Nanotechnology is generally described as a broad field of applied science and technology focused on controlling and exploiting the structure of matter on a scale below 100 nm. Nanotechnology can be more genuinely defined as the scientific field encompassing mastery of understanding and manipulating atomic and molecular matter as the prerequisite for the optimization of existing products and the creation of new ones.
Nanotechnology is an ideal example of the intersection between science and art. It’s the perfect “scientific storm” in a place where all natural sciences congregate and intersect each other at the nanoscale. It is ubiquitous and those who participate are inherently successful when they engage their creativity.
Nanotechnology succinctly demonstrates the leap of imagination into a world that is different from the apparent world. This nanoworld melds art and science, creating new materials and a new reality. The chemists, physicists, material scientists, biomedical researchers, engineers, and other researchers who are active at the frontiers of this diverse and multidisciplinary field are the artists. In the twenty-first century, nanotechnology will replace the natural sciences in taking us from the industrial age into the nanotechnical age where there is virtually no limit to the shape and size of the objects and devices that can be made.
In moving beyond simple materials, the nanotechnological age brings nano-scale devices that do something of interest and importance. Such devices can, for example, sense the environment, process information, or convert energy from one form to another. They include nanoscale sensors, which exploit the huge surface area of carbon nanotubes and other nano-structured materials to detect environmental contaminants or biochemicals. Other products of evolutionary nanotechnology are semiconductor nanostructures—such as quantum dots and quantum wells— that are being used to build better solid-state lasers. Additionally, sophisticated ways of encapsulating molecules and delivering them on demand for targeted drug delivery are being developed.
Examining the molecular world is much like experiencing any other physical art form. There is a relationship of size, shape, strength, force, and motion. Just as artists create meaningful new forms, so do nanotechnologists—both revealing a new world of the profound and the unexpected.
In order to sustain the Nanotechnical Age, arts and sciences will require an equal footing. Society must be adroit enough to adapt to the new technologies. By collaborating and sharing experiences in the innovation process and revealing connections between creative activities, links can be forged. Innovation will move beyond disciplinary boundaries.
Collaboration and shared experiences, however, do not occur by happenstance.
Specific geographic regions hold all the ingredients for such perfect orchestrations. According to economist, researcher, and author, Richard Florida, they are the communities that harbor a high degree of the “3 T’s: technology, talent, and tolerance.” These “3 T’s” are the characteristics of a region that attract the young, educated and creative people who will contribute directly to the area’s economic growth and cultivate the advancement of the Nanotechnical Age.
The new economy’s demand for creativity has manifested itself in the emergence of what Florida has termed the “creative class.” Using a broad definition of the term, the creative class is anyone whose work function is to produce new ideas, new technology, new creative content, or some combination thereof.
As a result, I believe that the relationship between nanotechnology and creativity is symbiotic. Both nanotechnology and creativity foment ingenious activity and need bold regional ecosystems for nurture and support. These elements, in turn, facilitate business formation and economic growth, resulting in strong socioeconomic effects by raising and sustaining standards of living.
The links between creativity and nanotechnology have become intrinsically intertwined—and the links are molecularly precise. Fully integrating science with art, nanotechnology has opened a huge range of opportunities. Nanotechnology will catalyze the unification of processes from the living to the nonliving worlds. New techniques will be discovered to organize, characterize, and manipulate individual nanoscale elements. Insights will be developed into self-organizing principles of nanoelements. New nanoscale architectures will be implemented with new microscopic and macroscopic functions.
Nanotechnology is the world’s freshest expression of human creativity.
To learn more about the symbiotic relationship of nanotechnology and creativity, read Zvi Yaniv’s book, “My Life on the Mysterious Island of Nanotechnology,” available on Amazon.