NRI Papers
No.37   December 1, 2001
  Nanotechnology:Encounters of Atoms, Bits and Genomes  
Naoki IKEZAWA
        The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI), a top-priority US policy to strengthen its technological competitiveness, enthusiastically advocates nanotechnology research and development. The NNI was instrumental in generating Japan's counteractions to improve the competitive strength of its high-technology manufacturing industries, especially in semiconductors.
    Nanotechnology refers to the cluster of emerging technologies that focus on nanoscale (10-9 meters) substances and devices that generate new phenomena peculiar to the mingling of atoms, bits and genomes. It provides a common base to support the development of materials, information and biotechnologies-the cutting-edge technologies for the start of 21st century. If Japan's high-tech industries can effectively deal with these technologies, they can be expected to create a number of new business opportunities.
    In developing nanotechnology, both the bottom-up and top-down approaches are essential. Under the former, nanostructures are assembled to build macrostructures that can fulfill technological functions, whereas the latter proceeds by employing ultra-miniaturization to move from macrostructures to nanostructures. The essence of nanotechnology can be found in "paradigm shift" models, where the top-down and the bottom-up approaches converge.
    Nanotechnology is expected to bring about revolutionary changes not only in technological fields but also in R&D management. In order to realize the development and implementation of nanotechnology, it is necessary to make drastic changes in our way of thinking about R&D-including management systems in public R&D institutions, role sharing and cooperation among governmental, industrial and academic organizations, the handling of intellectual property, and support for starting venture businesses. Japan has advanced in some important areas of nanotechnology and has produced a number of pioneers in the field. We should try to overcome the prevailing economic difficulties by utilizing this potential, and by actively promoting strategies aimed at implementing nanotechnology on the basis of the suitable R&D management systems.
Contents
I Technological Paradigm Shift
II The National Nanotechnology Initiative and Japan's Reactions
1 Nanotechnology Shock Originating from the United States
2 Initiatives Taken by Japan
III Why Nanotechnology Now?
1 Nano-Means One-Billionth
2 Background Behind the Birth of Nanotechnology
IV Pioneers in Nanotechnology Development
1 Concepts Discovered by Pioneers
2 Pioneers in Nanotechnology
3 Japanese Pioneers
V What Nanotechnology Has Brought About
1 Impact on Advanced Areas of Technology
2 Bottom-Up Approach
VI Realizing Nanotechnology
1 Reform of the Research and Development System
2 Expectations for the Government
3 Cooperation Involving the Government, Industry and Academia
VII How to Deal with Nanotechnology
1 Encouraging Nanotechnology
2 Maintaining a Broad Horizon
3 Innovations in R&D Management
4 Positive Search for Business Opportunities

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