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Brussels, October 3, 2000

Announcement of a media briefing

Nanotechnology, the next industrial revolution?
Nanotechnology in the EU and US

Toulouse (FR), 19 October 2000

Keywords: nanotechnology, innovation, international cooperation

Constructing devices where size is measured in millionths of a millimetre may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but nanotechnology is already a reality and destined to become a multi-billion-euro market. The challenge for research is to take it from the laboratory to the market-place. On 19 October, a joint EU-NSF workshop on nanotechnology in Toulouse will open its first session to journalists for a first-hand account of the state-of-the-art in the European Union and United States. The presentations will take place in the Chambre de Commerce with interpretation between English and French. The EUs research Commissioner, Philippe Busquin, will introduce the briefing, followed by presentations from Professor H. Stormer (Nobel Prize in Physics, 1998; Lucent Technologies and Columbia University) and Professor P. Laggner (Austrian Academy of Sciences). Representatives of the European Commission and the National Science Foundation will then present the EU and US nanotechnology research programmes. The presenters will be available for interviews over lunch.

What is nanotechnology?

Nanotechnology consists of applying the science of the small. It is inherently multi-disciplinary, and involves physicists, chemists and biologists in studying, researching and engineering ever smaller and smaller structures. Although the science is still in its infancy, the first nanotechnology products are already on the market.

Current applications

Current applications include new semiconductor lasers and random access memories based on giant magnetoresistance. Novel materials are already being marketed, such as sunburn lotions containing ultraviolet-absorbing nano-particles and spectacles with scratch-resistant nano-coating. The bio-chip arrays now being produced are a powerful diagnostic product of nanotechnology and biotechnology and are currently used in high throughput screening for detecting disease, as well as for gene sequencing in the Human Genome Project.

The future

The world market for nano-electronics alone will be worth many hundreds of billions of euros in products such as more powerful computers, and memories with higher storage densities designed for use in telephones, cars and the multitude of consumer and industrial applications that are microprocessor-controlled. The fabrication of nano-structures will yield materials with new and improved properties for use in organic solar cells, anti-corrosion coatings, tougher and harder cutting tools, photo-catalytic air purifiers, longer lasting medical implants, and for transport industry. Nano-biotechnology will provide biosensors and biomaterials. Here, the impact on medicine and human health will be far-reaching, ranging from ever-increasing sophisticated DNA-chips and precision drug delivery systems to ever-more biocompatible materials.

The workshop is being held under the umbrella of the EU-US Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation and, in particular, the Implementation Arrangement between the European Commission and the National Science Foundation for co-operative activities in the field of materials science. Its objectives are to increase awareness of existing activities in nano-scale science and engineering, and the possibilities offered by the agreement, and to discuss areas where EU-NSF cooperation could be particularly beneficial. The workshop will cover three major fields: nano-electronics, nano-materials and nano-biotechnology, as well as the challenges of manufacturing at nano-scale.

Registering for the briefing

For security reasons as well as space limitations, if you would like to attend this briefing, you must register in advance. To register, and for practical information regarding the briefing, please contact one of the people mentioned below.

For registration and further information, please contact:

Stephen Gosden, Communication Unit, Research DG,
Fax: +, E-mail:

Michael Delle Selve, Communication Unit, Research DG,
Fax: +, E-mail:

For project-related information, please contact:

Ben Tubbing, Scientific Officer, Research DG,
Fax: +, E-mail:


Press Briefing on Nanotechnology Research

19 October 2000
Chambre de Commerce, Toulouse (FR)

Draft agenda


09:45 Introduction and opening address Mr. Philippe Busquin
10:05 Keynote address Prof. Horst Stormer, Nobel Prize Physics 1998. Lucent Technologies and Columbia University
10:45 Keynote address Prof. Peter Laggner Institute of Biophysics and X-ray Structure Research, Austrian Academy of Sciences
11:25 Break  
11:40 Objectives of the workshop Mr Ezio Andreta, Director, Competitive and Sustainable Growth, Research Directorate-General, European Commission 
11:45 Overview of EU nanotechnology research Mr Ezio Andreta
12:00 Overview of the US nanotechnology initiative Dr. Mihail Roco, Senior Adviser, National Science Foundation (NSF)
12:15 Questions  
12:30 Summary and close of session Dr. Thomas Weber, Division Director, Materials Research, NSF
Mr. Ezio Andreta
12:40 Lunch  

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PRESS RELEASES | 03.10.2000