We all have our quixotic quests. Mine for the moment is deflating over inflated expectations of nanotechnology’s impact on alternative energy solutions for the near future.
The latest bit of “available in 5 to 10 years” material comes to us via CNN in which we get the story of Georgia Tech researchers who are exploiting the piezoelectric qualities of zinc oxide nanowires to take advantage of small human movements to generate a current that could power small devices.
We even get mention of Angela Belcher’s work at MIT in developing virus-enabled lithium-ion batteries.
It all seemed to be going progressively more into the stratosphere when my heart started to warm. I saw the end of the article concludes with the sobering quote from Michael Holman of Lux Research that "there's still a big disconnect between the hype and the reality," of nanotechnology in the energy sector.However, the argument given to support the existence of this disconnect is unusual in that it does not describe nanotech’s impact on energy applications but rather does so by measuring the impact of energy applications on nanotech, and he quickly backtracks noting that all this research will make possible electric cars...someday. But this reasoning process is only a little curious, what is fascinating is this video from CNN.
You have the anchorwoman who is so clueless about the subject of nanotechnology she becomes increasingly more uncomfortable and as a result says increasingly strange things with bigger and bigger body and hand gestures. And then you have the tech correspondent, who while marginally more comfortable speaking about nanotechnology is not the typical polished TV journalist we’re used to seeing.
Dexter Johnson is a contributing editor at IEEE Spectrum, with a focus on nanotechnology.