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.
Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs
07.11.2017 | Technische Universität München
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20.10.2017 | Naval Research Laboratory
The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...
Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.
That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...
Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....
The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
Future quantum computers will be able to solve problems where conventional computers fail today. We are still far away from any large-scale implementation,...
Pillared graphene would transfer heat better if the theoretical material had a few asymmetric junctions that caused wrinkles, according to Rice University...
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17.11.2017 | Studies and Analyses