Monday, April 19, 2004

Nanomanufacturing from the ground up

In my recently released white paper for NanoMarkets, I ask (and answer) whether nanotechnology slips into existing markets or creates new ones. After I handed in my report, I learned even more about this question from a source I met in Washington.

One of the early pioneers of nano in consumer applications -- who is now helping to build Australia's and Britain's nano infrastructure -- told me that while integration into existing processes (he didn't specifically mention markets, though) is fine if you want to attract VC funding, but at the national level where he's working, you really do need to build an entirely new manufacturing infrastructure from the ground up -- something that can really connect the nanoscale to the real world.

Of course, he has a self-interest in telling me this (since he's in the business of building nano/micro integration facilities), but it did make me think a little bit about the difference between the need for companies to integrate with existing technologies for short-term survival, while also planning far ahead for an entirely new manufacturing world that will spring up.

I asked him whether he sees this infrastructure being built in the United States. His answer was short. "No."

This, as they say, might be a "story for another day."

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