Oral evidence – Dr Gerd Bachmann

This evidence was taken on November 5th 2003 at the World Nano-economic Congress, London, in the presence of Professor 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 Bachmann.

NB-The views summarised in this document represent the personal views of Dr Gerd Bachmann, co-worker of a German governmental nanotechnology funding agency

Definition of Nanoscience and nanotechnology
Dr Bachmann felt that due to its broad nature, an absolutely correct definition of nanotechnology was not possible.

Applications and progress of nanotechnology
Dr Bachman saw at the moment no existing new end products resulting from nanotechnology, only products that would be influenced by it. He noted that no new mass products have utilised C60, and that e.g. titanium dioxide particles and liposomes have been available for some time. As such he expected nanotechnology to progress via an evolution, not a revolution.

Roadmap for nanotechnology?
Dr Bachmann believed that the creation of a roadmap for nanotechnology would be difficult due to the number of sectors that it will influence. He noted that roadmapping is only possible for special areas by counting from the market backwards, and that it is not an absolute law, but is driven by the market.

Health and environmental issues
Dr Bachmann pointed out that nanoparticles, both man-made and natural exist in the environment already. He would like to see better methods for measurement of these to enable valuation of the possible changes they may cause, and hence risks they may pose. He felt that all the different types of nanoparticles cannot be assessed as a whole, but must be examined on a case by case basis. In determining the potential health and safety issues that may surround nanoparticles, Dr Bachmann took a top-down approach : examine which groups of nanoparticles may cause problems, examine how these are used in an existing manufacturing or production process, and then identify where there may be dangers. He advised that the approach to toxicity studies must be international in scope-only pieces of the puzzle are in place now, and there is a need for international coordination.