Nanotechnology research should not be automatically harnessed to commercial objectives according to the UTS author and co-editor of two new books assessing the field's potential contribution to addressing worldwide social and environmental problems.
Nanotechnology and Global Equality, by Dr Donald Maclurcan, and Nanotechnology and Global Sustainability, edited by Dr Maclurcan and Dr Natalia Radywyl, build the case that global prosperity now demands innovation without economic growth, and nanotechnology shows such innovation is possible.
"Practices like 'open source nano-innovation' offer game-changing avenues for bypassing inhibitive start-up costs and ensuring scientific knowledge is freely shared," said Dr Maclurcan, an Honorary Research Fellow with UTS's Institute for Nanoscale Technology.
"For the first time in modern history, the right ingredients have surfaced for us to seriously consider innovating without economic growth," he said.
A US $254 billion market in 2009, recent data – outlined in the books – shows an expected rise to $2.5 trillion by 2015. More than 60 countries are engaging with nanotechnology research and development at a national level, including 16 'developing' countries.
"Nanotechnology research around the world is largely focussed on creating unnecessary products that ensure big gains for multinational corporations and bigger losses for our ecosystems," Dr Maclurcan said.
"In a world with biophysical limits and vast injustices, our survival depends on the redirection of science towards human need, not human greed."
The books were officially launched last week by Dr Vijoleta Braach-Maksvytis, former head of nanotechnology at the CSIRO.