SAN JOSE, Calif., Jan. 25, 2006 -- Nanotechnology and nanophotonics have a world of potential but are not yet markets, according to speakers yesterday at Photonics West.
Mark Lurie and Eric Drexler of the Foresight Nanotechnology Institute, a nanotechnology think tank and public interest organization, and Tom Hausken of Strategies Unlimited, a technology-focused market research and strategic planning company, appeared before a packed auditorium at one of the show's market seminars. Lurie described the institute's approach to developing nanotechnology, and Drexler provided technical details.
Hausken presented an outlook on nanotechnology markets. He said he sees the technology not as an end in itself, but as an enabling technology that will be part of larger systems.
"The goal is to develop atomically precise manufacturing in an atom-by-atom fashion," he said.
Laurie said this will be enabled by a multidisciplinary approach to continued progress with a focus on research and development.
Foresight and Battelle, a global research and development organization, recently launched a Technology Roadmap for Productive Nanosystems through an initial grant of $250,000 from The Waitt Family Foundation. Industry and technical organizations participating in the project, include the NanoBusiness Alliance (NBA); the Nano Science and Technology Institute (NSTI); SEMI, an industry association for equipment, materials and service companies enabling micro- and nano-scale manufacturing; the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO); the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a power industry research organization; and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).
Drexler said nanotechnology is headed in a "smaller" direction, and that current methods have limitations that could be exploited. Areas that hold promise, he said, include materials, crystal surfaces, quantum dots and biological applications. Eventually, the technology should progress from small demonstration projects to larger-scale applications, he added.
Hausken said markets will evolve from the role nanotech plays in areas such as materials, biomedicine, energy, electronics and display technologies. Nanotechnology will be a part of these applications, not a stand-alone technology, he said. In photonic markets, it will have an impact primarily in displays, medicine, optocouplers, LEDs, solar cells and diode lasers.
"Displays will be the big one," Hausken said, adding that large-screen displays are a $40 billion market.
Approximately $4 billion is being poured into nanotechnology research worldwide, Hausken said, and work to develop applications is ongoing.