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Nanotechnology , a term first used in 1974 by Norio Taniguchi of University of Tokyo has been defined as “the design and fabrication of materials ,devices and systems with control at nanometer dimensions”(Ramsden,3). Nanotechnology has attracted the attention of scientists and commercial entities due to its potential applications in a wide array of fields.
Having recognized this fact long ago, the state of Connecticut has moved fast to set a firm foundation and initiate various strategies that are designed to propagate it into a major player in this field in the coming years.
Application of nanotechnology
To date nanotechnology continues to be applied in diverse areas such as electronics, photonics, medicine, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics, and finishes for surface and textile (Ramsden 10). In electronics, nanotechnology is applied in development of circuitry. In addition, it is also applied in the fabrication of mechanical systems (MEMS) in which three dimensional structures functioning as accelerometers, torque sensors, pressures sensors, among others are created in silicon (Ramsden 8).
In Photonics, the technology has been used to create optical fiber. A hybrid version of photonics has also been used in switching and routing of data. In pharmaceuticals, nanoactive ingredients have been used in skin cosmetic formulation (Ramsden 8). In finishes for surfaces and textiles, the technology has been used to create “superhdrophobic” surfaces that are easy to clean (Ramsden 8).
State of Connecticut Framework Policy on Nanotechnology
According to a report by Office for Workforce Competitiveness of Connecticut, efforts to advance nanotechnology in Connecticut began in 2003 with a detailed assessment of the benefits of nanosciences to the state and the state’s competitiveness in nanotechnology (3).The findings of the assessment were then used to formulate a development strategy by an advisory council drawn from industry, academic, government and economic development organizations (3).
According to the same report, the development strategy seeks to make Connecticut excel in specific nanosciences areas that include fuel cell and advanced material, sensors and detectors, and drug discovery and development (4).Following these, an action plan was developed in 2006 by the Advisory Council. This action plan was later legislated into law through the Public Act No. 06-530.
The initiative to advance nanotechnology in Connecticut as specified, in the assessment reports was to be implemented in a number ways starting from the year 2007. Firstly, it called for the establishment of an active nanotechnology product innovation focus by building on the Connecticut Small Business Innovation and Research (SBIR) office (Office for Workforce Competitiveness 5).
SBIR role is to identify and fund promising nanotechnology business startups. SBIR in it pilot funding scheme has already presented funding to some of the new firms working on fuel cells.
These include Mystic MP, MOH and Gencell Corporation. Secondly, the initiative advocated for the partnership between Universities and Industry so as to speed up the adoption of commercially viable innovations. Thirdly, it called for the incorporation of nanosciences into colleges and university curriculum to enhance post secondary nanotechnology education and program development.
In this regard an introductory course is to be gradually integrated into associates, bachelors and master degrees offered in colleges and universities. This course covers elementary aspects of nanotechnology as well as related business and economic needs the technology presents to the state. A consortium of state universities has already been formed under the direction of the Department of Higher Education.
Lastly, it sought the development of state-of-the-art instrumentation facility for nanosciences to be shared by research institutions of Connecticut to enable “more comprehensive nanoscale characterization” (Office for Workforce Competitiveness 12).Specifically, the facility is to provide advanced microscopy and microanalysis capability which is lacking in many institutions.
The State of Connecticut has, without doubt, laid a firm and necessary framework for the adoption of nanotechnology. These measures and their implementations will be critical in determining the future of nanotechnology in the state.
Office for Workforce Competitiveness. Advancing Connecticut Nanotechnology: A Report on Ongoing activities and Call for Future Investments. Battelle Memorial Institute, 2007. Web.
Ramsden, Jerermy J. “What is nanotechnology.” Nanotechnology Perception 1(2005): 3-17. Web.