Brussels, 7 October 2002
"Smart dust" computers are the size of a grain of sand. "Lab-on-a-pill" devices can surf our bloodstream. Nanotech products are extremely small so small they can save raw materials, energy and time.
To discuss nanotech's potential, Mr Helge Sander, Danish Minister of Science, Technology and Development Innovation, and EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin today held a conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. The meeting brought together nanotechnology experts, researchers and policy-makers.
As a next step, the Commission will launch a Nanotechnology Industrial Platform in 2003 - a forum gathering all major nanotech stakeholders at EU level. It will also allocate €700 million to nanotech research within the 6 th EU Research Framework Programme (FP6 2003-2006). The aim is to encourage EU Member States and industry to invest even more in this field. Nanotech applications include energy storage and distribution, detection, measurement and testing, processors and display technologies, bio-analysis and drug delivery, robotics and prosthetics.
EU Research Commissioner Philippe Busquin said: "Nanotechnology makes a key contribution to sustainable development. EU research on clean technologies and industrial processes has already helped reduce energy consumption to a minimum, address waste problems and stimulate responsible behaviour from both producers and consumers. Nanotechnology will allow Europe to go one step further to do more and better with fewer resources. We must encourage all European players, public and private, to join forces, pool resources and invest in nanotech research. My vision for Europe is to develop technology platforms and centers of excellence to move towards a competitive European industry."
Nanotechnology works at nanometer level. One nanometer (nm) is one billionth of a metre, i.e. around 80 000 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Nano production processes manipulate objects on a molecular and atomic scale. The work of engineers, materials scientists, medical researchers, biologists, physicists and chemists is no longer limited by dimension. They can look at the very heart of objects and manipulate it. And they can work together on applications in sectors such as information technologies, cosmetics, chemicals and transport. The result is not only cleaner, safer and more durable products, but also better designed, "smarter" products, thereby reducing waste and energy consumption.
The conference addressed recent advances in nanomanufacturing and sustainable production and their commercial applications. New corporate strategies and innovative public/private partnerships, instrumental to the success of nano production, were discussed. The growing need for a cross-sector, inter-disciplinary and cross-industry approach (for instance between biotechnology and nanotechnology) was also highlighted.
The Commission funds nanotech projects in a variety of fields. Some examples are:
- PROJECT MICROCHEM deals with the monitoring of water purity on the basis of chemical analyses involving only nano quantities of water. This allows for improved quality and health checks on drinking water
- DNA-arrays and biochips are extensively used in genetic research, research into diseases and development of drugs. The "PolymerMicroSensorFab" project has helped to develop a disposable biochip for low-cost DNA analysis
- The NANOMAG project developed clean nanocomposite coatings for the car of tomorrow, based on corrosion-resistant magnesium alloys.
DN: IP/02/1434 Date: 07/10/2002
DN: IP/02/1434 Date: 07/10/2002