- Summary -
Global Emerging Technology Institute
Nanotech 2003 held in San Francisco last week drew nearly double the crowd it did last year with well over 1,000 attendees. The event, sponsored by the National Science & Technology Institute (NSTI), is one of the premier nanotech conferences in the U.S. The nanotechnology movement in the U.S. continues unabated as the number of scientific, business and investment related conferences have proliferated. This has resulted directly from strong federal government and growing corporate support, (guarded) investor interest and even from somewhat negative hype peddled by the popular press and the literary world warning of potential nanotech disasters in the future.
There was a strong international contingent present at the conference, with many sponsors and attendees hailing from across the globe. The largest number of accepted papers, over 47%, were from the U.S. with the rest dispersed between a large number of countries, including Japan (6.9%), Korea (5.5%), Taiwan (4.1%) and Germany (5.3%). It is interesting to note that many of the submissions came from countries known for their manufacturing expertise. A very large number of attendees hailed from Asia. The Japan External Trade Organization was present, along with Innovation Engine, a Japanese government supported incubator that assists Japanese technology start-ups in Silicon Valley. Annual small tech patents worldwide have increased exponentially since the mid to late 1990ís from approximately 1,500 in 1995 to nearly 6,500 in 2001. According to Derwent World Patent Index and Small Times magazine, the U.S. and Japan have filed nearly 70% of these patents, with Japan filing a leading 34%. After the U.S. (33%) and Japan, Germany and China come in a distant third and fourth place, filing 8% and 5% of the patents, respectively.
Nanotech 2003 received 639 abstracts and rejected 33%, with 156 being accepted for oral presentations, and 274 for poster presentations. The event is known for attracting a design-oriented core of participants that include a strong network of multidisciplinary experts that specialize in researching innovative design tools and new techniques for fabrication technologies. This year, there were many submissions that focused on key aspects of nanotech development. For example, a number of presentations focused on the research and commercialization of carbon nanotubes, nano structures and materials that could be used to produce them. A score of papers focused on atomistic modeling of processing and properties of nanoscale devices, especially nano electronics. Molecular electronics is one of the topics still considered to be in the very early stages of development. Other presentations related to the above included a focus on nano particles and molecules and the development of novel nano composites that can be commercialized in the near future. Nano materials are receiving strong consideration for implementation in everything from next generation display devices to special "nano coatings" to be used on naval vessels.
Though the number of presentations was large and focused on various sub-categories of nanotech, a significant number were devoted to certain areas that have received the most attention due to the prospect of potential commercialization in the relatively near future. This included the promotion of bio-chip design and the importance of micro fluidics, bio-nano systems and advanced chemistry. Several presenters, including keynote speakers, emphasized the need to focus on MEMS and NEMS for the time being before the full adoption and commercialization of nanotech. MEMS modeling, design, processing and application presentations were abundant. Several hot topics in MEMS were discussed at length in presentations, including RF MEMS device design and bio systems derived from MEMS, including micro-fluidic devices. Nanotech will be used to develop the next generation of sensor technology that has been the domain of MEMS since the first accelerometers were produced for the automobile industry. New sensors will be smaller and incorporate wireless functionality and communicate over a closed network.