nanotechnology research

Nanotechnology can be a controversial topic.  There are numerous reports that are published showing that a specific nanomaterial (pick your favorite one) is beneficial or is harmful and dangerous.  The editorial cartoon by Gary Markstein on coffee readily applies to the current state of nanotechnology.  Just substitute your favorite material in the place of the word coffee.

So what is the truth?  One must realize that there are many ways to approach an evaluation of the results of scientific study.  Without scientific results, one only has speculation and projections by interested parties.  Reported “scientific” findings that do not contain data are suspect.  (In a future blog, we will consider the corruption of scientific research.)  The purpose of publishing scientific experiments and results is so that others can replicate the experiment and validate the results.  The purpose of including data is so that people can understand the significance of the results.  A statement that carbon nanotubes have shown effects similar to asbestos in reacting with lung tissue without providing data will cause a reaction to “do something” immediately.  Adding the fact that the carbon nanotubes were made to be extra-long and applied in a very great concentration that would not normally be encountered does not create the same urgency.

The British Royal Society of Chemistry states: “While there is no such thing as a safe chemical, it must be realized there is no chemical that cannot be used safely by limiting the dose or exposure. Poisons can be safely used and be of benefit to society when used appropriately.“   So our approach to development and applications of nanomaterials should also be one of caution, but the results need to be truthful.

About Walt

I have been involved in various aspects of nanotechnology since the late 1970s. My interest in promoting nano-safety began in 2006 and produced a white paper in 2007 explaining the four pillars of nano-safety. I am a technology futurist and is currently focused on nanoelectronics, single digit nanomaterials, and 3D printing at the nanoscale. My experience includes three startups, two of which I founded, 13 years at SEMATECH, where I was a Senior Fellow of the technical staff when I left, and 12 years at General Electric with nine of them on corporate staff. I have a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin, an MBA from James Madison University, and a B.S. in Physics from the Illinois Institute of Technology.
Nanotechnology, Science

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