A recent report, focused on the implementation of the 2005 Action Plan for Nanotechnology, shows the strategic importance of nanotechnology, an area of recognised European leadership, and the contribution this field of science can make to the quality of life and economic well-being of Europeans, for example through revolutionary activities in key areas such as materials, electronics and medicine. The European Commission is committed to an integrated and responsible approach to developing nanotechnologies, taking into account all aspects – safety, acceptance by society, ethical implications and so on.
"Nanotechnology is an area where Europe is an acknowledged world leader. This is an opportunity we must grasp with both hands," says European Science and Research Commissioner Janez Potocnik. "The successful development of nanotechnologies will depend on a responsible approach to addressing issues such as safety for humans and animals, the ethics of future developments and society's debate about these. The European Commission has already shown in this first phase that it is able to steer this course."
Nanotechnology is a broad term that has applications in many fields of science – biology, electronics, materials, medicine – but broadly encompasses research into the principles and properties arising at the nano-level,that is the level of atoms and molecules. These can differ significantly from the larger scale, which is why this new area of science has emerged. Nanotechnologies make possible better products and services, helping to improve citizens' quality of life and environment. Many nanotechnology-based products are already on the market, including new electronics and chemistry components, intelligent textiles, novel functional surface coatings, new diagnostic and drug delivery systems, breakthroughs in tissue regeneration, and ever faster and more accurate sensors.
The EU's 6 th Research Framework Programme provided €1.4 billion to 550 projects, accounting for on-third of total public funding for nanotechnology in Europe. Priority targets include fundamental and industrial research, human resources, nanotechnology-specific infrastructures, safety and communication. Although there is strong industrial participation in these projects, resulting in innovation in companies (including SMEs), more and more patents and spin-offs, and a better environment for research and industry (standards, metrology, patenting etc), private investment in the field remains behind that in the US and Japan.
Under FP7, EC funding for nanotechnologies and nanosciences is expected to increase significantly. The average yearly funding is likely to be more than double that in FP6, taking into account actions across the programme. In addition, the Risk-Sharing Financing Facility established by the Commission jointly with the European Investment Bank should provide access to new funding sources.
Beyond funding, the successful development of nanotechnologies demands an integrated and responsible approach. European citizens should benefit from nanotechnology, while being protected from possible adverse impacts. Commitment to ethical principles is a cornerstone of such an approach. To reach full potential, nanotechnology development must be attuned to society's expectations, making communication and dialogue an absolute priority. In addition to information activities in all Community languages for different target groups, the Commission has systematically promoted public dialogue, particularly with NGOs. It has launched an open consultation on a Code of Conduct for responsible nanotechnology research, which may lead to a Commission recommendation by the end of the year.
Similarly, assessing the safety of nanotechnology-based products and processes is a central issue for European policy, and has direct impact on their access to the market. Nanoparticles and their potential impact on health and the environment are being studied in close coordination with Member States and international bodies such as the UN, OECD and International Standards Organisation. In addition to projects specifically devoted to safety, which have received €28 million in funding so far, all nanotechnology research projects include an ethical and safety assessment component. The European Commission is currently undertaking a review of existing legislation to see whether the current regulatory framework appropriately addresses health, safety and environmental risks. Moreover, it has taken steps to establish an observatory to provide decision-makers with dynamic assessments of scientific and market developments.
Other important issues discussed in the report are the international aspects of nanotechnology development, and the need to train the new generation of nano-scientists.
Start of work for the world's largest electric truck
20.04.2018 | Empa - Eidgenössische Materialprüfungs- und Forschungsanstalt
Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo
19.03.2018 | Universität Basel
University of Connecticut researchers have created a biodegradable composite made of silk fibers that can be used to repair broken load-bearing bones without the complications sometimes presented by other materials.
Repairing major load-bearing bones such as those in the leg can be a long and uncomfortable process.
Study published in the journal ACS Applied Materials & Interfaces is the outcome of an international effort that included teams from Dresden and Berlin in Germany, and the US.
Scientists at the Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) together with colleagues from the Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin (HZB) and the University of Virginia...
Novel highly efficient and brilliant gamma-ray source: Based on model calculations, physicists of the Max PIanck Institute for Nuclear Physics in Heidelberg propose a novel method for an efficient high-brilliance gamma-ray source. A giant collimated gamma-ray pulse is generated from the interaction of a dense ultra-relativistic electron beam with a thin solid conductor. Energetic gamma-rays are copiously produced as the electron beam splits into filaments while propagating across the conductor. The resulting gamma-ray energy and flux enable novel experiments in nuclear and fundamental physics.
The typical wavelength of light interacting with an object of the microcosm scales with the size of this object. For atoms, this ranges from visible light to...
Stable joint cartilage can be produced from adult stem cells originating from bone marrow. This is made possible by inducing specific molecular processes occurring during embryonic cartilage formation, as researchers from the University and University Hospital of Basel report in the scientific journal PNAS.
Certain mesenchymal stem/stromal cells from the bone marrow of adults are considered extremely promising for skeletal tissue regeneration. These adult stem...
In the fight against cancer, scientists are developing new drugs to hit tumor cells at so far unused weak points. Such a “sore spot” is the protein complex...
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
09.04.2018 | Event News
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy
20.04.2018 | Interdisciplinary Research
20.04.2018 | Physics and Astronomy