Thursday, December 28, 2006

2007 Headlines

As a result of progress made and “nano” issues raised in 2006, I see several headliners in 2007:

Regulation of some or all nanoparticles, in one or more countries

Answers to some toxicity issues, but not all (by a long shot)

Breakthroughs that make a few medical nanotechnologies practical, and human studies of same

Extensive use of nanotubes in composite materials

A significant increase in nano-based products

A great deal of interest in and subsequent higher funding of solar, fuel cells and hydrogen storage technologies.

A great deal of interest in and subsequent higher funding of sensor technologies for military, homeland security and civilian applications.

Watch for:

any regulation to bend someone’s nose out of joint and possibly be such a compromise as to satisfy none.

the same thing in regards to toxicity issues; findings on any given nanoparticle or material may cause widespread dismay among enviro and/or business interests.

either issue could result in a loss of confidence by investors and/or the public, and a subsequent reduction in funding.

bulk nanotube prices to drop, separation techniques to become more efficient, and functionalization methods to create opportunities in the medical and functional materials fields.

Wildcards: things we cannot predict but know from experience do occur. Examples include splitting the atom, and creating the first integrated circuit; both game changers. As the unique properties of nanoscale materials continue being quantified, and resultant advanced products created in greater numbers, nanotechnologies have become widely accepted as game changers, rule breakers, and enablers.

My expectations are “hopefully confident” that the best of nanotech will dominate. For 2007, if investor and public confidence remain high and nano-based products remain safe, expect many economies to experience a growth spurt.

In the near future, don’t be surprised when several countries start to state in their yearly GDP reports that “nano” has become a significant growth-enabling factor. Don’t be surprised when new players enter the market, “changing the game” in ways we cannot imagine today. It’s happened before, and nanotechnologies are enabling a social/economic change as great as any we’ve experienced, if not greater.

Is your company or investment group prepared for these possibilities? Do you have in-house experts who track, analyze, prepare for and make plans based on these issues? Do you have enough information to enable you to make good decisions?

Quote of the day

Even a small fraction of the raw capability of molecular manufacturing would be sufficient to satisfy the world's humanitarian needs for generations to come. Another fraction could multiply the economy and enrich every owner of the technology. And only a small fraction of possible nanotech-built products are unacceptably dangerous.

~Mike Treder Nanotechnology: Time to Make a Choice