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Green nanotechnology is simple, says report

Posted: 08 May 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:green nanotechnology? nanomaterials project? nanoengineering? green engineering? Project Emerging Nanotechnologies?

A new study details how nanomaterials can be created that are not only safe, but also cost less and perform better than conventional materials. Green Nanotechnology: It's Easier Than You Think, was written by the Washington D.C. think tank, the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. The new study, which is free online, is based on a series of dialogues with scientists, policymakers and industry representatives about green nanotechnology.

"EEs should be particularly interested in this study, since the microelectronics industry has one of the best opportunities to get green, because of their road mapthe International Technology Roadmap for Semiconductors," said James Hutchinson, the University of Oregon professor who invented a green method of creating gold nanoparticles. "The road map allows EEs to plan aheada luxury not enjoyed by many other industries," he said By incorporating green approaches into the semiconductor road map, EEs can line up the supporting industries they need to make it happen."

According to Hutchinson, whose work is featured in the study along with green nanotechnology pioneers from other industries, green nanotechnology is possible today. Even without a road map, the careful choice of implementation methods can yield greener processes that are also more economical and higher-performance.

"There is no need to compromiseyou can get greener technologies, lower cost and higher performance simultaneously," he said. "Just by being careful about what solvents and reagents you use, people are already reaping real benefits today. And we think you are going to see a lot more of these achievements in the future."

In addition to an overview of the industry's current accomplishments in green nanotechnology, the study outlines future plans to spread the word and implement even greener processes tomorrow.

"Our report summarizes a series of seminars and workshops we held on green nanotechnology," said David Rejeski, director of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson center. "Essentially, our report answers the question: What do we have to do to make sure that nanomaterials use less energy, produce less waste and are more environmentally benign?"

In the report, Hutchinson discusses his recent successes with pioneering methods of substituting less hazardous chemicals to create the nanomaterials used in microelectronics. Basically, Hutchinson favors methods that use safe substances whenever possible. When that is not possible, he favors using very small amounts of hazardous reactants, which are then recycled in the lab.

Also featured is the work of Barbara Karn, an Environmental Protection Agency scientist who originated the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies' Green Nano initiative at the Woodrow Wilson center, and John Carberry, director of Environmental Technology at DuPont, who shares his techniques for implementing green nanotechnology without sacrificing profits.

The report was sponsored by the Woodrow Wilson Center and the American Chemical Society.

- R. Colin Johnson
EE Times

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