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Five Years After the Release of Royal Society's Nanotech Report

As the safety of nanomaterials remains lacking in hard data public apathy and polemics still rule the issue

2 min read

I guess I have become inured to the idea that there is little synthesis on the issues of the day rather only antithesis. That’s why five years after the release of the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering report “Nanoscience and nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties”, I am not surprised that it seems as though we haven’t progressed much far beyond name calling regarding the safety of nanomaterials.

The Responsible Nano Forum, which has been quite busy of late with the launching of their new Nano&me website, has just released a report  putting the last five years into some kind of perspective.

Andrew Maynard on his 20/20 Science blog has followed up on this report providing his own perspective on the situation, which scans about right.

While I can appreciate the arguments on both sides (to an extent), it all seems so needlessly polemical.

On the one hand you have Allan Shalleck over at Nanotech-Now  arguing that the media have been following sensational headlines and have missed the other side of the story which is there has been zero reported health-related issues caused by nanomaterials…thus far.

Then on the other hand you have some NGOs claiming that the environmental benefits of nanomaterials, such as pollution remediation and clean drinking water, which have been used to counterbalance their reported potential negative effects, are over hyped.

Meanwhile you have everyone trying somehow to engage the public on the issue of nanotechnology, or at least get them mildly interested.

Aside from the fact that we don’t really have as much hard experimental data today on the safety of nanomaterials as one might have expected five years ago when the RS and RAE report was published, perhaps of more interest is that the general public not only doesn’t care, but they still don’t even understand what nanotechnology is. Who can blame them really?

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3D-Stacked CMOS Takes Moore’s Law to New Heights

When transistors can’t get any smaller, the only direction is up

10 min read
An image of stacked squares with yellow flat bars through them.
Emily Cooper
Green

Perhaps the most far-reaching technological achievement over the last 50 years has been the steady march toward ever smaller transistors, fitting them more tightly together, and reducing their power consumption. And yet, ever since the two of us started our careers at Intel more than 20 years ago, we’ve been hearing the alarms that the descent into the infinitesimal was about to end. Yet year after year, brilliant new innovations continue to propel the semiconductor industry further.

Along this journey, we engineers had to change the transistor’s architecture as we continued to scale down area and power consumption while boosting performance. The “planar” transistor designs that took us through the last half of the 20th century gave way to 3D fin-shaped devices by the first half of the 2010s. Now, these too have an end date in sight, with a new gate-all-around (GAA) structure rolling into production soon. But we have to look even further ahead because our ability to scale down even this new transistor architecture, which we call RibbonFET, has its limits.

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