Public Release: 

Opportunity at the Bottom: Nanotechnology Symposium

Chemical Heritage Foundation

Since the seminal lecture by Nobel laureate physicist Richard Feynman in 1959 entitled, "There's Plenty of Room at the Bottom," a generation of scientists have focused on all things small. In his prescient remarks, Feynman pointed toward micro-machines, mini-computers, and new properties dominated by the unique physics that occur as molecular dimensions are approached. Over the past two decades, in particular, the tools and technologies have come into their own; collectively, they have come to be categorized by the term nanotechnology.

In realizing Feynman's predictions, various groups have nurtured nanotechnology science and engineering. On the national level, organizations such as Vision 2020 identify common problems and leverage technical expertise to develop the critical enabling technologies. Institutions, such as the Ben Franklin Technology Partners, the University City Science Center, and the Delaware Technology Park, facilitate the commercialization of discoveries.

Building upon decades of this support, entrepreneurs have spawned new nanotechnology-based companies. Novel products, such as high-tech tennis balls and biosensors, continue to appear in the marketplace. This symposium explores these innovations and the market potential they promise. Participants will gain a greater understanding of why private capital has supported those seizing commercial opportunities and why government funds have poured into nanotechnology ventures.

Speakers will describe their experiences in these organizations. They will discuss the support infrastructure that has been developed to identify and support nanotechnology innovations and will draw upon their experiences to offer lessons about the opportunities that exist. Following, two ventures will describe their efforts to nurture commercial development of these technologies. A panel discussion will next examine the current status and near-term future of ventures in this area. Following the symposium, CHF will host a reception for all attendees.


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