Life is all about balancing. While we weigh the potential risks of using nanomaterials in long-lasting, super-efficient batteries for cars and electronics, for instance, we are dumping alkaline batteries into landfills, generating nuclear waste, and filling the air with toxic emissions. (“Current applications of nanotechnologies will result in a global annual saving of eight thousand tons of carbon dioxide in 2007,” reads the headline on a recent market research study offered by Research and Markets, www.researchandmarkets.com.)
This issue reports recent actions taken by the government (FDA and EPA) regarding nano regulation, and the joint efforts of an environmental nonprofit and a multinational chemical company to provide a voluntary guidance plan in the meantime (see pages 29-36). Critics say the government hasn’t done enough and that the Environmental Defense/DuPont program excludes the all-important smaller developers. Some still call for a moratorium on nano R&D.
But let’s be realistic: A moratorium isn’t going to happen. So we need to work with what we’ve got. “Start where you are,” the Buddhists might say. And where you are is in a position to make a difference. Hopefully you’ve heeded the calls to submit feedback on the government initiatives by the September 10 and 17 deadlines. If not, you’ve missed a critical opportunity, so consider this a wake-up call to participate in creating your future with upcoming involvement (stay tuned in by bookmarking www.smalltimes.com).
But important as it is, let’s not let the nano regulation tangle overshadow the bigger picture. Important progress is happening to support the infrastructure of nanomanufacturing (see page 14), and a recent Department of Defense report calls for further nanoproduction investment to speed things along.
Speaking of speeding things along: The industry’s recent and long-overdue attention to MEMS packaging-which has been largely ignored in favor of micromachining intricacies-has exciting implications for further adoption. Randy Frank’s article on page 8 gives an overview of the advancements, and meanwhile the Small Times Website, updated daily with news, is announcing more.
If you make it to NanoCon International (Nov. 14-16, Santa Clara, Calif., www.smalltimesnanocon.com) please look me up and let me know what you think of these issues or any other. Or, just drop me a note at email@example.com or call me anytime at (603) 891-9194. I’d like to hear what’s on your mind.
Barbara G. Goode is editor-in-chief of Small Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.