Big Solutions at the Nanoscale

By Mark Dwortzan

Sized smaller than a bacterium, extending between one and 100 billionths of a meter, nanostructures are spearheading two gigantic technological trends. First, because of their tiny dimensions, they possess distinct mechanical, chemical, electrical, and optical properties that could be exploited in new, more powerful materials and platforms for computing, communications, imaging, and other applications. Second, since the nanoscale is the same domain at which most biological processes occur, nanostructures may ultimately revolutionize our understanding of human biology and quicken the pace of health care innovation.
For the past four years, experts in science, engineering, medicine, and business at Boston University have collaborated in a growing body of nanoscience and nanotechnology research aimed at furthering both technological trends. Organized by the Center for Nanoscience & Nanobiotechnology (CNN), this research is already bearing fruit. From new design techniques for the ever-shrinking integrated circuit to fast, accurate, needle-free vaccination and drug delivery, CNN is working to bring the benefits of the very small to society at large.