What is the difference between Harry Potter and nanotechnology? Answer: they both look like magic but only one really is!
Imagine materials as light as plastic and as strong as steel; car batteries that make gasoline look like steam power; or cancer treatments that selectively target diseased cells. Using nanotechnology, researchers are pushing the boundaries of what is possible, and making the dreams of yesterday the reality of tomorrow.
This is the technology of the very small, where things are measured in nanometers (one nanometer is a mere one hundred thousandth the width of a human hair), and where matter behaves in unusual and unexpected ways.
Nanotechnology is already used in many consumer products (see www.nanotechproject.org/consumerproducts), and these are just the tip of what some are calling the “Next Industrial Revolution.” Nanotechnology promises to affect every aspect of our lives in the future, from the clothes we wear to the cars we drive.
Like Harry Potter, nanotechnology is big business. In 2005, nanotechnology was incorporated into more than $30 billion in manufactured goods. By 2014, an estimated $2.6 trillion in manufactured goods globally will use nanotech, or 15 percent of total output.
To learn more about the “magic” of nanotechnology (and using it responsibly), read “Nanotechnology for Wizards” by Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies Chief Science Advisor Andrew Maynard.
This whimsical commentary appears as a guest article on Nanotechnology Now’s (www.nanotech-now.com/columns) new column “Nano Emerging” by Project Director David Rejeski. Maynard’s piece is a letter from a “Muggle” scientist to Potterdom’s Arthur Weasley, an official at the Ministry of Magic.