Nanotechnology

...is small still beautiful?

"We owe it to the millions of poor people worldwide to ensure that every step we take gets us closer to a world without poverty...Nanotechnology does have the potential to contribute towards our ability to achieve these goals in an unprecedented way.   It is up to us to be bold and imaginative enough to acheive this opportunity."   Derek Hanekom, Deputy Minister for Science and Technology, South Africa; Speech to World Nano Economic Congress, April 2007.

Nano and Development
Grimshaw, DJ (2004) - PDF, 452K
Explores what nanotechnology is, the risks and opportunities, potential products and an assessment of the impact on development. Read more »

ISO Focus
Grimshaw, DJ, (April, 2007) - PDF, 171K
An article about the regulation, risk and safety aspects of nanotechnology and the role that international standards can play.  Download »

Nano and Solar Power
Grimshaw, DJ (2006) - PDF, 1Mb
Briefing paper on the implications for solar power of replacing silicon PV with nano materials. Read more »

The Role of New Technologies in Potable Water Provision: A Stakeholder Workshop Approach
Grimshaw, DJ, Gudza, LD, and Stilgoe, J (2006) - PDF, 646K
A full report of the nanodialogues held in Harare, July 2006. Read more »

The impact of nanotechnologies on development is uncertain. However the likely areas of impact are: research and development capacity; environmental impact, impact on manufacturing and materials, health, informatics.

Although there are some products entering the market that contain nanoparticles the likely impact on key sectors such as health, information and communications, and pharmaceutical industries are probably several years away. In the case of nanotechnologies it is not too late to have an impact on the future course of their development. Singer et al (PLoS Medicine, April 2005) from the Joint Centre for Bioethics at Canada's University of Toronto report on a study to identify research priorities and stimulate funding to promote responsible use of nanotechnology to meet the needs of the world's poor. They put forward a top ten of nanotechnologies that are most likely to impact on developing countries. The top three of these are relevant to the work of Practical Action:

  • Energy;
  • Water; and
  • Agricultural productivity

Our work on nanotechnologies is broadly in two areas:

Nano Facts
Of the 62 countries with nanotechnology efforts carried out at the national level, 30% are developing nations and a further 30% are transitional economies.   Source: Nanofrontiers 2007, Woodrow Wilson Centre

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