to be made into products will be recycled from waste or obtained from inexpensive feedstocks. Molecular machine systems will also be able to cleanse air, soil, and water of pollutants produced by esrlier industrial methods. This vision was described 16 years ago in Chapter 9 of Unbounding the Future: The nanotechnology revolution, by Foresight co-founders Eric Drexler and Christine Peterson, with Gayle Pergamit. That vision is still a decade or two or three away, but progress in nanoscience and incremental nanotechnology during the past two decades already promises near term environmental benefits. However, this progress has also raised fears that nanomaterials themselves might harm human health or the environment.

Consequently the current challenge of using nanotechnology to heal and preserve the environment is two-fold: to produce nanomaterials to benefit the environment, and to avoid releasing harmful nanomaterials. (See the accompanying article "Nanoparticle safety" for Foresight's take on this topic). The nanotechnology business community is well aware of the environmental, health, and safety (EHS) risks of nanomaterials and is working to develop a basis for rational regulation of nanomaterials so that the wonderful properties of these materials can be exploited without in the process creating undue risks to people and the planet. As reported on Nanodot last year a "group of 15 companies and non-profit organizations ... sent a letter to each member of the U.S. Senate and House Appropriations Committees, calling for an increase in federal nanosafety funding." Two of these organizations, Environmental Defense and DuPont, developed a draft framework for managing "the risks that come with the promise of nanotechnologies." Such efforts at self-regulation are, however, criticized by some other organizations as insufficient. As Christine Peterson wrote recently on Nanodot ("Competing nanotechnology control frameworks"), the search for a workable compromise continues.

While the EHS issues lurk in the background, government, business, nonprofit organizations, and academic researchers have focused on how to harness nanomaterials to provide more effective monitoring of the environment, to make manufacturing processes more environmentally friendly, and to clean up pollution. In 2003 the US National Nanotechnology Initiative held a workshop on "Nanotechnology and the Environment" (1.7 MB PDF) that described the opportunities to apply nanotechnology to benefit the environment. These include building sensor arrays to monitor the health of the environment, creating a sustainable manufacturing base, controling emissions, minimizing undesirable byproducts, and remediating existing polluted resources.

    "For EPA, nanotechnology has evolved from a futuristic idea to watch, to a current issue to address."    
    —EPA Nanotechnology White Paper    

In February of 2007 the US Environmental Protection Agency released a Nanotechnology White Paper (2.6 MB PDF) that describes how nanotechnology presents new opportunities to improve measurement, monitoring, management, and minimizaion of contaminants in the environment. "For EPA, nanotechnology has evolved from a futuristic idea to watch, to a current issue to address." As examples of environmentally useful nanoparticles, EPA cites use of cerium oxide to decrease diesel emissions and zero-valent iron to remove contaminants from soil and ground water. Writing of the use of zero-valent iron nanoprticles in a pilot project to clean up a chemical superfund site, "These tiny particles will chemically clean deep ground water. This innovative technology will allow the particles to flow with the ground water while cleaning the underground aquifer as they reach into the smallest cracks in the bedrock under the site."

    "It is not as though nanotechnology will be an option; it is going to be essential for coming up with sustainable technologies."    
    —Paul Anastas, director of the American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute    

In April of 2007, the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies, an initiative of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts, released "Green nanotechnology: It's easier than you think" (1.6 MB PDF) The report is inspired by the conviction that "The ability to eliminate waste and toxins from production processes early on, to create more efficient and flexible solar panels, and to remove contaminants from water is becoming an exciting reality with nanotechnology." One expert quoted on the current role of nanotechnology: "We are on an unsustainable path," said Paul Anastas, director of the American Chemical Society's Green Chemistry Institute. "It is not as though nanotechnology will be an option; it is going to be essential for coming up with sustainable technologies."

"Environmentally beneficial nanotechnologies: barriers and opportunities" (748 KB PDF) was released in May of 2007 by the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs "to provide an overview of the areas where nanotechnology could have a beneficial environmental impact above current technology and the barriers preventing its adoption." Examining the effect that nanotechnology could have on fuel efficiency, solar cells, the hydrogen economy, energy storage, and insulation, the report anticipates significant reductions in carbon dioxide emmisions and in air pollution.

Among the environmental items reported this past year in Foresight's Weekly News Digest (complete list of links) were the use of gold nanoparticles in a "simpler, faster and more convenient" assay for the toxic metal mercury in the environment, a disposable sensor that uses DNA to detect hazardous uranium ions, a superabsorbent nanocomposite material made from waste styrofoam, and a company making nanobiomaterials to replace petroleum-based industrial products.

These and many other advances are based on early stage nanotechnology—passive nanomaterials and simple sensors. If the potential EHS issues surrounding nanomaterials are proactively faced and resolved, the evolution of nanotechnology toward productive nanosystems should, at each step along the way, provide increasingly powerful tools to preserve the environment and to heal the damage done by bulk industrial methods.

Menlo Labs - Tarlton Properties
Menlo Labs – Tarlton Properties www.tarlton.com

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Foresight Nanotech Update 58 Spring 2007