Nano Technology and Nano Ethics - Introduction
Are We on The Brink of a Nano Revolution?
Are we in the beginning stage of a new revolution in
technology: the Nano Revolution? Like the genome revolution of a decade
ago, will nanotech call for social impact assessment? Will Nano Ethics become
a new field?
By any measure, world attention to nanotechnology indicates
something big is about to happen. In 2004 industries and governments worldwide
invested $10 billion in Research and Development. At least 60 nations now sponsor
national nanotech research programs. In 2006 President George W. Bush budgeted
$1 billion in U.S. federal support for the National Nanotechnology Initiative
(NNI), this on top of $5 billion already spent. This is more than either the
Apollo moon shot or the Human Genome Project.
We use the term nanotechnology to refer to the
manipulation of matter on the scale of atoms and molecules. From the Greek
word, nanos, meaning dwarf, a nanometer (nm) equals one billionth of a
meter. It takes ten atoms of hydrogen side-by-side to equal one nanometer.
Compare this to a DNA molecule which is 2.5 nm wide, or a human hair which is
80,000 nm thick. Only atomic microscopes are able to see things on the nano
The NNI Reports Some of Their Recent Discoveries:
- Nano-electro-mechanical sensors that can detect and
identify a single molecule of a chemical warfare agent - an essential step
toward realizing practical field sensors.
- Nanocomposite energetic materials for propellants and
explosives that have over twice the energy output of typical high
- Prototype data storage devices based on molecular
electronics with data densities over 100 times that of todays highest
density commercial devices.
- Field demonstration that iron nanoparticles can remove up to
96% of a major contaminant (trichloroethylene) from groundwater at an