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  • NanoForum Speakers Explore R&D, Apps
Nov 2005
CHICAGO, Nov. 4 -- Nanotechnology-based chemicals, composites and membranes will be incorporated in commercial products in the next five years, followed in five to 10 years by targeted drug therapies, medical imaging, energy and solar cell activities, said Floyd Kvamme, chairman of the President's Council on Science and Technology (PCAST). Kvamme gave a keynote speach at the 2005 NanoCommerce/SEMI NanoForum, held last week in San Jose.

Kvamme discussed PCAST's review of the National Nanotech Initiative (NNI), a federal research and development program established to coordinate the multiagency efforts in nanoscale science, engineering and technology.

"The vision of the National Nanotech Initiative is a future in which the ability to understand and control matter on the nanoscale leads to a revolution in technology and industry," he said. "Clearly, we want to see the economic benefit, we want to ensure national and homeland security and we want to improve the quality of life."

He said the responsible development of nanotechnology is critical and that 10 percent of NNI funds are used for nanotechnology environmental, health and safety programs.

Nanotechnology research and development in the energy and government sectors was one theme of NanoForum, which also explored the commercialization and proliferation of nanotechnology in key vertical markets.

Vahe Sarkissian, chairman and CEO of FEI Co., based in Hillsboro, Ore., also spoke at NanoForum.

"The rate of adoption of nanotechnology will be driven by economic factors, and it's the commercialization of nanotechnology which will ultimately drive the leadership in this area -- and it is a competitive race," Sarkissian said. "[Nanotechnology] is pervasive and will influence all aspects of our lives."

At a panel discussion on energy, Wasiq Bokhari, a managing partner with Quantum Insight, a Menlo Park, Calif., business strategy services firm in the field of emerging new materials and nanotechnology, said, "Great promise lies in using nanomaterials and nanostructures that are more conducive to capturing stray electrons in photovoltaic (solar) cells, thereby reducing waste and making the cells more efficient. This in turn can lead to lower cost and longer-lasting solar cells that are likely to be more broadly accepted."

Solar energy panelist Seamus Curran, head of the nanotechnology program at New Mexico State University, discussed his experience working with polymers before and after incorporating nanomaterials.

"Anybody who works in polymers lives with the frustration that polymers will degrade," Curran said. "They are very unstable, especially the electronic polymers." When carbon nanotubes were added, he said, they stabilized the polymers and led to to revised architectures, which can be used to develop different types of electronics, sensors, solar cells and other applications.

In a panel on nanotechnology in homeland security, Wayne Marsh, DuPont coordinator for the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT, discussed the use nanofibers, nanocoatings and nanoparticles in applications to improve soldier comfort and safety. Examples include lighter and more pervasive ballistics protection, particularly of the extremities --since an increasing number of soldier casualties are the result of wounds to extremities -- and the use of sensors in uniforms to locate soldiers and assess their body temperature or moisture levels.

SEMI is an association for providers of equipment, materials and services used to manufacture semiconductors, displays, nanoscale structures, microelectromechanical systems and related technologies. NanoForum 2006 will be held Oct. 30-Nov. 2 at the San Jose Convention Center.

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The use of atoms, molecules and molecular-scale structures to enhance existing technology and develop new materials and devices. The goal of this technology is to manipulate atomic and molecular particles to create devices that are thousands of times smaller and faster than those of the current microtechnologies.
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