Recap: NEWIEE Nanotechnology Panel

image courtesy of http://snl.mit.edu

Last week I attended the Nanotechnology Panel co-hosted by New England Women in Energy & the Environment and Mintz Levin. We gathered at the Mintz Levin office and mingled over wine and vegetarian snacks before discussing the deeply complex field of nanotechnology.

Our panelists, Jamie Beard of FastCAP, Marcie Black of Bandgap, Jo Anne Shatkin of CLF Ventures, and Fatima Toor of Lux Research, began by giving us a brief overview of what nanotechnology means. Nano is simply a scale, and after adding the suffix "technology," it comes to mean: to see, measure, and manipulate on the nano scale. So, you may be wondering, what does this have to do with energy and the environment?

Well, nanotechnology is used to:
  • Make solar power more cost effective
  • Make non-toxic, super efficient batteries
  • Make efficient insulation
  • Detect heavy metals in water
Nanotechnology has great potential to build more sustainable infrastructure, but since the ability for humans to work on the nano-scale is fairly new, there are also some safety concerns. First, there aren't many regulations for nanoparticles/nanolabs/nanowaste yet. Secondly, consumer products that contain nanoparticles are not labeled in the U.S. (ex: sunblock, cosmetics, touchscreen electronics). 

Its a fascinating field, and its exciting to be in the midst of it all (Boston is one of the world's largest nanotech hub, second to Silicon Valley)! I look forward to what great nano innovations come from our local labs!