Is It Nanotechnology, or Not?

A Russian inventor has developed a nano-enabled water filter, scientists say there is no nanotechnology in it while politicians believe otherwise

1 min read
Is It Nanotechnology, or Not?

I was fascinated reading last week’s online Wall Street Journal story of Viktor Petrik, a self-described inventor, whose inventions are sometimes labeled as legitimate breakthroughs while others describe the inventor himself as nothing more than a charlatan.

I have noted before Russia’s peculiar affinity for these entertaining yarns and this attraction is even noted in the WSJ piece.

This strange tale relates to nanotechnology mainly because of one of Mr. Petrik’s inventions, which is a water filter supposedly made from nanomaterials that since winning an award in 2007 has been installed in schools, homes and hospitals within regions controlled by the ruling party, United Russia.

While Russia’s ruling party has been quick to defend and promote Petrik’s work, it seems other Russian scientists have remained skeptical and gone so far to test some of it. Eduard Kruglyakov, a physicist who heads a special commission of Russia's Academy of Sciences, examined the nano-enabled filter with what the WSJ describes as “high-powered equipment” (presumably microscopy tools) and declared there was no sign of nanotechnology in the filter. Needless to say, Mr. Petrik rejected this conclusion.

The story goes on to detail how Rusnano is now funding some of his work and that he will be competing for funding in a “a national clean-water program that some officials have said could be worth as much as $500 billion over the next decade.”

The whole story--while fascinating--has me scratching my head since Argonide Corporation in Florida has had nano-enabled water filters for drinking water on the commercial markets for quite a number of years now. There may be some market for forcing ruling party-controlled regions to install Petrik’s water filters in buildings but it doesn’t constitute much of a market outside those regions.

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The Ultimate Transistor Timeline

The transistor’s amazing evolution from point contacts to quantum tunnels

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A chart showing the timeline of when a transistor was invented and when it was commercialized.

Even as the initial sales receipts for the first transistors to hit the market were being tallied up in 1948, the next generation of transistors had already been invented (see “The First Transistor and How it Worked.”) Since then, engineers have reinvented the transistor over and over again, raiding condensed-matter physics for anything that might offer even the possibility of turning a small signal into a larger one.

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