Small matter – big science
Nanotechnology science is highly interdisciplinary. Researchers in physics, chemistry, biology, medicine and even so in materials- and engineering sciences deal with nanotechnologies and these new materials.
Scientists from universities, technical colleges and also from private research institutions contribute to this growing field. And by the way: The "cradle" of modern nanotechnology research is located in Switzerland. The Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM) was invented by Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer at the IBM research labs in Rüschlikon who were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1986 for their important discovery.
The aim of nanosciences and nanotechnologies is to develop methodologies and tools to take advantage of the small scale of nanomaterials. However, instruments to investigate the nanocosmos have only been existent for a few decades. One of the most important milestones towards researching the nanocosmos was probably reached with the invention of the Scanning Tunnelling Microscope (STM) in 1981.
This particular new microscoping technology simplified both the examination and the manipulation of materials on the molecular and atomic level. Together with the further development of other methods of nanoprocessing and production, the invention of the STM enormously accelerated the pace of developments in the area of nanosciences and nanotechnologies.
How could potential next-generation applications of nanotechnology look like? Let's have a look at three visions:
Scientific research in the area of nanosciences and nanotechnologies are funded both on national and international level. Leading in this area are the USA, Japan, and Europe. Switzerland also has its own National Research Programme (NRP) on the opportunities and risks of nanomaterials (NRP 64).
The European Union funds many international projects referring to nanomaterials in the context of the ongoing 7th research framework programme (FP7). In the period between 2007 and 2013, more than 3.5 billion Euros are provided specifically for research activities dedicated to nanotechnologies (Source: FP7 Portal).