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Asia-Pacific Nanotechnology Updates

Tuesday, May 31st, 2011

Some of the most exciting concepts and themes portrayed in much of today’s modern cinema feature the ability to manipulate atoms and molecules to create new materials, weapons or micro-machines that can go inside human beings.

Though it may sound like science fiction, this idea of nanotechnology is not far from the truth as new horizons are opening up that will be paving the way for the future to arrive now.

Several countries and private institutions around the world are investing heavily in nanotechnology, which promises a new revolution for materials, information technology, genetics, medicine and many other industries. Transitions from research and development laboratories into practical applications in various markets are ongoing, and the world will soon have its first taste of new products and systems that are based on this innovative technology.

The recently concluded Nano Tech Fair 2011 was held in Tokyo and was attended by more than 500 companies and 50,000 visitors from across the globe, with top Asian companies such as Toshiba featuring their latest research and development projects in this field. The Asia-Pacific region is taking a lead in this sector that promises new heights of developments in various fields, from medicine to green technologies. The following provides a brief look on the issues and updates of nanotechnology in the Asia Pacific region, including trends as to where this technology is heading for the region in the near future.

Ethical Issues in Nanotechnology Development in the APAC Region

In a report from UNESCO’s Regional Unit for Social & Human Sciences in Asia and the Pacific (RUSHSAP), the ethical implications of nanotechnology in the region were discussed in complete detail. The report describes fears surrounding nanotechnology, particularly on the practically invisible nature of materials that can be produced which have serious implications on the in vasion of privacy.

Other fears described included the autonomous operation, micro-locomotion and self-replication characteristics of products and machines that can be produced which could have unwanted consequences on society if let loose beyond control. These fears and issues are more prevalent in Asia and the Pacific region due to the cultural and spiritual characteristics of the countries involved, although pursuing such technologies that can bring about economic growth and alleviate human conditions are top national priorities.

The report describes that in discussing ethical issues related with this technology, there are some things that should always be kept in mind such as the fact that nanotechnology is neither bad nor good but would depend on how it will be applied. Still, skeptical views persist, particularly on how nan otechnology can be used in the incorpora tion of nano-machines inserted into human beings for purposes of early diagnosis or cellular repairs and other similar applications.

Trends and Updates in Asia-Pacific Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology commercialization is progressing rapidly in the Asia-Pacific region as new potential markets are being identified in various industries that include energy, textiles, healthcare and life sciences. Market growth for manufacturing products using nanotechnology is seen to continue growing beyond a 33 percent CAGR until the year 2015, while consumer goods are projected to grow by 9.4 percent AAGR. Global spending is increasing by 29 percent with governments taking 52 percent of investments alongside corporate investors and capitalists in countries supporting nanotechnology. Asia-Pacific is seen to be the biggest and most important market for this sector, followed by the U.S. and Europe.

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