The draft report is a fair representation of the state of play in the country, but it does need some attention to produce a more uniform style and there are very obvious differences in the presentation. I would like to congratulate the author of section 7 on health, safety, environmental and social issues for an excellent presentation, a model of how to present scientific opinion.

In order to be constructive I will give below, my views of the whole report on a page by page basis:

The first paragraph is just a “nit-picking” of definitions and it contributes nothing really.

The second paragraph made a good point but then left questions over the meaning of the penultimate sentence. Yes, there are some economic consequences, but they have surely missed the points that below some dimensions there are new physical phenomena that affect performance. One of the issues, known for over a decade is that as dimensions shrink, the delineation of doped regions becomes more challenging.
The emphasis on scanning probes here and elsewhere is misplaced, and probably wrongly gives impressions about its significance. Comments about “bonding between biomolecules such as DNA…” portray a fundamental lack of appreciation of the subject.
The comment that particle beam and x-ray spectroscopy has two of the three main companies being based in the UK is WRONG! (I think of JEOL, Philips (or their new name), Hitachi, Leo and others……)

Page 6:
The top sentence/paragraph is simply not the view of the outside world.

The next statement about MEMS as being inevitable and providing for a truly green technology with no waste…… is complete nonsense! Other mentions of MEMS in this section are rather trite.

The comment about SPM, particle beam and ultra-precision engineering as generating many billions of dollars world-wide should be justified and quantified, and it should try to expose the UK activity.

Shape memory alloys are not really “nano” any more than cast iron is, so the whole definition of what they mean should be made more carefully. This sort of thing is what is getting the subject a bad name.

The comments on strategic views and networking seem to be contradictory and counter-productive. The evidence of France as being at an advantage is highly questionable.

Page 7:
The bit about “exporting health and safety issues….” Should have been substantiated. This is just ill-judged speculation.

I would suggest leaving out all of the section on “Science Fiction”, it is the very thing that we need to eliminate.

If mention is made of PM10 particles they should define what this means and comment on the smaller particles. Like much of this section, it lacks any crisp definition.

Page 8:
The proposal of a technology roadmap is a ludicrous proposal. Since the subject is so diverse and covers so many sectors, what purpose could be served?

Page 9:
Section (b) i) the 1-D definition should include “quantum wells”. These do truly display new effects whereas the others are all essentially “thin film or layer” structures that are essentially “bulk” in behaviour.

Page 10:
End of 3rd paragraph: it might be worth emphasising that new protocols that avoid the need to extensive animal testing should be developed.

In the next paragraph, replace “hydrophobic” by “hydrophilic”.

In section(iii) the strength factor is actually because the number of defects and dislocations in nanoparticles is fewer, and that is because these defects leave the inside and migrate to the surface.

In section(v) I know of no display that uses quantum dots! There is a display made by Canon that uses nano-composites, but they are metallic particles and not quantum dots.

Page 11:
Most of the examples in the first paragraph are “thick” layers and have little to do with nanotechnology.

Carbon nanotubes are not believed to store hydrogen (and I could quote the references, the early claims were on heavily Ti contaminated samples). I think that mention of Fraser Armstrong’s work is not relevant here and should be deleted.

The comment in section(ix) about AFM giving rapid easy surface characterisation…. is misleading. There are many examples of bad information being published because of lack of understanding about the technique.

The comments about the pyrophoric nature of some nanoparticles is correct but the next sentence is a “non sequiture”. Electrodeposition and melt spinning give totally different end-products!

Page 12:
The first statement is WRONG! Microbiological aerosols are very poorly understood. For example the blue haze over forests results from terpenes and other substances emitted as a fine aerosol from tress leaves.

(iv) regarding protein misfolding: here and elsewhere the comment appears, but it is not substantiated. In many cases, nanoparticles are attached to proteins via ,say, a histidine ligand in the same way as one would “tether a protein to any surface. So, what is the point here? Most scientists realise that proteins and small nanoparticles are around the same size and molecular weight.

(vi) Another huge source of nanoparticles is that of car tyres….. probably more serious than exhaust.

Page 13:
The workshop will be in autumn 2004 and is organised by the EU Nanosafe consortium.

Pages 14-17:
Very well put sections, but point-of-care health screening is much closer than 10 years. Oxford Biosensors will be selling devices based on enzyme-based microelectrodes by the end of 2004.

I like the emphasis on skills base, and suggest that it should also mention the “graduate technician” and bench/instrument training needs.

Page 18:
I like the definition comments. However the “nanotechnology definition looks illogical.
The comment in i) General seems to be odd and I think, wrong. As it stands it begs a lot of questions.

The comment “if we can target drugs using nanomaterials…” needs some expansion, otherwise it is simply a speculative big “if”.

Page 19 line 5:
Mention biocompatibility rather than biodegradability.
Section(v) call this “Minimally invasive imaging/monitoring”
Section(vi) I would have expected to see more mentioned here, it is a bit brief!
Section (vii) Other: this section would be good if expanded a bit to say “how” nanotechnology is going to do these things. In its present form it is just hype/hope, the very thing we want to avoid.

Page 20:
L lots of positive points that deserve to be made, perhaps in prose rather than bullet points?
Note the comment on hype/oversimplification is what I referred to on previous page.
The EU funding is large, but it looks like a beaurocratic nightmare compared to the US. Perhaps that should be stated?

Nanoscience/technology need not become “big science”. In fact that is the very image we should avoid. In the main, we need to ensure that its roots, in chemistry and materials are funded properly.
The science fiction bit could add: self replication; DNA rogue sequences. I would suggest removing the last two points, they do not really fit in.

Pages 22-24:
Excellent and well written.

Peter Dobson
University of Oxford