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February 14th, 2011
Forbes: Now, another area of creativity you've referenced in the past is one that you've pointed out has a lot of hype but now really seems to be perhaps coming into its own, nanotechnology.
Gilder: Well, nanotechnology was full of hype at a time when they said, "Oh, we've got carbon nanotubes. They're 100 times stronger than steel and they have all these wonderful characteristics. And we'll use them to make memory cells or new kinds of transistors."
In other words, they were trying to retrofit this radically new capability into the old digital computer model. The fact is, nanotubes do all kinds of unique things and they won't prevail until those unique potentialities are explored. And the one that I've invested in myself, a company called Seldon Technologies up in Windsor, Vermont, uses carbon nanotubes to make a straw that you can stick into a septic tank and drink potable water out of it.
Forbes: Is this your NanoMesh straw?
Gilder: The NanoMesh straw. And that's made with tunable carbon nanotubes. So you can actually change the filtration function that you want to perform in these nanotubes. There are tens of thousands of these devices going to the American military now.
Forbes: So they work.
Gilder: Yeah, they work. And they're also beloved of NASA because they think it's the only way they're going to be able to filter lunar dust. And that's going to be a big market one of these days. They named Seldon as one of the 50 best technologies, supported by NASA. Nanotubes are beginning to emerge as a really crucial technology and it's exciting to see it. You've been predicting it for decades.
Forbes: I have the hair to show it, too. Now, another area you liked in nanotechnology is building and construction materials. You pointed out that if you're concerned about global warming, well this is right up their alley.
Gilder: Well, I'm not concerned about global warming.
Forbes: Neither am I. But those worriers can embrace this technology, positive technology.
Gilder: Yeah, this is a positive technology. The one I invested in was called iCrete. And actually Gary Winnick was a leading investor and leader of iCrete, which makes concrete that's ten times stronger. It enabled the Freedom Tower to get off the ground.
It's beloved of Frank Gehry. It's a new way to make concrete that is a fundamentally different chemical binding that yields concrete that's ten times more durable and more cost effective and thus uses less energy usage in making a building of a particular strength.
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