Get Back in Business With Nanotechnology
Published: December 1, 2006 (Issue # 1226)
St. Petersburg this week played host to Nanobio '06, the first international conference on nanotechnology to be held in Russia. The event ran from Monday through Wednesday at the city's State Polytechnic University."There is a lot of talk about nanoscience — it's a global technology that affects all other technologies and processes that people use," Sergei Kozyrev, director of the Center for Perspective Research at St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University, said at a round table at Rosbalt news agency on Thursday.
Kozyrev compared the possible impact of nanoscience on society to the effects caused by new information technologies.
A nanometer is a measure equal to one millionth of a millimeter, and nanoscience deals with objects of that size.
"Nano means not merely very small objects, but objects that due to their small size have new qualities," said Viktor Ustinov, member of the Russian Academy of Science and scientist at the A.F. Ioffe Physics and Technical Institute.
Ustinov mentioned Russian scientist Zhores Alferov, who was awarded the Nobel prize in 2000 for his related work together with colleagues from the Institute of Physics and Technology in the 1960s and 70s.
Technologies based on semiconductors and Alferov's findings are used in solar batteries, light-emitting diodes and heterotransistors. Semiconductors made possible the internet, satellite communications, cellular phones and other things that have become present-day commodities.
"The potential market for nanoproducts is equal to the whole market of new innovative materials," Kozyrev said.
Potential uses range from powders with special qualities to information systems to medicine, he said.
John Reinitz, professor of Stony Brook University, reminded those present that the production of insulin allowed the treatment of diseases that were previously untreatable. He suggested that nanoscience will allow to control biological processes and could allow treatment of cancer and considerable improvements in agriculture.
"Unfortunately, Russia is currently well below global standards of technology in this industry — we are considerably behind China, a country that is making huge steps in developing nanotechnologies," Kozyrev said.
"In Russia, current methods of production do not correspond to the technologies that science could offer to the industry. And this gap keeps growing," Kozyrev said.
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