Professor Peter Wolf, FREng. kindly forwarded the note regarding request for input to the forthcoming Royal Society report on Nanotechnology. Although one of my colleagues from Kodak Limited based in Harrow, Dr.Andrew Clarke, participated in the workshop in September, I can perhaps provide an additional perspective since the primary focus of Kodak's efforts directed towards Nanotechnology are with the parent company, Eastman Kodak, based in Rochester, New York.
I have read the documents as published and would like to congratulate the team on the results so far. Nanotechnoogy is a complex field; somewhat elusive and undefined so everyone tends to have their own definition. I offer a few additional comments that may be of interest based on my recent experience in this technology field:
At Kodak, we separate the two dimensions of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology in much the same way as defined in the document. Nanoscience describes the use and further development of nanotechnology and micro-structured materials in scientific research - although not in itself a pure science since it requires the collaboration of chemists, physicists, engineers and biologists for success.
Nanotechnology, on the other hand, is the development of unique functionalized structures as enablers of new applications or product concepts and not simply the study of structures less than 100nm.
b. Health, Safety & Environment:
The issues are definitely high on our list of key topics. Improved and verified data to support the various claims currently being made would be useful and specifically with respect to the way in which small particles might impact the respiratory system. To mitigate HS&E risks with projects or future products and the ongoing issues of this nature, a focused effort addressing these topics would be advantageous to all those concerned with the technology. Only airborne participles are typically of any major concern and in fact, many nanoparticles will be generated in part as a slurry or dispersed in a liquid.
c. Characterization Methodologies:
AFM/SPM are tools used universally for characterization but they are, as the report suggests, highly operator dependent. Thus some standards to support absolute measurements would be useful. There will, however, be a range of materials types to consider as part of any proposal for such standards.
Government funding in the USA has been foremost in progressing the interest and activity in this new field - and largely through the National Nanotechnology Initiative - as well as via the establishment of key centers of expertise funded by the National Science Foundation. I don't think anything similar currently exists in the UK orEurope?
Industrial companies typically utilize technology/product roadmaps to chart their strategic paths. They are likely to be confidential, thus it may not be easy to access these documents readily and directly.
From the USA's point of view, not all the technology at the nano scale is new; for example, Kodak produced nanoparticles of silver, the order of 9-11nm, in the 1930s! - but certainly instrumentation to view material characteristics at the molecular and atomic level have only recently become readily available.
Nanotechnology is seen routinely as an enabling technology and requires specific applications in order to be truly effective and reap the expected benefits in diverse business applications - agreed!
If I can provide any additional information based on my experience from either an industrial setting or being located presently in the USA, please let me know.
I would like to thank Professor Wolf for bringing this initiative to my attention and I look forward to receiving the complete report when published in 2004.
Vicki Barbur Technology Director,
Growth Initiatives Division,
Eastman Kodak Company, USA