Imagine a future where iPods are capable of storing hundreds of thousands or millions of songs, where smart phones could play back several hundred times more feature-length Hollywood films than is currently possible, and where solar powered cells become dramatically more efficient in converting light to electricity.
It’s a future that may be possible thanks to research being done by IBM scientists in San Jose who have developed a new technique to manipulate individual atoms and measure how long they can store information in real time, over just a few billionths of a second. Their work could radically shrink a computer’s hard drive, allowing data to be stored on it more efficiently.
50 years ago, eminent physicist Richard Feynman gave a gave a prophetic speech at Caltech entitled, "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom." The speech described a rich world of possibilities that could arise if we only applied ourselves toward controlling matter on smaller and smaller scales.
When I was assigned to work on our QUEST story on nanotechnology, I braced myself for the complex terrain ahead. The focus is on the public policy implications of the surge in consumer goods containing nanoparticles. And just how big is the market for nano-manufactured goods?
At 10,000 times smaller than the width of a human hair, you can't see nanoparticles, but you can find them in everyday products like sunscreen and clothing. But environmental and health concerns are mounting about exposure to nanomaterials, sparking a growing debate about their possible regulation.
Nanotechnology is the science of manipulating things atom-by-atom to produce the smallest human-made objects. It is among the hottest new research fields in the world, and the Bay Area is a center for its study. Within 15 years, experts predict, it will drive progress in virtually every field, from computing to medicine, manufacturing, energy and […]