My interest in this technology is from the point of view of a manufacturing engineer. I shall therefore restrict my comments to the manufacturing engineering aspects of the technology.
I believe the full potential impact of Nanotechnology will only be realisable if nano-scale artifacts can be produced expediently, cost-effectively and in large quantities, assuming there will be a demand for such artifacts. This is akin to the case of microelectronics and Integrated Circuits (ICs) - the full impact of microelectronics has been achieved thanks to the ability to produce ICs rapidly, cheaply and in large volumes.
Thus, in addition to spending efforts to advance basic nanoscience, researchers should also develop advanced manufacturing tools and techniques appropriate for large-scale production of nano components and systems. Such tools and techniques might include automated handling and manipulation devices, high-speed assembly systems, quality checking systems and mythological tools and techniques.
The development of tools and techniques for mass producing nano-scale artifacts will create a new branch of manufacturing engineering with new principles and practices that manufacturing engineers will need to master. This in turn will generate a demand for new manufacturing engineering training/education programmes.
The above manufacturing implications of Nanotechnology are examples of points the Nanotechnology Study working group might wish to consider. It would be useful if the group could also pay some thought to the level of investment in research and development required to reach the stage of mass-produced nano-scale devices.
Systems Division, School of Engineering