Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Nature out to lunch on nanotech?

A piece in Nature titled Nanotechnology: Small wonders [ Nature 467, 18-21 (2010) ] ends with the text:

The need to turn scientific findings into commercialized products is also a key theme in the latest assessment from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, as well as in legislation pending in the US Senate to continue the NNI's funding.

That need is considerably more urgent than it was in 2000. Although support for nanotechnology is still strong in Washington, the shift in emphasis towards practical applications reflects the changing mood of the country. The optimism of the late 1990s has now been largely replaced by a sense of national self-doubt, fed by challenges in the economy, jobs, energy, climate change, health care and national security. Nanotechnology promises to help in every case, but so far these are still just promises. "Success will depend on the commercialization of nanotechnology," says Avouris.

Of the text The optimism of the late 1990s, IPBiz notes an article in the Wall Street Journal "Whatever Happened to the Buckyball?", published May 4th, 1998, which expressed concern about the lack of commercialization in the fullerene area. That article of course is more than twelve (12) years prior to the Nature piece by Corie Lok.

**The Wall Street Jounal article was cited in an IPBiz post titled Nanotechnology and the law on 7 February 2005.

Further, note text from an Intellectual Property Today article in January 2002:

However, an interesting article, n4 more remininscent of the Wall Street Journal's "Whatever Happened to the Buckyball?", discussed the nexus of venture capitalists and buckys, and contained the following text:
Despite predictions that the market for nanotechnology - microscopic devices and chemical compounds - will take off in the next 15 years, most ideas are still too under-developed to warrant funding, venture capitalists and other investors said Nov. 30 at the Nanotech Planet conference in Boston.

Also, from Intellectual Property Today in February 2003:

As a separate point, the commercial applications of buckminsterfullerene have also been far less than predicted (for example, "Whatever Happened to the Buckyball?", Wall St. Journal, May 4, 1998). As such, it was curious that Nano/Bio Convergence News (Dec. 2002) expressed some concern over filling the world "with tons of virtually indestructible fullerene nanoparticles." First, no one is buying tons of fullerene nanoparticles. Second, the fullerenes are hardly "indestructible," since they readily oxidize, even under ambient conditions. See J. Phys. Chem., 1994, 98, 3921-3923 and L. B. Ebert, "Inherent Difficulties," Int. Prop. Today, p. 28 (Nov. 1999). As an aside, although the article asserts that Michael Crichton's book Prey launches nanotech into the mainstream, one recalls that Arthur C. Clarke's "The Fountains of Paradise," published in 1978, accurately foresaw carbon nanotubes.


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