Reprinted with permission from Foresight Update 20 (email@example.com):
Dr. Jack Gibbons is the Director of the Office of Science & Technology
Policy, which coordinates science and technology policy throughout government.
The following is an excerpt of his address to the National Conference on
Manufacturing Needs of US Industry, held at the National Institute of Standards
Nanoscience has become an engineering practice. Based on recent
theoretical and experimental advances in nanoscience and nanotechnology,
precise atomic and molecular control in the synthesis of solid-state three-dimensional
nanostructures is now possible. The volume of such structures is about a
billionth that of structures on the micron scale.
From Foresight Update 20, a newsletter on nanotechnology published
by the Foresight Institute, PO Box 61058, Palo Alto, CA 94306, USA; firstname.lastname@example.org.
The next step is the emergence of nanotechnology. The stage is being set,
I believe, for actual manufacture of a wide variety and range of custom-made
products based on the ability to manipulate individual atoms and molecules
during the manufacturing process. The ability to synthesize devices such
as molecular wires, resistors, diodes, and photosynthesis elements to be
inserted in nanoscale machines is now emerging from fundamental nanoscience.
Already the use of optical materials assembled at the molecular level has
revolutionized response time, energy losses, and transport efficiency in
Next, molecular manufacturing for mass production of miniature switches
or valves or motors or accelerometers, all at affordable prices, is a genuine
possibility in the not so distant future. This new technology could fuel
a powerful economic engine providing new sources of jobs and wealth and
Further fundamental understanding of basic physical phenomena at the quantum
level will be needed to understand and reach these kinds of technological
opportunities. Some of the areas in which knowledge must be deepened are
superlattices and multiquantum wells, localization effects of electron and
light waves, flux patterns and their pinning, and dynamics in superconductors,
as well as further quantum mechanical analysis of nanostructured systems.
This basic scientific understanding will find a very broad range of technological
applications, from energy storage and generation, to magnetic storage and
recording, to supercomputers. To an ex-physicist like me, these prospects
for scientific exploration are exhilarating, and our new understanding of
a complex symbiotic relation between science and technology - rather than
a simple hand-off - makes the prospects still even more exciting. But my
post-physics years of starting with new high-technology companies beyond
physics and then doing policy work at the Office of Technology Assessment,
and my present deep immersion in policy at the White House Office of Science
and Technology Policy, remind me that the reduction of leading-edge technologies
to practice is a process which, as you so full well know, can be risky and
arduous. It's a long, long way from invention to profitable production.
Cooperative efforts by government and industry to advance technology can
help fill that gap. One of this Administration's top priorities is to form
closer working partnerships with industry, as well as with universities,
state and local governments, and workers, to strengthen America's industrial
competitiveness and create jobs.