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Since nanotechnology is considered a key for the 21st century, its promises have been assessed by various scientific communities. By meeting at the nanoscale, various disciplines, from physics via chemistry to biology, from engineering to medicine, contribute synergetically to the newly created knowledge base and the resulting technological advances. Considering that large societal sectors will be impacted, the unique aspect of this two-year study was to assess nanotechnology from various interrelated perspectives: scientific progress, industrial relevance, economic potential, educational needs, potential adverse health effects, and philosophical aspects.

The goal of this study was to derive integrated recommendations which consider the large range of societal implications reflecting the different views in an integrative manner. The study attempts to link previously isolated statements, bundling the various concepts and giving unified recommendations to decision makers in relevant society sectors such as politics, economy and research. Special attention was given to the European situation with respect to commercial consequences, an aspect that has not yet received the attention it deserves so far.



1. Introduction and Summaries

2. Nanotechnology and Philosophy of Science

3. Fields of Research and Technology

4. Commercial Perspectives of Nanotechnology — An Assessment Based on Patent Data

Without Abstract

5. Risk Assessment and Risk Management

Without Abstract

6. Ethical Aspects of Nanotechnology

7. Knowledge Transfer in Nanotechnology

7.4 Conclusions
Education and knowledge and information transfer in Nanotechnology is still inconsistent: At academic level, a huge and still increasing number of courses and master programs called “Nanotechnology” exist. The diversity of the contents is as large as the field of Nanotechnology itself. Therefore it is very difficult for students to choose the optimal course. It is also obvious that Nanotechnology is used as a marketing instrument to enlarge the enrolment of students. To educate students correctly in the field of Nanotechnology, a strong first education in natural science; engineering or biotechnology/ biology is necessary for the basic understanding of processes and functions. Nanotechnology can only be a specialization of master programs or the topic of doctoral schools. An interdisciplinary education in a BS/MS cycle is not possible or will stay on a very superficial level. For the education of future collaborators in regulatory authorities or as patent officers, postgraduated courses have to be installed encompassing different domains of Nanotechnology (Nanotechnology in electronics, Nanotechnology in bioengineering...).
In the public area, Nanotechnology has a two edged image: key to the future technology versus toxicity of nanoparticles. It will be the task of each researcher in this field to use well established communication channels to inform the public in an objective manner.


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