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April 5th, 2007
That, says Lifset, is where nanotechnology plays a role. In this emerging field, which employs just about every kind of scientific and engineering discipline, researchers expect to create products by building them from scratch, atom by atom, molecule by molecule. This bottom-up nanotechnology ushers in the horizon that replaces traditional drilling, sawing, etching, milling and other fabrication methods that create so much waste along the way.
Researchers have made headway toward molecule-size transistors and wires and even batteries thousands of times as small as those that are now in use. These laboratory feats are now producing sugar cube-size computers. Says Lifset: "A lot of the consumer goods and industrial equipment could become dramatically smaller when nanotechnology comes online. That, plus more efficient recovery of the discarded goods, ought to translate into huge reductions in waste."
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