Christine Peterson on current state and future potential of nanotechnology

Foresight Co-Founder and Past President: Christine L. Peterson was interviewed in the magazine “Future by Semcon“, published by Semcon, “a global technology company active in the areas of engineering services and product information.” The four-page article “Infinite nanotech possibilities” begins on page 34 of the current issue, which is available online. (The issue is presented as it appears in print, so in the “Browse the publication” box click on the “Table of contents”, then the article title, and then the “Go to page” button.) The interview presents a very succinct and easy overview of the current state and future potential of nanotechnology. Christine focuses on the potential of advanced nanotechnology to eliminate chemical pollution through complete control of atomic trajectories during the manufacturing process. She summarizes the progress of nanotechnology as near the end of the first stage of development, the use of nanostructured materials in a variety of applications, and the beginning of the second, the construction of nanodevices and more advanced products. The latter include medical applications, like (much) better detection and treatment of cancer. As Foresight members and Nanodot readers are well aware, however, the real excitement will come when these first two evolutionary stages give way to the third, truly revolutionary stage, the development of advanced nanomachinery for atomically precise manufacturing:

I think in the longer term it will be the way we make our products. It will mean that they incorporate computation, they incorporate the ability to change their shape, they are perhaps multipurpose products. At some point it starts to sound like science fiction, and there is a reason for that. When you look ahead two or three decades, if what you see at that stage does not look like science fiction, then you’re not trying, you’re not thinking ambitiously enough. …

The interview ends with two interesting questions. (1) When can we expect advanced nanomachinery to be commercialized? After acknowledging the range from optimistic to pessimistic predictions: “… let’s say that in 25 years maybe we will see some really dramatic stuff happening.” (2) Will any technologies not be affected in some way by advanced nanotechnology? “… I personally don’t see a technology area that will not be impacted by nanotechnology.” Do these two answers seem on target?

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