Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Richard Jones: Solid blogger in a soft machine

Blogger's Note: As part of my series on the expanding nanotech blogging universe, here's Richard Jones, author of "Soft Machines: Nanotechnology And Life," and proprietor of an influential blog of the same name. -- Howard

JonesIn my day job I'm a Professor of Physics at the University of Sheffield, in Britain. I'm an experimental polymer physicist who studies the properties of macromolecules at surfaces and interfaces.

My research group works in three main areas. At the fundamental end, we study the changes in properties that occur when polymers are confined to very small dimensions. We're interested in exploiting surface and interface effects and self-assembly to devise cheap processing routes to make efficient plastic electronics.

And at the speculative end of our research, we are trying to learn how to exploit the way macromolecules change shape with changing environment to make devices like single molecule motors and nanoscale pumps, which use some of the same operating principles that biology uses but which are made from synthetic materials.

I'm also interested in nanotechnology education, both at University level and for the general public, and I spend quite a lot of time talking about nanotechnology to all sorts of audiences. I'm also interested in the broader economic and social aspects of nanotechnology, and I am increasingly collaborating with social scientists in the study of these.

In my blog I aspire to give readers something of the perspective on nanotechnology that is held by a jobbing scientist. I'd like to expose some received opinions on nanotechnology - whether they are held by the nanobusiness community, nanoscientists, environmentalists or the MNT (molecular nanotechnology) community - to a bit of critical examination. And I hold out the hope that a few readers of the blog are inspired to buy my book, "Soft Machines."

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