The future of nanotechnology

Nanotechnology is an emerging science, which is expected to have rapid and strong future developments. It is predicted to contribute significantly to economic growth and job creation in the EU in the coming decades.

According to scientists, nanotechnology is predicted to have four distinct generations of advancement. We are currently experiencing the first, or maybe second generation of nanomaterials.

The first generation is all about material science with enhancement of properties that are achieved by the incorporating "passive nanostructures". This can be in the form of coatings and/or the use of carbon nanotubes to strengthen plastics.

The second generation makes use of active nanostructures, for example, by being bioactive to provide a drug at a specific target cell or organ. This could be done by coating the nanoparticle with specific proteins.

The complexity advances further in the third and fourth generations. Starting with an advance nanosystem for e.g. nanorobotics and moving on to a molecular nanosystem to control growth of artificial organs in the fourth generation of nanomaterials.


Safe-by-design for nanomaterials

The development of the ‘safe-by-design’ concept for nanomaterials is currently under investigation by scientists. The basic premise is: rather than testing the safety of nanomaterials after they are put on the market, the safety assessment should be incorporated into the design and innovation stage of a nanomaterial’s development.

The aim of this is to give companies a more cost effective risk management early in the process and/or product developments.