Monday, July 21, 2003


Nanotech - The Next Big Thing Is Really Small

Richard Feynman, a Nobel laureate in physics (1919-1988), renowned for his classic talk entitled, "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom, An Invitation to Enter a New Field of Physics" (presented on December 29th 1959 at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech): "The principles of physics, as far as I can see, do not speak against the possibility of maneuvering things atom by atom. It is not an attempt to violate any laws; it is something, in principle, that can be done; but in practice, it has not been done because we are too big."

You gotta love Feynmann. A friend put me on to this article in Barrons (which you probably need a subscription for) by Veverker about Nanotechnology. I have been paying attention to the space lately as it has been getting more press. I've also had the opportunity to see some local technology first hand. Certainly the amount of government funding in the US, Japan and Europe warrant a deeper dive into this hot area. The article notes (from Lux's Nanotech Report) that $4 Billion in public and private funds will go into nanotechnology this year alone. The growth rates are of course, staggering. Mark Veverka goes on to note that this could be the largest public science initiative since the race to the moon. Interesting, but I guess I don't know what we are racing for here. Is it nano-devices, nano-materials, nano-tools, nano-software, nano-bio? seems like its nano-everything. The field of nanotechnology has the potential to touch every industry. The last time I heard something similar I was packing my bags to head to California. If this is the next big (or small) thing, where does one head today? Not sure. Even more unclear is what part of this emerging wave of innovation should one jump into? I say tools. The amount of money that will be put into Nanotech in the next 3 years by the US government, 2.4billion, constitutes a great opportunity to sell the picks and shovels of the nanotech age. While microscopes are interesting (Veeco Instruments, VECO), they are only one element of a nanotech pioneer's toolbox. There's a lot more that can be done to support this fledgling industry.

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