Nationalism in Nanotech Just Gets Silly Sometimes

Cultivating some fabricated competition between the EU and US in nanotechnology development misses the point, but is entertaining

1 min read

Otillia Saxl, who shall always hold a special place in my heart for her priceless quote back in 2004 in which she is noted as thinking "Europeans are smarter than Americans when it comes to nanotechnology, but hindered by the fragmentation of the market,” appears to be back at it again with her blog in Nano magazine in which she views nanotechnology’s development through the prism of some ongoing competition between the US and Europe.

This time the Europeans are not promoting all the work they are doing in nanotechnology, and Saxl laments that this is probably due to laziness rather than modesty. You think? In any case, we get this breathless complaint (exclamation point not added):

“Where are all the exciting stories about these and earlier nano projects to be found? I have looked at several international nano sites that offer regular news on applications and innovations. It is truly surprising how few quote breakthroughs resulting from EU funded projects – or even from Europe at all! Most are from the States.”

You see, according to Saxl, this lack of self-promotion will mean that investors will not become aware of all the wonderful opportunities that await them in European nanotechnology laboratories. There’s just one problem with this line of thinking, there are few to no investors out there even if the nanotechnology project comes from the heartland of the US of A or Timbuktu for that matter.

But I do enjoy this endless flogging of the EU versus US nanotech race. It reminds me of the US Congress refusing to serve "French" fries when France declined joining in the invasion of Iraq. It’s just so wonderfully pointless.

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Two Startups Are Bringing Fiber to the Processor

Avicena’s blue microLEDs are the dark horse in a race with Ayar Labs’ laser-based system

5 min read
Diffuse blue light shines from a patterned surface through a ring. A blue cable leads away from it.

Avicena’s microLED chiplets could one day link all the CPUs in a computer cluster together.


If a CPU in Seoul sends a byte of data to a processor in Prague, the information covers most of the distance as light, zipping along with no resistance. But put both those processors on the same motherboard, and they’ll need to communicate over energy-sapping copper, which slow the communication speeds possible within computers. Two Silicon Valley startups, Avicena and Ayar Labs, are doing something about that longstanding limit. If they succeed in their attempts to finally bring optical fiber all the way to the processor, it might not just accelerate computing—it might also remake it.

Both companies are developing fiber-connected chiplets, small chips meant to share a high-bandwidth connection with CPUs and other data-hungry silicon in a shared package. They are each ramping up production in 2023, though it may be a couple of years before we see a computer on the market with either product.

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