In this issue NanoNews-Now Editor Rocky Rawstern and contributing writer Chris Phoenix cover bulk nanotechnology. And in an effort to learn how nanoscale materials differ from their macroscale counterparts, we surveyed businesses that produce nanoscale materials.

Our intention with the first two pieces is to differentiate between nanoscale materials (bulk nanotechnology, the "nano now" we see in existing products) and molecular manufacturing (what was until recently labeled "nanotechnology," and what we may see in the not-too-distant future).

Off the main topic: Contributing writer Pearl Chin (in the next in her monthly series) contributes a tongue-in-cheek article on Venture Capital. We also interview Robert D. "Skip" Rung in "Oregon Trail: Nanoscience and Microtechnology team leads the way to new innovations." And finally, we interview Senator Ron Wyden (D. Ore.) in "Looking Ahead - Nanotechnology in the 21st Century."


Rocky Rawstern Editor NanoNews-Now
Rocky Rawstern - Editor Nanotechnology Now -

Today, nanotechnology is represented by nanoscale materials, but not purpose-built nanoscale mechanisms, as was the vision a decade ago. For instance, everyone has seen adverts for or actually owns a pair of Dockers with "Stain Defender." This is an example of a nanoscale material being used as a cloth treatment, and which is being labeled "nanotechnology." Another example is nanoscale titanium dioxide and zinc oxide, both of which are being used in sunscreens. These nano-particles are extremely effective at absorbing light, especially in the ultra-violet (UV) range. Due to their size, they spread more easily, cover better, and save money since you use less. And also due to their size, they are transparent, unlike traditional screens, which are white. These sunscreens have been so successful that by 2001 they had captured 60% of the Australian sunscreen market. This too is labeled "nanotechnology," although it is not the nanotechnology we spoke of in the early 1990's and before.

A decade ago, the term nanotechnology meant "a manufacturing technology able to inexpensively fabricate most structures consistent with natural law, and to do so with molecular precision," and implied nanoscale mechanisms. Modern MNT has backed off a bit from the 'able to build most structures consistent with natural law' hypothesis, and currently focuses on nearer-future products.

The term has evolved over the years via terminology drift to indicate "anything smaller than microtechnology," such as nanoscale materials, and other things that are nanoscale in size, but not necessarily referring to mechanisms that have been purposefully built from nanoscale components.

The evolved version of the term is more properly labeled "nanoscale bulk technology," (but everyone will continue to call it nanotechnology) while the original meaning is now more properly labeled (and most often now referred to as) "molecular nanotechnology" (MNT). Other correct terms for "mechanisms built from nanoscale components" include nanoscale engineering, molecular machine systems, and molecular manufacturing.

If you would like to learn more about "soon, but not soon enough" MNT, there are two great papers to read, both by Chris Phoenix of CRN: Ten-Year Assembler Timeline and Weather Forecast, and All About Bootstrapping.

Join us as we review Nanotechnology Now.

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Chris Phoenix Nanoparticles, Nanobots, and Nanotechnology
Nanomaterials Business Survey
Pearl Chin
Skip Rung Interview
Ron Wyden Interview
In Closing
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Nanoparticles, Nanobots, and Nanotechnology

By Chris Phoenix, Director of Research, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology.
Chris Phoenix

Size doesn't matter much, but it's almost the only common factor in nanotechnology.

"What's the difference between a wristwatch, a rock, and a soap bubble?" It sounds like the lead-in to a joke. Other than being roughly the same size, the three objects have almost nothing in common. A list that included these objects, and was titled "Things about two inches wide," would seem strange and pointless.

Nanotechnology is essentially a list of "Things that are several nanometers wide." The things on the nano list are at least as unlike each other as a rock, a wristwatch, and a soap bubble. This article explores how nanotechnology came to have such a strange meaning, surveys several scientific and political issues in the field, and describes a few of the many important kinds of nanotechnology. This information should help to place nanoparticles within the large and diverse field of nanotechnology.


Many years ago, Eric Drexler thought about what could be done if machines could be miniaturized to the atomic scale. In theory, a machine at that scale could use chemistry to build things by manipulating and positioning molecules. A sub-microscopic manufacturing system should, he thought, be able to build duplicates of itself, as well as many other products. And by doing atomically precise chemistry, it could create super-strong materials and super-complex products. This would be revolutionary, and potentially very dangerous.

Drexler named this idea "nanotechnology," and started publicizing the projected benefits, the potential dangers, and the need to develop the technology responsibly. Eventually, he got the ear of people in the U.S. government, who started the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI).

The NNI people did not want to develop only nanobots—that was too far in the future, and there was lots of other neat stuff to be funded as well. So they rewrote the definition of "nanotechnology" to include anything smaller than 100 nanometers with new and interesting properties. These nanoscale technologies included everything from nanoparticles, to cutting-edge semiconductors, to several different kinds of chemistry and material science. But what about the nanobots?

One of the dangers Drexler had warned about was "gray goo": the idea that a self-contained nano-scale manufacturing system might run amok and eat the entire biosphere in a few days. Naturally, this concept was attractive to science fiction writers, and repulsive to everyone else. Consequently, a lot of bad science fiction was written and became associated with Drexler's work. People who were focused on nanoscale technology wanted to distance themselves from gray goo—and perhaps also from the futuristic promises that were associated with the more advanced nano-robotic fabrication. As a result, several highly placed scientists and administrators have taken the position that, while nanotechnology will lead to trillions of dollars worth of products and incalculable health benefits, it cannot possibly lead to nanobots, especially "self-replicating" ones [1].

Whether or not nanobots can build other nanobots by direct chemistry is still undecided. A growing body of scientific literature contains demonstrations and simulations of mechanically guided chemistry, as well as preliminary designs for robotic systems that are intended to do the chemistry and assemble the resulting carefully-shaped molecules into products. Although some scientists have spoken against this possibility, the author is not aware of any peer-reviewed objections. In the past year, the debate has turned political in the United States, with studies of "molecular manufacturing" being added to the draft 21st Century Nanotechnology Act and then removed at the last minute by request of the NanoBusiness Alliance [2]. (The Center for Responsible Nanotechnology believes that this technology is workable, and could lead to a dangerous revolution in manufacturing which requires advance planning.)

The Debates

Nanotechnology is currently the inspiration for several debates which include both scientific and political aspects. The scientific questions are hard enough: Can the behavior of nanoparticles be predicted from their bulk materials? Can nanotechnology lead to a programmable molecular manufacturing system that uses strong materials to build large products directly from blueprints? The political questions arising from these issues are even harder to solve. Are existing regulatory systems adequate to handle nanoparticles? Will molecular manufacturing produce political or economic upheaval? Should the Precautionary Principle be applied to these issues, and if so, how? The fact that these questions all fall under the heading of "nanotechnology" only makes the problem worse. Some anti-technology groups take advantage of this confusion by invoking the specter of gray goo in discussions of nanoparticle risks.

In the short term, much of the debate about the risks of nanotechnology will focus on nanoparticles, especially mineral nanoparticles and nanotubes. Most chemicals break down eventually in the environment; those that do not, like DDT, sometimes earn notoriety as they are concentrated to poisonous levels in the food chain. Most minerals are relatively inert—chemically stable. However, mineral nanoparticles and carbon nanotubes may be both biochemically active and environmentally persistent. This indicates that there may be special reason for caution with these categories of substance. Of course, it should not be forgotten that ordinary dirt is chock-full of silica nanoparticles; nanoparticles are certainly not always bad.

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A vast diversity of research is funded by the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Semiconductor research is fundable, since computer chips now routinely include structures smaller than 100 nanometers. Biochemists are learning to join DNA and other chemicals into complex structures by a variety of techniques; these molecular structures have many medical applications, and count as nanotechnology. Nanoparticles of common minerals such as titanium dioxide have very different properties than their larger versions. Sub-microscopic arrays of optical materials can do very interesting things to light; although these are usually over 100 nanometers, they are still generally considered as nanotechnology. Films of well-organized chemicals exactly one molecule thick have been investigated for a variety of purposes. Carbon nanotubes (buckytubes)—single molecules hundreds of nanometers long, and incredibly strong-have been used to strengthen plastic. All these things have been considered as nanotechnology. Additionally, anything that can sense or manipulate at the nanoscale, such as scanning probe microscopes, also counts as nanotechnology.

Many applications of nanotechnology produce structures rather than particles. The transistors on a computer chip are integral to the silicon. Molecular monolayers are usually attached to a surface. Optical arrays are usually solid and fairly large, though they contain small features.

Other kinds of nanotechnology produce molecules: precisely specified arrangements of strongly bonded atoms. Molecules are usually pretty small, though buckytubes are a notable exception. For most purposes, the molecules produced by nanotechnology studies can be treated like the molecules that occur naturally or are produced by ordinary chemistry: some are poisonous, some harmless, and some helpful. Some kinds of molecules join themselves into larger structures: tubes, rings, ropes, or sheets, for example. New ways of making structures are constantly being developed. Some structures are designed to be biologically active—for example, a certain kind of tube can punch a hole in a bacterium and kill it, but does not punch holes in animal cells.

There are at least two kinds of nanoparticles. One kind is made of very small amounts of a mineral or metal. These are often produced by grinding or other mechanical means such as condensation from vapor. Some of these particles are catalysts: they make chemical reactions happen faster. The effect is enhanced because of the immense surface area of finely divided material, and also because a very sharply curved surface on a very small particle tends to have more electronic activity than the bulk version. Some mineral nanoparticles, such as titanium dioxide, seem to create free radicals, raising questions about whether they would damage cells if they got inside them—which they seem to do with unusual ease. (But to illustrate the diversity of nanoparticles, buckyballs—a molecular nanoparticle—seem to be very effective neutralizers of free radicals.)

The other kind of nanoparticle is self-assembled from smaller, usually organic molecules. These might be expected to have the chemical properties of the chemicals they are made from. But a disinfectant nanoparticle has been developed that uses very small droplets of oil with very high surface tension. Unlike larger droplets, when the nanoscale globules touch a bacterium, they change shape quickly enough to destroy it.

Simple nanomachines, such as molecular DNA "tweezers" that can be made to open and close by adding carefully designed DNA strands, have already been built. More complex nanomachines made of stronger materials remain speculative. If and when they are built, preliminary analysis suggests that they could lead to revolutionary manufacturing capabilities. Some of the products of nanoscale manufacturing could be powerful enough to be quite dangerous in the wrong hands. Even gray goo has not been ruled out, though it would be extremely complex and could not happen by accident even if molecular manufacturing systems were in widespread use.


Nanotechnology is still quite new, and new phenomena, substances, and techniques are being discovered daily. Nanotechnology can only be understood by remembering that it is not one field, but a vast collection of fields. Nanoparticles are only a very small part of nanotechnology, different in many ways from other fields. As a result, some nanotech issues are unique to nanoparticles, and others do not apply at all. One of the most important distinctions is between today's nanoscale technologies, including nanoparticles, and the proposals of molecular manufacturing. Although they are almost completely unrelated, accidental as well as deliberate confusion is unfortunately common. When studying or talking about nanoparticles, it will be important to keep in mind the diverse meanings invoked by the prefix "nano" — just remember to ask, "What's the difference between a wristwatch, a rock, and a soap bubble?"

[1] Richard Smalley, a Nobel-winning nanoscientist and spokesman for the U.S. National Nanotechnology Initiative, has written, "Self-replicating, mechanical nanobots are simply not possible in our world. To put every atom in its place-the vision articulated by some nanotechnologists-would require magic fingers." However, he subsequently has asserted, "The ultimate nanotechnology builds at the ultimate level of finesse one atom at a time, and does it with molecular perfection." link

[2] Omission in the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act: link

Chris Phoenix Director of Research, the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology. A non-profit organization, formed to advance the safe use of molecular nanotechnology, CRN was founded by Chris Phoenix and Mike Treder in December 2002. The vision of CRN is a world in which nanotechnology is widely used for productive and beneficial purposes, and where malicious uses are limited by effective administration of the technology.

CRN is a Nanotechnology Now "Best Of" Award winner, having won the "Best of the Best" and "Best Advocate" for the year 2003. See Best Of The Best 2003 for details.

Chris can be contacted here.

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Survey of nanoscale materials producing companies

Rocky Rawstern

In this survey NanoNews-Now Editor Rocky Rawstern asked the following four questions to representatives of companies that produce nanoscale materials:

1. Would you tell our readers about the nanoscale materials your company produces?
2. How does your company use those materials, of if you sell them for others to make end-products of, how do they use them?
3. What advantages do your materials bring to the end-product?
4. What new types of materials do you expect to be creating in 5 years, and what properties do you expect them to exhibit that differ from today's materials?

Here are their responses:

David Carnahan, President NanoLab

1. NanoLab was initially founded to commercialize carbon nanotubes, but we recognized that other nanomaterials would soon follow. We produce high purity carbon nanotubes in a range of diameters (double wall at 4nm up to multiwall at 10-30nm) and lengths (~1micron to 20 micron), according to customer requirements. In addition, we now also manufacture a number of nanowires and nanoparticles. Nanowires are available in silicon, silicon dioxide, and zinc oxide. More are in development. Nanoparticles include boron carbide, cobalt, and others. Also, arrays of aligned structures are produced at NanoLab. These are more often utilized by developers of nanoscale devices.

2. NanoLab works to provide materials specific to our customers needs, which vary across a wide range of applications. We often work for companies developing products in electronics, displays, composites,and biomedical devices, among other industries. It is common for us to be more than a supplier, actively participating in the customer's development efforts.

3. The ability to specify and tailor a material to the end user's application, work with the end user to develop a workable and cost effective solution is the advantage NanoLab brings to its customers. Each product has aspects that make it more suitable for some applications, and less suitable for others.

4. Outside of our internal device development efforts, we are also working to expand our offerings of nanoparticles, nanowires, etc. The ability to grow, place or manipulate these particles on various substrates will be important to device manufacturers. For the nanotubes, we look to a strong future in advanced composites.

2003 highlights

  • Awarded SBIR Phase II Grant from U.S. Army, to develop nanotube composites for ballistic protection applications
  • Developed nanoscale lithographic processes for creating aligned arrays of carbon nanotubes
  • Introduced nanotube "bucky-paper" product

NanoGram Devices Corporation
Jason Lemkin, Chief Business Officer NanoGram Devices Corporation

1. Nanoscale Silver Vanadium Oxide (SVO).

2. We use the nano-SVO as part of our own product, implantable power sources for medical devices.

3. A small battery, delivering its therapy faster and more reliably, enabling longer lifetime implantable medical devices.

4. We have developed almost 100 nanoscale compositions and are focused on the biomedical and energy storage spaces.

"Nano-SVO power sources exhibit much higher rate and higher addressable capacity than existing state-of-the-art technology."

NanoGram has been issued 26 patents and has more than 40 patents pending.

Argonide Nanomaterials, an Orlando based manufacturer of nanoparticles and nanofiltration products, makes a filter that is capable of filtering the smallest of particles. The performance is due to it's nano size alumina fiber, which attracts and retains sub-micron and nanosize particles. This disposable filter retains 99.9999+% of viruses at water flow rates several hundred times greater than virus-rated ultra porous membranes. It is useful for sterilization of biological, pharmaceutical and medical serums, protein separation, collector/concentrator for biological warfare detectors, and several other applications.
Impact: In the future, for one application, sterilizing drinking water, this product may have an impact on so-called Third World peoples, who only have access to dubious sources of water. See "High Speed" Filter for Biotech and Laboratory Separations

Hyperion Catalysis
Patrick Collins, Marketing Director Hyperion Catalysis

1. We are the world's largest manufacturer of carbon multiwall nanotubes with multiple ton production. FIBRIL™ multiwall carbon nanotubes are a unique form of carbon that have a very small size (approximately 10 nanometers in diameter and 10 microns in length). The wall structure is almost entirely graphitic in nature, which gives good electrical conductivity and low chemical reactivity. In addition, FIBRIL nanotubes are very clean with non-detectable levels of sulfur and very low levels of ash. FIBRIL nanotube's very high aspect ratio (1000:1) means that a conductive network can be established in polymers at very low loading (typically 1 to 3% for ESD applications). The very low loading and small size results in minimal degradation of polymer physical properties and a very smooth surface.

We offer a range of thermoplastic resins (such as nylon, polycarbonate, polyesters, PEEK, PEI and others) that contain 15 to 20% FIBRIL nanotubes. These concentrates can be let down to the necessary loading level using conventional high shear plastic compounding equipment. In addition, we have a limited selection of ready-to-mold compounds with lower concentrations of FIBRIL nanotubes. Recently we have added fluoropolymers (PVDF, ETFE, etc) and elastomers (fluoroelastomers, EPDM, etc) to our product line. The advantage in an elastomer is the addition of conductivity while preserving the low durometer (softness) of the base elastomer.

2 & 3. FIBRIL nanotubes are used in electronics to provide ESD (electrostatic discharge) protection to components that also require very high cleanliness. One example is shipping trays and handling equipment used in the manufacture of computer hard disc drives as well as actual components in the hard disk drive itself. The low loading of a very small conductive additive gives a surface that has minimal sloughing of conductive particles while offering excellent ESD protection. Another application area is silicon wafer handling equipment used in the manufacture of computer chips. Again, the low loading of a very small additive gives minimal sloughing and excellent cleanliness while offering excellent ESD protection.

FIBRIL nanotubes are used in the Automotive industry to provide ESD protection while maintaining much of the base resin's toughness (a critical requirement in an accident situation). A major application area is plastic fuel lines, connectors and fuel filter housings. The low loading of a very small additive gives excellent low temperature toughness and excellent chemical resistance to "sour gas". The second application area is plastic parts that are electrostatically painted such as side mirrors, fenders and exterior door panels. The low loading of a very small additive gives a Class A finish that is ready to paint right out of the mold. In addition, the parts have excellent low temperature physical properties.

4. In addition to being used as a conductive additive, there has been recent work by a number of researchers that indicates that nanotubes are an excellent non-halogenated flame retardant for plastics. They are effective at the same low loading as in ESD applications, thus giving better retention of the resin's physical properties

See Additives & Compounding (PDF) for more.

Nanoplex Technologies
Sharron G. Penn, Ph.D., Director of Chemistry Nanoplex Technologies

1. Nanoplex Technologies Inc. has introduced two technologies, Nanobarcodes® Particles and SENSER™ Tags.

Nanobarcodes Particles are encodeable, machine readable, durable, sub-micron sized striped nanorods. They are made from inert metals such as gold, silver, platinum and palladium. The readout is based on differential reflectivity of the metal stripes, and is detected using an optical microscope. By varying the number and width of the stripes, libraries of thousands of uniquely identifiable particle codes can be prepared. The nanobarcodes are manufactured in a highly automated and proprietary process at production scales.

The SENSER tags are silica coated metal nanoparticles that, by virtue of surface enhanced Raman scattering-active molecules at the glass-metal interface, act as detectable tags. Again, many unique codes can be generated by varying the Raman active molecule adsorbed on the SENSER tag. Handheld, low-cost readers are commercially available, and the particles have excellent photostability and robustness. The SENSER tags are manufactured in large volumes to meet the market needs.

2. Nanoplex Technologies is targeting two business areas. The first area is brand protection and anti-counterfeiting. The second area is the life science market.

For brand-protection and anti-counterfeiting, the nanoparticles act as forensic level taggants for packaging and labels. Many billions of dollars a year are lost to counterfeit documents and consumer goods, in addition to the risks associated with counterfeit products such as foods, beverages and medicines. Such tags are covert, and therefore give such items a covert but authenticable feature. Due to the encoding inherent in the particles, many billions of unique codes are possible, allowing brand owners to have unique identifiers for their products. We have successfully incorporated the nanobarcodes into inks, varnishes and papers for packaging applications, and onto a variety of surfaces for direct item tagging. Preliminary work incorporating the SENSER tags into packaging materials is very also promising. Both particles satisfy a number of criteria that make them ideal as forensic level taggants. They are covert, there are unlimited numbers of codes, the read is non-destructive, and they are robust.

For life science applications, the Nanobarcodes Particles act as substrates that offer a high level of multiplexing to bioassays. The large number of striping patterns available, and the development of automated software for particle identification facilitate development of very highly multiplexed assays (i.e. hundreds to thousands), although optimization of assay performance is in the early stages. Likewise, the SENSER tags can be used as a biological label, much like a fluorescence dye, but with extremely high levels of multiplexing available.

3. In the brand-protection and anti-counterfeiting field our product combines the features of high levels of serialization along with a non-destructive read out, not possible with any other forensic brand protection taggant. In the life science arena we are enabling the next generation of highly multiplexed bioassays.

4. Nanoplex Technologies Inc. is continuing to develop future generations of encoded nanoparticles for a variety of applications.

One of the characteristic properties of all nanoparticles has been used from the outset in the manufacture of automotive catalytic converters: The surface area of the particles increases dramatically as the particle size decreases and the weight remains the same. A variety of chemical reactions take place on the surface of the catalyst, and the larger the surface area, the more active the catalyst. Nanoscale catalysts thus open the way for numerous process innovations to make many chemical processes more efficient and resource-saving - in other words more competitive. From Nanotechnology at BASF

Jessica Lu, General Manager Nanocs

1. We are making several functional nanocrystals with special optical, electrical, magnetic properties and bioactivity, including carbon nanotubes, conducting and semiconducting nanocrystals, nano magnetic particles and related nanoscale thin film.

2. We do our own research applications using above materials and we also provide for other partners.

3. Their unique properties can enhance the performance of these materials for applications in electronics, optics and biotech field.

4. We are developing our series products with better performance and more functions.

Julien Roux, Market Analyst and Business Development Manager Nanoledge

1. Nanoledge produces single-wall carbon nanotubes by arc discharge and supplies multi-wall carbon nanotubes.

2. Nanoledge's nanotubes are dispersed in a wide range of organic and aqueous solvents (ethanol, DMAc, DMF, NMP, toluene, xylene, dichloroethane...). These integrated nanotubes can dope coatings, fibers and composites. Thus we provide "ready to use nanotubes" to our customers who want to dope their materials.

3. Very small amounts of Nanoledge's nanotubes can bring multi-functionality to existing composites, fibers or coatings: electrical and thermal conductivities, optical properties (IR and UV absorption), mechanical reinforcement (without damaging processability) and other properties of the original material.

4. Nanoledge develops a unique nanotube macroscopic fiber. This fiber will be used as mechanical reinforcement, and is composed of more than 60% in weight of carbon nanotubes, aligned in the fiber.

BASF's annual sales of aqueous polymer dispersion products amount to around $1.65 billion. All of them contain polymer particles ranging from ten to several hundred nanometers in size. Polymer dispersions are found in exterior paints, coatings and adhesives, or are used in the finishing of paper, textiles and leather. Nanotechnology also has applications in the food sector. Many vitamins and their precursors, such as carotinoids, are insoluble in water. However, when skillfully produced and formulated as nanoparticles, these substances can easily be mixed with cold water, and their bioavailability in the human body also increases. Many lemonades and fruit juices contain these specially formulated additives, which often also provide an attractive color. In the cosmetics sector, BASF has for several years been among the leading suppliers of UV absorbers based on nanoparticulate zinc oxide. Incorporated in sun creams, the small particles filter the high-energy radiation out of sunlight. Because of their tiny size, they remain invisible to the naked eye and so the cream is transparent on the skin. From Nanotechnology at BASF

NexTech Materials
Jonathon Foreman, Marketing and Sales Manager NexTech Materials

1. We manufacture zirconia and ceria-based oxide ceramic nanomaterials. Additionally our processes can be used for titanias and other oxide materials, though these are not our main products. Our materials have extremely high surface area - on the order of 150 to 200 m2/g with crystallites on the order of 5-10 nm in diameter. These high surface areas make our materials extremely active for a number of applications including catalysis, sensors and fuel cells. With our processes we can tailor the composition of the zirconias and cerias with a number of stabilizers (e.g. yttria, gadolinia, samaria, calcia) and dopants (e.g. lanthanides) to tailor the properties to the specific application.

2. We do both - we use the materials internally and sell them externally. For our internal R&D, we produce catalyst supports, fuel cell electrolyte and cathode materials, and sensor materials. We have improved deposition processes and greater activity for the designed application. These materials can be tailored for the specific purpose and are often used as precursor forms which can be manipulated/processed to meet our own and customers' specifications.

Our external customers fall into two camps at present. We sell catalyst materials for fuel processing - that is to turn natural gas, methanol, ethanol, and fossil fuels into hydrogen and syn-gas for use in fuel cells. Second, we sell a variety of materials for use in solid oxide (ceramic-based) fuel cells. (Our) Customers use the nanoscale materials as sintering aids for electrolytes and as high-activity cathodes.

3. High activity and the ability to further manipulate the very high surface area of materials to meet the exact needs of the end-use application. For example the surface area of zirconias can be reduced by heating (calcination) to achieve specific properties to ideally process the powders into ceramic electrolytes. This allows the user to have the material meet processing goals such as controlled shrinkage or lowered processing temperature.

4. We plan to vastly increase our efforts in catalysis and sensor materials.

Olivier Decroly, Sales & Applications Manager Nanocyl

1. We produce carbon nanotubes by bulk synthesis. We are presently scaling-up our process of production to increase our capacity in tons per year.

2. Our R&D customers from the industry still use them in bulk when they will be integrated in a final product e.g. fibers, flat panel display, films or thermoplastics pellets. Some work on using self-assembling techniques to manipulate the nanotubes and deposit them precisely on surface for making special devices.

3. Our carbon nanotubes can bring many advantages, such as reducing manufacturing cost of the end product, or add new features that can not be had with conventional materials. These are innovative products. In composite materials, carbon nanotubes can increase the performance - like mechanical or electrical - unmatched with other materials.

In collaboration with a partner, we made a prototype electrical cable 2 km long, shielded by a layer of carbon nanotube nanocomposite. When in contact with a flame, the layer forms a strong composite that protects the copper wire against fire, and avoids short circuit. The advantage in this case is the use of less material to obtain the shielding, thus keeping the other interesting properties of the polymer unchanged.

4. Carbon nanotubes with more controlled properties: electronics, surface chemistry, geometry - these will be true nanoengineered materials.

Click image for larger version
Researchers at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have developed a coating process to make sponge-like silica latch onto toxic metals in water. Self-Assembled Monolayers on Mesoporous Supports easily captures such metals as lead and mercury, which are then recovered for reuse or contained in-place forever. © PNNL One example of a SAMMS nanocomposite (Self-Assembled Monolayers on Mesoporous Supports). An hexagonally close-packed cluster of tubular pores (end view) is shown in the foreground. A single pore, in this case coated with a mercaptopropylsiloxy monolayer, is shown in the background. A model of one surfactant molecule is also shown. See Will copper sop up radioactive pollution? for details.

Keith A. Blakely, CEO NanoDynamics

1. NanoDynamics is using a proprietary platform technology to manufacture nanosized metal and ceramic powders from 50 nanometers up to several microns in size. Current products include (but are not limited to) copper powder and flake, silver powder, nickel powder, oxide ceramics, and carbon nano-onions. The materials are available in dry powder form, as well as in customized solutions and dispersions, depending upon the customer's requirements. Additionally, the Company has initiated a project intended to produce multiwall carbon nanotubes at an economically viable scale using a novel synthesis approach. Finally, NanoDynamics produces conventionally sized metal and alloy powders with nanosized microstructures. These powders exhibit unusually high hardness and wear resistance, but are of a size that allows them to be processed using conventional techniques.

2. NanoDynamics both uses its own powders in the manufacture of engineered components, as well as selling the materials to other companies. There are a wide range of applications, including terminations and internal electrodes for multilayer ceramic capacitors, electrode and electrolyte materials for solid oxide fuel cells, catalyst compositions for petrochemical, pharmaceutical, and environmental applications, electromagnetic shielding, thin and thick film conductors, and many others.

3. Nanomaterials offer a wide range of performance enhancements which depend upon the specific application and material. Improved form and function of electronic devices can be achieved utilizing nanosized metals in the production of passive devices, such as capacitors. Enhanced lifetime of industrial components, such as molds, dies, and other structural components is possible with nanostructured metals. New properties, such as antimicrobial activity, can be introduced to surfaces and materials through the addition of nanosized silver and copper particles into a conventional matrix material, such as plastic. Furthermore, unlike many companies in the nanotechnology field, NanoDynamics has established true commercial production facilities which are capable of providing tonnage quantities of highly competitive materials. The Company's business and technical staff have decades of experience in managing the commercial development of high performance materials applications and understand the criticality of quality, cost, and reliability in the use of new materials, such as these. The Company also has extensive internal analytical and processing capabilities in order to support customer problems in a timely manner.

4. We anticipate that over the next several years, NanoDynamics will be expanding its commercial product offering to include a much wider range of specific metals and metal oxides for various applications in semiconductor, microelectronic, biomedical, catalysis, and energy applications. We also anticipate that our efforts in nanostructured carbon will permit the incorporation of nanotubes into more and more composite applications, where the exceptional strength of CNTs will enhance the performance of numerous polymer-based materials. We also are working on new materials and process techniques which we believe will result in a new class of semiconductor and microelectronics products which can be integrated seamlessly with the human body.

Katrin Mohrlueder, NanoDel Technologies GmbH

1. NanoDel Technologies GmbH has developed a method to transport drugs across the blood brain barrier using nanoparticles. The blood brain barrier protects the brain from toxic substances by preventing their penetration. The nanoparticles consist of biodegradable polymers such as polybutylcyanoacrylate. The average size of the particles ranges between 200 and 300 nm. Drugs can be attached to the nanoparticles either by adsorption or by incorporation. The resulting drug/nanoparticle complex is then coated with a surfactant and can be applied i.v. or orally. Proof of concept has been established on animals with several drugs.

Assembling of a drug-loaded and coated nanoparticle:

2. On the basis of the above-described nanoparticle-complexes NanoDel Technologies offers the following products and services:

  • Sale of polybutylcyanoacrylate-(PBCA)-nanoparticles as drug delivery-system resp. carrier for drugs (B2B-business). The companies will bind their drugs to the NanoDel- nanoparticles according to the masterplan of NanoDel Technologies GmbH.
  • Feasibility Study on a fee-for-service base
  • Co-development with partners of the pharmaceutical industry: Usage of the nanoparticle-technology for developing a drug candidate.
Industrial manufacturing of the nanoparticles will be outsourced.

3. The advantages resp. the USPąs of the PBCA-nanoparticle can be summarized as follows:
  • High stability of the nanoparticles
  • Transport of drugs across the BBB, which usually aren`t able to cross the BBB (proof of concept in vivo)
  • Simple and economic GMP-production
  • Biodegradability
  • Overcoming of the BBB after oral application
  • No need for a direct application into the brain (no intracraneale application)
  • Reduction of peripheral side effects by specific brain-targeting.
4. NanoDel Technologies GmbH expects to create nanoparticles or nanocapsules consisting of alternative biodegradable polymers and or co-polymers having a particular surface for the targeted delivery of drugs to specific sites within the body (organ-specific drug targeting, e.g. lungs, gastro-intestinal-tract). This can be done either by modifying the surface of the nanoparticles using standard organic chemistry or by adsorption of antibodies.

"This is not to say that nanotechnology is a far-off, fuzzy, futuristic technology. It is not. It has already established a beachhead in the economy. The clothing industry is starting to feel the effects of nanotech. Eddie Bauer, for example, is currently using embedded nanoparticles to create stain-repellent khakis. This seemingly simple innovation will impact not only khaki-wearers, but dry cleaners, who will find their business declining; detergent makers, who will find less of their product moving off the shelf; and stain-removal makers, who will experience a sharp decrease in customers. This modest, fairly low-tech application of nanotechnology is just the small tip of a vast iceberg--an iceberg that threatens to sink even the "unsinkable" companies."

The Next Big Thing Is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change The Future Of Your Business. Jack Uldrich and Deb Newberry

NanoScape AG
Wayne Daniell, CEO NanoScape AG

1. We produce porous materials with principle particle sizes of below 100nm. We can produce all of our materials on a 100g scale and most of our zeolite materials on a kg scale per week. Our materials consist essentially of crystalline, porous materials such as zeolites, mesopores, and metal oxides. We have a portfolio of 6 NanoZeolites, 4 mesoporous materials and ca. 6-10 metal oxides.

Our nanomaterials are available in powder form or as suspensions in alcohol/water. Furthermore, we have developed techniques to coat glass, polycarbonate, metal foils and ceramics with our materials.

2. We principally work in the development of catalysts, but together with our clients we also develop filters, absorbers, and sensors.

3. Essentially, enhanced kinetics due to the easier diffusion of reactants (liquid or gas) into the pore systems of the crystallites, brought about by the smaller crystallite dimensions. This is beneficial to catalysts, filters and sensors alike. Furthermore, the small particle size allows very compact, uniform thin films to be made.

4. We aim to make hybrid materials combining the advantages of mixed meso and microporosity, with enhanced selectivity to both adduct and product, and combine nanocrystalline materials with microcrystalline, to ensure thermal stability and longevity.

"Specialized in the production of porous, nanoscopic materials, NanoScape develops efficient synthesis routes to novel NanoMaterials and cooperates with its customers in the optimization of these materials for specific applications. Due to their tailored inherent physical and chemical properties these nanostructured materials can be used in a wide variety of applications, ranging from catalysis (automotive emissions, petrochemicals synthesis, carbon nanotube production), through the encapsulation of dyes and pharmaceuticals, to functionalised thin films for microelectronics and sensor devices, absorbers or heat exchangers."


1. Eikos develops unique carbon nanotube (CNT) formulations for coatings, as well as coating methods that allow the conversion of these formulations into highly differentiated products for the commercial displays market, other large and growing commercial markets and for a wide range of military applications. Our Invisicon˘ transparent CNT electrodes and circuits can be formed on flexible plastic films (e.g., PET) by using wet coating and printing methods (using Invisicon˘ CNT Ink), without the need for high vacuum or high temperature processing. Applications include touch screens, electroluminescent (EL) lamps, flat panel displays, solar panels, architectural windows, and OLED lighting. Typical coating thickness is <100 nanometers.

Invisicon˘ CNT Coatings


  • PET
  • PEN
  • PC
  • Acrylic
  • Glass
  • More
Polymer Binders
  • Nitrocellulose
  • Acrylic
  • Polyester
  • Melamine
  • Organosilicate
  • More
2. Eikos' first market entry will target touch screens, EL lamps, and large area displays such as LCD TV's, but these materials are applicable to solar cells, oled lighting, smart windows and flexible displays. In most cases, Eikos will sell the Űinks' to companies who will then coat transparent conductive films or make transparent circuits, using wet-coating methods. Eikos recently licensed its technology to Takiron Co. Ltd., a Japanese supplier of polymer materials for various electronics manufacturers. Eikos' first licensing deal, Piche considers it pivotal to his attempt to crack the display-screen market. Analysts estimate the worldwide market for display screens at $4.5 billion in 2003, with an annual growth rate of 57 percent through 2007.

3. Our coatings are more flexible and abrasion resistant, as well as displaying superior adhesion of the transparent conductor on all polymeric substrates. The wet-coating feature will make these coatings less expensive and ideally suited to roll-to-roll processing, and allow conductors to be printed.

4. We are continuing the development of materials with improved conductivity and transparency, allowing access to an ever-wider range of applications.

Nanodyne makes a tungsten-carbide-cobalt composite powder (grain size less than 15nm) that is used to make a sintered alloy as hard as diamond, which is in turn used to make cutting tools, drill bits, armor plate, and jet engine parts.
Impact: Every industry that makes parts or components whose properties must include hardness and durability. See Nanostructed Materials Get Tough A PDF document

Mark Wilson Ph.D., NanoHorizons

1. NanoHorizons' first product to market, QuickMass˘ targets, can be used to analyze pharmaceutical compounds in the drug discovery process. QuickMass technology, a nanoscale nonporous inorganic film improves the efficiency of the drug discovery process by making the analysis of drug candidates faster, thereby decreasing development costs and reducing the time to market.

2. We supply QuickMass˘ targets in industry standard sizes (48, 96 and 384 "well" - sample deposition sites), on substrates designed for use in existing MALDI (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization) mass spectrometers. These plates are a consumable item used to introduce the analyte to the instrument. We plan to distribute them through manufacturers of MALDI systems.

3. QuickMass˘ targets improve research productivity by reducing analysis time and labor costs. This makes high throughput applications such as drug discovery research more efficient and reduces the time-to-market.

4. In the next five years we plan to be developing nanostructured materials in such areas as: chemical sensors and processes for manufacturing flexible electronic devices. Our sensor program is oriented toward low cost detection of chemicals, including but not limited to water vapor, with extraordinary response speed and sensitivity. Our materials for flexible electronics will allow high performance microelectronics to be placed on flexible substrates. This will allow CMOS logic and memory devices, which must be made at high temperatures, to be placed on low temperature flexible surfaces.

NanoHorizons develops and produces state-of-the-art nanotechnology products and processes for near term biotechnology, medical diagnostics, chemical, and microelectronics applications. We provide both "nanoscale materials" such as QuickMass˘ targets and nanoscale devices in our sensor technology.

Powdermet Inc
Cheryl V. Sherman, Powdermet

1. Powdermet Inc. produces nanoengineered powder raw starting materials using our patented, R&D 100 Award winning (2000) Recirculating Fast-fluidized Bed Chemical Vapor Deposition process technology. These powders are created on an atom-by-atom basis and can be as small as .5 micron with an aspect ration of 25:1. Our powders provide the basis for many finish parts that are used in aerospace/defense, cutting and machine tool, drilling and oilfield equipment, automotive and other applications. BoroMet˘ thermal spray powders, magnesium/graphite powders for beryllium replacement and SynFoam˘ syntactic foam powders represent some of Powdermet's product lines.

2. Powdermet sells its raw powder starting materials to end-users or to OEMs. Our customers use our powders to create their own products. Customer use is defined by our customers' specific needs.

3. Our powder materials impart higher strength, lightweight (when desired), superior temperature and corrosion resistance, better CTE and longer life properties to end products. Powder properties are tailorable depending upon the end use, due to our unique process technology. Of course, longer lifetime for a part translates into less downtime and therefore lower cost to our customers.

4. Powdermet will be producing engineered magnetic materials having higher energy density and lower losses, and greater corrosion and temperature stability than current materials. We will also be producing engineered friction materials with greater temperature capability, reduced wear and more stable friction coefficients. Also, Powdermet will be producing multi-functional materials with properties not yet seen together in the natural word.

Powdermet's micro- and nanoengineered products enhance materials capabilities and/or reduce the costs of our clients' products and services. Powdermet's value-added engineered raw materials are used in industrial manufacturing and services in many fields including: electronic materials (heat spreaders, capacitors, and storage media); metal cutting and forming tools; abrasives; friction and wear products (metal composite brake pads and pump seals); aerospace and defense (rocket engines, missiles, and spacecraft propulsion and structures); paints, pigments, and fillers for plastics; and thermal spray coatings.

Kainos Energy Corporation
Sami Mardini, Kainos Energy Corporation

1. Kainos Energy combines established materials and fuel cells technologies with a laser based nanomaterials deposition process to create high performance, durable and low cost fuel solid oxide fuel cells (SOFC) and stacks. LRD˘ (Laser Reactive Deposition) processes first nucleate nanoparticles of materials such as YSZ and Sr-doped lanthanum manganite from low-cost metal precursors then directly deposits them to form SOFC anode / electrolyte / cathode layers , interconnects, and sealing materials.

2. The nanostructured cells, interconnects and stacks produced by Kainos Energy will be used by power generation systems integrators to produce high performance, economically viable electric generating systems.

3. Cost and durability are the major obstacles delaying commercialization of SOFC's. The nanostructured Kainos Energy fuel cells and stacks will have increased durability and performance, and the Kainos Energy nanomaterials deposition process will reduce manufacturing costs. Kainos Energy's manufacturing techniques provide superior control of key materials properties including composition, porosity, and thickness with adjustable particle size and distribution control ranging from 10 nm to 1 ?m. Kainos Energy's cell electrodes are comprised of homogeneous nanocomposites that increase reaction surface areas. Cell electrolytes are nanocrystalline thin films with high degrees of purity and uniformity (in composition and thickness) for increased conductivity and strength. Flatter cells decrease cell-interconnect resistance for improved stack power density. These attributes combined with the direct conversion of precursors into SOFC components at high deposition speeds translate to large cost reductions with LRD˘ technology .

4. The compositional versatility and direct conversion of precursors to SOFC layers from using the LRD˘ approach will be leveraged to create high performance materials for SOFC cells, interconnects, and seals. Among the advances these materials will provide are fuel flexibility, lower operating temperature, higher electrocatalytic activity, less degradation, and increased hermeticity without compromising cost.

Srikanth Raghunathan, President Nanomat

1. A wide variety of nanomaterials - sky is the limit - ceramics, metals, polymers and their alloys and composites. Additional information. (900 Kb PDF)

2. We manufacture these nanomaterials and sell them to our customers, who then, use these nanomaterials in their applications and/or products - most of our customers' applications and/or products are proprietary.

3. Enhanced surface area - catalysis/reactivity, improved chemical, physical, and mechanical properties.

4. Vastly superior properties. Additional information. (4.5 Mb PDF)

Some tentative conclusions:

  • There are indeed a lot of companies with "nano inside" - they're just not sporting Drexler-nano, at this time.
  • Companies worldwide are investing serious funds in nanotech R&D.
  • "Nano now" is big and destined to grow, quickly, and soon.
  • "Nano now" is not just one thing, it's physics, applied physics, chemistry, biology, bioengineering, chemical engineering, electrical engineering, materials science, mechanical engineering, information technology, and metrology, all mixed together, in here-to-fore unheard of combinations, and with unexpected synergies and results.
  • While "Nano now" is not MNT (1), it is and will continue to be disruptive, as new materials are produced that have enhanced properties, and/or performance, and/or significantly lower costs.
  • We are beginning to understand how the nanoscale can be purposefully manipulated to achieve extraordinary results.
  • We are just scratching the surface in our quest to fully understand the nanoscale, the laws of quantum physics, the scope of change ahead, and how we best prepare for it.
—Rocky Rawstern, March 2004.

(1) the Foresight Institute defines MNT as "molecular, mature, or molecular-manufacturing-based nanotechnology" or "molecular machine systems."

Return to Top

Nanotechnology and Venture Capital

By Pearl Chin - Managing General Partner, Seraphima Ventures

The industries that nanotechnology will likely have a disruptive effect on in the near term include the following:
(Amounts are Billions of US Dollars)




Long Term Care








U.S. Chemical












Hospitality / Restaurant


US Insurance




Corrosion Removal


US Steel




Diet Supplement


















Blue Jeans




Fluorescent Tagging

Figures are from:

The Next Big Thing Is Really Small: How Nanotechnology Will Change the Future of Your Business. J Uldrich & D Newberry. March 2003
Read our review

Nanotechnology and
Homeland Security
New Weapons for New Wars.
Dan Ratner, Mark Ratner. Nov. 2003

It's Alive: The Coming Convergence of Information, Biology, and Business.
Chris Meyer, Stan Davis

Got Nanotechnology?
If not, read this:

Our Molecular Future: How Nanotechnology, Robotics, Genetics, and Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Our World.
Douglas Mulhall, March 2002
Read our review

Editorial Calendar

Apr '04


May '04

Nanotubes & Buckyballs

Jun '04

Thin Film

Jul '04

Memory & Chip Technology

Aug '04


Sep '04

Life Extension

Oct '04

Space Elevator

Nov '04


Dec '04

Self Assembly

Jan '05


Lightweight Materials for Auto & Air 2004

To simplify a potentially long article, nanotechnology and venture capital at this stage can be characterized by this often made statement by some venture capitalists about investing in nanotechnology:

"It's too early to invest in nanotechnology." This statement can be interpreted as:

1. I don't know what nanotechnology is

  1. But I don't want you to know that.
  2. But I don't believe in telling people that I don't know.
  3. But then the media won't quote me and put my name in print if I admit that I don't know.
  4. This should be enough for me to say so I won't put my foot in my mouth about this.
  5. I like to appear to be cynical because it will make me look smarter.
  6. I am a contrarian.
  7. So I cannot invest in it.
2. I know what nanotechnology is
  1. But I am too risk adverse since the and biotech bubbles burst.
  2. I'll stick to what I know even though it won't give my investors the ROI they want.
  3. We only invest in late stage deals which are safer.
  4. With the and biotech bubbles bursting, now we invest in late stage deals.
  5. But VC funding is not appropriate at this stage. There is a funding gap that needs to be addressed. Depending on the stage of the company, angel investing or government grants may be more appropriate.
3. I read Michael Crichton's "Prey." Nanotechnology is not for another 50 years at least.

4. I am not aware that large companies like L'Oreal, DuPont, BASF, Kodak, Ilford, etc. are already making money from nanotechnology process improved products to the average consumer.
  1. I am not aware that large companies like Volkswagon, Air Products and Chevron are already investing in nanotech startup companies.
5. The typical nanotech entrepreneurs don't have enough experience.
  1. The typical nanotech entrepreneur is a university professor and doesn't have enough business, marketing and sales experience to create and make their business model successful.
  2. It's a lot harder than they think. It's even a lot harder than we think.
  3. The nanotech companies don't know how to scale up.
  4. The nanotech entrepreneur won't accept outside help or give up a reasonable amount of control and equity for outside help and financing.
  5. The nanotech entrepreneur doesn't know what he doesn't know about business.
  6. The nanotech companies don't know how to put together a good management team.
  7. The nanotech entrepreneurs don't have a realistic grasp on expenses, profit, their market and ROI.
  8. We don't know how to manage deep tech PhD's.
  9. Many of these nanotech companies would do fine with just angel investor money. The ROI and scale that we work at is much bigger and later stage.
  10. This is why we take such a large equity stake so we can have more control in the business in order to offset this risk.
6. Nanotechnology is too big to get a grasp on.
  1. I don't like a concept which doesn't make it easy for me to categorize and confine in a neat little box to sell it.
7. There's too much hype about nanotechnology.
  1. I am not sure how to tell when a company is a really a Nanotechnology company just because it has "Nano" in its name.
  2. I don't want to get caught in a nanotech investment scam (see World Nanotechnology Summit and Ishoni Networks )
8. I subscribe to the herd mentality of investing because I am a lemming.
  1. I am having trouble finding and getting on the bandwagon. I like bandwagons.
  2. I don't know Steve Jurvetson or Charlie Harris.
9. But I invest in biotech in much more earlier and riskier stages with longer time horizon for and more risk with achieving ROI.
  1. I don't remember or acknowledge that there was a biotech bubble as well as the bubble.
  2. I may have and again be contributing to another biotech bubble.
10. But I invest in biotech even though much of it comes under the nanotechnology umbrella.

11. Even though I invested in startups with even riskier or nonexistent revenue generating business models.

12. I specialize in investing in hi-tech but to me hi tech is just IT and biotech.

13. What US$3.7 Billion nanotechnology fund bill?... (21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act that President Bush signed into law Dec. 3, 2003)

14. I make a lot of money from management fees so I don't have an incentive to really maximize ROI for my investors even though nanotechnology will affect all industries globally.
  1. Venture capital is largely unregulated so I am not penalized by my investors if our investments don't perform. When the investments don't perform we can blame it on the market because other VC firms with a similar investment strategy have failed too so we can absolve ourselves of responsibility. Of course, these days I've heard that LP's are now suing GP's.
15. The timing environment is not yet right so that I can use my normal Russian Roulette and machine gun investment strategy.
  1. This is why I take so much equity stake in the companies we invest in. If one makes it big, it covers my losses on the others.
16. After downsizing, we have the same expertise since five years ago so we don't have anyone nor can we now afford to hire anyone with expertise in nanotechnology or anything else new for that matter.
  1. However, we still invest in companies in our areas of expertise, even if they not optimal, so that we can collect our management fees. Otherwise we will have to give our LP's their money back.
17. I'm having enough problems salvaging the portfolio of investments we're still invested in.
  1. I'm having problems raising more funding from my LP's with which to invest since we lost more than half their money after the and biotech bubble burst.
18. I don't take the term "venture" in venture capital so literally.

19. I actually said more than this but the reporter only quoted about 10% of what I said.

20. My friend said so.

This is a rather tongue-in-cheek article but more true than many people would care to realize or admit. Note that not all venture capitalists embody these characteristics and mindset. They may also exist in some combination thereof. This may be an indication that there is room for improvement in the relationship between venture capitalist and entrepreneur.

If you can think of some more contributions, we welcome them. If we accumulate enough, perhaps we'll do a sequel article.

Stay tuned for next month's article.

Dr. Pearl Chin, Managing General Partner, Seraphima Ventures. MBA from Cornell, Commencement Marshall, PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from University of Delaware, Center for Composite Materials, B.E. Chemical Engineering, Cooper Union.

She specializes in advising on nanotechnology investment opportunities. She consults for and writes a regular column for on business and management issues in nanotechnology companies. Dr. Chin is advising the student run VC fund at Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management, Big Red Venture Fund, on investing in nanotechnology. Dr. Chin is also Managing Director of Glocap Search LLC Small Tech Practice.

She is a Senior Associate of The Foresight Institute in the US and was formerly US Representative of the Institute of Nanotechnology in the UK.

She can be contacted here.

Oregon Trail: Nanoscience and Microtechnology team leads the way to new innovations

Nanotechnology Now Interviews Robert D. "Skip" Rung

Questions by:
Rocky Rawstern
Editor Nanotechnology Now (NN)
Skip Rung
Click to enlarge
Answers by: Robert D. "Skip" Rung (SR)
MSEE, Founder and Principal, Skip Rung Innovation Advisors

Portland Oregon. February 23rd, 2004

NN: Please tell our readers about your work at Hewlett-Packard, and how, after retiring from HP you were asked to spearhead Oregon's MMD (multi-scale materials and devices) Signature Research Center (recently renamed ONAMI - Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute).

SR: At HP, I was responsible for development of multiple generations of the inkjet technology underlying the DeskJet™, OfficeJet™, DesignJet™, and PhotoSmart™ product lines and related technology roadmapping efforts. For the last few years I was also responsible for new business creation that leveraged HP's inkjet technological competencies. The first of these have reached the market in HP's line of digital projectors and the LightScribe™ direct disk marking technology. It was in thinking hard about "life after inkjet" that I concluded that our Corvallis site should develop a much more strategic relationship with our local university in order to expand the range of ideas for new markets and opportunities. That got me started down some new paths I had not been expecting!

So I was quite interested when, toward the end of 1999, I was given the opportunity to represent HP on the Oregon Engineering and Technology Industry Council (ETIC), which was first funded in 1997 to enhance engineering and computer science education in Oregon. The main goal was to increase the numbers of Engineering and CS graduates, since industry was importing 80% of its hires from outside Oregon. While I agreed with this, I also felt strongly that research and innovation coming out of our universities was going to be just as important, since this is the key to generating PhDs for industrial research labs and to starting the vibrant new companies that every thriving technology region has to have.

In 2001, I co-founded the New Economy Coalition with several Oregon business leaders, and helped draw attention to a package of knowledge-based economic development investments including ETIC, engineering college advancement, a state-chartered seed venture fund (now managed by Northwest Technology Ventures), bonding for the OHSU Oregon Opportunity program, and establishment of the Oregon Council on Knowledge and Economic Development (OCKED). OCKED went on, in 2003, to convince the legislature to fund Oregon's first Signature Research Center in the field of multi-scale materials and devices. The new organization is going to be called the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute (ONAMI).

After retiring from HP in late 2001, I continued to study and volunteer in the area of technology-based economic development, as well as take on several consulting projects. Working with the universities and OCKED, I surveyed the university research going on in Oregon, and concluded that the best overlap of competitive research, commercial opportunity, high-wage job creation potential, and alignment with Oregon industry was found in the combination of nanomaterials and microreactor systems research taking place at OSU, PSU, and UO. I helped OSU and UO write a preliminary business plan for this, which OCKED adopted, and the state funded with $20M in capital and $1M in operating funds. The latter was less than we hoped for, but I believe it was the only item of new spending in the most difficult state budget year ever. With this startup funding in place, OSU and UO have jointly retained me to lead the startup of this effort.

In Japanese, the prefix "OO" or "OU" or "O" with a macron over it denotes the long "o" vowel and means "big" (short "o" actually means small, but can also be an honorific). "Nami" (as in tsunami) of course means wave. In Inuit, Onami means "tomorrow."

NN: What are the connections between Oregon's Silicon Forest industry cluster, the local universities, and ONAMI? How does one benefit the others?

SR: Oregon's Silicon Forest, which, by the way, extends at least as far south as Hynix in Eugene/Springfield, is arguably the leading semiconductor and electronics cluster in the U.S. The number of Oregon companies and operations that are leaders in their industry or "lead dogs" in their own company is really quite impressive. This occurred without much contribution from the universities (although HP consciously chose to locate next to OSU), other than a steady (though too small) supply of graduates who were, in fact, very well prepared. With the 15-year old crisis in higher ed funding, the gap between Oregon industry prowess and academic capacity has grown, and leading multinational companies do not look in Oregon first for PhDs and research that is important to their future. Further, there has been relatively little venture success in Oregon and a relative scarcity of venture capital.

This situation has to change if we expect a continuation of the supply of high-wage jobs we have come to expect. Fortunately, Oregon universities have managed to attract and retain many excellent faculty and researchers, so we have a better foundation to build on than many people realize. We also have some highly creative and competitive research programs in nanoscience and microtechnology, which are growing.

Industry players such as Intel, HP, Tektronix, ESI, LSI Logic, FEI, and others have been involved with these faculty and programs in many ways, including hiring graduates, providing both undergraduate and graduate internships, sponsoring research (often confidential), interviewing graduate student candidates, donating equipment and facilities, and serving on bodies such as college advisory boards, ETIC and OCKED. Hewlett-Packard, for example, has donated a $2M, 3-year lease of a major building so that the microfabrication arm of ONAMI can consolidate and expand its facilities before capital construction is completed. They are also providing some very senior people to serve on the ONAMI advisory, technical, and commercialization councils. We are almost finished naming a very distinguished advisory board, which will be chaired by David Chen of OVP Venture Partners.

Oregon State University and the University of Oregon have retained former Hewlett-Packard Company executive Robert D. "Skip" Rung to spearhead the start-up of the state's first signature research center, focused on developing nano- and microtechnologies for the semiconductor, energy and microfluidics fields.

Rung, who is a technology and innovation consultant, will advise the new center on development of a permanent structure and governing body. Academic leadership will also be provided by the center's co-directors, OSU mechanical engineering professor Kevin Drost and UO chemistry professor David Johnson.

Oregon's first signature research center will initially be headquartered in donated space on Hewlett-Packard's Corvallis campus but have facilities located at OSU, UO and Portland State University.

NN: Given the recent passage of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (and the likelihood of its funding this year), how does Oregon attract some of those dollars to ONAMI?

SR: There are several ways, including applying for the sorts of NSF and DOE grants and projects our researchers have been increasingly winning over the last few years. What is new with S.189 is overall nanotechnology program coordination that will place increased emphasis on commercial potential and leverage of microtechnology research into the nano world, and this is precisely where we decided to focus almost 18 months ago. We expect to be very competitive for center grants from all the agencies receiving S.189 funds: NSF, DOE, NIST, NASA, and EPA. We also have technologies and research that has already proven valuable to DARPA and other parts of DOD. Our thriving partnership with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is a major asset.

To maximize our chances of winning, especially in view of the increasing emphasis on practical research and commercialization, we will need the support of Oregon's high technology companies. With unprecedented focus, funding, and collaboration among the three research universities (OSU, PSU, UO) we believe we can make a strong case for that support. The strength of Oregon's high tech industry is a tremendous regional competitive advantage, and we believe they will benefit in many ways from the focus and growth in research represented by ONAMI.

"My own judgement is that the nanotechnology revolution has the potential to change America on a scale equal to, if not greater than, the computer revolution. As Chair of this Subcommittee, I am determined that the United States will not miss, but will mine the opportunities of nanotechnology."

—Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)

NN: As a result of the research at ONAMI, what types of new products and devices are we likely to see in the near future? How are these products better because of our understanding of nanoscale science?

SR: It depends on what you mean by near future. Some of our materials work is immediately applicable to semiconductor processing and tends to be transferred in the form of graduate student hires. We are also currently engaged, with PNNL, in practical projects such as a man-portable heat pump for the Army which could be commercialized in a very few years' time. We are also in discussions with several entrepreneurs and small companies regarding technology that has been demonstrated, and which could be applied to commercial practice, again in a very few years' (but probably not months) time. The best known example may be the recent announcement by Home Dialysis Plus to use some of our microstructure technology to greatly reduce the size and improve the efficiency of hemodialysis filters. The connection to nanoscience in all of these comes from the synthesis of novel materials and atomic-level control of surface properties and interfaces.

We also are engaged in a great deal of research with enormous medium- and long-term potential in the electronics, energy, chemical, and biomedical sectors, and for which most of the initial funding will come from federal research budgets. So we have a good balance of near- and long-term efforts. I want to stress that it is very important that we build our long-term research capacity in Oregon and not value only short-term spinouts.

NN: How may smaller businesses work with ONAMI to develop and market new products?

SR: We have user-accessible facilities for materials characterization and nano/microstructure fabrication that smaller companies typically cannot afford and which can help them develop exciting new products. The charges for access to these services are competitive, but companies do have to come up with the funding. In cases which we believe to be promising, we are willing to assist small companies with applications for SBIR and STTR grants.

Back to top of this interview

Robert D. "Skip" Rung, MSEE, Founder and Principal, Skip Rung Innovation Advisors

Mr. Rung is a senior high technology R&D executive with over 25 years of engineering and management experience in CMOS process technology, application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) design and electronic design automation (EDA), IC packaging, MEMS, microfluidics, and inkjet printing. Mr. Rung currently consults in the areas of innovation management, technology transfer, and research-based economic development. He is the author of the business plan for the Multi-Scale Materials and Devices (MMD) Signature Research Center recommended to the state of Oregon for funding by the Oregon Council on Knowledge and Economic Development. OCKED's selection of MMD was aided and influenced by Mr. Rung's preliminary assessment of OUS's most commercially promising and industrially relevant research. Mr. Rung is a member of the Oregon Engineering and Technology Industry Council, a co-founder of the New Economy Coalition, a technical advisor to Northwest Technology Ventures (formerly ORTDA), and active in many statewide and local economic development efforts.

Prior to establishing his consulting practice in 2001, Mr. Rung was the director of Research and Development at Hewlett-Packard's Corvallis facility, responsible for the development of future generations of HP's world-leading thermal inkjet technology, and for developing future business opportunities enabled by HP's microelectronics, MEMS, and microfluidics competencies. During Mr. Rung's 14 years as R&D director, inkjet printing became HP's largest and most profitable business, maintaining worldwide technical leadership through several major new generations of technology and holding market share nearly twice that of the next largest competitor. Prior to his work on inkjet, Mr. Rung was the R&D Manager for HP's Northwest Integrated Circuits Division in Corvallis, which achieved worldwide ASIC technology leadership in 1986 with a 1-micron process comparable to those used for DRAM. Mr. Rung's organization also developed novel and performance-leading in-house IC design automation systems and custom IC packaging technologies (hybrids, flat packs, TAB) to enable calculators and other HP products.

Mr. Rung began his industrial career in 1977 at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, CA, performing advanced research in the areas of CMOS process device isolation, latch-up, and comparison with alternative silicon and compound semiconductor technologies. In 1981-1982, Mr. Rung was selected by HP to be a technology exchange engineer with Toshiba Corp. in Kawasaki, Japan, where he continued his research inside the world's leading semiconductor memory engineering group. He is the author or co-author of over 14 refereed journal or conference papers on IC technology, 4 invited papers (2 at leading international meetings), and 4 invited presentations on inkjet printing technology.

Mr. Rung received his BSEE and MSEE co-terminally in 1976 from Stanford University, where he was elected to both Phi Beta Kappa and Tau Beta Pi in his junior year. His master's thesis concerned the experimental determination of semiconductor doping profiles, and was part of the Stanford research on process simulation that was seminal for the rapid growth of computer simulation for solid state electronic processes and devices.

Project Experience

Multi-scale Materials and Devices Business Plan, 2003

Following a quick assessment of Oregon State University and University of Oregon research clusters, and a presentation to OCKED leading to the selection of Multi-Scale Materials and Devices as the top candidate for a Signature Research Center, Skip Rung was commissioned by OSU and UO to develop a business plan for the center on a very fast schedule. Working with PIs at UO and OSU, and making appropriate contacts at PSU and OHSU, the compelling case for MMD was stated, key objectives and quantitative goals were established, preliminary capital and expense budgets were prepared, organization and governance concepts were laid out, and extensive backup material was assembled. The plan was presented to the full OCKED committee and to the Oregon state legislature on February 12, 2003.

Contacts: Dr. Ronald L. Adams, Dean, Oregon State University College of Engineering, (541) 737-7722,; Dr. Richard W. Linton, University of Oregon Vice-President for Research and Graduate Education, (541) 346-2816,

Further reading on these subjects:

Portable Heat Pump link

Nano/micro research in Oregon link

Microreactor research link

Home Dialysis announcement link

OSU-PNNL Microproducts Breakthrough Institute - part of overall ONAMI effort link

Nanomaterials and human products link

User facility for materials characterization link

Advanced TEM in Portland link

PSU testimony for nanotech bill link

Looking Ahead - Nanotechnology in the 21st Century

Nanotechnology Now Interviews Oregon Senator Ron Wyden

Questions by:
Rocky Rawstern
Editor Nanotechnology Now (NN)
Ron Wyden
Answers by:
Senator Ron Wyden (RW)
(D. Ore.) Bio

Portland Oregon. March 1st, 2004

NN: Molecular manufacturing is an advanced theoretical branch of nanotechnology. Admiral David Jeremiah has said, "Military applications of molecular manufacturing have even greater potential than nuclear weapons to radically change the balance of power." (1) Mark Modzelewski, co-founder of the NanoBusiness Alliance, has called molecular manufacturing "science fiction." As you know, the final House version called for a detailed study to examine the feasibility of molecular manufacturing. However, the NanoBusiness Alliance got the bill modified in conference committee to eliminate that study. (2) Given the serious nature of the potential economic, military and social impacts of molecular manufacturing do you believe the elimination of this study was in the national interest, and if not, do you think it's possible to refocus attention on studying molecular manufacturing?

RW: The legislation requires a study that will examine the need for standards, guidelines and strategies to ensure the responsible development of nanotechnology. The study must include the development of defensive technologies, which would include molecular manufacturing. I appreciate the need to evaluate all possible applications of nanotechnology ˝ good and bad ˝ and this study is an important first step in evaluating the possible effects of molecular manufacturing.

NN: Are you aware of any advanced nanotech (molecular manufacturing) projects going on in the US or abroad, and whether anyone is looking for them?

RW: No.

NN: Given the media attention over nanotechnology in general and the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (3) in specific, when the time comes, how will you explain to the people of Oregon nanotechnology and its role in revitalizing the Oregon economy?

RW: When I first started talking about nanotech in the state, I got a lot of blank looks in return! But I have been talking about nanotechnology in Oregon for some time now, and I can report that people are beginning to get excited about the possibilities. Nanotechnology could become a $1 trillion industry and help bring exciting new products to market. With the help of some friends in the field in Oregon, I think I've been successful in getting our institutions of higher learning, government leaders, and the private sector to focus on the possibilities and priority steps we must take now to be at the forefront. Eventually, I think nanotech will have great impact on the treatment of disease, the improvement and strengthening of traditional materials such as steel, and the creation of smaller, faster electronic devices. These issues, as well as the jobs issue, are ones that should resonate well with Oregonians. A lot of people now understand that Oregon is well-positioned to capitalize and that's going to mean new businesses and new jobs for our state.

NN: It may not be widely understood that irrespective of the President signing the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act, funds for it have not been appropriated. When are we likely to see funding, and will getting the full amount be difficult in these fiscally trying times?

RW: Passing the legislation was a huge step forward and I was pleased that the President requested funding for the initiative in his budget for the coming year. I'm going to make sure we're fighting for every dollar for nanotechnology research because putting America in the forefront of these efforts is going to provide a big boost to the economy.

NN: How will the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act effect educational programs in Oregon?

RW: I hope nanotechnology will help spur interest in math and science among school children and help our community colleges and universities continue their strong tradition of excellence by pursuing this exciting field. The race to the moon helped promote math and science to America's school children in the 60's and I think it would be great if the exciting potential of nanotechnology spurred on such interest now.

NN: The rate of technological advance has been said to be on a double-exponential curve, where every calendar year yields tens of years (or more) of advances. Given that this figure is likely approximately true, and combined with the startling predictions (both good and bad) for nanotechnology, what are your thoughts on developing a set of ethics to monitor and regulate advanced technologies?

RW: I am a staunch supporter of developing ethics standards now to monitor and regulate advanced technologies such as nanotechnology. That is why I fought so hard to include the American Nanotechnology Preparedness Center in the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act. It is in our best interest to assess the societal, ethical, and environmental affects of this technology now.

NN: Many critics state that the American public is notoriously uninformed. While this may or may not be true, it is recognized that we are bombarded with an ever-increasing stream of information. At the same time, "science" is becoming understandable to increasingly fewer people. Based upon the latter two ideas, how do we as a people and you (our representative in government) educate ourselves such that we are able to participate in the debate over advanced technologies, and avoid the backlash seen in Europe regarding GMO's?

RW: I am a strong advocate of improved education in math and science. Again, that's why I was a strong supporter of community involvement and outreach on nanotechnology. We want people engaged in and informed about the development of this technology. However, the industry will need to get out in front on this education effort and not simply resign itself to public suspicion and backlash. This private effort has already begun, but it will need to grow.

"In 10 or 15 years, we'll need in the range of 800,000 nanotechnology workers, so the NSF will focus on preparing this workforce of the future."
—Mihail Roco, Senior Advisor for Nanotechnology, National Science Foundation

NN: In your opinion, will nanoscale technologies be the "next big thing" in terms of keeping America the leader in advanced technologies? In other words, will they be the catalysts that drive American dominance in the world market?

RW: If the United States is going to be the world's economic leader in the new century, it has to be on the leading edge of technology, including nanotechnology. I think nanotechnology's economic and social impact is going to rival that of the computer revolution, so obviously I want to see us in the forefront.


(1) Speech by Adm. Jeremiah

(2) NBA's role in changing the bill

(3) 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act (PDF)

Related articles:

Science of "Small Stuff" Could Bring Funding, Jobs to Oregon

Oregon Delegation Calls on President to Put Nanotechnology Center in State (PDF)

Wyden Receives Award For Being 'Champion of Science'

Wyden nanotechnology bill signed into law

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In closing, these quotes:

DuPont researchers are developing revolutionary nanotechnology-based materials that can be used in field-ready products, including innovative and protective lightweight uniforms and "smart" gear.

Examples of "smart" functionality include:

  • change colors on command to camouflage in changing environments -- even manipulate light to make soldiers invisible in the field.
  • change a shirtsleeve into a splint or a pant leg into a rigid cast in the field if a soldier is injured.
  • possess built-in sensors so that each soldier's physical conditions and location in battlefields can be monitored at distant command posts.
  • weave radio communications materials directly into the uniform's fabric ˝ providing soldiers flexibility and lighter loads.
  • automatically administer medicines and transmit vital signs to distant medics ˝ who could then potentially perform medical triage on soldiers in the field.
  • provide impact protection materials and systems including ballistic and shrapnel.
  • provide chemical and biological protection materials and systems.
Dupont Joins Effort To Use Nanotech To Enhance Safety Of Soldiers

Nanoparticles are the precursors of nanostructured materials and devices with tailored properties. Nanoparticle engineering involves the synthesis and processing of nanometer-sized particles with controlled properties for applications in advanced materials, such as ceramics, metals, optical structures, and semiconductors. Metals and ceramics produced by consolidating nanoparticles with controlled microstructures have been shown to exhibit properties substantially different from materials with coarse microstructures (Ed. note: their bulk counterparts). New properties include greater hardness, higher yield strength, and ductility in ceramic materials. In addition, the band gap of nanometer-scale semiconductor structures increases as the size of the microstructure decreases, raising expectations for many possible optical and photonic applications. Initial observations also suggest that the carbon nanofibers can be used to produce conductive polymeric materials.

Maybe the most significant development in nanomaterial technology has been that of nanotubes. Nanotube materials have an impressive list of attributes. They can behave like metals or semiconductors, can conduct electricity better than copper, can transmit heat better than diamond, and they rank among the strongest materials known. The potential aerospace applications are enormous. However, many technological hurdles need to be overcome before large-scale applications will occur. Present techniques used to produce nanotubes are inappropriate for mass production and high-quality nanotubes can only be produced in very limited quantities (Ed. note: quantities are increasing to "tons per year" in 2004).

Processing, Design and Control for Nanotechnology Materials Systems

The production and usage of materials, devices and systems of nano size involves much more than simply shrinking the scale of the design. There are significant changes in the physics and chemistry of the materials, in the methods employed for manufacturing and other factors, such as economics and performance. While the field is still relatively young, the potential value of materials designed at the atomic level, or of microscopic pumps, motors, instruments and other equipment has attracted the attention of researchers across a broad range of applications.

Nanotechnology: Materials, Manufacturing, and Applications
—J. Storrs Hall, PhD

Scientists believe the ability to move and combine individual atoms and molecules will revolutionize the production of virtually every human-made object and usher in a new technology revolution at least as significant as the silicon revolution of the 20th century.

"The possibilities to design materials and devices with extraordinary properties through nanotechnology are limited only by one's imagination," says Tom Picraux, Director of Sandia's Physical and Chemical Sciences Center.

Building solar cells containing nanolayers or nanorods could significantly increase the amount of electricity converted from sunlight, for example. Computer memory devices that take advantage of the "spin" of electrons could hold thousands of times more data than today's memory chips. Molecular devices that mimic processes within living cells could help doctors find or treat diseases. Nanoclustered catalysts could help destroy environmental pollutants using the energy from sunlight.

Although nanotechnologies hold great promise, scientists need a much greater understanding of the special rules that govern how nanoscale structures behave and interact and how these rules can be harnessed to create materials and devices.

Sandia joins national charge into 21st century nanotechnology revolution

Emerging nanotechnologies offer the potential for revolutionary new polymer materials with enhanced physical features: reduced thermal expansion coefficients, increased stiffness and strength, barrier properties, and heat resistance, without loss of impact strength.

Nanocomposites, which contain nanometer-scale particles that are homogeneously dispersed throughout traditional polymers, can provide stiffness and strength approaching that of metals, but with significant reductions in weight.

Reinforcing polymers at the molecular level with inorganic fillers can bring about property improvements that are truly exceptional.

Nanotechnology Leads to Better Composite Materials Argonne National Laboratory

Zyvex' versatile, cost-effective CNT functionalization technology enables uniform dispersion of the nanotubes in different solvents, polymers, and epoxy materials without degrading CNT properties. The technology, which has demonstrated structural, thermal and electrical properties significantly better than competing approaches, permits the solubility of nanotubes in various solvents and the uniform dispersion of nanotubes in a polymer matrix with significantly enhanced adhesion between nanotubes and the matrix. Based on experimental data, it is clear that Zyvex' CNT functionalization technology will have significant impact on the development of novel adhesives and composites that enable applications critical to national defense, aerospace, electronic, bio-medical etc.

Nanotechnology at Zyvex: Materials Services

The emphasis on nanotechnology around the world and the successful implementation of the National Nanotechnology Initiative in the United States are accelerating the development of science and technology at the nanoscale. Nanotechnology is expected to play a key role within the next 10 years in a wide spectrum of industry sectors, including manufacturing, information technology, electronics, and healthcare. Novel devices at the micro- and nanoscale will become increasingly important in all of these industries. The ability to measure dimensions, characterize materials, and elucidate structures of new and novel materials at the nanoscale will be critical to the advancement of nanotechnology. One of the exciting prospects of nanotechnology lies in the ability of molecules or particles, under specific conditions, to self-assemble to form new materials with unusual properties. Successful development of these new materials will require the ability to monitor such processes at the nanoscale in real time. Metrology, the science of measurement, is therefore the foundation of nanotechnology.

Materials Structure Characterization National Institute of Standards and Technology

Nanotechnology takes manufacturing to the molecular level.

Institute for Chemical Process and Environmental Technology

From Our Molecular Future, by Douglas Mulhall:

  • What happens to the monetary system when everyone is able to satisfy his own basic material needs at very low cost?
  • How would we use cash when digital manufacturing makes it impossible to differentiate a counterfeit bill or coin from the real thing?
  • What happens to fiscal policy when digital information, moving at light speed, is the major commodity?
  • How fast will monetary cycles move compared to, say, the ten- or twenty-year cycles of the late twentieth century, when products and patents go out of date in a matter of months instead of years?
  • What happens when we don't have to worry about trade or social services for our basic needs, because most of what we need is provided locally with digital manufacturing, and the biggest trade is in information?
  • How do we control the excesses of the ultrarich, the overabundance of the molecular assembler economy, and the challenge to intellectual property laws created by intelligent, inventive machines?
  • What happens if half of all jobs are made redundant every decade?
  • What happens to the War on Drugs when there's no import, export, or transport of contraband because drugs can be manufactured in a desktop machine using pirated software downloaded from the Internet?
  • What happens to democratic controls when individuals can get as rich as small governments in a year or so?
  • What's the relevance of insurance if many things are replaceable at very low capital cost, but liabilities from software are potentially unlimited?
  • How should organized labor react when molecular assemblers and intelligent robots eliminate most manufacturing jobs?
  • What is the nature of work going to be?
  • What happens to land prices when an individual can build a tropical farm under a bubble in North Dakota, and get there from New York in an hour?
  • What happens when everyone can go everywhere, whenever they want, and work from wherever they want?

Foresight Vision2004

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For further research, here are pages we found valuable:

Nanotechnology and Materials

Nanotechnology Materials & Manufacturing

Dismissing Drexler Is Bad for Business

No Simple Solutions

Worse Than Gray Goo

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Issue #10 will cover Security. It will land in your mailbox April 5th, 2004.

Infamous Quotes:

"There is no reason anyone would want a computer in their home." (Ken Olsen, Digital Equipment Corp, 1977)
"Computers in the future may weigh no more than 1.5 tons." (Popular Mechanics, 1949)
"I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." (IBM's Thomas Watson, 1943)
"This 'telephone' has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us." (Western Union internal memo, 1876)

And the lesson is? It's a tough game to call.

Need advice? Check out NanoStrategies

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