Nanotechnology’s many anticipated benefits will arrive in waves of innovation, beginning with today’s stain-resistant clothing and other first-generation applications and extending decades into the future, when extraordinarily advanced products, from self-repairing tissues to quantum computers, may become practical.
Given the incredible promise of the fast emerging field - and the billions in public and private investment that it has attracted - the Wilson Center’s Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) launched today a new series of NanoFrontiers newsletters and podcasts focused on progress toward exciting applications on the horizon of nanotechnology. Intended to encourage broader public understanding of nanotechnology, both are available on the PEN website at: www.nanotechproject.org
Prepared by freelance science writer Karen Schmidt, the first Trips to the NanoFrontier podcast features a discussion with Dr. Samuel I. Stupp, director of the Institute of BioNanotechnology in Medicine at Northwestern University, on prospective nanotechnology applications in tissue engineering. Dr. Stupp and colleagues are investigating how self-assembling nanofibers can be used to jump start repairs of damaged cells and restore functions. He also shares predictions on the long-term potential of using nanotechnology to treat specific medical conditions.
The debut issue of the monthly NanoFrontiers newsletter explores several developments in nanomedicine and examines where they might lead over the long term. Efforts focused on detecting, diagnosing, treating, and – ultimately – preventing cancer are used to illustrate nanotechnology-enabled progress in biomedicine.
The podcasts and newsletter build on the report NanoFrontiers: Visions for the Future of Nanotechnology, the outcome of a technology-forecasting meeting, sponsored by PEN, the National Institutes of Health, and the National Science Foundation. The newly issued report, written by Schmidt, also is available on the PEN website.
Future podcasts will feature discussions with experts on a variety of topics, including energy and clean water. The second issue of the NanoFrontiers newsletter will discuss how nanotechnology can be used to tackle challenges facing developing nations.
“As nanotechnology progresses, scientists and engineers are creating novel applications that have the potential to transform everything from manufacturing to medicine to energy production,” said PEN Director David Rejeski. “Whether you are an expert, policymaker, or the ‘average’ citizen, it is becoming increasingly important to understand the prospects for nanotechnology and how the boundaries of innovation may be defined.”
The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies is an initiative launched by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and The Pew Charitable Trusts in 2005. It is dedicated to helping business, government and the public anticipate and manage possible health and environmental implications of nanotechnology.