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

Lifeboat Foundation Responds to Largest Ebola Outbreak in History October 2nd, 2014

Iran's Sharif University to Host 4th Conference on Nanostructured Solar Cells October 2nd, 2014

Multifunctional Cotton Fabrics Produced in Iran Using Nanotechnology October 2nd, 2014

Graphene chips are close to significant commercialization October 1st, 2014

Production of Filters for Separation of Water from Petroleum Products in Iran October 1st, 2014

Laboratories

Novel approach to magnetic measurements atom-by-atom October 1st, 2014

NREL Announces New Center Directors to lead R&D, Analysis Efforts September 30th, 2014

Ethics

PETA science consortium experts to present at international nanotechology workshop: PETA International Science Consortium, Ltd., Is a Sponsor of Nano Risk Analysis II September 12th, 2014

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

Govt.-Legislation/Regulation/Funding/Policy

Platinum meets its match in quantum dots from coal: Rice University's cheap hybrid outperforms rare metal as fuel-cell catalyst October 1st, 2014

$18-million NSF investment aims to take flat materials to new heights: 2-D alternatives to graphene may enable exciting advances in electronics, photonics, sensors and other applications October 1st, 2014

Novel approach to magnetic measurements atom-by-atom October 1st, 2014

'Stealth' nanoparticles could improve cancer vaccines October 1st, 2014

Possible Futures

Lifeboat Foundation Responds to Largest Ebola Outbreak in History October 2nd, 2014

Air Force’s 30-year plan seeks 'strategic agility' August 1st, 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

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

Academic/Education

Yale University and Leica Microsystems Partner to Establish Microscopy Center of Excellence: Yale Welcomes Scientists to Participate in Core Facility Opening and Super- Resolution Workshops October 20 Through 31, 2014 September 30th, 2014

Rice launches Center for Quantum Materials: RCQM will immerse global visitors in cross-disciplinary research September 30th, 2014

Biosensors Get a Boost from Graphene Partnership: $5 Million Investment Supports Dozens of Jobs and Development of 300mm Fabrication Process and Wafer Transfer Facility September 18th, 2014

Malvern technology delivers Malvern reliability in multi-disciplinary lab at Queen Mary University London September 9th, 2014

Chip Technology

$18-million NSF investment aims to take flat materials to new heights: 2-D alternatives to graphene may enable exciting advances in electronics, photonics, sensors and other applications October 1st, 2014

Breakthrough in ALD-graphene by Picosun technology October 1st, 2014

Graphene chips are close to significant commercialization October 1st, 2014

Speed at its limits September 30th, 2014

Nanomedicine

Arrowhead Expands Management Team with Appointment of Susan Boynton as Vice President Global Regulatory Affairs October 1st, 2014

Nanobotmodels present metastasis and angiogenesis medical animation October 1st, 2014

'Stealth' nanoparticles could improve cancer vaccines October 1st, 2014

New Absorber Will Lead to Better Biosensor: Biosensors are more sensitive and able to detect smaller changes in the environment October 1st, 2014

Nanoelectronics

$18-million NSF investment aims to take flat materials to new heights: 2-D alternatives to graphene may enable exciting advances in electronics, photonics, sensors and other applications October 1st, 2014

Breakthrough in ALD-graphene by Picosun technology October 1st, 2014

Grenoble Hosting SEMICON Europa Oct. 7-9, First Time Event Held in France: Leti’s 90-square-meter Booth Will Feature Portable Showroom To Demonstrate New Technology Innovations September 24th, 2014

SouthWest NanoTechnologies (SWeNT) Receives NIST Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase 1 Award to Produce Greater than 99% Semiconducting Single-Wall Carbon Nanotubes September 19th, 2014

Announcements

Lifeboat Foundation Responds to Largest Ebola Outbreak in History October 2nd, 2014

Iran's Sharif University to Host 4th Conference on Nanostructured Solar Cells October 2nd, 2014

Multifunctional Cotton Fabrics Produced in Iran Using Nanotechnology October 2nd, 2014

Graphene chips are close to significant commercialization October 1st, 2014

Environment

Nanoparticles Accumulate Quickly in Wetland Sediment: Aquatic food chains might be harmed by molecules "piggybacking" on carbon nanoparticles October 1st, 2014

Production of Filters for Separation of Water from Petroleum Products in Iran October 1st, 2014

On the Road to Artificial Photosynthesis: Berkeley Lab Study Reveals Key Catalytic Factors in Carbon Dioxide Reduction September 25th, 2014

World's smallest reference material is big plus for nanotechnology September 25th, 2014

Safety-Nanoparticles/Risk management

Nanoparticles Accumulate Quickly in Wetland Sediment: Aquatic food chains might be harmed by molecules "piggybacking" on carbon nanoparticles October 1st, 2014

Engineers develop new sensor to detect tiny individual nanoparticles September 2nd, 2014

Sunblock poses potential hazard to sea life August 20th, 2014

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

Nanobiotechnology

Ad-REIC vaccine: A magic bullet for cancer treatment September 30th, 2014

How things coil: Researchers discover that simulation technology designed for Hollywood can be used as a predictive tool for understanding fundamental engineering problems September 29th, 2014

Penn Team Studies Nanocrystals by Passing Them Through Tiny Pores September 26th, 2014

New NIH/DOE Grant for Life Science Studies at NSLS-II: Funding will support operation of three powerful experimental stations designed to reveal detailed structures of proteins, viruses, and more September 23rd, 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