Nanotechnology Now

Our NanoNews Digest Sponsors





Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


android tablet pc

Home > Press > Nanotechnology under the microscope

Christopher Bosso is the director and principal investigator for Northeastern's Nanotechnology and Society Research Group. Photo by Lauren McFalls.
Christopher Bosso is the director and principal investigator for Northeastern's Nanotechnology and Society Research Group. Photo by Lauren McFalls.

Abstract:
Nanotechnology is a continually developing branch of science, one with political, environmental and ethical implications that are not yet fully understood. Among those taking the lead to clarify those issues is Christopher J. Bosso, associate dean of Northeastern's School of Public Policy and Urban Affairs and director and principal investigator for the University's Nanotechnology and Society Research Group. Bosso is also author of a new book "Governing Uncertainty: Environmental Regulation in the Age of Nanotechnology." Here, he discusses public policy related to nanotechnology and the potential impact of the fast-growing science, for good and ill.

Nanotechnology under the microscope

Boston, MA | Posted on March 29th, 2010

Can you explain how you became involved in thinking about nanotechnology?

Every new technology has direct and indirect consequences for human health, the natural environment and the society at large. I have had a long interest in the public policy dimensions of such consequences going back to my doctoral work on chemical pesticides. So it did not take much convincing when faculty colleagues Jackie Isaacs (mechanical and industrial engineering), Ron Sandler (philosophy and religion) and Woody Kay (political science) asked me to join them in ongoing policy and ethics work connected to Northeastern's Center for High-rate Nanomanufacturing (CHN).

We quickly realized that we were confronting a set of issues beyond CHN's immediate domain, so with CHN director Ahmed Busnaina's help, we put together our own National Science Foundation proposal to look at the broader environmental and health challenges posed by nanomaterials. We had the right proposal at the right time, giving us a rare opportunity to do organized and sustained interdisciplinary thinking about policy and ethical issues related to nanotechnology and other emerging technologies.

Is it common for a university with so much science and engineering research in nanotechnology to also study its possible societal impacts? What are the benefits?

It is not uncommon. The difference lays in organization, breadth and sustained effort, and the degree to which such research is connected to and informed by basic and applied research and development.

The benefits are two-fold. First, having ready access to colleagues in science and engineering informs our thinking about policy and ethical issues, which in turn enables us to advise them on how policy and ethical concerns affect basic research, product development and technology adoption. All of this makes for a lively and truly interdisciplinary discourse. Equally important, these collaborations benefit students across the disciplines. They show our students that the greatest insights about any problem are derived from spanning disciplinary boundaries.

Nanotechnology is a vast area. From your perspective, what is the greatest potential for developments in the field?

It is hard to imagine any sector that won't be reshaped. Perhaps the most exciting breakthroughs are in areas like electronics and medicine.

The work at CHN and other research laboratories here and elsewhere point to revolutionary breakthroughs in the continued miniaturization and speed of computing in the near future, making your iPhone a clunky monster by comparison. It borders on the stuff of science fiction.

Breakthroughs in nanomedical applications — including a lot of work at Northeastern — portends fundamental shifts in how we detect and treat cancer, devise therapies for neurological diseases like Parkinson's or enhance the body's capacity to heal itself when damaged. The prospects for a future where we are able to effectively deal with cancer, Alzheimer's or diabetes is a startling one and merits our close attention along all kinds of policy and ethical dimensions.

What are the near- and long-term environmental and health concerns about nanotechnology, and how do we address them?

Short term concerns are rather prosaic and largely focused on ensuring that those working in laboratories and production facilities aren't exposed to potentially harmful engineered nanoparticles, and that they practice proper disposal procedures in dealing with nanomaterial waste.

Longer-term concerns include the extent to which nanoparticles are toxic to human and animal health — for example, whether cosmetics containing engineered nanoparticles have harmful long-term effects — and the possibly harmful side effects of nanomaterials introduced into the environment for otherwise beneficial reasons, such as injecting iron nanoparticles into the soil to remediate chemical-saturated "brownfields."

What is the appropriate role for government in all of this?

It is not always obvious. As citizens, regardless of overall ideology or partisan views, at minimum we expect government to address those risks that we as individuals can neither understand nor personally control. And we expect government to do so in some reasonably responsive and transparent way. And we also want government to promote economic growth, technological innovation and human health.

These are all balancing acts —and often, difficult ones — so the "appropriate" role for government will depend on our own priorities. And that requires citizens to be more aware of and critical about the benefits and possible costs of revolutionary technologies.

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Samantha Fodrowski
617-373-5427

Copyright © Northeastern University

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

East China University of Science and Technology Purchases Nanonex Advanced Nanoimprint Tool NX-B200 July 30th, 2014

Watching Schrödinger's cat die (or come to life): Steering quantum evolution & using probes to conduct continuous error correction in quantum computers July 30th, 2014

From Narrow to Broad July 30th, 2014

FLAG-ERA and TNT2014 join efforts: Graphene Networking at its higher level in Barcelona: Encourage the participation in a joint transnational call July 30th, 2014

Laboratories

Stanford team achieves 'holy grail' of battery design: A stable lithium anode - Engineers use carbon nanospheres to protect lithium from the reactive and expansive problems that have restricted its use as an anode July 27th, 2014

NIST shows ultrasonically propelled nanorods spin dizzyingly fast July 22nd, 2014

Sono-Tek Corporation Announces New Clean Room Rated Laboratory Facility in China July 18th, 2014

Fundamental Chemistry Findings Could Help Extend Moore’s Law: A Berkeley Lab-Intel collaboration outlines the chemistry of photoresist, enabling smaller features for future generations of microprocessors July 15th, 2014

Ethics

PETA science consortium to present hazard testing strategy at nanotoxicology meeting: High tech field ripe for use of sophisticated non-animal testing strategies April 22nd, 2014

Scientists disagree on responsible research April 8th, 2014

Caltech Researchers Create Light-Bending Silicon Chip: Bending the Light with a Tiny Chip March 10th, 2014

Building a Better Future — Lessons from 3 Months of Lifeboat Foundation Expert Interviews September 1st, 2013

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

New imaging agent provides better picture of the gut July 30th, 2014

Watching Schrödinger's cat die (or come to life): Steering quantum evolution & using probes to conduct continuous error correction in quantum computers July 30th, 2014

Nature inspires a greener way to make colorful plastics July 30th, 2014

Tough foam from tiny sheets: Rice University lab uses atom-thick materials to make ultralight foam July 29th, 2014

Possible Futures

IBM Announces $3 Billion Research Initiative to Tackle Chip Grand Challenges for Cloud and Big Data Systems: Scientists and engineers to push limits of silicon technology to 7 nanometers and below and create post-silicon future July 10th, 2014

Virus structure inspires novel understanding of onion-like carbon nanoparticles April 10th, 2014

Local girl does good March 22nd, 2014

Surface Characteristics Influence Cellular Growth on Semiconductor Material March 12th, 2014

Academic/Education

University of Manchester selects Anasys AFM-IR for coatings and corrosion research July 30th, 2014

Haydale Announces Collaboration Agreement with Swansea University’s Welsh Centre for Printing and Coatings (WCPC) July 12th, 2014

STFC takes delivery of the 100th Hitachi Tabletop SEM in the UK July 3rd, 2014

Innovation Management and the Emergence of the Nanobiotechnology Industry July 1st, 2014

Chip Technology

Nanometrics Reports Second Quarter 2014 Financial Results July 30th, 2014

A*STAR and industry form S$200M semiconductor R&D July 25th, 2014

A Crystal Wedding in the Nanocosmos July 23rd, 2014

Penn Study: Understanding Graphene’s Electrical Properties on an Atomic Level July 22nd, 2014

Nanomedicine

New imaging agent provides better picture of the gut July 30th, 2014

Zenosense, Inc. July 29th, 2014

Optimum inertial design for self-propulsion: A new study investigates the effects of small but finite inertia on the propulsion of micro and nano-scale swimming machines July 29th, 2014

FEI adds Phase Plate Technology and Titan Halo TEM to its Structural Biology Product Portfolio: New solutions provide the high-quality imaging and contrast necessary to analyze the 3D structure of molecules and molecular complexes July 28th, 2014

Nanoelectronics

A*STAR and industry form S$200M semiconductor R&D July 25th, 2014

A Crystal Wedding in the Nanocosmos July 23rd, 2014

3-D nanostructure could benefit nanoelectronics, gas storage: Rice U. researchers predict functional advantages of 3-D boron nitride July 15th, 2014

IBM Announces $3 Billion Research Initiative to Tackle Chip Grand Challenges for Cloud and Big Data Systems: Scientists and engineers to push limits of silicon technology to 7 nanometers and below and create post-silicon future July 10th, 2014

Announcements

University of Manchester selects Anasys AFM-IR for coatings and corrosion research July 30th, 2014

Nature inspires a greener way to make colorful plastics July 30th, 2014

Analytical solutions from Malvern Instruments support University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers in understanding environmental effects of nanomaterials July 30th, 2014

FEI Unveils New Solutions for Faster Time-to-Analysis in Metals Research July 30th, 2014

Environment

Nature inspires a greener way to make colorful plastics July 30th, 2014

Iranian Scientists Use Waste Cotton Fibers to Produce Cellulose Nanoparticles July 29th, 2014

Production of Toxic Gas Sensor Based on Nanorods July 28th, 2014

Researchers Use Various Zinc Oxide Nanostructures to Boost Efficiency of Water Purification Process July 13th, 2014

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

Analytical solutions from Malvern Instruments support University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee researchers in understanding environmental effects of nanomaterials July 30th, 2014

NNCO Announces an Interactive Webinar: Progress Review on the Coordinated Implementation of the National Nanotechnology Initiative 2011 Environmental, Health, and Safety Research Strategy July 23rd, 2014

Development of an interactive tool for the implementation of environmental legislation for nanoparticles manufacturers July 4th, 2014

FDA issues guidance on use of nanotechnology in foods July 1st, 2014

Nanobiotechnology

Harris & Harris Group Invests in Unique NYC Biotech Accelerator July 29th, 2014

Seeing is bead-lieving: Rice University scientists create model 'bead-spring' chains with tunable properties July 28th, 2014

FEI adds Phase Plate Technology and Titan Halo TEM to its Structural Biology Product Portfolio: New solutions provide the high-quality imaging and contrast necessary to analyze the 3D structure of molecules and molecular complexes July 28th, 2014

Scientists Test Nanoparticle "Alarm Clock" to Awaken Immune Systems Put to Sleep by Cancer July 25th, 2014

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE



  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More














ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2014 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE