Global Reports:  Nanotechnology

Nanotechnology in California, USA: Market Report

California has many world-leading organisations and networks committed to promoting nanoscience as well as exploring the challenges and future of ...

Ethics and Nanotechnology; Responsible development of nanotechnology at global level in the 21st century

Malsch, Ineke (2011) Ethics and Nanotechnology; Responsible development of nanotechnology at global level in the 21st century. PhD thesis, Radboud University.


This thesis examines how ethically sound governance of nanotechnology may be possible in the current global world order. This central research question is inspired by the main issue on the agenda of national and international policy makers in the last decade. How to avoid making the same mistake with nanotechnology as with genetically modified food in Europe? As for nanotechnology, great public and private investments had been made in the development of GGO’s, but market introduction was inhibited strongly by unexpected public resistance. In order to solve the issue of nanotechnology governance, a wide range of debates and projects have been started. The author has been engaged in these discussions and investigations as a consultant for 15 years. The thesis contains an attempt to present the debate in all its wide-ranging facets in different parts of the world. The emphasis is on differences and points in common between countries and at an international level. Three cases (nanotechnology and security, sustainable development of nanotechnology and nanotechnology and the shifting boundary between living and non-living)are investigated from a philosophical ethical perspective. Finally, the author returns to the governance issue and proposes a contribution to the ongoing debate.

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PCAST Report Recommends Increased Funding For Nanotech Research

The National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) has a catalytic and substantial impact on the growth of the U.S. nanotechnology industry and should be continued with increased funding from the office of management and budget, according to a new report from the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). A crosscutting federal program designed to coordinate U.S. investment in research and development (R&D) activities in nanoscale related fields, NNI has provided $16 billion in investments by 26 Federal agencies over the life of the initiative. Nearly 75 percent of this funding goes to three program component areas:

  • Fundamental nanoscale phenomena and processes;
  • Nanomaterials; and,
  • Nanoscale devices and systems.

PCAST provides several recommendations that will continue the success of NNI and translate the benefits of investments in nanotechnology to the public. Individual recommendations are given in four categories of key importance: strategic planning, program management, metrics and EHS research. Specific recommendations for 2012 and beyond include, but are not limited to:

Increasing the funding levels of Nanotechnology Signature Initiatives by the office of management and budget.

Dedicating 0.3 percent of NNI funding to the National Nanotechnology Coordination Office to ensure the appropriate staffing and budget to effectively develop, monitor and assess NNI programs;

Developing mission-appropriate definition of nanotechnology that enables tracking specific nanotechnology investments supported at the program level by all agencies; and,

Establishing a high-level, cross-agency authoritative and accountable governance of Federal nanotechnology-related EHS research.

The report also provides updates on the recommendations found in PCAST's 2010 review of NNI. Since 2010, the NNI has made substantial progress in eight areas that include:

  • Expanding commercialization efforts led by National Nanotechnology Coordination Office;
  • Releasing a research strategy that addresses the environmental health and safety (EHS) implications of nanotechnology;
  • Creating an Industry and State Liaison position to serve as a point of contact for the private sector;
  • Incorporating the input of industry in NNI planning through public-private partnerships that focus on developing strategies for job creation and state outreach;
  • Initiating Department of Energy programs that includes industrial partners to overcome technological barriers to nanotechnology commercialization;
  • Creating the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences to accelerate translation of promising technologies and clinical studies; and,
  • Establishing an EHS strategy that reflects evolving research needs and the strategic research plans of three relevant agencies.

According to the report, NNI member agencies will collaborate to establish the Advanced Manufacturing Technology Consortia in 2013 to speed up the development and commercialization of new products and services, including nanotechnology.

Although progress has been achieved in those areas, federal agencies and offices have made little progress on key recommendations in four areas including:

  • Strategic Planning — a lack of cohesion of an overarching framework, and no clear connection between the goals and objectives of the NNI strategic plan with those of individual agencies;

  • Program Management — several problems related to program management including limited authority to influence agency budgets, inadequate mechanisms to solicit and act upon advice and insufficient funding to support the agencies in implementing programs that align with the NNI strategic plan;
  • Metrics — little appears to have been done to spur the development of metrics needed to determine the economic outcomes of the initiative; and,
  • EHS Research — a lack of integration between nanotechnology-related EHS research supported by NIH and the distribution of information to policymakers.

Download the report

Report Recommends Ways to Improve K-12 STEM Education, Calls on Policymakers

To Raise Science Education to Same Level of Importance as Math and Reading


WASHINGTON – State, national, and local policymakers should elevate science education in grades K-12 to the same level of importance as reading and mathematics, says a new report from the National Research Council.  The report recommends ways that leaders at all levels can improve K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

The report responds to a request from Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) for the National Science Foundation -- which sponsored the Research Council report -- to identify highly successful K-12 schools and programs in STEM fields.  

”A growing number of jobs -- not just those in professional science -- require knowledge of STEM fields,“ said Adam Gamoran, chair of the committee that wrote the report and professor of sociology and educational policy studies at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.  ”The goal isn’t only to have a capable and competitive work force.  We need to help all students become scientifically literate because citizens are increasingly facing decisions related to science and technology -- whether it’s understanding a medical diagnosis or weighing competing claims about the environment.“

The report identifies key elements of high-quality STEM education to which policymakers could target improvements:

  • A coherent set of standards and curriculum.  States and districts should have rigorous K-12 STEM standards and curricula that are focused on the most important topics in each discipline and presented as a sequence of content and practices that build knowledge over time. 

  • Teachers with high capacity to teach in their discipline.  Good teachers need to know both STEM content and how to teach it; many teachers are currently underprepared to teach STEM-related courses.  

  • A supportive system of assessment and accountability.  Current assessments limit educators’ ability to teach in ways that promote learning the content and understanding the practices of science and mathematics.

  • Adequate instructional time.  The average amount of time spent on science instruction in elementary classrooms has decreased in recent years even as the time on mathematics instruction has increased. This is likely due to the focus on math and English language arts in the No Child Left Behind Act.  

  • Equal access to high-quality STEM learning opportunities.  States and districts should strive to eliminate the disparities in access to high-quality STEM education between advantaged students and minority and low-income students, which contribute to the existing achievement gaps. 

  • School conditions and cultures that support learning.  Although teacher qualifications certainly matter, so do school conditions and culture -- such as school and district leadership and parent and community involvement. 

The report suggests that one way to elevate science to the same level of importance as mathematics and reading is to assess science subjects as frequently as is done for reading and math, using an assessment system that supports learning and understanding.  However, such a system is not yet available for science subjects, the report notes.  States and national organizations need to develop assessments that are aligned with the next generation of science standards -- which will be based on a framework to be released soon by the Research Council -- and that emphasize science practices rather than mere factual recall. 

National and state policymakers also should invest in helping educators in STEM fields teach more effectively, said the committee. For example, teachers should be able to pursue professional development through peer collaboration and professional learning communities, among other approaches. Schools and school districts should devote adequate instructional time and resources to science in grades K-5 to lay a foundation for further study, the report notes, as research suggests that interest in science careers may develop in the elementary school years. 

In addition to strengthening STEM education in traditional schools, districts seeking to improve student outcomes in STEM fields could also consider three types of specialty schools targeted to that goal: selective STEM schools, which are organized around these fields and have selective admissions criteria; inclusive STEM schools, which have the same focus but without selective admissions; and STEM-focused career and technical education programs, which allow students to explore practical applications of science and related career options. Although there is no solid evidence about which approach works best for different student populations, or whether these three types are superior to enhanced STEM education in traditional schools, there are promising findings that the three types can be models for further development of effective STEM instruction and learning. 

The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation.  The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.  They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.  The Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.  For more information, visit  A committee roster follows.

Pre-publication copies of Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at

New Report:

State Assessment Systems:

Exploring Best Practices and Innovations: Summary of Two Workshops 


Alexandra Beatty, Rapporteur; Committee on Best Practices for State Assessment Systems: Improving Assessment While Revisiting Standards; National Research Council

Authoring Organizations


Educators and policy makers in the United States have relied on tests to measure educational progress for more than 150 years, and have used the results for many purposes. They have tried minimum competency testing; portfolios; multiple-choice items, brief and ...

Read More online free or download the Pdf at:

The National Research Council (NRC) releases report on incentives and test-based accountability in education


Just released from the Board on Testing and Assessment the report, Incentives and Test-Based Accountability in Education, examines the effects of test-based incentive programs like No Child Left Behind, high school exit exams, teacher performance pay, and direct student rewards.  In recent decades, federal and state governments have increasingly relied on these types of programs as a way to raise accountability in public education and improve achievement. Though these programs differ from each other in many ways, they all use the same strategy of adding consequences to students’ test performance as a way of improving education.  The report looks across all the rigorous studies of these different incentive programs and concludes that they have not consistently generated positive effects on student achievement.

School-level incentives – like those of No Child Left Behind – produce some of the larger effects among the programs studied, but the gains are concentrated in elementary grade mathematics and are small in comparison with the improvements the nation hopes to achieve.  Evidence also suggests that high school exit exam programs, as implemented in many states, decrease the rate of high school graduation without increasing student achievement.

The report urges policymakers to support the development and evaluation of promising new models that use-test based incentives in more sophisticated ways as one aspect of a richer accountability and improvement process.  However, given the modest success of incentive programs to date, it is essential that all use of test-based incentives should be carefully studied to help determine which forms of incentives are successful.  In addition, continued experimentation with test-based incentives should not displace investment in the development of other aspects of the education system.

Sponsored by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Flora Hewlett Foundation, the report reviews and synthesizes relevant research from economics, psychology, education, and related fields about how incentives work in educational accountability systems. The report offers recommendations for how to improve current test-based accountability policies and highlights directions for further research. 

Worldwide Research and Development Funding up 3.6 Percent, according to Battelle-R&D Magazine Annual Global Funding Forecast

Stability returns in 2011; China now No. 2 behind United States

COLUMBUS, Ohio-Global research and development (R&D) spending is expected to increase by 3.6 percent in 2011 to $1.2 trillion, according to the closely watched Battelle-R&D Magazine 2011 Global R&D Forecast released.

The forecast predicts that United States R&D will grow by only 2.4 percent over the final 2010 estimate, reaching $405.3 billion in 2011. With the 2011 inflation rate forecasted to remain a low 1.5 percent, this growth still leads to 0.86 percent, or $3.4 billion, growth in real terms.

A snapshot of the report reveals the following megatrends:

  • Globalization increasingly is narrowing the R&D gap between countries.
  • The U.S. still leads all countries by funding one-third of global R&D.
  • China has overtaken Japan as the second highest funder of global R&D.

Asia's stake in R&D spending continues to increase, a shift begun more than five years ago. The U.S., however, still dominates absolute spending at a level well above its share of global Gross Domestic Product.

During the recession of the past few years, the Asian R&D communities generally, and China specifically, increased R&D investment and stature. China entered the recession with a decade of strong economic growth. During that time, it increased R&D spending roughly 10 percent each year-a pace it maintained during the 2008-2009 recession. This sustained commitment set China apart from many other nations.

"The continued expansion of R&D in China is both inspiring in magnitude and worrisome from a U.S. competitive perspective," said Marty Grueber, Battelle Research Leader and co-author of the report. "The Chinese are doing everything in their power to grow and develop through an increasing understanding and emphasis on research and technology. Even most of their highest ranking political leaders are engineers."

The report also includes in-depth looks at R&D activity for specific industries including:

  • Life Sciences
  • Information Technologies
  • Electronics/Computers
  • Aerospace/Defense/Security
  • Energy
  • Advanced Materials

Industrial Outlook: Industry R&D spending in the U.S. will reach $286.9 billion in 2011, a 3 percent increase of $8.4 billion over 2010 levels. At this level, industrial R&D activities will account for 70.8 percent of all R&D performed in the U.S.

Federal Government Outlook: Federally performed R&D is expected to decline by slightly more than $200 million, to $27.5 billion in 2011. Part of this decrease reflects the fact that most intramural American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds were spent in 2009 and 2010.

Academia: Research by U.S. academic institutions is forecast to reach $57.5 billion in 2011, an increase of 1.9 percent over 2010.

Global Outlook: While U.S. R&D still dominates worldwide spending, globalization is slowly altering the dominance that the U.S. has maintained for the past 40 years. The economies of China, Korea, India, Russia and Brazil and their investments in R&D are expanding at rates substantially higher than that of the U.S., Japan and Germany. As a result, emerging economies are starting to challenge the technological and discovery capabilities of the historic R&D leaders.

Industrial R&D Sector Outlook:

  • Life Sciences: Merger and acquisition activity has abated somewhat, but it continues to be a defining factor in R&D investment in the pharma, biotech and medical device markets. Post-merger activities, which include cutting, restructuring and streamlining overall R&D costs, will add to the number of pharmaceutical jobs lost over the last five years. The most significant and continuing R&D trend in pharma and biotech is the increasing expansion of R&D efforts in Asia.

  • Information Technologies: The software industry's spending on R&D slowed during the recent recession but is projected to see increases in 2010 and 2011. The increase is driven, in part, by the increased adoption of embedded control and interface software in a wide range of applications. Sectors increasingly relying on more software to simulate, design, operate and control products, systems and manufacturing procedures include the telecom, automotive, energy, pharmaceutical, banking and finance, and aerospace and defense industries.

  • Electronics/Computers: Current hardware technology development is responding to growth in a number of areas including cloud computing, Internet servers, mobile computing, wireless, integrated power supplies, satellite-based communications, flexible circuits and displays, multiple-core processors, carbon nanotube circuits, printed circuits and more.

  • Aerospace/Defense/Security: No segment has a stronger connection to public R&D investment than aerospace, defense and national security. In the past, defense budgets have been minimally affected during periods of budgetary constraints, but this is about to change. Many factors are aligning to change the level and focus of defense spending in the future, including significant budget deficits, the growing federal debt crisis and related scrutiny of discretionary spending like R&D, the sluggish economy, the changing status of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and the evolving nature of U.S. defense activities in general.

  • Energy: Outcomes and benefits from federal energy research are realized largely in the private sector. The private sector, however, lacks the full scope of resources to do the research necessary to address growing demand and requirements for sustainability and affordability across all dimensions of energy technology. The government lacks the means to deploy energy innovation at a large scale to achieve policy goals and public benefits. Collaboration and commercialization continue to be the essential bridges. Energy distribution, efficiency, and control technologies in the broad category of "smart grid" are areas of strong R&D interest to a number of key global multinational firms and emerging growth companies.

  • Advanced Materials: Across all industries, including automotive, aerospace, oil and gas exploration and consumer packaging, there is a common need for lighter, more efficient systems that reduce energy consumption while delivering on the intended mission. Nowhere is materials research more strong in 2010 and 2011 than in nanotechnology.

The full report is available online at and interactive graphics are available at

Hard copies of the report will be available Dec. 22 and can be obtained by contacting Sandy Walker at (614) 424-7610 or at

As the world's largest, independent research and development organization, Battelle provides innovative solutions to the world's most pressing needs through its four global businesses: Laboratory Management, National Security, Energy Technology, and Health and Life Sciences. It advances scientific discovery and application by conducting $6.5 billion in global R&D annually through contract research, laboratory management and technology commercialization. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle oversees 22,000 employees in more than 130 locations worldwide, including seven national laboratories which Battelle manages or co-manages for the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and one international nuclear laboratory in the United Kingdom.

Battelle also is one of the nation's leading charitable trusts focusing on societal and economic impact and actively supporting and promoting science and math education.

The Obama Administration Must Accelerate Energy Innovation, Says PCAST Report

It is imperative that the Obama administration create a more coordinated and robust federal energy policy focused on advancing energy innovation, according to a new report by the Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST). They argue the U.S. must be at the forefront of energy technology to increase economic competiveness, protect the environment and improve national security. In Accelerating the Pace of Change in Energy Technologies Though an Integrated Federal Energy Policy, PCAST outlines several recommendations that could position the U.S. at the forefront of energy innovation over the next decade.

The administration should establish a national Quadrennial Energy Review (QER) process to coordinate federal agencies, the executive branch and congress. The QER would be developed not only by government entities, but also include representatives from industry, business, state and local governments, non-government organizations and the public. The QER would:

  • Layout short and long-term energy objectives;
  • Outline legislative proposals for congress;
  • Coordinate executive actions and federal agencies; and,
  • Identify the resources needed for the development and implementation of energy technologies.
  • The Department of Energy (DOE) should facilitate the move towards a national QER by preparing and implementing a DOE-QER. This roadmap would focus on key energy technologies, integration of national laboratories in energy programs, a portfolio assessment and identification of funding needs.

PCAST also recommends that federal investments in energy research, development, demonstration and deployment (RDD&D) increase to $16 billion per year. Due to the current economic climate, PCAST recommends an alternative funding approach to achieve the increase in RDD&D funding. Congress and the private sector should work to develop new revenue streams to fund $10 billion of the recommended increase. The U.S. should also focus on realigning current energy subsidies and incentives to advance energy innovation through U.S. government purchasing power and leveraging international collaborations. Read the Report ...

Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies – Consumer Product Inventory Evaluated

Volume 7, Issue 2


David M. Berube, Eileen M. Searson, Timothy S. Morton, and Christopher L. Cummings


The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) product database began in 2005. The PEN Consumer Products Inventory (CPI) has been frequently cited in scholarly and popular articles as well as reports from government and industry. The CPI has been used to establish a baseline or benchmark on the pervasiveness of products produced by nanotechnology and/or incorporating nanoparticles. In this article, a team of researchers examine and validate a sample from the CPI involving four prominent categories of nanoparticles (carbon, gold, silver, and iron). The authors conclude that the CPI has substantive deficiencies that call the validity of claims associated with the CPI into question. Individuals and organizations citing the CPI should be wary of over-claiming the reliability and validity of the presence of nanotechnology in consumer products.

 Download PDF 


Report on Nanotechnologies and Manufactured Nanomaterials

Source:Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management

The United Nations' (UN) Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management (SAICM), a policy framework to promote chemical safety around the world, has developed an outline for a report focusing on nanotechnologies and manufactured nanomaterials including, in particular, issues of relevance to developing countries and countries with economies in transition. The secretariat has developed the outline based on initial work undertaken by Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Comments are invited and may be submitted until May 1, 2010. The final report will be submitted at the first meeting of the Open-ended Working Group, in 2011, and at the third session of the International Conference on Chemicals Management. The draft outline can be viewed online at the link below. 

Food Safety: FDA Should Strengthen Its Oversight of Food Ingredients Determined to Be Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)

Source:U.S. Government Accountability Office

The United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) has released a report, "Food Safety: FDA Should Strengthen Its Oversight of Food Ingredients Determined to Be Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS)", stating that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not exercise adequate oversight over certain widely used food additives. The report highlights nanotechnology as having potentially beneficial uses to food, but adds that the emerging science presents potential challenges to the regulation of food safety. The GAO's report says that engineered nanomaterials are allowed to enter the food supply without the Agency's knowledge. According to the report, "...because companies are not specifically required to identify whether substances they submit to FDA contain engineered nanomaterials and GRAS notification is voluntary, FDA has no way of knowing the full extent to which engineered nanomaterials have entered the U.S. food supply in GRAS substances." Other countries, including Canada and the European Union, require any food containing engineered nanoparticles to clear regulatory hurdles before being approved for the marketplace. The GAO suggests that the FDA develop a strategy to systematically reconsider the safety of GRAS substances in light of evolving scientific information and methodologies, as well as a strategy to address the potential for engineered nanomaterials to enter the food supply as GRAS substances without the agency's knowledge - or risk having less oversight over substances whose safety is uncertain. The report can be viewed online at the link below.

NanoRegulation Conference 2009 "No Data, no Market": Conference Report Available Now

The 5th Int. NanoRegulation Conference took place from 25th to 26th of November in Rapperswil, Switzerland, and revealed an urgent need for coordinated information transfer of relevant nanospecific data along the value chain. At the end of the value chain, it seems likely that especially consumer-near goods containing nanomaterials will have to be labelled sooner or later due to growing pressure from the European Parliament as well as from consumer organizations. However, there are concerns that nano-labelling as such could be misunderstood as an indication of hazard, thereby raising new and potentially unnecessary fears among consumers.

If you are interested in the outcomes of the conference and the detailed positions of the participating stakeholders, you may want to download the conference report which is now available at no charge under the following link:

 Download:NanoRegulation 2009 Conference Report

The "Nano Information Pyramid" as an Approach to the

"No Data, no Market" Problem of Nanotechnologies

We hereby suggest a “Nano Information Pyramid” which provides an information exchange framework to illustrate the recipient-specific information transfer along the value chain. The Pyramid combines different information transfer tools in with the different levels of the value chain. This is to ensure that nanospecific (and, if necessary, safety relevant) data are transferred in an appropriate form along the value chain. At the critical positions (?) proper information exchange can be guaranteed by implementation of accurate measures like for example Risk Management Systems (RMS) or Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS).

Download this tool at:

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)

NIOSH has updated and enhanced several web resources containing NIOSH's research results and recommendations on the work-related health and safety implications of nanotechnology.  The updated resources describe the latest scientific information available from NIOSH in its studies to help determine whether nanomaterials pose risks for occupational illness or injury. The enhancements are intended to help partners and stakeholders find information more easily and quickly.

The new resources reflect NIOSH's commitment to reviewing and revising its strategic planning, recommendations, and documents on an ongoing basis, to reflect advances in the science. Another cornerstone NIOSH document, "Approaches to Safe Nanotechnology: Managing the Health and Safety Concerns Associated with Engineered Nanomaterials," originally issued in 2006, was updated earlier this year.

NIOSH is the federal agency that conducts research and makes recommendations for preventing work-related injuries and illnesses. More information about NIOSH is available at

"Ethics of Human Enhancement: 25 Questions & Answers"

Funded by the US National Science Foundation, this 50-page report is mostly in a Q&A format, serving as an approachable starting point for public or classroom discussions—a guidebook of sorts.  Human enhancement technologies include such fields as nanotechnology, genetic engineering, pharmacology, neuroscience, biomedical engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and more; and the ethical/social issues are equally diverse.

Comments or contact:

Patrick Lin, Ph.D.

Director, Ethics + Emerging Technologies Group

California Polytechnic State University

Philosophy Department

Bldg. 47, Room 37

San Luis Obispo, CA 93407

[ph] 805.570.5651




A Critical view on Nanotechnologies 2009 

Reports and Videos from the  Project for Emerging Nanotechnologies

U.S. Higher Ed Graduation Rate Slides to 14th among OECD Nations

In the nation with the greatest difference in lifetime incomes between those people with college degrees and those without, it may be surprising to learn the U.S. ranking for college graduation rates has fallen from 1st in 1995 to 14th in 2007. The finding is included in Education at a Glance 2009, an indicator report looking at countries who belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

U.S. graduation rates have not fallen as a percentage of those students attending American colleges and universities for degrees above an associate's degree - growing from 33 percent in 1995 to 37 percent in 2007 - but rather relative to the graduation rates attained by the other 25 OECD countries included in the study. Nevertheless, the finding should be troubling for policymakers and TBED practitioners in an increasingly knowledge-based and competitive global economy.

In addition to 13 nations graduating more students with bachelors or similar degrees, the U.S. figure of 37 percent is lower than the OECD-country average of 39 percent. Also, the rate of growth for the graduation rate in the U.S. is not keeping pace with the 18 percent average achieved over the 12 years for the OECD, suggesting a further slide in the rankings is likely without a corrective change in the U.S. trend. For comparison, in the Czech Republic and Switzerland, graduation rates almost tripled over this same period.

Emphasizing the importance of higher education, Education at a Glance 2009 focuses significant attention on the economic value of attaining a college degree, both to the individual and society.

The earnings for a male college graduate in the U.S. are more than twice as much for American men who have completed only a high school degree or a GED.

Men in the U.S. with some form of college degree will earn over their working lives, on average, a present value of $367,000 more than an individual who chooses not to complete school but instead makes an investment in long-term government bonds.

The report shows women in the U.S. with a college degree continue to earn considerably less over time than men with a similar educational background: women only collect on average of $229,000 above the same base investment in government bonds.

Women college grads in the U.S. earn almost twice as much as women with high school degrees - but still less than men. This is not the case in all OECD countries however, as women with college degrees earn more than men with college degrees in Korea, Spain, and Turkey.

Besides examining the progress of students seeking post-secondary degrees, the report also focuses on younger students at the other end of the age spectrum. The growth of early (4-year olds and younger) childhood education has increased rapidly across the OECD, growing from 40 percent enrollment in 1998 to 71 percent ten years later. While in the U.S. early childhood enrollment was reported to be 50 percent in 2007, in the EU19 early childhood enrollment averaged 79 percent, and enrollment in ten of the OECD countries exceeded 90 percent.

Education at a Glance 2009 also includes sections comparing the 21 countries in terms of students' performance in science, economic returns for education, funds spent on students, tuition costs, studying abroad, teacher compensation, and various others. For several of the report's key indicators, the U.S. is holding steady or marginally increasing in certain metrics, other countries are gaining and surging past the U.S.

Education at a Glance 2009 is available at:

U.S. Slips from First Place in Global Competitiveness Rankings

The United States fell from its position as the most competitive national economy according to the World Economic Forum's (WEF) recently released annual Global Competitiveness Report. Switzerland took the top spot as the U.S. fell to a close second place in the weighted ranking system. The report attributed the switch in positions to a number of growing weaknesses that have plagued the U.S. over the past year, while the Swiss economy remained relatively stable. Though the U.S. continues to perform well in measures of innovation, the country declined in indices of its institutional effectiveness and macroeconomic stability. The U.S.'s persistent fiscal deficits and trade imbalances were noted as a particular threat to the nation's mid- and long-term competitiveness.

The Global Competitiveness Report ranks 133 countries based on the institutions, policies and factors that, according to WEF, determine the level of national productivity and prosperity. The indices and data compiled in the report are organized into 12 'pillars' of competitiveness. These pillars are weighted and used to determine a country's final ranking.

Because the importance of these pillars differs by the stage of economic development, the report assigns each country a category based on gross domestic product (GDP) and the ratio of mineral exports to exports as a whole. A country's category determines how the pillars are weighted in calculating the overall ranking. WEF sorts national economies into three stages of progress:

Factor-driven economies compete based on unskilled labor and natural resources. For these countries, four pillars are weighted more heavily: institutions, infrastructure, macroeconomic stability, and health and primary education.

Efficiency-driven economies, which compete by improving production processes and increasing product quality, are weighted toward the pillars of higher education and training, goods market efficiency, labor market efficiency, financial market sophistication, technological readiness and market size.

Innovation-driven economies, including the U.S. and Switzerland, are evaluated primarily on the pillars of business sophistication and innovation.

WEF reports that the U.S. continues to perform well in its weighted categories, ranking first in innovation and fifth in business sophistication. In fact, the U.S. was ranked first in the combined innovation pillars (including both innovation and business sophistication), and in the weighted pillars for efficiency-driven economies. Still, the country's overall score fell due to declining performance in the areas characterized in the report as 'basic requirements'. The economic crisis of the past year caused the U.S. to drop from 66th to 93rd in macroeconomic stability, an area in which the U.S. already was struggling. A weakening opinion of U.S. private institutions, including auditing and reporting standards, also hurt the country's rank.

Switzerland, on the other hand, remained stable across the board and placed third highest in each category. The country has mostly resisted the ill-effects of the economic crisis, particularly in comparison with the U.S. and other European countries (banking giant UBS being a notable exception). Only the country's low university enrollment rate was noted as a cause for concern.

Finishing out the top ten were Singapore, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Japan, Canada and the Netherlands - all of which were in the top ten last year. Countries that rose the most in this year's ranking include: Taiwan (from 17th to 12th), United Arab Emirates (31st to 23rd) and Azerbaijan (69th to 51st).

The report suggests that the U.S. should address certain fundamental issues, such as fiscal stability and public and private institutional practices, to bolster its competitive prospects. WEF omits many factors that are emerging as vital elements in assuring long-term competitiveness, including investment in strategic industries, quality of life and environmental and business sustainability. Despite WEF's focus on traditional economic indicators, the report highlights some of the long-term economic trends that, if ignored, could undermine efforts to grow the U.S. innovation economy.

"The Global Competitiveness Index 2009-2010: Contributing to Long-Term Prosperity Amid the Global Economic Crisis" is available at: 

Responsible Nano Forum

RS/RA English Report - 5 years on

A beacon or just a landmark?

On 29th July 2004, the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering released their seminal report Nanoscience and Nanotechnologies: opportunities and uncertainties.

5 years on, to mark this milestone The Responsible Nano Forum invited opinion formers from science, risk, investment, ngos, unions, business and consumer groups to reflect on the legacy of the report and what still remains to be done. 

The report "A beacon or just a landmark', features 28 contributions from a range of individuals and organisations in the UK and internationally.   The Foreward is written by Dr Andrew Maynard, Chief Science Advisor to the Woodrow Wilson Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies and features contributions from two members of the original RS/RAEng working group.  

Whilst the Forum has resisted the temptation to summarise or synthesise the contributions, in its Introduction Hilary Sutcliffe seeks to draw observations from the report, and from the development of nanotechnologies over last five years, to consider development of future emerging technologies.

Download the report here:

Oversight of Next Generation Nanotechnology

Source:The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies

The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN), an United States-based organization, will release its latest report, "Oversight of Next Generation Nanotechnology," on Tuesday, April 28, 2009 from 12:30 - 1:30 PM in Washington, D.C. The report, by J. Clarence (Terry) Davies, former official of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and an authority on environmental regulation and policy, will provide regulators with tools to face the challenges of advancing nanotechnologies. The article calls today's regulatory system "more appropriate for a 1970 Chevy truck than a 2005 nanocar," and argues that it hinders regulators. Davies' report describes how existing health and safety agencies are unable to cope with 21st century technology, and offers new ideas, laws, and organizational structure to deal with the effects of emerging technologies. According to the article, the report "...marks an important step in opening the debate about creating a new regulatory system capable of coping with the rapid pace of technological innovation and making the changes needed to revitalize government oversight for protection of environment, health and safety." A webcast will be available at the date and time of the event. The article can be viewed online at the link below.

Market for Nanocoatings Poised to Show Dramatic Growth Exceeding $6.5 billion in 4 Years

ELECTRONICS.CA PUBLICATIONS, the electronics industry market research and knowledge network, announces the availability of a new report entitled "The Market for Nanocoatings to 2015".

Currently, competitive rivalry is high in the nanomaterials sector. Companies are in the middle of a research and development race to develop and release new proprietary products for specific applications. Only the first to market will gain the competitive advantage to embrace the potential of nanotechnology, and this is the market focus at present. As the nanotechnology market matures, the competitive rivalry will move from R&D to commercial as companies start fighting for return on investment, market development and market share.

The ability of controlling surface coatings at the nanoscale is of paramount importance for a large-scale industrial development of nanotechnology. At present, many physical and chemical methods are available for the nanofabrication of layers and coatings with nanometric control of the structural and functional features; however, the scale-up of these methods remains a major challenge.

The nanocoatings market is currently worth approximately US$814 in 2007. "One way" coating systems based on nanomaterials make up the bulk of this market, for example in anti-bacterial; protective and conductive coatings. However, under developments are "two way" systems such as shape-memory materials, hydrophobic/hydrophilic switching and thermochromic pigmented coatings that will come onto the market in the next 4-5 years.

Nanocoatings already represent a significant niche market with global revenue exceeding US$600 million in 2008. Regenerative self-cleaning and self-healing coatings represent the next wave of potentially disruptive technologies that are beginning to impact the market. By 2013 it is predicted that the market will exceed US$6.5 billion.

As with any new technology, there are certain commercial parameters to consider, which will likely hinder the widespread integration of nanotechnology into products and processes. Successful adoption of any particular application will be dependent on a nanotechnology solution being able to demonstrate significant functional benefits over existing products and an appropriate price point. This implies that nanomaterials must be produced in sufficient quantity volume at the appropriate quality, price and yield.

The adoption of nanomaterials is quite relevant in transportation, mainly in the automotive sector. Similar technologies are also included in high tech sports gadgets, for which experimental equipments can be designed and tested with less cost related challenging issues, before starting a wider diffusion at more reasonable costs. Important technical issues to be addressed will include enhanced actuator performance, device integration and cost reduction.

Details of the new report, table of contents and ordering information can be found on Publications' web site. View the report:

Responsible Development of Nanotechnology: Turning Vision into Reality

Source:Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD

The Business and Industry Advisory Committee (BIAC) to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD) has released a "vision paper" detailing business views on the future of nanotechnology. The BIAC's Expert Group on Nanotechnology issued this paper, "Responsible Development of Nanotechnology: Turning Vision into Reality," in order to detail the major benefits nanotechnology could provide across different economic sectors, and to serve as guidance as international nanotechnology policy is debated and formulated. According to the report, "[T]he goal of this vision paper is to identify the strategic priorities from the perspective of the OECD business community....Relying on BIAC's formal role with the OECD, this paper will pay particular attention to those areas where the OECD can and should take action in order to help achieve the goal of the responsible development of nanotechnology." The paper highlights present and future opportunities in nanotechnology in the following sectors: energy; food and agriculture; healthcare; water treatment; information and communication; and, pollution remediation. Present and future challenges are identified as: environmental,health and safety; responsible development; human resources; intellectual property rights; and, marketing and consumer issues. The BIAC calls on the OECD leadership to continue offering strong support for the work being done in the nanotechnology realm and includes some priority areas for future work. The report can be viewed online at the link below. 


European Group Ethics Reports and Opinions

Opinion n°21 - 17/01/2007 - Ethical aspects of nanomedicine

Download at:

Ethical Evaluations of Nanotechnology

Source:The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies

A new report, "Nanotechnology: The Social and Ethical Issues," funded by The Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies (PEN) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), addresses the social and ethical issues concerning the emerging scientific field of nanotechnology. According to PEN director David Rejeski, "[T]oo often, discussions about the social and ethical issues surrounding new technologies are treated as afterthoughts, or worse still, as potential roadblocks to innovation. The ethical discussions are relegated to the end of scientific conferences, outsourced to social scientists, or generally marginalized in the policymaking process." PEN hopes the paper will provide a framework for thinking about some of the social and ethical impacts of nanotechnology as the United States Congress moves forward with legislation that will strengthen federal efforts to learn more about the risks posed by engineered nanomaterials. The full paper can be viewed online at the link below.


FramingNano Mapping Study on Nanotechnologies Regulation and Governance Released

Source:The Innovation Society

Author:Markus Widmer

The 7th Framework Program (FP7) of the European Union (EU), project "FramingNano," an international multi-stakeholder dialogue platform to regulate the development of nanosciences and nanotechnologies, has released a detailed study, "FramingNano Mapping Study on Regulation and Governance of Nanotechnologies." The document details recent developments in regulation and governance of nanoscience and nanotechnologies in Europe and worldwide, identifies relevant stakeholders organizations and makes an assessment of this information. In particular, the report looks at the international debate on risks and concerns related to nanotechnologies and provides an overview of the different regulatory approaches proposed or already developed to deal with these issues, such as: government and regulatory agencies initiatives and policies on nanotechnology regulation; national/international bodies and authorities involved; standardization activities; and, stakeholders' voluntary measures. The report can viewed and downloaded for free online at the link below.

Appropriate risk governance strategies for nanotechnology applications in food and cosmetics

Qualitative surveys of consumer opinion provide evidence of a positive to indifferent attitude towards nanotechnologies and their application, with one exception : foods. Concerns about cosmetics are also rising and consumer advocacy groups and independent experts have recommended that more risk assessments should be conducted before cosmetics containing nanoscale materials are put on the market. Public authorities in several countries have stressed the need for extended risk assessments and careful oversight.

A number of regulatory agencies are considering the introduction of labelling to indicate the presence of nanoscale materials, especially for foods and cosmetics. Additionally, some regulators have indicated they would introduce mandatory labelling for food and cosmetic products containing nanoscale materials unless industry takes steps to establish a voluntary programme for quality control and labelling.

There are a number of issues that require resolution, particularly the need to precisely define what comprises material at the nanoscale. It will be extremely difficult to develop a risk governance regime in the absence of a universally accepted definition or standard for the size at which material should be called nanoscale. Without adequate risk governance structures and processes, public trust may be lost and consumer acceptance of nanotechnology may consequently be reduced.

Given this situation, IRGC’s second nanotechnology project has the following objectives :

to explore the different definitions and frames that are used in the debate on nanoscaled material in food and cosmetics

to identify the current and future food and cosmetic products containing nanomaterials

to review the current studies and investigations with respect to risk assessment

to review existing risk management activities and regulatory activities in different countries and continents (Europe, US, Japan, Korea, and others)

to compare how different international actors (different countries, international organisations) are making tolerability and acceptability judgements

to identify deficits and develop options for the global risk governance of nanotechnology applications in food and cosmetics.

A multi-stakeholder expert workshop (with representatives from regulators, industry, academia and consumer groups) was held in late April 2008 to discuss key issues and to develop risk governance policy guidelines for nanotechnology applications in food and cosmetics.

Download the Report at

In December 2008, IRGC published the Report “Risk Governance of Nanotechnology Applications in Food and Cosmetics” prepared for IRGC by Antje Grobe, Ortwin Renn and Alexander Jaeger of Dialogik GmbH.

Final recommendations will be published in an IRGC Policy Brief in spring 2009.

Clientific New White Paper

In October 2008, I was asked at the World Economic Forum along with other experts to address the main challenges facing nanotechnology. While environmental, health and safety concerns had been the preoccupation of many for 2008, this question posed by the WEF combined with the world economic crisis led me to consider the challenges of funding and commercializing of nanotechnology and other emerging technologies for 2009.

We can expect to hear much more of Joseph Schumpeter's ideas of Creative Destruction this year as the world comes to terms with the credit crunch, or recession as these events used to be known.  While the depths of a recession can be the best time to start a business, Microsoft is an oft cited example, this is scant consolation for the tens of thousands of companies that will not survive, and the millions who will lose their jobs as a result. An alternative scenario is Nietzsche's earlier Shiva inspired version of creative destruction, with the new morality standing in the ruins of the old, which may be the long terms fate of a number of financial institutions and economies.

Our new white paper ( looks at the five most significant issues which we see impacting the world of nanotechnologies in the coming year. Feel free to disagree at TNTlog ( or contact us for more specific information.

Tim Harper, Clientifica

Innovation in Responding to Climate Change: Nanotechnology, Ocean Energy and Forestry

By Miguel Esteban, Christian Webersik, David Leary and Dexter Thompson-Pomeroy

Climate change is high on the global agenda. While the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008, is an important step towards achieving an international agreement on climate change scheduled for the upcoming Conference of the Parties in Copenhagen at the end of 2009, policy makers and practitioners alike are increasingly looking for practical solutions. This report offers three innovative solutions in responding to climate change, namely nanotechnology, ocean energy and forestry. It goes beyond the technological, biological and procedural aspects of these solutions by critically assessing the opportunities and challenges that each type of innovation presents. This report addresses the question why these innovations - despite their large potential to reduce emissions, ocean energy alone could cover the world's electricity needs - have not yet reached the stage of mass commercialization.

UNU-IAS, November 2008, 46 pages

Download report as a .pdf file (2.6 MB) at:

The Future of Medical Diagnostics Report

The Center for Nanotechnology in Society, the Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, and The Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University held a workshop investigating the future of presymptomatic diagnostics. Such diagnostics promise to predict diseases before symptoms appear, offer real time diagnoses to patients, and increase treatment options through early intervention.

Will these dreams be realized?

By bringing together natural scientists and medical practitioners with scholars of technology and society, as well as experts in health economics, policy and law, we explored the complex social arrangements, economics, ethics and politics of new diagnostics.

The workshop moved beyond thinking about diagnostics strictly in terms of future applications, inventions and devices. Instead, we thought creatively about how such emerging technologies might be used, managed and adapted in different contexts. How will the varied human and social systems that incorporate medical diagnostics change over time and with what consequences?

The report contains our deliberations and four plausible scenarios about the future of medical diagnostics.

Download PDF 


December 07

Rather than infer that nanotechnology is safe, members of the public who learn about this novel science tend to become sharply polarized along cultural lines, according to a study conducted by the Cultural Cognition Project at Yale Law School in collaboration with the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies. The report is published online in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

Full story at


New market reports from

1. Market Assessment on Nanocoatings

2. Nanotechnology in Europe 2008

3. Nanoparticle Titania for Photocatalytic Applications for Industry

Updated reports:

1. Impact of Nanotechnology on the Consumer Goods Market to 2015

2. Nanotechnology and Textiles: Market and Applications to 2015

3. Current and Future Market for Nano and Synthetic Clays 2007-2012

4. Impact of Nanotechnology on the Life Sciences & Healthcare Market to 2015

5. Nanotechnologies for Energy and the Environment 

6. Nanotechnologies for Household and Personal Care

7. Impact of Nanotechnology on the Automotive Market to 2015 

Visit for a full list of reports.

Nanotubes Deemed Different From Carbon

Source:Chemical & Engineering News

Author:Britt E. Erickson

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has restated its position that carbon nanotubes are chemically distinct from graphite and other forms of carbon, reemphasizing that carbon nanotubes are considered new substances under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). The article says that, under TSCA, carbon nanotube manufacturers and imports must submit toxicity data to the EPA before they can use or import carbon nanotubes for commercial purposes. According to the article, the EPA decided to clarify its position on carbon nanotubes, which it established in 2007, because it sensed “confusion among the nanotech industry .” Richard A. Denison of the U.S. nonprofit organization Environmental Defense Fund said that the EPA’s notice indicates that manufacturers are not currently complying with the law, saying, “I am dismayed by EPA's lax approach to enforcement of what is a basic violation of federal law.” Andrew D. Maynard of the U.S. nonprofit Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies further said that the EPA currently does not address nanoscale materials other than carbon nanotubes despite studies indicating that some of those materials may be toxic. The article says that the EPA’s position on carbon nanotubes is consistent with that of the European Union’s Registration, Evaluation & Authorization of Chemicals (REACH) program. The article can be viewed online at the link below.

Special Issue of Journal of Industrial Ecology:

Nanomaterials May Have Large Environmental Footprint

According to a paper by Hatice Sengül and colleagues at the University of Illinois at Chicago, strict material purity requirements, lower tolerances for defects and lower yields of manufacturing processes may lead to greater environmental burdens than those associated with conventional manufacturing. In a study of carbon nanofiber production, Vikas Khanna and colleagues at The Ohio State University found, for example, that the life cycle environmental impacts may be as much as 100 times greater per unit of weight than those of traditional materials, potentially offsetting some of the environmental benefits of the small size of nanomaterials.

Materials engineered at dimensions of 1 to 100 nanometers (1 to 100 billionths of a meter) exhibit novel physical, chemical and biological characteristics, opening possibilities for stunning innovations in medicine, manufacturing and a host of other sectors of the economy. Because small quantities of nanomaterials can accomplish the tasks of much larger amounts of conventional materials, the expectation has been that nanomaterials will lower energy and resource use and the pollution that accompanies them. The possibility of constructing miniature devices atom-by-atom has also given rise to expectations that precision in nanomanufacturing will lead to less waste and cleaner processes. Research described in this special issue suggests that these anticipated benefits remain to be realized.

Other topics explored in the special issue include: 

Approaches for identifying and reducing the life cycle hazards of nanomaterials

Quantified life cycle energy requirements and environmental impacts from nanomaterials

Tradeoffs between nanomanufacturing costs and occupational exposure to nanoparticles

Efficiency of techniques for nanomaterials synthesis

Improvement of the sustainability of bio-based products through nanotechnology

Industrial frameworks for responsible nanotechnology

Industrial and public perception about the risks and benefits of nanomaterials

Governance and regulation of nanotechnology

Industrial ecology is a field that examines the opportunities for sustainable production and consumption, emphasizing the importance of a systems view of environmental threats and remedies.

Roland Clift, Professor of Environmental Technology in the Centre for Environmental Strategy at the University of Surrey and Shannon Lloyd, Principal Research Engineer in the Sustainability & Process Engineering Directorate at Concurrent Technologies Corporation, served as guest editors. Support for this special issue was provided by the Educational Foundation of America, in Westport, Conn., and the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.

Reid J. Lifset, Assoc. Dir.                                School of Forestry & Env. Studies

Industrial Environmental Mgmt. Program         Yale University

Editor, Journal of Industrial Ecology              205 Prospect Street

203-432-6949 (tel)  -5912 (fax)                   New Haven, CT   06511-2189  USA

Desalination Can Boost U.S. Water Supplies, But Research Needed

To Understand Environmental Impacts, Lower Costs

WASHINGTON -- Recent advances in technology have made removing salt from seawater and groundwater a realistic option for increasing water supplies in some parts of the U.S., and desalination will likely have a niche in meeting the nation's future water needs, says a new report from the National Research Council.  However, a coordinated research effort with steady funding is required to better understand and minimize desalination's environmental impacts -- and find ways to further lower its costs and energy use.

"Uncertainties about desalination's environmental impacts are currently a significant barrier to its wider use, and research on these effects -- and ways to lessen them -- should be the top priority," said Amy K. Zander, chair of the committee that wrote the report and professor at Clarkson University, Potsdam, N.Y.  "Finding ways to lower costs should also be an objective.  A coordinated research effort dedicated to these goals could make desalination a more practical option for some communities facing water shortages." 

Over 97 percent of the Earth's water -- seawater and brackish groundwater -- is too salty to use for drinking water or agriculture.  Interest in desalination has grown in the U.S. as some regions face water shortages and contention over existing freshwater supplies.  Though desalination still generates less than 0.4 percent of the water used in the U.S., the nation's capacity to desalinate water grew by around 40 percent between 2000 and 2005, and plants now exist in every state.  Most use a method called reverse osmosis, which pushes water through a membrane to separate out most of the salts.

The report recommends that federal R&D on desalination be planned and coordinated by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and funded at the level of existing desalination R&D programs -- approximately $25 million a year.  Currently there is no overall strategic direction to federal research on desalination, which is conducted by many agencies with varying goals.  It also depends heavily on earmarks, which are unsteady sources of funding; from 2006 to 2007, federal funds declined by nearly 60 percent.  Meanwhile, the private sector appears to fund the majority of the nation's desalination research.  Both the public and private sectors can contribute to the proposed research agenda, the report says. 

Environmental Research Should Be Highest Priority

  Substantial uncertainties remain about the environmental impacts of desalination, the report says.  Limited studies suggest that desalination may be less environmentally harmful than many other ways to supplement water -- such as diverting freshwater from sensitive ecosystems -- but definitive conclusions cannot be made without further research.  

  Researchers should investigate the extent to which fish and other creatures get trapped in saltwater intake systems in various settings, and seek ways to mitigate this and other impacts.  Studies also should examine the long-term ecological effects of disposing of the salt concentrate that remains after desalination in rivers or the sea, a common practice.  In addition, environmental evaluations of new desalination plants should be conducted, including ecological monitoring before and after the plant starts operating.  The results should be synthesized with existing data in a national assessment that can guide future decision making, the report says. 

Desalination also has raised concerns about greenhouse gases because it uses large amounts of energy.  Seawater reverse osmosis uses about 10 times more energy than traditional treatment of surface water, for example, and in most cases uses more energy than other ways of augmenting water supplies.  Researchers should investigate ways to integrate alternative energy sources -- such as the sun, wind, or tides -- in order to lower emissions from desalination, the report says. 

R&D Needed to Lower Costs, Energy Use

Recent improvements in technology have lowered desalination's costs and energy requirements, which used to be prohibitively high.  Meanwhile, other ways to augment water supplies have grown more expensive, making desalination more competitive.  Finding ways to further lower costs should be another goal of the research effort, the report says. 

Developing cost-effective, environmentally sustainable ways to dispose of salt concentrate should be a priority.  The cost of disposing of this waste varies widely by site and has generally risen.  Inland plants, in particular, have few or no cost-effective and environmentally sustainable disposal methods. 

Making the membranes used in reverse osmosis more permeable could lower desalination's energy use and costs further, as can improving the pre-treatment of water to remove sediments that can hinder membranes' efficiency, the report says.  Even with improved technologies, however, the energy used by reverse osmosis probably cannot be reduced more than 15 percent below current levels.  Larger reductions in energy costs may be possible using other desalination methods that could be powered with low-grade heat left over from other industrial processes, which would otherwise go to waste.  Thermal desalination is one such method, and it may be possible to develop other novel approaches.  

Even if costs are lowered, the report notes, conserving water or transferring it from one use to another will in most cases remain a less expensive option than adding water through desalination or other methods.

The study was sponsored by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.  They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter.  The Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.                                                                                                                                          

Copies of Desalination: A National Perspective are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at


Division on Earth and Life Studies

Water Science and Technology Board


Quantum Dots Market Reaching over $700 million, Impacting a Broad Range of Industrial Markets

MONTREAL, CANADA. -- ELECTRONICS.CA PUBLICATIONS, the electronics industry market research and knowledge network, announces the availability of a new report entitled "Quantum Dots: Technical Status and Market Prospects".

Quantum dots (QDs) refer to one of several promising materials niche sectors that recently have emerged from the burgeoning growth area of nanotechnology. QDs fall into the category of nanocrystals, which also includes quantum rods and nanowires. As a materials subset, QDs are characterized by particles fabricated to the smallest of dimensions from only a few atoms and upwards. At these tiny dimensions, they behave according to the rules of quantum physics, which describe the behavior of atoms and sub atomic particles, in contrast to classical physics that describes the behavior of bulk materials, or in other words, objects consisting of many atoms.

According to the new report available at Publications, the global market for QDs, which in 2008 is estimated to generate $28.6 million in revenues, is projected to grow over the next 5 years at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 90.7%, reaching over $700 million by 2013. Following the initially modest revenues generated by standalone colloidal QDs - primarily serving the life sciences, academic, and other industrial research and development (R&D) communities - within the next 2 years several product launches with colloidal or in situ QD underpinning will bolster market revenue considerably.

The biggest growth sector will be in optics, according to the report, where QD-based lasers and other optical components will impact telecommunication applications. This segment is expected to be worth $52.0 million in 2010, increasing to over $212.0 million in 2013, for a CAGR of 59.8%.

The other significant growth sectors include: electronics with the launch of first-generation QD-based flash memory products; optoelectronics with several impending product launches in lighting and displays; and finally, in the energy sector with the first QD-based product enhancements. It is projected that in all of these markets the combined forces of technology push and market pull, due in part to the growing involvement of multinational companies, will lead to a marked increase in both colloidal and in situ QD production.

Stand-alone colloidal QDs are the only currently active segment, with expected revenues of $28.6 million in 2008. This should increase to over $106.0 million in 2013 for a CAGR of 30.0%. Following the initially modest revenues generated by standalone colloidal QDs, primarily serving the life sciences, academic and other industrial research and development communities, within the next two years several product launches with colloidal or in-situ QD underpinning will bolster market revenue considerably.

The electronics segment will see the launch of first generation QD-based flash memory products and is slated to generate $45.8 million in 2010 and $61.0 million in 2013, for a CAGR of 10.0%.

Quantum dots for applications in optoelectronics and solar energy are expected to launch in 2010. Estimated revenues for the optoelectronics segment in 2011 are $90.0 million. This should increase to $245.7 million in 2013, a CAGR of 65.2%. The solar energy segment should see revenues of $74.1 million in 2011 and increase to $96.3 million in 2013, for a CAGR of 14.0%.

Current and future applications of QDs impact a broad range of industrial markets. These include, for example, biology and biomedicine; computing and memory; electronics and displays; optoelectronic devices such as LEDs, lighting, and lasers; optical components used in telecommunications; and security applications such as covert identification tagging or biowarfare detection sensors.

Details of the new report can be found on Publications' web site:

The Sunscreen Debate: Background and Status Quo

In the summer, many people enjoy staying outside in the sun and getting a bronze tanning. However, nowadays everybody must have heard about the risks of prolonged sun exposure, resulting in accelerated skin ageing and increased risks of skin cancer.

The cosmetic industry has therefore created a wealth of different sunblocking products, which all aim to provide protection against harmful UV radiation. Most of these products are based on chemical UV filters which absorb UV radiation at certain wavelengths of the sun’s emission spectrum.

However, more recently, there have been raised some concerns about chemical UV filters. First, it became known that not mainly UVB radiation seems to be responsible for irreversible skin damage, but in particular UVA. Most chemical UV filters are not equally effective in the UVA range of radiation. And secondly, sunscreens based on chemical filters have been in discussion for causing contact allergies or acting as hormone active agents when disposed into aqueous environmental systems.

These two issues would strongly favour the use of physical UV filters, which do not absorb, but reflect the incoming sun radiation. Physical filters are based on minerals of titanium dioxide or zinc oxide (inert, insoluble pigments). Initially, such mineral particles used in sunscreens where in the range of micrometers, where the materials also reflected much of the visible light spectrum and application resulted in a white layer on the skin. By grinding the materials to the nanometer scale, they became transparent for the visible light spectrum, while still reflecting UV rays.

However, with the use of mineral ingredients on the nanoscale, new issues have been raised. One question is whether such nanoparticles would accumulate in the aqueous environment and whether they would be removed in water treatment plants. First studies revealed that a small fraction of the incoming particles might not be removed from the water [1], strongly depending on their agglomeration and surface properties. Other questions have been asked concerning potential toxic effects of such nanoparticles on the skin, and whether they might penetrate the horny layers of the skin and reach living tissues or even blood circulation. However, healthy skin has repeatedly been shown to provide a good barrier function against these kinds of nanoparticles. Open questions remain if injured, stressed or flexed skin is considered.

The scientific discussion about the risks of nano sunscreens has also reached the public and drawn the attention of certain NGOs. In particular, the cosmetic industry is blamed not to be fully open in terms of communicating what materials are being used in their products. In August 2007, Friends of the Earth published a report guiding consumers to avoid nano-sunscreens and providing an (incomplete) list of “nano-free sunscreens” [2]. A follow-up publication [3] identified the claims and scientific literature citations in this report as “misleading”, and other media also took a more balanced perspective in their reporting.

A website by the US non-profit organisation Environmental Working Group1 hosts a list of almost 1000 sunscreens including detailed ingredients, toxicity information and an overall rating (in terms of UV protection efficiency and ingredient hazards). The best rated sunscreens contain nanosized zinc oxide and titanium dioxide particles [4].

So currently, two different points of view clash at the sunscreen question: Do the uncertainties about possible health effects of nanoparticles in sunscreens outweigh their better skin-friendliness? If you cannot decide yet, it might still be best to stay in the shade.

In terms of the regulatory situation in Europe, cosmetic companies have to assess the safety of any product prior to market introduction, and sunscreen filters in particular have to be permitted by the European Commission. Safety assessments are reviewed by the Scientific Committee for Consumer Products (SCCP). While (nanoscale) titanium dioxide is permitted, zinc oxide has been assessed by the SCCP in 2003 and not been permitted due to the conclusion that the safety of zinc oxide as UV filter had not been sufficiently demonstrated.

In Switzerland, only titanium dioxide is permitted as UV filter as well, while production and import of zinc oxide UV filters is prohibited. However, in the absence of any known acute health effects, products already on the market may further on be sold [5]. In Germany, zinc oxide has recently been approved in a temporary provision for another three years. In the US and in Australia, both minerals are allowed (or not specifically regulated).

Source: Article by Markus Widmer (Innovation Society)

1 Not to be confounded with Environmental Defense, the organisation developing the Nano Risk Framework with DuPont.

[1] Limbach L., Bereiter R., Muller E., Krebs R., Galli R., Stark WJ. (2008). Removal of Oxide Nanoparticles in a Model Wastewater Treatment Plant: Influence of Agglomeration and Surfactants on Clearing Efficiency, Environ. Sci. Technol.

[2] Friends of the Earth (2008). Nanotechnology in Sunscreens: A Consumer Guide for Avoiding Nano-Sunscreens.

[3] David M. Berube (2008). Rhetorical gamesmanship in the nano debates over sunscreens and nanoparticles, J Nanopart Res

[4] Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database (almost 1000 sunscreens):

[5] Report of Kant. Laborat. Basel Stadt:

Study Report on Cancer Risks from Nanoparticles and Dusts

The primary aims of the study, conducted by the German BAuA, were to analyse differences between the carcinogenicity of granular dusts in the rat lung after intratracheal instillation, to find out the optimal dose metric for their carcinogenic potency and to interpret their potential relevance for human health.

Nineteen dusts were chosen for the experiment, including different mining dusts (grinded coals, quartz), carbon blacks, alumina, titanium dioxide, zircon oxide and silica. Sixteen out of the 19 dusts formed a group for which no specific toxicity was detected which seemed to be essential for their carcinogenicity in this experiment. Accordingly, these dusts were defined as respirable granular bio-durable particles without known significant specific toxicity (GBP). All 16 GBP produced lung tumours in a dose dependent manner, many more than expected.

The GBP volume in connection with particle size turned out to be the most adequate dose metric for the carcinogenicity of GBP. The four ultrafine dusts investigated (mean diameters 10 - 30 nm) were about 2 times more effective than the four fine GBP (90-200 nm) and five to six times more effective than the eight bigger fractions (1800-4000 nm).

An effect threshold of carcinogenicity of GBP in the range of the General Threshold Limit Value for Dust is extremely unlikely for rats, if all inhalation and instillation studies are considered. The additional cancer risk after exposure of rats to fine GBP was calculated as 1 - 3 % for the exposure scenario of the General Threshold Limit Value for respirable dust of 3 mg/m³, which is in force since 2001. Many arguments speak against the hypothesis that the mechanism which causes the dust related lung tumours in rats does not exist in humans. Some epidemiological data indicate that a similar carcinogenic potency may exist for humans and rats related to the long-term (i.e. same proportion of life expectancy) exposure concentration.

Overall, the state of knowledge meets the EU criteria for a classification of GBP into category 2 of carcinogenic substances.

Source: Innovation Society

M. Roller (2008): Untersuchungen zur krebserzeugenden Wirkung von Nanopartikeln und anderen Stäuben, Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin (BAuA). ISBN: 978-3-88261-069-7, 309 pages.,xv=vt.pdf?

Nano Food and Packaging Perceived Sceptically

Companies in the food and packaging sector have long recognized the potential of nanoparticles for the extension of the shelf life of perishable products. The antimicrobial properties displayed e.g. by nano silver can be integrated in a variety of packaging devices.

Packages that have been modified in such a way are in direct contact with food and are therefore an especially delicate topic for consumers. According to a recently published article in the “LT” journal [1], it is from a consumer’s point of view of central relevance to differentiate between “nano inside” and “nano outside”. Especially the nano inside category is being regarded as critical by consumers, because it means that the nanotechnology itself is ingested by the consumer via food products. “Nano outside” – including most packaging devices - is perceived to be less problematic, because the nanoparticles are not internalised in this case. These findings are also supported by a recent mail survey in Switzerland [2] on the acceptance of different nanotechnology food and packaging applications, which also stresses the importance of the need to make the specific advantages of nanoparticles in food and packaging obvious to consumers.

In order to gain the trust of consumers in the use of nanoparticles in packaging it must be proved that those substances cannot migrate from the packaging into the product. Critical cases might be the so called “active packages”, where an interaction between the two components is actually intended.

Although – especially in the food sector – testing procedures are very strict and basically no harm for consumers needs to be assumed, many producers and retailers still take a very critical stance on the topic of declaration, and it is not clear yet what a declaration should enclose considering the limited space available on product packaging. However, it is this lack of transparency paired with uncertainties about the need for specific legal regulations that is fuelling scepticism about nanotechnological packaging solutions among consumers. The LT article therefore highlights first attempts of the Swiss Retailer’s Association (IG-DHS) with the aim of increasing transparency for consumers by means of a Code of Conduct. The author also proposes a concept for a dialogue platform for the food and packaging industry in order to openly discuss the topic and develop broadly accepted measures.

Source: Article by Peter Hürzeler (Innovation Society)

[1] Lebensmittel-Technologie (6/2008): “Consumer boycott without communication”, pp. 24-26

[2] Siegrist M., Stampfli N., Kastenholz H. & Keller C. (2008): Perceived risk and perceived benefits of different nanotechnology foods and nanotechnology food packaging, Appetite, Vol.51, Iss.2, pp. 283-290

The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance within The Institute of Education Sciences has released two new Quick Review reports from the What Works Clearinghouse.

The Advantage of Abstract Examples in Learning Math

This study examined whether college students are better able to apply knowledge of simple mathematical concepts when they are taught the concepts using abstract symbols or concrete examples.

Making a Difference? The Effects of Teach for America in High School

This study examined whether having a Teach For America (TFA) teacher instead of a non-TFA teacher affects the academic performance of high school students.The study analyzed data from 23 North Carolina school districts that hired at least one TFA teacher from 2000 to 2005. The sample included 69 TFA teachers.

The Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics has released America's Children in Brief: Key National Indicators of Well-Being, 2008.

The annual report profiles the status of the nation's children and youth, presenting up-to-date federal statistics in one convenient reference. The National Center for Education Statistics in the Institute of Education Sciences is one of the 22 federal agencies that participate in the Forum and contribute to the report. The report documents that mathematics and reading scores of fourth and eighth graders have increased, but shows as well that the adolescent birth rate and the proportion of infants born at low birthweight have also risen. The report also includes indicators on child poverty, health care, housing, and at-risk behavior.

You can view, download, and print the report at

SME no longer blind spot in nanotechnology safety and risk management

Companies which produce, develop, use, process or market nanomaterials are confronted with specific risks inherent to these substances. “NanoRisk-Check”, a new tool by the Innovation Society (St.Gallen) and TÜV SÜD (Munich) now also allows smaller companies, research institutions and retailers to gain a well-founded overview of the actual risk situation in their operations. The specific experience of the two partners guarantees that potential hazards for health, safety and the environment will be recognized proactively and acted upon.

Especially smaller companies and research institutions in many countries represent a major share of the nanotech sector. Many employees are working either in SME or small research organisations. The introduction of nano-specific systems for risk management represents a great expense both in terms of costs and time for these organisations. Additionally, management is often not aware of considerable liability and product risks. All of this leads to a situation in which potential nano-related risks are misconceived and managed using traditional methods and systems that often can not cope with the special requirements of nano-scaled substances.

Particularly in the context of the new European chemicals legislation (REACH) and increasing requirements from regulation authorities, many SME see themselves impelled to adapt their current risk management practices to the new realities. The NanoRisk Check now enables these organisations to overlook the risk situation in their operations in best time and with justifiable resource commitment. A report for the attention of the management board compiled by experts from TÜV SÜD and the Innovation Society provides information about risks in the areas of occupational safety, environment and health, liability and product risks, and the suitability of the existing risk management system. Weaknesses and necessary actions will be clearly pointed out and possible solutions proposed.

[1] Product website: 

[2] Product flyer: 

(1)           Diesel Particulate Emissions: Recent Research Highlights


Diesel engine particle emissions have been in discussion for a long time because of lung toxicity issues following inhalation. The toxicity of soot particles is suggested to include oxidative stress-mediated inflammation through particle surface, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) and redox active metals. Considerable efforts have been made with the Euro emission standards to make diesel engines cleaner in terms of nitrogen oxide, hydrocarbon, carbon monoxide and soot particle emissions.

With the increasing commercial importance of synthetic nanomaterials, soot particles from diesel exhaust are also serving as a model to understand certain mechanisms of particle toxicity, since there is a lot more data on soot particles than on most synthetic nanomaterials.

However, “cleaner” is not an absolute term concerning diesel emissions. The Euro standard only limits particle mass emission, not number concentration. In fact, modern diesel engines emit far less particles by mass, but an increasing number of very small, potentially more hazardous ultra-fine (nano) particles. A recent study by researchers from Fritz Haber Institute in Germany evaluated the inflammatory and cytotoxic potential of soot particles from current low emission (Euro IV) diesel engines in vitro [1]. At the same mass concentration, Euro-IV soot particles exhibited much higher toxicity than particles from old diesel engines. While particle mass was reduced, the Euro IV particles were smaller (higher internalization rate) and more active (modified surface).

Another effect in discussion is the translocation of nanoparticles to the brain through the olfactory nerves. A group of researchers from universities in The Netherlands, Sweden and UK have published the results of first in vivo human experiments, where ten volunteers were exposed to diesel exhaust [2]. After about 30 minutes of exposure, the brain displayed a stress response which continued to increase even after the subjects had left the exposure chamber.

However, it remains unclear whether nanoparticle translocation via the olfactory nerves or other components of the diesel exhaust may have provoked the changes in brain activity. According to a SafeNano article [3], lead researcher Paul Borm from Zuyd University in The Netherlands said: "We believe our findings are due to an effect of nanoparticles that slowly penetrate the brain or affect neurophysiologic signaling.”

Oxidative stress has been implicated in degenerative brain diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. "It is conceivable that the long-term effects of exposure to particulate matter might include a decrease in cognitive function," Borm noted [3].

[1] Environ. Sci. Technol. 2008, 42, 1761-1765:

[2] Particle and Fibre Toxicology 5, Provisional Publication: 

[3] SafeNano Initiative (Institute of Occup. Medicine): 

(2)            Nano-Food Still Hot


Remember Friends of the Earth (FoE) Australia, the NGO which became famous in 2006 with their early nanotech­nology moratorium claim? FoE and their German partner organization BUND have just published a report about nanotechnology in foods and food production, demonstrating the urgency of the topic and suggesting a series of actions [1], [2]. This publication drew quite a lot of attention, and nano-foods again prove to be a critical issue in the media. Additionally, the Swiss TV station SF1 recently broadcasted an interview with Dr. C. Meili from the innovation society about the hazards of nanotechnology, also focusing on foods (Link).

According to the report by FoE and BUND, more than 100 food and agricultural products containing manufactured nano­materials, or produced using nanotechnology, are currently on sale worldwide. A much larger number of products are expected to be sold without declaration of their nanotechnology ingredients, since most firms are not willing to discuss this publicly sensitive topic. Such products might be foods, food additives, dietary supplements, food packaging, kitchen utensils or agro chemicals containing synthetic nanomaterials.

BUND and FoE claim that many consumers are unknowingly taking risks when ingesting such nanoparticles due to their increased bioavailability and bioactivity. Further risks to humans and the environment are described in both reports. The two groups are therefore (again) calling for a moratorium on the further commercial release of food-related products containing manufactured nanomaterials and strict product labeling. A moratorium should be active until “effective nanospecific regulations are in force to eliminate possible risks with sufficient certainty” and until “data is available for risk assessment to prove the safety of the nanomaterials used” [2].

In a news article, Helen Holder, coordinator of the Food and Farming campaign at FoE Europe [3] said: "[…] Policy-makers must stop claiming that existing regulatory frameworks are adequate to deal with the emerging science of nanotechnology and address the gaps in current food safety legislation as soon as possible." According to FoE and BUND, all materials of up to 300 nm should be treated as “new substances”, e.g. under REACH. In Switzerland [4], the regulatory framework is currently regarded as generally being capable of dealing with nanomaterials, with some adaptations being necessary, however. In the case of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the situation seems to be similar [5].

FoE and BUND requested the industry to involve the public into decision making, and to ensure that their products have undergone appropriate safety testing (“no data, no market”).

[1] Friends of the Earth Report (english): 

[2] BUND Report (german): 

[3] SafeNano News:

[4] Report of the Swiss Action Plan on Synthetic Nanomaterials:

[5] Chemical and Engineering News: 


(3)           Use of Nanomaterials in Swiss Industry


Many organizations and groups are calling for a regulation of nanomaterials. However, the government is currently missing the necessary database on what materials are in use and in what quantities, and what materials might be hazardous (HSE data). Finally, it is not clear, what safety measures are already implemented in industry. A group of researchers from the University of Lausanne (Switzerland) has therefore conducted a targeted telephone survey among HSE representatives of almost 200 Swiss companies.

It turned out that nanoparticles are already widely used not only in companies in the new field of nanotechnology, but also in more traditional sectors. Ag, AlxOy, FeOx, SiO2, TiO2, and ZnO were found to be used in large quantities (> 1000 kg/year per company), especially in the production of cosmetics, food, paints, powders, and the treatment of surfaces. Only slightly more liquid than powder applications have been identified.

According to the study, the safety measures were found to be higher in powder-based than in liquid-based applications. The overall most common safety measure was personal protective equipment, while closed environments, airflow and filters were commonly used for powder materials.

Due to missing HSE data, most of the protective measures seemed to have been introduced according to the perceived risks of the application, as the article says. The predominant message was “I am very interested in the topic of nanoparticles and HSE, but I don’t know enough.”

Environ. Sci. Technol. 2008 (in press). Use of Nanoparticles in Swiss Industry: A Targeted Survey.

(4)           Credit Suisse Launches Nanotechnology Index


Until now, investing into nanotechnology has not been a standard option for investors. With nanotechnology applications reaching market maturity, a financial engagement in this area is also becoming attractive for private investors. Credit Suisse (CS) last year introduced a Global Nanotechnology Index (CSGNI) in the development of which investors can participate with two structured financial products.

The index comprises 25 stocks of companies that are active in one of five defined sectors of nanotechnology and either have a leading position and/or make at least 10% of their annual sales in the field of nanotechnology. The companies are elected out of a pool of currently 31 stocks that comply with these criteria and additionally come up to the minimum requirements concerning size (USD 100 million of market capitalization) and liquidity (average daily trade volume USD 3 Mio).

The motivation for the creation of the CSGNI stems from the conviction of the bank that until 2010 an average yearly growth for the defined sectors between 10 and 25% can be expected. The composition of the index mirrors the expectations of the bank with regard to the market shares of the different sectors in 2010 (materials 30%, IT 30%, healthcare 15%, tools 10%, energy and others 15%). The weighting of sectors as well as the number and inclusion of stocks is subject to a biannual adjustment to altered conditions. By means of the rebalancing the rapid development of the technology shall be made allowance for.

Based on the index CS offers two structured products with the help of which long-term oriented investors can participate in the development of the CSNGI in different ways. These products are a structured derivative on the index in the form of a 4-year Capital Protected Unit (CPU) and a 3-year certificate with limited capital protection.

Credit Suisse CSGNI Index

Link to PDF file