Nanotechnology Will Develop In Stages

Dr. Mihail Roco is a senior advisor on nanotechnology to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and coordinator of the NNI. Dr. Roco believes that nanotechnology will have several phases of development. He states that we are now in the second phase. The first one consisted of using nanostructures, simple nanoparticles, designed to perform one task. The second phase started in 2005. In the second phase, researchers have discovered ways to precisely construct nanoscale building blocks. The blocks can be assembled into flat or curved structures such as bundles, sheets, and tubes. These structures hold promise for new and powerful drug delivery systems, electronic circuits, catalysts, and light energy sources.

By 2010, Dr. Roco says, the third phase will arrive, featuring nanosys-tems with thousands of interacting components. A few years after that, the first "molecular" nanodevices will appear. These devices will be composed ofsystems within systems operating much like a human cell works.

One of the main reasons why there is a lot more activity in producing nanotechnology products today than before is because there are now many new kinds of tools. These new tools consisting of special scanning electron microscopes and atomic force microscopes can measure, see, and manipulate nanometer-sized particles. See Chapter 3 for more information about nanotechnology tools.

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