Oral Evidence – Dr. Volker Hilarius and Dr. Ralf Anselmann, Merck & Co., Inc.
This evidence was taken on November 5th 2003 at the World Nano-economic Congress, London, in the presence of Prof Ray Oliver, Nanotechnology Working Group member, and Dr Andrew Dunn of the Royal Society. The evidence was written up by the secretariat and has been approved by Dr. Hilarius and Dr. Anselmann.

Definition of nanoscience and nanotechnology
It was felt that nanoscience could be defined as over 200 years old, and that nanotechnology was merely an enabling technology. As such, the exact definition of nanotechnology was felt to be unimportant. The point was made that in the search for improving the properties of materials, size was not necessarily the over-riding factor. A solution to a problem is what is sought, rather than a reduction in size scale, although this can in some situations lead to an answer.

Is there a nanotechnology industry?
It was thought that the only pure nanotechnology industry today was probably in analytical tools for the measurement of nanoparticles, film thickness, DNA, and screening drugs and chemicals for pharmaceutical purposes. Industries that merely utilise nanotechnology in complex applications such as mobile phones or computers should not be classified as nanotechnology industries. It was also felt that manufacturers of nanoparticles should not be categorised as belonging to a nanotechnology industry as a nanoparticle is not an application.

Evolution or revolution
There was a feeling that nanotechnology will not change the nature of industry. Technological progress would proceed in an evolutionary manner, with a gradual substitution of products over time. This would result in small changes to the structure of industries, and not the radical shake-up predicted by some. The point was made that just because nanoparticles may be new, this did not mean they would automatically be used. Like any other new technology, nanotechnology has to provide a better and cheaper product alternative to that already in use before substitution will take place.