Nanotechnologies

October 19, 2006 at 11:56 pm 12 comments

I first became acquainted with the term nanotechnology about 6 years ago when I was working as a boatbuilder. The man I worked for had done some reading on the subject. He explained it to me as taking two separate components, placing them together, and allowing them to self-formulate into a fully realized entity. He was talking about, what I now understand as a nanobot; a nano-sized robot that can be used in the medical field. The idea is to inject a nanobot into the body and allow it to seek out and destroy a given disease. This is very “Startrek” and certainly a long way down the road.

When I saw nanotechnologies on our topic list, I immediately knew I wanted to research and find out what nanotechnologies truly meant.

Nanotechnology deals with particles 100 nanometres (nm) and smaller. For reference sake, a human hair is 80,000 nm wide, a red blood cell 7,000 nm wide, and a single strand of DNA is 2 nm wide. Conventional materials exhibit completely different behaviours or properties on a nanoscale. Nanotechnology tries to harness these properties to make new and better products.

For the electronics industry, better products means smaller, faster, more powerful computers, eventually moving toward quantum computers. It also means much smaller and more powerful batteries fully integrated into the transistor. It means larger, but thinner and higher resolution displays. There are many other areas in which nanotech is being considered. At the moment, nano particles are being used in colloidal products like face creams and sunscreen.

It is a fascinating field of discovery, but the literature says most of the applications will not be brought into the larger marketplace for another 10-15 years. There are many difficulties facing the industry especially around health and safety and legislation/regulations.

These are my most pertinent links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nanotechnology

A great place to start, Wikipedia has multiple links within that will answer all your questions plus there are some really wonderful 3-D graphics to ogle.

http://www.nanotec.org.uk/report/chapter2.pdf

I had trouble linking to this later, after I had written it into my annotated bibliography but, you can manually enter the nanotec.org.uk part and find chapter 2 in pdf report. There is another great diagram explicating the scale we are dealing with in nanotechnology.

http://www.nano.gov.html/facts/faqs.html

This site has some good statistics about how much capital is being poured into the nanotechnology industry. It demonstrates the level of faith many sectors have in this industry. It makes me think the real interest is in nanotech’s military applications.

Darlene Pratt. Edited by Roberta

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prclass – a social media learning experience Public Relations & Communication Education

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. prclass  |  October 20, 2006 at 6:53 pm

    Hello Darlene

    I want to congratulate you for being the first student in the class to post to the blog. Thanks.

    I am sure some of the class might wonder why nanotechnology might even be on the list of topics for the group. At first glance nanotechnology does not seem connected to the field of public relations.

    You stated, “It is a fascinating field of discovery but, the literature says most of the applications will not make it to the larger marketplace for another 10-15 years. There are many difficulties facing the industry especially around health and safety and legislation/regulations.”

    Applications, discoveries, scientific and commercial development programs with a ten to fifteen year maturation cycle are exactly the type of projects that require advanced level and strategically planned communication programs. Industries that require policy, legislation and/or regulations are also areas that require the skill sets of professional communicators. I came across this book/conference abstract and it appears that others have connected the need for effective public relations with the nanotechnology sector.  Take a look, if you wish:

    http://www.nsti.org/procs/Nanotech2004v3/11/T69.01

    Dana

    Reply
  • 2. prclass  |  October 21, 2006 at 1:32 am

    Hi Darlene,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog about nanotechnology! It is hard for me to believe just what nanotechnology has/can accomplish. In particular, I was surprised to find out that nanotechnology is being used in such items as face creams and sunscreen. You have definetly inspired me to do further research on the topic!

    Linda

    Reply
  • 3. prclass  |  October 21, 2006 at 2:21 am

    Hi Dana,

    This entire endeavour simply marks an exciting time for me. I feel as if I have been living forced luditism for many years. Part of that has to do with the daily rigours of parenthood and full-time work in fields unrelated to communications. Time has been an issue in allowing me to investigate this avenue. Now, my time is all about learning this vast field of communications.

    Unfortunately, the other part of the story is that I’m not out partying on Thursday nights like all the whipper-snappers in the class; I’m at home surfing the net and doing my assignments! To me this is a private party though. Look, I’m at home on a Friday night writing this blog. Oh, how times have changed.

    This blog is fundamentally like e-mail, or MSN Messenger. The reciprocal aspect is what makes it compelling. In the past, I have enjoyed Messenger. It was a fantastic way to keep in touch with my cousin who was in New York. He’s now in Shanghai and has a blog about that experience that I have yet to visit. Silly me! Now I will. Darlene.

    Reply
  • 4. prclass  |  October 21, 2006 at 2:27 am

    Dana,

    Yes. Your comments about the need for PR to deal with the emergence of nanotech. and all the attendant difficulties is one that eluded me (but don’t hold it against me). Of course, there is a lot of work to be done, especially since part of the difficulty is integrating the sometimes incongruous desires of the scientific world, of the business world and of government. Darlene.

    Reply
  • 5. prclass  |  October 21, 2006 at 2:30 am

    Linda,

    Thanks for reading my first blog entry ever! I should mark my calendar with the day I lost my blogoginity.

    I found researching nanotech really interesting. I’ll be sure to watch as the years pass to see how it plays out. Darlene.

    Reply
  • 6. prclass  |  October 23, 2006 at 11:55 pm

    Hi Darlene,

    Great blog , very informative and interesting. I had never heard of nanotechnologies and was wowed by all its uses. However, i have one question which may be stupid but where do nano’s come from? How are they created or do they just excist?

    Reply
  • 7. prclass  |  October 24, 2006 at 10:29 pm

    Just knowing about this type of up and coming technology is one of the most important parts of Public Relations. Communicating the advantages of Nanotech will be much easier if communicators are able to follow the technology through the entire product cycle, including the preliminary stage. Although nanotech is still 10-15 years from market, you have sparked my radar and I will follow nanotech’s advancements. Thanks!

    Jess Doan

    Reply
  • 8. prclass  |  October 25, 2006 at 1:24 am

    Hello,
    May I ask who is asking?

    Nanoparticles do exist naturally. They are simply particles on a molecular scale. Certain algae, the emissions from vehicles and the fallout from a volcanic eruption are a few examples of naturally occuring nanoparticles.

    In nanoscience/nanotechnologies the particles are created in two ways: top- down and bottom-up. In the top-down process, larger particles are broken down (I don’t know the actual process. I should look in to that). The bottom-up method integrates molecules or atoms into nano-scale materials like living organisms synthesize proteins.

    Thanks for being interested. Darlene.

    Reply
  • 9. prclass  |  October 30, 2006 at 9:32 pm

    Solid blog Darlene. I have no questions or any comment of substance, just nice work and way to lead the class off.

    dustin

    Reply
  • 10. Connie  |  November 16, 2006 at 9:47 am

    Darlene, I thought of your blog when I read the following story this morning:

    Address nanotechnology concerns, experts urge

    Reuters
    Wednesday, November 15, 2006; 2:06 PM

    LONDON (Reuters) – Urgent research into the potential dangers of nanotechnology needs to be carried out in order to convince the public of its future value in fields such as medicine and computing, scientists urged on Wednesday.

    They believe the potential of nanotechnology, which operates on an atom-sized scale, will not be realized without clear information about the true risks and how to avoid them.

    Read the rest of the story here:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/11/15/AR2006111501019.html

    The article underscores the relevance of your interest in nanotech from a PR standpoint.

    Regards,
    Connie Reece

    Reply
  • 11. prclass  |  November 24, 2006 at 12:51 pm

    Thanks, Connie:

    I read the article and what immediately came to mind was the question, is “safe nanotechnologies” an oxymoron?

    I have to admit, when I learned there are already nanoparticles in face creams and other colloidal products I was alarmed. Can’t atom-sized particles easily penetrate the cells of my body?

    I appreciate you keeping me apprised.

    Sincerely, Darlene Pratt.

    Reply
  • 12. prclass  |  December 19, 2006 at 8:14 am

    An article appeared Dec. 19 in the Globe and Mail about the hazards of nanotech. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20061219.wcomment1219/BNStory/National/home

    Reply

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