By Yasuhiro KOIKE - Professor, Department of Applied Physics and Physico-informatics, Faculty of Science and Technology, Keio University. Article courtesy of Japan Nanonet Bulletin
White is not a color. It appears white because of the light scattering. The smaller the size of constituent particles of a substance is, the less light scatters. So, milk could be transparent," says Prof. Koike. Light reflects and refracts with millimeter-sized substances, and it scatters with micrometer-sized substances. However, it does not scatter with nanometer-sized substances; therefore, nanometer-sized substances are transparent. Prof. Koike has overcome the difficulties in dealing with light by reviewing the fundamental principles of light.
A handful of people protested in front of the Eddie Bauer flagship store on Michigan Avenue in Chicaco in May 2005. They were protesting against the company`s use of untested "nano-fibers" in their "nanotex" clothing by showing their painted bodies covered with slogans like: "Plenty of room at the bottom" or "Say the truth about nanotechnology at Eddie Bauer". T.H.O.N.G (To pl ess Humans Organized for natural Genetics) had good media coverage with the action. Since the ETC-Group called for a moratorium on synthetic nanoparticles in the year 2003; a risk debate among experts was launched while in most countries the public debate had not started yet.
The general public attitude towards Nanotechnology is positive but the general knowledge about nanotechnology is poor. More than 54% of the peo pl e in the US know nothing about it. That`s likely to change as nanotech`s potential turns into more products. If these products prove to be more beneficial than hazardous the acceptance will increase. Having learned the lessons from other technology debates (GM, biotechnology and genetic engineering) it`s crucial to understand the general patterns of perception and communication. The following "Ten Commandments" should serve as a guideline to better understanding of public perception and lead to better communication strategies.
By Makoto GONOKAMI, Professor, Department of Applied Physics, Graduate School of Engineering, The University of Tokyo. Article courtesy of Japan Nanonet Bulletin.
Light travels at very high speed in air and other media without losing energy, and therefore it is an ideal carrier of information. At the same time, the storage or retrieval of information with light via a solid material can be difficult. Prof. Gonokami says, "To use light to transmit information, the speed of the photons must be decreased rather than increased. Light travels too fast to be used in real-life applications." Another big problem is that the wavelength of visible light is too long. In order to combine newly discovered phenomena in nanotechnology with optical technology, light must interact with materials in a very small volume. Therefore, technology to either decrease the speed or completely stop photons is required. Prof. Gonokami had the idea of drastically decreasing the speed of light by trapping photons in microspheres with diameters of the same magnitude as the light wavelength in strong electric fields.
This month's science essay is prompted by several questions about nanofactories that I've received over the past few months. I'll discuss the way in which nanofactories combine nanoscale components into large integrated products; the reason why a nanofactory will probably take about an hour to make its weight in product; and how to cool a nanofactory effectively at such high production rates.
In current nanofactory designs, sub-micron components are made at individual workstations and then combined into a product. This requires some engineering above and beyond what would be needed to build a single workstation. Tom Craver, on our [blog], suggested that there might be a transitional step, in which workstations are arranged in a two-dimensional sheet and make a thin sheet of product. The sheet of manufacturing systems would not have to be flat; it could be V-folded, and perhaps a solid product could be pushed out of a V-folded arrangement of sheets. With a narrow folding angle, the product might be extruded at several times the mechanosynthetic deposition rate.
Molecular manufacturing (MM) will be able to build a wide variety of products -- but only if their designs can be specified. [Recent science essays] have explained some reasons why nanofactory products may be relatively easy to design in cases where we know what we want, and only need to enter the design into a CAD program. Extremely dense functionality, strong materials, integrated computers and sensors, and inexpensive full-product rapid prototyping will combine to make product design easier.
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Nanofactories, controlled by computerized blueprints, will be able to build a vast range of high performance products. However, efficient product design will require advanced software.
Different kinds of products will require different approaches to design. Some, such as high-performance supercomputers and advanced medical devices, will be packed with functionality and will require large amounts of research and invention. For these products, the hardest part of design will be knowing what you want to build in the first place. The ability to build test hardware rapidly and inexpensively will make it easier to do the necessary research, but that is not the focus of this essay.
The extremely high performance of the products of molecular manufacturing will make the technology transformative—but it is the potential for fast development that will make it truly disruptive. If it took decades of research to produce breakthrough products, we would have time to adjust. But if breakthrough products can be developed quickly, their effects can pile up too quickly to allow wise policymaking or adjustment. As if that weren't bad enough, the anticipation of rapid development could cause additional problems.