BURLINGAME, Calif. The development of international standards and an increase in funding are essential to the continued development of nanotechnology infrastructure, according to Lloyd Tran, chair of the International Congress of Nanotechnology 2005 conference here.
In an introductory address kicking off the conference Tuesday (Nov. 1), Tan warned that the nanotech community needs to develop a set of international standards, including in the areas of metrology and test methods, properties and characteristics of nanomaterials, risk assessment and management, toxicology study and environmental impact.
"Until we together have the framework provided by standards, the technology may not be able to be commercialized on the grand scale that we all envision," Tan said.
Tan said that global nanotechnology research funding was about $4 billion in 2004 and that it would be up by as much as 20 percent in 2005. While stating that $4 billion is no small amount, he nevertheless noted that it pales in significance to the amount of money sent on biotechnology and information technology development each year.
Tan said nanotechnology needs more time and more investment in order to reach its full potential. "The $4 billion spent last year may not be sufficient," Tan said.
Referencing the recent introductions of golf clubs that incorporate nanotechnology, Tan said nanotechnology has products on the market and is full of potential for the future. "But to fully realize the grand scale of nanotechnology potential, it will take time and money," Tan said, adding that there is no current timeline for when nanotechnology development infrastructure will truly be in place.
Tan said that what is currently known about nanotechnology is minute compared to the "unknown," or "un-chartered territory" in the field, which persists mainly because of a lack or time or money for additional exploration, he said. But Tan characterized the vast unknown territory of nanotechnology as a positive, noting the tremendous potential for discovery and the opportunity for scientists to do a great deal of interesting research in the field.
The International Congress of Nanotechnology 2005 conference, sponsored by the Sacramento, Calif.-based non-profit organization of the same name, continues through Friday.