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 William Janzen.
Definition and applications of nanoscience and nanotechnology
Mr Janzen saw no distinction between nanoscience and nanotechnology, and noted that drug delivery is already being performed using nano-particles, however is not being hailed as ‘nanotechnology’.
He described the use of massively parallel micro- and nano-fluidic channels for high volume screening of drugs and drug interactions, and noted that the flow characteristics of liquids change dramatically at this size scale. Currently, these fluidic channels utilise only etched channels, with no mechanical parts or on-board sensors, however he saw the potential for huge progress in this area. Mr Janzen did stress the need however for a greater number of high volume manufacturers of MEMS to enable this progress.
Future applications and societal issues
Mr Janzen felt that due to the complexity of biological systems, personal care applications and products would be further in the future than many people currently believe, and put a timeframe of 15-20 years on this. He saw no major societal or ethical issues surrounding his own work, pointing out the positive effects on the health of society.
Due to the reduced size scale, the use of micro-fluidic channels enables chemical interactions to be tested with a much smaller quantity of chemicals, compared to previous techniques. This actually means that the new processes enable regulatory requirements to be met with greater ease.
Mr Janzen also noted that traditional medical diagnostics can generate a significant quantity of radioactive waste. Diagnostic methods utilising nanotechnology on the other hand, will produce a much smaller amount of waste-both radioactive and non-radioactive.
When asked if there were other issues he would like to see addressed, Mr Janzen was keen to see more toxicological work on nanoparticles such as C60. He was keen to learn what has been done so far, and in particular, which organisations are conducting the work.