Chapter 9. Trends and Progress – Leading Positive Change

2. Nano Sciences and Technologies Overview

Main concept: Nano sciences and technologies are the main “Engine” of accelerating IT, social and technical change.

Leader’s challenge: Growing critical Performance and Efficiency via better use of miniaturization and nanotech.

Summary sentence:

“Nanospace, where intelligence is headed, is orders of magnitude faster, stronger, and efficient than human space.”

Area topics:

Small-Scale Physics. Engineering is inward bound. Distances accessible to scientific manipulation have shrunk 100 millionfold (10^8X) in 90 years. Intelligence community now uses encrypted quantum comm. Demo of neutrino comm. through Earth (long term, to submarines). Killer app for quantum computing is simulating quantum-molecular processes (molecular machines, superconductivity). US needs strong STEM/Science culture to continue these amazing advances.

Nanoenergetics, Fission and Fusion. Nanoenergetics in explosives. Fission gives 10^3X more E per mass vs. chemistry. Fusion 10^3X vs. fission. We’ve grown fusion output 10^12X since 1970. Expect first comm. reactor (ITER Demo) by 2030-2040.

Nanochemistry. Rationally designed catalysts are 10^3 to 10^6X more efficient, productive, and fast than natural ones. Nanopores allow cheap DNA sequencing. Protein engineering. Disassemblers. Nanomedicine. Green chemistry. Expect further vast performance and efficiency improvement in this space. Nano and IT engrg drives accelerating change.

Nanocomputing. Moore’s law has given us a 10^11 (100 billionfold) performance/price increase, 1950-2007. Computing, comm, storage performance/price doubles every 1-2 years. SoCs. FPGAs. Nanolasers. Optical Computing. SETs. A hardware-based neural net is 10^7 faster than a neuron. Useful, partly predictive brain simulation projects (Blue Brain, etc.) are now possible.

Nanodevices. Nanofabrication and lithography. Imaging. Sensors. Nanoprobes. Nanofluidics. Nanowires. Motors.  High-strength, self-cleaning, self-healing materials. Nanobiomimicry. Nanopiezoelectronics. Nanocapacitors. MEMS & NEMS.

Books: Nanotechnology, Ratner, 2002; Nano-Hype, Berube, 2005, Physics of the Future, Kaku, 2011

Leadership Questions:

  1. What are your tech miniaturization research, acquisition, R&D, hiring, training, measuring, & mgmt strategies?
  2. What key disruptions or threats must you anticipate in a world of accelerating miniaturization and nanotech?
  3. What problems could be solved and opportunities taken if you had better miniaturization or nanotech performance in your critical systems?
  4. How can you get measurably more of the most valuable nanotech capabilities, at an efficient ROI?