<!-- --><style type="text/css">@import url(https://www.blogger.com/static/v1/v-css/navbar/3334278262-classic.css); div.b-mobile {display:none;} </style> </head><body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d11139315\x26blogName\x3dNanoNovus\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLUE\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://nanonovusblog.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://nanonovusblog.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-6835450727142964005', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>

Thursday, June 30, 2005

A Useful Analogy

Mike Treder of the Center of Responsible Nanotechnology has a good post on his blog. He highlights a quote from the recently released Millenium Report which states: "Many people still do not appreciate how fast science and technology (S&T) will change over the next 25 years, and given this rapid development along several different fronts, the possibility of technology growing beyond human control must now be taken seriously ..."

The report is exactly right: few people have any idea how fast things are changing. One way, however, I have successfully gotten people to think about the future is to the cite a quote from the federal government's first report on nanotechnology. It stated: "Because of nanotechnology we will see more change in the next 25 years than we saw in the last 100 years." To make this point more relevant, I then take my listeners back to 1905. In 1905, I tell them:

-- There were only 144 miles of paved road in America;
-- Only 8000 automobiles;
-- 40% of the American population lived or worked on farms;
-- Less than 5% of the population had even a high school education; and
-- Life expectancy was only 47.

My point is that we have seen radical change in the last 100 years and now, due to nanotechnology -- and other technologies, we can expect to see a comparable amount of change in the next generation!

This means that by 2030, the world will be as different from today ... as today is from 1905! It is impossible to imagine what exactly our world will look like but I am confident it'll be a good one ... provided we have leaders with the foresight and wisdom to embrace technology appropriately.

Luckily the good folks at the Center for Responsible Nanotechnology and the Foresight Institute are helping to do exactly that. I encourage you to add their blogs and websites to the list of sites you regularly visit.

Jack Uldrich

Monday, June 20, 2005

More on IBM's Supercomputer

Last Friday, I had an article on IBM's new supercomputer run in The Motley Fool. One reader questioned my choice of listing Affymetrix as a competitor. It was a fair question and I responded that because Affymetrix was involved in trying to establish genetic links to a variety of diseases for the purposes of drug discovery, I felt IBM's use of its new supercomputer to the same ends could adversely affect Affyxmetrix's business.

The reader responded with the following:

"Affy is all about enabling people to acquire genomic data. IBM's foray into life sciences is about enabling people to manage the huge data sets that come with biological analysis. We are similiar in that we both want to enable resolution of complex biological problems. However, we are steering clear of developing computing power for complex analysis. IBM is more of a technology enabler than a competitor to Affymetrix. The genomic information that our products yield can be fed into thier machines and software to help scientists come up with answers to complex questions."

It is important distinction and I thought it was worth sharing with my readers.

Friday, June 17, 2005

Nanotechnology Goes After the Food Industry

Eighteen months ago, I wrote an article for the Food Marketing Institute’s monthly magazine, Advantage, about how nanotechnology was affecting the food industry. It was entitled “Now You See It” and it can be read here: http://www.fmi.org/advantage/issues/022004/pdfs/pub/nowyouseeit.pdf".

Since that time, a number of companies including Unilever, General Mills (whom I spoke to last summer and did some consulting work for) and Nestle have jumped into the field. I recently came across two articles that suggest nanotechnology is now poised to make even further inroads. The first article comes compliments of FoodProductionDaily.com can talks about next week’s Nano4food conference in the Netherlands. Interestingly, the article notes that now more than 200 food companies are involved in nanotechnology. The key point, however, is captured by this quote from one of the conference participants: “the food industry is … reluctant to adopt new technologies. We would like to show them what the possibilities are … [and] communicate that we are ready to help them.”

I am confident that they -- and others -- will be able to help them because of reports like the one in FoodNavigator.com that discusses how an innovative partnership between two companies is leading to the possibility of using nanotechnology to not only encapsulate flavors but control the release of flavor and protect it from oxidation.

Provided the environmental concerns surrounding nanotechnology can be satisfactorily addressed (this remains a big "if"), the food industry will be hearing more about -- and feeling the impacts of -- nanotechnology sooner rather than later.

Jack Uldrich

Friday, June 10, 2005

Hewlett-Packard: Embracing Failure

Two articles from Nanotechnology Now recently caught my attention. The first was a short article from the EETimes talking about several futuristic technologies which might help solve the interconnect bottleneck in chip design. The article addressed carbon nanotubes, optical interconnects, spin-wave buses and molecular wires. It went on to say that the latter -- molecular wires -- would most likely represent the first "inter-connect" device of the nanotechnology era.

I think they are right. I say this because of even more recent developments coming out of Hewlett-Packard. According to this article, HP is seeking to change the paradigm of computer chip design. If it is successful, HP will have created an artchitecture that will work in the presence of defects. This is a huge develoment! As circuits continue to get smaller and smaller, it is becoming increasing difficult (and very, very expensive) for the semiconductor industry to build defect-free circuits. If HP's technology works, it will not only have designed a smaller, powerful circuit -- in the form of its "crossbar latch" technology -- it will have created a new design and manufacturing paradigm that doesn't need to worry about how manufacturing defects might disrupt the circuit because it will simply go around them.

In this sense, HP is not only embracing failure, it is enveloping failure -- and it could be a huge recipe for success.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Molecular Electronics: One Step Closer

I recently came across this press release, from the University of Alberta. Its contents are quite startling and -- if true (and I have no reason to believe that they aren't) -- suggest that the field of molecular electronics has just taken another big step in the direction of replacing the traditional transistor.

To be sure, this won't happen anytime soon but a number of advances in the press release are worth noting. First, the researchers demonstrated that a single atom on a silicon surface can be controllably charged. Second, the process for controlling these atoms can take place at room temperature. And third, only one atom is needed to turn molecular conductivity on or off. To understand how significant the latter is consider that on a conventional transistor this gating action requires about one million electrons. The potential to reduce the amount of energy need to operate such a molecular device would be significantly less than today's state-of-the-art circuit.

The bottom-line is that this research provides further proof that molecular electronics continues to hold great promise for the development of better, faster and cheaper electronics.

In the interim, look for this research this to be incorporated into the work that Hewlett-Packard and others are doing in the field of molecular electronics and possibly lead to hybrid silicon/molecular devices by the end of the decade.

Here Comes the Sun

In yesterday's Wall Street Journal there was an informative article entitled "Solar Power Heats Up." It talked about how solar cells have not only become more efficient over the past fews years but, when combined with lower installation costs and a variety of tax breaks and rebates, the economics of solar cells have shifted in a way that favors consumers.

I don't really think this is news but I do think it is important to stay tuned to the work that Nanosys, Konarka, NanoSolar, Cypress and GE (and others) are doing in this field. I sincerely believe the economics will continue to shift -- perhaps radically -- in a way that continues to favor the consumer.

Nanosys continues to publicly state that it will be producing (along with Matsushita) a flexible solar cell sometime in 2007; Konarka continues to work with the U.S. Army to manufacture solar fabrics; and as Jeffrey Immelt says in this article, GE is now investing $1.5 billion in clean energy technology research and development.

Now, not all of this research is in the area of solar cell technology but it should cause investors to seriously consider how much of the future demand in energy will be met by coal and nuclear power and how much will be met by "clean technologies."

I continue to be more bullish on the latter, in large part, because of how advances in nanotechnology will continue to enable cheaper and more efficient solar cells.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Altair: Time to Put Up ... or Shut Up

Yesterday there was an excellent article on Altair in The Motley Fool written by Seth Jayson. It says many of the same things that I have been saying about Altair for months -- namely: Stay away from this stock! -- but I still encourage anyone thinking about investing in Altair to read it. The bottom-line is that it is time for Altair to stop with all the press releases and focus on delivering results. In short, it is time for them to "put up or shut up."

While I think it unlikely that they'll listen to my advice, now that it appears the investment communty has caught on the fact that Altair is "all talk and no action," look for the stock to continue to drop in price.

Related Links:
Toshiba vs Altair
Altair: Fooling the Fools
Is Altair all Hot Air?