Technology and Innovation in Japan: Policy and Management for the Twenty-First Century

By Martin Hemmert; Christian Oberländer | Go to book overview

12

JAPANESE NANOTECHNOLOGY

Tanya Sienko

Introduction

Nanotechnology has great ramifications for all areas of manufacturing and production and is an extremely interdisciplinary field. ‘Strong nanotechnology’ refers to the parallel yet individual control of individual atoms and molecules through such devices as self-replicating machines or nanobots. ‘Weak nanotechnology’ refers to anything falling short of this goal and includes work in constructing nanostructures through semiconductor processing, biotechnology, uses of scanning tunneling microscopes (STM) and atomic force microscopes (AFM) for manipulating individual atoms, and computer simulation of any of the above. In addition, ‘nanotechnology’ has also been used to refer to work done on a micron scale which should be classified into the realm of micromachines.

Japanese nanotechnology, as it is now proceeding, is almost completely an outgrowth of work in semiconductor processing (nanostructures), micro-machines, and biotechnology. It has been pointed out that the development of nanotechnology has been proceeding along two paths: either by (1) taking a piece of material and whittling it down to the required dimensions (so-called ‘top-down’ construction), or (2) building up from the bottom, with each atom individually positioned, usually through self-assembly techniques (‘bottom-up’). Micromachine technology still deals with the former, and it is difficult to see how it will cross over to the latter, which is in the realm of chemical engineering and many of the biosciences. On the other hand, much of the development of mechanical devices/instrumentation (table-top factories, 1 SEMs, 2 waldos, 3 etc.) will be applicable toward bottom-up nanotechnology work as well.

This paper attempts to set out an overview of what sort of nanotechnology research is being accomplished by which organizations in Japan, the ties between those organizations, and finally hint at future developments as they are reflected in the predictions from the Fifth Forecast Survey 4 on when certain nanotechnology ‘milestones’ will be reached.

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