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December 4th, 2009

The bigger picture

Abstract:
If you have been in any way engaged or interested in science in recent years, the term "nanotechnology" will be familiar. But what does nanotechnology really mean to those working in the field? How is it any more than a nifty rebranding of what many scientists and engineers were doing anyway? And can something at such a tiny scale really help address the big issues we face as a species, like the looming energy crises?

"Nanotechnology and nanoscience means lots of things to lots of people," says Richard Friend, Cavendish professor of physics at the University of Cambridge and a scientific advisory board member at Crann in Trinity, where he visited last month ahead of nano-week.

Friend, a successful entrepreneur who co-founded two companies off the back of his lab's research, looks beyond the rigid definition that nanotechnology operates at a dimension of 100nm or less. His is a more conceptual view of nano as an approach that engages researchers who might not otherwise rub shoulders on a common question.

"For most of us involved with the management of research, we see nanoscience as a way of breaking down traditional boundaries between disciplines, where the result is something broader than what would have fitted in the traditional discplinary context," he says.

Source:
irishtimes.com

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