WASHINGTON The deputy director of the National Science Foundation called for closer cooperation between the scientific and engineering research communities on nanotechnology development in a keynote speech at this year's International Electron Devices Meeting.
Joseph Bordogna said coopaeration would create what he dubbed "nano transformations" in all scientific and social fields.
"'Nano' denotes the very small in scale, but there is nothing diminutive about the expectations generated by [nanotechnology] the application of fundamental research at the nanoscale," Bordogna told about 1,300 IEDM attendees. "Some call it the next industrial revolution, anticipating an economic bonanza that dollar for dollar, and job for job, will outstrip the introduction of electricity, the automobile or the new information and communications technologies."
At the nano scale, Bordogna said, ordinary matter often displays surprising properties that can be exploited to boost computer speed and memory capacity, and make materials that are stronger, lighter and smarter by orders of magnitude. Nanotechnology also operates at the dimension where the living and nonliving worlds meet. "The expectations raised by nano have inspired governments worldwide to increase support for nano research and education, and sparked international competition to bring nano from the bench to the boardroom," he added.
Bordogna raised several issues that the research communities need to tackle. Among them was how to design research, education and development so that new knowledge emerges rapidly and is transformed effectively into technological innovations that deliver social and economic benefits. "As we have learned from other emerging fields of science and engineering, international collaboration in frontier research can increase the momentum needed to speed us on the way toward rationally framing and solving common problems," said Bordogna. "In the case of nano, international collaboration in frontier nanoscience and engineering research and education is essential."
"It is important for us to recognize that national programs are compatible with international cooperation in nanoscience and engineering. Collaboration and competition are not mutually exclusive, and rapid progress in discovery may well depend upon achieving a healthy balance between them," he said. "Building partnerships early in the research and education process speeds discovery and innovation, and has the added bonus of providing learning environments for researchers, producers and students."
Bordogna also warned that researchers need to "anticipate and guard against unintended consequences that could harm individuals or the environmental systems that sustain life."