Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Intelligent Machines

Can Small Be Big Again?

Serial entrepreneur Larry Bock has confidence in nanotech.

When serial entrepreneur Larry Bock’s Palo Alto startup, Nanosys, pulled its IPO a year ago this month, it helped to deflate financial interest in nanotech. But Bock, Nanosys’s chairman, says his confidence in nanotech’s future has not diminished.

Skeptics call nanotech a great collection of small markets with no killer app. That’s probably true in the short term, but even three years out, some of the things we’ll see will be monumentally world changing.

Is the federal National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) helping things along?
One of the industry’s ongoing problems is the gap between basic and applied research. People call it “the valley of death” – too big or long-range for the VCs to handle, too applied for academics. NNI should be a helpful bridge.

This story is part of our August 2005 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe

Environmentalists have nanotechnology on their watch list. Are you worried about a repeat of what happened with genetic engineering?
It has people in the industry concerned, sure. The big difference is that unlike genetic engineering, nanotechnology is a thousand different things. There’s an obvious distinction between using metric tons of carbon nanotubes to fill tires versus someone making a single nanowire sensor. That’s why you need to open a dialogue with critics and start doing an individual risk-benefit analysis for every application.

More evidence that the blanket term “nanotech” is pretty useless?
There’d be a lot less hype and confusion if everyone used the NNI definition – exploiting novel properties and functions of materials in the sub-100-nanometer size range. I don’t think golf balls loaded with nanomaterials should necessarily be labeled nanotechnology.

Be the leader your company needs. Implement ethical AI.
Join us at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Intelligent Machines

Artificial intelligence and robots are transforming how we work and live.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Plus.
  • Insider Plus {! insider.prices.plus !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Everything included in Insider Basic, plus the digital magazine, extensive archive, ad-free web experience, and discounts to partner offerings and MIT Technology Review events.

    See details+

    Print + Digital Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

    Technology Review PDF magazine archive, including articles, images, and covers dating back to 1899

    10% Discount to MIT Technology Review events and MIT Press

    Ad-free website experience

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.