Nanotechnology is the application of the science of the small, less than 100nm in dimension,  of which a nanoparticle is defined as having 3 dimensions, a nanotube as having 2 dimensions, and a nanosurface as having 1 dimension.

Where is Nanotechnology applied?

Nanotechnology is not new. There are a number of natural and engineered in existence at present for example bone, carbon black and Titanium Dioxide in sun creams. In manufacturing, processes such as grinding can lead to a small percentage of produced material that falls below 100nm.
The semiconductor industry has been operating within the nanoscale for many years, and the catalyst industry is moving towards the nanoscale as increases in surface area give rise to increased activity. The novel properties (e.g. increased surface area, and changes in optical, magnetic and electrical properties) exhibited by nanoscaled structures/particles are becoming increasingly understood enabling exploitation of features at the nanoscale to improve existing products and the potential to bring new products on to the market across a wide range of sectors.
UK businesses are well placed in the manufacture, measurement and integration
of nanoscale materials, at various levels of maturity, and specifically in:

• coatings and surfaces
• structural and functional materials
• modelling, design and scale-up
• controlled release, diagnostics
• therapeutics
• displays, memory, sensors
• instrumentation for measurement

What should UK businesses do?

There are several ways that UK businesses could increase the chances of success in nanoscale technologies. These include:

• developing products enabled by nanoscale technologies, pulled through
from the strong research base, which have improved functionality that address markets driven by societal needs
• identifying gaps in value chains, and developing/acquiring expertise across those value chains in growth nanoscale technology areas
• being in a position to understand and utilise existing infrastructure, including open access facilities and networking opportunities
• developing new products and processes responsibly, taking into account and addressing the potential risks of health, safety and the environment, life cycle analysis, and public perceptions

Key success factors include collaboration across market sectors (for example,
across healthcare, textiles and electronics), throughout the supply chain (for example, materials suppliers, integrators and end users), and finally, transferring knowledge across businesses and from the knowledge base to business.

Through all of these actions, businesses will create a positive environment to succeed and gain market share in their chosen markets for nanoscale technologies.

To date we are investing specifically in the areas of energy and healthcare through collaboration with the RCUK programme on nanoscience through engineering to application, and have invested in a wide variety of nanotechnology enabled solutions across our wider portfolio of Technology Strategy Board activity.  Read our strategy document here for further information.

Last updated on Tuesday 04 September 2012 at 10:54

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