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White House Announces Opening of Portal for Public Input on Nanotechnology Strategy

Next generation of applications for nanotechnology seem to be enabled by something other than nanomaterials

2 min read

Everyone has a blog, including the White House, where it was announced this week that the President’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)  has made available the National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) Strategy Portal where it will be possible to submit your thoughts and ideas on how to advance nanotechnology’s development. The portal is described as on online event and will only be open from July 13th to August 15th, so be sure to make your recommendations soon.

I was initially skeptical of this proposal to get the input of the public when it was first presented because they made it seem they wanted ideas on new application areas. However, when it became clear that OSTP’s aim was to re-think innovation frameworks I was easily turned around since this has always been the problem area.

But even when the focus became clear it seemed that the highly sophisticated recommendations were not really discussed in a rigorous way. That could have just been how it seemed during the meeting and perhaps afterwards the suggestions were given more serious consideration.

This latest blog entry from the White House, however, has some interesting little ticks. Most notable to me is that there are these two generations of nanotechnology applications. One is enabled by mere nanomaterials and the other newer generation by something else, which is never quite identified.

“President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation highlights the promise of nanotechnology to transform multiple industries: capturing and storing clean energy, developing next-generation computer chips, early detection of diseases, smart anti-cancer therapeutics that deliver drugs only to tumor cells, and enabling all-new approaches to a wide range of manufacturing activities, among many other examples. While the commercial impact of nanotechnology to date has been limited primarily to nanomaterials applied to a range of consumer goods from healthcare to textiles, automotive composites and industrial coatings, nanotechnology innovation is poised to accelerate dramatically. Among the most compelling recent examples are solar cells leveraging nanotechnology to increase efficiency and reduce costs and bullet-proof, flexible carbon nanotube-based armor.”

I would hereby like to inform the White House that all the examples of newer, better application areas they have identified for nanotechnology will be made possible through nanomaterials (or as they say, “limited to nanomaterials”).

I can’t get past the idea that they just might be thinking or imagining molecular manufacturing as the means by which the next generation of applications for nanotechnology will be realized. Granted, there’s nothing specific that I can point to for this conclusion, except that they see current applications being “limited” by just using nanomaterials. What do they expect to enable the next generation, fairy dust?

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