Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Picture of the day

Manipulating Atoms

Philippe Van Nedervelde, Manipulating Atoms

Philippe Van Nedervelde: The SPM tip is shown here as it electrically 'glues' an atom to itself, moving it about and releasing it. (Click on the image to see a 1MB MPG movie.)

Learn more about Van Nedervelde at the Foresight Nanotech Institute

As with previous pictures, I will post the others in this series over time. To see it all now, visit the Nanotechnology Now Gallery.

Quote of the day

Exactly what do consumers think about nanotechnology? Consider this tidbit: consumers rate it safer than some commonplace, everyday products, including herbicides, chemical disinfectants and food preservatives. The study also shows that the public is pretty savvy in their judgment. They aren't blindly accepting of nano-products, nor are they clueless about risks. They are simply willing to consider both the risk and rewards -- just as they do with other technologies. Quite simply, they knowledgeably -- and enthusiastically -- choose the benefit of nano-enabled products.

~Scott E. Rickert, chief executive of Nanofilm, Ltd.

(Rickert’s insight is extrapolated from a national research study conducted by Rice University's Center for Biological and Environmental Nanotechnology (CBEN), University College London (UCL) and the London Business School.)

Sorry, we’re closed

As part of a research project for a client, I re-read The Next Big Thing Is Really Small (*), by Jack Uldrich and Deb Newberry. If you have not read it I strongly encourage you to purchase a copy, find a comfy spot, sit down and get to it.

One thing that struck me, again, is the number and diversity of businesses that – if they don’t pay attention and start planning now – will find themselves hanging out the “Sorry, we’re closed” sign in the not-so-distant future.

To recap just a few, and borrowing from the astute observations of Mr. Uldrich and Ms. Newberry, here are a few “what ifs”:

What if one or more of the glass coatings that either prevent dirt from sticking or allow it to be washed off when it rains starts being used not only in new buildings but in older ones? What happens to the window washers? What happens to the companies that make the cleaning solutions; those that make the squeegees and other accessories?

What if carbon nanotube prices reach a cost per ton that makes their use in composite materials attractive to the automotive industry? What happens to the steel industry and their workers when composites replace metal? What happens to the insurance industry when cars and trucks incur less damage in an accident?

What happens to the flooring industry, the roofing industry, and the countertop industry when nanoparticles begin to be used as final coatings, effectively extending the lifetimes of those products?

Actually, these things are already happening, albeit to a minor degree. How are you, a CEO of one of these companies, preparing for potentially disruptive change?

In Summary

This is not to say that all companies in these industries will go belly up. Quite the contrary if they have people in place or consultants who are already looking over the horizon, and making plans for change.

If you don’t have someone tracking, monitoring, and planning for these changes, I can help.

If you don’t have answers to the questions raised by this book, I can help.

If you don’t understand nanotechnology, I can help.

(*) You can buy a used copy (rated as “new”) at Barnes and Noble for as little as $3.10 plus S&H. Consider this the bargain of the year; you won’t find another book that provides as much insight into preparing for nanotechnologies, at any price.

Excerpts from my original review:

…predictable advances in nanotechnology will likely inundate us with disruptive technologies, which will change the way you do business, the products you create, how you create them, and the partnerships you form.

The Next Big Thing Is Really Small is well documented and researched, and a must-read for anyone who uses an acronym in their business title. Be it CEO, CIO, or CTO, run out and buy a copy immediately, read it several times, and get busy implementing the ideas.

Meant for the nano-novice, and business and industry leaders, it is an exceptional overview for those who wish to understand how disruptive and enabling technologies may change virtually every aspect of our lives -- especially how we do business.